Posted in Halloween, Writing

Let’s Investigate That Strange Sound! (And Other Bad Choices During the Month of October)

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October is here, and that means one thing: neck aches. Why? Because if you’re smart, you’ll constantly be looking over your shoulder.

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This particular creepy crawly got started a little early this year. It decided to hide IN MY BED last weekend. Not funny, Ms. Scorpion. Not funny at all.

October is the month of Halloween. It is the month when spirits roam the earth, and the dead play tricks on the living, and creepy crawlies have their fun.

October is also the month of poor choices. It is the month when people decide to watch slasher movies at midnight during thunderstorms, and hunt vampires at sundown, and say things like, “Let’s split up!” when there’s a madman on the loose and their cell phone battery has just died.

In other words, October is the month for horror. It is my favorite month.

Every year, I spend October scaring my loved ones and scaring my neighbors and (ultimately) scaring myself. Despite my knowledge of October’s wiles and my propensity for carrying flashlights into the dark and peering out windows before opening doors and always, always, always checking behind shower curtains, I too make poor choices during this month of spooks and specters. I often spend so much time looking behind me that I run face first into a spider’s web. Or I wander into the yard at night to bring the dog inside, only to realize that our dog is in the house and isn’t the thing making that snuffling sound in the bushes. Or, sometimes, I get distracted and accidentally trick myself with my own traps. (A hazard of haunting.)

This year, though, I’m taking my October foolishness to a whole new level.

This time tomorrow, I’ll be flying (alone) to Pennsylvania to spend five days in a remote cabin in the mountains with ten strangers who write horror. Oh, and there’s limited cell phone service.

Why would I do such a thing? Because I’ve been given the incredible opportunity to attend the Books With Bite workshop at the Highlights Foundation. There, I will study with authors Nova Ren Suma and Micol Ostow, and that is worth sleeping with one eye open while cuddling a baseball bat.

Still, if you haven’t heard from me in week, send help. Just make sure the person comes alone, at night, in a car that’s low on gas, and doesn’t tell anyone where they’re going first.

After all, it’s October.

Ghostie

 

*   *   *   *   *

October is also my birthday month, and I love giving gifts almost as much as I love getting them, so I’m hosting a giveaway. On November 1st, I’ll be selecting three winners to receive one of the following prizes:

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  • A copy of The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (the first book in my favorite series: Lockwood & Co.)
  • A copy of Susan Rooke’s debut fantasy novel, The Space Between (Susan is a friend of mine and I’m so excited about her new book!)
  • Your choice of one of the journals from my Etsy shop.

To enter, just comment on one of my October blog posts OR share one of the posts on social media, and use my contact form to send me a link to it. Each person can enter up to five times, so feel free to share on multiple platforms. Good luck!

Posted in Halloween, Life, Teaching, Writing

Where Did October Go?

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I blinked and it’s November.

Where did October go? One moment it was here, in the coyote’s howl and the spider’s skittering legs and the moon’s game of hide-and-seek, and the next moment it was gone like that shadow that lingers in the corner of your eye, the one you can’t quite catch.

Those of you who’ve been following my blog for the past few years may have been confused or even alarmed at my near-silence these past few weeks. After all, October is my favorite month, and I usually fill my blog with creepy stories and spooky poems and tips for how to best haunt your neighbors.

Don’t despair for me, dear readers. Although I kept quiet this October, rest assured that I was happily haunting all the while.

I decorated my yard with ghouls and ghosts and tombstones…

My spooky display this year.

I carved jack-o-lanterns…

The jack-o-lanterns I carved.

And I dressed up not once, but twice, as a ghost writer for my family’s party and a witch on Halloween…

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I also went to House of Torment with my new coworkers, ate way too much candy, and celebrated the publication of my flash fiction story “The Night Children” in last month’s issue of Havok Magazine. (Psst! You can actually read my story for free with the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon.)

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Besides that, I also graded a lot of papers, took a great class at The Writing Barn with the wonderful K.A. Holt, graded some more papers, squeezed in a bit of reading time with my most snuggly cat, and then graded a few more papers just for good measure.

So, you know, I’ve been busy.

I hope to see you more often over the next few weeks. I’m keeping my eye on November. This month is not going to slip away from me.

Wait… is it already the 7th? How did that happen?!?!

Posted in Halloween, Life

It’s October!

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The air is getting cooler, and my yard is filled with pumpkins and creepy creatures, including Edward Broomhands, who’s new to the family. I have the theme song from The Blob stuck in my head, and all my smiley faces have fangs, and I’m happy, HAPPY, HAPPY because my favorite month is here!

Don't mess with Edward Broomhands.
Don’t mess with Edward Broomhands.

Last year I wrote NINE Halloween-related blog posts during the month of October. Wow. Sadly, I have no intention of trying to break that record this year, or even tie it. My little witchy heart wants to, but between jobs and novel revisions and various festive events on the calendar, I just don’t have the time. Plus I’ve got those zombies to kill, that monster to reincarnate, some apples to poison, and somewhere in there I’ve got to get these horns looked at. See? I’m swamped. In fact, if you see me blogging more than three times this month, STOP ME! It means I’m neglecting something important. Or I’ve been possessed.

But before I leave you to your own ghoulish amusements, here are a few things I think you should know.

Fun Literary Halloween Events

First, there are some really cool Halloween-themed literary events in Austin this month. Or literary-themed Halloween events. I’m not sure. I just know they all sound awesome.

Grimm’s Ghostly Fairy Tales & Haunted Trails at Pioneer Farms – This family-friendly event runs for three weekends and includes all the fixings for a spooktacular Halloween.

Texas Book Festival Lit Crawl – On the night of October 17th, authors and book-lovers will be gathering all over the city for unique interactive events such as games, trivia, and collaborative short stories. One session called Are You Afraid of the Dark? will be held in the Texas State Cemetery, where YA authors will tell spooky tales and ghost stories.

SCBWI Ghost Tour – If you’re a member of SCBWI, join the Austin chapter for a ghost tour on October 28th, when we’ll take a haunted moonlight walk through some of Austin’s creepiest history.

A Special Gift

Last year, I posted a plea to anyone who reads my blog to help me find the Halloween artwork my dad made for me that was stolen several years ago. Unfortunately, my post turned up no leads, and I came to terms with the fact that I’d probably never see the thing again. That’s still true. But this year, my dad made me a new one that’s even bigger and more awesome that the one that was taken.

Made by my dad with spooky love
Made by my dad with spooky love

Thanks, Dad! I love it. And to any would-be thieves out there, you should know that this one has been secured so that you can’t run off with it. It’s also been cursed. Anyone who steals it will be doomed for all eternity. Oh and my pumpkins are also cursed. And my car. And my mail. And my potted plants. Look, just don’t steal from me. Everything I own is cursed.

And last, but certainly not least…

We Are All Being Watched

It’s now hammock weather in Austin, which I love. About a week ago, I spent three hours reading in my hammock in the backyard. When the sun went down and I could no longer see my book, I got my book light and a blanket and kept reading. I stayed out until about 9:30 p.m. While I was out there, I kept seeing tiny greenish glints coming from the grass in various places. I wondered what was reflecting the light, worried it might be something sharp like a piece of broken glass. I meant to check later but forgot and by the time I remembered I couldn’t find them again.

A few nights later, while standing on the back porch shining a flashlight in the backyard (because I thought I heard something), I saw them again—a tiny green sparkle under the rosemary bush, another under the hammock, a third by the bird bath, a fourth in the grass. I decided to investigate.

You know what they are? Spider eyes! They are the eyes of spiders. Spiders that are looking at ME with their spider eyes.

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That is all. Sleep tight.