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Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

HallowRead 2014 Poster Many of us have been to “Haunted Houses” at fairs, carnivals or Disney World. For those of you who like Disney’s Haunted Manison, here’s a link to some cool facts about the ride.

And here’s a link to a few real haunted houses.

Better yet, visit this year’s HallowRead and visit some haunts on the ghost tour. I’ll be there on Sat., Oct. 25th on panels, etc.

I couldn’t resist adding a bit of haunt to the home at the center of “Bells,” the final story in Owl Light, my collection of dark speculative stories. In truth, some of the haunted bits included in the tale are taken from my personal experiences. Here’s the beginning of “Bells” for your reading pleasure:

Bells

‘The hundred and fifty-year-old Crosby family farmhouse on the corner of Park and Millstone Streets was cluttered with the dead. What should have been gray-toned or sepia photos of Melinda’s ancestors peered from shelves, tabletops, curio cabinets, and almost every available inch of wall space. But the pictures of the deceased had not been left in their original neutral tones — in an attempt to add life to the images, her Great-Aunt Vivian had garishly tinted the people’s faces, clothing, and surroundings with photographic oil paints. But by blessing men, women, and children with red lips, rosy cheeks, and brilliant irises, Aunt Viv had given everyone in the pictures the same unnatural appearance that was found on corpses at an open-casket viewing.

The room in the house on the corner of Park and Millstone where Melinda always stayed when she came to visit, had belonged to Aunt Vivian’s mother, Isabelle Worthington. Mel glanced at her Great-Grandmother Belle’s augmented photo on the marble dresser top. She shuddered. If she braided her waist-length coppery hair and pinned it to the top of her head in a bun, Mel would have been a dead-ringer for the long-gone Isabelle.

She touched the elaborately filigreed frame. Mel could almost hear her great aunt promising in her most wishful voice, “The dead are only separated from us by the sheerest gauze.”

Mel pressed her lips together, lifted her gaze from her great-grandmother’s picture, leaned forward, and checked her mascara for smudging in the wavy glass mirror. Standing behind her and just to the left, Mel thought she glimpsed the blurred image of Isabelle Worthington. She gasped, turned around. There was no one there but the bed draped in a shooting star quilt made by Belle, golden oak furniture laden with Belle’s carefully preserved belongings, the ever-present photographs, and a profusion of evergreen branchlets tucked here and there around the room.

Melinda stepped over to the window, watched the snowflakes sail down to the sea of white that covered the lawn, the sidewalks, and the cemetery across the street. Considering the weather, it was lucky most of her mother’s family still resided in the same town where their parents and their parents’ parents had lived, died, and were buried. Other than Mel and her sister and parents, everyone coming tonight for Christmas dinner could walk home if need be. She pulled the lace curtains together as far as possible trying to shut out the wintry scene below. But there was a bundle of greens tied together with red ribbon and bells dangling from the center of the rod, so not only didn’t the curtains close all the way, but her effort at privacy set off a metallic jingling.

 small owl light Shaking her head, Mel crossed the room to the bed, closed her suitcase, then strolled into the hallway. After a quick turn to the right, she descended the winding stairs to the main floor. The ghosts seemed to press less closely there, or so she thought, until a chill brushed past her on its way downstairs…’

Like what you’re reading? You can check out Owl Light and my other books on Amazon.

Last, but certainly not least, an update to yesterday’s Zombie post for you Walking Dead fans — I found a link to a zombie-proof cabin.which just might get you through the Zombie Apocalypse.

Only a few more days til HallowRead, then less than a week until Halloween — it’s my favorite time of the year!

 

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Well, shiver me timbers! Once again, September 19th has arrived, and it’s time to celebrate the roguishly fun Talk Like a Pirate Day. The official website offers a new sing-along this year in addition to their usual pirate fare: http://talklikeapirate.com For those of a more delicate disposition, might I suggest viewing the options listed for kids after you enter the site.

Why such interest in pirates? Nowadays, we have Johnny Depp and Disney’s Captain Jack Sparrow to thank for renewed interest in these scallywags of the seas – but long before the films arrived in theaters, pirates had captured our imaginations. William Kidd, Black Bart, Henry Morgan, Blackbeard, and others seemed to live a life filled with swashbuckling escapades. They sailed to exotic lands, captured treasures, drank a lot of rum, and had romantic encounters with beautiful women.

And speaking of women, there were a few ladies who cast aside their frilly gowns, dressed in male garb, and pursued the life of a sailor. In the 17th and 18th century, there are records of female pirate captains including Charlotte de Berry, Mary Read, and Anne Bonny. But like their male counterparts, their life of adventure ended badly.

 After a shipwreck, Charlotte’s husband lost the “drawing of straws” selection process, and was eaten by his starving shipmates. Once they were rescued, Charlotte chose to join her dead husband, and jumped from the ship into the sea. Mary Read and Anne Bonny were eventually captured, tried as pirates, and sentenced to hang. They avoided the noose by claiming they were pregnant. Mary died in prison. As for Anne Bonny – she vanished. The romantic in me likes to believe a guard fell in love with her and let her escape, or another pirate was so smitten with her independent nature that he risked all to set her free.

And who can forget Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island? As a teen, I read the novel and saw the movie. The book introduced me (and many other young readers) to: “Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest…” (Chapt.1) and “Pieces of eight!” shouted out by Long John Silver’s parrot, Captain Flint (Chapt. 27). The beauty and wildness of the exotic locales visited by pirates was aptly captured by Stevenson, especially in this bit from Chapter 27: “Suddenly a kind of brightness fell upon me. I looked up; a pale glimmer of moonbeams had alighted on the summit of the Spy-glass, and soon after I saw something broad and silvery moving low down behind the trees, and knew the moon had risen.”

But it was the ambiguity of Long John Silver that I liked best in Treasure Island. (Writers take note!) Despicable and likeable, he was the forerunner of Captain Jack Sparrow and his comrades. Robert Louis Stevenson introduced his readers to a most complicated character. And like the charming and deadly, Long John Silver, pirates are to be scorned and envied:

“’John Silver,’ he said, ‘you’re a prodigious villain and imposter – a monstrous imposter, sir. I am told I am not to prosecute you. Well, then, I will not. But the dead men, sir, hang around your neck like mill-stones.’

‘Thank you kindly, sir,’ replied Long John…” (Chapter 33)

The words most often associated with these privateers gone wild: independent, romantic, freedom, and adventure – are, I think, the reason we find the pirate life so appealing. Most of us value freedom and independence. Many of us crave adventure – though more tame than battling opposing pirates with knives, axes, pistols, cannons, and machetes. Lots of us daydream about the romantic life at sea – minus, of course, the scurvy, worm-ridden food, appalling living conditions, and violence.

But let’s set aside the reality of trials and hangings, torture and peg legs, and poor hygiene in the extreme – at least for one day a year, we can shout “Aarrgh!” for no reason. We can relax the  workaday-world seriousness, and greet our office mates with an “Ahoy, mateys” rather than the usual “Good morning.” And we can thumb through a copy of Treasure Island dreaming of adventure.

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