Spooky Picks for Nerdy Chicks

If you know me, you might know that I am the kind of person who doesn’t like to be scared. I have never seen a horror movie in my life, and I have no plans to change that! I’ve never read a Stephen King novel, and I don’t plan to change that either. I just don’t do scary. Unless…. well, unless the scary something is created by a fellow Nerdy Chick. Then I push myself to read things I might not otherwise read. Out of solidarity, you know.

A recent wave of Spooky Nerdy Chick News (giveaways, deals, new book news, film premiers…) inspired me to share some Spooky Reads (and more) from some fabulous Nerdy Chick authors. I’ve read or am reading all of these books! So I suggest that the next time you want to sit on the edge of your seat, you pick up one of them. And make sure you read to the end, because you’ll have a chance to see a film that is perfect for Halloween right here on the blog.

Young Adult:

fractrFracture by Megan Miranda! Fracture is suspenseful with just the right amount of creepiness. Here’s a brief intro to the novel: “By the time Delaney Maxwell was pulled from a Maine lake’s icy waters by her best friend, Decker Phillips, her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead.” You can visit Megan’s website to learn more and to read the first two chapters! Also, don’t miss a chance to win a free ARC of Megan’s newest title, The Safest Lies. Click HERE to enter.

ripperRipper by Amy Carol Reeves! I blurbed this book as, “Thrilling, chilling, and beautifully written.” Here’s more about it: Set in London in 1888, Ripper follow’s Arabella Sharp’s eerie account of volunteering at Whitechapel Hospital, helping women and children. “Within days, female patients begin turning up brutally murdered at the hands of Jack the Ripper. Even more horrifying, Abbie starts having strange visions that lead her straight to the Ripper’s next massacres.” Click HERE to read more about Ripper and its sequels.

Middle Grade:

jumbiesThe Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste! I just finished reading this story set in Trinidad and featuring Jumbies, mythical creatures that dwell on that island! And it features a super-brave heroine! Here’s a blurb: Corinne La Mer knows that jumbies aren’t real; they’re just creatures parents make up to frighten their children. But on All Hallows’ Eve, Corinne chases an agouti all the way into the forbidden woods. Those shining yellow eyes that follow her to the edge of the trees, they couldn’t belong to a jumbie. Or could they? 

cabinetCabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet: I’m currently reading this page-turner, which is available for a limited time in ebook form (Kindle and Nook among others) for $1.99! It’s about twelve-year-old Maya who is miserable when she has to move from California to Paris. Not speaking French at a school full of snobby French girls is bad enough, but Maya believes there is something sinister going on in her new city. A purple-eyed man follows Maya and her younger brother, James. Statues seem to have Maya’s face. And an eerie cabinet filled with mysterious colored bottles calls to her. 

Picture Books:

Hampire_jacketHampire by Sudipta Bardhan Quallen! When Hampire creeps around the barnyard at night with red oozing from his fangs he terrifies the other animals, especially Duck. Check out this picture book with not only a kid-pleasing twist, but also the best illustrations of terrified barnyard animals every created. And if you have a little pirate running around your house this Halloween (and even if you don’t), you’ll want to check out Sudipta’s Pirate Princess too!

monstore The Monstore by Tara Lazar! What kid doesn’t dream of having his own monster? The Monstore is the place to go to get one. The only problem is…. certain rule and restrictions apply. So getting his own monster doesn’t work out the way exactly like Zack plans….  Check out this book and Tara’s brand spanking new just-released-this-week book Little Red Gliding Hood!

vampirina_ballerinaVampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace! Vampirina wants to take ballet lessons, but what’s a little vampire to do when she can’t step into sunlight or see herself in the dance studio mirrors? Check out this book as well Vampirina Hosts a Sleepover. Vampirina fans will be happy to know that Ann Marie just announced that a third Vampirina book is in the works!


Nerdy Chick Jocelyn Rish is made of steel. She’s not afraid of facing scary subjects in books or on film. HH&H_poster_Jocelyn has recently joined the MTV news staff (Congrats Jocelyn!) and has written these two articles about these spectacularly spooky subjects: Goosebumps and Zombies! And, High Heels and Hoodoo, the short film she produced with her brother is premiering today! Today is the first time the film is available for the public to watch online. Click HERE for details about the creation of this film and to watch it for free! I saw this  film for the first time at the Beaufort Film Festival and it is clever, entertaining, and spooky! What’s not to like about a graveyard and hoodoo film on Halloween?

Here’s a brief synopsis of the film: A greedy party girl is so determined to get what she wants that she employs the dangerous magic of a Gullah root doctor.

Can’t wait to see this amazing film? Go ahead, you can start watching right now! It’s a full story in about seven minutes, so treat yourself to a movie premier this Halloween!



Five Authors Give Back-to-School Advice

As of today, almost every kid in the nation has gone back to school. In honor of this annual event, we thought it’d be fun to highlight some advice from some of the amazing authors we’ve interviewed in the past. We usually ask this question:

If you could give your high school or middle school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Here are their answers:

amy reevesAmy Carol Reeves:

Don’t worry about so much!  I was very Type A and so much of what I worried about didn’t really matter in the long run.  (Oh, and to my middle school self—puffed bangs were REALLY not cool! What were you thinking?)

katie davis

Katie Davis:

Do not, I repeat, do not get that short haircut and subsequent perm in ninth grade, in the year 197(mumbles something incoherent).



Shannon W

Shannon Wiersbitzky:

Ditch the long hair sooner! (grin)

Actually, I’d sit my younger self down and say, “Never doubt your abilities. EVER.” I’ve spoken to lots of women, of all ages, and it seems we all have this annoying voice in our heads that says, “Maybe you’re not ______ enough.” Just fill in the blank….smart, thin, talented, driven, creative, loud, beautiful. We’ve all heard it, no matter where we are in our life or our career. When we don’t quiet that voice, it can cause us to miss the most wonderful opportunities. I try to remind myself that all the time, and then I remind other women as well. A little bit of encouragement can go a long way.


Barbara Johansen Newman:

I could pretend my seventh grade self would listen if I told her not to worry about what her peers were thinking, but I am sure she would roll her eyes and let me go in one ear and out the other. I certainly could not tell her that none of the people around her would matter much in ten years because I ended up marrying one of those seventh graders in my own section and here we still are almost fifty years later  

Kathryn ErskineKathy Erskine:

Who cares what the other kids say — be yourself and be proud of it.  Hey, that sounds like the advice Kara would give in THE BOY PROJECT!  She is one smart, nerdy chick! (Thanks Kathy!)

I can’t help but notice that this advice falls mostly into two camps. Camp One: Don’t worry. Camp Two: You will live to regret (and even laugh about) that bad hair style. So pass the wisdom of these ladies on to a student you love, and assure them that they are not alone. We’ll highlight more back-to-school advice soon. In the meantime, just click on the author’s name to see their original interviews and to learn about their books. Have a great weekend!

Amy Carol Reeves: Author and Scholar

I got to know Amy Carol Reeves this year when we served on a panel discussing YA literature at the SC Book Festival. In a way, we write in opposite genres. My middle grade novel, The Boy Project, is a funny contemporary story. Amy’s YA novel, Ripper, is dark historical fiction. To tell you the truth, I was initially too chicken to read Ripper, the story of Jack the Ripper with a paranormal twist. But then I liked Amy so much that I knew if she wrote it, it had to be good. Bravely, I cracked open the book. I could hardly put it down! Amy’s PhD in nineteenth-century British literature prepared her to write a compelling book set in that time period. Soon, she will be dividing her time between writing additional novels and serving as Visiting Assistant Professor at Columbia College in Columbia, SC. She is looking forward to teaching freshmen composition courses and British lit courses there this fall.

Thanks for joining us Amy! An author with a PhD clearly has brain power aplenty! Can you share your favorite way to flaunt it?  Definitely through my teaching! I sort of geek out in the classroom I have an audience of twenty to thirty students and they have to listen to me talk about what I love. I’m at my “worst” when I give a lecture on the Romantic writers (i.e. Mary Shelley, Lord Byron) or the Pre-Raphaelites.  I love to tell the side stories about these writers’ personal lives and adventures.

Those interesting lives are the reason I used to love teaching about Romantic writers too (to high school students). Can you share with us how your PhD in nineteenth-century literature helped you with the writing of and the research for Ripper? I feel like the heavy novel reading load in my graduate classes helped to give me a good feel for the time period. Rereading books like Jane Eyre and Great Expectations and reading books that I hadn’t read before graduate school such as Lady Audley’s Secret and Middlemarch, helped to show me how gender roles and the  dialogue of the period worked; also, I got into the minds of some awesome strong Victorian heroines. Furthermore, in my Victorian seminars, I remember learning about the crazy stories of the Rossettis (i.e. Dante Gabriel Rossetti having his wife’s body exhumed.) Truth really is stranger than fiction. I remember thinking that I just had to include this in a novel somehow.

Christina Rossetti wrote that beautiful poem “Hurt no Living Thing”. She’s briefly featured in Ripper. I just realized she is a perfect opposite to your villain! What inspired you to add a paranormal twist to the story of Jack the Ripper?  I wanted my story to be more than a whodunit. This is as much of a story about a teenage girl unraveling her family’s past, falling in love for the first time, and making difficult ethical choices. I wanted there to be more at stake in the plot than simply finding Jack the Ripper. Adding the paranormal element helped me to branch out from just the murder mystery. The psychic connection with the Ripper was a particularly important element for me—mainly I wanted Abbie to feel his thoughts and to see his viciousness. She needed to understand him and his motivations, and she needed to be tempted by the elixir before she could confront him.

Your strategy above worked! Since you are both a scholar and an author, can you tell us some of your favorite things to read? Oh, so much!  I read (and reread) nineteenth-century novels. I’m teaching a Brontë seminar this fall, so at the moment, I’m the ultimate “nerdy chick” now reading Agnes Grey, Villette, and Jane Eyre; I’m also relishing once again in the dysfunctional Wuthering Heights love story.  (That Heathcliff really was a rat!)

 I also really love reading YA books. Some of my favorites that I’ve read this year have been Gwen Hayes’s Dreaming Awake, Mike Mullin’s Ashfall, and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. Currently, I’m reading this very fun middle reader book called The Boy Project😉

Thanks Amy! What is one of your favorite achievements that you can credit to being a nerdy chick?  Snagging my husband. (Tip: the best guys are readers.) The first time I met my husband, he asked me what my favorite book was. (Pride and Prejudice of course!) He read the book and then he asked me out. During our first date, we talked about books the whole time. We’ve been together for almost ten years now!

Hey, great tip! We always hear about men who don’t like smart women. It’s great to hear a story about how nerdiness worked to your romantic advantage! Can you tell us about a well-known nerdy chick you admire and why you admire her. I’ve always been a big fan of Amelia Earhart. She completely fascinates me. She was definitely one of the best nerdy chicks of the last hundred years. Not only was she one of the first female aviators, but she was also a feminist, she loved to read, and I think I read somewhere that she played the banjo; she also had a phenomenal sense of style. (I’ve always loved her clothes, shoes, etc.)  My fascination with her was one of the main reasons I named my daughter Amelia.

Awesome. Amelia Earhart was included in my first post ever. Do you have a favorite hobby? Details please.  I love baking and decorating cakes. My mother-in-law used to make wedding cakes, so she has taught me a lot about making cakes over the years. I particularly have a lot of fun making my kids’ birthday cakes. I’ve made a towering Dr. Seuss cake, a castle cake, a Star Wars cake, and lately I’m experimenting with gluten free cake recipes. It’s a lot of fun. But I’m trying to take up knitting because the sad thing about spending so much time on a cake is that it’s well…eaten very quickly. I need a hobby with a more lasting product.

Those cake will last in your children’s memories! Now for the question I try to ask everyone: If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?  Don’t worry about so much!  I was very Type A and so much of what I worried about didn’t really matter in the long run.  (Oh, and to my middle school self—puffed bangs were REALLY not cool! What were you thinking?)

Great advice Amy. I still need a dose of “stop worrying” every now and then. Or every day. Or every hour.

Amy lives and writes in Columbia SC. To learn more about her, visit her website at amycarolreeves.com. And stick around for a minute and watch this trailer for Ripper with the absolutely perfect creepy music!

Psst: This Friday’s featured Quotable Nerdy Chick will be a woman whose name is mentioned in this post! 

The SC Book Festival

It was a kick to see my book along with Nerdy Chick Ame Dyckman’s at the display for the USC Center for Children’s Books and Literacy!

I just got back from the SC Book Festival and I loved being there.  I’ve been attending for many years, but it was a blast to come back as a featured author. The SC Book Festival features authors across many many genres, and I often attend sessions where the presenters write in genres completely different from mine, because that is sometimes where I learn the most.

After teaching a workshop on Friday to a great group of aspiring authors, I had the opportunity to meet and attend presentations with lots of other authors. I thought a one-or-two sentence round-up of what I learned from these successful writers might be entertaining and enlightening.

Ron Rash: When he did a reading, I couldn’t help noticing that he tended to end most sentences with a heavy word, so his prose has a definite rhythm. I wonder if this is intentional, or just something that came naturally to him after years of working as a poet.

Miranda Parker: Shared her road to publication, which included taking an online course from the  Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, where she was the only female, the only African American, and the only christian in the group. She also told about how her writer’s group collected chapters of her novel and sent them to a publisher without telling her. Their act resulted in a three book deal for Miranda!

Zane: Bestselling author and high-powered publisher Zane entertained us with a great story about hiding her identity from her parents for five years because of the sensuous nature of her books. Her books made her a millionaire long before she quit her day job! When asked what she likes to read most she surprised me by saying, “self-help books.”

Richard Paul Evans:  Super smart and business savvy, Richard was nice enough to share some tips on building an audience with a few of us, one of them being to add a mailing list to our websites. His books are wildly successful, having sold over 15 million copies, so I will be taking that advice!

Amy Carol Reeves: Amy and I were on a panel together! She described how she used her PhD  in nineteenth century literature to craft a book on Jack the Ripper. She also discussed the advantages of  having an agent who is involved in the revision process.

I met many other great people including book sellers, book lovers, and industry professionals.  One thing I took away from the conference, that I hope the aspiring writers did too, was that most of these successful authors mentioned using craft-based books, and taking classes before getting their manuscripts ready for publication. Book festivals like the SC Book Festival are usually free, and a great way to learn from other authors!

This is right before our panel discussion started!