#HurricaneHorrorNights – 21 Days until Halloween

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.

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Halloween at Work – 25 Days until Halloween

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.

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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.

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A non-biologist coworker felt Skelly’s leg and laughed to herself. “I don’t know why I thought it would be real!” Indeed.

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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.

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Countdown to Halloween Begins!

It’s the first day of October and the Countdown to Halloween begins today!

Well, actually, I hold Halloween in my heart all year.  There are always some spooky things lying about the house and scary stories to read and write.
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If this is your first visit here, welcome, and I hope you enjoy browsing through blog posts about horror, writing, exploring wild places, and creepy critters (mostly things with lots of legs).  October 1 is when the rest of the Halloween decorations come out, at home and at work.  This guy is part of the second wave of Halloween decor and goodies for my office.  He’s pretty serious about the candy he’s guarding.

There are always some spooky things lying about the house and scary stories to read and write.  If this is your first visit here, welcome, and I hope you enjoy what you read.  You’ll see posts about horror, writing, and exploring wild places.  There will be monsters along the way, and creepy critters (mostly things with lots of legs).

Sunday Chores, Again – 13 Days Until Halloween

Two of my favorite sessions at the Florida Writers Conference were today.  I spent the morning delving in to how characters respond to supernatural elements and geeking out over writing horror so it fills a reader with dread.

But there was time this afternoon to check off a Halloween task: pumpkins!  They were so bright, so huge, and in all different shapes.  These will be very good jack-o-lanterns.

Writing From Wild Areas – 25 Days Until Halloween

Wild areas teem with life and death.  The urgency and decay are deeply beautiful to me and source of much of my writing.

In the wet areas, life bursts forth throughout the year. Mosquitos emerge from the water desperate for a blood meal and mating.  New shoots grow from the ground at alarming speeds. And all this life pushes up through the plant corpses and rotting muck left from the season before.  The sour swamp smells and sweet tang of green growth hang in the air. The fug is nearly tangible. You can see it rise and spread above the water at night, and sometimes you’d swear it glows.

These areas are the setting for Gothic tales with women in nightgowns fleeing barefoot across the moors.  They are where the killer lurks to watch camp counselors, before emerging to slash them one by one.  The cabin in the woods was built to lure the unsuspecting into a trap.  Why?

In wild areas, a person can’t fully know all the moves around them or hides in the undergrowth.  Life and death surround them, out of their control.

The cooler air and shorter days of Autumn are settling things down.  The wet areas can rest and simmer, slowly breaking down the bodies of this year’s dead.  When you go out to those remote areas, remember that you are walking amongst them.  They’ll cling to you when you leave.

Halloween In Florida – 29 Days Until Halloween

I saw a surf shop mannequin in a wet suit and witch hat this weekend.  Someone had drawn eyes on paper and taped them in place.  They weren’t particularly witchy eyes, but they transformed her blank visage to a face.  She was a winsome, sporty witch.

It was a short-sleeved, short-legged wetsuit.  Because it’s still bathing suit weather here.  That’s Halloween time in Florida.

I’m a native Floridian, and I’ve missed the heavy, humid summers when I’ve lived other places.  I get antsy this time of year, though.  Sometime in October, we’ll get nights in the 60’s F, and then nights in the 50’s F.  The air will start to dry out, and the sky will become blue again.

My backyard jungle is growing so fast that vines are crawling across the yard and porch.  It feels like you can see them grow as you watch them.  Then, it feels like they may wrap around your ankles if you stop watching them.

IMG_9515We’ll be hanging Halloween decorations from green-leafed trees.  If you go into the woods, though, you’ll see the subtle signs of fall.  The red and yellow leaves look especially bright against the black forest floor.

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – 30 Days Until Halloween

October is here!  October is here!  pumpkin zombie

There’s a faint chill in the morning, and night is
coming earlier.  Bats are flying like mad in the evenings as the summer insects emerge and search for mates. Pumpkins are everywhere.  Flying skeletons and graveyard fences are showing up in neighborhood yards.  I’m late haunting our yard due to my writing conference and camping last weekend, but our holiday zombie has put on his trick-or-treating costume.

This is my first year participating in the Countdown to Halloween, and I’m excited to share this season with you.  I’ll be writing about where I get inspiration for my creepy stories and poetry, my many loves of autumn and Halloween, and other spooky things.  Much of my inspiration comes from remote areas, deep in the woods and marshes.  The muck is deep with layers of death and rebirth out there.

Florida is still having thunderstorms most evenings.  Everything is wet.  The ground is so saturated, it moves under your feet in the low areas.  When we camped, the puddles on the tarp drew dozens of planarians under our tent.  They were glorious little things to see, since they are usually hidden under wet leaves and logs.  And knowing they were squirming beneath us all night was delightfully unsettling.  What other creatures might’ve spent time there, but left before we broke camp?

So welcome, Halloween lovers and spooky kids, and the rest of you who are visiting.  Tell me what grisly details make you shiver in a story.  Or share what you imagine when you are writing a frightening scene.  The best stories happen around a campfire.