The Halloween Book Trail

HBT14-The-WoodsWelcome to the third stop of The Woods!

The third stop of the what now?
This is the first ever Halloween Book Trail, where you’ll find all kinds of posts from your favorite YA & MG authors, and discover new authors and their work.

How do you play?
Every post contains information that will lead to killer prizes! Books, swag, skype sessions, free squirrels, etc. At the end of each blog post you’ll find a link that will take you to the next stop in the trail. By the end, you’ll find a quiz. Submit your entry to the quiz for a chance to win a grand prize! Accuracy matters here, so take your time, or go back and refresh your memory! One quiz entry per trail.

But who are you?

I’m Gina Damico. I grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York, and have since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. I am the author of the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy (Croak, Scorch, and Rogue), published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the upcoming Hellhole (January 2015). I live in Western Massachusetts with my husband, two cats, one dog, and while I have never visited hell in person, I have spent countless waking hours at the Albany Regional Bus Terminal, which is pretty darn close.

Well, that’s all fine and good, but I have some hard-hitting questions for you. Such as: What scares the pants off you?

Things that are sticky (especially Band-Aids *full body shudder*), and flying off into outer space, WHICH I was scared of long before Gravity came out. They copied it from my brain.

What is your most embarrassing Halloween costume malfunction?

In the second grade I painted and decorated a cardboard box to look like a television. The malfunction was that everyone else in my grade was dressed as ghosts and pirates and kittens, and I was dressed as a television.

Would you rather be covered in slime or covered in blood?

Slime, and I have a VERY good reason. There was a time when I was fairly obsessed with Nickelodeon – specifically the show You Can’t Do That On Television, the one where they were sliming kids all the live-long day. It was at the height of this obsession that we went on a family trip to Florida, and when we went to Nickelodeon Studios, they asked for a volunteer to be slimed. THIS WAS IT. MY DAY HAD COME. And they picked….my sister. Never before nor since have I been besieged by such an all-consuming jealous rage. She got a certificate and everything, which she smugly waves in my face to this very day.

Got any favorite Halloween costume photos?

Here’s when I was a volcano:IMG_5826

And a fire hydrant:


And a pineapple.


Hey, you asked.

What is your favorite passage from HELLHOLE?

The devil rubbed his palms together and started to stroll around the room. “I’ll require a hot tub – obviously – and a walk-in closet, three spiral staircases, a full-sized meat locker, a bumper car racetrack, a sex dungeon, and a llama. Those last two are unrelated.”

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Ha ha. What is HELLHOLE?

It’s my next book! It comes out January 6th, 2015 (and it has already gotten a starred review.) Here is a description:

Geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore only has one dirty habit: digging for fossils. One day, to his horror, his shovel strikes not upon a dinosaur bone, but a pit to hell—and out of it comes a devil. Specifically, the kind of devil who eats a lot of junk food, watches a lot of reality television, plays a lot of video games, and refuses to leave Max’s basement. But evil is still evil, no matter what form it takes. And Max has to find a way to comply with the demands of the big red menace, lest he lay waste to everyone and everything Max cares about.

With the help of Lore, a former goth girl who knows a thing or two about the dark side, Max goes in search of a new abode for his unwanted guest. Finding a place where he can reside in luciferian luxury isn’t easy, but Max has strong motivation: his mother, whose terminal illness the devil promises to cure if Max gives him what he wants. Lore has her doubts about making a deal with the devil, but Max will stop at nothing to save his mom. And pretty soon, he’s doing things the good kid he once was would never dream of doing. Clearly, hanging around with a devil is a bad influence. But how can Max get rid of the guy without incurring the wrath of hell?

Can I pre-order this alleged masterpiece?

You can – at Amazon, Barnes & NobleIndieBound, or your favorite local bookstore. And if you do, let me know so I can send you some sweet free prizes.

Is there any way I can snag a signed copy, other than by winning the Halloween Book Trail grand prize?

You’re awfully persistent. But yes, you can, either by leaving a comment on this post telling me your favorite Halloween costume, and/or by following me on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube). BONUS: I will also send out HELLHOLE swag packs to five lucky runners-up. So fill out the form below to enter!

Are we about done here?

Yes. Thanks for stopping by! For the next stop on the trail, visit Erica Cameron’s website. Good luck!

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A hodgepodge of news

2014-09-27 10.04.26

  • Best news first: Will and I picked up a sweet new board game at a flea market: TRUMP, THE GAME. Note the awesome tagline (“It’s not whether you win or lose, but whether you win!”) and the delightfully ironic $3 price tag.
  • Second-best news second: I’m writing more books! Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has picked up two more, the first of which will be out Spring 2016. It will feature a creepy candle factory, a boy made out of wax, and plenty of embarrassing musical theater hijinks. Here’s the announcement from Publishers Marketplace:

From the author of the CROAK series Gina Damico’s WAX, about a teenage girl who stumbles into a secret workshop at the infamous Grosholtz Candle Factory where she discovers a collection of wax sculptures that seem just a little too lifelike – a suspicion that is later confirmed when one jumps naked and screaming into her life, to Julie Tibbott at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, in a two-book deal, for publication in Spring 2016, by Tina Wexler at ICM (NA).

  • HELLHOLE has received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews! Here’s a highlight:

Damico, who explored the lives of teenage grim reapers in her Croak trilogy, writes with wry wit and constant dark humor. She mixes in a bit of possible romance…also to great comic effect.

Hilarious—all the way through.

Neat, huh? Here’s the link to the full review. Maybe this is the shot in the arm that you need to pre-order HELLHOLE and get some sweet free prizes, hmmm?

  • From now until October 29, you can also enter to win one of 25 copies that HMH is giving away on Goodreads.
  • HELLHOLE is also going to be published in Germany by Blanvalet/Random House Germany. To any future German readers out there: Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung! Which, according to the internet, means “speed limit”.
  • Coming up October 27 – November 1, I will be participating in the first-ever Halloween Book Trail! It’s a blog hop with over thirty YA and MG authors with opportunities for a bunch of giveaways and prizes (including a signed copy of HELLHOLE). You will also see photos of me in ridiculous Halloween costumes, so there’s that too.
  • I’m on Instagram now. I post photos of all the weird things I encounter, my pets making stupid faces, and cheese. Follow me.
  • Have you heard of Little Free Libraries? They’re mini versions of libraries that anyone can set up and build, with a “take a book, leave a book” kind of model. Check out their website and see if there are any near you, and I DARE you not to mutter “adorbs” at some point.


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Books: Gateways To Happiness (and/or Rage)

The other day I undertook a task that ended up producing mammoth amounts of stress and frustration. I won’t point fingers, but it involved my computer and a certain software corporation forcing me to upgrade to its newest version and subsequently rendering me incapable of connecting to the internet. (Factoid about me: being unable to connect to the internet is the #1 thing that will send me into a Hulk-like fury in less than three seconds flat. (And lest you think I’m just being whiny, I’m talking about internet for the purposes of work that I really needed to get done, not for wasting endless hours on social media. (Although let’s face it, those tweets aren’t going to retweet themselves. )))

And so most of the hours of one rainy, insanity-inducing Saturday were spent in the following endless loop:

1. try to fix the internet
2. grunt in frustration
3. fail to fix the internet
4. denounce the entire project and leave the office
5. crawl back into the office to try just one more thing
6. pound the mouse against the wall
7. strangle the speakers
8. stab the keyboard with nearby writing implements
9. have one more brilliant idea
10. somehow make the computer worse
11. have an aneurysm
12. yell at the top of my lungs a series of filthy insults about my computer’s mother
13. repeat

Finally I hurled everything out the window and began the lengthy but necessary process of stewing angrily in every room in the house. When I got to my bedroom I glanced at the book I was reading on my nightstand, and decided that it was literally the only thing in the world that would make me not want to punch a hole through the wall. So I began to read.

As per usual, the stress melted away. Books always do that for me. Something about words on a page — words that are there, permanently, without risk of disappearing because of a faulty router or a firmware upgrade or GOD DAMN YOU DNS SERVER WHY AREN’T YOU DOING THE THING YOU WERE SPECIFICALLY BUILT TO DO –

Words calm me. Is all I’m saying.

On the other hand, books sometimes make it worse. Luckily I am enjoying the book I’m currently reading, and its pages did not send me into even more violent fits of madness. But if the book that I am reading is exactly the wrong fit for me and every chapter just makes me loathe it more, then reading stresses me out WAYYY more than it should. It puts me in a bad mood for the entire week. I snap and glare angrily at people, as if it is their fault that they made me read it. Or maybe it’s their fault that it got written in the first place! Somehow!

Does this happen to anyone else? Do you let the book you’re currently reading dictate your mood? I feel like that’s a nice case to be made for books in general — that they’re so important to you that they can manipulate your emotions and well-being in general — but another part of me thinks that’s maybe not so healthy. Then again, it’s probably better for books to hijack my mind than internet browsers that don’t work. Why you gotta make me hate dinosaurs, computer? Why would you do that to me?


The moral of the story is: rather than tinkering with Things That Best Not Be Tinkered With By Technology-Befuddled Idiots, just wait until someone wiser and more adept (say, a software engineer husband, or the like) comes home and sets things right. Until then, read a book.

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Behind the Book – CROAK, Chapter #13


Behind the Book is an ongoing series wherein I tackle a new chapter of Croak each week and give you all of the secret, behind-the-scenes tidbits and trivia that went into writing it. For an archive of past chapters, click here. To read the spoilers, highlight the blank spaces marked with <<hi>>; proceed at your own risk if you haven’t read the entire series. Enjoy!

Chapter 13: The Yoricking

  • For the record, I don’t advocate underage drinking. It just seemed cruel to make Grims do all this, uh, grim work without some sort of outlet or substance to make them feel a little better. I personally never drank in high school. Drinking was for the cool kids. I was not a cool kid. I preferred milk, thank you.
  • Some people don’t realize this, so I’ll just spell it out for you: “Corpp’s” is a punny homophone. Say it out loud.
  • Deleted scene alert: Originally the scene where the gang gets together at Corpp’s was the first time that Lex met the other Juniors, and when she did so they all immediately launched into an I-know-more-obscure-trivia-than-you-do competition. The point I was trying to make was that they were all really smart kids, but it just ended up making them look obnoxious.
  • Some people don’t realize this, either: Yoricks are named for the dead court jester whose skull Hamlet finds and yammers on about near the end of the play. (“Alas, poor Yorick!”)
  • The concept of Loopholes came along very, very late in the drafting process — much later than it seems like they should have, given their importance. They were basically the missing puzzle piece that made the entire story arc come together, but that wasn’t clear to me until many revisions down the road.
  • Grotton, like Norwood, is named after a town. When I was writing Croak, I did a lot of traveling back and forth between New York City and Boston, and when passing through Connecticut I always saw signs for Groton, and really liked the way it sounded. I added an extra t, though, to clarify the pronunciation.
  • I don’t have a recipe for Yoricks, but you can improvise. Just pour all of your favorite desserty things into a blender and liquify. Mine would consist of Friendly’s Forbidden Chocolate ice cream, bananas, peanut butter, and Bailey’s Irish Cream. And Elixir, obviously. I have a special pipe that goes directly from the Afterlife to my kitchen sink.

Got any questions about Chapter 13? Post them below!

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Yet more fan art.

Readers continue to be talented, art continues to be amazing.

Driggs3_Zil Sacan

Driggs, by Zil S.

Uncle Mort_Jasmine Ryan

Uncle Mort, by Jasmine R.

Lex and Elysia_Llana Reading

Lex and Elysia eyes, by Llana R.

Driggs2_Zil Sacan

More Driggs, by Zil S.

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Behind the Book – CROAK, Chapter #12


Behind the Book is an ongoing series wherein I tackle a new chapter of Croak each week and give you all of the secret, behind-the-scenes tidbits and trivia that went into writing it. For an archive of past chapters, click here. To read the spoilers, highlight the blank spaces marked with <<hi>>; proceed at your own risk if you haven’t read the entire series. Enjoy!

Chapter 12: The Hosing

  • Deleted Scene Alert: In addition to the airplane explosion, Driggs trained Lex in a few more extreme examples of death, including a shark attack and a fire, but it started dragging on too long so they got cut. Luckily, <<I got to ressurrect them in Rogue, as part of the training modules in Necropolis.>>
  • I can’t help picturing Heloise as a younger, less wrinkly version of Izma from The Emperor’s New Groove. Which is one of my favorite Disney movies. Because it has llamas. And is also hilarious.
  • The whole thing about the onion rings – how they are not offered as lightly as French fries are, and thus carry a certain weight about them – is something I truly believe. French fries are for acquaintances, onion rings are for true friends.
  • I like Sofi. No, really! She likes pink, she does some annoying things, and <<okay, yes, she goes on to totally betray the gang in Scorch>>, but at this point she’s just a girl who has an unrequited crush on a boy, and acts a little weird and desperate because of it. Girl, I have been there. In junior high, the boy that I had a major crush on called me out of the blue one day (!!!), but it turned out he just wanted help with our music class assignment. By which I mean that he wanted me to do it for him. And of course I did. Because of his STUPID BEAUTIFUL EYES. I regret everything. Not only because you shouldn’t give away your hard work and intelligence just because a boy bats his stupid beautiful eyes at you, but also because he never even asked me to dance at the end-of-the-year semi-formal. Sofi, I feel you.
  • The avocado-colored rotary phone that Uncle Mort owns is taken directly from my own childhood. I would give ANYTHING to still have it.
  • I want the scene of Driggs wrangling an out-of-control water hose in the background to be constantly happening in the background of my own life.

Got any questions about Chapter 12? Post them below!

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