Posts tagged with: Halloween

Anticipating the Holidays

…and not in a good way. A friend of mine was hosting a Halloween party this year. Awesome! Her party, however, fell the day after Halloween, on November 1. This was actually perfect, since it was a Saturday night and we “fell back” an hour last night/this morning as we left off Daylight Savings Time. A fun party plus an extra hour of sleep? Woo hoo!

pot brownieThis was a costume party, mind you. A costume optional party, but my husband and I thought it would be fun to go in costume for once. We are not “costume people.” Still, we were making an effort. Yesterday (the day of the party), I went to a craft store to look for a couple of things I needed to complete my costume (I was a pot brownie, he was Tim the Enchanter). While there, I noticed there was a lot of Anticipating the Holidays going on. Not only was all the Halloween stuff at least 75% off, but the Thanksgiving stuff was at least 50% off. Thanksgiving isn’t for another 25 days, people! For the mathy among us, that is 3 weeks and 4 days away. Practically a month! Yet they are so desperate to commit fully and completely to Christmas that Thanksgiving has already been pushed into one side of a single aisle and priced to move.

Tim the EnchanterI don’t care to anticipate the holidays quite that much. Heck, I have Veteran’s Day to celebrate and a 7-night cruise to enjoy before we even get to Thanksgiving! After that is my mother’s birthday, a sister’s birthday, a brother-in-law’s birthday, my sister-in-law’s birthday and my father’s birthday (he would have been 78 this year) before we get to Christmas. I don’t need to jump straight from Halloween to Christmas, craft store people. Thanks anyway!

How about you? Do you like to jump ahead and get an extra-early start on the holidays or are you content to let one pass before anticipating the next? (Confession, I have bought a couple of Christmas presents already.) I would love to know who is carefully crafting for Christmas and who still has turkey on her mind! 🙂

Favorite Halloween Treats

I was on deadline. It’s not my fault. I sent my husband out to get the Halloween treats, and he came home with… Cheetos?

Halloween Cheetos

See? I kid you not. Trick-or-treat Cheetos in glow-in-the-dark bags. Clearly a winning strategy from the Cheetos marketing team, since I doubt anyone would’ve thought of this on their own. When I think Halloween, I think candy. And not even just candy. For me, it’s gotta be chocolate.

Hershey's KissesAt first, I was outraged. Cheetos???? Cheetos????!!!! How could he do this to me? It’s been a long time since Halloween gave me nightmares, but this just might do it.

Turns out, though, not everyone agrees with me. I told a couple friends about the Cheetos Catastrophe, and they said they would’ve loved to get Cheetos at Halloween. So maybe we don’t risk eggs splattered on our windows if we give these out. Plus—and I keep trying to convince myself this is a good thing—I’ll be less tempted to sneak into the treats. Cheetos, I can resist. Hershey’s Kisses? Not a chance.

A High-End Finish by Kate CarlisleA TREAT FOR YOU

Readers’ favorite treats are books. (Hey, maybe next Halloween, I should give out books! Nah… kids would get Cheetos all over the pages.) Ahem…. Anyway, I have a treat for you! I’m running a contest right now on my Facebook page, Facebook.com/KateCarlisleBooks, along with mystery authors Miranda James and Jenn McKinlay. On Halloween, we’ll choose a winner to receive a $30 gift card to the bookstore of his or her choice! We’re all celebrating our newest releases. Mine is A HIGH-END FINISH, coming next week… the first book in my brand new Fixer-Upper Mysteries series!

What is your favorite Halloween treat? Would you be happy to get Cheetos? Have you ever tricked someone who didn’t give you a treat?

THUMP! THUMP! Things that go BUMP! Let’s Hear it for Halloweeeeeen!!

 jack o lantrnScared yet?  Bwahahahahah!!!

Happy Hallowwwwweeeeeeen! 

Longtime Bandit Buddies know that this is my favorite holiday.  Last weekend – the 26th – I hosted my annual Ad(d)ams Family Halloween Party.  It was raucous as usual.  Here’s the view which greeted my guests….the theme this year was Things That Go Bump in the Night.  Grins.  We figured the Skellys trying to get in the house would probably do a little bumping, as they attempted the windows at night.  Bwahahahah!!

It was exciting as always to welcome the crowd, but the real fun is today and tonight.  Halloween is that day of the year when the “Veil” is thin between this world and the October 2013 pre halloween 097next….the Ancient Celts began their New Year on Nov 1 and so Oct 31 was the last night of the year.  They believed that the ghosts and shades returned to make mischief, so bonfires were lit and house lights extinguished so that the ghouls would be drawn to the crowded town square and thereby cross through again, by the light of the Druidic bonfire.

The Romans co-opted the myth, and then the Christians added on as well, so that those crazy pagans would fall in with the Christianization more easily.  All Saints Day (Nov 1) honored the Saints and Martyrs, and All Souls Day (Nov 2) honored the dead.  But the whole dress up thing?  Yeah, that’s a constant.  The Celts dressed up to scare the ghosts, the Romans honored the dead as well as the Goddess Pomona – she who loves apples, adding that fruit to the Halloween panoply! – and the early Christians were urged to dress as the aforementioned saints and martyrs.  Grins.

Witches TarotI have to say that I really, really, really love dress up!!  I think the choice of costume says a lot about a person, and can even be a form of divination…almost like fortune-telling!  I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my palm and tea leaves read and my fortune told many a time.  Each time this happens, I’m amazed at what comes out.  Sometimes it’s so accurate, it’s scary – one of my BFF’s can read Tarot cards so well it’ll give you shivers!

And sometimes, it’s just funny/silly/ridiculous, like the time I had my tea leaves read and the person told me I’d marry a wealthy Italian and live abroad.  SNORK!!!  (My DH is about as English/American as you can get with a name like Adams, and DC is about as “abroad” as I want to live.  Hahahah!)

But all the spooky of storytelling – Go, Bandits! – and the fun of the cards (Check out my pal Ellen Dugan’s new Tarot Deck!!http://ellendugan.com/13.html ), and even the wonder of a psychic reading can’t be beat by a good bout of dress-up-and-pretend. Pimpernel

Really. 

What’s more fun that dressing up, for one night, and pretending to be someone else?  Famous books and movies are based on just this premise!  Think of Working GirlShakespeare in Love. Tootsie.  Trading Places.  Some Like it Hot.  Mulan.  Dave.  The Scarlet Pimpernel.  The Saint.  Mrs. Doubtfire.  Even the fabulous While You Were Sleeping is someone pretending to be something she’s not.  :>

I’ve always thought that a great day rummaging in the costume shop will give you a hell of an MULANinsight into who you REALLY are or want to be.  (However, if you ever want a psychic reading that will make you say HOLY WOW! BATMAN!, check out www.DonnaSpringGulick.com, the psychic for whom I used to work!) 

Seriously, SuperHeroes, don’t you think that all those cats and vampires, cops and robbers, Elvises and Elivras are keying in on something really true about who they/we are?  Cats are sleek and have their secrets.  Vampires are powerful, but often underrated or slip into the shadows to do their work.  Cops have their hero-powers, and robbers too.  Elvis is Out There and Elvira laughs at it all – the spooky, evil, silly or banal.  They’re a hallmark of who some of us want to be, if we could dress up for a day.

This year, my Eldest is Batman.  He’s my “white knight” son, as opposed to The Black Knight.  He’s theThe-Avengers-poster one who’ll step into a fight and break it up, or make a case for the underdog.  And like Bruce Wayne, he’s handsome and charming and abhors injustice.

My Youngest is Iron Man this year.  Did you see the movie The Avengers?  When taunted by Captain America as to what he is without the suit, Iron Man/Tony Stark replies, “Genius, Billionaire, Playboy, Philanthropist.”   Grins.  This pretty much sums up my youngest’s character.  While I doubt he’d ever go to the playboy excesses of the famous Tony Stark, he’s already a charming, smooth-talkin’ smarty-pants.  And he’d give you his allowance if he thought you needed the help. 

Yep.  Pretty accurate casting, and an interesting a self assessment.

In another “assessment,” I never wanted to dress up as a princess.  I never saw myself in that role.  A knight, yes.  A dragon? (Props to Ermingarde…)  Oh, hell yes!  A princess – as then-princesses were depicted?  Nope, not me.  I October 2013 pre halloween 107might do it now, given how gutsy today’s princesses are!  :>  But not then. 

Instead,  I wanted to be a Brilliant Sorceress, a Mystic Elf, Wonder Woman, a female Green Lantern, or Sheena-the-Jungle-Woman who had a bond with all the big cats.  Grins.  Bat-girl was too tamed down, but Cat Woman?  I’d’ve gone for her, even in her villany.  I’d’ve turned Middle Earth inside out to be a Girl-Gandalf, or a Female Rider of Rohan.   I also wanted to be the girl who rode National Velvet, or spunky Anne of Green Gables.  (And yes, that’s me, sans witch hat with my faboo co-hostess for the annual Adams Family Halloween fest!)

But that whole princess thing?  Nope.

Instead, I wanted to make magic. Break the spell.  Fight the good fight.  Be with the animals.  Adventure through the worlds and be proactive, positive and out there on the front of things.

Funny how being a storyteller is all that and more.  I’m living it all.   My choices of costumes agreed with all those Tarot Readings and psychic predictions.  I AM a storyteller.  I DO make magic.  And I have to October 2013 pre halloween 100laugh about the other bit too….in my house, you couldn’t be much more “ONE” with the animals!  Hahah!!  (Three dogs, three men…yeah, it’s Animal House all over again!) 

So what about you Bandits and Buddies?  Was there Prophecy in some of your early Halloween costume choices?  (I’m not talking the last-minute, pulled together hobo or gypsy, but the ones YOU chose, the costumes you made or saved for….)

Do you read Tarot Cards?  (Ellen’s deck now has an APP!!  WOW!!  There’s an App for that!!)  Or have you had yours read to good effect?

What other ways of future-forecasting have you heard of, believed in, or used?

What other movies can you think of where the hero or heroine goes in disguise, or pretends to be something/someone else?

Four Witches at HalloweenAnd the Veil is Thin Tonight….what handsome, hunky actor, living or now beyond the Veil, would you like to come trick or treating at YOUR house tonight?

Can’t wait for the answers!! (And comments on the picture of Jewelry Designer Joyce Tabor, Me, Author and Garden Witch, Ellen Dugan and Author Tess Whithurst!)

BUMP, THUMP! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

 

Yummy! Yummy! Yummy!

AnnaCookies2Are you a baker?

I’m not quite sure what it says about where my head is at the moment, but I seem to be on a baking jag. I’d say I’m nesting, but I can’t see why that would be the case!

Before I moved up to the Sunshine Coast, I lived in Sydney and I used to take in lots of stuff I cooked to share with the people I worked with. I was a very popular girl on those particular days! Over these last years, I seem to have got out of the habit.

Then somewhere in the last six months, I started baking again!

So far, it’s only a couple of old favorites so I think I need to extend my repertoire a little. But it’s so satisfying to stick some ingredients in a bowl, do a bit of mixing, do a bit of baking, and then voila, I have delicious morsels to share with friends.

CookiesMainly I make cookies – what we call biscuits down here. I tried cakes years ago but never had much luck. Maybe I should have another go. My mum was a fabulous cook and her sponge cakes could have floated away, they were so light. Her rich chocolate cake was a masterpiece of decadent eating pleasure!

Anyway, back to my current baking. Last weekend was no exception. There I was slaving over a hot stove on Saturday morning. I had a visitor coming for lunch and I was going to a get-together on Sunday night.

When I have to cater for lots of people, I do chocolate chip cookies as the recipe makes about 60 biscuits. Here’s a picture of the finished products. They were VERY well received. Pardon my boasting, but the host of the bigger party said they were the greatest cookies he’d ever had. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I’ve got to say they really turned out well this time. Weird how sometimes everything just comes together right when you cook!

 SwansThat’s another nice thing about being on a baking jag – people are DEFINITELY happy to see me arrive these days!

See what I mean about instant gratification?

And the house smells like heaven when I bake. I particularly love the smell of vanilla. I bet the Garden of Eden smelled of vanilla essence!

Anyway, going back to the chocolate chip cookie saga. It was a perfect day on Saturday and the black swans were on the lake at the bottom of my  garden. I had a lovely morning tea outside with a couple of warm cookies, a big cup of tea and a couple of curious swans to say hello.

They’re such elegant creatures, aren’t they? Always feel lucky when I see them – they’re not always around, although just at the moment we’ve got up to a dozen at one time.

sliceI think my most popular creation is my variation on the Women’s Weekly recipe for chocolate slice (don’t ask for it – it’s a sworn secret!). It’s VERY chocolatey and occasionally I’ll do it as Christmas presents. The hardest part (pun originally not intended!) is cutting it – one Christmas I ended up with calluses on my fingers from pushing the knife through the base!

I only realized when I put this picture up on Facebook that slice seems to be an Australian term.

Slice looks like brownies, but it’s a different texture – I think of brownies as more like a rich cake whereas this is a crunchy biscuit base with a rich chocolate fudge icing on top. Slices are very popular here so I was surprised when I had international people querying the term.

Anyway, you’ve now seen pictures of my regular productions – chocolate slice, cherry nut biscuits and the chocolate chip cookies. I’ve promised myself that next time I cook, it will be something I haven’t done before. A girl needs to keep fresh, yanno!

And hey, if you’re passing, call in for a cuppa and a cookie!

THH low resSpeaking of little morsels of (hopefully) deliciousness, don’t miss my Halloween special on my Regency Ghost Romance, THESE HAUNTED HEARTS. Two love stories, an ancient Chinese curse, a bit of nooky, a stately home, and lots of emotion.

For October only, THESE HAUNTED HEARTS is available at 99 cents.

Definitely a treat and no tricks involved! If you click on the cover, it will take you straight to the Amazon link. We like to make things easy for you here in the lair.

You can read an excerpt and the blurb here: http://annacampbell.info/hauntedhearts.html

So are you a baker? What’s your favorite recipe? Do you have any special memories tied up with baking?

BanditBootyBecause I can’t spirit you all across to my place in Australia for afternoon tea, I thought I’d give someone a nice bit of Halloween reading instead. One lucky commenter today wins a download of THESE HAUNTED HEARTS! Good luck!

If the Hat Fits

When I was a little girl, Halloween was my favorite holiday.

But…bottom line?  When I was a little girl, Halloween costumes were AWFUL.

Yes, that DOES deserve to be capitalized. 

Do you sense that there might be some leftover bitterness????

Ahem…witch blog ghosts

When I was a little girl, store-bought costumes were ridiculous plastic  affairs with poorly-painted-on details.  The only masks available were from the dime store, and that meant a thin piece of molded plastic, with eyes way too wide for any little kid, and a mouth hole the size of a sewing needle.

So…your mission, should you choose to accept it, was to go trick-or-treating around the neighborhood while wearing strange clothes that probably dragged the ground and were likely to make you trip, while you were able to see out of one eye MAYBE part of the time, as you dripped unnatural amounts of sweat because your skin had a plastic mask plastered against it,  all while you were forced to shove the bottom of the mask away from your face periodically in order to actually…you know…breathe.  And this last bit was at the risk of snapping the elastic that held your mask on.  The elastic was about as thick as sewing thread and was stapled haphazardly to the mask by one staple on each side.  This was, no doubt, accomplished by  an overworked person in some foreign country who could not possibly care less whether your Halloween experience was a good one or a nightmare.

Should you break said thread-like elastic–or pull it out of its ill-placed staples– you had to spend the entire night walking around holding your mask in place with one hand.

Seriously, what self-respecting Frankenstein has to hold his face on with one hand while spitting “Thwiiiit-O-Thweeeth” through the barely-there mouth slit and holding out the bag with the other hand?

So…you couldn’t see and you couldn’t breathe.  But by-golly you got candy.

And that’s what everwitch blog castleybody did.

And after the candy was dropped into your sack at each successive house, you said, “Thuuuumppppthuuuu!”  And then you ran for the car and your waiting parents.

Incidentally, that was “Thank you!” spoken through the needle-size slit in your mask, in case you were wondering.

Where I grew up it was a mile or two between houses, so everybody got driven around by the parents, and the code was as follows:

Porch light on—trick-or-treaters welcome.

Porch light off—stay away.

Everybody honored the code.  And for doing so, you got lucky.  Homemade treats at many houses.  Homemade fudge or pumkin bread or chocolate chip cookies with m&m pieces.

  My mom made homemade caramel apples and popcorn balls the size of your fist.  Each kid got one  apple and one popcorn ball.  The little lady down the road made Bourbon Balls, but that’s a whole nuther stWitches lily munsterory. Ahem….

Each Halloween went by and I did my best.  But I longed for something better.

Frankly, I didn’t give a rat’s ass about the candy.  I just wanted, for one night a year, to be somebody I wasn’t. A dream character.   A vampire.  A witch. An angel. Lily Munster.

This was my chance to act, and I wanted to BE that character.  With a capital B. E.

We won’t talk about the year I tried to use Vaseline and baby powder to make that white, skunk-like,  Lily-Munster stripe in my waist-length brown hair.  No, we won’t.

Moving on….

Each year when September rolled around, I started thinking about my costume for Halloween.  And once I got old enough to hawitch broomve an actual personality, given the rotten-sorry state of costumes where I lived, I started figuring out how to make my own.   Of course, this involved my mother and her sewing machine.

One year I decided I would be an angel.  Mom bought a few yards of cheap, white, quilt-lining fabric.  I took coat hangers out of the closet and bent them into grotesque approximations of wings.  We used tissue paper and Scotch tape and covered these rudimentary frames.  The wings attached to my arms via two coat-hanger-wire loops.  I threaded my arms through.  White robe.  Wire-and-tissue wings. Coat-hanger-and-tinsel halo. 

TA-DA!  

Angel.

I made it home with at least one wing intact.

Then there were the years when I wanted to be a witch.

A few yards of cheWitch blog wizard of ozap black fabric? 

Check.

A beat-up old broom?

Check.

A decent witches hat?

Fuhgedaboutit.

 

More bitterness….ahem…

The witch hats in the dime store–back then– were an eight-inch cardboard cone with a three-inch cardboard brim and the aforementioned thread-like plastic to hold it on your head.

There are no images available on Google to illustrate how bad these hats were.  Apparently even the most Halloween-deprived individual of the present day has  a better witch hat than anything that was available in my community at that time.witch hat spider cracker barrel

*smooshes bitter angst into dark corner of heart*

The thread-like plastic on the witch hats of my day was always too short for any child older than, oh…eight days… so by the end of the Halloween evening the erstwhile witch had a thin, reddened line running from one temple, down her cheek and around her chin, to the other temple.

Oh…and a bag full of candy.  Which I did not care about.

Let’s just say that for the budding drama queen who had seen the Wizard Of Oz at least five times by the time she was age seven—and the most awesome witch hats on display in said movie–these options were, at best, insulting.

Times have changed. 

Hallelujah.

Nowadays, if a witch wants to go out to a party to celebrate All Hallows Eve, the options are…well…frighteningly diverse.

witch hat Purple featherTwo years ago I was coming home from a work trip and Steve picked me up at the airport.  We have a routine.  When he picks me up from an evening flight, he knows I’ll be way too tired to fix food when I get home, so we stop a few miles north of the airport at Cracker Barrel.  That night there was a wait for a table, so I browsed through their Halloween displays.   And that’s where I found it.

I found the first had I’d ever seen that was worthy of a discerning Halloween witch.

I was not happy with the velvet spider attached to the hat, but I could live with it to get the black and red crushed-satin roses, black and blood-red feathers, and the  black  mesh veil attached to a wide brim with a black, crushed-velvet crown–the pointy part that says “witch” to anywitch hat I cut upone who matters.  That’s it up on the right.

So I put that hat on, and I was transformed.

The inner always-wanted-to-be-a-real-witch-at-Halloween-but-never-had-the-hat child overtook me. 

Our table was called, and I walked through Cracker Barrel wearing the awesome witch hat, complete with price tag dangling from the brim, ala Minnie Pearl. 

People stopped what they were doing.  They looked at me, wearing the hat.  

And they smiled.

Success.

Thus was born a monster..

Last year, for the first time in my life, I decided I should indulge my inner witch.  I bought two more hats.  One was what I lovingly refer to as the “Purple Feather Witch Hat” (up there on the left) and the other is the “Scrunch Black Pearl Feather Witch Hat”–which is on the right –the girl with the cleavage–but I cut all those mesh strips at odd angles to make them all ragged because that hat deserved so much more than blunt whacked-off mesh veil strips.

It’s okawitch hat zebray.  Other people have called me insane before. I won’t be hurt if you do.  Much.

There was one I did not buy last year, but I’ve actually dreamed about it several times.  It’s the Zebra Witch Hat.  I think the fact that I’ve dreamed about it probably means I should buy it.

Don’t you agree?

 

So anyway, I have three awesome witch hats, but I don’t actually attend any Halloween functions. 

All dressed up and no place to cast spells.

Oh and I’ve realized, much too late, that nobody makes BOXES to hold awesome witch hats. 

What’s a witch to do?

In the United States,  Halloween is the modern equivalent of  Samhain (incidentally that’s pronounced Sow-un.  Sow like a female pig, un like undone)– a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset October 31st – sunset November 1st.  This was changed by the Christians to All-Hollows Eve, the time when evil spirits walk the earth on the day before All Saints Day, November 1st.

So, Bandits and Buddies…

Is Halloween, Samhain, or All Hollows Eve celebrated where you live?  If not, is there a similar holiday to note the dark half of the year? 

Did you have a favorite Halloween costume when you were a kid?

Did you go trick-or-treating? Or where you live, is there another ritual associated with this time of year?

If you did trick-or-treat, what was your favorite candy or goody?

Do you ever go to Halloween parties now?  Do you wear costumes?

Is there a “code” in your neighborhood–like porch lights on or off means welcome or not?

What’s changed about Halloween from when you were a kid to now?

Do you still like Halloween, even as an adult?

Have you seen any good costumes show up on your front porch?

Or do you turn your lights off and wait for it to be over?

If it’s coming spring/summer where you are, what festivals mark the change of spring and fall seasons for you?

Darynda Jones and the Grim Reaper….

HAPPY HALLLLLOWEEEEN!!!

Hey everyone! Hope you’re having a wonderful All Hallow’s Eve! I know I usually talk about pumpkins and leaves and trickertreating and all that, but I thought I’d change it up a bit and invite The Grim Reaper. Bwahahahaha!

Actually, I’m inviting the wonderful DARYNDA JONES, and her fabulous character, Charley Davidson, AKA The Grim Reaper. Darynda started this journey with a Golden Heart win with FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, then once published hit the USA Today Bestsellers list, and the New York Times Bestsellers list, then won a Daphne du Maurier award and a Rita. Whew! Charley’s been BUSY!

In amongst that, she’s also written a YA called DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, which came out earlier this month. The fourth book in Charley’s saga came out YESTERDAY!!! Order it NOW on your Nook or Kindle! WOOT!

(And if I’m slow to comment, it’s probably because I’m reading FOURTH GRAVE UNDER MY FEET!  Of course it could also be because I have no power, thanks to Hurricane Sandy, but…I can still read!  Since Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys, she’s going to be here even if I can’t be!)

Darynda, WELCOME to the Bandit Lair!

Darynda: Thank you so much for having me!!!

Jeanne: So, first, tell us what got you started in this crazy writing game. Were you like some of the Banditas, writing since you were small? Or did you have one of those epiphanies: “I can DO this!”? Or something entirely different?

Darynda: The making-up-stories part came to me very early. I would pretend to write a story even before I could write, and the minute I learned how to, I started writing stories for real. I would write anything. I started with plays and poetry and advanced to short stories and news stories. If it could be written, I’d do it. But it wasn’t until I was in high school that I realized I wanted to BE a writer. I thought you had to be a stone genius or have a major addiction to even consider writing as a career. I was neither a genius nor an addict, but a friend convinced me I would write despite these drawbacks.

Jeanne: Okay, I’m snickering over the addiction bit. I guess you don’t mean an addiction to books! Hahaha! We love Call Stories in the Lair. In fact, we’d love to hear BOTH your call stories, for FIRST GRAVE and for DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR!

Darynda: Winning the Golden Heart helped move the sale along quite a bit. Within days of the win, my newly acquired and super savvy agent, Alexandra Machinist, had several requests. And about a week after she submitted First Grave, we had our first offer from Jennifer Enderlin of St. Martin’s Press for a three-book deal. But I didn’t know that because I was in a district-wide meeting.

I was working for the schools at the time as an interpreter, and this was our first day back. So after a few games of phone tag, Alexandra finally got a hold of me and asked if I was sitting down. The offer was amazing and I admit it, I cried. Then I’m pretty sure I slipped into a state of shock, one I stayed in for quite some time. My husband freaked out too. It was funny.

I still had meetings all that first day and I could barely sit through them. It was quite torturous really. And don’t even ask how I slept that night! By the next morning we had a couple more offers, and just before it went to auction, Jennifer swept in with an amazing preempt we couldn’t turn down. Jennifer called me that afternoon so we could meet “voice to voice”. She was so wonderful. I am so amazingly blessed to be working with her. We are currently on our 7th book together, and I am more convinced she is a genius with each one. Both Alexandra and Jennifer are incredible.

As for the call story for Death and the Girl Next Door, again, I was shocked. Jennifer wanted it too! How lucky can one girl be, honestly?

Jeanne: That’s outstanding! I’m a big fan of Jennifer’s, having worked with her on the Washington Romance Writer’s Retreat for a number of years. And St. Martin’s is a wonderful house to publish with! But, with your success with Charley, what made you turn to YA? Or did you already have the YA written when Charley hit big?

Darynda: You guessed it! I already had the YA written. I wrote it years before FIRST GRAVE, but believing it would never sell, I stole a lot of the elements out of it to put in the Charley Davidson series. So I had to rewrite the whole story with an all-new underlying foundation, and believe me, that is FAR easier to say than do. Never again. LOL

Jeanne: *wince* Yep, I’ve “been there done that” so I can empathize. Ouch. Now, for what I really want to know…How did you dream up the absolutely sexy, delicious character of Reyes?

Darynda: Thank you! I’m fond of him, too. Basically, I just wanted a mix of power and bad boy, and who better to carry out that responsibility than the son of evil incarnate? I wanted my hero to be just a TAD more powerful than my heroine. For now, at least. And I wracked my brain trying to come up with a being that would fit in my paranormal world and be able to give Charley a run for her money. I think he does a splendid job! And being the son of the most beautiful angel ever to grace the clouds of heaven? He had to be gorgeous. How could he not be?

Jeanne: *Dreamy sigh* Uh, absolutely. *wipes drool off chin* Sorry. Got lost there for a minute. :> And to completely change the subject so I don’t get any more hot and bothered over Reyes, what does Charley think of Halloween?

Darynda: I asked Charley she said (and I quote), “Halloween is great! I mean, it’s orange! How can any unrecognized holiday that is orange not be great?” In her defense, she does have an attention problem that affects her view of the world.

Jeanne: And what about Reyes? What does HE think about Halloween?

Darynda: Okay, it took a while to track him down (and then I had to stop and stare a bit), but he said Halloween is no different than any other day of the year except for the fact that Charley dresses all sexy sometimes. So that makes it A-OK in his book.

Jeanne: Well there you go! He maybe atypical in some ways, but that is just a typical “GUY” response!  Ha!  Nevertheless, two YES votes for Halloween! Huzzah!   And since we’re on the subject of the spooky and sexy, you must tell us about Lorelei, Jared and Cameron from DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR!  Where did this story “come from”?

Darynda: Their story just kind of hit me one day while I was working at the high school in my hometown. I thought how fun it would be to take a bunch of kids and force them to face impossible odds. You know, like a supernatural war on Earth that only they can stop. Fun times, let me tell ya! And the trilogy was born.

Jeanne: Would you like to share an excerpt? Set it up for us…

Darynda: I would love to share an excerpt from Death and the Girl Next Door. This is where our heroine, Lorelei, first meets our hero who is going by the name Jared.

EXCERPT

I scanned the distance back to see if Mr. Davis was still standing watch. Instead, I found Cameron Lusk. He hadn’t gone to class. I could see him through the plate-glass windows that lined the front of Riley High. He stood leaning against the building, looking directly at me, a strange expression I couldn’t decipher shadowing his face.

I offered my own glare, completely perplexed. The guy had never shown the slightest bit of interest in me. Then, out of nowhere, I couldn’t turn around without finding him waiting for me, watching, like he was mentally calculating how long it would take to strangle the life out of my body. A cold chill shimmied down my spine with the thought.

And worse, I didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t want to alarm my grandparents. They had enough to worry about. The anniversary of my parents’ disappearance always put them in a strange state, as it did me. I didn’t want to call the police. Naturally, they would have to tell my grandparents. And I was nowhere near moronic enough to pretend I could take him. Boys, no matter how lanky, were generally strong.

“I’m stronger.”

I jumped at the sound of a male voice behind me and whirled around to slam face- first into a brick wall. My notebook flew out of my arms, launching a ticker tape parade of science notes into the air. They floated down to land in whispery chaos on the ground.

For a second I just stood there in shock until humiliation took hold and surged through me with a fiery vengeance. I could feel my cheeks heating as I looked up. And up. Into the eyes of the offending wall.

I stilled.

It was the new guy. And his eyes were amazing. Dark, steady, penetrating. Penetrating?

“Are you okay?” he asked.

Where’d penetrating come from? I felt my cheeks grow even hotter. “Of course,” I said, glancing down to hide my face and my bruised pride. I tucked a curl behind an ear and bent to gather my notes.

Supernova knelt to help me.

“You don’t need to do that,” I said, even more embarrassed as he scooped up my messy notes before I could get to them. Honestly, why couldn’t I at least try to write neatly?

“I don’t mind,” he said, lifting the drawing I’d done that morning.

I snatched it out of his hand before he could get a good look. He glanced at me but not in surprise at what I’d done. More like curiosity. His dark gaze was startlingly intense. The contrast of molasses- colored eyes and hair made his flawless skin appear almost translucent. The effect was haunting.

I forced my thoughts back to the present. “I’m Lorelei,” I managed at last.

He hesitated as he had with Mr. Davis. After a quick glance over his shoulder, he stood and offered his hand. “I’m Jared.” I almost looked at the poster again. Instead, I shut my eyes as a slow dawning crept over me. I recognized his face. I’d drawn it that very morning. I’d been dwelling on it for three days. It was him. The boy. Only the puzzle was complete, and what a puzzle it was.

Jeanne: WOW, that’s outstanding! Love it! And can’t wait to finish FOURTH GRAVE and start on DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. (It’s my treat for finishing edits!)

Darynda: Thank you! And I’m convinced rewards like that are essential. Edits are hard!

Jeanne: They are hard, but they do make the book better so I’m slogging through. Ha! Now that I’ve plied you with endless questions, do you have one you’d like to ask our Bandita Buddies and Banditas?

Darynda:  I do! Here’s my question for the Bandits and your readers. If you met Death in any shape or fashion, and he wasn’t there for YOU, what would you ask?

Jeanne:  GREAT question!  Okay, Banditas and Buddies, have at it.  BTW, Darynda is giving away a copy of DEATH AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR and FOURTH GRAVE UNDER MY FEET – one to a commenter today, and one will be in the Members Only prize package in November!

(Photos are from my own collection, courtesy of Darynda Jones, Wikimedia Commons and Pinterest Free)

Fall Decor….Romance Bandits Style!

It’s Fall.  Hallelujah! 

I thought this stinkin’ hot summer would NEVER end!  Now comes my absolute favorite time of year: AUTUMN!!!  WHEEEEE!!!!

Time for pumpkins, football, sweatshirts, firepits, football, tailgating, potpie and fall foods, getting out the crockpot, chili, football….did I mention football?  OH!  Sorry, guess I mentioned it several times.  Grins.  Oh, and my all-time-favorite….HALLOWEEEN!!!!

Yes, I bought my first Halloween decoration of the year in August.  Go me!  Hahah!  One of the reasons I love fall, other than Halloween and relief from the aforementioned stinkin’ heat, is the food.  I love to eat.  It’s a wonder I don’t weigh as much as  John Deere tractor, but thankfully my metabolism is good.  (Thanks, Mom!) 

 Anyway, I don’t cook a lot in the summer.  The way my house is arranged, the heat just hangs in the kitchen.  Now that’s great on a cold winter day, on a hot summer one, not so much.  So…my point?  Oh, yes, I start cooking again, for real, in the Fall. 

DC had one of the hottest summers on record.  You can guess what that means….very little cooking in my kitchen!  My sons and husband have, by this time, nearly forgotten that I CAN cook since this year I began my heat-induced sabbatical around Flag Day. (June 14, in case you were wondering.) 

So, believe it or not, the Lair kitchen has the same problem – hot as seven hells if you fire up that stove in the summer.  Sven hides it better than I do, and he still manages to make snacks and delicious hors d’oevres for parties and Launch days, but MAN that kitchen gets hot.  Like me, Sven gets a lot happier when the weather starts to get cool.  He’s also a lot less cranky, and will let us start doing some decorating around the place instead of complaining about what he has to dust.

Just last night, I sneaked some spiderweb cloth and giant spiders into the armory and set them up so that they brush your arm when you open the door.  Scared Martin, one of the gladiators, white as a sheet!  HAHAHAH!!!  I’m planning to start the pumpkin trees here shortly when Ermingarde goes to sleep.  Y’see, Ermingarde likes to EAT pumpkins.  She’ll leave them alone once they’re Jack-o-Lanterns, but until then?  Dragon hor d’oevres!  Sven, Paolo and I have been working as fast as we can to get some carving done!

Now, that brings me back to football….no, sorry, to cooking!  Ha!  I have a lot of favorite fall and winter dishes that can now come out of hiding and grace the table once again.  Guiness Beef Brisket.  Chicken Pot Pie.  Sweet Potatoes and Pork in the crock pot.   Chicken Tetrazini.  Seriously meaty chili.  And speaking of pumpkin, Bandita Susan told me that if you put pumpkin on chili, it’s awesome.  Have you tried this?  I must try this, and SOON.

I could go on, but I”m getting really hungry.   :>

On the decorating front, I’m dividing my time between the Lair and my house, because I always host a Halloween party.  C’mon, now, you don’t think I’d miss an opportunity to have an Adams Family Halloween party, do you?  Bwahahahah!  Oh, and this year, I snagged the Grim Reaper to keep me company ON Halloween.  Really.  I did.  Darynda Jones is going to bring Charley Davidson, AKA The Grim Reaper, over to the blog on October 31st  

How’s that for a SCORE! on Halloween?  Sweeeeeeeet!

Okay, so I do have the decorating started, as  I mentioned.  The  Jack-o-Lantern wreath is already up on the door at my house, and the one with the skulls, bones and feathers is up on the massive front door of the Lair.  I’ve hauled out the ghoulies and ghosties and goblins and witches and things that go bump in the night at my house, and they will begin to take their places around the varous rooms here in the next few days in anticipation of the big party and such an exalted Halloween guest. 

(My party will be a few days before – can’t interfere with Trick-or-Treat! – but you can bet my ghouls will be tuned in for Charley’s – and Darynda’s! – visit.)

Thankfully, this year, Halloween is on a Wednesday night and doesn’t conflict with the partying.  Also, I won’t miss any football!  Be sure to tune in.  But in the meantime, I have some things I need help with.

What great fall meal should I fix for the Grim Reaper?  Charley’s very nice, but if she brings an entourage (not her style, but hey, I like to plan for any contingency!  Those bikers, from Third Grave Dead Ahead, for instance, would eat a LOT!) I’ll need a hearty meal.

Next, what are some cool, spooky, scary Halloween decorations you’ve seen?  I always like to pick up a few new things every year.  I always get one more witch for my collection, and usually one other thing.  As I mentioned, I got my first thing in August – and yes, it was a thing.  bwahahaha!

Every year, my Halloween party has a theme.  This year, it’s Witches And Wizards: Spells Gone Awry.   I cannot WAIT to see what some of my clever, creative and/or twisted friends come up with for this.  Some will just plunk on a wizard hat and be done with it.  Others…well…you can only imagine the lengths to which they will go!  Someone’s already mentioned splinching.  Ha!

So….what would be some good themes for next year?  We’ve already had the suggestion of Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves.  Give me some other cool ideas!!

In the meantime, the Bears  trounced the Cowboys on Monday Night Football, and it’s almost the weekend so I can look forward to MORE football.  I’ve got the makings for pot pie, and chili, and time to decorate.  Let’s talk food, and fascinating pumpkins, and football…..or rugby, or cricket, or….FOOOTBALLLLLL!

Let’s talk PARTY!!

A Halloween Quiz

by Beth

Yes, I’m making you all work today – it’s Pop Quiz time! I thought it would be fun to do a little Halloween Quiz since we love Trick-Or-Treat time around in the lair *g*

Let’s get started!

1. What was your favorite/best Halloween costume?

2. What was your worst Halloween costume?

3. How old were you the last time you went Trick-Or-Treating?

4. What’s your favorite Halloween treat?

5. What was the worst “Treat” you ever got at Halloween?

6. Did you ever play a “Trick” on anyone?

7. Painted pumpkins or carved pumpkins?

8. Happy Jack O’ Lanterns or scary ones?

9. Favorite scary movie?

10. Have you ever eaten the candy you bought for Trick-Or-Treaters only to eat it before Halloween and have to go out and buy more? (Be honest! You’re among friends here *g*)

Can’t wait to read all your answers! 

Today’s treat is a bundle of books including any two books from my back-list, a signed copy of THE TEXAN’S BRIDE by Linda Warren, signed copy of SURRENDER OF A LADY by Tiffany Clare (she’s also donating a second copy to one of our Halloween prizes!) and a signed copy of DANGEROUS TO HER by Virna di Paul!

A second commenter will win today’s “Trick” and be entered in a special drawing to be held on Halloween! 

Don’t forget to sign up for our Newsletter to be entered into the drawing for a Kindle! To make sure you’re entered in the drawing, join our Members Den and then be sure to respond to the newsletter confirmation (sent to the email addy you used to join the Member Den).

Ghouls Just Wanna Have Fun

by Susan Sey

I know it isn’t Halloween just yet but it’s the Friday before, which means it’s officially time to party like the undead.

Now if you’re a kid this means the Weekend of Free Candy is upon you. Get out there & shake down the neighborhood, kiddoes!

A word of advice, though? If you can shave, drive a car or appreciate an ironic costume, you’re too old to trick or treat. Same goes if you either a) want to go as a Naughty Nurse or b) have what it takes to fill out the costume. Time to move on, ‘kay? Hand out candy at home, or get out there & TP the cranky neighbors. (Yes, I know I’m asking for it, but seriously, I’d rather get TP’ed than stare down the six foot tall college freshman at my door wearing a t-shirt that says, “This IS my costume.”)

But I don’t want to talk about kids & costumes. Today I want to talk about grown ups. Because grown ups have totally co-opted this holiday.

I’m not whining. Certainly not. I love Halloween. I met my husband at his annual Halloween bash. (He used to turn his entire basement into a haunted house every year. Then we had kids who lose sleep over movies like UP–“The talking dogs were BAD!”– & that nonsense had to end.)

For us these days Halloween is all about dressing up our little princesses & carving smiley faces into pumpkins but one day…

…one day I want to do the Zombie Pub Crawl.

I want to dress up like the undead, parade all over town & drink like my liver really has kicked it. I can’t explain this fascination with zombies. I don’t normally enjoy dead things, or movies about dead things. Or movies where people make previously alive things dead.

But I thought Shaun of the Dead was one of the funniest movies I’d ever seen.

This shocked the heck out of my husband who, if he wants me to watch a scary movie, has to promise to walk me to the bathroom at any hour of the day or night, and take charge of any household chore which involves going into the basement after dark.

And Zombie Land! Oh! Comic genius! This is a movie in which Woody Harrelson (so often underestimated as an actor) watches a female zombie chowing down on some poor guy and remarks offhandedly, “There’s a lady who likes her Manwich.”

I cried laughing. I still chuckle every time I walk past the cans of Manwich in the grocery store.

Based on this, I feel confident it would give me no end of enjoyment to get dressed up in raggedy clothes and stagger through the streets of St. Paul in search of brains (by which I mean beer) this weekend.

How about you? What are you doing this weekend to celebrate? Are you celebrating kid- or adult-style? Any traditions? Let hear ’em!

Halloween Yumminess

by Tawny

I know, I know, Halloween is really more Jeanne’s province. But we’re
building our haunted mansion this week (cardboard, scrapbook paper, glitter and flocked bats – oh my!) and it got me thinking about the upcoming holiday and all the ensuing fun.

It also got me thinking that, despite my best intentions, every year I’m scrambling the last week to get organized and prepared. We’re hitting the grocery store the week before the holiday, grabbing whatever Halloween=ish ingredients we can. I recall one year, I was up until 1am making witch hats for the annual party while trying to get that stupid iced-up rubber glove for the punch bowl to quit leaking in my freezer. It’s similar to the pre-Thanksgiving craziness of making individual mini pumpkin place settings, or the pre-Christmas ‘have to have a gingerbread house’ race on the 23rd. Or the list of wonderful friends I want to send those handmade cards I never get made.

In other words, I’m an overachieving procrastinator. I’m incapable of letting the holiday’s go with just a celebratory nod, but never quite get my act together early enough to do justice to all my plans.

But this year!!! Oh yeah, this year I’m gonna rock. I’m even taking a workshop that combines crafting and scrapbooking with organizing. I have lists, I have plans, I have many options for distracting myself on the way to achieving those lists and plans. I’ve even bought my first Christmas gift (jammies for my girls).

But before I jump forward that far, I have Halloween to attack… I mean, enjoy. In addition to completing our holiday mansion in a timely manner, we’re creating a costume. I wear my witches garb every year, and my oldest doesn’t dress up any longer (pout) but my youngest is going on safari, complete with a whole host of stuff wild animals 🙂 And I’m definitely making my very favorite fall treats – caramel apples!

So how about you? Are you holiday organized or joining my procrastinators club? Do you dress up for Halloween yourself? And whats your favorite Halloween treat?

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