Teen readers and writers across the US have had such a fun weekend, thanks to Barnes & Noble and its B-FEST celebration of YA books. Some of the biggest NYT bestselling authors appeared in stores along with many other published authors. They even welcomed soon-to-be-published authors like me and the other Swanky 17s to join in too, and we were all so proud to be part of it.
|Dax Varley reads from her latest book, |
I appeared at two B&N stores in Houston. On Saturday, at Barnes & Noble in River Oaks, I led a session alongside the much-published gothic & horror author, Dax Varley. The teens all took part in a YA Spelling Bee in which they had to spell words from Harry Potter and Doctor Who, with the best spellers winning tote bags and t-shirts. And we played Story Ball – whoever catches the ball when it’s thrown has to provide the next line in the tale - during which we wrote a collaborative story, which ended up showing more than a little of Dax’s gothic influence. I promised the group that I would ‘publish’ our story on this blog. Here's the full text of BAPTISM IN BLOOD, which was very ably scribed by B&N’s Michelle Nelson. Why not let us have your feedback in the comments below?
Baptism in Blood
The eyes in the painting follow him down the corridor as the footsteps echo off the wall. And when he looks back he sees her again, the girl from the dream!
Her hair is as crimson as the blood on the walls and her eyes are as blue as the sea. She wears ragged jeans and a t-shirt. She opens her mouth with a blood curdling scream. “You killed him!”
Slowly walking back, his hands start to shake and a memory flashes in his mind. He knows now where he knows her from – the haunted art museum in Aberdeen. He glances around nervously as if looking for an escape, and stammers, “I. . . I. . . I. . . don’t know what you are talking about.”
He looks up to meet her stare, but she is gone, like a tear in the rain. He starts to run, sprinting away as the floor crumbles beneath him.
The painting falls as he stumbles into the canvas, and the world changes into shifting colors - midnight blue, blazing yellow – and he realizes there is no way back. Suddenly a gust of wind drops him to the ground with a thud. But he realizes the ground is now a floor of an artist’s studio. On the wall around him are paintings just like those in the haunted art gallery.
There is an artist in the corner painting and it is the girl from the dream. She is painting him. As she finishes, she slashes a red-fueled paintbrush in a huge X across his body in the painting.
When he looks down at himself, he sees blood dripping down from an X slashed across his own chest.
She turns to him and screams, “He was the only one left!”
Suddenly every painting is slashed with a red X. She turns her head to stare at him and whispers, “Death.” Then her voice drops even lower and she says, “One must not kill an artist, for if you do, his last painting will be forever branded upon your chest.”
Chilling stuff, eh?
|I show off one of the prize books on offer - |
Sarah Alexander's THE ART OF NOT BREATHING
On Sunday, I was at Barnes & Noble Vanderbilt Square for a Teen Writer’s Workshop and we had so much fun. We came up with some 6-word stories, we took words from three brand new YA debuts and used them to create new stories.
We described another person, using non-visual descriptions and we played “What if…?” – things like: What would have happened if the Sorting Hat had put Harry into Slytherin, not Gryffindor? What would life have been like for us right now if America had not won the War of Independence?
All the teens (and pre-teens!) who took part were so enthusiastic about reading and about writing, it was an honor to work with each one of them as part of this fantastic weekend.
I was also delighted to be able to bring along with me three 2016 debut authors, at least in the form of their books as raffle prizes. All kindly sent me signatures to put inside their books, so thank you:
|Prizewinners at B&N River Oaks|
|Prizewinners at B&N Vanderbilt|
THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE
THE ART OF NOT BREATHING
THE SERPENT KING
and also at River Oaks
Dax Varley - BLEED
I’m sure I speak for all the authors and teens who took part in B-FEST when I say a big thank you to Barnes & Noble for creating this opportunity for authors and readers to come together. And I’d also like to say a personal thank you to our local Houston organizers, Michelle Nelson at B&N River Oaks, and Noella Rismay at B&N Vanderbilt, who were so welcoming and supportive of this brand new author.
I do hope to see you all for B-FEST 2017!