The "gift" as DH calls it (I call it something else, and it involves a lot of four-letter words) runs in my mother's side of the family. A few of us admit it we have it. Most of us don't.
You see, we learn at an early age if the ghosts are still semi-coherent and they know you can see them, they will not leave you alone. As my cousin Marie* puts it, "It's like strangers on the subway. Don't make eye contact, and don't engage."
Marie is also the cousin who makes a point of buying brand-new, never-lived-in homes. "So I don't have to deal with someone else's baggage," she says.
I always followed Marie's advice. Then I made my big mistake.
When my paternal grandmother showed up in the townhouse I shared with Marie, my automatic response had been to say, "Hey, Grandma." The teensy little problem was that she'd died three weeks before.
She talked about making pizza the next time I came over. It broke my heart a little, but I knew I needed to be firm. "Grandma, you do realize you're dead, don't you?"
Her expression saddened. "Yes. I'm sorry. Sometimes I forget."
"Why are you still here?" Frankly, her presence didn't make sense to me because she was a very devote Christian.
"I'm waiting for Dad." 'Dad' was her nickname for Grandpa.
So we made a deal. I'd talk to her as long as she visited when no one was around. Marie would have exorcised Grandma if she saw her.
For the most part, Grandma kept her word. Occasionally, I'd catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye while in class or, years later, in court. I had to confess my secret to DH after he caught me apparently talking to myself. I'm lucky he takes the weird stuff in stride.
Grandma waited fifteen years.
I flew home for Grandpa's funeral. Since my father's sisters and their husbands were staying with my parents, I got a hotel room. The morning of the funeral, I awoke to someone stroking my hair.
"Ed, I told you not to touch her!"
It was a rare thing to hear Grandma call Grandpa by his given name. I rolled over. "Hey, Grandma."
Grandpa looked at Grandma. It was the first I ever saw a shocked expression on him. "She can see us?"
Grandma: "And feel us too! I told you not to touch her and wake her up."
Me: "It's okay. I'm glad you did."
Grandma: "We can't stay long. We need to be in Columbus in five minutes. We just came to say our good-byes."
Grandpa (his attention switching between us, a bewildered expression on his face): "She can see us?"
Me: "Have a safe trip. I love you."
Grandma: "We love you, too."
Grandpa (looking over his shoulder at me as Grandma dragged him toward the western wall of the hotel room): "I can't believe she can see us."
That's when I saw the third, well, 'entity' is the best word I can use to describe it. It appeared to be a pillar of yellowish-white light, roughly six feet in height, hovering next to the dresser. A sound came from it, not quite music, but not quite singing either. It felt sentient.
When it realized I was staring at it, not at my grandparents' ghosts passing through the wall, I felt a surge of emotion from it. Shock, distress, surprise. I got the distinct sense that I wasn't supposed to see it any more than I should have been able to see my grandparents.
It drifted about a foot toward the bed. Curiosity replaced its surprise. Again, I felt its emotion. It was torn between figuring me out and staying with my grandparents. After a moment, it drifted through the same spot on the wall of my hotel room.
I glanced at the digital clock beside the bed. 7:29 a.m. I could catch another hour of sleep before I had to be at my parents' house.
Why did Grandma and Grandpa had to rush to Columbus, Ohio, of all places? The last of the family, three of my cousins, flew in the morning of the funeral. Jaye's flight, the last one, arrived at Columbus International Airport at 7:34 a.m.
*Even though my family will recognize the people I mention, I changed the names so they don't get harassed. Or summoned.
Confession time: I used my strange encounter as the inspiration for the ending of Zombie Confidential. The short story will be free until the end of November. It's available through the following retailers:
Today's guest is William Simon, who also writes as Will Graham. The first work of his I read was Mixed Marriages, which is delightfully creep and hysterically funny at the same time.
When I lived in Miami, I was in an older apartment building, probably built in the early 1930′s or so. I had the upstairs one bedroom 'suite': two apartments that had been re-modeled and connected.
Late night, got home around 2am. I hit the bed, was *just* dozing off, when I heard two explosions from the apartment underneath. To this day, I firmly believe the foot of the bed jumped, that's how powerful the noise was. Flew out of bed, called 911. The officers who came and I were friends, so I joined them to get the manager. She let them in, explaining the downstairs apartment was vacant at the moment. The police went through the whole place, and there was nothing. No squatters, no evidence of a break-in, no signs of anyone having been there for a while.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
I *know* what I heard. I KNOW what I heard. The officers said, "Well, okay, but there's no evidence, no sign of anything. If it happens again, let us know." Manager locked up, I went back upstairs with no hope of getting back to sleep.
Flash-forward a couple of years. I had moved into another building with my girlfriend at the time. An older couple who had lived in Miami since 1935 semi-adopted us and we were frequent dinner guests, and vice-versa. One night, I mentioned casually I had lived at Such and Such on This Avenue. The husband paused, looked at his wife, and said, "Isn't that where the S------ thing happened?" She thought a moment, and nodded.
Then he told us the story.
Back in the 40′s, a young couple lived in the downstairs apartment. He went off to WWII, she stayed behind. Like something out of a bad movie, she had an affair with another man. When her husband got home one afternoon, he walked in on his wife and her lover.... and killed them both with a shotgun.
I didn't say a word about my experience..... but in the interests of full disclosure, I did hit the wine a little harder than usual at dinner that night.
William Simon also writes under the name Will Graham. His short story, "Mixed Marriages Can Be Murder" was originally published in the anthology Murder By Magic. It's now available as an e-book short story at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine retailers
Last year's All Hallows Read guest posts were so popular, I decided to make it an annual event. So I asked some of my favorite people, who happen to write some of my favorite books, to tell their own personal scary stories. As an added bonus, the always frightening Neil Gaiman is giving away a free story at Audible, but hurry! The offer only good until October 31st! Back here at WW&W, first up is Creepy C.C. Hunter (aka my buddy Christie Craig)!
I was thirteen and I woke up that morning with sunshine spilling through my window. I stretched my hands over my head and it hit me—the memory of a dream I’d just had came rushing back. There had been no sunshine in the dream.
It was spooky, but more strange and sad. Like an old movie, I could still see it playing in my mind. But unlike a movie, my memory came with all five senses. The smell of wet earth and the scent of a storm brewing somewhere close by. I could feel the wind hit my face, blowing my blonde hair across my eyes. Tombstones, aged and cracked, littered the ground around me. All was silent—deadly silent.
A small group of people stood quietly by a gravesite. All wearing black. Even the sky held a dismal shade of sadness. There seemed to be no color in the image—no joy, all drab and gray. I stared at the faces of those grieving people. Did I know them? Yes, but . . . vaguely. And from where?
Immediately, my gaze shifted to the casket. The tiny polished box carried the only color in the scene. A bright pink ribbon rested on top. My gaze shot back to the people again. They weren’t crying. For some reason that seemed odd. They needed to cry. Cry for the child who obviously lay tucked inside that casket. The child who would never run and play and who would never know life.
I studied the faces of the people again, trying to remember where I’d seen them. How could I know them when they looked so out of place? Like people from old pictures. People from another time, another life.
And then came the realization. The woman dressed in a thick black wool coat, hugging herself against the cold and staring at the casket with empty emotion, was my grandmother, but younger. A lot younger. The woman today was old, in her late sixties. But yes, I remembered seeing her younger face in family photo albums.
Then, I recognized the other people. My mom and dad when they were young. My grandfather and one of my uncles. My gaze shifted from one person to the next.
Then it went to the casket.
Who had died? Part of the answer came with the next cold whisk of wind: A baby. A baby girl.
I wanted to tell someone how sorry I was. Emotion built in my chest. A crazy thought hit. Someone needed to cry for the child. I stood back from the crowd, not really present, but somehow still there. I felt the odd sadness. But why weren’t they crying?
Then my grandmother, my mom, dad and uncle were gone. As if they’d vanished into the air. I saw the casket being lowered into the gaping chasm. Abruptly the dream changed and I saw the gravestone. It simply read, Our baby girl: Christie.
Christie? CHRISTIE? That was my name. How could the baby have my name? That’s when I’d woken up. My heart still thumped against my breastbone at the memory, and I had tears in my eyes. Not wanting to be alone, I went and found my mom cooking breakfast.
I told her about the dream, about the casket with the pink ribbon and seeing my name on the gravestone.
I saw shock hit my mom’s face. “What is it?” I asked, but was almost scared for her to answer.
“This is weird.”
“Your grandmother got pregnant a few months after your dad and I were married. It was a girl. She only lived a few weeks. You were named after her.”
The spookiness tiptoed up my spine as chills skittered up my neck. I looked at my mom and asked, “Why didn’t anyone cry?” Suddenly, I burst into tears.
My mom’s faced paled even more. “Your grandma told everyone no tears. She said she couldn’t handle the tears. We weren’t allowed to cry.”
I dropped down into a kitchen chair and asked the question burning inside me. “How could I have dreamed this?”
“I’m sure you heard the story,” Mom said.
“When? When could I have heard the story? I swear I never knew about her before now.”
“I don’t know, but you had to have heard it. How else would you have known this?”
To this day I think about that dream. I think about the little girl, my namesake. Did I really hear someone tell that story and my mind simply played it back as a dream? Or did the spirit of Christie somehow visit me? Did she need me to know about her? Did she need someone to cry for her?
I guess you see why my Shadow Falls series involves ghosts. There’s a part of me that believes in them. What about you? Do you believe in ghosts?
C.C.'s latest book, Whispers at Moonrise, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine retailers.
The infamous practical joke for which Phillippa has held a grudge for over a century? Alex jury-rigged a canister of molasses and a box of flour above the front door of the San Francisco vampire coven house (featured in Blood Magick). His intended target was Selene.
Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog. I’m feeling mighty comfy at Wild, Wicked and Wacky. October is the best month to be here in the southeastern part of Texas. Although we don’t experience the gorgeous rush of brilliant colors that most of the country has been wallowing in since September, we experience another huge phenomenon…The humidity and temperatures dip a little lower. Yes! That’s fall here in the Houston area…Priceless!
My latest release, BAD VIBES, is an October baby. It’s the third novel in my romantic thriller series: THE EDGE OF TEXAS. They’re set on the Texas coast, close to the US border with Mexico.
This is a gorgeous, semi-tropical part of the state. South Padre Island is a resort area built on a natural sand bar separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal Waterway. The ICW was dredged by the Army Corps of Engineers during WWII to protect our coast from enemy submarines. It runs all the way from the tip of Texas to Florida. One has to drive across the two-and-a-half miles Queen Isabella Causeway to reach The Island (as the locals call it) from Port Isabel. This area is a paradise for everyone who loves the water and water-related sports, nature and just relaxing.
If you check out the South Padre Events website, you will see some very colorful boat sails in the background. These are Hobie Cats (catamarans). I earned my freckles racing 16’ Hobies and South Padre was one of our regular regatta stops. Much fun and worth all the subsequent trips to the dermatologist for freckle checks.
BAD VIBES plunges Deputy Darla Calhoun into danger. She’s suffering a major heartache. Lonely and angry over her husband’s financial betrayal and suicide, Darla is carrying on in her usual plucky manner, holding her head high and trying to be a great mom to her twin 4-year-old sons and function as a member of the tight-knit law-enforcement team under the leadership of Sheriff Rafael Solis.
Darla arrests a vagrant, hanging around the marina, but after he’s cleaned up, she discovers a hunky, hard-body with a smoldering gaze hidden beneath the filthy rags. He turns out to be a federal agent working undercover. He’s after a gang of human traffickers using the Intracoastal Waterway to bring sex slaves into the United States from Mexico. Rafael assigns Darla as liaison officer to work with the feds, bringing her face-to-face with the “Iceman”, Mike Burke, the undercover agent she arrested. Darla, Mike and his partner tear up and down the Intracoastal Waterway in pursuit of the human traffickers, but when two local women disappear, the search becomes personal.
In the following excerpt, things have gotten personal between Darla and Mike. They are cruising the ICW with Mike’s partner, Freddy, trying to get ahead of the suspect boat:
Darla reclined in a deck chair, waving to passing boaters like a beauty queen on a parade float. She had a triple dose of sunscreen and wore one of Mike’s long-sleeved shirts.
Ostensibly, they were a trio of boaters out for a pleasure cruise up the Intracoastal Waterway. Fishing rods stood like sentinels in their holders at the stern.
Freddy manned the helm and Mike kept a sharp watch from the port side.
She focused her attention on each boat they passed and called out greetings along the way. All the while she remained acutely aware of the man standing on the other side of the deck.
The previous night, after making love to her in what was the single most awesome, earth-shaking act in her limited sexual experience; Mike had cradled her in his arms for the remainder of the night. Then in the morning, he’d conducted a quick refresher course, in case she had forgotten how incredible he had been the night before. She was extremely grateful that the twins were sleeping at her parent’s house.
She forced herself to pay attention to the other boaters, aware that her wide grin had nothing to do with them.
“What’s that up ahead to the starboard?” Mike called out. He was pointing at a stolid square of black, rusting metal sitting low in the water along the side of the canal.
“It’s huge!” Freddy said. “Some kind of barge.”
Mike took a stroll to the starboard side on the pretense of talking to Darla. “It doesn’t appear to be manned.”
A rusting metal ladder was welded to the side of the barge, extending down to the water line.
Darla made note of the identifying numbers and markings on the side of the barge and passed the slip of paper to Mike. He carried the information to the stern and Freddy called for identification.
Mike returned to where Darla sat and handed her a soft drink in a Koozy.
When he stood beside her, his leg grazed her thigh, sending goose bumps skittering across her skin like a herd of frenzied ladybugs.
He must have felt it too. He grinned at her and then bent down to collect a kiss.
Darla giggled at him. “So, is playing passionate tourist a part of your cover?”
“It is, if you’re going to sit there looking better in my shirt than I do.”
“Remind me to throw Freddy overboard and lick you all over.”
She pretended to make a note of it, all the while nurturing the glow she felt inside. The glow that grew whenever he looked at her, or touched her, or breathed air on the same planet.
She tried to maintain a neutral expression as she glanced up at him. Oh, God! I’m so in love with him!
I hope everyone has a chance to visit South Padre Island and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. In the meantime, you can visit through my series and keep up with the happenings. My goal is to entertain…and keep you up nights. ;-) *hugs*
The gorgeous Gemma Halliday posted a blog at Killer Fiction on Friday that is a must-read for all writers. She skewers five Myths About Traditional Publishing. And before anyone accuses Gemma of being "special," this is a writer who has battled in the trenches of Hollywood as well New York.
In most cases, when you work at a salaried office job, you get sick leave. If you've been worshipping the procelain god all night, or get a call from school that your kid is, you can curl up at home, take care of things, heal yourself, and not have to worry about money.
Then there's the rest of us.
With hourly-wage folks, there's a monkey on your back called your boss. You know he or she will fire you if you don't come in to work. You need this job to survive, and you force yourself out of bed, swallow some aspirin, and head to the store or factory.
Even if you're a traditionally published writer, there's a contract that gives you a deadline and a publisher that you're accountable to. Penguin has shown that they will no longer put up with writers who don't deliver their manuscripts. So the fear kicks in and you type.
But for those of us who freelance or own our businesses, the only person we're accountable to is ourselves. And I can tell you right now, this is where most indie writers will lose their battle.
It's easy, so very easy, when your nose is dripping, your head is pounding and your throat feels like you've swallowed broken glass to crawl back in bed and say, "Fuck this shit."
It's easy to do it the next day too because you still can't breathe. Then something happens with the kid or the spouse or the dog, and you tell youself, "I'll catch up tomorrow." And the next thing you know, the entire month is gone and you haven't written a damn word. You tell yourself, "It doesn't matter. My first book wasn't selling that great anyway."
Except I can't. Right now, I am selling books. If I don't write more, I have no new stories to sell. If I have no new stories to sell, people can't buy them. If people can't buy them, I make no money for the Ricola cough drops sitting next to me right now, much less groceries, electricity, etc.
On top of me sounding like the entire seal chorus at Sea World, GK had to have oral surgery for an impacted wisdom tooth yesterday. So I'm here in the kitchen, trying not to sneeze in GK's cherry Jell-O I'm making and finish up Seasons of Magick: Winter because I have a business, I have self-imposed deadlines, and I have readers I am NOT disappointing.
[Author's Note: Any typos in this post I thoroughly blame on the manufacturers of the drugs I am currently taking. Except for the folks at Ricola. Gotta love Swiss cough drops!]
Amazon, aka "The Evil Empire" in some circles, has tapped into yet another way to cause writers anxiety and sleepless night. They now have added Amazon Author Rank to our Author Central pages.
Like we're not freaked out enough by our book rankings?
I do understand that it's in beta stage, but I think it definitely needs some work. Why? Because in the e-mail they sent me last night, "Suzan Harden" was ranked #1102 in the category of Erotica.
WTF? Suzan writes hot, humorous paranormal/urban fantasy. Okay, maybe the Seasons of Magick series slides a little into erotica, but really? Zombie Confidential has been in the top 100 of the Women Sleuths - Free catagory for a while now. To me, that ranking makes much more sense than Erotica.
Alter Ego definitely writes erotica, but when I checked her Author Central account, her Author Rank was not activated. It'll be interesting to see where she ends up.
Anybody else gotten oddball rankings from Amazon's beta Author Rank system yet?
I know, I know, I used the “P” word. I can see my grandma in Heaven looking down at me, doing her famous finger wave and saying, “Young lady, you take that back right now.”
First, I’d tell grandma, “I can’t take it back, because I don’t have the purple penis, I was one of the envious ones and not the receiver of this great gift.” Second, I’d tell her, and ya’ll too, “Bear with me, give me just a little lead way here.”
Because this blog is truly a wonderful and heart-felt story. But I couldn’t tell the story without using the “P” word, because well, it’s just part of the story.
Let me start at the beginning. (I know, some of you are probably wanting me to jump right to the purple penis, but nope, you gotta hear the whole story.)
I have these friends—there are four of us. We’re all writers, varying ages, all young at heart, but all of us have racked up enough years to remember Elvis. And one of us is old enough to have actually dated him.
We come together once a month for a revival of life. While we do some critiquing, we are mainly a support group. To protect the guilty, I won’t mention names, but Suzan, Jody and Nancy know who they are.
Anyway, we meet at Paneras, a happening restaurant with Wi-fi, good food, and staff and clientele who tolerate us when we get loud. And yeah, that happens more times than not.
We don’t have a lot of rules. Well except one, “What happens in Paneras stays in Paneras.” I apologize profusely for breaking that one rule, but the purple penis story is just too good not to share. Besides, this is just with you guys, right?
So, we came together a while back. And as it is in life, we all bring with us our celebrations, i.e.: a new contract, a new outfit, a husband who finally found the spot (I’m talking about the spot on the floor) anyway, we all love to celebrate the good stuff. And in case you are wondering, there’s no alcohol beverages served. But only because it’s too early.
With four of us, that means we have eight shoulders, and if anyone needs one to cry on, or whine on, there’s always one available. Of course, we won’t let anyone wallow too long, life’s too short.
Some weeks we spend our whining time commiserating about how a two-pound cheesecake can pack on five pounds. We whimper a bit about teenagers being teenagers and how we wish we were like other mammals and just ate our young when we had the chance. We may momentarily mutter bad things about deadlines biting us in the butt, and spend a few short seconds moaning about doggy diarrhea. (Hey, there’s nothing we can’t talk about.)
But sometimes life throws us the crappier problems, (yeah, crappier than doggy diarrhea) and this last month, there must have been some clearance sale on crap because there seems to have been a lot to go around.
Things such as a recent loss of a parent, family issues, dying pets, job transfers out of state, health problems, and health problems of a spouse. The kind of problems that if one isn’t careful, can rob you of your joy.
Thank goodness we’re careful. Thank goodness we have each other. And for that particular day, thank goodness for the purple penis.
So imagine us, arriving at the restaurant--hearts a little heavier than usual. Suzan starts pulling out these really nice Hallmark gift boxes—keepsake type of boxes—from a bag.
“These are for you guys. Just because I appreciate all you do.”
Now, we all love gifts, but surprise gifts are the best. She hands us each our specific box. And we start opening them. Inside my box is lots of tissue, beneath I find a Willow Tree statue of an angel that I collect, and a leather bookmark. I love it! I watch Nancy open hers; she has journal books, a nice pen, as well as a bookmark. Then Jody opens her box, unfolds the tissue, and she pulls out a purple object. She holds it up in the middle of the table as we all try to wrap our minds around what it is. I mean, I had an angel and she had . . .
My mouth drops open.
Nancy just gapes.
Jody continues to stare.
Suzan . . . Suzan waits. Yeah, she knows what will happen . . . eventually.
I see in Jody’s eyes the exact second when she realizes that she’s holding a purple vibrator up in the middle of a booth in a crowded restaurant.
Her eyes grow round as quarters; her mouth goes a little slack. She throws the penis back in her box. And slams the lid down.
And Nancy and I do what I’m sure all of you would have done.
We immediately start digging around in our boxes, removing tissue, searching to see if we’d missed our own penises.
Yup, Nancy and I have a serious case of purple penis envy. Jody continues to hold her hand on the top of the box, it almost looks as if she’s afraid the thing might try to escape. But in reality, we all know what’s going on. She’s afraid we’ll take it from her.
Hey, we couldn’t help it. It was a really nice penis. I personally think a couple of men sitting at the next table had penis envy. Yeah, we were getting quite a few looks.
Then Suzan, managing to hold a straight face, says to Jody, “Remember the time we were looking at the erotica basket at conference and you whined that you’d never had a purple penis? Well, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t afford to buy you the 12-inch, but it has adjustable speeds.”
That’s when it happened.
We all lose it and start to laugh, not the snickering, or proper lady-like kind of laughs, but those deep laughs that come straight from your toes.
We laugh until several of us have tears in our eyes.
We laugh until all the heavy burdens in our lives seem less like insurmountable burdens and more like things we can and will overcome.
And we stayed at that restaurant for almost four hours reveling in each other’s company.
You know, in this life we’ll all stumble across tough times, but those times can be a lot easier to deal with if you have friendships, laughter, and sometimes even a purple penis.
So what about you guys? Do you have good friends that you share your burdens and laughter with? And because I just had a release, I’m giving away . . . No, it’s not a purple penis. It’s a Shadow Falls T-shirt and an e-copy of Born at Midnight, my first book in the series. Just leave a comment by midnight CDT on October 15th!
This incident happened three years ago. So much has happened to all of us since then, including Christie hitting the NYT Bestseller List in her alter-ego, YA author C.C. Hunter.
Here's the blurb for her latest Shadow Falls book, Whispers at Moonrise!
Shadow Falls Camp is back in session with the most explosive installment yet. A shocking new threat will rock Shadow Falls—changing it forever and altering Kylie’s journey in ways she never imagined.
Even at a camp for supernatural teens, Kylie Galen has never been normal. Not only can she see ghosts, but she doesn’t seem to belong to any one species—she exhibits traits from them all. As Kylie struggles to unlock the secrets of her identity, she begins to worry that Lucas will never be able to accept her for what she is, and what she isn’t…a werewolf. With his pack standing in their way, Kylie finds herself turning more and more to Derek, the only person in her life who’s willing to accept the impossible.
As if life isn’t hard enough, she starts getting visits from the ghost of Holiday, her closest confidante. Trouble is, Holiday isn’t dead…not yet anyway. Now Kylie must race to save one of her own from an unseen danger before it’s too late—all while trying to stop her relationship with Lucas from slipping away forever. In a world of constant confusion, there’s only one thing Kylie knows for sure. Change is inevitable and all things must come to an end…maybe even her time at Shadow Falls.
I know you all think I'm insane already. The title of this blog proves it, right?
But right now, in the crazy maelstrom that is publishing, one theme keeps popping up under different guises:
Too many pundits to pick just one: How's a reader supposed to find anything worthwhile in the giant slush pile publishing has become?
Bob Mayer: The writer's big problem is no longer distribution. It's discoverability.
Jason Ashlock: The author's biggest enemy today is not piracy, but obscurity.
Here's my thinking: If your book has gotten enough attention that someone wants to pirate it, then you've risen above the slush.
I'll probably get a lot of flack for this view, and that's all right.
I'm not advocating piracy. I think it's a douche move. This is my livelihood you're talking about. My sales are how I pay for my groceries, my son's school supplies, the roof over my head. I'd really appreciate it if no one would pirate my books.
But reality is 180 degrees from our ideal world, and I acknowledge the fact that there are douches out there who think stealing is okay and justifiable. Here's the thing--a thief isn't going to steal something unless they believe it's valuable and they think other people find value in the object as well.
In a weird sort of way, it was a compliment when I stumbled across two of my books on two different pirate sites. It meant my books had received enough attention and someone found enough value in my work to think it was worth stealing.
At least, the pirates were a little more honest in their theft than the jerk on Amazon who bought four of my books, read them and returned them for a full refund.
Frankly, I think banning books makes for a stupider America. It's one thing to decide whether your child is READY to read a particular book. It's another thing to TELL ME whether or not MY child CAN read a particular book.
In fact, I think all teens should read Mein Kampf. Why? Because it shows how normal-sounding a HOMICIDAL PSYCHOPATH can be!
Here's a list of books I've read from ABFFE's most commonly challenged book list for 2012:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou Forever by Judy Blume The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky Brave New World by Aldous Huxley The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
There's a lot of books on the list, like The Catcher in the Rye, I simply haven't gotten to yet. Then there's others, like Catch-22, I was surpised to see not on the list this year. Joseph Heller's classic was a big stick up parents' collective asses when I was in high school.
Here's the thing, and this is me as a parent of a preteen saying this, the kids are going to learn about this stuff anyway. Wouldn't you want to open a dialogue with your kids about these subjects before street myths get stuck in their little brains?
Last Monday, I watched a special pre-screening of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which included a Q&A with writer/director Stephen Chbosky. The movie is based on Chbosky's 1999 YA book of the same name.
Since Chbosky wrote the screenplay and directed the movie, it is very faithful to the real story. Only the very beginning of the movie touches on the format of the book, a series of letters from the protagonist Charlie to an unnamed friend detailing Charlie's freshman year in high school.
Seniors Patrick and Sam take Charlie under their wings, but neither are in any position to really help. Patrick is madly in love with one of the school's jock, who can't admit his homosexuality. Sam's lack of self-esteem leads to a series of bad encounters with other boys. A series of tragic events in their lives lead to Charlie's eventual admission that his aunt sexually abused him.
The young actors in the film, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller brought a visceral reaction to the characters where a certain distance between the reader and the characters in the book. I felt the kids confusion and pain, and frankly, I was bawling through the last fifteen minutes of the movie. Overall, the subplots left out because of the film's length (like the pregnancy of Charlie's sister, also a senior) didn't affect the story. If anything, the story was tightened by leaving them out. (Yes, I have read the book.)
If you haven't read the book, there is much some adults find objectionable: homosexuality, teen sex, teen pregnancy, drug use, alcohol use, etc.
But here are my thoughts:
1) Adults need to get over themselves. Kids are facing these issues NOW, like it or not.
2) If your kids aren't facing these issues, are you helping them to practice on how they'll deal with them when they're eventually faced with them?
3) This movie is an excellent way for parents to open up a dialogue with their kids. By that, I mean ACTUAL LISTEN TO THEM.
This was a beautiful film for anyone age thirteen and up. Especially for the 'and up' crowd.
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