Posted in Halloween, Life

Where Cute Meets Creepy

 

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Not everyone loves Halloween as much as I do. I know, it boggles the mind, but it’s true. Some people just don’t get it.

Me? I love all things creepy. Books? Movies? Costumes? Decorations? Urban legends? That tree on the corner that, in just the right light, looks like an old man holding a severed head? Yes. Gimme, gimme, gimme.

But it’s not just the spooky aspects of October that I find endearing. I also love the softer side. Like fall leaves skittering across the sidewalk and a cup of hot tea in a mug with a black kitten on it and a harmless children’s story about murder and revenge.

Er, at least I thought that last one was harmless until I shared it with my 7th graders. They were horrified. (Kids these days… they take things like murder so seriously.)

Here are a few of the things that have ranked high on my cuteness meter this month:

Scaredy Cats

I like to display book recommendations from my classroom library, and in October, I tend to showcase the more terrifying titles. I have one student who turns the scary covers around so he doesn’t have to look at them when he’s in class. The book that creeps him out the most is Shutter by Courtney Alameda.

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Scaredy Dogs

This weekend, Cosmic Coffee + Beer Garden hosted a Howloween Party. Uno elected not to participate in the costume contest, but he had a great time meeting all the other dogs and posing with the pumpkins.

Howloween

This Guy

This October marks my twentieth Halloween with this handsome panther.

Gink

Seven years ago, I wrote this post about Gink on my former blog. At the time, he was almost 13, and I was feeling nostalgic and worrying about him getting old. I didn’t realize he was only just entering middle age.

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When I adopted this crazy kitten in 1999, I had no idea we’d still be together today, but I’m so glad we are. Gink has lived in five homes with me, and has seen me through almost as many relationships. He definitely likes Hubby better than any of my previous boyfriends. (A cat always knows.) The feelings are only sometimes mutual. (Gink has middle-of-the-night habits that some light sleepers find a bit trying.) Hubby jokes that Gink made a deal with the devil and will never die. I ask you, would that really be such a bad thing?

Cute Things Come in Creepy Packages

I happen to believe that all babies are cute. All of them. So when I saw the tiniest scorpion I’d ever seen in my bathtub earlier this month, I squealed with glee instead of fear and took its picture before setting it free in the back yard.

Come on, how can you not find those tiny little pincers adorable?

The Story That Horrified My 7th Graders

Jon Klassen is a picture book author and illustrator. You may know him from his stories I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat, or you may recognize his artwork from books such as Pax and The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place.

Well, he also has a story in the book Half-Minute Horrors. It’s called “The Legend of Alexandra and Rose,” and it is BRILLIANT. In one page, with one illustration and less than 25 words, he tells a macabre tale AND demonstrates the different meanings of the word “legend.” So clever. So creepy. So (apparently) disturbing to some twelve-year-olds. (Oops.) Here’s the terrifying little tale:

Legend

(One girl was so bothered by it that I told her an alternate version of the story where Alexandra planted roses all over the yard because she knew how much Rose loved them, and Rose was so happy she gave Alexandra the room with the big window. See? I’m not a completely horrible teacher…)

Three More Days…

There are only a few days left until Halloween. It’s time to starch your witch hat and feed the bats and finish digging those graves buying that candy for the trick-or-treaters. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for the cute and creepy creatures lurking in the corners. 👀

Posted in Halloween, Writing

Makeup

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A few years ago, I was at a bar with some friends and friends of friends “watching” a Spurs game. (I don’t actually watch basketball, not even when it’s the playoffs. Sorry. But I pretended to watch for a while, I promise.) Over beers, I ended up talking to another fake basketball fan, and somehow our conversation turned to the subject of clowns, and she told me that she had once dated one. 😳

Hold your horses. It gets even creepier. She said she met him while he was in makeup and didn’t realize how old he was (much older than she was) until they went out. 😱

Yeah.

Well, you can’t tell a horror writer a thing like that and expect them NOT to write about it. I went home that very night and scribbled the first draft of “Makeup.”

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In the fall of 2016, I submitted the final version of the story to a TNT Horror Contest on Wattpad, and it made it into the top 100. It didn’t get enough votes to move on, but soon after, it was accepted by the Tales to Terrify podcast, and a few weeks ago, Danielle Gracie’s voice brought my character to life in a perfect, chilling way.

To listen to “Makeup,” click here. My story starts at 51:58.

(But… if you have a blind date coming up, maybe hold off for a few days.)

🎃Happy October,
Carie

Posted in Halloween, Life

None of This is Normal

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It’s the last week of October, and this is the first blog post I’ve written this month.

If you’ve been worried about me and wondering why I haven’t been bombarding your inbox with creepy stories, strange decorations, and a general, 24/7, over-caffeinated zeal for all things Halloween, thank you for your concern, but fear not. I’m alive and well and currently sitting in a room with not one, not two, but THREE skeletons. And one dog. And a gnat that keeps landing on my face and driving me crazy.

I realize it’s not normal for me to take my favorite month off from blogging, but really, nothing about this October has been normal.

It all started when our hardwood floors exploded. Not exploded exactly. They… grew. Actually, it was more like they swelled up, but I hate the word “swell” (*shudder*) so I’ll use expanded. But that doesn’t sound right either. Let’s put it this way: Over the course of four days, the terrain of our beautiful hardwood floors metamorphosed into hills and valleys and mountain ranges that made it look like the monsters from Tremors were living under our living room. So that was fun. Then a parade of well-meaning professionals came to our house, measured things, scratched their heads, measured more things, and said, “That’s not normal.”

Well, duh.

We are still in process of figuring out exactly what kind of monster is haunting our house.

Then there’s the rain. I live in Austin, Texas. In case you’re unfamiliar, we’re known for our music, our tacos, and our dry spells. There are restaurants here that serve 100¢ margaritas when the temperature hits 100 degrees, and they often do a pretty good business even in September. Fall usually arrives in late October with the first real cool spell blowing in around Halloween.

But this year… it’s been raining. A LOT. And on October 15th, the temperature dropped into the forties and stayed there for a couple of days. And then it rained some more. It’s still raining. In fact, it’s rained so much that the water treatment plants can’t keep up, and we’re now having to boil our drinking water to get the demons out.

I’m telling you, this October is weird.

With my house randomly redecorating itself and the sky always dripping a strange wet substance, it took me a while to get into the spirit of Halloween. But finally, it got into me. I decided if October was going to be weird, I was going to be weirder.

So one night, when it stopped raining for a few hours, I went out into the front yard and started setting up a cemetery (because there’s nothing creepier than seeing your neighbor hammering tombstone stakes in the dark).

It turned out pretty well. Except for these folks…

Once the yard was sufficiently creepy, I decided I couldn’t let my ruined hardwood floors ruin my Halloween indoors*, so we got a new roommate, and he livened things up a lot.

Now I’m ready for my favorite holiday, and I have the empty candy wrappers in my trash can to prove it. The yard is decorated, the house is decorated, and my costume is coming together. There’s only one thing left to do: decorate my blog.

Expect a few treats headed your way over the next week. Better late than never.

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* I swear I did not realize that rhymed until after I wrote it.