All Hallow’s Read: Share a Scary Book for Halloween

A couple of years ago, author Neil Gaiman proposed that in addition to giving out candy, dressing up, and attending costume parties, we give each other scary books for Halloween. He dubbed this concept All Hallow’s Read, and has since encouraged folks to join him each year in sharing the stories that keep us up at night.

For someone who loves books and reading, this is the cherry on top of the holiday. It’s a wonderful opportunity to encourage kids to read, or to share a book you love with your friends. Books don’t need to be new from the store; share your pre-read copies, or make a family pilgrimage to the library and choose books for each other. Or maybe try a scary-book swap with your friends, where you trade your Halloween-appropriate titles with each other for a new batch of leave-the-lights-on reads.

Looking for some inspiration? The All Hallow’s Read site has links to lists of book recommendations, and my own Seasonal Reading post has a few titles listed — be sure to check out the comments. You can also check out the Parents’ Guide to Scary Books for Young Readers over at The Millions if you’d like some ideas for kids’ titles. Or just browse the internet; scary book recommendations abound this time of year.

No one is suggesting that books replace candy or the other trappings of the holiday. But Halloween is as much about scary stories as it is funny outfits or caramel apples, and a book will last far longer than a sugar high.

Wishing you all a wonderful week, filled with tall tales and tasty treats!

Friday Links

Happy Friday! We’re inching toward Halloween, but I seem to have used up my best Halloween-related links already. Oh well.

That said, I still have an assortment of links to share, from industry gossip to some thoughts on reading. I hope they will entertain you while not dragging you entirely away from your writing. For those of you planning to participate in NaNoWriMo, this is the last weekend before November kicks off, so get those notes and plans in place. Happy weekend, and happy writing!

My 6,128 Favorite Books – Joe Queenan on how he became an obsessive reader, and what that means for him.

Random House, Penguin May Merge – Still a long shot, but here’s what PW had to say.

The Most Romantic Story Ever Told – Aimee Bender on Beauty and the Beast.

Vintage Photos of Beautiful Buildings Being Demolished – Sad but also beautiful; maybe some story inspiration for someone.

Cross-Training for Writers

Inspiration proving elusive? Sometimes the best thing a writer can do is walk away from the keyboard or their notebook, and indulge in an activity that has nothing to do with writing. Like a runner who spends time lifting weights, or a swimmer who does yoga, a writer can benefit from switching up their schedule and doing a bit of cross-training for their creative muscles. Stretch in new ways, exercise areas of your brain that normally lie dormant, and see how it improves your overall creative output.

Books on creativity often refer to this as “refilling the well.” When we call upon our minds to create on a regular basis, we are training them to be even more creative, teaching them to produce on demand. Sitting at the desk each day, we make creativity a habit; our bodies show up to work, and our imaginations are expected to follow. But creativity cannot function in a void. The more we demand of our imaginations, the more we must care for them by providing raw material for inspiration.

But I read! some writers insist. And yes, reading is vital, but reading alone won’t keep your pump primed. When you’re working on a short story or a novel, the tale you weave is based on life and the world around you; even fantasy stems on some level from reality. If your experiences of life come primarily from books, you are feeding your brain with another writer’s vision — some author’s interpretation of the world they live in. Reading shows you how others practice their craft; it does not provide you with raw material for your own creative efforts.

So what should you do? Explore other arts, for a start. See the world through a camera lens. Take a drawing class or a cooking class. Listen to music and see how the sounds echo through the world around you, feel the emotions they evoke. Wander through a craft store and buy bits and pieces to play with. Find a museum that has a costume exhibit and study how people have dressed through the ages. Go to a fair or festival and people watch. Go to art exhibits and make up stories to go with the paintings, even the abstract ones.Attend the theater and see how the actors put life behind the dialogue, then go home and read the play to see how much of that life exists in the words themselves.  Put yourself in the thick of things, but keep your mind tuned in to everything going on around you.

You don’t have to stick to the arts, of course. How about a sporting event? A zoo? An auction or estate sale? Ask yourself questions about the people you see, the items for sale. What are their histories?

Let your brain fill up with all the images and sounds and smells around you until the ideas start piling up. When they threaten to spill over, go back to your keyboard and let them fall.


Friday Links

Happy Friday! I am currently at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference in Canada, officially my last writers’ conference for the year (though not my last conference overall). This is a fabulous conference, and one I’ve been lucky enough to participate in several times. Not only do they have a wonderful schedule of programming for writers of all shapes and sizes and levels of experience, but they have a wonderful team of organizers who I always look forward to seeing again. If you’re attending, be sure to say hello. If not, you should consider attending next year or some time soon.

But you’re all here for links, and so without further ado… ways to procrastinate this weekend. Don’t forget to work a bit of writing into your days!

Johnny Depp to Launch Publishing Imprint After 18 Literary Films – I reserve my opinion on this until I see it in action, but that said, Depp certainly has proven to be interested in a wide range of great stories during his career. Should be interesting.

25 Things Writers Should Know about Conferences and Conventions – Chuck Wendig, so an entertaining read, all else aside. Not sure I agree with him on every point, but there’s a lot of sound advice. Worth a read.

Q&A on Copyright with an Attorney – A good overview. I hear a lot of these questions, so I’m sure there are more people out there not asking but still wondering.

On the Comfort of Bad Books – Looks at the “literary” versus “genre” argument from a slightly different angle. Interesting, regardless of your own position on the topic. Me? If it tells a story, I’ll give it a shot.

A Highbrow Halloween Reading List – Courtesy of Flavorwire. Not sure all of these are that highbrow, but it’s still a fun list, especially given the discussion regarding scary Halloween book recommendations from earlier this week.

Seasonal Reading: Spooky Stories for Halloween


My reading habits frequently bow to the season. While not all of my book choices are based on the time of year, I do find myself gravitating towards certain types of books depending on the weather and the atmosphere that’s inspiring my mood. Some books just scream “summer read,” while others call for cooler nights and a steaming mug of something delicious. I’ve written about seasonal book inspirations before, namely summer reading ideas, and reading for Halloween, and the latter comes to mind again, now that ghouls and ghosties are only a couple of weeks away.

I don’t represent horror novels, and as a rule, don’t read many of them either. But this time of year seems to call for scary stories, things that make you reluctant to turn out the lights at night or to spend time in a quiet house alone. There are the classics, of course, including the works of Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley. More contemporary authors who love to frighten us include Stephen King, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, Peter Straub, and Richard Matheson.

Right now I’ve a huge amount of work-related reading on my plate, but I can’t help but snatch a little personal time for a scary story or two in the run up to Halloween. This year I’m looking forward to Justin Cronin’s THE TWELVE, a follow up to his successful novel THE PASSAGE. I’ve also got a copy of Stephen King’s FULL DARK, NO STARS in the pile next to my bed.

Do you enjoy reading horror or Halloweenesque stories this time of year? What titles are you enjoying or looking forward to reading?

Friday Links

Linkity link! If there are links, it must be Friday. Or… something like that. It’s early here and I’ve yet to finish my first cup of coffee, so excuse any babbling.

We’re well into October, so I hope that means the writers in the audience have made lovely headway toward their goals for the month. Clock’s a’ ticking. Better get to it if you’ve been slacking off. Maybe a few of the links below will help hone your motivation or spark some ideas.

Wishing you all a wonderful, word-filled weekend. Enjoy!

Bring Pencils on Planes – Writing advice from Margaret Atwood.

Ask the Writer: How Do I Get Published? – A bit of misdirection from Chuck Wendig, who is actually writing about what writers should focus on and worry about first, long before the publishing questions raises its ugly head. Good advice.

The Humble Bundle – A great opportunity to get a bundle of 8 (DRM-free) e-book titles at a price you name yourself. Part of proceeds go to charity. Check out the site for full details.

J.K. Rowling Webcast – A replay of the live webcast J.K. Rowling did from Edinburgh yesterday. She discusses the books, answers questions, and more. Great for those of you feeling a bit of Harry Potter withdrawal, or anyone interested in the workings of a successful writer’s brain.

A Lively Mind: Your Brain on Jane Austen – An interesting study on how reading affects the brain.