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Throwback Thursday: Films!

Happy Thursday, Everyone! This week, Red Hen authors are sharing films they loved the most in their youth.

 

Melody Mansfield

Melody Mansfield

[Franco] Zefferelli version of Romeo and Juliet

romeo and juliet

 

Michael Mirolla

Michael Mirolla, Relationship Dyads Author Photo (600 dpi)

Forbidden Planet/The Day The Earth Stood Still

forbidden planetthe day the earth stood still

 

 

William Trowbridge

William Trowbridge

Rebel Without a Cause, of course.

rebel without a cause

 

 

Andrea Scarpino

Andrea Scarpino

Well, this is more than embarrassing. They’re all terrible! The People Under the Stairs? What was I thinking? Toy Soldiers? I had such a crush on Sean Astin. My girlfriends and I watched that movie at practically every sleepover. My brother and I also went through a phase where we watched Batman every day after school—I still have the dialogue to many scenes memorized from that film. And of course, Dirty Dancing. I was traveling in France when Jerry Orbach died, and I’m pretty sure I traumatized my partner and his brother acting out entire scenes from that movie as memorial.

the people under the stairstoy soldiersbatmandirty dancing

 

 

That’s a wrap! What were some of your favorite films?

 

 

Throwback Thursday: Influential Childhood Books

Happy #tbt, everyone! For this week, we are asking our authors what their favorite childhood book was, or a book that was influential in their decision to become a writer. Read on to get inspired!

Michael Mirolla

Michael Mirolla, Relationship Dyads Author Photo (600 dpi)

The Tom Swift books

 

 

Melody Mansfield

Melody Mansfield

I read every volume of fairy tales in the library—the big red book, green book, violet book, etc.  They gave me a firm understanding of the dangers of messing with fairy tale laws (digits would be severed!) And a deep love for the magically, tragically gruesome.

 

William Trowbridge

William Trowbridge

Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It scared me into poetry.

 

 

Andrea Scarpino

Andrea Scarpino

I still have my childhood copy of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, which my step-dad first read out loud to me, and then I read obsessively for years afterwards. A made-for-TV-movie version was released when I was in elementary school that I also watched obsessively for years. Now that I’m thinking about it, loving that book probably says way too much about my psyche than should be shared. I’ll bring this up with my therapist.

 

John Van Kirk

John Van Kirk

I still have the book. Its brown cover is lost now, and with it the initial and last name—R. Tatham—of the man who gave it to my grandfather who later gave it to me. The man, who lived next-door to my grandparents, was quiet, compact, dressed in sportcoats and slacks, wore glasses, and married the wrong woman. His name was Richard. Hers was Lois. They had no children. She was brassy and big, loved animals, loved to fish, and she and my grandparents went to bingo together and played cards at least once a week. She would regale them—and us when we visited—with stories about the animal hospital where she worked. When I picture her in my mind, though, she is wearing a plaid flannel shirt, jeans, and rubber wading boots, as she did when she took my brothers and me fishing, which she did many times. We thought she was wonderful. Richard traveled, took night school courses towards a college degree, and eventually, quietly, went away and did not come back. I assume there was a proper divorce, but it was never spoken of. Once, during one of the summer weeks we boys would spend with my grandmother and grandfather, some months or years after Richard had gone, we ran into him while waiting in line at a movie theater one or two towns over. I remember being surprised at how cordial they were to him, and I remember that, awkward as the moment was, he seemed less sad than before. I never saw him again.

The book was a textbook from one of his night classes, an anthology of short stories, and it must have hit me at the right time, because I devoured it. Most of the stories were classics of the genre, though a few have since passed into obscurity. One, however, I can credit with influencing my life to this day: “Youth,” by Joseph Conrad. That story, with its powerful visual images and its adept evocation of ships and the sea, lit two distinct and powerful fires within me and, perhaps more than any other single work, influenced the life I have lived ever since. Captivated from the first paragraph, I wanted to be Conrad. Or I wanted to be Marlow, through whose eyes we see the story unfold, as he sets out on his first voyage to the orient, his first voyage as second mate. And, before I even reached the magnificent last act, with its unforgettable scene of the burning ship silhouetted against the night sky, I knew that I wanted to learn to write like Conrad, to paint pictures with words the way he did. Years went by, of course, and during some of those years I probably didn’t think about Conrad at all, though I thought a great deal about becoming a writer, and in time I studied literature with an intensity and fury that excluded nearly everything else. I studied literature to see how it was made. To see if I could learn to make it. And then, realizing I couldn’t do it by study alone, couldn’t portray a world I hadn’t seen, I set out to become a man who could. I joined the navy, spent nine years in uniform, a fair amount of that time at sea. When my ship dropped anchor in Mombasa, I went ashore with a collection of Conrad stories in my pocket. I read Nostromo while on a two year tour as an exchange officer in Venezuela. Later, a civilian again, I crewed on a sailboat, touring the southern coast of France, Corsica, Italy, the Greek Islands, and the coastal waters of Turkey. I even got the chance to cross the Atlantic on a 38 foot cutter. I traveled around the U.S. as well, rarely passing up an invitation to visit a friend or acquaintance that might offer me a look at someplace I hadn’t seen yet. I took notes on all of it, not writing every day, but keeping at least a desultory record of places and people. Along the way I managed to publish a few small pieces, picked up a teaching degree, and then a steady job, settling down, not unlike Conrad himself, to a more quiet, writerly life.

As I write this, I am surrounded by piles of notebooks and journals, at work on the sea novel I have spent my whole life preparing to write. Can all of that be attributed to a single story read by an impressionable boy at perhaps just the right age? Maybe not all of it. Certainly there have been other powerful influences on my life and my writing. But I can still remember the first time I read that story, the pride of the young Marlow in his first billet as “a really responsible officer,” the ominous mystery of the rats leaving the wooden vessel the night before it sets sail from Falmouth for Bankok, the discovery weeks later that its cargo of wet coal has begun smoldering in the hold, the blazing ship on the night sea, the dawn arrival in a ship’s boat at an exotic Asian port-of-call, and the idea that such sights and feelings were out there in the world to be experienced by those who sought them out, and they might be written down in language that would bring them alive to others.

I don’t know what ever became of Richard. It occurs to me now that I would like to have thanked him.

 

 

Enjoy the rest of your day, and look out for tomorrow’s Feel Good Friday!

 

 

 

The first #FeelGoodFriday of November!

We made it through the first week of November. Halloween decorations are coming down and Holiday ones are going up. We couldn’t be more excited. Here are some other things that captured our attention this week!

Some good “unfortunate” news!

Jimmy Kimmel’s annual trick for kids.

Super hero SWAT team.

It’s never too late to vote!

Toy Story 4 is happening!

Red Hen Press acquiring UK publisher Pighog!

And our wonderful intern Rachel’s favorite news this week…

Mean Girls reunion!

 

Have a good weekend everyone!

Throwback Thursday

We are back for another Throwback Thursday to find out if our authors remember the first thing they ever wrote. Here are their answers!

Melody Mansfield

Melody Mansfield

I wrote a poem in first grade that amazingly (uber-talented child that I was) rhymed “cat” with “hat.”  I went home and showed my father and he said, “You are a poet, Mel!”  As if I really were.  I also wrote a lot of romantic tragedies (protagonists always dying in plane crashes, but holding hands!) That I learned later my elementary school teachers used to bring into the break room at lunch to read.  Apparently, it made their work day a lot more fun.

 

Michael Mirolla

Michael Mirolla, Relationship Dyads Author Photo (600 dpi)

No, it was in elementary school but it had to do with a magnificent city being reclaimed by nature.

 

Ellen Meeropol

Ellen Meeropol

I don’t remember the first thing I ever wrote, but my first publication was at age 12. It was an essay titled “I am a square dance orphan” published in the national square dance magazine, Sets in Order. I wish I still had a copy, but memory tells me that it was funny at the expense of my parents, who were recent converts to square dancing. I wasn’t pleased, left at home to watch my younger sister. I was a big fan of Art Buchwald’s irreverent column in the Washington Post at that time, and my essay was – I think – in that style, describing my antics with my sister and our intense dislike of TV dinners.

Ironically, I decided many years later to try square dancing. It was fun, but I just couldn’t handle the petticoats.

 

Andrea Scarpino

Andrea Scarpino

I don’t know if it was the first thing I ever wrote, but I still have a poem I spoke to my mother who typed it on her typewriter when I was five or six. I then added illustrations and signed my name in big block letters. The poem is called, “Pumpkin, Pumpkin” and begins,

                              “I skip and hop and I skip and hop and
                               I skip and hop and skip and hop!
                               I love to sing songs today—I like
                               to skip and hop and play!”

I’m still a fan of the dash in poetry—although I like to think that I’m now much more careful with exclamation points.

William Trowbridge

William Trowbridge

No, thank goodness.

Also, our authors had more to say about Halloween!

Gary Dop

Gary Dop

Each year, my family—three daughters and Liz and I—dress up in coordinated costumes. Liz makes the costumes, a month-long ordeal that reaches its marital boiling point twenty minutes before we trek the neighborhood for candy.

One year we were all different colors of the rainbow; a few years back, we were fairies, complete with wings and glitter—I was a very proud Fairy Gary. In 2013 we were chipmunks, but in the insanity of “What does the Fox Say?” we were mistaken as foxes, which we found slightly offensive.

This year, we were a bouquet, each of us picking a flower to add to the arrangement. I went with Gerbera daisy because they’re lovely, and who doesn’t want to feel lovely on Halloween? I’m tickled by the musical joy of the moniker Gary “Gerbera Daisy” Dop.

Dop Boquet of Flowers

Dop Rainbow

Dop Fairies

 

John Van Kirk

John Van Kirk

Imagine you are an anthropologist from another culture visiting my neighborhood during the last days of October, a sharp observer who knows nothing about the religious and cultural institutions of the U.S.  You will see houses—and some public buildings—decorated with huge spider webs, sheaves of corn, black cats with their backs arched and ready to spring, glowing jack-o-lanterns, witches, skeletons, and ghosts. What might you conclude about us? That, regardless of what religious beliefs we profess, we are in fact animists? That we worship—or fear—the dead, elderly women, cats, and spiders? That we appear to be a deeply superstitious culture, mired in beliefs that go back to the middle-ages and before, and this must be some kind of harvest festival? And what do you make of Trick-or-Treat? An evening, designated by the town elders, when the less fortunate are allowed to visit the neighborhoods of the more well-to-do and beg for handouts. Watch the adults hang back, and send their costumed children, sacks in hand, to the well-lit doors of the bourgeoisie. See how those who are most pleasing to their benefactors—the cutest, the most inventive, the most entertaining—are rewarded with an extra piece of candy. Tell me this doesn’t reveal more about who we really are than the beliefs we profess in our authorized places of worship or the culture we are taught in our schools.

 

That wraps up our #tbt for this week!

Fear Good Friday!

We’ve got a special Halloween edition of #FeelGoodFriday – Fear Good Friday!

Here are some spooktacular stories from this week. They’re mostly cute babies and dogs in costumes.

Check out Willow and her adorable costumes!

Next level meteorology!

There’s nothing this dog can’t pull off!

Have a safe and wonderful Halloween!

Throwback Thursday: Halloween (Part Two)

This week, a new round of authors are sharing their favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costumes, as well as their favorite candy. Read on to reminisce with our authors. Happy Halloween!

Kim Dower

Kim Dower

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

My most embarrassing costume was when I dressed as a French Maid and wore underwear on my head in the hopes it would resemble a French Maid’s “cap.” Sadly, it resembled underwear, so you can imagine what a fun party that was!

My favorite costume was a wedding dress – a real wedding dress — as I got married on Halloween.  But, when I put it on that day, and walked over to the park in Santa Barbara where we were married, it felt like I was wearing a costume since everyone else was dressed up for Halloween.  It was very confusing.

 

Here’s 9-year-old Kim in the early 60′s dressed as a Beatnik poet for Halloween!

Bongo Kim

 What is your favorite candy?

My favorite candy bar has always been Snickers.  Can’t beat the caramel, peanuts and chocolate.  But than they came up with a dark chocolate Snickers with almonds and suddenly everything changed.

 

William Trowbridge

William Trowbridge

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

Clown, of course.

What was your favorite candy?

Heath bars.

 

 

Celeste Gainey

CelesteGaineyphoto-rgb

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

My favorite Halloween costume was a red devil. Wearing that one, I found I could get away with a lot!

 

 

 

Here’s 3-year old Celeste dressed as a black cat!

celestecat

What was your favorite candy?

My favorite candy bar as a child was 3 Musketeers. I was the youngest in our family and sometimes rode with my Dad when he took my brother and sister to school. On the way back––at 8am, mind you, we often stopped at our neighborhood market and he would buy two, one for each of us. We’d eat them on the spot. It was our secret––we never told my mother.

I grew up in Santa Barbara and on Halloween my mother would drive us to a couple of big estates in town that were known for their extravagant Halloween booty. At one, the Bryce estate, a maid would answer the door and usher us into a Hearst Castle-type dining room with a huge oval table and dozens of European chocolate bars artfully fanned across its surface according to brand and distinction. She would tell us to “take one of each!”

Karen Shoemaker

Karen Shoemaker

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

I’m such a poor kid cliche. I wore the same costume every year: hand-me-downs from my brothers and some black soot-like stuff rubbed onto my face and hands. If anyone asked I said I was a hobo, but in truth I was just a kid with a grocery sack willing to walk for miles for candy. No cameras were fetched to record how cute I was.

When my kids started trick or treating I made up for the “poverty” of my youth by sewing uncomfortable but festive costumes and applying elaborate make-up on their delicate skin. Grown now, they have both declined the publishing rights that would allow me to send photos of them as witches and werewolves, jesters, clowns, zombies, angels, dinosaurs, Harry Potter characters, and lord only knows what else, but I’m telling you, they were super cute.  They’ve more or less forgiven me for the ordeals I put them through.

Ellen Meeropol

Ellen Meeropol

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

When i was growing up, Halloween costumes were pretty ho-hum. I remember cowboy hats and ghostish sheets that tripped me and were quickly discarded. My costume-creating juices didn’t flow until my daughters were of trick-or-treat age; that’s when the fun started. For them, there was the Hershey bar sandwich board, with contents carefully painted with silver ink; the green corduroy pickle costume, sprinkled liberally with garlicky brine; the Rubick’s cube from a large grocery store carton. Best of all was the Ann Boleyn costume I made for myself. I walked around carrying a severed plaster head singing “With her head tucked underneath her arm.”

ellenhalloween

What was your favorite candy?

Chocolate. Any chocolate. Only chocolate.

Leia Penina Wilson

Leia Penina Wilson

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

I never really dressed up for Halloween until I moved to Alabama. That has to be the most unexciting answer to this question! Ha. The picture below is from last year I think. Look how cute my friends are. I like to go as myself for Halloween. Sometimes I wear a mask (I collect masks), but I don’t really like pretending to be something or someone else. I think that makes me old. When I was younger, my mom didn’t let us go out on Halloween. She thought it encouraged hoodlum-ism. When you think about it, sending children out into the night to randomly knock on a stranger’s door for candy doesn’t sound safe. Right? I did plenty of pretending when I was younger though. My brother and sister and I used to pretend we were Skeletor, the Red Ranger (red ranger?), and the Joker. This explains so much about our personalities! My brother was the Ranger, my sister the Joker. I was always Skeletor. There was something comic and menacing about him that appealed to me. All he wanted was to rule all of Eternia, I sympathized. He had a throne. A giant staff that doubled both as a symbol or power and as a weapon. I wanted that staff. He liked the color purple. Purple is my favorite color. He had a giant purple cat. Who doesn’t want a giant purple cat?

 halloweenimage

 

What was your favorite candy?

I love sweet treats. Almond joy! Coconut and chocolate are my favorite. I have fond memories of Zero, the candy bar. I like Kit Kat’s cold. I keep mine in the freezer. I also like Twix. Crunch! That was my favorite name. Whatchamacallit’s are also yummy, it’s my mom’s favorite. She used to bring candy bars with her home about every night so we could take them to school for lunch the next day (or breakfast). I’ve had a lot of candy bars. She sent me with a Baby Ruth for the drive to Vegas.

Louise Wareham Leonard

What  has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

The only time I planned a costume for Halloween, I bought fatigues and army boots , and planned to go as Sigourney Weaver in Alien.

 

louise

Gregory Donovan

Donovan, Gregory author 1 (480 DPI)What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

My favorite costume may have been the year that I dressed up as Leopold Bloom–although woefully few people at the party I attended had any idea who that character might be, even after I attempted to explain myself, as they had never read Ulysses–or anything else by James Joyce. But I enjoyed my own witty getup as a Jewish Catholic wearing a yarmulke (I couldn’t find a bowler hat)  and a prayer shawl with a rosary strung around my neck and carrying around, not a Bible, but a venerable hardbound copy (in red cover) of Ulysses itself. I told everyone this was the Nighttown episode and I was a hallucination. No one believed me.
The rest of the time–and entirely too often–I dress up as a pirate, something that comes naturally, and perhaps as something of an inescapable necessity, for a person with a beard, as that sartorial manifestation tends to limit one’s options. One year I felt particularly authentic as I was wearing a sling on my left arm after a spectacular bicycling accident resulted in my permanently relocated shoulder, and so I had a handy “scabbard” for my sword.
Pirate Donovan
What was your favorite candy?
There is very little candy that I don’t like, and so most varieties are therefore on my Forbidden Foods list–but on Halloween I sometimes like to engage in throwback activities and so, if they’re available, I might go after some candy corn (nearly like eating sweetened plastic) or even grab a few of the horrible yet strangely attractive and oddly colored circus peanuts.

Feel Good Friday!

We’re launching the first of our Feel Good Friday series! At the end of every week, we’ll post some things that caught the eyes of the Red Hen staff – inspirational stories, things that made us laugh, or things we’re looking forward to this weekend. We want to end the week on a good note and kick off the weekend right.

 

 A Blind Man Put A Sign Up In A Local Bookstore. The Response Has Been Incredible

Humble Delivery Man Becomes Reluctant Hero After Dramatic Fire Rescue

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: Brad Pitt

BJ Novak reads from and signs Book With No Pictures at Vroman’s

This 5 Year-Old with Autism is Shocking the World with Her Paintings

 

Check back next Friday for more Feel Good Friday stories!

Throwback Thursday: Halloween

With Halloween just around the corner, we thought we would go down memory lane with our authors to get to know them a little better. Read on to find out about their fun, and embarrassing, Halloween costumes, their favorite treat to satisfy their sweet tooth, and how they celebrated the holiday!

Erin Hollowell 

Erin  Coughlin Hollowell

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween Costume?

A homemade fox outfit from maybe seventh or eighth grade. Poor Home Economics skills coupled with a complete lack of social awareness contributed to an outfit that consisted of two fuzzy ears glued to a headband, a reddish/brown leotard, and a hand-sewn tail that looked more like a turd than a tail. Luckily there are no pictures of this debacle and I prefer to maintain the illusion that it wasn’t as big a failure as my friends told me it was in the girl’s room at the Halloween dance.

What is your favorite candy?

Black licorice. Preferably soft black licorice that really ought to be eaten in the privacy of one’s own home for purely aesthetic dental reasons. Also a guilty candy pleasure from off the beaten path – Diamond Zout Licorice – salted black licorice from Holland.

 

Andrea Scarpino 

Andrea Scarpino

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume? 

My favorite Halloween costume of all time is a banana. My mother bought me a rubber mask that was banana shaped, and I wore a yellow pleated skirt and yellow sweater, and sprayed my hair yellow, and with the leftover hair coloring, sprayed my gray poodle yellow so that he could Trick-or-Treat with me as Old Yeller. We were a vision in yellow. Unfortunately, I don’t have photographic evidence. But I do have a photo from my second ever favorite Halloween, which was the first time my niece Trick-or-Treated. She moved to the US from Korea where Halloween isn’t celebrated, and when I showed up at her door to Trick-or-Treat with her wearing a bright pink wig and sunglasses, she was, well, surprised. To say the least.

 

Michael Mirolla

Michael Mirolla, Relationship Dyads Author Photo (600 dpi)

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume? Favorite candy?

Actually, coming from an Italian household, we never really had the opportunity as young kids to costume ourselves and go out for classic trick or treating (not really a big European festival). Later, in the teen interval period, we would sneak out with a grocery bag and canvass some of the homes on our street. But we always keep a bowl of treats (peanuts, apples, hard candies) for those who were into celebrating All Hallow’s Eve.

One thing: the candy bars never made it to the treats bowl. Especially if they were Oh Henry! or Aero bars!

 

 

Paul Cummins

Paul Cummins

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

In my former capacity as headmaster at  Crossroads School in Santa Monica, there were many spoofs. Here my staff dressed me up, though I’m not sure I know what I’m meant to be…!

 

Displaying photo.JPG

What is your favorite candy?

Reese’s Pieces

 

Dennis Must

Dennis Must

What has been your favorite, or most embarrassing, Halloween costume?

Having grown up in the 1930s and 1940s, it was the Halloween custom in our mill town neighborhoods to buy an inexpensive mask from the corner store and borrow a pillow case from the house to hold the candy. That was the extent of one’s costume. The masks were often comic strip or storybook characters. Popeye and Pinocchio were favorites.

Here are a couple stock photographs illustrating the extent of a youngster’s dressing up for Halloween night during those early years.

What is your favorite candy?

Then it was Sugar Babies.

Check back next Thursday for more #tbt Halloween stories and pictures from our authors!

Ron Koertge Featured on The Writer’s Almanac

9781597095440An excerpt from Ron Koertge’s Sex World was featured on The Writer’s Almanac yesterday. Take a look at his feature here. Congrats, Ron!