Category Archives: Introductions

Meet BookYArd member, Rin Chupeco!

2014 is set to be an amazing ear for most of us BookYArd authors. There’s a first of everything set to happen this year – first book being published, first experiences with interacting with readers, first steps toward fulfilling our dreams of becoming writers.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of 14 firsts I’d like to share. With my first book, The Girl from the Well, due out in August, most of these are going to be – yup – rather ghost-centric.

First Book: The Ghost in the Cupboard

This was the first book I remember reading, and might have probably also influenced my love for horror books later on. Surprisingly, this wasn’t scary at all – it was about a young ghost who was living in a cupboard and decided one day to leave and explore the world, and who couldn’t understand why people were so frightened of him. (And now that I think about it, this book had more influence on the book I would eventually write than I first thought, because of my protagonist’s perception of herself as more than just a frightening ghost, though she looks the part.)

First Favorite Novel: Pet Sematary, by Stephen King

My first foray into the world of horror novels started out completely as an accident. I was six years old who’d been reading for a couple of years by then, but I was slowly growing tired of all the “kiddie-ish” books I’d been given so far. I was addicted to fairy tales at that stage however, and I suspected that the books lining the bookshelves in my parents’ room was my Mecca for all things potion-y and draconic.

In the end, I singled out a book with the picture of an odd-looking cat on the cover. The graveyard shown behind said cat had no impact on me – I figured it would be a nice story about a pet cat, because I recognized what ‘Pet’ meant, but not what ‘Sematary’ meant.

I’m not going to say I understood everything I read then, but I knew enough to recognize that this was a ghost story, and I was thrilled. Ghost Stories were still a grey area in the list of reading material I was allowed access to, and my childish mind delighted at reading what was to my way of thinking, a ‘banned book’. As I grew older, and learned to appreciate more of King’s nuances, I began reading more and more and more: Cujo, Carrie, The Stand, It, Christie. I was hooked.

 

First Favorite Horror Movie: Monster Squad

I will be completely honest here: I didn’t have as much experience with true horror movies back in my childhood the way I had with books. Asian horror wasn’t something that anyone had been able to introduce me to back then, since there was no one I knew then who loved it the way I loved horror books. As a result , I was treated to a lot of American-based horror movies, which I enjoyed but found lacking in some way: Jaws, Gremlins, Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hellraiser, It and almost every movie based on a Stephen King book, for obvious reasons. They had a lot of the gore, but not much on the scare.

Nevertheless, I came across this gem of a movie:

It isn’t exactly a true horror movie. In fact, it’s listed as a horror / comedy though I didn’t know it then. But I LOVED it. It was about a group of kids ganging up to defeat Dracula, the Werewolf, and a host of other undead to save the world. How can this not appeal to kids like me then, the ones who’d read so many books and watched so many things and wanted to be a heroine of her own? I must have watched this about fifty times.

 

First Favorite Actual Horror Movie: Ju-On

In 2002, this movie came out, and I fell in love.

Sure, Ringu had been making the rounds before it, but I wasn’t impressed. There were some good scenes, but nothing made me jump out of my seat – not even the climactic climb-out-of-the-television scene could assuage the borefest that came before it.

But Ju-On. Oh, lordy – Ju-On! You think she can’t get you while you’re hiding under your covers? You’re wrong. Think you’ll be safe by staying with a crowd? NOPE. Maybe they’re just a figment of your imagination? Half the time the characters don’t even see the ghost when they appear, but Kayako sure as hell makes sure the viewers do. Ju-On takes all the standard this-will-make-you-feel-safe tropes and tricks and then crap all over it. And the kicker? There is no cure for her. There is no hero to come save the day, no final girl. She will come at you until you die, and that is it. Here, my love for Asian horror began.

 

Favorite Ghost Story Book: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

I love these books so much as a kid, and they’re still the treasures of my collection – and have you seen the illustrations? If it’s scary enough that someone’s tried to ban it countless times, you know it’s a good book.

 

Favorite Ghost Story Legend: The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

I think it appealed to me as a kid because the alleged photo of the Brown Lady is the first documented picture I know where no one has been able to prove that it was a forgery. This idea was such a compelling one – I don’t do ghost hunting myself, but I do enjoy shows featuring them and I like the idea of superstitious beliefs meeting technology that attempts to explain them (I am guilty of watching Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, Haunted Encounters, among many others).

Eight Other Things About Me, In the Hopes You Won’t Think I’m Just a Creepy Horror-loving Kid:

1. The first career I really wanted to have was as an archeologist. I LOVE dinosaurs. I could pronounce Tyrannosaurus Rex and Archaeopteryx at four years old, but it took me years to learn to say ‘parrot’ and ‘barbell’ correctly. I wanted to have a velociraptor for a pet back before it was cool to say you wanted a velociraptor for a pet.

I still love them, years later. Jurassic Park has and always will be my favorite movie – even if technically, some of the dinosaurs featured didn’t live during the Jurassic period.

2. On a similar note, I had an odd lisp as a kid, and couldn’t say my rr’s correctly. (I still have difficulty rolling the rr’s). It doesn’t help that my full name is Erin, which meant I constantly referred to myself as “Eween” without meaning to. (On the plus side, ‘Eween’ eventually became my user handle during my college Counterstrike FPS-playing days.)

3. Also related to the Counterstrike mention: I’m a self-professed girl gamer. I have played so many RPGs (the only reason I didn’t play Warcraft was because I couldn’t afford the subscription fees) and I have done Ultima Online, Ragnarok, Eve, Diablo, Guild Wars, and so many other things most of you have probably never heard of. Small anecdote: I was playing God of War during a Sony marketing event once, and a crowd had gathered to watch. I failed to notice a group of kids up front watching me play until I had…. violently beheaded (read: ripped the head off the body of) the sun god, Helios. The teachers were NOT happy with me, but everyone else thought it was hilarious. You can say I am not much of an Angry Birds fan.

I also love survival horror (Silent Hill, Fatal Frame) which can be pretty good inspirations for the squick.

waaah NOP

Also: comic book geek, specializing in Marvel.

4. I have been mistaken as a ghost several times, all through no fault of my own. My younger sister refuses to sleep in the same room as me because she claimed I literally slept (looking) like the dead, and I have scared a lot of people working in old office buildings where I also am at, especially because I pulled in a lot of overtimes and usually left after most of the lights were out. (I earned the nickname ‘Sadako’ this way.)

5. Unlike what some people might think, especially given the first half of this post, I actually don’t believe in ghosts. I was also never a goth kind of girl, although I’m pretty sure I looked the part. I acknowledge that ghosts could exist, but until enough evidence presents itself I’m not convinced. I like the idea of ghosts as a means we can use to explain the inexplicable, but I also understand human perception of their environment can sometimes play tricks on our brains. (People like Carl Sagan and Neil DeGrasse Tyson are some of my personal heroes, which could explain a few things).

6. I identify myself as Chinese-Filipino (Chinese by ethnicity, and Filipino by birth and citizenship) but it’s actually a lot more complicated than that. I have some Spanish on my paternal grandmother’s side, some Thai and/or Malay on my maternal grandmother’s, but I’ve never really known the true ratio. My grandfather left China for the Philippines to escape the Cultural Revolution, and my paternal grandparents were never actually married. (My grandfather was actually married to someone else, and my grandmother was his mistress / concubine. I never really knew about the rest of his family, because he’d broken off all contact) My family history had always been murky (and reads like a convoluted Chinese period soap opera), though I’d always hoped to one day find out more about it.

7. I am also a big crime junkie. I love CSI shows (even when they’re not entirely accurate) and documentaries like Forensic Files, and almost everything in Crime and Investigation channel. I have books about murders and serial killers and criminal forensics – I think it’s mostly because I want to know how the criminal mind works, and I was very interested for a long time with criminal profiling. I think the idea of reading about these killers and learning about all the steps that led to capturing them and bringing them to justice had the most appeal to me. (I love Agatha Christie – I have all her 80 books – and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe books too, so this might be another influence)

8. I was born and have spent pretty much all my life in the Philippines. It’s not as violent and as scary a place to live in as you might think, although I have been witness to a bus bombing and a couple of mall explosions. Driving is still a major cause of injury here, mostly because everyone treats the (sometimes contradicting) traffic laws as suggestions rather than actual rules. Manila is probably one of the ugliest, traffic-congested cities in Asia, but many other places outside of the city are so astonishingly beautiful – OUR BEACHES, GUYS.

Alona Beach, Bohol, Philippines

(image originally from here)

Panglao Island, Philippines

(image originally from here)

And my personal favorite: White Beach, BoracayIsland, Philippines during the off-season.

 

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Meet BookYArd Member, Mary Crockett!

2014 will be a year of firsts for us. As debut authors, we’ll learn what it feels like to hold our books in our hands for the first time. We’ll crack open the covers of our newly printed books and read those first words. We might even be asked to sign a first copy for a friend.

So, in the spirit of firsts, I’ve compiled a list of 14 firsts about my life. And since Dream Boy is all about dreams (both literal and metaphorical), I thought I’d start my list of firsts there.

First dream (literal): Frankenstein, Marilyn Monroe, and some random adults were at a party in a huge white room with a vast sunken hot-tub. Witches showed up and paralyzed everybody. Um… yeah, I was a weird little girl.

All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, including Frankenstein head by Cortlandt Hull and witch by Babayaga 14556. Mash-up courtesy of the disturbed imagination of a four-year-old Mary Crockett.
All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, including Frankenstein head by Cortlandt Hull and witch by Babayaga 14556. Mash-up courtesy of the disturbed imagination of a four-year-old Mary Crockett.

First dream (metaphorical): To take off on a cross-country trip with a sexy, kind, and soulful motor-cycle-driving poet.

Photo by Ashley Webb, Flickr Creative Commons. Sexy talk by T.S. Eliot.
Photo by Ashley Webb, Flickr Creative Commons. Sexy talk by T.S. Eliot.

First books: We only had a handful of worn picture books around the house when I was a little kid, so I ended up studying the same books over and over. Some of them I didn’t even particularly like, but by the time I was six, they had become part of my bones. In place of my left femur, I have It Looked Like Spilt Milk. Where once was my sternum is Pitidoe the Color Maker. And somewhere around my fibula, just where it belongs, is Don Freeman’s Space Witch.

X-ray of writer's skeleton
X-ray of kidlit writer’s skeleton

First book I became genuinely obsessed with: Ella Fannie’s Elephant Riddle Book by Ann Bishop. PURE GENIUS! (I’m still kind of obsessed.)

Ella Fannie Elephant Riddle Book
Ella Fannie Elephant Riddle Book — Ann Bishop, wherever you are, I love you!
Question: Why are baby elephants gray?
Answer: So you can tell them apart from blueberries.
Question: What do you get when you cross and elephant with a dog?
Answer: A nervous mailman.
Question: What do you call elephants who ride trains?
Answer: Passengers.

First novel I howled over like a stuck pig: Forever… by Judy Blume.

Various editions of Judy Blume's Forever (which may well be in print... forever....)
Various editions of Judy Blume’s Forever (which, from the look of things, may be in print forever)

First poem I wrote: “Amy and the Ants,” a three-page epic of rhyming couplets in which a little girl teams up with the ants of the world to save humanity (and ant-ity) from nuclear apocalypse.

These high tops are not nearly as outlandish and shiny as my metallic high tops of yore, but they are pretty great. Photo by Riley Alexandra, Flickr Creative Commons.
These high tops are not nearly as outlandish and shiny as my metallic high tops of yore, but they are pretty great. Photo by Riley Alexandra, Flickr Creative Commons.

First shoes I loved: Metallic silver hightops.

First job: Toilet-seat hand model.

First baby: Not a human child at all, but a beagle-chihuahua mutt who let me know she was not only my baby, but she was also The Queen.

Queen Spice The Snaggletooth
Queen Spice the Snaggletooth in her backseat junk pile throne

Sadly, Spice died years ago, but the good news is that she lives on as the star of Dream Boy. (Ok, her spirit possessed me for a second there and made me write the word star. Let me clarify: She is, in fact, a character in Dream Boy, but she’s not the star, she’s just the… ACK! POSSESSION!… Eternal QUEEEEEEN. Bow down, ye measly humans, before the Wonder that is Spice!)

First lie: I ate 50 mini-Butterfingers, and when my father asked if by chance I had gotten into the Butterfingers, I said that I most certainly had not. Then I puked a bucket full of Butterfingers and didn’t eat another one for many, many years.

First thing that, in the words of my mother, could have broken my neck: Jumping off a cliff. (What can I say? My friends were doing it.)

First kiss: A boy named Jimmy whom I had never seen before and have never seen since.

First crush, first love, first husband, current husband, hopefully only husband ever: Stewart.

First time someone stumbled upon a copy of Dream Boy, read it, and let Madelyn and me know they liked it: Ok, this hasn’t happened yet. But you know, 2014 is a year of firsts… and my irrepressible hopefulness is one of my more annoying qualities.

~

MaryCrockett LookawayMary Crockett is the coauthor of Dream Boy (with Madelyn Rosenberg), coming July 1. You can read more about her first poem, job, kiss, and love here, and can find a poem about Spice here.

Add Dream Boy to your Goodreads list here and preorder it here.

14 Facts with Sarah Bromley

I’m not good at talking about myself. It’s this little thing called shyness. As a writer, I’m REALLY good at gushing over other peoples’ books but don’t really know what to say when it comes to my own.

That said, I messed up and forgot to introduce A MURDER OF MAGPIES and myself to all of you. So here’s a quick 14 things about MAGPIES and me.

  1. My great-aunt owned a funeral home, and my father was a church organist. Because of this, any time I was home sick from school as a child, I almost always had to go to a funeral. I am sure this warped me in some fashion.
  2. The main character of A MURDER OF MAGPIES, Vayda, got her name from a friend’s daughter because I loved it. I’d first heard it in the movie, “My Girl,” but had no idea how to spell it.
  3. My great-uncle, “Snowshoe” Al, was an author. He published a few collections of short stories. They are rather bawdy and off-color and not at all the kinds of books that children should read.
  4. In A MURDER OF MAGPIES, Ward loves the Velvet Underground. When my husband and I first began dating, he gave me a cassette (yes, it was that long ago) with a recording of “The Velvet Underground & Nico.”
  5. I am ambidextrous and need to work with my hands or I get fidgety. I play several instruments and am frequently found in jeans splattered with paint from various projects or dirt from gardening.
  6. I met my husband when I was a baby. Our mothers were best friends, and I have known him my entire life. We have been together longer than we haven’t.
  7. Like Jonah and Vayda in A MURDER OF MAGPIES, I have a strange, somewhat telepathic link with my sister. We always know what the other is thinking and can tell when something good or bad has happened to the other. I also frequently have recurring or intuitive dreams and experience deja vu.
  8. Different careers I entertained because my funeral home-owning aunt insisted I needed a real job and not a fantasy: special education teacher, forensic analyst, graphic designer, hospice nurse. Different jobs I actually held: activities person in a home for severally developmentally impaired children, video store clerk, restaurant hostess, and library assistant at an art museum. In addition to being a writer, I also stay home with my three children and three dogs.
  9. I am 4’10” and because of this, I was often put inside lockers and even once set on top of a vending machine by taller classmates. I am highly skilled with getting things off high shelves using a pair of tongs.
  10. The book that made me decide to be a writer was THE SILVER KISS by Annette Curtis Klaus.
  11. I listened to countless versions of the old Santo & Johnny song, “Sleepwalk,” when I wrote A MURDER OF MAGPIES.
  12. Vayda’s mother has a bit of classic Hollywood actress Vivien Leigh in her.
  13. I am one heck of a cook. I can throw down like no one’s business.
  14. I wrote my first short story when I was about nine years old. A MURDER OF MAGPIES will come out when I’m thirty-four. Never let go of your dreams.

14 Random Things With Danielle Ellison

Hello everyone! I’m pretty excited to be here at the BookYArd. I love reading books while sitting in the grass with some iced coffee and good friends, so this is pretty much the best thing ever. It’s going to be a fun year!

In honor of my first post, I’m going tell you 14 random things about myself (or whatever I think of as I’m filling in this list!)

1. I am a fangirl. I love TV shows, music, books, everything! I really love my TV shows and they are my sanity.

2. Book quote that I love: “Certainly it would be wonderful if we all knew exactly who we were. But that knowledge doesn’t come from the outside, but from the inside.” ~Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (page 282)

3.  This clip makes me laugh EVERY. TIME. (Pivot!)

4.  I have a lot of jobs. (It’s exhausting and hopefully not forever.) I’m a bookseller at an indie store, an editor, teach classes theater to kids, work as a morning nanny to put kids on the school bus and there’s writing.

5. I love love love London, and I wish I could be British. 

London
I took this! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6.  The sound of E.T. walking was made by someone squishing her hands in jelly. (You’re welcome for that life-changing fact.)

7. I have had (approximately/at least) 29 addresses in my life. 

8.  Salt is the title of my book — and a handy item to have around. Need proof? Well, here’s my book and here’s 60 ways to use salt. (You’re welcome again.)

9. I hate the…ellipsisMostly because writers misuse them (ie. the way I did it was just wrong!) and they tend to act as crutch instead of the purpose they were made for! I can rant on this forever, but here’s a breakdown. 9b. In related news: I love em-dashes. I have to edit them out because of overuse! 

10.  I’m such a fangirl (see #1) that I went to a glorious convention and met all my favorite actors from Supernatural. They were pretty, nice, and smelled really, really, really good.

spnpics

11. I could survive off of pizza and cereal. Gluten-free, of course.

12. I can’t pronounce the word “color” vs “collar.” It’s weird because I know the difference, know the difference in the meaning, know how they sound when other people say them, but I can’t say them differently.

13. I hate blue pens! (I like black pens or fun colors.) However, if I’m using a yellow notepad, then I only like blue. It’s weird; I know.

2013-12-18 11.24.20

14. I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. But I know that one day I will figure it all out.

And now you know a little about me.  Share some of your own random facts in the comments/online!  I’m on twitter @DanielleEWrites.

Meet BookYArd Member, AdriAnne Strickland!

Since there are 14 of us hanging out here at the BookYArd, and my book, WORDLESS, debuts this new year of 2014 (like the majority of our books), I thought I’d use the number 14 in my introductory post. So without further ado, here are 14 semi-random facts about me and my book!

  1. I was a bibliophile who wanted to be an author before I knew what either of those words meant.
  2. Before I wanted to be an author, I wanted to be Indiana Jones.
  3. I also wanted to be an otter in Brian Jacques’ Redwall series. I sort of still do.DSC_0371
  4. Every summer in Alaska, my husband and I commercial fish for red salmon on our boat that I named the CATCH-22.
  5. The release date for WORDLESS—August 8th, 2014!—was partially determined by my fishing schedule.
  6. Eden City, the setting of WORDLESS, was inspired by Geneva, Switzerland, where my husband grew up.
  7. I am addicted to em dashes—it’s a problem.
  8. I’m also addicted to kimchi. I ferment it in five gallon buckets and then I eat all of it.
  9. I’m not addicted to, but am deeply love with micro-brewed beer from Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and Michigan.
  10. While WORDLESS only has a touch of romance in it—but definitely a touch!—I’ve read GRACELING about 500 times for the intense romance. *swoon*
  11. The tagline for WORDLESS was inspired by the religious phrase, which I came across during my research for a previous book, but the story itself is not religious at all.Wordless tagline crop
  12. I lived in China and was once conversant in Mandarin Chinese, but now I’ve been falling down on the job.
  13. I cooked over a wood fire and hauled water from a river on an everyday basis while living in the fishing village of Ebodje, Cameroon, for a few months.ebodje meal
  14. My name has a capital A in the middle of it.

In summation, much like this list my life is semi-random and more than a little crazy. Nice to meet you!

Come say hi to me on Twitter @adriannems or on my website!