Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

shroud11_smallTo celebrate mid-summer and make sure you don’t run out of chilly reading material, Tim Deal at Shroud Publishing has announced that all titles in their catalog (except those subject to existing special offers) are on sale at 30% off. If you are interested in my work and don’t own the Shroud titles that contain them, now’s your chance to snatch them up.

Shroud Magazine #11 contains “Side Retired.”

Shroud Magazine #8 contains “Discounted.”

Northern Haunts – 100 Terrifying New England Tales contains “Broken Chain”

You can (and should) of course also take a look at all of the other goodies Shroud Publishing has to offer. Visit www.shroudmagazine.com and use the coupon code “30offjuly” at checkout. Enjoy!


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TheMostInterestingManInTheWorld_1426I often drink beer…but when I do I don’t prefer Dos Equis. That said, I like the whole “Most Interesting Man in the World” ad campaign. I heard the current Halloween ad in the car yesterday and thought it was pretty funny. Can’t seem to find a video or audio file of it on short notice, so here is the script that precedes the standard ending. Stay thirsty my friends.

Even out of costume, he’s still the most mysterious person at the masquerade ball.
He has successfully grown candy corn.
His scarecrow also works on tax collectors and traveling salesmen.
The last time he bobbed for apples, he got a three pound lobster.
He can also scare the pants back on to you.
When he watches the cauldron, it boils faster.
His tricks are also treats.

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Partly due to my commitment to give my time and talents, partly due to my passion for the subject matter, I led the creation of a new event last October at Saugatuck Congregational Church, UCC where my wife Alison is pastor. Our church had held a wonderful homecoming event in early September 2012 outside on the grounds and there was interest in doing more events like it. I floated the idea of holding a Halloween event, except with a bit more meaning and substance than one so often finds in the plastic and sugar commercial orgy of the “Halloween Season.” Everyone involved in the conversation immediately said, “Yes!” and All Hallows’ Fest was born. It went well, given that we tossed it together in the span of a couple of weeks. One of the ideas we set aside was to use the church cemetery, which is just a couple of blocks away and can also be reached via a short hike through a park and over…wait for it…Deadman Brook. This year we featured it.

We held the 2nd Annual All Hallows’ Fest this past Sunday. It began at Evergreen Cemetery with the creation of a “Memory Grove.” Participants were encouraged to bring photos, drawings, sayings, or objects that symbolized someone whose life they want remembered. They could also use the materials on site. We provided base objects (picture frames, bird houses, large letters, etc.) for the participants to adorn with the materials and then they hung their completed object on one of five “trees” my wife and sons helped me build. About 30 people participated in creating the installation that evening. We put flyers in the neighbors mailboxes letting them know that something unusual was about to appear in the cemetery and that the installation will be there until November 1. We also invited them to add their own objects during the week. I visited the site today to add some explanatory signage that reads:

Halloween is a pop culture economic bonanza in our country, but its origin and rich themes are often overlooked. The name “Halloween” is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening. Hallows’ is shortened from hallowed, meaning sacred. Thus, Halloween actually means “sacred evening.” Sacred because it was originally a time for remembering loved ones who have died. Holidays based on the idea of remembering and celebrating departed friends and relatives are found in cultures around the globe. Additionally, many of these holidays occur at the end of the harvest season.  The ancient origins of Halloween and related holidays are inspired by the cycle of the seasons. As plants withered and shadows lengthened, people labored to prepare for the symbolic death of winter. They feared the cold and silence to come, but knew that the rebirth of spring lay beyond. Thus, Halloween is a thematically rich holiday that explores our very human fear of death and our interest in what lies beyond.

I also took some photos, which I’m pleased to share here:

All Hallows Memory Grove 03 All Hallows Memory Grove 04 All Hallows Memory Grove 05 All Hallows Memory Grove 06 All Hallows Memory Grove 07 All Hallows Memory Grove 08

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NEHW (New England Horror Writers) members Jason Harris and Stacey Longo Harris are embarking on a bold new adventure. At a time when Borders is gone and untold numbers of smaller chains and independent stores are shuttered, they are opening a bookshop in central Connecticut on Tuesday, November 20th.

Not just any bookshop, either. Books & Boos is a celebration of, “their passion for all things dark and dreary with the world.” The store will carry new dark fiction by New England authors, used books from a range of genres, and “novelty items from the sick to the sublime.”

I just sent them 10 copies of Lifted Veils: Three Tales of the Extraordinary to add to their inventory.

Author events featuring NEHW members Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Jan Kozlowski, and Rob Watts are already on the schedule.

If you live in the area, or are passing through, check them out. Books & Boos is located at 514 Westchester Road in Colchester, CT.

Tell ’em Craig sent you.

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I mentioned last week that I had created silhouettes of ghosts and filled some of our windows with them, so I thought I’d share this picture. I ran out of time or I would have done many more. Jesup House has lots of windows.

Looking back, that is the story of my Halloween season. Earlier in the month, I had been happily sailing along doing lots of seasonal things. Read great stories. Created a fun and educational All Hallows’ Fest for my church. Bought some great pumpkins and gourds. Adorned bushes with massive spider webs. Put ghosts in some of the windows. Even went to a high school classroom to talk about horror fiction.

Things get a bit blurry after that, between family events and Hurricane Sandy.

All of a sudden it was the afternoon of Halloween and the boys tossed together their own costumes and we put a bowl of candy out on the front step (just in case) and we headed off to a nearby neighborhood to Trick-or-Treat with friends along the blackout darkened streets for a bit and then we had dinner in their house with the generator roaring outside and went home to force the kids into bed and watched a couple of Doctor Who episodes and it was over.

This morning felt like a bit of a hangover. Alison remarked how much she doesn’t like how manic Trick-or-Treating can feel. Everyone rushing through the streets grabbing fistfuls of cheap candy loaded with crap. Neither do I. We do it because it’s fun to dress up and go out into the costumed crowds and see the decorations and feel the creeping chill as the daylight fades away. But when everyone starts moving too fast to notice what things look, sound, smell, feel like…all that is left is candy grubbing.

Plus, I somehow didn’t carve a Jack-o-Lantern this year. I helped my younger son with his for All Hallows’ Fest, but that’s it. I usually do three, five, seven…. I stopped reading anything except hurricane related material for several days, including Halloween.

Disappointing. Strange. Unsettling, to move through the final stages of the Halloween season with so little sense of Halloween.

It’s not New Years Eve, but I already have my wish for 2013. After two straight years of it, I would like a Halloween free of meteorological mayhem. The family side of things will probably be calmer. Alison won’t be having an installation service and we won’t be selling a house. Calmer conditions on the calendar and in the skies will make it easier to enjoy all of the Halloween season next year.

All that said, one of the facts of life as a horror writer is that Halloween never really ends. It just goes back inside my head.

PS: While I was typing this, the postman delivered a package for me. Inside was Every House is Haunted, by Ian Rogers (which is my favorite book title at this precise moment) and After: Nineteen Stories of Apocalypse and Dystopia, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. So, things are looking up already.



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This is amusing and beautiful. I’d put this on the wall of my office. Happy All Hallows’ Day.

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I’m in one of those busy times when a variety of projects and events have all landed on the same finite portion of the calendar. Most of it is good stuff. Here’s a whirlwind tour of people, places, and things competing for my attention before I go back to giving them attention.

  • We sold our old house yesterday. Having moved from Simsbury to Westport in late June, we’ve been paying for an empty house for several months now. More than we had hoped to, but you may have heard just a bit about the state of the housing market in recent years. We’re glad that it’s over with and glad to be able to focus all of our energies on our new home and lives.
  • The installation service for my wife, the Rev. Alison J. Buttrick Patton, is on Sunday. What’s an installation service? In the United Church of Christ, it is the ceremony formally acknowledging the beginning of a new ministry. Alison has been the pastor at Saugatuck Congregational Church in Westport, CT since May 1st, but we waited until now to hold the installation service. Family and friends coming in. The Rev. W. Dow Edgerton Ph.D. of Chicago  Theological Seminary is flying in to deliver the sermon. I’ve been prepping Jesup House like mad and will be throwing dinners for a dozen people on Saturday and Sunday.
  • I’ll be visiting a high school English class tomorrow to discuss reading and writing horror fiction. It is the first time I’ve ever been invited to speak to anyone about horror and I’m both excited and a bit nervous. They’ve been reading The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Frankenstein and a couple of my stories, which is a pretty humbling juxtaposition. I’ve been sending the teacher links to related articles and also some discussion questions on my own work….  It is a strange exercise coming up with discussion questions based on one’s own stories. I’m using “Last Testament”, which is scheduled for publication in Supernatural Tales next year.
  • I created and hosted an All Hallows’ Fest on the grounds of Saugatuck Congregational Church this past Sunday. We’re right on a major road and have a beautiful campus in the center of Westport so it’s a place that lends itself to holding public events. About three weeks ago I decided it would be fun and interesting to have an event where people, particularly families with kids, had some seasonal fun but also learned a bit about the origins of Halloween, related holidays, and how it all relates to being a person of faith. It went very well. Small turnout, which I expected, given the short notice. But those who were there had a good time. We decorated pumpkins and made Day of the Dead lanterns. There was a gourd tossing game and a scavenger hunt where people looked for ghosts I’d hidden. It all ended with a quiz show I ran using PowerPoint in the memorial garden.
  • I’m catching up on Shadows & Tall Trees, an excellent journal of supernatural fiction edited by Michael Kelly. Issue #4 just arrived in my mailbox but I’m still on issue #3. I’m looking at this as a good thing, since I know I’m guaranteed lots of terrific stories in the next few days. If you’ve never heard of S&TT, check it out.
  • I’ve filled the first floor windows of Jesup House with handmade silhouettes of ghosts (I buy as few of our decorations as possible, preferring to create my own.) Turned out pretty well and the family likes them. I’ll post pics soon.
  • Lastly, in the spirit of the season, The New York Times has an article today about our fascination with haunted houses.  (The real/”real” ones, not the ones you purchase tickets to.)  Worth a read, except for the cringe inducing title.

So, that’s some of what I’m up to. Now I’m off to do more.

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