Friday, October 28, 2011

The Book at the Foot of My Bed

by Lupe Fernandez
Edited by S. Berger and K. Kahrs

Dracula and The Wolf-Man lurked in the ceiling rafters of the garage at my family home. 

At least, when I was a kid, I thought so. 

At night, my father would send me into the garage to flick off the light switch. I knew that I had mere seconds, after the lights when out, to run the length of the garage to the safety of house, before Dracula and the Wolf-Man pounced on me.

At night, when my father would send me into the backyard to throw out the trash, I had to cross the dark grass and cement patio to make it to the aluminum trash cans. Horrid fiends hid among the trash cans, waiting for kill me.

At night, between my street corner and my front porch, laid a dimly lid stretch of sidewalk, two houses in length. That flat strip of cement with its water-meter cover and linear grooves acted like flypaper for slow-moving kids - a trap set by hungry monsters. In those few yards, I sprinted for my life.

Active imagination, you say? 
I had lots of help.

My older brothers introduced me to The Thing at the Foot of the Bed, written by Maria Leach and illustrated by Kurth Werth, © 1959. I would check this book out from the Hayward Public Library and I would reread my favorite ghost stories and stare at the lurid illustrations to scare myself.

The Thing at the Foot of the Bed taught me important lessons: If I ever see glowing eyes at the foot of my bed, I’ll think twice before I shoot it with a shotgun. I never pick up hitchhikers; they might be dead. I never dig in a garden; I never know what or who is buried under the dirt.

Out of the six categories in the book, these are my favorite stories.

“The Thing at the Foot of the Bed”
A man shoots evil glowing eyes at the foot of his bed. The glowing eyes were his big toe nails reflecting moonlight.


"The Dare”
A boy sticks a knife in a grave and dies of fright.

“As Long as This?”
A drifter encounters a series of frightening men with giant smiles. 

“Milk Bottles”
A mother will do anything to feed her baby – even if she’s dead.

“The Lovelorn Pig”
After Duncan jilts his sweetheart – she dies of a broken heart - a pig follows him everywhere. Tired of the pig, he whips it and the pig cries out in the voice of his dead sweetheart. “Oh, Duncan, how could you?”

“The Gangster in the Back Seat”
A dead gangster appears in the rear view mirror of a used car. 

“The Devil in the Dishes”
I’ve never played and never will.

“Singing Bone”
A beheaded girl sings for revenge against her wicked mother who buried her in the potato patch.

For those of you on the lookout for ghosts, Leach provides some tips.

  • “If you are walking along a road at night and hear a stick break, that was a ghost.”
  • “A little tiny whirlwind of dust on the ground is the sign of a ghost’s passing.”
  • “If you have to pass by a haunted place at night, turn your pockets inside out and the ghost won’t hurt you.”
  • “…look steadily from between a dog’s ears, in the direction the dog is looking, you will see the same ghost he sees.”
  • “Don’t laugh at ghosts. They are no joke.”
  • “If ever you come upon an old hat or a piece of clothing on the ground with a stick across it, don’t pick it up. The stick is a sign that it belongs to a ghost. Don’t touch it.”
  • If you ever see "something white lying in the road," don't kick it. It may "swell up as big as a cow." Got it? Never, Never, Never, Never…


Amazon it will cost you whatever.
(Can be bought it for 1 cent plus 3.99 shipping.)

The Pen And Ink Blogspot assumes no responsibility for nightmares, day-mares, hauntings or stale Halloween candy.

Ice Plant the way, everybody knows ice plants are really monster fingers ready to drag little kids underground.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Night at the Museum

David, Hilde, Sam and Victoria
by Hilde Garcia

When I was a kid, I remember reading From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg and dreaming I could also run away to a museum. I understood Claudia and no one appreciate me. But I lived in Florida and there was no Metropolitan Museum of Art.

When I grew up, I went to the Metropolitan. I still wanted to run away and spend the night. The allure of the armor, the paintings and the sculptures were all so thrilling as they loomed in the darkness.

Over the years every time I visited any museum, I still wished I could hide among the exhibits and come out when the coast was clear and solve a mystery like Claudia. I would explore all the nooks and crannies, and the places that said, “Do Not Touch.”

Hilde and Victoria
For my 44th birthday, my wish came true. I found myself in a museum sleepover. Yep, I was in my Hello Kitty pajamas and I was really going to spend the night inside of the Noah’s Ark exhibit at the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles. It was dark all around me. My twins sleeping next to me breathed deeply. I slipped on my socks and prowled through the corridors. Every step made my heart beat as floorboards creaked and people stirred.

Our magical sleepover began with playtime in the ark, which my children know extremely well from their previous adventures. Micah Cover performed a hilarious magic show for us. Then after a yummy catered dinner by El Pollo Loco, we participated in a magic workshop with Micah and took an oath as magicians to learn how to do magic.

And no, I’m not posting how to do the tricks we learned because we took an oath.

Victoria, Magician and Sam
We made a magic card trick of our own, sorry can’t tell you what it was- top secret. We decorated magic boxes and licked fruit Popsicle bars. I had the lemonade flavored one. My kids went for the strawberry.

After dessert, we took a private tour of the Harry Houdini Exhibit. During the Scavenger Hunt, we were given puzzles that once complete, pointed to a part of the exhibit with answers about Houdini’s life.

If that wasn’t magical enough, we got magic gift packs to take home with some tricks we could use. Before we all turned in, our fearless and fun leader, Michael, read George Shrinks and Huge Harold. Only a few small fry yawned, but all stayed awake.

Upon our arrival, my daughter had picked out the most perfect place on the ark to sleep- right by the kitchen area under the rope bridge and it was our own little private Idaho. I slept in an exhibit as I had dreamed I would.

Sam, Hilde and Victoria
In the morning, we finished our magic boxes and had breakfast before we left the magical place that was Noah’s Ark and return home.

I must tell you that dreams do come true for kids, even if they have to wait a long, long time for them. When we write, we really do make a difference. I wonder if E. L. Konigsburg knew that she would be inspiring a generation of children to runaway to a museum.

How many amazing books inspire kids to follow the hero or heroine of the story? As authors, we must continue to create magic in our books no matter where they take place, so that children will still wish to spend the night in a museum or in a castle.

To all of you that have dreamed the same as I have, I can tell you this much, it was the coolest night and I highly recommend it.

Let your dreams prowl among the exhibits where the signs say “Do Not Touch.”

For more information about The Skirball Sleepover:

Not sure you need to be a member to participate in the sleepover.

July Newsletter:
In the newsletter there is a link to the sleepover:
But forget your sleeping bag. An Airbed is the only way to go!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mina Javaherbin
In Conversation with The Pen And Ink

by Lupe Fernandez
Edited by The Management

Exclusive Announcement!
The Secret Message written by Mina Javaherbin, based on a poem by Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet and illustrated by Bruce Whatley, will be part of an anthology taught in all 4th grade classes across USA. Mina was elated with joy. This publication brings approximately one million readership for her book. 

Mina began writing The Secret Message in 2000. The text for The Secret Message was submitted to the 2004 SCBWI Barbara Karlin Grant for emerging, unpublished picture book writers and The Secret Message was a runner-up. Mina received the award at the Century Plaza Hotel as about two thousand other writers clapped for her. This she said she’ll never forget. After mentioning this award on her resume, Mina was noticed by Studio Goodwin Sturges which sold the book to Disney-Hyperion Books in 2006. The book came out late October of 2010. 

Mina Javaherbin
The Craft
Mina is a professional architect. She uses her architectural education for writing as well. She says, “Creative thinking has a universal gestalt and understanding the different medium of expression can help the artist apply his or her education in interchangeable forms of art.” 

“Everything I learned about Writing I Learned in Architecture” is the title of a lecture she is hoping to offer in her architecture school alumni lecture series one day. 

We talked about this in specific and she has interesting points in comparing blueprints to story outlines, foundation to plot, structure to voice and finally the infamous ARC of a story which comes directly from the word architecture.

Mina Javaherbin is also the author of Goal!, illustrated by A.G. Ford. In Goal!, a South African boy who plays soccer with his friends in an unsafe neighborhood. The boys deal with the bullies by standing together and thinking together as a team.

Soccer inspires Mina for its egalitarian nature. “It’s played all over the world.” The problems addressed in Goal! are not unique to one country. “People can learn to rally together and stand up to bullies. Soccer is a practice.”

For Goal! “The entire idea came to me in one sitting. I've been working on so many versions of soccer and nothing worked... once I realized that the games are going to be in South Africa I had the image of Ajani playing in the not so safe streets of a township and then everything flowed in.” Mina had watched the apartheid movement taking shape on their black and white TV in Iran Later she found out that activists such as Nelson Mandela had played soccer in prison to boost their morale.

The text of Goal! reads like a poem. “It reads like football cadence,” Mina said, “Action, movement. Poetry and Picture Books go together. It’s music to the ear. Literature has its own language and of course I wrote in metaphor.” Mina had minor changes from her editor. “The text should be ready to go, especially for a first time unknown author.”

High Praise
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
The Archbishop Desmond Tutu called Goal! “Uplifting and inspiring…and a gift to all soccer fans around the world.”

When the Nobel Peace prize winner Tutu wrote a quote for Mina’s book obtained by the Candlewick Press, Mina cried with joy, she said that she wrote a thank you letter for Mr. Tutu, “It was surreal to write a letter to Archbishop Desmond Tutu.”

The following are a list of awards and accolades for Goal!
  • IRA Award Winner. IRA=International Reading Association 
  • Nominated for California Young Readers 2011-2012 
  • An Irma Black finalist 
  • Nominated for the Texas Blue Bonnet Award 
  • NYPL pick for 2010 
  • Finalist for Chickadee Main Award. 
  • Smithsonian pick for 2010 
With both books the publishers had asked, which artists Mina liked. Mina gave a list to her publishers. She said that in her experience her publishers did their best to accommodate back and forth collaboration between the author and the artist and that she was delighted about this.

Charlize and Mina
Charlize Theron
At a function for the Center For Living Peace in Irvine California - Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, Mina met Charlize. “It was a charity function. Charlize is gracious, very pretty inside and out she had asked the kids, ‘What do you recommend to help stop the spread of AIDS?’ The kids had responded to Ms. Theron, ‘Give us a place to play soccer. Lighted fields at night so we can play. With no electricity, there’s too much sex, there’s nothing else to do at night.’ With this Charlize Theron is in the process of not only offering medication and lectures and awareness but also creating fundamental alternative option to channel the youth’s energy.”

A Sequel? 
When this interviewer asked Mina if there would be a sequel to Goal!? She said there would be “another book.” This interviewer suggested the following titles: 
  1. Touchdown!
  2. HomeRun!
  3. Hole-In-One!
Mina responded, “You’re not that far off.”

Last Thoughts
“I think the enthusiasm of the author,” Mina said, “to promote (their book) will excite the publisher.”
“Don’t give up.” 
“Get creative; there is nothing more fun out there!” 

The Pen And Ink Blogspot would like to thank Mina for this interview.

For more on Mina Javaherbin:
Visit her website.
Watch the exciting book trailer for Goal!
Listen to Mina read an excerpt of The Secret Message.
Representation by The Red Fox Literary agency.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

High School Time Machine

by Lupe Fernandez – Class of 1980

I attended a high school reunion in August. It’s been thirty-one years since I graduated from Sunset High. Stepping into the Crow Canyon Country Club in San Ramon, I felt transported through time. In an instant, the goofy kid became the responsible, pillar of the community adult, the flighty social butterfly became a stern mother of three, and the student voted mostly like to succeed is dead.

My idea of fun at a reunion was asking questions such as

“Did you like high school?”

“Did you have to fend off unwanted advances from boys?”

“Can you tell me about that traumatic experience of being taunted?”

Other alumni were drinking, talking and dancing.

I thought about the teenage life I didn’t live. I thought of a different story. What if I had an affair with a teacher and fell in love? What if I married a high school sweet-heart and she got pregnant with somebody’s baby? What if I asked the popular girl out for a date and she said yes? What if I tried to burn down the gym and never got caught? What if I adopted the slacker life style and fought with my parents about college? What if I became a literary sensation and couldn’t handle the fame? What if I had gone drinking on overnight school trip and committed a crime?

What if I saved the school from some horrible disaster of my own making? What if I joined a cult? (Joining a cult was a big fear in my teen days.)

All these possibilies. Lives unlived. I was a well-behaved, bored, shy, sarcastic kid whose regrets have regrets.

In those days, Warsaw Pact Forces occupied Eastern Europe, ready to jump off into Germany. Iran held American Embassy personnel hostage. A disease emerged – today known as AIDS - with causation unknown, treatment non-existent and death guaranteed.

What if World War III broke out and my school survived? What if someone I knew was a hostage at the American Embassy and I hated my fellow Iranian students? What if I caught the mysterious disease and developed immunity?

I’m grateful to have avoided those scenarios.

I can’t go back in time and revise my past. Writing stories that take place in high school, during those uncertain years of out-of-fashion smells, ill-fitting conversations and awkward clothes, allow me a small measure of instant replay to satisfy romantic wishes or fashion an exciting life.

I’ll never know why that one girl dumped me after a week of going steady, so I’ll have to make something up and live with it.

What if…