Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Memories Giveaway -- WINNER

I can't express how much I enjoyed reading all your Halloween memories! They were funny and poignant, and your photos made my day.

I used as usual and this time around Angel's number came up. Congratulations, Angel!

Stay tuned for future giveaways! And thanks so much for participating. :D

Haunted Seminary Tour

This past Friday I met up with pals Brandi, Martha and Karen for the Haunted Seminary Tours in Tahlequah. I was scheduled to do a reading, accompany the first tour and sign books, but it felt more like a visit to an old friend than an "author appearance." Now that it's behind me, I can tell you that returning to the setting of The Revenant on a dark and chilly October night was the perfect way to celebrate Halloween!

How can you not love Seminary Hall in all her spooktacular evening glory? To those familiar with the book -- Willie's room is in the right turret, second floor. We had to laugh because the lights were on, but on the wrong side. And yet, do you notice a funky light in Willie's window? Or is that just me? (Click to embiggen) I know the right turret was completely dark when I took this picture.

Karen, Brandi and Martha admire Seminary Hall at night. So atmospheric! (Notice statue of Sequoyah behind them.)

Posing with Martha and Karen (& the book!).

Marie Madison, graduate student in English at Northeastern State University, was my contact for this event. Proceeds from the Haunted Seminary Tours enable NSU grad students to attend professional conferences and present papers. As a former starving grad student, I'm all for that!


Okay, maybe it was just a flash effect, but Brandi (& others) heard ghostly typewriter sounds on the third floor. Apparently, many of the hauntings at Seminary Hall are auditory.

This is my favorite part -- I remembered it well from the first tour I attended over 2 years ago. Our guide shared the story of a professor who was alone on the third floor and heard someone running up and down the hall, but she could never catch the offender. Apparently, this is one of the most common auditory hauntings. Years ago, when the wiring above the drop ceiling was getting an upgrade, these footprints were discovered on the original plaster ceiling. Aren't they creepy? Is this a ghostly residue of the primaries who once ran up and down the halls?


(I will announce the winner of the signed copies of BLOOD MAGIC, HEREAFTER, and THE REVENANT later today!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Memories GIVEAWAY

Today I am offering up three signed books -- with swag -- for a giveaway! And it's open to international entrants!

This past weekend, I asked Tessa Gratton and Tara Hudson to sign their spooky books especially for this giveaway, and I'm happy to add my own book to the prize pack. All you have to do to enter is share a Halloween memory.

Don't know what to share? Here are some of my Halloween memories as examples:

-- I was four years old for my first trick-or-treat outing. I remember that it was chilly and drizzling, and that I cried a lot. Turns out I had a fever. Oh, and the paper bag I used for gathering candy had a hole in it, so all my candy fell out on the way home.

-- When I was in grade school, my mom made a fabulous "headless horseman" costume for me. It had padded shoulders and a really high collar to hide my head. Mom fashioned a veil within the collar, so people wouldn't be able to see my face. We failed to consider how this would limit my ability to see where I was going. I ended up getting stuck in a bush when my veil was snagged by the spiky branches.

-- A year or two later, my stepfather took me trick-or-treating. He parked the truck on an incline and hopped out to walk me to the door of the first house on the street. For some reason, I left the passenger door wide-open. We visited several houses, and I claimed plenty of candy, but when we got back to the street, the truck was not where he'd parked it. In fact, it had slipped out of gear and rolled down the street, bending the open passenger door all the way back in the process. When my stepfather tried to bend the door into its proper position, it fell off. He pretty much lost his cool at that point, and Halloween came to an abrupt end.

-- I finally shook off this trick-or-treating curse in 8th grade. Maybe we were too old for it, but my friends and I dressed up and went door-to-door anyway. We HAULED in the candy. Afterwards we had a sleepover and stayed up all night playing poker with that candy. Finally -- a fun Halloween!

But wait, there's more!

When I was in grad school at the University of Kansas, I dressed up as a TriDelt. (Does anyone remember the Saturday Night Live skit -- "Delta, Delta, Delta, can I help ya, help ya, help ya?" Here's a terrible video if you don't.) Yeah, it was just an excuse to wear lots of makeup, make my hair REAL BIG, and say "Oh. My. God." a lot.

When I was in grad school at the University of Wisconsin (hey, I liked grad school), Steve and I dressed up as Pepe le Pew and Penelope. Unfortunately, the people of Madison mistook Steve for Bucky Badger. At least that's what they shouted from their car windows as we walked down the street.

If you'd like to win signed copies of BLOOD MAGIC, HEREAFTER, and THE REVENANT, all you have to do is share a Halloween memory in the comments. Gain an extra entry by tweeting the giveaway (make sure you include @soniagensler in your tweet so that I see it!). You can gain 5 EXTRA ENTRIES by sharing a photo related to your Halloween memory in your comment (a link is okay, but it would be cool if you could embed the photo).

You have until 8 AM Halloween morning (central time) to enter. I will announce the winner shortly thereafter. Like I said above, this giveaway is open to international entrants. I can't wait to read your Halloween stories!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TV Tuesday -- Rippermania

I'm reading Maureen Johnson's The Name of the Star, which is about an American girl who goes to boarding school in London's Whitechapel neighborhood (a boarding school, you guys!) just as a killer starts copycatting the Jack the Ripper murders. Excellent stuff!

How appropriate is it that, starting tomorrow night, BBCAmerica is airing the 2009 series Whitechapel? And how lovely that it stars one of my favorite imaginary boyfriends, Rupert Penry-Jones? VERY appropriate and lovely!

Here's what Entertainment Weekly has to say in their A- review:

This gripping BBC drama is a Sherlock Holmes mystery for the Homicide generation. As the murder rate in London's Whitechapel neighbhorhood rises, two detectives (Rupert Penry-Jones and Phil Davis) track a serial killer who seems to be modelling himself after Jack the Ripper. Prepare for gullet slicing, blood spurting, cop-versus-cop conflict, and more blood spurting. We can't get enough.

Will you think less of me for thinking "YAY, blood and gore and Rupert Penry-Jones!"?

Anyone else planning to watch?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weekend recap

Had a great time with Tara Hudson, Tessa Gratton and Natalie Parker this weekend. Our events at Full Circle Bookstore and Norman Public Library were intimate and lively.

Clever Natalie created a banner from a photo she took at Full Circle Bookstore -- yay!

We chatted for quite a while with the group at Norman Public Library. I love Tessa's mischievous expression here -- I think she's channeling Josephine from BLOOD MAGIC.

Ha ha!

Today I am ever so grateful for independent bookstores, local libraries, and author friends.

Stay tuned for a giveaway!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Writerly weekend with a spooky twist!

This weekend Tara Hudson, Tessa Gratton, and I will be appearing at two events in central Oklahoma. Here are the details:

Saturday at 3 pm -- Full Circle Bookstore, 50 Penn Place, 1900 NW Expressway, Oklahoma City

"Supernatural Extravaganza!!!! Full Circle proudly presents three of Oklahoma’s premier authors in their first ever joint book signing! Young adult fiction authors, Tara Hudson, Hereafter; Tessa Gratton, Blood Magic; and Sonia Gensler, Revenant, will sign copies of their thrillers in the cafĂ©. Join us if you dare!!!"

(Hey, they made Tessa an honorary Oklahoman. Actually, she's from Kansas, but Oklahoma is proud to have her!)

Sunday at 2 pm -- Norman Public Library, 225 N. Webster Ave, Norman, OK.

"Tales of ghosts and ghouls will fill the air of the Norman Public Library, with three paranormal fiction authors coming to the library to share their stories.

The library will host authors Tessa Gratton, Tara Hudson and Sonia Gensler at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, in Room A/B of the library, 225 N. Webster Ave." Check this link for more details.

Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Photos from my TN weekend

Today I'm visiting Creative Writing students at Edmond Memorial High School, at the invitation of my dear friend and crit partner Kelly Bristow. I'm so excited!

This past weekend I was in TN for the Southern Festival of Books. Originally I planned to hit the road Tuesday morning (I had everything packed and audio books ready to go), but Monday night the STOMACH FLU OF DOOM struck. Sadly, the trip was cut short -- I had to fly in and out and therefore didn't get to see all the people I would have liked to see. Still, it was a pretty awesome trip. Here, let me show you . . .

My panel with Victoria Schwab was a blast! Also enjoyed panels/presentations with Myra McEntire, Ruta Sepetys, and Charles Frazier, and it was nice to visit for a bit with fellow Elevensie Karyn Henley.

One of the best things about the day was spending it with my dear friend of 30+ years, DeAnne. Thanks for coming, De! (Her brother took this photo -- I hadn't seen him in over a decade.)

On Sunday I drove out to Stewart County and spent the afternoon with my mom, stepfather, brother, and nieces. This is Shelby, who is in third grade and apparently likes to be coy/mysterious for her photos opps.

And here's Samantha, who is in pre-K this year and doesn't run away from my camera anymore. My girls are growing up!

To conclude, I just had to share a photo of my dad's crazy amazing driveway. Sometimes I think we have pretty trees in Oklahoma, and then I go to TN and see ACTUAL trees. Wow!

This weekend Tessa Gratton, Tara Hudson and I will be doing fun authorly things in Oklahoma City and Norman -- check the sidebar for details. We'd love to see you!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bulletproof kinks revisited

I first posted this 2+ years ago on Livejournal. I'm revisiting the topic today because I'll be visiting a high school next week and would LOVE to have more examples from writers out there. (And for those of you worried about the delicate sensibilities of teens (heh), rest assured that there's nothing really "kinky" about these kinks -- I just like to use the term because 1) it's the term, and 2) it always grabs the attention of my audience.)

June 19, 2009

I love the term "bulletproof kink."

I first heard it in reference to fanfiction, or maybe tv show storylines, but to me it resonates for all fiction -- what I read, watch, and what I write.

According to Fanlore, "a bulletproof kink is a story element a fanfiction reader likes or is turned on by regardless of poor writing quality, implausibility, or unsavory plot elements. Perhaps suprisingly, given the sexual origin of the word kink, many bulletproof kinks are story tropes unrelated to (or incidental to) sex."

According to writer Nancy Kay Shapiro, it is "a shorthand designation for the kind of narrative, situation, characters, setting, theme that's irresistibly compelling, that makes a story idea go for the writer—and hopefully, the reader too. It's the kind of story you're drawn to, that you want to be immersed in, as writer or reader."

Here are five of my bulletproof kinks:

1. situation -- a character in love with someone who is in love with someone else. (I have three of these in my new story. And one of the someone elses is dead!)--(But NOT a zombie.) Favorite examples: Twelfth Night (which features a perfect love triangle!), Cyrano de Bergerac, Ivanhoe, and lots more I can't think of right now.

2. setting -- boarding schools, particularly of the 19th century finishing school variety (as in A Great and Terrible Beauty). But I also love fantasy versions (Harry Potter), and contemporary versions (Jellicoe Road, Looking for Alaska, and Prep.) For me, you can't go wrong when you pile a bunch of kids together in a faraway school and replace the parents with a small group of disgruntled teachers.

3. setting -- English country houses. Whether pristine or crumbling, the remote country house is the perfect setting for romance, mystery, and murder. Think Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Fingersmith, and all those pulpy gothic romances you used to devour when you should have been doing your homework/housework. A recent YA favorite of mine is Linda Newbery's Set in Stone.

4. character -- the governess. Whether she's demonized, marginalized, or eroticized, I just love a governess. Not really a servant, but certainly not part of the family, she's caught in between and this makes for great conflict! Favorites: Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey, Turn of the Screw (Why can't I think of more books? Help!), films like The Governess and Firelight.

5. theme -- hauntings (or would you say "hauntedness"?). I love everything from hauntings by ghosts to characters who are haunted by dark secrets, evil deeds, unrequited loves, etc. A great example is Sarah Waters' latest, The Little Stranger. What exactly is haunting Hundreds Hall? (I hope someone will discuss this with me soon, before I forget the details of the story!)

Most of these kinks can be tied into my obsession with Gothic, of course.

So . . . all you writers out there -- what are some of your bullet-proof kinks as a reader? Do you see them popping up in your own writing? (I have used ALL of the above in my writing, btw!) If you'd like to read the responses to my original post for inspiration, go here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Getting on with it

Last week when I was searching Livejournal for a photo I'd posted long ago, I came across an old "WOE IS ME" post. Reading it again nearly three years later, I had to laugh. I was whining pathetically in this post, but I also was spot on with my predictions:

All right, so my book is on submission right now and it is pure torture to wait for news. I am getting crazier each day and this morning it struck me that I'm verging into a mild depression.

And you know what? Even if the planets align, God smiles down from heaven, and miracle of miracles my book actually sells (*knocks on wood*) -- this worrying WILL NEVER END! Because I will worry about edits. And I will worry about cover art. And I will worry about publicity. And then when it's out I will worry about bad reviews and my friends hating it and whether or not it's even on bookstore shelves, and whether or not it's selling at all.

So I just need to GET A GRIP. This is me telling myself to GET OVER IT. This submission thing is out of my hands right now. What I need to do is buckle down and get my outline hammered out for the next story. That much is in my control. This maudlin crap has GOT TO STOP!


(By the way, that book didn't sell, so it's a good thing I DID hammer out the next story. Desperation is a great motivator.)

My muse has been quiet lately. Perhaps it's been drowned out by all the doubting, worrying voices in my head. Thank goodness for writing conferences because I really needed some inspiration to kick me in the butt. This past weekend I attended the NC/NE Texas SCBWI conference in Dallas. It was a fabulous gathering of writerly people! Great presenters and charming, passionate attendees. The energy in the conference rooms really perked up my mojo.

Spent some quality time with my agent Jennifer Laughran AND stalked her during her presentations.

Saw the fabulous Tammi Sauer give her keynote speech, "Just Do It! Channeling Your Inner Scarlett O'Hara." (Hooray for Okie writers!)

And I took pages and pages of notes during Bruce Coville's talk, "At the Corner of Plot and Character."

(If only I could tuck these three in my pocket for whenever I needed them!)

Ultimately, what I took away from the presenters and attendees is that I just need to work harder. Write more. Write BETTER. I've been in a lull, partly because I've been doing promotion but also because I've been waiting for edits. Time to snap out of that. Time to stop spinning my wheels, to stop being scared, and just do the thing I love to do: WRITE.

And I will! But first I have to drive to TN, see family, and speak at the Southern Festival of Books. I'm appearing with Victoria Schwab on Saturday, 4:30 pm in Room 29. Come see us, y'all!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wednesday randoms

Two giveaways to tell you about:
-- At Confessions of a Bookaholic I talk about my "haunted childhood" and you get a chance to win one of four copies of The Revenant, kindly provided by Random House. Wahoo!

-- My Oklahoma friend Jenna Klein interviews me at Fans of Fiction and offers up a signed copy of The Revenant. Yay!

-- My pal Brandi Barnett has alerted me to the existence of Out of Print clothing and goodies. Check out their mission. I purchased the Pride & Prejudice sweatshirt and the Brave New World t-shirt and felt smug on many levels. (A nice sort of smug, though, right? Is there such a thing?)

-- Tomorrow I drive down to Dallas for some shopping the NE/NC Texas SCBWI fall conference. I plan to get INSPIRED! And hopefully meet some new people, if I can crawl out of my shell.

-- I was also hoping to see Dream House this weekend, but sounds like it's pretty lame. In better news, American Horror Story starts tonight, and though I missed the premiere I will get caught up with Bedlam very soon. Maybe October won't be a total loss for creeptastic viewing?