Each year, Jolene Haley features dark stories and creations for the month of October. Come walk along the dark shore and meet the watery denizens that lurk there.
I will be appearing as part of the Creators Track at Spooky Empire in Orlando, Florida, USA, on October 26-28, 2018. Spooky Empire Ultimate Horror Weekend is one of the largest horror conventions in the nation, and this year’s convention has a huge line up of celebrity guests, horror creators, a film festival, live performances, and a tattoo festival.
This year’s Creators Track focuses on horror writers and includes panels, seminars, and signings. Come see me at Cult of Terror, Women in Horror, and Writing is Hard, But We Love It. I’ll also be signing The Dark and Stormy Night, a blind round robin horror story.
Want more information on the Creators Track? I wrote about last year’s panels for The Midnight Society.
Can’t wait to see you there!
The Thornewood Hotel has seven stories and 666 rooms. Sometimes it has grand elevators and a ballroom. The staff mostly keep out of site, but they are watching. The guests come and go…well, oftentimes, they come and stay.
The character Darryl is based on a “food and drink man” who worked with my father, who refurbished hotels. I saw many hotels stripped to the bones while growing up, as my father and his workers replaced floor and wall coverings, plumbing, and electrical fixtures. I saw through hotel walls, into the space between rooms. I saw chandeliers laying splayed on the ground. Hotels are a beautiful facade for their guests. The workers know what lies in the rooms the guests never see.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my posts about #SpookyEmpireRefugees. It was heart-breaking, then heart-warming, and overall an incredible event for Central Florida’s horror community.
I had spooky plans for the first weekend in October. Somehow, The Addams Family musical, Halloween Horror Nights, and Spooky Empire all came together at the same time. I was especially excited about the horror writing panels at Spooky Empire. Then Hurricane Matthew happened.
If you’ve been through a hurricane or other huge storm that you can plan for, you know how the days beforehand are a mix of excitement and impending doom. You prepare for the weather and losing power. You follow work and school closures. You check on the folks in the path of the storm. You wait, and you hope it isn’t as bad as it could be.
By Thursday, it became clear that things could become pretty bad for Orlando and all of Florida’s east coast. The theme parks wisely shut down. And Spooky Empire had to cancel.
This article describes how the horror community rallied in the wake of the storm, pulling together to support the people who organized Spooky Empire, the numerous vendors who were missing the event, and the horror fans who desperately wanted their spooky weekend.
The Spooky Empire Refugees event happened because of the amazing folks at Coffee Shop of Horrors. They make horror-themed coffees (and teas, candies, and soaps), roasted locally and to order. Everything there is delicious, and the small bags make excellent Halloween gifts.
We’ve weathered Hurricane Matthew, and the past weekend was more and less spooky than planned before the storms rolled through Florida. I have stories and photos to share.
If you want to help out, there are many, many people within the United States and the Caribbean who were devastated by Hurricane Matthew. The American Red Cross is always one of the first agencies on the scene, helping folks out.
There is Halloween in the woods.
Limbs and leaves fall. Decomposers invade.
The trees take on a different beauty in death, with fungi threading through its tissue, splitting its bark open.
Beautiful rot, as it becomes part of the forest floor.
Orange fungi. Black muck.
A taxidermied Bufo marinus that’s been made into a change purse is a permanent resident of my office at my day job. Animals skulls and insects preserved in jars keep it company. My coworkers have different bones and dead things at their desks. So it is with field biologists: we love critters so much, we bring them back with us to put on display.
My office Halloween decorations tend to include bones and bugs, too. This field biologist didn’t stay as hydrated as she should have. And the bug repellant wasn’t enough to keep a big tick from sucking her dry. Maybe her toad friend will eat it for her.
A non-biologist coworker felt Skelly’s leg and laughed to herself. “I don’t know why I thought it would be real!” Indeed.
I keep the Halloween goodie bowl filled all month, with candy and healthier stuff. I don’t give out raisins, though. I love them, but they just don’t pass the Halloween treat criteria.
Do you decorate your office or workplace? Tweet photos to me at @Leaves_Cobwebs.
October is my birthday month, and my family celebrates it with me by filling the month with spooky goodies. We started the month off by going to The Addams Family musical.
Not only do they live in my dream house, ghoulishly decorated and stuffed with oddities, but they were my #relationshipgoals decades before hashtags became a thing. Gomez and Morticia are passionately in love, play together whether it be fencing or dancing, and support each other’s artistic interests. They love their family and teach their kids to be themselves, no matter how the world may judge them weird. Strong, important stuff.
The Addams Family musical is hilarious and heartwarming. All the main characters make an appearance, along with Addams ancestors and Thing. The characters occasionally broke performance to address the audience, commiserating on celebrity gossip or sharing their favorite joke. I won’t spoil it, but my favorite was Morticia’s. Just like The Addams Family stories before this one, the theme is love and acceptance, and delighting in the mysterious and spooky.
If you’re in central Florida, you can catch The Addams Family at The Athens Theater in DeLand until October 23.
Happy, happy Halloween! It’s the finale of my celebration of October and the spooky things that emerge at this time of year. My Halloween morning was perfect: I spent it running through the woods from zombies and a swamp monster.
The MudWalk is a tradition for elementary school kids in our area. They visit the Environmental Studies Center and then hike through a mucky swamp. Someone always loses a shoe, and they have to pull each other across (or out) of the muck. The Support the MudWalk Spooky 5K started several years ago as a fundraiser. The route is paved and on a trail, and the trail run is through a haunted forest.
The trail was lined with gravestones and cautionary signs. Ghosts and bats flew overhead. Creatures emerged from the bushes and zombies swiped at passersby.
Tonight will be clear here in Florida. The ghouls and princesses will be in short-sleeves as they trick or treat. I’ll be dressed as a bat to fly around the gravestones in the front yard and give out candy. I hope you have an amazing celebration of your own. Thank you for spending the Countdown to Halloween with me.
NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow! Come join in and find me on the NaNoWriMo site at Leaves and Cobwebs.
The Halloween shelves are shrinking with the last of the cackling skeleton brides and tombstones. There are some turkeys overlapping them, but Christmas and winter holidays are coming on strong. I see you, giant nutcrackers and elves, just on the other side of the shelf.
Halloween is almost here, our last revelry of this spooky season, but the creepy celebration isn’t over. I’ll be writing about scary things through November for NaNoWriMo. And I’ll be finding inspiration in my beloved swamps, like these carolers guarding a grave. Are they singing songs of celebration or lamentations? Or an endless, hellacious round of Jingle Bells to torment the poor soul?