Today is the Trick-or-Treat Reads Halloween Book Event! This event was created by Patricia Lynne and is designed to give readers free books on Halloween. Click here to see what the rest of the participants will be giving away this year. There are a lot of goodies on that list!
I’m giving away copies of two of my books.
Tumble is a short story about a girl named Elle who is being raised in the middle of nowhere by an over-protective single parent. Now that she’s turned eighteen, she’s ready to start making her own decisions in life. But her father only grows more protective of her the further she pulls away from him. What secrets might he be hiding?
Waiting for Earl to Die and Other Stories is an anthology of short science fiction and horror stories. Every character in this collection has a story hidden deeply inside themselves, but not everyone realizes exactly what that story might be.
What an open-ended prompt this week! Was it supposed to be used for for lighthearted, Halloween-friendly fears or more serious topics? I’m assuming it’s the former, but I’ll include one darker fear in case that is what Long and Short Reviews was actually hoping we’d do.
Only time will tell if everyone else interpreted it the same way. Here are some of the things that make me shudder.
Looking in the Mirror in a Dark Room
I blame the Bloody Mary game and all of the spooky ghost stories I’ve read for this one. During the day, I’m a logical person who knows there’s nothing inside of a mirror that could ever hurt me. This is much less true in the middle of the night when I stumble into the washroom half-asleep and can only see the dimmest reflection of what is in the mirror.
I chose the least creepy photo of an antique doll I could find online. The ones that have chipped or broken faces frighten me even more, especially if their eyes look lifelike.
Unexplained Noises, Especially at Night
Yes, many buildings will sometimes creak or make other little noises at night. Knowing the scientific explanation for why this happens doesn’t make it less eerie when it happens at midnight and you’re supposed to be alone in your house.
For example, I suffer from insomnia if I try to fall asleep in a perfectly silent room. I need the sound of a fan blowing or, even better, someone breathing gently next to me in order to sleep well.
Perfectly silent outdoor places are scary, too. If I don’t hear bugs buzzing, birds chirping, or some other friendly little noise in a forest, I get too creeped out to stay. It just doesn’t feel right to me at all. As an aside, has anyone else noticed fewer bugs in the summer these days? I could have sworn there were more of them flying and crawling around even a few years ago.
I love sitting inside my warm, dry apartment and looking at the fog roll in. I do not like going out into the fog, especially in the morning or evening when there isn’t much light out there. There’s something a little scary about not being able to see as far into the distance as you normally can.
The clammy feeling in the air on foggy days is also unnerving to me. It almost feel like being touch by someone’s else wet hands without being able to see who that person is. Scary!
This last one might need a little explaining. Texting and email are how I’ve kept in touch with my loved ones for many years now. Phone calls are reserved for horrible, urgent news like someone dying or being sent to the hospital with a life-threatening illness. This makes me nervous when my phone does ring and there’s anyone other than my dentist or family doctor on call display because I know that chances are high I’m about to hear heartbreaking news.
Do phone calls mean the same thing to you? How many fears do we share in common?
Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question. The image below is the list of upcoming prompts for this blog hop.
There are some disturbing themes in this tale, so click carefully if you hate violence (implied or actual). But I loved the character development in it, especially once the protagonist realizes just how few choices she’s been left with.
Occasionally, I wander away from the usual topics on this site to share personal stories from my life. Today is one of those days.
For about the first decade of my life, my family attended harvest festivals at local churches at the end of October and observed half-price candy day on November 1. (This a very special day that I highly recommend to people from any background who enjoy sugar and keeping their family dentist in business!)
Harvest festivals happened indoors because our town was surrounded by mountains and that time of year could get fairly cold and snowy. These festivals included costumes, music, games like bobbing for apples, and copious amounts of sugar and chocolate. My young mind was never entirely sure how they were that much different from regular Halloween, but any excuse for sweets was music to my ear.
When I was about seven, my family was surprised by Halloween. A few neighbourhood kids knocked on our door to say trick-or-treat one night. We had nothing sweet to give them at first until my dad remembered his small stash of strawberry bon-bons, a hard candy that has a red liquid centre in them.
A year or two later, we had a family friend who understood was the important of choosing the right sweets no matter what name you give to that sugary day at the end of October. I’m sure she had many other admirable personality traits, but almost everything I remember about her is somehow related to the delicious things she kept in her house.
I have a vague memory of visiting her house and getting a little more candy that was definitely only intended for Harvest Festival purposes. It skated just close enough to that other holiday that I felt like I’d gotten away with something. (My parents were in the room and approved of this gift, however).
My family started celebrating secular Halloween when I was eleven. By that time, we’d moved into a neighbourhood that was known for its generosity, so the streets were packed with families from other areas as well as from our own.
Trick-or-Treating on those nights was exciting. I wanted to run as fast as I could to every house to make sure I didn’t miss a single one.
We lived in Ohio then. Halloween night could be chilly, but it generally didn’t dip below freezing or include snowstorms. Wearing a jacket over your costume was usually sufficient, although I also tried to pick costumes that covered my whole body up. As in, picking something that required a skirt was not the smartest idea unless you had warm tights on underneath it!
Once I reluctantly realized I was too old to trick-or-treat, I reverted to celebrating half-price candy day once again.
Halloween as an Adult
Most of the places I lived in the United States were in rural locations or small towns. While Canada and the U.S. share a lot in common, moving to Toronto did include some surprises along the way.
I was looking forward to switching from receiving candy to giving it out, but it turns out that the apartment buildings here don’t have trick-or-treaters from what I’ve observed.
One of the things I love the most about Halloween is seeing all of the creative things storytellers do with common horror, science fiction, and fantasy tropes at this time of the year. There’s something about the Halloween season that seems to bring out the best in writers, filmmakers, and other creators.
The films in today’s post represent a wide range of subgenres, filming styles, and intended audiences. That was something I did intentionally to increase the chances that all of my visitors would find something that appealed to them. It was also a great deal of fun to find five films that wouldn’t normally be grouped together.
My other major criteria was to find examples of funny horror stories that had as little gore as possible. As I’ve mentioned here before, I don’t enjoy that sort of thing. I’d much rather be frightened by thoughts and feelings than seeing a monster tear someone apart.
I will be sharing mild spoilers about the amount of gore in each film, if any, so you can decide for yourselves which ones you’d like to see if this is also a concern for you.
It takes years for children to learn the many rules rules of operating in polite society well enough that they can blend in just about anywhere.
I think it’s amusing to observe the process of their minds learning why rules are created in the first place, when it’s okay to bend a rule, why some rules only apply in certain situations, and what happens when someone breaks rules (whether intentionally or unintentionally). The main character in this story is the sort of person who has memorized a specific rule but hasn’t yet figured out why it exists.
Honestly, I have a lot of empathy for that little guy. His predicament was funny, but it also made me wonder how frustrated he might have been getting with the whole process.
Gore Factor: A few briefly bloody scenes. I looked away for a few seconds at one point as my tolerance for gore is pretty low these days.
Why You Should Watch It:
I appreciated this film’s take on why people do the things they do. In no way did it make excuses for The Lonely Slasher, but I did come to understand why his body count was so high. While I wouldn’t necessarily call him a protagonist, there were parts of him that I found relatable on a much smaller scale. I mean, who hasn’t occasionally put their foot in their mouth at the worst possible time or accidentally bumped into a stranger?
Gore Factor: Two mildly violent scenes, but no real gore.
Why You Should Watch It:
Miscommunications sometimes happen in every long-term relationship. I was fascinated by how the creator took this concept, turned it into a literal member of the household, and then pushed his creativity to the limits to show what can happen when a couple aren’t on the same wavelength.
Not every ghost is necessarily scary in the way you expect them to be. I loved the plot twists in this one after the house sitter first encountered the ghost and was thoroughly unimpressed with what she believed to be his or her costume and persona. It was the total opposite of how I thought the first scene would go, so I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next.
Also, I think I might have been the only kid in the world who liked receiving those little boxes of raisins. So I never would have haunted this house in the first place.
Gore Factor: Minimal. The camera panned away just before every gory scene actually happened, but it was heavily foreshadowed and implied.
Why You Should Watch It:
There’s always room for more stories about the tensions that can exist between one generation and the next, especially when it makes its point as quietly as this one does. This is something I’d happily show to the next person I meet who starts complaining about how people from a particular generation act.
I also enjoyed the way the secondary characters behaved in this film. Without giving away too many spoilers, they were much more intelligent and aware of their surroundings than most characters are in this genre. I really love it when that happens!
What is your favourite humorous Halloween short film?
Happy Halloween! Here is this week’s gigantic list of blog posts, comic strips, stories, and other links from the scariest corners of the web. I’ve labelled the links that include gory content. If you have other questions about what a specific link contains, feel free to ask. Imagine the Sound of This, but in the Night.… Read More
Sometimes I giggle at the fact that two people who hate horror movies somehow created a daughter who has developed a fondness for the non-gory types of it. I have no idea where my appreciation for getting scared comes from, but it’s one of the few ways in which I’m nothing at all like either… Read More
Everything I am about to tell you is completely true. Some of the older residents of my apartment building like to tell stories about the people who have died here. One person was young and died suddenly for reasons that I’ve never been able to tease out. There is a hush that comes over the conversation when… Read More