Friday, December 6, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wendy Houses

(Above: This one is mine. Go pick yours.)

I'm not sure if I ever stumbled across the term "Wendy House" before today. Apparently, they're playhouses that call to mind the tiny house that Peter Pan built for Wendy when she was injured in Neverland.

From now on, I think I shall refer to structures like the one shown above as Wendy Houses. "Playhouse" sounds so silly. And there's nothing silly about a good Wendy House. The best are slightly sinister.

Messy Nessy Chic has a fabulous photo gallery of 20 examples of the species. (Including the one built for Queen Elizabeth herself.)

For all of you who think this post is a little frilly, just imagine all the trouble one might cause with a tiny, secret house of one's own.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Most Miraculous Thing

Okay, this is weird. Inspired by the last post, I've been searching for the ad that made me want to go into advertising in the first place. I cannot find it. Anywhere.

As I recall, it was a British or European television ad for Lego. It would have been shot in the mid to late 90s. Yeah, I know that doesn't sound particularly promising. But I swear, the ad was absolutely magical.

A little boy of seven or eight is playing on the floor of his bedroom. His mom calls up to him, and he quickly pushes the thing he's been working on under the bed. He looks out the window. Two government agents in black suits are at his front door.

The agents appear in his bedroom. We see the little boy's mom nod to him, as if to say "go ahead." The little boy, looking bashful, pulls his creation out from under the bed. The government agents are awestruck. We, the viewers, are never allowed to see what the boy has made.

The next bit is a montage. The boy shaking hands with world leaders. The boy on the cover of magazines. The boy being honored with a ticker tape parade in New York. He's obviously created something magnificent. Something that's changed the world. But what is it? All we know is that it was made out of Lego.

I remember seeing the ad in about 1996. It's possible it was what's known as a "spec ad"--an ad that's made by an agency without the backing of the brand (in this case, Lego). But from what I recall, it would have been far too expensive for a spec ad. (Spec ads rarely involve ticker tape parades.)

If you can find it, I will give you a reward. No money (I don't have any), but a book of your choosing (as long as it's one of mine).

 UPDATE: Can I just say--you guys are amazing. Thank you so much, Luisa for finding this for me! I think there may have been a British version as well. I seem to recall a different mom. But this is the ad. No doubt about it.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

This May Be My Favorite Ad of All Time

And I've worked in advertising for a million years. Watch it while you can. The Beastie Boys have taken legal action against the company for parodying one of their old songs. (Come on, guys!)

I am not at all surprised to hear that this wasn't created by an ad agency. More on that later--in a different context. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

My Favorite Russian Survivalist

Just "discovered" Crazy Russian Hacker. (Looks like a few other people have too.) Oh man I love this guy.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Urban Wraiths

One of the best things about New York City is its subway art. Believe it or not, the works officially commissioned by the city are every bit as exciting as the "underground" stuff. (Scroll down a few posts for that.) In fact, imagining my NYC tax dollars going to fund subway art helps me get through April 15th every year.

I haven't seen all of it. Few people have the time for that kind of tour. But recently, I came across a photo of a work that I may make an effort to see in person. It's called Flatbush Floogies (see above) and it's the creation of a New York artist named Muriel Castanis.

I despise the word "Floogies" (the horror!), but I love a good wraith, so I did a quick search for more of Castanis's work. I was not disappointed. Her ghostly statues can be found in cities around the country--and they're always in interesting spots.

For instance, twelve of Castanis's wraiths atop a building at 580 California Street in San Francisco stand watch over city's financial district.

And one particularly creepy lady directs traffic on a busy highway in Portland.

Art like this makes me wish I were super wealthy. I'd love to put a few wraiths out in front of my Brooklyn brownstone--and record the reactions of passersby.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Man in the Woods

Every day for the last decade, a man wearing a camouflage uniform and gas mask has walked the same path through a forest in western Switzerland.

The man, who is known in the area as "Le Loyon," speaks to no one. Sometimes he carries flowers. Only a single photo (above) has ever been taken of him.

So what's the deal? Is he a ghost, a hermit or a hoax? After TEN YEARS, apparently no one knows. Aren't there any Irregulars in Switzerland who might be able to solve this mystery? (Or perhaps they have--but chose to keep the secret to themselves.)

More here.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Biggest Hero . . .

 . . . is Sir David Attenborough. And tomorrow night, I will be able to see him in person for the very first time. I literally couldn't be more excited.

Turning Roaches into Robots

Hey, did you guys hear the news? We (and by we, I mean humans) have just taken a giant step toward the robot apocalypse future. Now you can turn a regular old cockroach into a cyborg creature that has no choice but to do your bidding. (Or at the very least, turn left or right if you tell it to.)

Yay, technology! Right???? Actually, I'm not really sure how I feel about this one.

Why? Well step one requires that you procure a cockroach--something my fellow New Yorkers and I try our best to avoid. Step two is performing "brief surgery" on the roach in order to attach electrodes to its antenna. And step three is forcing another living being to follow orders you send via neural stimulation. (Do you think the same technology would work on siblings?)

Not my thing. Is it yours?

Check out the project's kickstarter page. (Which comes complete with a response to some of the criticism that's been leveled against the Roboroach.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Am I Crazy to Think This is Awesome?

Creepy clowns have been "terrorizing" Britain lately. (And by terrorizing, I mean walking around in clown costumes at night or standing on street corners waving at passersby.)

The locals have their knickers in a twist, but I personally think these guys (they're almost certainly guys) deserve medals. My life is more interesting for just having READ about them. I can't even imagine how fabulous it would be to spot one in person.

Good work, gentlemen. Carry on.

More here.
And here.
And here.

The Lake That Turns Creatures to Stone

Lake Natron in Tanzania is so salty that it can calcify creatures that crash into it. Photographer Nick Brandt discovered the flamingo shown above as well as bats, eagles and entire flocks of flinches that had all been turned to stone by the Natron's alkaline waters.

More here, along with other creepy-beautiful photos from this deadly African lake.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How Do You Say IRREGULAR In Elvish?

Ever have one of those days when you manage to get EVERYTHING done? I'm experiencing one right now. I wish I knew what made days like this different from the rest. Seriously--I'm trying to remember what I ate this morning.

Anyway, here's a cool video about conlangs, or constructed languages. It focuses on artlangs (languages invented for books or films) such as Elvish (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), Klingon (Star Trek) and Dothraki (the Game of Thrones series).

It would be pretty amazing to have your own language (as long as a few other people spoke it). But a bespoke language also sounds like a lot of work to construct. Fortunately for authors, the Internet is there to help. Thanks to fans, languages like Dothraki that began with just a few thousand words are now complex enough to be spoken.

That means if there's no word for IRREGULAR in Elvish, you might get to be the person who makes one up.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I Haven't Seen Anything This Amazing in Ages

One of the miniature libraries created by artist Marc Giai-Miniet (and photographed by Michel Dubois). See more libraries here. Absolutely remarkable. I would give an limb for the honor of hanging one of these on my wall.

Friday, September 20, 2013

At the Corner of Danger and Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Misery Corner
Dead Man's Corner
Upside Down Christ
Corner of the Little Birds
Corner of the Lonely Soul

These are all intersections in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, where the streets have no names (as far as most people are concerned), the buildings have names instead of numbers, and the landmarks are all known by colorful monikers.

More here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Real Life Darkness Dwellers

I like to think of my books as collages. They're composed of little scraps of information that I've collected over the years. In my brain, nothing weird ever goes to goes to waste.

If you've read Kiki #3 (or glanced at its title), you know that the book features a secret organization called the Darkness Dwellers whose mission is to explore and protect the (very real) catacombs underneath the city of Paris. I based the group on a real-life organization known as Les UX. (I've written about them several times on this blog.)

However, there's a relatively new group in Paris know as We Are the Oracle who could have provided inspiration for the Darkness Dwellers.

These ladies and gentlemen are known for throwing parties in "impossible locations." (Love it.) Think abandoned subway stations (sound familiar?), forgotten mansions, and the dark recesses beneath famous bridges.

More (including some great photos) here at the fabulous Messy Nessy Chic.

Monday, September 9, 2013

How About a Nice Cold Glass of Blood Worms?

This little item was in the news a while back. But it's still as disgusting as the day it came out. Seems blood worms have invaded the water supply in Colcord, Oklahoma. (Okay, technically they're the larvae of the midge fly, if that makes you feel any better.)  And they're almost impossible to kill.

As the town water commissioner noted, "You can take the worms out of the filter system and put them in a straight cup of bleach and leave them in there for about four hours, and they still won't die."

If any of you have friends or family in Colcord, I'd love a little update on the situation. News reports suggest that the townsfolk are living on bottled water. But here's my question: When your water supply is infested with blood worms, what's better--showers or baths?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Crawling Out From Under My Rock

Where have I been? Here. There. The grocery store. Ha. I'm saving my adventures for this fall. (Yes, I have a few planned. Yes, I will write all about them when the time comes.)

Unfortunately, this summer has been work, work, and more work. I'm actually quite proud of the all things I've accomplished in the past three months. Three big projects are nearing completion. Stories have been told. Butts have been kicked. Lessons have been learned. Blog posts have not been written. Sorry about that.

I stayed away from the blog world this summer for a few very good reasons. First, the amount of spam I receive has gotten quite overwhelming. (It seems I win the lottery on a daily basis.) For this reason, please don't include a URL when you comment on a post. I see URLs and my brain automatically thinks "spam." If you want to send me a link, it's best to send it to

Second, I stayed away from the blog because I was angry. Really, really murderously angry about what happened to my last book, How to Lead a Life of Crime. I know this has nothing to do with you guys. But I felt it was best if I resisted the urge to vent here. Bank St. Irregular is supposed to be fun and wacky and weird. Not potentially homicidal.

(One big piece of good news. How to Lead a Life of Crime may end up being more than a book. Keep your fingers crossed!)

Third, I had way too much work. And writing a blog takes a lot of energy. I still have a lot to do, but I'll try to pop in every once in a while. I've got a few things I'd like to share. Hopefully, a few of you are still around to hear about them!

Back to you soon.


Breakfast on Mars

Holy moly, I didn't post about this! You should check out this fabulous book of essays (yes, essays). Yours truly contributed a piece arguing for the existence of Bigfoot. (Come on--what else would I write about? And yes, I do honestly believe.)

Here's the description from Amazon. Look at that list of authors!

Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays will inspire students to think differently about the much feared assignment in elementary and middle schools around the country: essay writing. 
Rebecca Stern’s fifth grade students were bored to death with essay writing, and the one thing Rebecca needed to inspire them—great examples appropriate for kids—was nowhere to be found. Inspired by a challenge, Rebecca joined forces with her friend, social entrepreneur Brad Wolfe, and the two came up with a terrific proposal—to gather together a collection of unconventional essays by some of the best writers around. They have compiled and edited a collection of imaginative, rule-breaking, and untraditional essays that is sure to change the way you think about the essay.
Contributors include: Ransom Riggs, Kirsten Miller, Scott Westerfeld, Alan Gratz, Steve Almond, Jennifer Lou, Chris Higgins, Rita Williams-Garcia, Elizabeth Winthrop, Chris Epting, Sloane Crosley, April Sinclair, Maile Meloy, Daisy Whitney, Khalid Birdsong, Sarah Prineas, Ned Vizzini, Alane Ferguson, Lise Clavel, Mary-Ann Ochota, Steve Brezenoff, Casey Scieszka, Steven Weinberg, Michael Hearst, Clay McLeod Chapman, Gigi Amateau, Laurel Snyder, Wendy Mass, Marie Rutkoski, Sarah Darer Littman, Nick Abadzis, Michael David Lukas, Léna Roy, Craig Kielburger, Joshua Mohr, Cecil Castellucci, Joe Craig, Ellen Sussman

Friday, May 3, 2013

This Skeleton is Real and It Is . . . HUMAN

Wow. The skeleton shown above was discovered ten years ago in the Atacama Desert. DNA tests have revealed that the skeleton (which is six inches in length) belonged to a human girl who was between SIX AND EIGHT YEARS OLD when she died.

More information and pictures here. (And yes, I checked to make sure that the date on the article wasn't April 1.)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Cicadas Are Coming!

In the past two years, New York has seen two hurricanes, a tornado, a crippling blizzard and an earthquake. This May, we'll be preparing for an insect invasion.

More here.

Whatever shall we do with them?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Secret Language of Underground New York

I'm not sure if this post will interest most of you. I happen to find the subject quite fascinating. Walking through the streets of New York, I often see strange messages and mysterious symbols scrawled on the city's sidewalks and walls. 

This is a language spoken by the men and women of our nation's utility companies. Those who are able to read it can see under the ground--and perhaps even into the future. (For instance, the markings in the photo above indicate where a new street tree is about to be planted.)

The language is color-coded, making it easy to know which utilities are at work. (It will also give you a sense of where you might be able to find a sewer line in an emergency.) 

Fortunately, it seems that no one knows who's behind the GOLD sidewalk markings that are sometimes spotted near the city's oldest buildings. 

More at the Smithsonian. (Have a look around while you're there. It's a wonderful site.)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Giant Head Found Floating in the Hudson River!!!!

(Photo by Matt Lavin/Marist College)

There is a great story behind this, I'd bet. If not, I may just have to make one up.

More at Gothamist.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Baby Beluga Cam

Keep looking!

Behold the World's Smallest Book!

(Photo by Joshua Bright for The New York Times)

It's called The Chameleon and no one seems to know what it's about. Any guesses?

The New York Times has an interesting article about a gentleman with one of the largest collections of miniature books. Even better? The library is housed in a "rooftop cottage" that sits on top of a Manhattan apartment building. I think this fellow and I need to be friends.

And since we're on the subject of me (ha), I'm still waiting for permission to share my very big news. Shouldn't be long now!

In the meantime, here's a link to a spotlight on yours truly on the Penguin Teen blog. (It's a bit old. I should have posted it earlier, but I've been crazy busy!)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I'm Feeling Nostalgic

I have lots of big news. Unfortunately, it will all have to wait. But I was just trawling a few of my old files, and I found a story I penned a few years back, and I'd like to share it with you. I wrote it for another blog around the time that The Eternal Ones was released. I was asked to imagine the heroine of that book (Haven Moore) as a character in a famous tale of my choosing. I chose One Thousand and One Nights. Enjoy . . .

                  One morning, the Sultan woke feeling old and asked for his eldest son to be brought to his chambers. The time had come for the young man to take a bride. His son agreed, and a search began in the usual places. Scarcely a week had passed before the daughter of a rich and valued ally stood before the two men with her proud father at her side. In keeping with tradition, the girl’s face remained veiled. But the dark doe eyes sweeping the floor were said to belong to a young woman of exceptional beauty.
                  The Sultan’s son rose from his seat. He circled the girl—examining her from every possible angle. “No,” he finally said, shaking his head in frustration. “I must see her face.”
                  The young woman’s father looked to the Sultan for help. Such requests were unheard of. A girl’s beauty was the present she gave to her husband. But the Sultan was eager to see his son wed. Once the room had been emptied of onlookers, the girl’s veil removed. She was far lovelier than any treasure in the Sultan’s own harem.
                  “That is not my wife,” his son announced sadly, leaving his father bewildered and the girl in tears.

                  The Sultan had never been known for his kindness. But his son’s mother had been his very first wife. And he had loved her enough to make her a promise while she lay on her deathbed.
                  “Our son was born with a hole in his heart,” she had told him. “Give him time to find the girl who can fill it.”
                  The boy had always been a dreamer, with moods that shifted faster than the desert sands. The Sultan watched him grow, and he knew the boy’s mother had been right. Their son seemed to be missing some part of himself. Unless he found it, he would never be fit to rule. 
                  So the Sultan allowed his son to continue his search for a bride, until every young woman in the land had been seen and sent home in tears. At last, the Sultan’s patience reached its end, and he began to rage day and night. His son bore the abuse, but he wouldn’t surrender. He wandered the Sultan’s vast palace like a man tormented by invisible djinn.

                  One afternoon, he was sitting by the fountain outside his mother’s old rooms when he heard the sound of a girl laughing.
                  “Who’s there?” he demanded.
                  A peasant girl emerged from behind a column. Her robes were faded and her veil was threadbare, and yet she seemed to be laughing at him.
                  “What do you find so amusing?” he demanded.
                  “They say you’re looking for a wife,” the girl said.
                  “And that’s something to laugh about?”
                  “Yes, because you’re not going to find her unless you stop looking.” By the time the last word reached his ears, the girl had already disappeared.

                  That evening, when the Sultan began to rage, the son finally fought back.
                  “You say I’ve seen every girl in the land. But today I spoke with one living here in our palace who has yet to be brought before me. Why should I stop searching when my wife might be waiting within these very walls?”
                  So the Sultan sent his men to scour the palace, and before dinner had found its way to their table, the girl was hauled before the ruler and his son. She was named Tasnim—or haven in her mother’s strange tongue. Her father worked at the palace as a humble servant, but such facts meant nothing to the Sultan’s son.
                  “Show me your face,” he demanded.
                  “No,” was her answer. “You’ve seen the most beautiful woman in the world. If their faces didn’t please you, what hope does mine have?”
                  “Remove your veil, girl, or I’ll have your head,” the Sultan told her.
                  “No,” Tasnim stubbornly replied.
                  “Then prepare to meet your fate at dawn.” The Sultan clicked his fingers, and the girl was whisked away to his dungeons.

                  That night, the Sultan’s son couldn’t sleep. He thought only of the laughing girl—the one girl in the land who’d refused to be seen. At last, he left his bed and paid a visit her to her cell, where she greeted him as if she’d known he was coming. He pleaded with her to show him her face, but once again, Tasnim refused.
                  “If you’re searching for someone you’ve known in your dreams, you won’t see her beneath my veil,” the girl told him. “But if you close your eyes, I think we might be able to find her.”
                  The cell was dark, and Tasnim’s voice felt like an old, familiar song. The Sultan’s son shut his eyes and listened as the sound of his beating heart began to blend with the rhythm of her words. 

                  “Once, there was a man and his wife who lived in a cold land, not far from the sea  . . .”

                  The young man who’d known nothing but desert heat suddenly detected a chill in the air. He’d never seen the ocean, but he could hear its waves crashing against a distant coast. He found a fire blazing in a poor man’s house, and a woman sleeping in a fur-covered bed. He crawled in beside her, and for first time in his life, the Sultan’s son felt at peace. 
                  Tasnim’s story ended as the sun was rising. When the palace executioner came to collect her, the Sultan’s son sent him away.
                  “How many tales like that do you know?” he asked the prisoner.
                  “Tonight was just the beginning,” the girl said.
                  “Then you’ll have another day to show me your face,” he announced. “Take her to my mother’s quarters,” he told the guards as he passed. “And make sure she is treated well.”

                  The next night, they traveled to a mountain realm where white wild flowers lined a path that led to his lover’s door. On the third night Tasmin took him to a strange kingdom where other men carved their gods’ faces into the walls—while he secretly worshipped a goddess with dark skin and dancing eyes.
                  One Thousand and One Nights they spent together. Every night, the girl told a different tale, and her  life was spared each morning at dawn. Until the day the Sultan’s son opened his eyes and found Tasnim in tears.
                  “You’ve heard all my stories,” she said, sounding spent and defeated. “If there are more, I can’t remember them.”
                  “Then lets start all over,” he told her. “Tell me again about our life by the sea.”

                  The next day they were married. And the following night, Tasmin showed him her face. The Sultan’s son recognized nothing about it, but he’d known its owner in a thousand and two lifetimes. She was the only girl he ever wanted to find.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Perfect Setting for a Sequel to How to Lead a Life of Crime

I came across this article in the New York Times yesterday. Seems the ritziest neighborhoods in some cities have become veritable ghost towns. (The article focuses on London's Belgravia district, but it's true of parts of Manhattan as well.) Why? Wealthy out-of-towers (Russians, Saudis, Justin Bieber--JK) are buying up all the best addresses--and occupying them only a few weeks a year.

Okay, now stop and imagine the scene. Streets lined with mansions, their windows all dark. A couple of cars driving through, but no one on the sidewalks. Precious art hanging where few ever see it. Jewels in that rarely feel the warmth of human skin. A young man in a well-cut coat appears out of nowhere. He looks as if he might live in the neighborhood. Until he hops a fence, climbs a wall, and pulls himself up onto a second floor balcony--all in a matter of seconds.

Love it.

On a related note, what do you do if you're a London billionaire and you need a little extra living space? You start digging.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

No I Did Not Make That Up: Flesh Eating Beetles

(Photo: Kyle McDaniel, The Wisconsin State Journal)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the following sentences may be among the greatest opening lines ever written . . .

Beneath the soil where college students trod each day, there is a chamber that creeps and crawls and writhes. Here, the humid air is sweet with the odor of rotten flesh and thousands of bugs devour once-living animals, piece by piece.

Now that's what I call journalism!

If you've read The Darkness Dwellers then you know there's a scene involving dermestid beetles. These ravenous little creatures can strip the tissue off a carcass in no time. They can also "crawl into cracks and crevasses where human hands cannot reach." Awesome, right?

Hungry for more? Check out this article, which includes photos and a video of the dermestidae in action!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Welcome Back! Why Thank You! Where Were You? Nowhere Special. Shall We Get Back to Business? Yes, Please. Excellent.

In 1990, two men dressed as police officers stole $500 million in art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. The thieves were never caught (though police may finally have a suspect), and the daring heist has become the stuff of legend. And I don't say that last part lightly. The theft helped inspire key scenes in The Empress's Tomb!

Want to know more? Of course you do. The magnificent Chart Girl has put together this lovely diagram that will give you all the key details. How are Matt Damon and Ben Affleck involved? Well you'll just have to read it and find out!

Click here for a readable chart! BTW, aren't charts wonderful? (Advance warning: There's a teensy bit of foul language. So avoid if you're not a fan of four letter words.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Yes, My Book Was "Compromised." No, This Is Not a Hoax

My latest book, How to Lead a Life of Crime, came out on Thursday (2/21). It is, in my opinion, the best thing I’ve ever written. I put two years of my life—and every ounce of my energy—into the novel.

So imagine my horror, when I realized errors had been introduced to the hardcover edition by someone other than myself. They aren’t little errors, either. (See my post below for more information.)

Despite the damage, I'm still extremely proud of How to Lead a Life of Crime. And reviewers—readers, bloggers, and the professional press—seem to agree that it's a darn good read.

Here are a just a few . . .

Forever YA (Warning: This review is R rated—and absolutely hilarious.)
Miss Literati
RT Book Reviews
Books With Bite

There are plenty of other reviews out there at this point. (Including great reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, and Voya.) I'll be posting them here as I find them.

I'm not going to let this get me down. (Though I did spend a few days licking my wounds.) But How to Lead a Life of Crime is all about survival. And its heroes have much bigger problems to face than a "compromised" book. So I'm going to forge ahead. (And kick a little butt if I get the chance.)

After my unpleasant discovery, a good friend of mine joked, “you say compromised, I say collector’s edition.” (But then again, you’d expect that kind of optimism from someone named Sunny.) It's totally nuts, but in order to save what's left of my sanity, that's how I'm going to refer to the hardcover edition from now on.

I have ten copies of the "collector's edition" of How to Lead a Life of Crime sitting in my office. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to give them all away.

Something Terrible Happened to My Book

Thank you all for imagining the best. Unfortunately, the news regarding How to Lead a Life of Crime (which came out on 2/21) was not good.

Here's the scoop. Please spread the word.

As with all things related to How to Lead a Life of Crime, the website is intended for older teens and adults.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Things Got Really "Interesting" Last Week

Hey everyone. Sorry I haven't been around lately. Something rather strange happened last week. I can't discuss it right now, but it had to do with my latest novel, How to Lead a Life of Crime. I'll be back at Bank St. Irregular in a couple of days with an explanation. You might want to check back around the middle of this week. 'Cause you're not going to BELIEVE what I have to tell you.

In the meantime, please enjoy these delightful Darkness Dwellers links!

My interview with the amazing New Moon Girls.

My interview with The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia.

This one's cool--and interview with a reader at YA Romantics.

A review at An Avid Reader's Musings.

If I missed a link from my blog tour, please let me know!!!!

And here is ONE OF THE FIRST How to Lead a Life of Crime links, my Valentine's Day guest post at Bookshelf Sophisticate! Very exciting, indeed!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Princes in the Tower and the King Under the Car Park

If you've read The Darkness Dwellers, you may have spotted a reference to the two boys known as the "Princes in the Tower." When their father, King Edward IV, died in 1470, the princes were heirs to the throne of England. The eldest, Edward V, was 12 years old. His brother was 9. The princes were moved to the infamous Tower of London by their uncle Richard. Richard claimed he was only trying to protect the boys. Then he took the throne for himself. The princes were never seen again.

Rumors flew, but no one was ever able to prove that Richard III murdered his nephews. Two hundred years later, a pair of little skeletons were discovered buried in a wooden box not far from the White Tower. A witness claimed that the bones had "pieces of rag and velvet about them."

We don't know for certain that the skeletons belonged to the princes. But it's safe to say that the boys never received a proper burial.

Fortunately, karma caught up with Richard III. He held the throne for only two years before he was killed during the Battle of Bosworth Field. (He was the last Plantagenet, in case you were wondering.) For over 500 years, the location of Richard's final resting place was forgotten. Now his bones have finally been discovered--under a parking lot in Leicester.

Somewhere, I imagine two little boys are laughing their butts off.

Monday, February 4, 2013

I'm Not the Only One Who Thinks Pigeons are Beautiful

I'll take a pigeon over a swan any day. (If for no other reason than that pigeons are far less bloodthirsty.)

Check out these gorgeous (some might say bizarre-looking) birds (and the accompanying article from the New York Times).

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Come See Me Tomorrow!

Or come for Michael Buckley, Rebecca Stead . . . or Harriet herself!

And for your reading pleasure, a few links to Darkness Dwellers Reviews!

A review from In Bed With Books.

A review from Biblio File.

A review from Anna Reads.

A review and interview with Book Chic Club.

I THINK I'm up to date on my list, but my list has proven to be a bit tricky. So if for some reason, I've missed a blog, please let me know!

And the Winners Are . . .

Okay, no one even came close to guessing where I REALLY went (Chicago). But I'm flattered that you guys think I live a life of adventure. (Though I guess in some ways I do.)

So the two winners were chosen because they made me smile . . .

From GR:

On the surface, they reported that Kirsten Miller was off to another book signing. Since two days later, she would be at the Bank Street book signing this explanation was perfectly acceptable to her millions of fans, the critics, perhaps even believable to anyone over the age of sixteen. But if the more observant child were to see Kirsten as she sat in her seat, waiting impatiently for the flight attendant to finish a speech about cushions and flotation devices, she would find the trace of a nervous smile upon the author's face or an eye searching the people around her like a spy looking for clues. Finally, they would notice the simple note clutched firmly in her right hand. The note had been read and reread a hundred times after she left her family at the security checkpoint. It had been studied down to every vowel and now, as she waited and finally heard the engines explode to life, she glanced at it once again. It read: Your attendance is required. It was signed with the initials: K.S.

She turned the note over and saw the decorative "i" etched in dark bold ink. The plane ticket had been folded in the middle of the note. It was a ticket to a country no one had ever heard of before Kirsten had mentioned it in her first Kiki Strike novel years before.

"That's a funny bit of penmanship," the old lady sitting next to her remarked.

Kirsten squeezed the note into a ball and straightened up in her seat. She nodded at the old lady, offering a polite shrug (It is always proper to be polite to your elders, even when they are being nosy).

"I like calligraphy," the old lady continued, "but Oona is the best at it."

Kirsten swallowed and stared. "Betty?"

"Kiki wanted to make sure you were well-protected," Betty nodded, glancing out the window. They had just reached the runway.

"Protected?" Kirsten looked around her. What would an author need to be protected from? A mutant bookworm?

"Sidonia is NOT happy. With your last book, Kiki is more famous than Katniss Everdeen!" Betty tightened her seatbelt. "Did you know that Sidonia wants to play Kiki in the movie? Of course she is going by the name Veronica Golden because..."

"Veronica?" Kirsten cut her off. She had just read over the girl's portfolio a day before. An up and coming actress, called the top ten faces of 2013 by Entertainment Weekly. She had just been nominated for an Academy Award! Max Tarrant, the director of the Kiki Strike movie, had said the girl was the first in line for the lead. Was Veronica really Sidonia? She looked nothing like her, but of course she wouldn't, would she?

A flight attendant walked by them to check on the luggage compartments.

"Don't worry, dear," Betty said in an old lady voice, patting Kirsten on the knee. "Kiki will fill you in, but you've got your work cut out for you this time." The flight attendant passed them by and Betty laughed.

"What's so funny?" Kirsten whispered.

"I just remembered something," Betty shook her head.


"Elf," Betty smirked. "Kiki hates being called an elf. We tease her about it ALL the time."

The plane rumbled and took off, lifting and soaring into the clear blue sky. Six hours until their destination.

Six hours until a new adventure began...

And from CY (because I'm from NC, and it IS a very mysterious place!):

Hi there Kirsten,

It’s me, your travel agent and I’m positively ecstatic that you’ve decided to soar again! Don’t you just adore it? Watching the clouds roll by your window like fluffed up cotton candy floating by, seeing the buildings and civilization turn into tiny midgets like symbols on a map, aaah… it’s the life. Now, back to ground level. Where are you going? Counting the possibilities is like counting stars on a cloudy night sky. After hours of pondering, scratching my head, eating cookies, researching places, and eating more cookies, I have come to a somewhat logical solution. You must be travelling to the lush, beautiful, yet still mysterious North Carolina.

The place where beauty meets the skyline and beyond, North Carolina is truly a marvelous place. It’s where nature spins her magic in her spinning wheel and leaves a few strands behind. The proof lies in the forests and forests of wilderness where life and beauty have been stirred together to form one scrumptious piece of eye candy. N.C is also a glowing place in the winter. The temperatures there are mild and toned down on the chill factor, although if you’re a huge fan of snow, it does snow there from time to time! Lastly, despite it’s enthralling beauty and friendly people, North Carolina has a mysterious vibe to it. Many haunted stories

have originated there, and what is the truth about these dark tales? The thing that got me though, was the Brown mountain lights. Found from time to time in the Brown mountains, it was described as this: “… mysterious ghost lights seen just above the horizon every night, red in colour with a pronounced circular shape. “I sense a spooky mystery!

Now that’s it from me for now, and as I always say, “Travel is the apple to the pie and the spice to your life! “ Enjoy your trip and Bon voyage!

Happy traveling,

Your agent J

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Giveaway Time!!!!!

Today I'm giving away copies of The Darkness Dwellers AND How to Lead a Life of Crime. The winners of my latest contest (yes, there will be two) will get to choose which book they'll receive.

All you have to do is answer the following question . . .

I'm about to get on a plane. Where am I going?

A book will go to the person with the most accurate answer. Another book will go to the person with the most interesting answer.

As always, send your responses to The contest will end January 30th at 11:59PM EST. The winner will be announced when I return from my trip.

Good luck!!

Don't Forget Harriet!

Harriet is happening this weekend!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

More News and Links!

Hey, everyone! I'm going to give away more books (The Darkness Dwellers and How to Lead a Life of Crime) this week. And at some point soon, I'm going to give away an entire three-book set of Kiki Strike (featuring the all new covers).

In the meantime, here's a guest post I wrote for one of my favorite blogs, Mundie Moms: The Five Books That Inspired Me as a Kid

A review from another all-time favorite, Bookshelves of Doom. (Thanks for the amazing review!!)

A super fun interview with Squeaky Books

My list of the Top 10 Kick Butt Characters over at The Young Folks blog.

An interview with The Write Path

I think I've covered most of my blog visits. If I've left anyone out, my apologies! My list is a bit off, but I'll link to you very soon!

And if any of you are interested in reading reviews of The Darkness Dwellers, there are plenty out there (and the vast majority of them are nice). All you have to do is Google. (Though, I gotta tell you. As far as reviews are concerned, getting Bookshelves of Doom's recommendation really made my year. She's been with Kiki from the very beginning. I was really hoping she'd enjoy the third installment.)

And last but not least, don't forget to come see me, Michael Buckley and Rebecca Stead talk about the classic book, Harriet the Spy at Symphony Space on February 3rd. Invitation below!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Present for You! The ENTIRE Irregular Guide to New York City!

To celebrate the release of Kiki Strike #3, The Darkness Dwellers, I'm making the entire Irregular Guide to New York City available to you for free!

Just click here to download! Happy reading and happy exploring!

The Darkness Dwellers is OUT TODAY!!!!

That's right! It's finally in bookstores! Can you believe it?

I've been doing a little blog tour for the past couple of weeks. But I was so sick with the flu that I forgot to post the links! If you have the chance, you should definitely check out the blogs below. (And not just my guest posts and interviews.) They're some of my favorites, and it's amazing how different they all are!

So without further ado, here are some of the blog tour stops I've made so far . . .

SciFi Chick (Guest Post and Giveaway)

Icey Books (Guest Post)

The Bookish Dame (Interview)

Bookhounds YA (Interview and Review)

Friday, January 18, 2013

And the winner of the first HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME giveaway is . . .

MG, who sent in this remarkable response . . .

If you must know, I'm the world's only benevolent linguistic larcenist/collector. I'd tell you my name, but you wouldn't recognize it (or even remember it after reading it), seeing as my own name was one of the first words I cataloged into my Word Bank all those years ago. It's hidden away now, behind locked doors and wild, vicious excerpts of Old English and rooms covered in razor-sharp "x"s and "k"s. Sounds a bit extreme, but I need the protection. You see, I steal letters. I steal words. I steal language.

Like every "criminal," I started out in the little league; pinching the odd adverb here, the neglected noun there. It's surprising to see how many people don't use the words available to them. They just leave them hanging around everywhere, airing out to dry on the front porch, left abandoned in the street. I once found a trash can filled to the brim with young verbs; a full can, do you believe it? Dozens of 'em. I could hardly believe my luck.

In a way, that was my first major word heist, the trash can, but I figured it wasn't really stealing if nobody wanted those poor words. Still think that way, really; the mistreatment and disuse of language has led me into some serious windfalls of the linguistic variety, although there're the odd few who manage to keep their own beautiful language alive and well. Those folks treat their words right, let me tell you, and I try never to steal from them. I don't take words for profit; I respect them. I protect them from harm.

I wouldn't call my business organized crime. It isn't organized in the strictest sense; it's more of a shelter, where people bring abused words to my attention and I or one of my associates drop by to help the word out. We have an extensive library for words looking into their genealogy; we've got easy access to the O.E.D. if one of our words doesn't want to be found. We give 'em a new name and escort them back into society, where they can start afresh, no connotations, no big connections. It's a nifty job I've got, with a good deal of respect, authority, and beautiful things surrounding me day after day.

The only part I'm ashamed to admit is the word hoarding. Now, protecting words, that's not criminal, at least not to me (although a bunch of rough-n-tumble folk out in the tougher parts of society sometimes put up a fuss, demanding I return slang and slurs back to them, and I have more than a few professors miffed with me for pulling some of their most overused words out of their classroom, and...come to think of it, a number of authors seem to be a bit touchy about my doings). But hoarding words, that's borderline criminal. I have to confess that I've taken more than a few letters completely out of languages in my time, on account of me liking 'em so much, and sometimes, a splendid word'll pop up that I just pluck it out of the crowd and slip into my Word Bank. You get people looking a mite confused at times, trying to find a word on the tip of their tongue; that's me. And perhaps I get a bit carried away sometimes when faced with those gorgeous languages. I'd tell you a few of them, but I doubt you'd know them, seeing as they're so far past dead that they're extinct in your eyes. And...well, I do love "x"s and "k"s. I snag 'em every chance I get.

That's about it about me. I am a word thief, and, since my protected name means I cannot sign this letter, I shall sign off quietly. (I'm used to silence, really. After all, my line of work leaves people speechless; I steal the words right of your mouth.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

GIVEAWAY!! How to Lead a Life of Crime!!

Before we begin, a quick word. I'm not a big believer in telling young people what they can or can't read. When I was growing up, my parents never declared any books "off-limits." (They didn't even stop me from reading The Amityville Horror when I was seven. No wonder I'm a little weird.)

But I do not enjoy receiving angry emails from parents. And I think it's possible that there are parents out there who would not want their young teens reading How to Lead a Life of Crime. Parts of the book are quite violent, and there's certainly no shortage of crude language.

So this contest (and all other How to Lead a Life of Crime giveaways) is open to readers 16+. Of course, if you're under 16 but your parents are the super-cool sort who are willing to email an author so you can get a free naughty book, I'll be happy to send one your way.

Whew. Glad that's over. Now LET'S GET TO THE CONTEST!

A signed hardcover copy of How to Lead a Life of Crime will go to the reader who offers the best (usually defined as the most amusing) response to the following question . . .

If you had to lead a life of crime, what sort of criminal would you choose to be?

Send your response to by 11:59PM (EST), Thursday, January 17th!