And November has never felt so long…

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I’m baaaaaaack. I’ve been nursing my psychic wounds (my candidate lost) along with the respiratory virus that will not let go. I almost feel compelled to write a horror movie screenplay to destroy the thing, but haven’t had the energy. And now we’re near Thanksgiving and the swoop into The Holidays.

Good news: I corrected the galley proofs for Wisdom Court Book 3, All in Bad Time. The cover’s been set and we’re getting close to liftoff. Of course I’ll let you know when. I’m excited and hope you readers out there are, too.

Life goes on, my mom always said, and Scarlett O’Hara chimed in with “Tomorrow is another day.” I hope all of you are well and busy with creative projects. I’m planning to continue posting more often since I developed a taste for it during the Halloween marathon. Here’s to a wonderful Thanksgiving for us all. 998584-195

1 Day of post-Halloween anticlimax…and (a) Prize-winner!

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Well, here we are, stuck with the mess. It was a good party, though, right? I enjoyed “31 Days of Spooky Stuff,” though there were a couple of days when my brain was very much like an empty vat. I learned I can write about stuff–or find a good piece someone else will share–even with a dreadful virus dragging me down, always a useful bit of knowledge to have. And, best thing ever, I had six people commenting on various posts–a record for me. You’re all wonderful, highly intelligent and sensitive to the Halloween zeitgeist. It was fun.

I put your six names on small pieces of paper and dropped them into a bowl. After much shaking and mixing, I pulled out a name: Christine Valentor! Yes, the author of Halloween Jack, published on Day 21. Now, considering that Christine ended up being the author of a piece for “31 Days,” my panel of judge said I should consider pulling another name. Why? To allow for a winner who was solely a commenter. (The panel of judge has firm ideas. Commenters are highly valued here at Writer in the Garret.) I closed my eyes, pulled out a piece of paper, and read the name: Shyla Fairfax-Owen!

So, we have two winners! That’s the good news. The bad news is that while I’ve had my fingers crossed for weeks, I’m still waiting for the third book to be finished by my publishers. They have promised early November. Since the third book, All In Bad Time, is being published as both an e-book and a trade-paperback, I’m a little fuzzy on the exact date I can get the paperback to the winners.

Here’s my question, winners. Do you want me to send you the first two Wisdom Court books now? I can easily do that, and then send the third as soon as it arrives. If you’d rather wait to receive all three at once, that’s fine, too. All you have to do is give me your postal addresses at my email: yvonne.montgomery@gmail.com and let me know your preference. Your wish is my command!

To the rest of you, I will let you know ASAP when I find out the publication date for All In Bad Time. I’m hoping we’ll start out with reduced prices as the book is launched, or possibly lower prices for the other two. I will let you know what the plan is. (I will also beg and plead for all of you to write reviews for my books, which will make my panel of judge happy.) Thank you all so much for getting into the spirit of “31 Days…” I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have.

Happy November! It’s going to feel weird not writing a post about Halloween tomorrow. Maybe I’ll write one about something else. We’ll see.

 

31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 31: Happy Halloween

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We’ve looked at many aspects of Halloween this month, most of them spooky. We’ve whistled past some graveyards, viewed some monsters born of All Hallows Eve. We’ve read a spirited story (get it?) by Denver author Douglas D. Hawk called “Moonlit Dream Girl.”

We read the story “Halloween Jack” by Christine Valentor, and better understand why we see his image everywhere on All Hallows Eve. We traveled to haunted places in the U.S. where ghosts still shift among historic buildings in CR Richards’ “Halloween Blog Hop.”

We curled up with a bag or two of Halloween candy (bought purely to sample for good quality, right?) while we watched old favorite movies that still make us shudder or give us bursts of nervous laughter.

Why is it we wish each other Happy Halloween? What does it even mean? That you hope people have fun scaring each other? That dressing in costumes will help you avoid the evil spirits out and about on Halloween night? That we’ll all get bunches of candy we shouldn’t eat to help us get to Thanksgiving? That all of us will enjoy our humanity just a little more by wearing that costume, by giving that handful of candy to a child, by remembering old magic in our cells, where it lives under our work clothes and serious expressions?

Maybe magic can be reignited by following rules learned in childhood, by showing our true identities–only for a short while–and by feasting on the food of the spirits for a night to protect us from evil.

Thanks to everyone who participated in “31 Days of Spooky Stuff.” Hope you get good candy.

You can still enter the drawing (to be held late tonight) to win signed copies of my Wisdom Court books: Edge of the Shadow; A Signal Shown; All In Bad Time.

The winner of the drawing will be announced tomorrow.

31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 30: Cemeteries of Denver that give you Goosebumps…

Posted in Denver August 25, 2016 by

8 Disturbing Cemeteries Around Denver That Will Give You Goosebumps

Who’s on the hunt for the heebie-jeebies? Call me crazy, but one of my favorite places to rove around and take photographs is most definitely at a cemetery – and the eerier the better. There are so many thought provoking structures that “grow” from the ground, including tombstones, trees, monuments, statues, mausoleums, and unidentified objects. You just never known when you may encounter an unexplained presence or phenomenon at these creepy cemeteries in Denver. They lend the phrase “dancing in the moonlight” a whole new meaning.

31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 29: What is it about clowns?

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I’ve never liked clowns, but wasn’t actively afraid of them. As a kid I watched Denver Channel Two’s kids’ show, Blinky the Clown, and didn’t particularly like him. I always had the feeling he wasn’t crazy about kids. I remember his honey-dripping voice when he talked about birthdays, and he was frequently shown visiting kids in hospitals, so I’m sure he was a wonderful guy. But he was a clown. He had makeup all over his face and you couldn’t read his emotions because of it.

The clowns at the circus jumped around a lot, filling up cars, tumbling over each other like maniacs. Little prig that I was, I couldn’t figure out why what they were doing was supposed to be funny.

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As you can probably tell from the pictures here, I underwent a change in attitude toward clowns thanks to reading/seeing some highly disturbing stories about them. And I’m not alone. Many adults dislike clowns now. Just the other day I read an alert about clowns being chased out of neighborhoods. My first response to that was, What the hell are clowns doing in neighborhoods?

For me, the drawback to clowns is the same I felt as a kid: you can’t assess their intent because they hide themselves behind makeup and costumes. Call me paranoid, but that’s a deal-breaker.

I’ve attached a link to an interesting article from The Washington Post titled “Why Clowns Creep Us Out.” Author Frank T. McAndrew, psychologist, gives plenty of reasons why those of us who are creeped out by clowns can make our cases for it. The portion about “The Phantom Clown Theory” is especially interesting.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Why+Clowns+Creep+Us+Out&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8 Frank T. McAndrew

Have you ever noticed how few children have clown costumes for trick-or-treating? They know what they know.

To enter the amazing drawing to be held on Halloween, comment on this post. The prize will be signed copies of the Wisdom Court novels: Edge of the Shadow; A Signal Shown; All In Bad Time.

31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 28:Halloween Blog Hop from CR Richards

Halloween Blog Hop – Oct 28th

Today’s post comes from author extraordinaire CR Richards. with thanks.

My Favorite HAUNTS

Once a year, I take a trip to some place I’ve never been. I usually spend the day sightseeing or lounging at a day spa. The nights I save for my favorite hobby – Ghosts! In the Spirit of Halloween, I’ve listed my favorite Haunts.

Old Alexandria, VA

 Do yourself a favor and visit King Street. The shopping is phenomenal and the food is scrumptious! Then take a walk to the Alexandria Visitor’s Center. It’s here you’ll begin the ghost tour. Get ready for a spooky walk by lantern light. Your guides are dressed in their best Colonial garb and are ready to spin tales of betrayal and tragic death.

New Orleans, LA

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 – Photo by C.R. Richards

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What can I say about the Big Easy? Death has been a part of its history from the beginning. I think that’s why there is so much celebration of life, music and food. Way too many tours to pick from in New Orleans. I like the French Quarter (Bourbon Street and the famous cemeteries). Be prepared to practice “Safe Tourism” though. Walking around at night on your own is not encouraged.

Santa Fe, NMloretto

The Loretto Chapel: Beware of ghostly nuns – Photo by C.R. Richards

Santa Fe is an eclectic town full of historical sites and amazing art. I went there for some healing time, but soon found I’d chosen a haunted hotel! Julia Staab, original and eternal owner of La Posada, is said to wander the rooms making certain her guests are comfortable. I made sure to spend time in the Rose Room (dedicated to Julia) where tales of a spectral torso is supposed to float.

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San Antonio, TX

 

Zombie by the Alamo – Photo by C.R. Richards

And now for my favorite! San Antonio has it all. The River Walk. Mexican food. Music. Mexican food. And tons of ghosts. Treat yourself to a stay at the Menger Hotel. It’s right across the street from the Alamo. The last two times I’ve attended a writer’s conference in the hotel, the group and I have experience paranormal occurrences. Locked windows opening on their own. People being touched on the stairs. Dark spots in the elevator and halls. Love it!

These are my favorites so far. I have plans for more ghost tours in the near future.

  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Denver Botanic Gardens
  • Tombstone

Happy Haunting on your own adventures and Happy Halloween!

My Latest Release

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About the Author

A huge lover of horror and dark fantasy stories, C. R. Richards enjoys telling tales of intrigue and adventure. Having began writing as a part-time columnist for a small entertainment newspaper, Richards has worn several hats: food critic, entertainment reviewer and cranky editor. She has now published a handful of novels, including Phantom Harvest – book one in The Mutant Casebook Series – which took home the EPIC eBook Award for Fantasy in 2014. Richards beat out entries from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and other English speaking countries.

Her most recent literary projects include the horror short story, Lost Man’s Parish and the newly-released dark fantasy thriller, Pariah. She is an active member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Horror Writers Association.

In January, Richards releases her epic fantasy novel The Lords of Valdeon, the first installment in the Heart of the Warrior series. Through her storytelling, Richards aims to reach lovers of fantasy who are exploring alternatives to the traditional status quo. Her message is simple: One person can be a catalyst for change.

Author Website – CRRichards.com    

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorcrrichards/

Twitter – @CR_Richards

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Author Website – CRRichards.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorcrrichards/

Twitter – @CR_Richards

Many thanks to CR Richards for her blog post today. Remember, to enter the Halloween drawing, comment on this post. The prize is signed copies of the Wisdom Court Novels: Edge of the Shadow; A Signal Shown; All In Bad Time.

31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 27: All Hallows…

Halloween

The Fantasy and Folklore of All Hallows                death-sm

by Jack Santino

Halloween had its beginnings in an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead. The Celtic peoples, who were once found all over Europe, divided the year by four major holidays. According to their calendar, the year began on a day corresponding to November 1st on our present calendar. The date marked the beginning of winter. Since they were pastoral people, it was a time when cattle and sheep had to be moved to closer pastures and all livestock had to be secured for the winter months. Crops were harvested and stored. The date marked both an ending and a beginning in an eternal cycle.

The festival observed at this time was called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween). It was the biggest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year. The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. People gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables. They also lit bonfires in honor of the dead, to aid them on their journey, and to keep them away from the living. On that day all manner of beings were abroad: ghosts, fairies, and demons–all part of the dark and dread.

Samhain became the Halloween we are familiar with when Christian missionaries attempted to change the religious practices of the Celtic people. In the early centuries of the first millennium A.D., before missionaries such as St. Patrick and St. Columcille converted them to Christianity, the Celts practiced an elaborate religion through their priestly caste, the Druids, who were priests, poets, scientists and scholars all at once. As religious leaders, ritual specialists, and bearers of learning, the Druids were not unlike the very missionaries and monks who were to Christianize their people and brand them evil devil worshippers.

As a result of their efforts to wipe out “pagan” holidays, such as Samhain, the Christians succeeded in effecting major transformations in it. In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory the First issued a now famous edict to his missionaries concerning the native beliefs and customs of the peoples he hoped to convert. Rather than try to obliterate native peoples’ customs and beliefs, the pope instructed his missionaries to use them: if a group of people worshipped a tree, rather than cut it down, he advised them to consecrate it to Christ and allow its continued worship.

In terms of spreading Christianity, this was a brilliant concept and it became a basic approach used in Catholic missionary work. Church holy days were purposely set to coincide with native holy days. Christmas, for instance, was assigned the arbitrary date of December 25th because it corresponded with the mid-winter celebration of many peoples. Likewise, St. John’s Day was set on the summer solstice.

Samhain, with its emphasis on the supernatural, was decidedly pagan. While missionaries identified their holy days with those observed by the Celts, they branded the earlier religion’s supernatural deities as evil, and associated them with the devil. As representatives of the rival religion, Druids were considered evil worshippers of devilish or demonic gods and spirits. The Celtic underworld inevitably became identified with the Christian Hell.

The effects of this policy were to diminish but not totally eradicate the beliefs in the traditional gods. Celtic belief in supernatural creatures persisted, while the church made deliberate attempts to define them as being not merely dangerous, but malicious. Followers of the old religion went into hiding and were branded as witches.

The Christian feast of All Saints was assigned to November 1st. The day honored every Christian saint, especially those that did not otherwise have a special day devoted to them. This feast day was meant to substitute for Samhain, to draw the devotion of the Celtic peoples, and, finally, to replace it forever. That did not happen, but the traditional Celtic deities diminished in status, becoming fairies or leprechauns of more recent traditions.

The old beliefs associated with Samhain never died out entirely. The powerful symbolism of the traveling dead was too strong, and perhaps too basic to the human psyche, to be satisfied with the new, more abstract Catholic feast honoring saints. Recognizing that something that would subsume the original energy of Samhain was necessary, the church tried again to supplant it with a Christian feast day in the 9th century. This time it established November 2nd as All Souls Day–a day when the living prayed for the souls of all the dead. But, once again, the practice of retaining traditional customs while attempting to redefine them had a sustaining effect: the traditional beliefs and customs lived on, in new guises.

All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallows (hallowed means sanctified or holy), continued the ancient Celtic traditions. The evening prior to the day was the time of the most intense activity, both human and supernatural. People continued to celebrate All Hallows Eve as a time of the wandering dead, but the supernatural beings were now thought to be evil. The folk continued to propitiate those spirits (and their masked impersonators) by setting out gifts of food and drink. Subsequently, All Hallows Eve became Hallow Evening, which became Hallowe’en–an ancient Celtic, pre-Christian New Year’s Day in contemporary dress.

Many supernatural creatures became associated with All Hallows. In Ireland fairies were numbered among the legendary creatures who roamed on Halloween. An old folk ballad called “Allison Gross” tells the story of how the fairy queen saved a man from a witch’s spell on Halloween.

O Allison Gross, that lives in yon tower
the ugliest witch int he North Country…
She’s turned me into an ugly worm
and gard me toddle around a tree…                              997995-097

But as it fell out last Hallow even
When the seely [fairy] court was riding by,
the Queen lighted down on a gowany bank
Not far from the tree where I wont to lie…
She’s change me again to my own proper shape
And I no more toddle about the tree.

In old England cakes were made for the wandering souls, and people went “a’ soulin'” for these “soul cakes.” Halloween, a time of magic, also became a day of divination, with a host of magical beliefs: for instance, if persons hold a mirror on Halloween and walk backwards down the stairs to the basement, the face that appears in the mirror will be their next lover.

Virtually all present Halloween traditions can be traced to the ancient Celtic day of the dead. Halloween is a holiday of many mysterious customs, but each one has a history, or at least a story behind it. The wearing of costumes, for instance, and roaming from door to door demanding treats can be traced to the Celtic period and the first few centuries of the Christian era, when it was thought that the souls of the dead were out and around, along with fairies, witches, and demons. Offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them. As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these dreadful creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This practice is called mumming, from which the practice of trick-or-treating evolved. To this day, witches, ghosts, and skeleton figures of the dead are among the favorite disguises. Halloween also retains some features that harken back to the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as the customs of bobbing for apples and carving vegetables, as well as the fruits, nuts, and spices cider associated with the day.

Today Halloween is becoming once again an adult holiday or masquerade, like mardi Gras. Men and women in every disguise imaginable are taking to the streets of big American cities and parading past grinningly carved, candlelit jack o’lanterns, re- enacting customs with a lengthy pedigree. Their masked antics challenge, mock, tease, and appease the dread forces of the night, of the soul, and of the otherworld that becomes our world on this night of reversible possibilities, inverted roles, and transcendency. In so doing, they are reaffirming death and its place as a part of life in an exhilarating celebration of a holy and magic evening.

September 1982; updated 2009

reprinted from the Library of Congress American Folklife Center

Enter the  10/31 drawing for a signed copy of the three Wisdom Court Books: Edge of the Shadow; A Signal Shown; All In Bad Time.

31 Days of Spooky Stuff; October 26:The Lost Boys

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lostboy3Adolescence is bad enough…and when you add vampires? All hell breaks loose.

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Brothers Michael and Sam move with their mother to a little town in northern California. Everything seems cool until, little by little, it becomes obvious that vampires are lunching off some of the teens who hang out at the boardwalk.

Kiefer Sutherland is their leader and he can feel the alpha waves emanating from Michael. And the girl Star is so pretty. It’s going to get ugly, and spooky, too.

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Dance to the music a little bit. Then enter the Halloween drawing to win signed copies of the Wisdom Court books.

31 Days of Spooky Stuff, October 25: They’re coming to take us away…

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…and not to the funny farm. To the place where broken, coughing bodies await release.

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They say we’ll get better here, but I have my doubts.

[historythings.com]

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Room 745? Are you sure?

When are visiting hours? What do you mean, what visitors?

[dailymail.co.uk]

Stay away from the germs…

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To enter the Halloween drawing, post a comment. You’ll be notified if your name has been chosen. The prize: the Wisdom Court books, signed.