It’s Take Your Child to the Library Day 2016!

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Today is the fifth annual celebration of Take Your Child to the Library Day. Founded in 2011 by children’s librarian Nadine Lipman, the event is held the first Saturday in February and encourages librarians to reach out to their communities and show folks just how wonderful reading can be.

Before the Internet, libraries were the source for information and reading, and these days they can use our support. So head out tomorrow, introduce your children to that big brick building with all the free books to borrow, update the library card that’s been stuck in the back of your wallet for all these years, and renew your acquaintance with a vital partner in the ongoing literacy campaign.

For more information, including the list of participating libraries, visit the TYCLD Facebook page.

Happy Women in Horror Month 2016!

WiHM2016Girl-WhiteOnBlack-mediumIt’s February, and that means it’s time again for Women in Horror Month, the annual celebration that shines the spotlight on the contributions of all the female creators—writers, artists, movie directors, producers, special makeup artists, special effects experts, etc.—who’ve brought thrills and chills to generations of fans around the world. And the Women in Horror Month website is the place to go to find out all about the events scheduled for this year. To quote the organization’s most recent press release:

Women in Horror Month (WiHM) is an international, grassroots initiative, which encourages supporters to learn about and showcase the underrepresented work of women in the horror industries. Whether they are on the screen, behind the scenes, or contributing in their other various artistic ways, it is clear that women love, appreciate, and contribute to the horror genre.

WiHM celebrates these contributions to horror throughout the year via the official WiHM blog, Ax Wound, The Ax Wound Film Festival, and with the official WiHM event/project database in February. This database—in conjunction with the WiHM social media fan base—actively promotes do-it-yourself annual film screenings, blogs/articles, podcasts, and any other form of creative media with the ultimate goal of helping works by and featuring women reach a wider audience.

This inclusive and positive movement is open to everyone, just as we believe the horror genre should be.

For more information, visit the WiHM site.

Happy New Year 2016!

Hey, we’re back! I hope the holiday season was good to all you Panatics, and that Krampus brought you all the Goth-related gifts you asked for (hey, even “bad” kids deserve presents, too, y’know! 😀 ).

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrAnd I hope that among your many presents was a copy of the book that made 2015 an even more awesome year than you thought possible: Blood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2! If you’ve had time to read it, you know that Pan’s harrowing adventures have grown only more harrowing, with vampires, countless monsters, and even a sword-swinging angel all setting their sights on our favorite teenaged Goth. (And if you haven’t read it…well, click that highlighted link and head over to Pan’s publisher, StarWarp Concepts, to order a copy. It’s available in both print and digital formats.)

And her first literary adventure isn’t even over yet!

Coming later this year will be Blood & Iron: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 3, the exciting conclusion to the monster war begun in the novels Blood Feud and Blood Reign. Will Pan, her parents, and her friends survive the perils to come? I certainly hope so—I’ve got other tales to tell!

Stay tuned to this blog for updates as they become available, and maybe a surprise or two along the way, as we march toward Blood & Iron’s release.

big-apple-conAs for convention appearances, I’ve got a pretty short schedule lined up—one appearance planned, so far—but you’ll find me at the 2016 Big Apple Con on March 5. Due to god-awful weather conditions last year, I had to cancel my appearance at last year’s twentieth-anniversary celebration, so here’s hoping Old Man Winter eases back on the icy roads so I can actually get to the Penn Plaza Pavilion (in midtown Manhattan) this time. If you missed out on getting a copy of Blood Feud, Blood Reign, or The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, this’ll be your chance to catch up on any Zwiebackian merchandise you’re missing.

And don’t forget to check out the StarWarp Concepts blog, to see what releases and other news items they’ve got in store for 2016. You might even find something in their webstore that’ll help you while away the time until you can get your hands on a copy of Blood & Iron.

Here’s to a goth-tastic 2016!

Darth Zwieback: The Vampire Strikes Back

That’s right, Star Wars fans, today is the U.S. release date for Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens—the latest entry in the space-fantasy series that changed blockbuster movies forever. So, what’s an epic space opera got to do with Pandora Zwieback? Well, who better to be Dark Ladies of the Sith than a couple of Goth girls like Pan and her bestest friend, Sheena McCarthy—right? And with Marvel publishing blank “sketch covers” for its Star Wars titles, the Darth Vader #1 blank was, I thought, the perfect canvas for my latest “masterpiece”:

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Surprised I’d try to tie in Pan to the biggest sci-fi movie franchise of all time? As a wise Muppet once said, “There is no try. Only do…or do not.” 😀 Also, I was in a drawing kind of mood, and once the sketch idea popped into my head I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see how Pan and Sheena would look in the Star Wars universe.

So, hey, Marvel, when do the girls get their own spin-off series…?

It’s “Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day” Again!

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Hey, book lovers, today marks the sixth annual Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day! Founded in 2010 by author Jessica Milchman, the event, according to its Web site, “is about instilling a love of bookstores in children so that they will value and support this most precious of resources as they go on to enter and create communities of their own.”

Kids + reading + brick-and-mortar bookstores? Always a great combination!

For more information, including a map of the bookstores that are celebrating with events of their own, visit the TYCBD site by clicking on the banner up top.

Small Business Saturday is Tomorrow!

Hey, shoppers! Sure, today might be Black Friday, the retail industry’s most notorious day of the year, but Small Business Saturday—that annual celebration of mom-and-pop companies that can always use your holiday-buying dollars—takes place tomorrow, November 28. And in case you hadn’t noticed, Pan’s publisher, StarWarp Concepts, just happens to be a small business!

And what better way is there to support their efforts than by purchasing copies of Pan’s adventures for friends and family members who might be interested in meeting my Goth adventuress—or even for yourself, if you’ve heard of Pan but have never gotten around to checking out her story?

blood_feudThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback is the young adult, dark-urban-fantasy novel series that I write. It’s the story of a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets a shape-shifting monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, in the first critically acclaimed novel, Blood Feud, that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world. But before Pan can learn more about what she can do, she and her parents are drawn into a conflict between warring vampire clans that are searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father.

Blood Feud is far and away one of the best young adult supernatural fantasy novels released in the last few years. Pan is exactly the kind of teen heroine that readers should be standing up and cheering for.”—Melissa Voelker, HorrorNews.net

“One of those fabulous books that manages to straddle the young adult/adult fiction divide, catering equally for teens and more, ahem, ‘mature’ readers alike with a light touch that makes it a joy to read.”—Kell Smurthwaite, BCF Book Reviews

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrPan’s debut adventure continues in the second novel, Blood Reign, in which she and Annie face challenges from not just vampires but legions of monsters led by a fallen angel—who happens to be one of Annie’s ex-lovers! Blood Feud ended on such a shocking cliffhanger that Blood Reign picks up right where the previous novel left off and hits the ground running, in a story filled with danger, high-speed car chases, vampire hit squads, and a generous helping of romance—all while Pan tries to make sense of her increasingly weird life. Pan fans (I call them “Panatics”) can’t seem to get enough of StarWarp Concepts’ resident Goth girl, so feel free to join their growing ranks—we love adding new members to Zwieback Nation.

“If Blood Feud, the first volume, took some deliberate pacing steps to build Pandora’s character, Blood Reign eschews that as it thunders along at breakneck speed, barely pausing for breath at any given time (and, I must say, the volume was devoured at speed as well)… I thoroughly enjoyed this volume.”—Andrew Boylan, Taliesin Meets the Vampires

“If you thought the first book, Blood Feud, was high powered, you’ll love this book! To paraphrase movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn’s quote: Blood Reign starts with an earthquake and builds to a climax…. This was one fun read!”Dwight Jon Zimmerman, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Lincoln’s Last Days

pan_annual_lgAlong with Blood Feud and Blood Reign, also available for purchase is The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, which features two adventures (written by me) of Pan and her friends that are separate from the novels: a full-color comic story drawn by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), in which Pan and her boyfriend, Javier, run into one of his ex-girlfriends…whom Pan can see is really a mythological siren that can enrapture men with her voice; and a short story that pits Pan, Annie, and Javier against a trio of Elegant Gothic Lolita vampires—in a shopping mall! An additional backup tale, “After Hours,” is provided by DC Comics writer Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo! Team-Up) and drawn by comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld).

Blood Feud, Blood Reign, and the Pan Annual are available in print and digital formats. Visit their respective product pages for ordering information, as well as sample pages and chapters.

Queens’oween 2015: The Phantom of Flushing

adventures-darkness09Happy Halloween to all you monsters, young and old! This week I’d been celebrating Queens’oween, a Halloween-themed holiday I made up that put the spotlight on homes around Queens, NY (home to both Pandora Zwieback and Pan’s publisher, StarWarp Concepts) that are celebrating All Hallows’ Eve in awesomely horrific style. But now this event has reached its end (for this year), so to mark the occasion I decided to present a classic one-page horror comic story for your reading enjoyment—one set (of course) in Queens!

Set in the 1890s, “Phantom of Flushing” first appeared in Adventures into Darkness #9, published by Standard Comics in April 1953; since most comics at the time didn’t include creator credits, and Standard Comics went out of business a long time ago, this story’s writer and artist are unknown. Jokes about the name aside, Flushing is one of Queens’s oldest neighborhoods, first settled in 1645 by the Dutch (back when New York was known as New Amsterdam) before falling under British control in the 1660s. Today it’s home to an ever-growing population that includes a Chinatown now even larger than the original, in Lower Manhattan. Mini history lessons aside, sit back and get ready to meet…the Phantom of Flushing (click to enlarge)!

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Speaking of comics that would make for great Halloween reading, does StarWarp Concepts have one that’s perfect for Panatics!

pan_annual_lgThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1 is a 56-page, full-color comic special—with cover art by award-winning artist Henar Torinos (Mala Estrella)—in which the teenaged Goth adventuress battles vampires and a jealous, man-stealing siren. It features three original stories of what I’ve termed the “Paniverse”—tales that take place within the fictional universe of The Saga of Pandora Zwieback.

  • “Song of the Siren,” written by me and illustrated by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0) involves Pan and her boyfriend, Javi, attending one of his family’s picnics in Central Park, and running into an ex-girlfriend of Javi’s. An awkward situation, to be sure, made even worse by the realization that with her monstervision, Pan can see the girl is really a siren: a creature from Greek mythology that can hypnotize men with its voice!
  • “After Hours” is by writer Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo Team-Up) and comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld), and involves a working-class demon dropping by his favorite bar.
  • “Shopping Maul” is a short story written by me, with title-page art by Elizabeth Watasin (writer/artist of Charm School). Pan, Javi, and their friends stop by a Queens mall to do a bit of window-shopping—only to find themselves caught in the middle of a fight between Gothic Lolita vampires and Pan’s monster-hunting mentor, Annie!

The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1 is available in print and digital formats, so visit its product page for ordering information, as well as sample pages and chapters.

Have a Spooktacular Halloween!