Summer Camp, Summer Screams

Summer camp is bonfires, camp songs, and summer friendships…

Summer camp is spooky woods, monster legends, and the scary things that lurk just beyond the trail…

Or on the trail, like “Blink Fly.”

#SummerofScreams

Jolene Haley is hosting #SummerofScreams, writer and artist showcase celebrating the darker side of summer camp.  “Blink Fly” follows a camper hiking in Palo Duro Canyon, where the Texas ground cracks open.  The canyon is rust red and deep.

You’ve probably met a robber fly before, maybe even jumped when it buzzed past you.  They’re common and spectacular, and always hunting.  Hello, gorgeous.

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Credit: USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab from Beltsville, USA [Public domain or CC BY 2.0]

Jolene Haley is an exceptional writer and curator of horror and other anthologies.  I highly recommend “Harrowed (Woodsview Murders, #1),” her YA slasher with Brian LeTendre.

Follow the #SummerofScreams showcase for more scary summer camp stories.

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NaNoWriMo 2016 – My Third Year at Hogwarts

Have you met your word count for today, NaNoWriMos?

NaNoWriMo has been rocking along for six days now, and writers are flying on the heady rush of stories pouring out of them while simultaneously worrying when and where they’ll find the time to reach their nearly 1700 wpd (words per day) goal. Wacky sleep patterns are starting to take their toll. Writers are sneaking into corners to tap on their phones or dictating scenes while driving.

This is my third NaNoWriMo and just like Harry Potter in his third year:

“I knew I could do it this time,” said Harry, “because I’d already done it…Does that make sense?” Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling

I’ve “won” NaNoWriMo twice before, so I know I can get 50,000 words of a story out in 30 days. And I know I’d have a blast doing it.  I even have a creepy story idea that wants to be a novel, badly.

But I needed something other than 50,000 new words this year. I’m doing something harder, at least for me. I’m spending my time editing last year’s novel. That means reworking the parts that fell flat before, or which ended with note to myself to “do something here.” It means punching up my ending to something more exciting.

It also means discovering that I really like some of what I wrote last year, and being grateful it’s organized more coherently than I’d feared. I love this story. The main character is awful, and kind of hilarious, and I have the best time writing her. Horrific things happen that make me want to clap my hands. There’s magic there, and the story deserves to be made better. And it feels good to push myself to get better at my craft.

And I have some reward writing for myself, too. I have a spooky short story to finish for submission in December, so that’s my dessert after I do the harder stuff.

Do you have a writing goal this NaNoWriMo? Any tricks for fitting writing into your schedule?

You can find me at Leaves and Cobwebs – reach out and let’s cheer each other on.

The Rooms the Guests Never See – 13 Days until Halloween

Jolene Haley is hosting a horror writer and illustrator showcase on her website to celebrate the spookiest of months.  My story, “Food and Drink Man” is featured today.

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.

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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.

Jolene Haley is an exceptional writer and curator of horror and other anthologies.  I highly recommend “Harrowed (Woodsview Murders, #1),” her YA slasher with Brian LeTendre.

Comment and let me know what you think of “Food and Drink Man” and follow the #HauntedHotel showcase for more spooky stories through the month.

 

Spooky Empire Refugees – 20 Days until Halloween

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.

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Neighbors stocked up on ice, and we bought a clown.

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.

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Face-hugger photobomb

Horror writers, artists, and vendors packed Gods & Monsters comic store.  The Bloody Jug Band wailed.  There were amazing cosplayers.

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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.

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You need something to keep your warm in the autumn chill.  May I also suggest Tribal Screams Roasted Chestnut and Bubba Spiced Bourbon?

 

 

 

 

A Monstrous Love – 4 Days Until Halloween

In the movie Crimson Peak, Lucille Sharpe (the dark sister who holds the keys to the family manse) tells the gothic heroine, “It is a monstrous love. And it makes monsters of us all.”  Her version of love is menacing and possibly mad, as the best monsters are.

My favorite monsters pursue their victims with a deliberate and threatening drive.  In a presentation at the Florida Writers Conference, Sidney Williams posited that a monster is only frightening until you see it, and I think this is true.  You know it is there, that it will come, that it is hunting the others. The anticipation is suffocating. You squint into the darkness trying to see if you can make out its silhouette.  You wait behind the door with the gothic heroine, the original final girl, listening hard for its approach, desperately wanting to bolt, trying to hold your breath so you won’t be heard.

You want the monster to find her, so the final girl can face it and survive.  But the monster is never more threatening than right before that breathless moment.

Haunting The Yard – 19 Days Until Halloween

Last year, a little girl in a princess costume walked down my driveway on Halloween with her mom trailing behind her.  The little girl was transfixed by the orange lights and spooky decorations.  Her mom was looking around nervously.

“Nothing here will jump out at her,” I told the mom from the candy table.

“Really?”  My skull face was friendly, but the mom was making sure.

“Absolutely.  There’s a lots of creepy things around, but nothing too gruesome, and she can walk up and look at anything she wants.”

The little girl turned to me then, so I spoke to her, too.

“You can touch anything you want.  It’s Halloween, and spooky stuff is supposed to be fun.”

The little girl smiled and looked around, eager to explore. But she turned back to ask, “Can I see your dress, too?”

I stepped out from around the table to show her my whole outfit of black gown and corset of skulls and roses.  She smiled again and walked off to explore the decorations. The mom brought over her trick-or-treat bag for candy, but the little girl was much more interested in seeing the skulls and plastic rats up close.

yard gravesI love creating a spooky yard.  Classically  creepy decor is my favorite.  Give me bats and crows and skeletons.  I have my favorite horror icons, but the only movie star you’ll see in my yard is Bela Lugosi as Dracula.

The graveyard is on a small hill in the front of the yard and includes markers for Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft.  There are skeletons here and elsewhere.  Many of the lady skeletons have wigs and dresses befitting their elegant style.

yard pumpkinsBats and other flying creatures hang from the pergola by the door.  Rats and birds perch on either side of the walkway.  Closer to Halloween, real jack-o-lanterns will join the pumpkin vine trailing along the walk.

Halloween is a time to delight in spooky things and the delicious feeling that something supernatural may appear before you.  It’s a time to revel in the macabre and the dark aesthetic I love.  And it’s a time to share this with neighbors and trick-or-treaters lured to the house by odd creatures and haunting music.  Hopefully they’ll leave loving the mystery and celebration of Halloween even more.

Bob

Writing In Graveyards – 22 Days Until Halloween

I was raised to love graveyards.

I was raised on classic horror movies and their eerie graveyards, filled with rolling mist.  My parents bought me horror comics and introduced me to Edgar Allen Poe and Stephen King in elementary school.  We had the full encyclopedia of Man, Myth, and Magic, and I would lean against the bookshelf for hours, reading and marveling over the illustrations.

I was also raised to appreciate the beauty of cemeteries and to collect the data on the monuments.  My mother taught me the etiquette of walking between graves.  She taught me to see patterns in the death dates when a war or sickness ran through a community.

There is a stillness to graveyards.  There is a sense of a place ruminating on its past.  And it’s a lovely place to spin tales.