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Tag Archives: HeckImage
Posted on November 5, 2013
The Contest: Send a photo of you dressed as a Heck character for Halloween.
The Prize: A signed Circles of Heck book!
First Place: Elijah from New Jersey! Elijah is dressed as Milton Fauster from Snivel: The Fifth Circle of Heck. Not only did Elijah submit his entry mere moments from the contest announcement, but he has the most dismal expression on his face I’ve ever seen (that is, apart from this morning when I was shaving).
Second Place: Spencer from Oakland. Spencer is dressed as Milton Fauster from Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go. Nice ferret in the backpack!
Third Place: Jocelyn from Atlanta. While not a costume, per se, Jocelyn created the Gates of Heck using pipe cleaners and, for Marlo Fauster, an embellished Bratz doll. All in all, a creeptastic Heckoween display.
Nice job, Hecklers! Your booty is in the mail. Books too!
Posted on October 30, 2013
Vermont may be for lovers, but Halloween is for Hecklers! To prove it, I will give a signed book (maybe even a Circles of Heck book) to the first THREE Hecklers that send me pictures or video of them dressed as a character from my Heck series (new photos, please…I know a few of you have dressed like Milton or Marlo in the past!). Please send all photographic (or videographic) evidence to: email@example.com! Ready…set…GO CRAZY!
Posted on October 24, 2013
Remember that contest I posted a while back, asking Hecklers™ to post a video of them reading a chapter from one of my Circles of Heck books? Well…that didn’t work out so well. I got a few close calls (like Lucy Guzzardo’s awesome Heck video game!) but not a lot of actual Heck-related readings. I did, however, get a batch of CREEPTASTIC SONGS from Heckler™ Timothy Spaw from Syracuse, New Jersey! I’ve included them for all to enjoy this spooktacular season! Timothy is ten years old and loves music (apparently really disturbing music) and I thought, in honor of Halloween (AKA Satan’s Birthday), I would award him with the EXTRA SPECIAL PRIZE of a FULL-SET of SIGNED (or “Singed” if you’re dyslexic) HECK BOOKS! CONGRATULATIONS TIMOTHY AND SORRY I’M WRITING THIS IN ALL-CAPS! I’M NOT REALLY YELLING, IT’S JUST THAT I SPILLED FRESCA ON THE KEYBOARD!
Posted on October 3, 2013
This past week, I had two wonderful appearances, firstly as part of the Bards and Brews reading series, and then leading the monthly Young Willamette Writers workshop!
1) Bards and Brews
I was late. Yes, late for my own reading. I do have an excellent excuse, however: I am always late. It’s something hardwired into my DNA. I can’t prove that, exactly, because I was late for my doctor’s appointment, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Luckily, I was to read with four other wonderful authors—Ripley Patton (GHOST HAND), Maggie Faire (CHAMELEON: THE AWAKENING), Mary Jane Nordgren (QUIET COURAGE), and Cat Winters (IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS)—so I was covered. This reading, at Primrose & Tumbleweeds in Hillsboro, Oregon, was different than my usual readings for three reasons. 1) It was at night. Usually, as a children’s author, your readings fall somewhere between nap time and dinner. 2) The audience was adults. Luckily, most of the jokes didn’t fly under their heads. 3) There was wine. Wine and signing books, I have found, is not a winning combination. So I sang, told a few jokes—or at least made several statement intended at producing mirth—and dragged two rather unwilling yet game audience members up to the podium to help me read the first chapter of Heck. I like doing this as this makes less work for me. And, in a few hundred blinks of an eye, my portion of the reading was over and I got to enjoy listening to other less socially awkward authors read their work! I even bought a book and had it signed. By the actual author, no less! After the event was over, I listened to music way to loud in the car since I never drive, which is great fun, not only because it’s a blast to scream while hurtling in a metal box along a freeway, but then—when my wife uses the car first thing in the morning—the radio immediately comes on, blaring, and scares the figurative crap out of her!
2) Young Willamette Writers Workshop
Next, it was off to Portland’s Old Church—which is an indeed a church that is very old—to give a workshop for a group of budding writers focused on building compelling characters with original voices, which is really hard, since—if you aren’t careful—all of your characters can begin to sound like you using a funny voices. One way of preventing this is to work in coffee shops so that, if you start using the funny voices, you will be publicly embarrassed by a hipster barista, which is pretty much the worse thing that can happen to a writer. I warmed up the crowd of a dozen young scribes with a song. The only problem was, when the Young Willamette Writers group holds their monthly meeting, there is a bigger meeting for the adults next door where they have a speaker read and what not. And, this being a church (an old one), my beautiful voice and exquisite guitar playing really carried, as if held aloft by angels, and filled the building with song. It was like at Thanksgiving dinner, where the adults are prattling away at the big table, and then suddenly the kids’ table erupts with laughter, and gets glared at. So doors were closed, and I continued, unashamed.
Usually I show up to my workshops with a multimedia presentation to help keep me on track and to be sure that all of the attendees can take part in the prompts and exercises. And, perhaps this being an old church, it also came equipped with old computer connectors, meaning, I couldn’t project my presentation. But, no matter: when life serves you lemons, you simply have the kids huddle around your computer to watch your Keynote presentation of lemons. There is nothing more satisfying than giving a workshop where all of the attendees really WANT to be there and get busy writing! Some great characters were created, including ghost teens and talking microwaves, and everything in between!
And, in two weeks, things get even more interesting as I fly out to St. Louis to take part in author Heather Brewer’s amazing anti-bully extravaganza, the Less Than Three conference!
Posted on August 27, 2013
It happened again today, didn’t it? Something so unsettling and so, so… WRONG, but the offender just skipped away leaving you soaking in your own rage. Yep, another guy wearing white socks with sandals. Why, there ought to be a law against that! Well, lazy pants, stop talking and start legislating the world around you in your own, infinitely-right image! Murphy had a law, so why can’t you?
1. Get your law on to the ballot
Start by taking a little initiative and making one. An initiative is a proposed law placed on the ballot as the result of a petition drive among registered voters, then voted on by the electorate (i.e.: the sheep that will soon bow to your will and make the world an aesthetically better place, at least in terms of men’s casual footwear).
Be sure to word your initiative in such a way that it comes off like it will help other people too (“Think of the needless accidents that happen each day just because a driver’s attention is diverted by a pair of brilliant white cotton socks.”). But it’s not quite as easy as just being charming and persistent outside of a supermarket, gathering signatures like a bee gathers pollen. Each state has its own laws regarding potential laws. Arizona requires that each petition have only 15 signatures per page or else the whole jig is up. Other states require signatures from a percentage of voters in every region of your state: even the icky ones where the Starbucks are at least a mile a part. Ballot measures are notorious for being confusing, so go for it: all those episodes of Law and Order didn’t go to waste. Use a lot of Latin: Quid pro quo. Ipso facto. Habeas corpus. Pro bono (as if U2 weren’t popular enough already!).
2. Become a Congressman
Sometime if you want a law done right you have to know the right people: or become the right people. Your first step? Declare your candidacy. The Constitution lays down these simple requirements for any would-be member of the House of Representatives:
• You have to be at least 25 years old (easy for all too many of us, not so easy for some).
• You have to have been a US Citizen for at least seven years (or one year for dogs).
• You can’t live in the state you are elected to represent
Every candidate needs a platform, or better yet, a soapbox. Just make sure your soapbox is made of sturdy oak, not balsa wood. Think of yourself as a product to be pedaled. Don’t slouch. Maintain eye contact. Try your best not to perspire. Become the person that intimidates you the most. SELL! SELL! SELL! And be sure that what you stand for makes others stand up and take notice (“The egregious pairing of sandals with socks is fundamentally un-American, and a dire threat to the moral fabric of this great nation!).
Media culpa? You bet! Get on the airwaves, get in the press, and do whatever you can to get your name out there (ideally, not in the police blotter). Send out press releases. Speak on radio, cable access, bowling alley openings, etc. Then there’s paid advertising where you have more control, but not without a price. Do you think all those flyers grow on trees? Well, sure, they did but…anyway, it all costs enormous amounts of cash, green stuff, dinero and sometimes even money to lube the campaign machine. You’ll need lots of it to keep your dream alive, and the socks in the shoes where they belong.
What’s next? You either win and draft a bunch of laws regulating men’s fashion for the public good until your constituents figure you out, or take matters to the next level.
3. Hypnotize people into doing your bidding
Who needs laws when you can bend the people’s will with a few calm words and something shiny? We’re talking hypnotism. How does it work? You bypass the conscious mind —the security guard of your psyche — and plant a suggestion straight to the subconscious, Do Not Pass Go, please flap your arms and cluck like a chicken. This way, the conscious mind will assume that your “suggestions” are coming straight from command central (“Notice how hot your socks become as they enter the sandals…”), causing your subject to react to these suggestions as if they were their own. Here’s how:
Fixed-gaze induction: You know, the whole “You are getting very sleepy…” deal. Get your subject to focus on one thing so that they don’t focus on certain other things, most notably, the fact that you are trying to hypnotize them. Speak to your subject in low, lulling tones so that they…zzzzz…
Overload: Basically, the exact opposite. Get your subject to focus on everything so that they are, in fact, focusing on nothing. Think video game. Think day at the mall. Think music video. Fill your subject’s mind with firm commands until you breach their mental defenses (“No socks with sandals!”). Be persistent. Be forceful. Be…very …zzzz…
Relax, This Won’t Hurt a Bit: This is rather like fixed gaze in that it focuses on relaxation. This method is like subliminal (Don’t) meditation (Wear) audio (Socks) tapes, (With) where – (Sandals) through soft, repetition and gentle imagery – the subject is induced into a tranquil…zzzzzz…
If your subject’s mental state is, say, less Texas and more Rhode Island, the whole process should take only a few minutes. To ensure that no sandal is again ever sullied by a sweat sock, try hypnotizing as many people as you can in one sitting. Place prominent ads promising “Free sandals and socks!” if attendees attend your free “seminar.” Next thing you know, you’ll have a gym packed with hundreds of people, twice as many feet, and thousands of toes, and you’re sure to pass some legislation that will really knock their socks off!
Posted on July 26, 2013
“Before I go on, I want to let everyone know that I am, in fact, a KID. Thirteen years old, to be exact. And, odd as it may be– not to mention extremely rare– I understood all the puns, Biblical references, mythical references, cultural references, and general not-from-the-twenty-first-century-puns/knowledge/background information jokes. This is because not only did both my parents spend time telling and showing me movies, stories, and pop culture references from ” back in their day”, I also read constantly and pick up background information from other books. To most kids my age, the AWESOME Heck books would be confusing and possibly boring, unfortunately. However, I love these books because of that!! Before, I used to ask my mom why she made me watch I Love Lucy and made me listen to Jesus Christ Superstar, and she would say,” So you can talk to adults”. And even though I love adults and all (sadly I communicate with them more proficiently than with my own friends sometimes) whenever she told me that I used to think, Why THE HECK DO I CARE AGAIN?? But now I’m glad she did that because I can enjoy these books while my friends go, Huh? What the crap is that?– and there’s something satisfyingly hilarious about that. Sorry, friends. I’m not gonna lie. I love these books- in fact, these are my favorite books! At times Precocia was a bit confusing– what with the constant reality switches on Milton’s side of the equation– but other then that, it was another wonderful book in a wonderful series. Hopefully this will continue to be the result in books to come- and I have no doubt it will! Lipptor– now ‘ Wise Acres’- sounds really exciting! Also I’m hoping Zane will come back; its been two books with no sign of him. In conclusion, it was an awesome book and I’m glad a bought it. Oh, by the way, my favorite book in the series was Rapacia, although Heck and Fibble were close competitors. Hopefully Wise Acres will be my new favorite- who knows? :):):D” — MAGGIE
Posted on July 12, 2013
Frank and Joe Hardly clutched the grips of their padded scooters and stared in horror at the oncoming jalopy.
“He’ll hit us!” Frank shrieked.
“Or she’ll hit us,” Joe corrected. “We mustn’t rashly assume gender.”
“Whomever is driving could very well hit us upon passing. They could succumb to a sudden stroke, be fiddling with the radio, or simply bear a grudge against two impeccably clean young men out for a brisk stroll after being told to get some fresh air by their irritable governess…”
“We’d better cautiously ascend this hillside, taking our time as to avoid injury!” Frank exclaimed, as the boys started up the mild embankment, the training wheels of their scooters grumbling over the gravel.
To their amazement, the car passed without incident.
“Wow!” said Joe. “Let’s go back home before that crazy guy—“
“—comes back to finish the job.”
On their right, an embankment of plush moss sloped gradually to an ambitious puddle. From the opposite side rose a small blackberry bush.
“Watch your step, Frank, or Dad’s papers won’t get delivered.”
Frank reached into his jacket pocket to be sure several important legal papers were still there. Relieved to find them, Frank chuckled and said, “After we help father with his latest personal injury case, he ought to set up the firm of Hardly and Sons.”
“That would be very sensible of him,” Joe replied with a respectable grin. “Isn’t he one of the most famous claims adjusters in the country? And aren’t we meticulous and content to spend our days assessing the amount of compensation that should be paid after a person has made a claim on their insurance policy too?”
Just then, the two boys heard the gentle clatter of a car approaching from their rear.
“An ice cream truck!” Joe burst out.
“Good night!” Frank replied, clearing his throat. “I’m already getting all phlegmy.”
At once the Hardlys stopped and pulled as close to the edge as they dared.
The ice cream van ambled slowly past.
“Whew!That was close!” Frank gasped.
“If I ever meet that driver again,” Joe muttered, “I’ll -I’ll…have the butler deliver a strongly worded reprimand!”
Perhaps we should entrust a proper carrier with these papers,” Frank said.
“Yes,” Joe agreed meekly. “Better safe than sorry.”
“We can stop off at Chet’s.”
Chet Morton, who was a school chum of the Hardly boys, lived on an estate about a mile out of Cravenport.
The two boys laughed.
“Just kidding,” Frank added. “Chet is disgusting.”
Beyond the tall bushes was a flaming, overturned wreck with wheels cast upward.
“Egad!” gasped Frank in terror. “Do you think we should—“
“Most definitely,” Joe interrupted. “Run home as fast as we can and make a detailed report!”
The brother climbed carefully out of the culvert and rode home at a sensible speed upon their padded scooters.
“After we phone the authorities,” Frank said, his voice quavering with fear, “perhaps we can relax with a game of Chinese checkers.”
“Perhaps something less…exotic. Like regular checkers.”
Chapter Two: A Calming Sip of Not-Too Hot Chocolate…
Posted on July 1, 2013
Chapter One: Rites and Wrongs
Nancy Druid peeled off her rabbit skin gloves as she ran up the steps of the temple to answer the shrieks of the oracle, Vortigern.
“Hello?” Nancy said as she stood in front of the trembling old woman.
“Hiya, Nancy!” the oracle replied, her eyes rolled back into her head, deep in possession as she relayed the caller’s message. “This is, like… Helen!”
Although Helen Troy was three years older than Nancy—18, with only 9 children—the two girls were close friends.
“Are you tied up on a case?” Helen asked through the oracle’s quivering lips.
“No. What’s up? A mystery!?”
“Yes! The human sacrifice for the upcoming Samhain ceremony has disappeared!”
Nancy sat down on the sheepskin pelt before the swaying oracle.
“Gosh! The terrified, pre-teen human sacrifice gone missing before their gruesome ritualistic public execution? How horrible! Tell me more!” the fifteen-year-old detective/sorceress begged excitedly.
“Pliny the Elder was in the Sacrificial Altar, preparing a ritual to blight the crops of the Roman marauders who have been kidnapping the Celts—“
“Those Romans have a lot of Gaul,” Nancy seethed.
“And, when he was in the Holy Chamber of Ages, Fenra the Virgin was gone! Many strange, mysterious things have been happening there recently. I told him how good you are at solving mysteries, and he’d like you to come out to Salisbury Hill and help him!”
“O blessed Odin, it certainly sounds intriguing!” Nancy replied, her eyes dancing. “I’ll meet you on the moor when the shadows of the oaks are long!”
Nancy dumped a bucket of cold water on Vortigern’s head, breaking the oracle’s connection. Nancy sat lost in thought for several minutes.
Since solving the Unhinged at Stonehenge mystery—now available wherever fine stone tablets are sold—Nancy had longed for another case. Here was her chance!
Attractive, blond-haired Nancy was brought out of her daydreaming by the sound of a goat bleating. At the same moment, the Druids’ servant, Onatah, came down the front stairs.
“I’ll deal with Pago, maiden Nancy,” the toothless peasant replied.
“No one gets my goat but me!” Nancy spat. “Back to your cupboard! I will deal with Pago!”
Nancy clambered out of the temple and summoned the goat.
“Aww…how’s my little Pago?” Nancy cooed sweetly. Suddenly, brandishing her dagger, Nancy swiftly slit open the goat, letting the steaming entrails empty upon the mossy ground. She began the Sacred Ritual of the Afore-telling.
“In the eye of the Crone who guides me in wisdom,
Through thy gift of nature, O Goddess,
Bestow upon us fullness in our need.
As the Ageless Ones do in Gwynfyd;
Each shade and light,
Each day and night,
Each moment in kindness,
Grant us Thy Sight!”
For hours Nancy danced around the goat carcass under the hot sun. Sweating and exhausted, Nancy fell to her knees, sorted through the entrails and assessed the telltale liver. Gripped by a fever trance, she raised herself up and uttered the prediction, her voice two octaves lower than her typical, girlish chirp.
“Though this news is cold and bleak,
Nennius Druid is the man you seek!
His devotion, it will falter.
Don’t believe me? Check the altar!”
“Oh, my goddess no!” Nancy gasped as she came out of her trance. “Father is in great danger!”
Chapter Two: The Road to Rune…
Posted on May 14, 2013
My name is [Fresca Von Happenstance], i go to [Licorice Juice High School] in [Osh Kosh, New Hampshire]. i am 11 yrs. old and im in the 6th grade. i got to meet you personally at the oregon writing festival when you signed my copy of HECK.i love it all ready even though im only on page 9.for my book report i was hoping to do a Q&A with you.
HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS:
1. In 5 words describe your writing.
Darkly comic with weird twists.
2. Why do you write?
Because I can’t think of any other way to satisfyingly express the odd things in my head to the outside world. I’m a decent musician but not good enough to really feel satisfied that what I’m thinking is making it out intact. I used to draw but I am terrible. So writing just sort of happened and, like most anything, the more I did it, the better I got at it.
3. How many books have you written and in what genres?
I’ve written 7 1/2 books. Six of them have been published. They are all Heck books, so I guess you could call them supernatural humor books for middle-school kids.
4. What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
This is an intensely personal question, but I’m sure your intentions are admirable so I will indulge. I usually get up at 6:30-7 since my son has to go to school, like most children. I make breakfast and his lunch while my wife drives him to school. For breakfast, I usually make a really nasty protein shake: a banana, hemp seeds, blueberries, spinach, spiraling…and blender the slop together. Since I drink one of these every day I better darn well live to be 100. I also sometimes have eggs (over-easy) or oatmeal.
5. Who is your biggest cheerleader?
I wish I had a giant cheerleader…that would be awesome! Like…50 feet-tall with pom-pons that block the sun! Her cheers deafening all within a three-mile radius! But you probably mean “who is my biggest supporter.” I’d have to say my family…mainly because they’re right here and would be mad if I didn’t. But, in all truth, they do help pick me up and dust me off if I need it. My agent is always supportive too, though I pay him to be that way.
6. What one word best describes you?
7. Who are you reading right now?
I’m reading a few things now: the latest issue of the New Yorker; Morning Glories comics; and a book about Self-Publishing. So I like to mix it up. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol I: The Pox Party by MT Anderson was the last novel I read. It was ok.
8. Give 3 great tips for newbie writers:
1) Write 2) Write 3) Write
Really…that’s it. It’s not about waiting for a great idea to visit your waiting brain. It’s about sitting down and writing something—anything—every day if you can. That’s what separates writers from wannabes. Actually writing, not just talking about it. Catching ideas in journals, writing them out, developing them, editing…it’s all writing and it’s all hard and it’s all wonderful.
9. Who was the most influence on you, in your past, for writing; a teacher, parent, or a sibling?
I had some pretty good teachers and my parents were supportive, but I was really only inspired or influenced by writers. I loved Roald Dahl, Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov…mainly science fiction authors as a kid. They taught me to think about what was impossible, and make it seem possible.
10. What is your writing process like? How do you begin?
I begin by coming up with an awesome idea…and then instantly regretting it because that’s mean I have to do something about it. The most fun parts of writing are at the very beginning and at the very end. The “coming up with ideas” and the “editing down what I’ve written so it’s fun to read.” Everything in the middle is torture. The actually writing. That’s the part that makes you want to do anything BUT write! The facing the blank screen or piece of paper and trying to make sense of it all…the filling up of plot holes, etc. But I’ll begin with the idea then sketch it out…make an outline, and build the story from there. I like to know where I’m going when I set off on a story. Some writers are okay with just going for a drive, but that would “drive” me crazy…not knowing if I’m going to get lost or what. So I like to map it out with a detailed outline.