Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you all have a great Halloween weekend – our days are filled with trick or treating, and a costume birthday party for a certain boy turning 9 years old (yikes!).

Over on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, she’s sponsoring her annual Halloweensie contest. We are challenged to write a 100-word Halloween story for children using the words costume, dark and, haunt.

Every year I find the 100-word limit VERY challenging, and some years I feel particularly uninspired (like this year), but here goes:

SPARKLE AND SHINE

Winnie knew her costume was a mistake. Inside, her sparkles had shined in all the right places. But outside in the dark night, everything was gray.

A haunted ghost passed her. She should have dressed scary.

Her sister Jean walked up dressed in a fluffy tutu. “I know what you’re missing,” Jean said.

She pointed her flashlight at Winnie. Colored reflections circled everywhere.

“Now lead the way,” Jean said.

Winnie raised her chin and proudly led them through the neighborhood. She returned home with a grin on her face, candy in her tummy, and big plans for next year’s costume.

 

Head over to Susanna’s site and check out all the great entries!

On a side note, for the next few months I will be posting to the blog less frequently. Please stick around – hopefully you’ll find the quality more valuable than the quantity.

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A Sequel to a Classic and a Poll Update!

Many of you may have read in the news this week about Harper Lee, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird. Ms. Lee is now 88 years old, and the manuscript she wrote before To Kill a Mockingbird back in the 1950s was recently discovered, and will be published in June. It takes place 20 years later, when an adult Scout comes back to visit her father.

Besides my curiosity on what this story might contain, what struck me most was a statement that the publisher made. They stated that the story would be published in its entirety (300 and some pages) without revision. Why no revision? Is it because Ms. Lee’s capabilities at 88 aren’t what they were 50 years ago? Because it is so perfect that no revision is required (I doubt it)? Or perhaps as Joanna noted, if it were revised it would be through a completely different lens than she would have had 50 years ago. Her experiences and perspective would have colored and changed how she writes, for better or worse.

I am most interested in a more craft-driven academic comparison of the two works, rather than excited for the story itself. My experience with To Kill a Mockingbird is the reason for my current approach to movies made from books. Back when I first experienced To Kill a Mockingbird, I saw the movie first. Once I read the book, it did not have any chance to be as interesting – how the story played out in my head was completely driven by the black and white images of Gregory Peck that I had already seen. Today, I swear by reading the book first, before I watch the movie. Then my own images are already rooted in my mind, and I can enjoy the movie from the perspective of seeing how the filmmaker might interpret the material. Often my mental images are richer, but sometimes the filmmakers can use technology to create some pretty amazing things (especially with fantasy or sci-fi materials).

Are you interested in reading Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman, when it comes out in June?

An update on the poll we ran a few weeks back: There was a glitch in the poll that prevented us from getting complete results. Here’s your second chance to participate! Take a minute to tell us in the comments what type of book is your favorite, and we will choose a winner who will receive a book from a Connecticut or Wyoming author.

Some possibilities:

Funny

Fantasy/ Science Fiction

Realism

Non-Fiction

Mystery/Suspense

Thriller/Crime

Textbook

Other- whatever else might trip your fancy!

Welcome to the new and improved blog!

After almost three years writing at A Life Spent Reading, we’ve learned much about what we like to blog about, what our readers enjoy hearing about, and what it takes to maintain a blog (even if it is a labor of love!)

Last October, we asked you what you most wanted to see on the blog. A third of you told us you most enjoyed the book reviews, with interviews and writing advice coming in a close tie for second. Joanna and I also discussed what we liked about other blogs and investigated some updated features.

So today we are proud to announce the re-launch of A Life Spent Reading! We’ve begun incorporating your feedback on content, added new functionality and updated to a fresher, cleaner look. We hope you like it! If you are an email subscriber, click over to the site itself to have a look.

To celebrate the re-launch of our site, we’re holding a contest! Tell us your favorite type of book, and we will randomly choose a winner from the participants. The winner will receive their choice of one of the following books, chosen from the local authors section from each of our towns’ independent bookstores:

Connecticut:

Little Author in the Big Woods: A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Yona Zeldis McDonough

The Serpent’s Curse, Tony Abbott

Wyoming:

Ice Whale, Jean Craighead George

How to Babysit a Grandma, Jeanne Reagan

The contest ends on Friday, January 29th.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! I hope you all had a day (and evening) that was just a touch of spooky, and sprinkle of sweet, and a whole lot of fun.

Over on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, she’s sponsoring her annual Halloweensie contest. We are challenged to write a 100-word Halloween story for children using the words pumpkin, broomstick, and creak.

Every year I find the 100-word limit VERY challenging, but here goes:

WHERE’S THE TRICK?

Witches, wizards, living down my street

Why do they pick tonight to come and trick or treat?

Skeletons, ninjas, knocking on the door

I give them each a candy but they try to get quite more.

Pieces, handfuls, candy quickly gone

Running up and down my street and traipsing ‘cross the lawn.

One has a pumpkin head and one flies on a broom

One makes a creaking noise and howls up at the moon.

I think I’ll skip this holiday until I’m big and tall

I hope I’ve grown a little bit around this time next fall.

Head over to Susanna’s site and check out all the great entries!

A March Madness Contest – The Three Little Easter Bunnies

Susanna Leonard Hill is again hosting another fabulous contest over on her blog. This time we have been challenged to write a 400 word story that is a twist on a fractured fairytale, with Spring somewhere in the mix.  Below is my entry. Happy Spring to all our readers!

THE THREE LITTLE EASTER BUNNIES

Three little bunnies were training to be Easter Bunnies. Their next task was to carry a basket full of colored eggs up a steep hill, and then hide the eggs in the bushes at the top. This might seem like an easy task for three little bunnies, but to get to the top of the hill they had to cross a bridge guarded by a mean troll.

The first bunny tiptoed across the bridge – tap, tip, tap. “Who is that tapping across my bridge?” the troll growled.

“Just me,” the first bunny said. “Please let me cross the bridge.”

“Only those who can answer a riddle can cross my bridge,” the troll said. “What is yellow in the middle, white all around, and colored all over?”

“An Easter egg!” the bunny replied, and hopped across the bridge.

The second bunny bounded across the bridge – boom, bam, boom. “Who is that booming across my bridge?” the troll growled.

“Another bunny,” the second bunny said.

“Only those who can answer a riddle can cross my bridge,” the troll said. “What looks like a bean, but tastes like sugar?”

“A jelly bean!” the bunny replied, and hopped across the bridge.

The third bunny bounced across the bridge – boing, bing, boing. “Who is that boinging across my bridge?” the troll growled.

“A little brown bunny,” said the third bunny.

“Only those who can answer a riddle can cross my bridge,” the troll said. “What is white, looks like a trumpet, and grows tall from the ground?”

The third bunny was stumped.

“Well?” shouted the troll.

“I don’t know,” the bunny said.

“Then I will have to eat you up!” the trolled yelled, using his gnarled hands to climb up the side of the bridge. When he got to the top, sitting in the middle of the bridge was a small brown bunny.

“I’ve got you now!” the troll shouted and he jumped on top of the bunny, knocking it to the ground. The brown bunny broke into pieces.

The troll picked up a piece and sniffed. It smelled sweet. He licked the piece, and it tasted sweet too.  “Bunnies are yummy!” he said as he ate up all of the bunny pieces.

High up on the hill, three bunnies giggled as they watched the troll eating the chocolate bunny. Then they hopped away through the Easter lilies to hide their eggs.

Easter Eggs

Halloween Sounds and a Contest

It’s only a few weeks until Halloween. Are you ready? Have you carved or painted your pumpkin? Have you bought candy for trick or treaters (only to have to buy more after you eat it)? Are you going to any fun costume parties?

No parties for us this year, which is a relief, after the so-called family party we went to last year. This year, we just have regular neighborhood trick or treating planned (if it doesn’t snow this year), and a school parade for each child. My daughter is dressing up as a fairy, which makes things easier since her Tinkerbelle costume is on regular rotation for dress-up. My son wants to be a bumblebee, so I have some sewing to do. I’ll share some pictures after the big day.

So in continuation of the last post, let’s have a little Halloween contest about sounds. Next week I will be reviewing Julia Donaldson’s book Room on the Broom. The winner of the contest wins their own copy of the book.

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Halloween is a season full of spooky, creepy, and scary sounds. Which one is your favorite?

Now write a short story of no more than 250 words, with your chosen sound as the first AND last word of the story. Use it as many times as you want (along with other sounds if you choose), but one sound must appear at both the beginning and end.

Here’s mine to get you started:

Creeeeek. I opened one eye. The room was pitch black, so I couldn’t see anything moving. I waited while my heart beat three times. Nothing. I closed my eyes again, and was dozing back to sleep when I heard it again. Creeeeek.

I sat straight up in my bed. I wasn’t imagining something in my room. Could I make it to the door before it got me? Maybe I could make it to the lightswitch instead. Creeeek. The sound was getting closer.

I felt inside my bedside table drawer for my flashlight. I squinted at the bright light as I switched it on, and then opened my eyes wide as I swung it back and forth across my room.

My desk covered in papers: check. My cars lined up on the block road I built: check. The pile of clothes mom keeps asking me to put away: check. Everything was where it should be.

I turned the light off and laid in bed looking out into the dark. Come on, whatever you are. I dare you. Make another noise. I counted to 20 and back. Nothing.

I grinned to myself. I must have scared it away! No sound is a match for me. I chuckled to myself. I bet my little brother would have cried.

I slowly drifted back to sleep, dreaming of lifting a car with my bare hands. Creeeeek.

Please submit your story:

1. In the comments

OR

2. Post it to your blog with a link back in the comments

by next Thursday, October 24th at 6 PM EST. Our panel of judges will choose the winner! Hint: We really like creativity, humor, and wit!

Good luck!

A Bonus Halloween Post!

Today Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting a contest on her site. The challenge is to write a Halloween story, under 100 words, using the words witch, bat, and trick-or-treat. I didn’t have a problem working the words in, but staying under 100 words was hard!

Happy Halloween everyone! Hopefully Sandy hasn’t put a damper on your fun!

 

ARE YOU BRAVE?

This Halloween party was CREEPY.

The decorations howled and shrieked. A witch stood by the fireplace, a bat flew over her head, and fake blood dripped down the bathroom mirror. Where was Trick-or-Treating?

The doorbell rang and I jumped. Was someone here to rescue me?

A little fairy girl tiptoed in. She bit her lip.

I knew what to do. I took her hand.

“Stay away from those creatures, and stay away from the bathroom,” I said. She looked up at me. “Thanks, Captain America. You’re so brave.”

I puffed out my chest. “No problem,” I said.