Below are some of the holiday trees decorated to celebrate children’s books at my local library. Books are a great gift at Christmas and help to keep kids reading throughout the year. Consider buying books for the young people in your life.
This time of year as the days grow short and the air crisp, Halloween lurks just around the corner, my thoughts turn to those creepy tales told before the fire. Ghosts figure in many of them and the traditional ghost story has a long history. Every culture produced oral and/or written stories of ghosts.
Among the earliest written examples, Homer’s Odyssey depicts a journey into the underworld where the hero finds ghosts of the dead. A haunted house was portrayed by Plautus, the Roman playwright in his work entitled, Mostellaria. The ghost bound in chains was perhaps first described by Pliny the Younger in another haunted place tale. The Roman writer, Seneca was also fond of using ghosts in his tragedies. These classical examples would start to set the stage for the development of ghost stories in our own culture and day.
In celebration of the deep roots of this tradition, I remind everyone of my own ghost tale offering. The e-book has been discounted from $4.99 to $2.99 for all of October. The print copy is also available.
When fourteen-year-old Lydia travels to Amsterdam with her parents, the last thing she expects is the weird incidents that plague her stay. Curtains flutter mysteriously, and unexplained shadows move through the kitchen unnerving her. But Lydia is more concerned with the potential move to upstate New York. She dismisses the odd occurrences blaming them on jet lag and the various symptoms of her migraine disease.
When Lydia’s father lands a new job and the family moves to an area first settled by the Dutch, the bizarre happenings continue. Suffering from migraines has never been easy, but now Lydia must face what she may have inadvertently brought home with her. A vengeful ghost!
For the next two weeks (May 30-Jun 15), INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS, Kindle edition, will be on sale for $2.99 ( orig. price $4.99).
HIGH ALTITUDE MAGIC & MYSTERY:
Sixteen year old Blake travels to Base Camp on Mt. Everest to spend time with his physician father. When a deadly avalanche occurs, Dad is forced to rethink things and sends Blake away. Now accompanied by a Sherpa guide, and in possession of a mysterious camera, Blake undertakes a journey that will challenge everything he believes. In the magical Himalayas, he will be forever changed by what he experiences.
Maybe you’ve seen these little library boxes in your neighborhood. They started popping up in 2009 and have spread throughout the country. Anyone can borrow a book or donate books. With the Covid crisis, many schools and libraries are closed. These small libraries can help kids (and adults, too) continue to read through the coming months. I ordered a bunch of my books and placed them in my communities’ libraries. Check out the map on their website to find a library in your neighborhood.
Publishers Weekly has reported on several bestselling series which concluded this fall. It might be a great time to dig into one of these since you’ll no longer have to wait for the last book. Although I’ve read Neal Schusterman and Kendare Blake, I’m unfamiliar with their latest works. I must admit, these seem pretty dark but maybe winter calls for these dark tales…
Neal Schusterman- author of Unwind, Everlost, and Downsiders, and many others. He also writes screenplays for movies and TV (including Goosebumps & Animorphs).
His latest series is called Arc of the Scythe (trilogy). In a time when humanity has solved hunger, disease, war, and death, only the Scythes can end life and keep the population under control. Two reluctant apprentices, Citra and Rowan struggle to learn their craft and requisite lessons.
Kendare Blake- author of Anna Dressed in Blood and Antigoddess.
Her latest series is titled the Three Dark Crowns. On the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplet sisters is born. Each possesses a special kind of magic. The night the sisters turn sixteen, a battle to the death for the throne begins.
Holly Black- author of The Spiderwick Chronicles (with Tony DiTerlizzi), The Modern Faerie Tale series, the Curse Workers series, Doll Bones, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, the Magisterium series (with Cassandra Clare) and The Darkest Part of the Forest.
Her latest series is called The Folk of the Air (trilogy). Jude and her two sisters are stolen to live among the fey. Eventually, Jude becomes entangled in royal faerie matters.
Hey, gang! I’m Lydia. In Ellis’ book, Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds- A Ghost Story, I was the fourteen-year-old moving to Upstate New York dealing with the ghost of a Dutch girl from the 17th century. At the time, I thought ghosts weren’t real, but first-hand experience has a way of shattering your reality. Today I have the chance to grill the writer— I mean ask a few behind the scenes questions. Some I have an inkling about, others I’m just as clueless as the reader is.
I’m like totally over this, but how was it that Annika
became your favorite?
Yeah, about that. You were always intended to be the main character but by the end of the story, it was obvious Annika had taken over. Partly, it was the history of the period that was so captivating and interesting. 17th century Holland and what Annika’s family goes through during the boom and bust of the tulip market grips us. That’s not to say what you experience is to be trivialized. Lydia- your world changes alongside Annika’s. You both make moves and go through things neither of you expect.
That’s for sure! And now that I know Annika’s whole story, I get why she acted the way she did. It was just so scary and aggravating at the time. But, like I said- I’m over Annika being more of the focus of the book.
Speaking of our connection, how am I like you? What makes
You deal with the same mother/daughter issues but with a
maturity I didn’t have. We both are “book” people and have a love for animals.
Both of us struggle to find our place in the world. Don’t we all?
What was the toughest scene in the book to write?
You know this one.
Yeah, but I gotta ask.
The incident when Mom had to call the ambulance.
Because it really happened that way.
Right. That scene was written from experience. It was just before Christmas and I was starring at the Christmas tree. The lights started to behave strangely. I witnessed a bizarre and beautiful phenomenon, I later learned was called “aura”. Events intensified where I lost my ability to speak and access language. My brain shut down. Some people call this a stroke in slow motion. Very scary. In fact, it was and is the scariest thing to ever happen to me. And these incidents continued for twelve years. Imagine, experiencing unpredictable, stroke-like symptoms for a dozen years… That’s why this scene was so hard to write and re-read.
Would you say this is your most personal book?
Absolutely. We’ve already talked about the migraine connection but there are other elements as well. In the dedication, I mention being a toddler and talking about a ghost I would see at night. This book also explores mother/daughter issues I myself experienced. Lydia is far more perceptive and processes these topics with insight I didn’t possess at her age. In many ways, the book was cathartic in allowing me to explore themes of illness, emerging spirituality, healing, and personal power.
Can I have a sequel?
No way! Sorry, my dear, your story has been told.
Is Annika getting a sequel?
This is starting to sound like whining. I’ve already given
you credit for being mature. Now, what impression are readers going to be left
Oops. I just want you to know that I’m available should
another plotline jump into that writer head of yours.
Anyway, thanks for hanging out today! Timeless Tulips, Dark Diamonds is out in print and e-book. Follow the links below.
This is a book that fits the category of visionary fiction. Teenager
Marlena Oliveira came into the world as a healer. Unfortunately, her mother
uses her for her own gains and by the time Marlena is eighteen, she has led a
life of prayer and healing but knows nothing of the world. She increasingly
questions her gifts and the direction of her life until she seeks out a scientist
who can help her explore her talents. She meets a boy, rebels against the
imposed prison lifestyle her mother requires, and strikes out to find her own
The scenes of Marlena performing her healings are well done and as believable as mystical states can be described. The teenage longing for maturity and independence ring true. This is a well-written book. The part that didn’t go down so well was the all or nothing kind of approach, the author insisted on. Either Marlena had to choose to remain a healer in the image her mother had chosen for her or leave the healing world for the mundane. Why? I wonder why Marlena couldn’t have found her own way of remaining a hands-on healer. Why the rush for conventionality? Perhaps this choice would require an adult audience? Too risky for YA? I wonder.