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October 2012

The Devil and Materialism (Quotes and Tarot Cards)

I love it when I'm reading a book and a passage just jumps out at me, brilliantly capturing the energy or import of a Tarot card.

Devil 400When I read this, I immediately thought of The Devil:

Gurney made his way back to the parking area. A foursome of golfers in traditional plaid pants and V-neck sweaters were just getting out of an oversize white SUV that reminded him of an upscale kitchen appliance. Normally the thought that someone had paid seventy-five thousand dollars to ride around in a giant toaster would have made him smile. But now it struck  him as just one more symptom of a degenerating world, a world in which acquisitive morons were conniving endlessly to amass the largest possible piles of crap.

The Devil Tarot card often indicates bondage to the material world ("things"), slavery to addiction (co-dependence, drugs, eating, shopping, insatiable collecting, alcohol) and habitual self-destructive habits. 

It could be said that the maxim "Too much is never enough" encapsulates the energy of The Devil. While the 9 of Cups may indicate temporary gluttony or drunkenness, The Devil--as a Major Arcana card--symbolizes the archetypal pattern of bondage, addiction and self-debasement that permeates a life for years.

Sometimes (oftentimes?) this archetypal pattern is passed down through generations--whether through nature (genetics) or nurture (environment)--as "sins of the father". 

Devil sleepAnd how's this for irony: it wasn't until I was about to type this post that I realized the title of the book I quoted from above is Let the Devil Sleep (I kid you not). It's book #3 in the retired detective Dave Gurney series by John Verdon.

Care to share a quote that captures the essence of The Devil card for you? What about a passage you've recently read? I'd love to hear about it in the comments section.

-- Janet

Image of The Devil Tarot card from the Universal Waite Tarot

Judgement Tarot Card Meaning for Writers

This post explores the Judgement Tarot card in light of creative writing and what we could glean from it for character, plot, conflict, setting and more. This post will be added to as additional insights come up. 

Judgement 400Let's say I want to flesh out a female character, including her name, occupation and some personality traits. Using the Universal Waite Tarot, I shuffle and draw Judgement.

Character: For a name, I can riff on the card title: Judith? Judy? Last name of Judge? Judd? Or maybe she likes the music of the Judds? Looks like Ashley Judd?

Personality wise, maybe she’s an actual judge. Or judgemental. What kind of occupations could involve criticism or even judgmentalism? A book critic? Headmistress? Mother superior? Minister?

What about looking closer at the imagery. Could she be a mortician? Coffin maker? Trumpet player? Or maybe an exacting conductor or perfectionistic composer? Maybe she’s a no-nonsense head nurse on the battlefield (notice the red cross on the flag)?

Maybe your character is a Joan of Arc type personality, who is “sent” to be a group’s “salvation”. Or perhaps she’s an actual angel…or a woman with a messiah complex.

Trumpets usually announce important people or messages. In fact, in the Greek, angel comes from the word angelos which means “messenger”. Maybe your character is a town crier. Or the town gossip. Or she really does bear an important message that must get delivered…or else.




What do you see in this card? Feel free to share your insights in the comments section so we can create a Tarot Card Meaning Database for Writers for everyone to use! (Huge thanks to Kerry Dwyer for the inspiration to do this series!)

-- Janet

Spooky Tales Volume 1 Free on Kindle from Oct. 29-31!

Spook Tales Cover free
Cover Art: Craig Conley. Desecration of Cover Art: Janet Boyer
Since I can't give you guys actual candy for Halloween, I'm going to give you a cyber treat, instead.

Beginning (around) midnight tonight, Spooky Tales Volume 1 will be FREE for three days. The gifting madness will be from October 29-31. (Wait until it says "free" though, to get the gift).

In the meantime, feel free to "like" the Amazon page, share this post on your Facebook wall, Tweet about it and tell your friends who like spooktacular stories.

And, when you're done reading, a review on Amazon would be most appreciated, too! Don't have a Kindle? You don't need one! You can download free Kindle apps on Amazon for your PC, Android, Tablet or other device at this link.


-- Janet

Spooky Tales Volume 1 Now Available on Kindle!

Spook Tales Cover 350
Cover Art by Craig Conley
I'm super excited to announce that my first fiction anthology Spooky Tales: Volume 1 is now live on!

I’m pleased to introduce you to five entertaining short stories that have five things in common: each contains the words tooth, rust, cope, ghost and whippersnapper. Among the submissions, I chose five of the best tales to include in this anthology.

As an editor, it’s a fascinating process to read different stories—all required to use the same five words—and watch how each author decides to use those words. It would be easy—lazy, really—to just toss in the mandatory words as one would throw parsley on top of spaghetti as a decorative afterthought.

Not these writers. 

From Craig Conley taking amusing liberties with the word whippersnapper in his tale “The Toothsayer” to Jennifer Wheeler’s stomach-turning placement of tooth in “A Bird Named Murder”, each of these authors offer considered and surprising uses for the five required words. 

They read like meat, not like garnish. Something you can sink your tooth into, so to speak.

Speaking of meat, wait until you read about the delicious “meatcakes” in Ron Boyer’s “The Discovery”…

Well, I’m getting ahead of myself! As you can see, I’m very excited to present these five short stories to you—five entertaining reads that will leave you feeling off-kilter and, hopefully, spooked enough to want more from these talented writers. 

Table of Contents:

“The Toothsayer” by Craig Conley
“Aggressive Life Partner” by Janet Boyer
“A Bird Named Murder” by Jennifer Wheeler
“The Discovery” by Ron Boyer
“Fear” by Michelle Bowser

Click here to borrow or buy your Kindle copy from Enjoy!

-- Janet

Bad Writing and Attacking Reviewers

Writers...maybe you DO suck. And that the "Review Nazis" are right about your shitty book. 


Takeaway: Don't attack reviewers. If a respected reviewer/good writer criticizes your work--with reasons to back it up--take it, and use it to improve your work.

-- Janet

Shaheen Miro Interviews Janet Boyer About Tarot

Back in August, Shaheen Miro interviewed me about Tarot. Here is that interview:

Shaheen: Hello, Janet. To begin, you’re a bit of a Tarot know-it-all, so what got you hooked on Tarot?

Janet: No mysterious, elaborate stories I’m afraid: quit simply, I felt to learn the Tarot about 12 years ago. Most of it has been trial-and-error self-taught experience…especially figuring out how to mesh my natural psychic ability with the cards.

Shaheen: Have you explored any other divination art forms with the same tenacity as Tarot? Or are you a one-system type of lady?

Janet: I've explored several divinatory practices, but none is as versatile as Tarot. In fact, my use of the cards is mostly NON-divinatory. I’m naturally psychic, so I have the whole claircognizant and clairvoyance thing going on. I don’t need Tarot for divination, but, apparently, I need it as the medium for most of my current creative work.

Shaheen: You’ve contributed so much to the Tarot community, and I am always interested to know, how has Tarot enriched your life (personally and professionally)?

Janet: It’s provided an interesting playground for trying new things with the cards. I love how the cards allow for “mashups” with other disciplines. Of course, without the Tarot framework, my husband and I wouldn’t have our Snowland Deck…and this has been a very rewarding creative opportunity for us both.

Shaheen: At one point you declared to never write about Tarot again and you’ve mentioned many times that you have been black-balled from different Tarot related forums and outlets. So what made you give Tarot a second (or third or fourth or fifth :-P) chance?

Janet: There’s so much NOT being done with Tarot. The field begs for innovation and, sadly, hardly any are willing (or able) to answer the call. I can’t leave it alone because there’s more work for me to do within the field. It’s like an unfinished sentence: how can you walk away from something so incomplete, especially when you’re holding the words that will cause it to make sense or change the meaning altogether?

Shaheen: So tell us why you felt there was a need to write about reversed meanings in the Tarot in your book Tarot in Reverse?

Janet: Actually, it was my editor’s idea. I was on the phone with Dinah from Schiffer Books and she had just performed a Tarot reading…and asked how I’d interpret the cards that came up reversed. So I interpreted her reading for her. She exclaimed “Someone should write a down-and-dirty guide to Tarot—Tarot in Reverse!” I told her that I had just finished teaching an audio course on the topic and my notes were right next to me…and that I could easily write such a book. She told me to hurry up and write a proposal. So I got off the phone and did. It was accepted by the publisher and within a few weeks, I had a book contract.

Shaheen: What will we find in Tarot In Reverse that we can’t find anywhere else?

Janet: Most books on Tarot contain the same irrelevant, ho-hum, dry esotericism. That’s not how I “do” Tarot, so my book provides modern anecdotes showing how each reversed card plays out in real life (especially via pop culture), as well as dozens of unusual, accurate meanings for reversals. Oh, and 1,560 affirmations (20 for each card).

Shaheen: Do you think that reversed Tarot reading is for beginners? Or is it an added, but not necessary, layer to reading the cards?

Janet: If someone is completely new to Tarot and hasn’t been tainted by the good cards/bad cards BS—or the belief that a reversed card indicates the opposite of the upright meaning—they could absolutely learn about the Light/Shadow Continuum (that I talk about in Tarot in Reverse)…which makes understanding and interpreting reversals pretty easy. However, if they’re new but indoctrinated—it may be best to ease into reversals only after truly absorbing the energy and import of each card.

Shaheen: What did you struggle with while writing this book?

Janet: Time! My editor loved what I had written so much, she asked the publisher if Tarot in Reverse could be made into a full-color, glossy book. This gave me almost double the word count that was originally allotted to me. Thrilled to go beyond just a comprehensive listing of reversed meanings, I then decided to add modern anecdotes for each card to further illuminate and cement how reversed cards “look” and manifest in the real world, as well as 20 affirmations for each card, a quote that encapsulated its energy and advice. So what was intended to be a 20,000 word book was expanded to around 43,000 words…but with the same deadline!

More importantly, I was also dealing with personal attacks, stalking and harassment from several online Tarot talking heads at the time. It was utterly insane. After I wrote Tarot in Reverse, I was so fed up at what they were doing behind the scenes—defamation, insinuation, baiting, stalking—that I wrote a short story to vent my feelings.

Shaheen: With a creative mind like yours you have to surprise yourself sometimes! What were some of your “ah-ha” moments while writing Tarot In Reverse?

Janet: Thank you, you are too kind. :o) Gosh, it was almost a year ago since I finished the manuscript…so I don’t remember! More than anything, I think I was surprised that no one had written a book like this before. But, then again, not much new is being doing with the Tarot in a fresh, innovative, contemporary, bold way, so…

Shaheen: I really loved the long list of affirmations you included in this book. What inspired that? Are affirmations something that you use frequently?

Janet: I feel that if any endeavor or tool doesn’t expand perspectives, foster growth, encourage self-examination or promote personal responsibility—then it’s not worth much at all. It’s just a form of mental masturbation or a way to avoid taking charge of your life. Affirmations were my way of helping the reader integrate the energy of each card or serve as a form of closure for dealing with it.

Shaheen: I’m interested to know, when you personally conduct a reading, how do you piece together information from the cards? I know you do “intuitive” readings, but explain a little bit about how the Tarot factor into the process.

Janet: I feel that if you want a specific answer from the cards, then you need to ask specific questions. I encourage my clients to tell me what is bothering them and ask me direct questions. When they are unable, I create the questions FOR them. I create custom spreads for every client; I don’t rely on any pre-made formats. Why would I ask of a card the silly, vague question “What crowns this client?” when I could ask “What is going on with his mental attitude?” or “How can she attain mental clarity?”.

Shaheen: I know you’re a total badass, but do you ever get stumped? I know there has to be more than a few readers who have had a “WWJBD” moment lol! How do you pull it together in those situations?

Janet: I’m more stumped by the stupidity and groupthink I see among online Tarot groups, to be honest! Seriously, though, sometimes the cards refuse to be specific—and that’s because the situation is in the hands of another, it’s being worked out or the energy hasn’t yet solidified in order to “read” the likely trajectory. You can’t get a fix on something that has yet to be set in motion by actions and decisions, for example.

Shaheen: Janet, Tarot In Reverse is an amazing book and you can see all your hard work shining through. I’m happy to see that you haven’t give up Tarot yet and I hope that people see the treasure that you have created! It is sure to be a classic. Do you have any last words of sage advice?

Janet: Why thank you, Shaheen! I’m thrilled that you appreciate my Tarot work. My advice on the Tarot is that here is no wrong way to read, create, understand or use the cards. For life in general, the most brilliant person I had the pleasure of knowing once told me “Trust Self first, last and only”. Works for me.

Shaheen: Thanks again, Janet. It’s so great to speak with you. I’m anticipating what you’ll do next... Tarot and otherwise!

Janet: My pleasure, Dear One.

Shaheen Miro is an intuitive reader, Reiki practitioner, fashion design student, artist and writer. Contact: 937.213.3426 / /

Win a $25 Etsy Gift Card to Use at Snowland Creations!

This Saturday, October 27, signifies two special days: Make A Difference Day (the largest national day of community service in America) and Ron's 41th birthday (my husband and artist for the Snowland Deck). Happy Birthday, honey!

To commemorate these special days, we're having giveaways! The first gift we're giving is a $25 Etsy Gift Card to use at our Snowland Creations Shoppe (click here to visit).

Etsy Gift Cards

You have many ways to enter! Contest begins October 23, 2012 midnight EST and ends Halloween night at midnight EST (October 31, 2012). 

Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to see all the ways you can earn entries. Good luck!

-- Janet

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Snowland Bracelets on Etsy

In case you didn't know, our lovely Snowland Deck (Life Themes Edition Majors-only deck and the Platinum or Gold full deck packages) come with custom-made Snowland Bracelets. Just like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. 

In collaboration with Jewelry by Scotti, I (and sometimes Ron!) help pick out special beads and charms for our special Snowland Bracelet collection. Below are 12 bracelets that I've added to our Snowland Creations Etsy Shoppe :

12 Bracelets

Click here to see our Snowland Bracelets up-close on Etsy or to place your order. (Remember: if you buy our Snowland Deck, you may choose one of these as part of your special package!)

-- Janet

From Christmas Tarot to Snowland Deck

6 of Coins Cropped 400
6 of Coins (6 Green Material Suit) from the Snowland Deck. Art by Ron Boyer.
I had always wanted a Christmas Tarot.

I couldn’t believe no one had ever thought of it, let alone attempted to make one (at least, at the time, I could find no mention of such an idea—not even on popular Tarot Forums).

So back in February 2009, I decided to do what many wise sages and art coaches recommend: create what you want to see in the world.

But I needed an artist.

My husband worked, and still works, a full-time job…so I didn’t even think of asking him if he’d like to do it.

So I decided to ask my then-friend Lisa Hunt if she’d like to collaborate with me on that project, to which she enthusiastically agreed. (At the time, she was already working on the Fairy Tale Tarot and the Ghosts and Spirits Tarot. She’s quite the deck factory!).

I started to script the entire Christmas Tarot, all 78 cards—images, keywords…the works. It took me only about a week or two.

While I was working on the script for the specific images I “saw” for this deck, Lisa went ahead on her own and created a painting for my approval—the first in a set of five or so paintings we would send to publishers with our submission packet.

She submitted a lovely image of snow sprites pulling at a woman’s hair…her idea for the 7 of Cups.

Despite the image’s beauty, it simply didn’t work for a Christmas Tarot.

As I told her, this card might work for a Winter Tarot…but, alas, not a Christmas Tarot. There was nothing outright Christmas-y about this image (and it needed to be for a true Christmas Tarot).

My rejection of the image led to her decision to discontinue her work on the Christmas Tarot project. I guess she had her own ideas for the deck, but since it was my vision and commission (that we hadn’t really even got a chance to discuss at length, because she just began painting her 7 of Cups idea, on her own, without asking)—I felt that the images needed to stay within a specific milieu. After all, this was the Christmas Tarot…not the Winter Tarot.

Simply put, there are certain expectations from Tarot enthusiasts and art lovers when you include the word “Christmas” in the title.

In Lisa’s submission for the water-themed 2009 Tarot World Magazine’s Articles and Spreads (that never saw publication and for which I was the editor), she wrote about this image:

The Seven of Cups has always been one of my favorite cards. I suppose this is because I'm a dreamer and paint dreams. I am definitely organized-challenged and constantly find sundry tasks reminding me of what I should be getting done instead of painting. But then I find myself drifting back to the sketchbooks and paints with that incessant need to explore the mysterious inner workings that have manifested in my artwork over the years.

This particular rendition of Seven of Cups is a “fine arts” tarot piece. There is even the possibility it will end up in a future deck (an idea I'm working on with my friend Janet Boyer). Symbolically speaking, I find myself in this lady's situation all too often. She is in the middle of filling her cups from an unfrozen pool as snow fairies vie for her attention. She is torn between focusing on her task and acquiescing to the desires of imaginative thinking. The fairies embrace locks of her flowing hair with their magical touches while spirits of the trees look on. The lady is being lulled by the comfortable presence of the fae as her garments begin to assimilate into the environment. The tree roots encircle the cups and infuse them with magic, making the return to "reality" more and more difficult. The woman's reflection in the pool is her conscience, a reminder that she still has a job to do.

But alas, our collaboration wasn’t meant to be.

7 of Swords Cropped 400
7 of Swords (7 Gray Mental Suit) from the Snowland Deck. Art by Ron Boyer.
While the Christmas Tarot may still see publication some day (I still get requests for us to do it!), I was thrilled that my husband, Ron Boyer, agreed to collaborate on a winter-themed deck with me. He was more excited about exploring a wider thematic scope, beyond just Christmas, and I readily agreed to this new permutation on my idea.

He had painted Santa on the roof as The Moon card for the Christmas Tarot, but as we discussed going beyond just Christmas—and after U.S. Games Systems turned down our submission saying it was “too narrow a market” in an already niche publishing venue—we decided on a winter-themed deck.

Thus, we now have our sparkling, innovative Snowland Deck! It's been a true honor to collaborate with my husband; he's quite the talented guy (but I'm biased!). I love seeing how he takes my ideas and suggestions, bringing them to life--and, oftentimes, adding his own special take on an image.

And that Santa on the roof card? It’s now our 7 of Swords, or 7 Gray Mental Suit in the Snowland Deck designation.

Just like The Moon card of Tarot and what it represents, there are many hidden stories behind big ideas and projects—and I thought I’d share this one with you. 

-- Janet

Snowland Greeting Cards

Holiday CardI've designed some Snowland greeting cards that's perfect for any winter holiday: Yule, Christmas or Hanukkah. 

Bundled in counts of 10 and printed on sturdy stationery cardstock, you can order your Snowland holiday greeting cards at our Snowland Creations Etsy via this link.

-- Janet

Clatter Bash! A Day of the Dead Celebration

"El Dia de los Muertos is not a time to feel sad or afraid of death. It is a time for familias (families) to come together, share memories of past loved ones, and celebrate the joy of being alive!" - From the book

Clatter bash"Knock-knock!
Up we go!
Big fiesta!

With colorful hats, sweeping dresses, bow ties and festive garb, author and illustrator Richard Keep commemorates the Mexican celebration known as the El Dia de los Muertos in the book Clatter Bash!: A Day of the Dead Celebration.

Happy skeletons climb out of their entombment to frolic about the graveyard, driving in cars, splashing in fountains, watering marigolds, singing songs, telling stories and feasting at picnics.

Replete with vibrant images in greens, purples, oranges and yellows, the first 26 pages of Clatter Bash! depicts a simple, rhyming, alliterative poem showing the fun that the dead have when the Day of the Dead begins (usually November 1 or 2).

A mix of English and Spanish phrases underscores the clanking and jittering antics of the smiling skeletons that have risen for this special fiesta.

In two pages at the end of the softcover story, the author explains the late-October celebrations that occur in the villages of Mexico and many places in the United States, as well as the meanings of several Spanish words and phrases.

For example, children dress up as angelitos (angels), diablos (devils) and calacas (skeletons) to parade around the village with their parents, yelling Hola! amidst music and merry-making.

From ofrendas (home altars) to traditional foods, graveyard picnics to common greetings, Richard Keep describes the mood, purpose and accoutrements surrounding this special holiday.

As the author/illustrator says, "El Dia de los Muertos is not a time to feel sad or afraid of death. It is a time for familias (families) to come together, share memories of past loved ones, and celebrate the joy of being alive!"

Clatter Bash! not only offers a wonderful opportunity for cultural education, but also a reason to explore the topic of death. In fact, its upbeat tone and pictures would likely bring comfort to those mourning the loss of a loved one. I lost my Dad in March of this year and haven't really properly grieved yet, but this book gave me a smile and a new way of seeing his passing. Perhaps I may even make my own little Day of the Dead celebration this year.

On a poignant note, the author/illustrator dedicates Clatter Bash! to Joe Lucas, who inspired this book on his deathbed.

Highly recommended!

-- Janet

A Dog's Life

Dog life"Everyone thinks that dogs have it easy. But I work from morning till night. As soon as I get up...I make sure that no one oversleeps. Ruff! Ruff!" - from the book

In one of the most delightful children's books I've ever read, author Caroline Sherman offers us a dog's eye view of life.

What humans may categorize as accidents, messes and annoyances have, at core, noble motivations--from a dog's point of view.

"I wash dishes. Slurp! Slurp!" (A dog sneaking licks on a finished dinner plate).

"Then I go outside to tidy up the yard. Splish! Splash!" (The dog wrestles a spouting water house in its mouth).

From page one of A Dog's Life, I was smiling. By page three, I was chuckling. Who knew what a dog REALLY thinks going about its daily "chores"?

And that howling at night? Why, singing lullabies until everyone is asleep, of course!

Brought to playful, animated life by illustrator Donald Wu, A Dog's Life offers a comical perspective on canine antics. The dynamic close-ups will likely engage children, while the fresh perspective of what may be classified as drawbacks to dog ownership will amuse adults.

My husband saw this on the table, read it and asked me "Did you read A Dog's Life yet? It's funny!"

And honestly? I can't see how anyone who reads this 22-page hardcover book would think any differently.

Highly recommended!

-- Janet 

The Monster Who Did My Math

"There once was a time I was frightened by numbers.
They scared me at school, and they haunted my slumbers.
My brain had some kind of allergic reaction
To multiplication...addition...subtraction.

My blood would run cold at the thought of division
And decimal point would put spots in my vision.
But now I see math from a new point of view.
This is my story. I swear it's all true." - From the book (Hardcover, 30 pages)

Monster math
When the clock strikes twelve with hollow tones, a monster appears to an arithmetic-phobic boy. With red horns, black cape and pencilly fingers, the monster offers him a contract, guaranteeing that he'll do all the boy's dreaded math homework.

The boy receives several As on his math homework...but what happens when he's called upon in class to solve a problem on the chalkboard? More importantly, will he have the math skills to "pay up" what's owed the monster?

With brilliant, clever rhyming verse, award-winning author Danny Schnitzlein shows what happens when kids become lazy thinkers and attempt to take short cuts with their homework in his book The Monster Did My Math. Reminiscent of TV cartoons from the 30s, exaggerated and lively art by Bill Mayer adds up to a hilarious, but instructive, tale on why math is important.

A fantastic tale for numerically-adverse kids, The Monster Who Did My Math shows the all-too-real cost of not knowing how to do simple math--and how perseverance may not only result in mastery, but also actual enjoyment.

Highly recommended!

-- Janet

13 Monsters Who Should Be Avoided

13 monstesr"How do you do?

I'm Professor LeGrand,
Of LeGrand University,
The world's foremost expert
On monster diversity.

Pay careful attention to my
Lecture this morning,
Take meticulous notes,
And remember this warning.

I have worked forty years on this neatly typed list
Of mischievous monsters whose natures consist
Of conduct I best can describe here at present
As something far less than what most would call pleasant." - From the book (Hardcover, 29 pages)

Thanks to Professor LeGrand, you can be forewarned of the Hedge-Standing Snit, Whichwayawawa, Three-Toed Albanian Sock Bats, Snurps from the Gamma-Goon Stars and nine other monsters in his revealing book 13 Monsters Who Should Be Avoided (transcribed by Kevin Shortsleeve and illustrated by Michael Austin).

And to be forewarned is to be forearmed, should you encounter one of these thirteen beasts!

With Seussian prose, author Shortsleeve takes readers on a curious tour that's more amusing than scary, aided by Austin's colorful illustrations.

Children who enjoy the poems of Shel Silverstein or the musicality of Dr. Seuss' verse will likely enjoy 13 Monsters Who Should Be Avoided, as would parents, teachers and caregivers who like a bit of tongue-twisty mouthfuls in their storytelling palates.

-- Janet 

The Monster Who Ate My Peas

Monster peas"Eat your peas," said my mom, "or you won't get dessert."
I said, "Before peas, I would rather eat dirt!"
"I know you don't want to", she said with a glare,
"But until they get eaten, you'll stay in your chair." - From the book (softcover, 30 pages)

Ah, childhood food aversions. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, mashed potatoes, liver--most kids have one (or ten) foods that they dread.

In The Monster Who Ate My Peas, written by Danny Schnitzlein and illustrated by Matt Faulkner, a little boy wishes that the peas on his plate would disappear...and a monster suddenly appears to take care of that.

This grotesque creature largely made up of hated foods (A squash nose! Spinach beard!), happily slurps up the peas...but he exacts a price.

The first time, he demands a new soccer ball. The second time, a new bike.

So what happens when the monster demands the child's puppy in exchange for the eaten peas?

Well, you'll have to read The Monster Who Ate My Peas to find out! Let's just say the little boy's love for his dog prods him to make a surprising discovery.

Illustrated in muted, muddy earth tones, this fanciful, award-winning book features clever rhyming prose and emotion-laden imagery. It's a great book for encouraging kids to try new foods.

My only problem with it is the beginning: I've always disagreed with the notion of forcing kids to "clean their plate" by eating foods that make them gag. TRYING a food at least once, yes. But not attempting to force them with threats.

However, the ending of The Monster Who Ate My Peas may very well help a child re-think swearing off reviled foods without trying them...but creating a monster made UP of hated foods might reinforce the notion that certain foods are to be feared or avoided.

-- Janet

Trick or Treat on Monster Street

Monster street"I used to be a scaredy cat
afraid to sleep in my own bed.
Late at night, when things went bump,
I'd conjure monsters in my head.

My brothers knew my weakness well.
Every time they got the chance,
They'd think of ways to make me scream,
And laugh when I would wet my pants." - from the book (Hardcover, 29 pages)

Created by the same team that made the award-winning The Monster Who Ate My Peas (author Danny Schnitzlein and illustrator Matt Faulkner), Trick or Treat on Monster Street tells a "turning-the-tables" story about fearful boy forced to go Trick or Treating with his two older brothers.

Stopping to tie his shoe, when he stands up, he realizes he's all alone.

With trees ripping at his costume, he wanders blindly through the dark--until he ends up on Monster Street. He begins to trick or treat, but knows something is amiss when he receives a smelly trout from one house...and some spiders from another.

Coming upon another trick-or-treater, he thought the kid didn't look quite right...confirmed when its green fingers peel off the "human" face!

This book encourages diversity via not judging by appearances, with a good dose of sibling revenge when the older brothers see what he brings back from trick-or-treating on Monster Street.

The verse in Trick or Treat on Monster Street reads clunky compared to Schnitzlein's The Monster Who Ate My Peas. In addition, the illustrations--while much more colorful and varied than in The Monster Who Ate My Peas--lacked that "shiny" realism until the last few pages of the book...making most of the pictures look hurriedly drawn by comparison.

The "monsters who are afraid of humans" is a familiar trope, but when the human kid befriends monsters--and they help him get revenge on his tormenting older brothers--it adds a nice twist...especially as the kid loses a lot of his fears.

Trick or Treat on Monster Street is an OK book, but there are better Halloween-themed ones out there for kids.

-- Janet

Authors Telling Off Publishers - J.A. Konrath and Fear: A Novel of Terror

Afraid Konrath 400Just read this fabulous post by J.A. Konrath on regaining his rights to Afrad: A Novel of Terror--and how self-publishing has made him a lot more money than traditional publishing. 

Love his closing remarks:

I'll always be grateful to everything my legacy publishers have done for my books, and my career. That's why I'll drink a sincere toast to them when they all go out of business. Which, if they aren't smart, will happen a lot sooner than they expect.

The windmill needs the wind to turn. The wind doesn't need the windmill to blow.

After years of the Fear: A Novel of Terror being held hostage by Grand Central, Konrath (writing as Jack Kilborn) really wanted the freedom to give it away, so he opted into Amazon Select for 3 months. It's free on Kindle from October 11-15. Enjoy!

-- Janet

Who's On Your List?

Living beautifully 300Boss, coworker, spouse, roommate, mother, father, child—who are the people you really dislike and wish would simply go away? Be grateful to them: they’re your own special gurus, showing up right on time to keep you honest. It’s the troublemakers in your life who cause you to see that you’ve shut down, that you’ve armored yourself, that you’ve hidden your head in the sand. If you didn’t get angry at them, if you didn’t get fed up with them, you would never be able to cultivate patience. If you didn’t envy them, if you weren’t jealous of them, you would never think to stretch beyond your mean-spiritedness and try to rejoice in their good fortune. If you never met your match, you might think you were better than everybody else and arrogantly criticize their neurotic behavior rather than do something about your own.

Excerpt above from Pema Chodron's new book Living Beautifully  (Shambhala Publications). 

-- Janet