Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Creepy Tales for Halloween with Author David Lubar

Dear Friends,

No tricks here, just a great treat from a really funny writer and friend, David Lubar. David has treats in store for you. He has generously donated two copies of his Weenies' book, The Battle of the Red Hot Weenies. I know the middle grade crowd will gobble up these stories faster than candy corn.

Read about Author David Lubar's unique sense of humor and imagination in his personal essay, and then meet David at the end of the post and find out how to win one of the autographed copies of his books! Thanks so much for celebrating Halloween with us! David's books are great reads for anytime of the year. Read on . . .

Hats off to the Weenie Guy by  David Lubar

 For most of my freshman year in college, I wore a black cowboy hat. I had no legitimate reason to do this. I didn't grow up on a ranch, wrangle cattle, or engage the Clanton boys in gunfire. Since this fashion statement occurred in New Jersey during the mid-seventies, nobody questioned, or cared about, my authenticity. When people met me, they'd stare for a moment, and then, as recognition clicked into place, say, "Oh, yeah. You're the guy with the hat." There was a lot more to me than some ratty piece of felt, of course, but that was my identity back then. The guy with the hat. I have a new identity these days -- one that I suspect is far rarer and more amusing than any clothing-inspired description. I'm the Weenie guy. And that's a good thing.
 My passion for short stories was spawned during childhood by the fortunate combination of a short attention span and a lack of athletic or social skills. The latter ensured I would have lots of leisure time for reading. The former nudged me away from lengthier works. I devoured short fiction as a kid. I started writing stories when I was in high school. In college, I wrote the typical angst-driven literary pieces that most freshmen feel compelled to inflict on their friends, roommates, and professors. I wanted to be James Joyce. Alas, my eyesight was too strong and my liver too weak to completely emulate my idol's path through life.
Fortunately, after college, I found greater joy in writing stories that were fun to read. I’d made the transition from poseur (and from the sort of person who flaunts words like “poseur” and “flaunt”) to entertainer.  Even more fortunately, I found a publishing house that saw potential in my work. Most fortunate of all, my first story collection, In the Land of the Lawn Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales, had hot dogs on the cover. These were not just any hot dogs. These were brilliantly drawn anthropomorphic Weenies who pushed lawn mowers while they stared into space with hypnotized eyes.
 In case you're wondering about "Weenie," that's an affectionate term for someone who has a bit too much enthusiasm for something that shouldn't merit much enthusiasm at all.. Lawn Weenies are folks who love to mow and fertilize far more often than necessary. This was just one of thirty-five stories in the collection. The other tales delved into vampires, mummies, killer parrots, overgrown sea monkeys, cow-fearing little brothers, and other horrors.

The book sold well.  My publisher asked for second collection. As I assembled the stories, I decided there should be more of those amazing hot dogs on the cover. This time, the Weenies were the joggers who never smile. Three more collections followed, most recently, Attack of the Vampire Weenies and Other Warped and Creepy Tales As always, the stories range from pure horror to pure humor.  There’s a bonus section explaining where I got the ideas for the stories.  The title Weenies this time are young people who think vampires are cute, huggable, and sparkly. This is a tragic mistake.  Next time, in June of 2012, it will be Ninja Weenies.  I just saw the cover, and it is the best one yet. I can’t take any credit for that, but I can take pleasure in it.

There is a down side to my Weenie empire. First, just as being The Guy with the Hat collapses me into a one- or zero-dimensional entity, the Weenies on the cover seem to promise a depth more associated with thin-sliced salami than plump and subtly spiced sausages. That’s not a fair assessment of what lies beneath. I wasn’t just walking around with a hat when I was in college.  I was also reading a lot of literature. I might not write like Joyce, Borges, or Hesse, or Chaucer, but I do write like someone who has spent quality time with all of them. So I can’t help flinching just a little when friends pass along eyewitness accounts of parents at book fairs telling Weenie-collection-clutching children to, "Put that down and get a real book."

The other down side is that when I visit schools, odds are there will be hot dogs on the menu.  But that's okay. The down side is minor compared to the up side. Millions of young readers have enjoyed my stories, both on their own and in classroom read-alouds. I've had the pleasure of introducing these kids, by way of my fiction, to a wide variety of prose styles, voices, genres, and tropes. (I'm guessing about that last part. I really do need to look up "trope" one of these days, or stop using it.) I can pull off tricks and twists that would never work in a massive novel, but work just fine in the space of five pages. I get to write what I love -- short stories -- and you get to read my work. It's good being the Weenie Guy. As Caesar said, "Weenie, Vidi, Vici."
If you're a fan, please check out the newest collection. If you've never encountered the Weenies, give one of my books a try. Share it with your kids or your students.  I promise you that they will love it. And so will you. If not, I'll eat my hat.

 David Lubar has written twenty-five books for young readers, including Hidden Talents, Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie, and Punished.  His novels are on reading lists across the country, saving countless students from a close encounter with Madam Bovary.  His short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines, including Boy's Life, READ, and Nickelodeon. He has also designed and programmed many video games, but he'd much rather spend his time writing books and hanging out with teachers and librarians.  In his spare time, he takes naps on the couch.  He lives in Nazareth, PA.  Read more about David here: http://www.davidlubar.com/

And here's David’s  absolute favorite blurb: "There is no doubt about it – David Lubar is the Rod Serling of Middle Grade Fiction."   Paul Goat Allen, on his Barnes and Noble Blog 
Read the complete article here: http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/   

To win a copy of David's book, The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies, battle-of-the-red-hot-pepper-weenies simply leave a comment by October 26th. The drawing will be on October 27th! Stop by to comment on the blog post, share your favorite creepy or spooky book, or just say, "Hi!" We'd love to hear from you. As Caesar said, "Weenie, Vidi, Vici."


  1. I've used Dave's books in teaching Intro. to Kid Lit at the MFA level and I've had students tell me these stories terrified them. I can't think of the name of the story but the one about the kid who has the dad and the dad's hand gets cut off and then...hey, you'll have to read it yourself. Trust me, these stories are just perfect for kids who love a bit of warp to their reading.

  2. I get the persona thing . I was "The guy with the Beret" in college...lol. I'll have to check out the "weenies" they look interesting and I liket he concept.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Kitty! I agree that David's books are perfect for kids who love a little bit of warp in their reading, and that means most of them!

  4. Thanks for the comment, Mjolner! It's good to be different. Hats do make a personal statement, don't they?

  5. Clara,
    What wonderful timing. I just attended Rutgers Council on Children's Literature and David was one of the authors on the panel. He is a very interesting guy - and quite funny. I enjoyed listening to him and learned a lot from his contributions to the discussion. I would love a chance to win one of his books. Thanks for introducing us to his unique humor!

  6. Great post Clara. David's books sound like a very fun read. I know that I receive a lot of pear items because my book was about a pear tree. I shudder to think about the types of gifts David receives.


  7. Jennifer, I'm so glad that you got to meet David Lubar at the Rutger's Conference. Thank for stopping by to leave a comment.

  8. Suzanne, What a funny comment. We'll have to check with David. Thanks for visiting today!

  9. I haven't read the Weenie books, but now I'll give them a look. Thanks for the inroduction, Clara.

  10. Kathy, Thanks so much for stopping by!I appreciate your ongoing support! Write on. :o)

  11. David, I really enjoyed your post. I actually read it twice because you made me laugh. Now I can't wait to read the "weenie" books! Thanks Clara for the introduction to the guy with the hat! I'm still smiling!

  12. Lorrie, Thanks for dropping in to join the weenie party! David makes humor look so easy, doesn't he?

  13. How funny! Love the book titles and covers.

    Spooky book? My grandson has just started reading The Giver, and parts of it are pretty spooky.

    Oh, I was expecting David to wear a cowboy hat in the photo.

    Donna v.

  14. Thanks for stopping by, Donna! I just bet your grandson would love these books.

  15. Great post. A friend of mine asked me just the other day about middle grade fiction. Now I have a new author to recommend to her :)

  16. Carol, Thanks for stopping by and for recommending David's books to your friend.

  17. Sounds like a collection of neat books! Having a great imagination will get you far in the world of publishing. When my youngest son was in grade school we liked reading the Goosebump books to accumulate AR points. I bet they were a bit tamer than the 'Weenie' books, though. But they were pretty funny in parts. I would love a chance to win one of his books.

  18. What a hoot!
    David even in college you knew how to "brand" yourself. The hat is a great idea!
    My grandkids will love your books.

  19. Hi Janet,

    Thanks for joining the "spirited" celebration, and for your thoughtful comment. The Weenie books are definitely a good choice for readers who like to be deliciously spooked.

  20. Hi Kay,

    I thought I heard the patter of teeny tiny ghost feet, and there you were. Thanks so much for stopping by.