eldritchhobbit: (Pumpkin face)

This month is the annual Star Wars Reads celebration. Star Wars Reads combines the love of a galaxy far, far away and the joy of reading.

Star Wars Reads 2017 Printable Activity Kit: Plan your own Star Wars event with this amazing party kit, complete with party invitations and activities for kids to adults.

Activity Kit PDF

Star Wars Reads Posters: Decorate with a downloadable Rey and BB-8 poster – in two sizes!

Poster A: PDF | JPEG
Poster B: PDF | JPEG

There will be events around the world sponsored by Star Wars publishers, so keep your eye on the Star Wars Reads Facebook page for more information.


Is Star Wars relevant to Halloween? Of course it is!!!

1. Check out the General Grievous Halloween audiocast! This was an audiocast recorded by Matthew Wood as General Grievous and released on StarWars.com for Halloween of 2005. It was re-released on October 31, 2014. Today you (or your trick-or-treaters) can feel the Force of fright! Download this free audiocast to bring Star Wars scares to your October!

2. Did you know that Halloween was part of the classic Star Wars Expanded Universe?
According to Wookiepedia,

Halloween, or Hallowe'en, was a festival held in certain locations in the galaxy, including the Jedi Temple on the planet Coruscant and the settlement of Bright Tree Village on the Forest Moon of Endor. For the Jedi, the festival entailed decorating the temple with carved pumpkins and cobwebs. For the Ewoks of Endor, the festival was an annual highlight characterized by revelry, costuming, laughter, and a large feast. During the Halloween of 3 ABY, a predatory creature known as a hanadak attacked Bright Tree Village but was coaxed into leaving when Wicket W. Warrick and other Ewoks placed pacifying blue dlock leaves upon it. Later during that same Halloween, a band of Duloks kidnapped the Ewoks’ leader, Chief Chirpa, but Warrick and his friends Teebo and Kneesaa rescued the chief and allowed the Halloween festivities to continue.

Read more details about the specific appearances of Halloween in Star Wars comics, video games, and related books here at Wookiepedia!

3. Check out my current favorite Star Wars Halloween fan art: A Rogue One Halloween by @plays-with-shadows here.

eldritchhobbit: (Pumpkin face)

For years I have admired the beautiful, atmospheric, and often spooky photography of Lizzie~Belle. 

This past summer she documented the incredible headstones at the South Burying Place in Concord, Massachusetts. Check out her entire album of photos from the cemetery here.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the series.


Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day. … The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” - Seneca

At a Roman triumph, the majority of the public would have their eyes glued to the victorious general at the front—one of the most coveted spots during Roman times. Only a few would notice the aide in the back, right behind the commander, whispering into his ear, “Remember, thou art mortal.” What a reminder to hear at the peak of glory and victory!

… Such reminders and exercises take part of Memento Mori—the ancient practice of reflection on mortality that goes back to Socrates, who said that the proper practice of philosophy is “about nothing else but dying and being dead.” In early Buddhist texts, a prominent term is maraṇasati, which translates as ‘remember death.’ Some Sufis have been called the “people of the graves,” because of their practice of frequenting graveyards to ponder on death and one’s mortality.

Throughout history, Memento Mori reminders have come in many forms. Some, like the aide behind the general, were there to humble. Others were invented to inspire zest for life.

- from “’Memento Mori’: The Reminder We All Desperately Need” at The Daily Stoic

eldritchhobbit: (Pumpkin face)
R.I.P., Tom Petty. I’ve been a fan of his music for more than thirty years and in every incarnation: when he was solo, with the Heartbreakers, one of the Traveling Wilburys, in Mudcrutch, etc. His death came unexpectedly and much too soon. I am holding my metaphorical lighter high in the not-so-metaphorical darkness.

It feels right to make a tribute post part of the Halloween Countdown. One of my favorite songs performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers yielded a music video that creeped out some of my fellow fourteen-year-olds with its twisted, macabre take on Alice in Wonderland imagery. I loved it in 1985, and I still love it now. (Then again, I don’t scare easy.)

I’m declaring this video Halloween worthy.

I’d like to think there’s an empty car somewhere on a ghostly train traversing the countryside, and in it Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr. is having an epic jam session with Lefty and Nelson.

And it’s all right; they’re going to the end of the line.
eldritchhobbit: (Pumpkin face)
Today for the Halloween Countdown I want to share the best ghost story I've read in ages. I had the honor of including "If a Bird Can Be a Ghost" by Allison Mills in the August 2017 issue of Apex Magazine (a "Celebration of Indigenous Fantasists"), which I guest edited. If you haven't read this story, you're in for a treat. If you have read it, then read it again! I can tell you from personal experience that it rewards multiple readings.

Here's a brief taste:

If Shelly’s mother had been home, she wouldn’t have let her go to the river. Grandma walks up and down the bank a few times, holding Shelly’s hand, the cops trailing after them, and Grandma lets her hair hang loose and long to pull up any ghosts.

She catches the ghost on the third pass. His clothes are plastered to his body and his shivering makes him shift in and out of focus. He doesn’t speak, but he keeps glancing over his shoulder, towards a little outcrop of rocks on the bank of the water.

“Ah,” Grandma says, nodding. She gestures the cops closer and points to the rocks. “He’s caught up in there. A nice young man with a red beard.”

The cops wait until Shelly and Grandma leave to pull the body from the water. The ghost comes home with them, wet and shivery, even after the bus ride back to the house.

“Do you want me to turn on the heater?” Shelly asks him.

The ghost jumps and looks down at her. “Where did you come from?”

“Leave him alone, Shelly. We’ll feed him and send him off,” Grandma says. “He doesn’t need us confusing him even more.”

“I don’t understand what happened,” the ghost says. “I was just on the bridge. I was just thinking.”

Grandma pours the ghost a mug of milk and warms it in the microwave as he drifts around their kitchen, flickering in and out of focus as Shelly watches, fascinated. A new ghost, a ghost who is still deciding if he wants to stick around or not, is new for her.

“What’s your name?” Shelly asks because the cops hadn’t said.

The ghost gives her a distressed look. “I don’t know,” he says. “Do you know who I am? Do you know my name?”

Grandma set the mug of warm milk down on the kitchen table. “Here you go,” she says. “This will warm you up and then we’ll make sure you get where you’re going. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Shelly, would you get the scissors from my sewing kit?”

Shelly goes and gets the pair of small, silver scissors. The ghost drains the milk on the table. His wet hair drips real water on the floor. He looks like he’ll never be fully dry, like if you tried to wring him out he’d twist and twist and the water would just keep coming. This, Shelly thinks, is probably why Grandma doesn’t want to keep him. Having a damp ghost haunting their house would be troublesome.

Grandma wraps a strand of hair around her ring finger and clips it off. By the time the milk is finished, the ghost is nearly gone, just a faint smudge in the air where once there was a man.

“Where do they go?” Shelly asks. “Where do we send them?”

Grandma picks up the mug and refills it with milk. She sticks it in the microwave to heat it up for herself. “We’ll find out, won’t we? One day, a long time from now.”

Read "If a Bird Can Be a Ghost" by Allison Mills here.

Listen to my reading of "If a Bird Can Be a Ghost" here.
eldritchhobbit: (Pumpkin face)
Thank you for joining me for the twelfth year of my blog-a-thon celebration of Halloween. Let's get this countdown started!

Allow me to share a creepy moment (in what is a very creepy film) that has stuck with me ever since I first saw it.

The classic 1955 film The Night of the Hunter is a dark thriller starring Shelley Winters, Lillian Gish, and Robert Mitchum, the latter in a brilliant performance as a corrupt preacher-turned-serial killer. Both the film and the novel on which it's based drew inspiration from the true story of Harry Powers, who was hanged in 1932 for the murder of two widows and three children in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

This was the only film directed by the great Charles Laughton, and it has a silent-film aesthetic that fits beautifully with its dark subject matter.

One of the most chilling moments to me appears with a child's lullaby, "The Pretty Fly," an original song composed for the film by Walter Schumann. The song is sung as the children are fleeing for their lives from their would-be killer; while the lyrics tell of a pretty fly, the visuals focus on creatures that devour flies (spiders, frogs, etc.). This short little scene feels desperate and ominous in all the right ways. The effect is, to me, singularly spooky.

So here, enjoy a little earworm to open your Halloween season.

eldritchhobbit: (Pumpkin face)
And we're off! Tomorrow begins the 2017 Countdown to Halloween. I hope you'll join me every day. If you have friends who might be interested in this countdown, please invite them to join us! (This year's countdown will be available on my blog, on my Tumblr, on my Twitter feed, on my Goodreads blog, and on my Amazon author feed.)

Please note: Some of my Dreamwidth daily posts may come in the afternoon (Eastern) rather than morning, but a new post will be up each day!

You can find my past Halloween posts here.

You can also find additional countdowns around the interwebs at the Countdown to Halloween site.

Because this isn't exactly new content, I wanted to post this before my proper Halloween Countdown begins. I do hope it helps get you into the mood.

I created the following virtual campus ghost tour for my countdown several years ago. Some of my readers are new, and I hope you will find this to be fun; for those of you who read my post previously, I hope you will enjoy revisiting the spooky haunts of Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Ghost Tour: There is a Halloween tradition at Lenoir-Rhyne University of a "campus ghost tour" during which the guides share local folklore, campus legends, and creepy stories. Thanks to the generosity of the good people at Lenoir-Rhyne, I now have all of those spooky tales to share with you. I have taken pictures around the campus to illustrate the stories, so that I may lead you through the tour virtually.

Without further ado, I would like to invite you to join me for a virtual "campus ghost tour" of Lenoir-Rhyne.

Ghost Tour Introduction: Most of the buildings on the Lenoir-Rhyne campus have acquired a ghost, gremlin, spirit, or legend that has lingered from year to year. Some of the legends have been exaggerated or miscommunicated through the years. The ghosts and spirits that you’ll learn about now are as official, as documented, as close to recollection as possible. Most of the ghosts that you'll read about have been witnessed either by security officers, students, alumni, or others who visit the university. The older spirits, say from 1979 or before, have been included in the oral history of Lenoir-Rhyne College, Traces, which is available by special permission from the archives in the university library. Throughout the years, several articles in the college paper have accounted for the ghosts in our buildings, and the local newspapers have even run stories about them.

The Lenoir-Rhyne University sign

I'm brave! Take me on the ghost tour! )

Let's conclude with Emily Dickinson:

One need not be a chamber to be haunted,
One need not be a house;
The brain has corridors surpassing
Material place.

Far safer, of a midnight meeting
External ghost,
Than an interior confronting
That whiter host.

Far safer through an Abbey gallop,
The stones achase,
Than, moonless, one's own self encounter
In lonesome place.

Ourself, behind ourself concealed,
Should startle most;
Assassin, hid in our apartment,
Be horror's least.

The prudent carries a revolver,
He bolts the door,
O'erlooking a superior spectre
More near.
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Today is the anniversary of the Long-Expected Party celebrating the
eleventy-first birthday of Bilbo Baggins and the coming of age of Frodo
Baggins in The Lord of the Rings. It was on this day that Bilbo
gave his infamous birthday speech, saying “I don’t know half of you half
as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well
as you deserve,” before disappearing from the Shire forever.

Also on this day, according to the Appendices of The Lord of the Rings,
99-year-old Samwise Gamgee rode out from Bag End for the final time. He
was last seen in Middle-Earth by his daughter Elanor, to whom he
presented the Red Book. According to tradition, he then went to the Grey
Havens and passed over the Sea, last of the Ringbearers.


And now, in honor of the Baggins Birthdays, the departure of Samwise, and
Hobbits in general, a quote about the Ring’s temptation of - and failure
with - one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s (and, for that matter, world
literature’s) greatest heroes, Samwise Gamgee:

“Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age,
striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies
flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And
then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his
command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and
brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his
own, and all this could be. In that hour of trial it was the love of
his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him
lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of
his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if
such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden
of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a
realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.”
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

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My latest “Looking Back on Genre History” is up on StarShipSofa, and it’s an update on Native American Science Fiction/Indigenous Futurism. Listen for free here!

(The earlier segment I did introducing this topic in 2011 is here.)

Here are some of the links I mention in my new segment.

Apex Magazine’s “Celebration of Indigenous American Fantasists”

Strange Horizon’s Roundtable on Indigenous Futurism

Extrapolation’s Issue on Indigenous Futurism 

A Tribe Called Geek

Indigenous Comic Con 

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Happy birthday to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (30 August, 1797 –
1 February, 1851)!

“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”
- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818)

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As guest editor, I am beyond thrilled to share this issue with readers. The amazing works assembled here represent Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, Mushkegowuk Cree, Karuk, and Ojibwe Nakawē perspectives. Please check out issue 99 and its related podcast here.


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I’ve been quiet, because work has kept me very, very busy this summer. But I wanted to be sure you knew that my annual month-long Halloween Countdown will be back this year. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you’ll join me.

eldritchhobbit: (Default)

As guest editor, I am beyond thrilled to share this issue with readers. This project has been a year in the making! The amazing works assembled here represent Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, Mushkegowuk Cree, Karuk, and Ojibwe Nakawē perspectives. The stories are outstanding! Please check out issue 99 and its related podcast here.

eldritchhobbit: (books/old)

Happy birthday to Emily Brontë (30 July, 1818 – 19 December, 1848)!


“Heaven did not seem to be my home; and I broke my heart with weeping to come back to earth; and the angels were so angry that they flung me out into the middle of the heath on the top of Wuthering Heights; where I woke sobbing for joy.”
- Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847)

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I’m looking forward to being a literary/scholarly guest this weekend at ConGregate 4/DeepSouthCon 55!

I’ll be on several panels and wearing my moderator hat. Here is my schedule.



5:00pm – 5:50pm: Writing in Multiple Tie-In Universes 

Moderator: Amy H. Sturgis

Guests: Alexandra Christian, Barbara Hambly, Melissa McArthur, Richard C.

Our panelists have written official novels for Star Wars, Star Trek, and Beauty and the Beast, as well as Sherlock Holmes pastiches. Given that they also write a lot of other fiction, the panelists discuss the differences between writing original fiction and writing for pre-existing franchises/worlds.

6:00pm – 6:50pm: Writing Sherlock Holmes and Other Icons

Moderator: Amy H. Sturgis

Guests: Nicole Givens Kurtz, Misty Massey, Melissa McArthur, J. Matthew Saunders

Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Superheroes… What are the challenges with writing these iconic characters? And if you change them, how do you make sure to capture their essence? When writing an iconic character, how do you determine what makes them iconic?  Is it Sherlock Holmes being a detective, or Bond working for MI-6?  What happens if Holmes is a demon, or Bond is set in a fantasy world?


9:30am – 10:20am: Mixing Historical Research with Genre Fiction 

Moderator: Amy H. Sturgis

Guests: Barbara Hambly, Kim Headlee, Tally Johnson, Linda Robertson

Given that historical fiction itself is a demanding genre requiring a lot of effort if one wants to do it right, our panelists discuss the challenges they’ve faced and choices they’ve made in blending historical work with the fantasy and mystery genres.

1:00pm – 1:50pm: Writing from Different Perspectives

Moderator: Amy H. Sturgis

Guests: Samantha Dunaway Bryant, Barbara Hambly, Larry N. Martin, Michael G. Williams

Authors often try to write about protagonists who are different from themselves. Our panelists discuss why they feel it is important to capture these characters’ perspectives; the challenges faced in trying to be authentic, respectful, and sensitive in their portrayal; and what they think about current debates and controversies about the importance of diversity, authenticity, and representation in fiction.

eldritchhobbit: (books/old)
Happy birthday to the mother of the Gothic, Ann Radcliffe (9 July, 1764 – 7 February, 1823).

“A well-informed mind is the best security against the contagion of folly and vice. The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief, and ready to plunge into error, to escape from the languor of idleness. Store it with ideas, teach it the pleasure of thinking; and the temptations of the world without, will be counteracted by the gratifications derived from the world within.”
― Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)


Nailed It

Jul. 5th, 2017 08:33 am
eldritchhobbit: (Reanimator/Read More Lovecraft)

My eldritch Lovecraftian manicure: it had to happen. Sanity not included. 

eldritchhobbit: (Ravenclaw/Deep)

It’s difficult to believe it’s been two decades.

For me personally, it’s also been seven articles published and nearly fifteen years of undergraduate and graduate courses taught about the Wizarding World. What a trip it’s been.

Happy birthday, Harry Potter.

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Happy birthday to George Orwell (25 June, 1903 – 21 January, 1950)!


“Perhaps a lunatic was simply a minority of one.”
― George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)


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