Showing posts with label Halloween. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Halloween. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Take a Break, Write a Short Story

Happy Halloween! Photo by Linda Wilson
Taking regular breaks from your WIPs to write short stories and articles can be a great enhancement in many ways. First, it's fun and exhilarating. It takes less time than long-term projects. It's a great way to sharpen your skills. And publication can be a teensy bit faster than book pubbing. The benefits of writing articles, in the words of a nonfiction writer, name unfortunately lost to me now but her words never forgotten: you become an "expert" on a topic then get to move on. And short stories? Research is just as important, of course, but birth to submission can run in the fast-er lane: oh joy, fewer words, quicker results.

Birth of an Idea
This year once October 1st rolled around, I got the itch while grocery shopping to browse the neat, fully-stocked, yet as yet untouched Halloween section at our local super store. With notes in mind that I keep in my back pocket (files) at home, of clever costumes and fun activities from years past, I suddenly hungered for a fresh, new trend.

Here is a short list of what I found:
Tear-away masks: a scary partial mask that can be torn off to reveal an even scarier inner mask
Giant mad baby mask
White skull mask
Maniac's skull mask
Undertaker mask
Ghost face mask
Zombie gas mask
Hockey mask
Creepy clown mask
Spider mask
Skeleton mask
Mullet wig
Raggae wig
Hooded death helmet
Frightful accessories:
Zombie blood
Vampire make-up kit
Snake eyes
Cyborg make-up
Neon zebra
Skin suits
Inflatable steer; inflatable shark to wear as a shirt

But wait, Something's Missing
Particularly intriguing were the skin suits. You know the kind: the plastic tuxedo, black, red and blue skin-tight suits that incredibly, cover the entire body, head included, which can turn any ordinary soul into a pseudo-ninja with elusive precision. Haunted by visions of faceless skin-suited trick-or-treaters knocking on my door, I finished my shopping trip and hurried home.

Back in the safety of my office that I pretended even skin-suits couldn't penetrate, I sorely missed one of my all-time All-Hallow-Eve favorites: mummies. I'd been to Egypt, seen real mummies in their native land way before anyone thought to show off their stuff on road trips to museums around the world. So I asked myself, where were the mummy costumes? Hidden underneath the skin-suits?

Story Starts to Form but Wait, there's More
While skin-suits and mummies stalked around in my head, I hadn't yet explored the Internet for more ideas. See if a story-starter doesn't pop up in your mind while you browse this list, found by a Google search in under a minute:

Hooded huntress with bow & arrow                    The Mad Hatter
Robin Hood                                                          Purple Jester
Flirty Flapper                                                       Pirate Captain
Cave Girl                                                             Mime Girls
Egyptian Princess                                                Crystal Ball Gypsy
Jewel of the Nile                                                  Polar Princess
Cleopatra                                                             Blue Peacock
Forest Bandit                                                       Honey Bee

Give yourself a Timetable
Now it's time to narrow down and choose the spark that can turn your research into a full-blown story. For now, I'm content playing around with the possibilities brought by skin-suits and mummies. With so many choices, you could almost close your eyes and point to any one of the costume ideas and see where your imagination takes you. Once an idea jumps out at you, give yourself a month to write, edit and put away your story. November 1st while you look into a holiday story, revisit your Halloween story, take it to your writer's group, polish it and submit it.

Anytime you need a break from your bigger projects try writing a short story or article. Submit ahead nine months or more, if possible, to give your magazine choice the time it needs to publish your story for the next seasonal go-around. You will go back to your other projects refreshed and safe in the knowledge that your story soldiers are out there working to give you shorter-term rewards for all your hard-earned efforts, while keeping your sites set on the big picture.

Coming soon: Great advice and words of wisdom from writer, editor and teacher Joyce Sweeney

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, recently completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction and picture book courses. Spooked by a recent move, once settled she will forge ahead with big writing plans and resume work on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Up to my Eyeballs with Eyeball.

By Kevin McNamee

Fall is here and Halloween is on its way.  So now is a perfect time for me to talk about a poetry collection I’m involved with titled, An Eyeball in My Garden: And Other Spine-Tingling Poems .  I have been very busy promoting this collection recently, since it is a seasonal book.

This poetry collection was put together by me and thirteen other terrifyingly talented poets. It contains everything from the humorous, to the creepy, to the absolutely sinister, this collection is designed to tickle your funny bone and then perhaps, gnaw right through it.

So before the trick or treaters arrive, you may want to introduce yourself to some ghoulish delights like the monster in Winking Wot Warning, or to try a dish off the Mummy’s Menu, or to really find out Where Nightmares Dwell, if you dare.  You’ll be glad you did.

Please visit An Eyeball In My Garden website for Halloween craft ideas, fun and spooky interviews, and cats wrapped in tin foil.

What Others are Saying

Horn Book (Spring 2011): "This compilation of new poems covers scary as well as silly Halloween territory. For every truly chilling ghost train, there's a witch's shopping list or a monster that turns out to be the speaker's own reflection. Easily flowing meter in most of the pieces makes for smooth read-alouds. Black-and-white ink illustrations are appropriately spooky."

Publishers Weekly August 9, 2010- Gr 4-7— Readers should be prepared to shiver and shake through these 44 poems about ghosts, gargoyles, and more. Olander adorns each page with ominous ink images of spiders, monsters, and other terrors, while the verses temper horror (Craig W. Steele’s “Where Nightmares Dwell”: “I know too well/ What creatures lurk/ Where nightmares live and grow.../ The shadows found me years ago!”) with humor (Stella Michel’s “Mummy’s Menu” includes “Blackened pudding filled with flies,/ Crispy scarab beetle pies”). Whether it’s Halloween or not, this creepy collection will please readers with a taste for the supernatural.

This book is available from Marshall Cavendish,, Barnes & Noble, or ask your local book store. 

Be sure to check out my poems, Our Neighborhood and The Gargoyle

Kevin McNamee is a writer and poet living in Yonkers, N.Y.  He is the author of several children’s books and is a contributing author to this poetry collection.

To find out more about Kevin, please visit his website at or his blog at

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