Monday, October 18, 2021

#Review: How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg #death #humor #CountdowntoHalloween2021 #middlegradeup


Over the course of history men and women have lived and died. In fact, getting sick and dying can be a big, ugly mess-especially before the modern medical care that we all enjoy today. How They Croaked relays all the gory details of how nineteen world figures gave up the ghost. 

My review:

I am not usually not one for explicit horror and this book is not it. I am just going to tell you that up front if you think it is. However, the beginning introduction has a warning and it should be adhered to. The book says, " If you don't have the guts for gore, do not read this book." They mean it and I will explain why. The reason I picked up this book to begin with is the title humored me. So, I suppose I am a little bit morbid.

This book outlines 19 people who most all of us are familiar with beginning with King Tut. Yes, they are all real people.  The book gives a bit of background on all of the characters: who they were, how they came to power, how they lived, and how they died. Nothing is held back in this book and it can be rather gory. Well, you were warned!

An example would be (without spoiling), is King Tut. We all know that he died at the very young age of 19; but do you know how they prepared his body? Well, let me tell you. The book tells in graphic details right down to certain parts being stuffed in jars. Eww...

At the end of descriptions, a follow up page is written. Some, like King Tut again link to mummies, others like Pocahontas, links to people she knew, her nickname, etc. One character leads to simple sign language. the book to find out who that is.

Fascinating stuff!

I have to not the illustrator, Kevin O'Malley. His illustrations only enhanced a terrific book. Each chapter was introduced with a humorous look at each person. The illustrations were all done in black and white but are a funny take on what could be a very gory book.

I would want to say this is for adults only but truthfully, it is not. This book is aimed for the reluctant reader from middle school on. Kids eat this morbid stuff up and if they can read it, all the better.

I actually loved this book and giving it 5 pumpkins!

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book for my own collections. The views here are 100% my own and may differ from yours. ~Michelle

Thursday, October 14, 2021

#Review: Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long #picture books


My review:

Otis is a sweet old tractor that seemingly gets along with everyone. He plays games with the farm animals when all is quiet on the farm. They all like the game "silence" to see who can be silent the longest. Otis always wins.

However, one day a scarecrow shows up out in the pumpkin patch. He never talks to anyone and is always got a mean face and just stares. Everybody leaves him alone.

Nobody seems to like him until Otis decides to befriend him with the same game he plays with the animals. Hmm...I wonder who wins this time?

As picture books go, this one is illustrated wonderfully. The Fall colors of oranges. yellows, reds and browns are prevalent throughout. The pictures are bold and the reader can certainly insert themselves on a pumpkin farm.

Like many picture books though, the sentences are repetitive. This may throw off an older reading child as this is targeted for reading ages 3-7 but is clearly for preschoolers up to 4-5. The story is not overly as wonderful as the illustrations are but I think young kids would love it. 

I would love to see the story expanded a bit maybe even by some magic of Fall the scarecrow comes alive and befriends them all.  

For the reasons I stated above, I give this book three pumpkins.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book for my own collections. The view expressed here are 100% my own and may differ from yours.  ~Michelle

About the author:

Loren Long

I grew up in Lexington, Kentucky in the 1970’s. We had no artists of any kind in the family. We didn’t know any artists. I liked sports, especially baseball. My mother read to me a lot. But I have to admit, my favorite subject in school was gym class. I also liked to draw. My parents encouraged me to keep drawing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Murder With Strings Attached by Mark Reutlinger #giveaway #Humor #mysteries #spotlight


Murder With Strings Attached

Genre: Humorous Mystery 

Sometimes even the most carefully conceived burglary can take an unexpected turn. Florence Palmer has her eye on concert violinist Aaron Levy's priceless violin. Unfortunately, she finds it's already been stolen. Her surprise doubles when the virtuoso she'd planned to burgle offers to hire her to help him steal it back. But they're not the only ones looking for the missing violin. When Flo inadvertently becomes the prime suspect in a case of murder, she and Aaron need to clear her name. Will they find the real killer and get the violin back to its rightful owner without anyone else, especially themselves, being killed?

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Mark Reutlinger is the author of the novels "Made in China," "Murder with Strings Attached," and the "Mrs. Kaplan" cozy mystery series, as well as "Sister-in-Law" under the pen name M. R. Morgan. He is a professor of law emeritus at Seattle University. Born in San Francisco, Mark graduated from UC Berkeley and now lives with his wife, Analee, in University Place, Washington. When not reading or writing, Mark enjoys tennis, biking, playing the clarinet (in the Tacoma Concert Band), sports cars, and various arts and crafts. He doesn't know where he finds time for it all.


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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

#Spotlight: Seeker's Core by K.M. Jenkins #giveaway #YA #Fantasy #bookseries


The Seeker's Core

Half Blood Academy Book 1

A Children of Chaos Novel

In a universe governed by gods, darkness awakens and demigods are called.

Two journeys.

Two planets.

Lennox walks a path that separates her from her family. But allies along the way bring her to her destined fate.

Becca seeks to advance knowledge in the medical field. Fate has other plans in store when she stumbles upon long forgotten ruins.

Two demigods walk different paths on separate planets. Will they find each other before it’s too late or will fate change their lives forever? The journey of a universe forever changed begins right here.

K.M. Jenkins is a published best selling speculative fiction author who writes epic battles, forbidden romance, and tales of fantasy and adventure. She has a big love for the fantasy genre and loves dragons above all creatures. When she is not writing, you will find her running her business as a cover artist at KJ Magical Designs, LLC and chasing her twin boys around the house. Between the three she has epic battles throughout the day and nothing ever gets boring.


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Monday, October 11, 2021

Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning #giveaway #mysteries

Mercy Creek

Genre: Mystery
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: October 12th 2021
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 1643857622 (ISBN13: 9781643857626)
Series: A Jo Wyatt Mystery, Book 2 || Each mystery in the A Jo Wyatt Mystery series is a stand alone novel.
Purchase Links:  | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |


In an idyllic Colorado town, a young girl goes missing—and the trail leads into the heart and mind of a remorseless killer.

The late summer heat in Echo Valley, Colorado turns lush greenery into a tinder dry landscape. When a young girl mysteriously disappears, long buried grudges rekindle. Of the two Flores girls, Marisa was the one people pegged for trouble. Her younger sister, Lena, was the quiet daughter, dutiful and diligent—right until the moment she vanished.

Detective Jo Wyatt is convinced the eleven-year-old girl didn’t run away and that a more sinister reason lurks behind her disappearance. For Jo, the case is personal, reaching far back into her past. But as she mines Lena’s fractured family life, she unearths a cache of secrets and half-lies that paints a darker picture.

As the evidence mounts, so do the suspects, and when a witness steps forward with a shocking new revelation, Jo is forced to confront her doubts, and her worst fears. Now, it’s just a matter of time before the truth is revealed—or the killer makes another deadly move.

Read an excerpt:

Chapter One

Everyone had a story from that night. Some saw a man, others saw a girl, still others saw nothing at all but didn’t want to squander the opportunity to be part of something larger than themselves. To varying degrees, they were all wrong. Only two people knew the full truth.

That Saturday, visitors to the county fair clustered in the dappled shade cast by carnival rides and rested on hay bales scattered like afterthoughts between games of chance and food booths, the soles of their shoes sticky with ice cream drips and spilled sodas.

Detective Jo Wyatt stepped into the shadow of the Hall of Mirrors to watch the crowd. She grabbed the collar of her uniform and pumped it a few times in a futile attempt to push cooler air between her ballistic vest and sweat-sodden T-shirt.

The Echo Valley Fair marked the end of summer, but even now, as the relentless Colorado sun dipped, heat rose in waves around bare ankles and stroller wheels as families retreated toward the parking lots. An older crowd began to creep in, prowling the midway. The beer garden overflowed.

Within minutes the sun dropped behind the valley walls and the fairground lights flickered to life, their wan orange glow a beacon to moths confused by the strobing brightness of rides and games. Calliope music and the midway’s technopop collided in a crazed mishmash of notes so loud they echoed in Jo’s chest. She raised the volume of her radio.

The day shift officers had clocked out having handled nothing more pressing than a man locked out of his car and an allegation of unfair judging flung by the second-place winner of the bake-off.

Jo gauged the teeming crowd of unfamiliar faces. Tonight would be different.


Carnival music was creepy, Lena decided. Each ride had its own weird tune and it all seemed to crash against her with equal force, following her no matter where she went.

The guys in the booths were louder than they had been earlier, more aggressive, calling out, trying to get her to part with her tickets. Some of the guys roamed, jumping out at people, flicking cards and making jokes she didn’t understand while smiling at her older sister.

Marisa tossed her hair. Smiled back. Sometimes they let her play for free.

“Let’s go back to the livestock pavilion,” Lena said.

“Quit being such a baby.” Marisa glanced over her shoulder at the guy running the shooting gallery booth and tossed her hair. Again.

Lena rolled her eyes and wondered how long it would be before her sister ditched her.

“Hold up a sec.” Marisa tugged at the hem of her skintight skirt and flopped down on a hay bale.

She’d been wearing pants when they’d left the house. The big purse she always carried probably hid an entire wardrobe Momma knew nothing about. Lena wondered if the missing key to grandma’s car was tucked in there too.

Marisa unzipped one of her boots and pulled up her thin sock.

Lena pointed. “What happened to the bottom of your boot?”

Her sister ran her finger along the arch. “I painted it red.”


“It makes them more valuable.”

“Since when does coloring the bottom of your shoes make them more valuable?”

Marisa’s eyes lit up in a way that happened whenever she spoke about clothes or how she was going to hit it big in Hollywood someday. “In Paris there’s this guy who designs shoes and all of them have red soles. He’s the only one allowed to do that. It’s his thing.”

“But he didn’t make those boots.”

“All the famous women wear his shoes.” She waved to someone in the crowd.

“You’re not famous and you bought them at Payless.”

“What do you know about fashion?”

“I know enough not to paint the bottom of my boots to make them look like someone else made them.”

Marisa shoved her foot into her boot and yanked the zipper closed. “You bought your boots from the co-op.” She handed Lena her cell phone.

“You should have bought yours there, too.” Lena dutifully pointed the lens at her sister.

“Take a couple this time.” Marisa leaned back on her hands and arched her back, her hair nearly brushing the hay bale, and the expression on her face pouty like the girls in the magazines she was always looking at.

Lena snapped several photos and held out the phone. “All those high heels are good for is punching holes in the ground.”

“Oh, Lena.” Marisa’s voice dropped as if she was sharing a secret. “If you ever looked up from your animals long enough, you’d see there’s so much more to the world.” Her thumbs rapidly tapped the tiny keyboard of her phone.

In the center of the midway, a carnival guy held a long-handled mallet and called out to people as they passed by. He was older—somewhere in his twenties—and wore a tank top. Green and blue tattoos covered his arms and his biceps bulged as he pointed the oversized hammer at the tower behind him. It looked like a giant thermometer with numbers running along one edge, and High Striker spelled out on the other.

“Come on, men. There’s no easier way to impress the ladies.” He grabbed the mallet and tapped the plate. “You just have to find the proper motivation if you want to get it up…” He pointed with his chin to the top of the game and paused dramatically. “There.” He craned his neck and leered at Marisa. Lena wondered if he was looking up her sister’s skirt. “What happens later is up to you.”

Never breaking eye contact, he took a mighty swing. The puck raced up the tower, setting off a rainbow of lights and whistles before it smashed into the bell at the top. He winked in their direction. “Score.”

Twenty minutes later, Marisa was gone.


Lena gave up looking for her sister and returned to the livestock pavilion. Marisa could keep her music and crowds and stupid friends.

Only a few people still wandered around the dimly lit livestock pavilion. The fireworks would start soon and most people headed for the excitement outside, a world away from the comforting sound of animals snuffling and pawing at their bedding.

Marisa was probably hanging out near the river with her friends, drinking beer. Maybe smoking a cigarette or even a joint. Doing things she didn’t think her baby sister knew about.

Lena walked through an aisle stacked with poultry and rabbit cages. The pens holding goats, swine, and sheep took up the middle. At the back of the pavilion stretched a long row of three-sided cattle stalls. The smells of straw, grain, and animals replaced the gross smell of deep-fried candy bars and churros that had clogged her throat on the midway.

Near the end of the row, Lena stopped.

“Hey there, Bluebell.” Technically, he was number twenty-four, like his ear tag said. Her father didn’t believe in naming livestock, but to her, he’d always be Bluebell—even after she sold him at the auction to be slaughtered. Just because that was his fate didn’t mean he shouldn’t have a name to be remembered by. She remembered them all.

She patted his hip and slid her hand along his spine so he wouldn’t shy as she moved into the stall. She double-checked the halter, pausing to scratch his forehead. A piece of straw swirled in his water bucket and she fished it out. The cold water cooled her hot skin.

“You did good today. Sorry I won’t be spending the night with you, but Papa got called out to Dawson’s ranch to stitch up some mare.”

He swished his tail and it struck the rail with a metallic ring.

“Don’t get yourself all riled. I’ll be back tomorrow before you know it.”

If she hadn’t been showing Bluebell this afternoon, she’d have gone with her father. Her sutures had really improved this summer and were almost as neat as his. No one would guess they’d been made by an eleven-year-old. If nothing else, she could have helped keep the horse calm.

Instead, she’d go home with Marisa and spend the night at Momma’s. She wondered if Marisa would show up before the 4-H leader called lights out in the pavilion or if Lena would have to walk to her mom’s house by herself in the dark.

She reached down and jiggled the feed pan to smooth out the grain that Bluebell had pushed to the edges.

“That’s some cow.”

The male voice startled them both and Bluebell stomped his rear hoof. Lena peered over the Hereford’s withers. At first all she saw were the tattoos. An ugly monster head with a gaping mouth and snake tongue seem to snap at her. It was the carny from the High Striker standing at the edge of the stall.

“It’s a steer,” she stuttered. “And my sister isn’t here.”

“Not your sister I wanted to talk to.” He swayed a bit as he moved into the stall, like when her mother drank too much wine and tried to hide it.

Lena ducked under Bluebell’s throat and came up on the other side. She looked around the pavilion, now empty of people.

“Suspect they’re all out waiting on the fireworks,” he said.

The first boom echoed through the space. Several sheep bleated their disapproval and Bluebell jerked against his halter.

“Shhhh, now.” Lena reached her hand down and scratched his chest. “All that racket’s just some stupid fireworks.”

“Nothing to worry about,” the man added. He had the same look in his eyes that Papa’s border collie got right before he cut off the escape route of a runaway cow.

A bigger boom thundered through the pavilion. Halter clips clanged against the rails as uneasy cattle shuffled in their stalls. Her own legs shook as she sidled toward Bluebell’s rear.

He matched her steps. “What’s a little thing like you doing in here all by yourself?”

“My father will be back any minute.” Her voice shook.

He smiled, baring his teeth. “I’ll be sure to introduce myself when he arrives.”

A series of explosions, sharp as gunfire, erupted outside. Somewhere a cow lowed. Several more joined in, their voices pitiful with fear.

“You’re upsetting my steer. You need to leave.”

“Oh, your cow’s just fine. I think it’s you that’s scared.”

He spoke with the same low voice that Lena used with injured animals. The one she used right before she did something she knew would hurt but had to be done.

“You’re a pretty little thing,” he crooned. “Nice and quiet.”

Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. She stood frozen. A warm trickle started down her leg, and the wet spot expanded on her jeans.

He edged closer. “I like them quiet.”


Jo ran.

The suspect veered off the sidewalk and slid down the hillside toward the creek.

She plunged off the side of the embankment, sliding through dirt and duff, closing the distance. She keyed her shoulder mic. “Entering the creek, heading west toward the Animas. I need someone on the River Trail.”

Narrow-leaf cottonwood and willows shimmered silver in the moonlight and wove a thicket of branches along the water, herding the suspect toward the cobbled stream bed.

Jo splashed into the ankle-deep water. Close enough now to almost touch.

Her lungs burned. With a final burst of speed, she lunged. Shoved his shoulder while he was mid-stride.

The man sprawled into the creek. Rolled onto his feet with a bellow. A knife in his hand.

Without thinking, she’d drawn her gun. “Drop it!”

Flashlight beams sliced the foliage. Snapping branches and crashing footsteps marked the other officers’ progress as they neared. Estes shouted Jo’s name. Her eyes never left the man standing just feet away.

“Over here!” She focused on the man’s shoulder, watching for the twitch that would telegraph his intentions. “You need to drop the knife. Now.” Her voice rose above the burble of the stream. “Or things are going to get a whole lot worse for you tonight.”

She shifted her weight to her front leg and carefully shuffled her rear foot until she found firmer footing and settled into a more stable shooting stance. “Drop the knife.” She aimed center mass. Drew a deep breath, willed her heart to slow.

The knife splashed into the creek near the bank.

“On your right.” Estes broke through the brush beside her.

“Get down on your knees,” Jo ordered. “Hands behind your head.”

“It’s my friend’s truck,” the man said.

Jo holstered her gun and moved forward while Estes covered her. She gripped his fingers and bowed the suspect backward, keeping him off balance while she searched him for weapons, then cuffed him.

“Not according to the owner.” She double-locked the cuffs while Estes radioed dispatch they had one in custody.

An explosion above the treetops made Jo flinch. Fireworks slashed the darkness and burst into balls of purple and green and dazzling white that sparkled briefly, then disappeared.


Excerpt from Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning. Copyright 2021 by M.E. Browning. Reproduced with permission from M.E. Browning. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

M.E. Browning writes the Colorado Book Award-winning Jo Wyatt Mysteries and the Agatha-nominated and award-winning Mer Cavallo Mysteries (as Micki Browning). Micki also writes short stories and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in dive magazines, anthologies, mystery magazines, and textbooks. An FBI National Academy graduate, Micki worked in municipal law enforcement for more than two decades and retired as a captain before turning to a life of crime… fiction.

Catch Up With M.E. Browning:






This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for M.E. Browning. There will be TWO winners. ONE winner will receive (1) Gift Card and ONE winner will receive one (1) physical copy of Mercy Creek by M.E. Browning (U.S. addresses only). The giveaway runs October 11 through November 7, 2021. Void where prohibited.

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Sunday, October 10, 2021

National Geographic Kids Books #Fall Prize Pack #Giveaway (Ends 10/31) #FallFavorites @NGKidsBks @HomeJobsByMom

Nat Geo Kids Books Fall Prize Pack Giveaway

Welcome To The National Geo Kids Books Fall Prize Pack Giveaway! I loved National Geographic as a kid and so excited they have it now for kids!

This giveaway is part of our Fall Gift Guide. Stop by to see all the great giveaways and products!

It's a new season and these fall favorites from National Geographic Kids Books are the perfect thing to add to your family's bookshelf, supplement distance learning, or check people off your holiday gift lists!




National Geographic Kids Almanac 2022, U.S. Edition

Nat Geo Kids Books Prize Pack

The Ultimate Book of African Animals Zeus the Mighty The Trials of Hairy-Clees Little Kids First Big Book of Rocks, Minerals & Shells National Geographic Kids World Atlas 6th edition National Geographic Kids Why Answers to Everything

One Lucky Winner Will Receive the Nat Geo Kids Books Fall Prize Pack Valued at $108!

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COOLAGN & Nerdy Dad RP & Deliciously Savvy & Michigan Saving And More


Rules: Use The Rafflecopter Form To Enter Daily. The giveaway ends 10/31 And Is Open To The United States. Entrants Must Be 18 Years Old To Enter. The Winner Will Be Notified Via Email.

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One entrant will be selected by the entry form to win a Nat Geo Kids Book Prize Pack. Open for entry in the United States, 18 years and older from 10/04/21 thru 10/31/21. No purchase is necessary. Void where prohibited. This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media networking site. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected. Once a winner is drawn and confirmed, the name will be announced on the Rafflecopter form. Nat Geo Kids will be responsible for sending the winners their prizes.

Thank You So Much For Visiting Today!

Halloween Nation and Lesley Pratt Bannatyne Interview (Part 2) #countdowntohalloweenblog

As you may recall, yesterday I spoke to you about author, Lesley Bannatyne and the interview with her. This is a repost of the original interview in 2012. Enjoy my creepy readers!

~Michelle, Master Crypt Keeper

Welcome Lesley Bannatyne. Thank you for taking the time to do an interview with me and my blog, “Just the Stuff Ya Know.” (This blog is now call Musings & Merriment with Michelle) We are here to discuss about you and your book, Halloween Nation.

Her Web Site and Facebook

Please tell me a little about yourself .
How did you get your start in the book industry?

I’ve been a writer since I graduate from college, and was working freelance for various magazines and ad agencies when a literary agent friend told me that Facts on File (a publishing house) was interested in holiday book proposals. ‘They have two left,’ she said. ‘Halloween and Election Day.’ I jumped at the chance to write a history of Halloween, sold the proposal, and spent the next three years researching and writing Halloween. An American Holiday, An American History. It was my first book.

How is it that you got so interested in Halloween?

I have loved Halloween from the moment I put on a cape and ran through the night with a pillowcase full of candy. But it was while working on my first book when I discovered how big, deep, and wide the subject is. It’s not “just” Halloween – it’s Irish mythology, church history, popular culture, media, movies, music, sociology, even science.

Was Halloween a fun time for you growing up? Did you have Halloween traditions?

I could barely sleep come October 1st, and the night itself never disappointed. My traditions were those of most of the kids of my generation: we figured out a costume or hounded our parents to buy masks and accessories, got the biggest trick-or-treat bag we could find, and went out the second it got dark with a big gang of friends, no curfew. My dad did the pumpkin carving, and my mom gave out treats, which, as far as I can remember, were always Snickers bars.

In chapter two of your book, Halloween Nation, you talk about our obsession with ghosts. You state, “We fear them, hunt them and try to pry secrets from their musty fists.”  Why do you think if we fear them so much we even bother?

There’s no bigger mystery than what happens after death, so no matter how unsettling it can be to think about ghosts (or encounter them, if you believe that’s possible), we have a huge desire to know, and a deep curiosity that keeps us mesmerized by the spirit world.

In this same chapter you spoke about a project called “draw your soul”.  I found that to be quite interesting. Why do you think we see ourselves so differently? How would you see your soul? Would you be willing to draw my readers a small picture?

I love this question. I think we see different things in our imaginations when it comes to soul because it’s such a personal concept, and also, because there are no models! We can’t help but be influenced by images of birds, flight, or the wisp-like portrayals that appear in paintings or drawings, but when you sit down and try to draw, something more human and individual comes through. I’d be happy to draw something for you!

Also in your book you talk about those on the fringe of Halloween. You know, those that take it to the extreme.  That chapter was brief. Do you have any further thoughts about these people? Do you think you would do something that extreme? If so, what and why?

I did spend a lot of time with people who do all sorts of interesting things, like horror burlesque dancers, people who design Halloween-themed tattoos, and most of all with people who live Halloween at least half the year by spending time creating and building things to decorate their yards. For me, if I could have the time, I’d be in my garage building my own fake tombstones and ghosts. I found nearly everyone I talked to very, very creative, and it would be fun to explore that.

Your whole book is based on our obsession with Halloween. Did you come to a complete conclusion as to why we are so obsessed? Final thoughts?

It would be nice to say that our obsession with Halloween came from one cultural event or trend, but I don’t think that’s the case. Our obsession is equal parts nostalgia, the chance to be expressive or downright exhibitionist, the joy of the tolerance that Halloween brings, our passion for group glee, and our need for community celebration whether it’s trick-or-treating dressed as a tiny pumpkin, zombie-shambling down the main streets of your town, or running naked through a pedestrian mall with a pumpkin on your head.

Halloween: An American Holiday, an American HistoryI see that you have other books based on your knowledge of Halloween. Would you like to expound on them a bit?

My first was Halloween. An American Holiday, An American History, which told the story of Halloween in this country; how some of its folklore traveled here with early Scottish immigrants and later, the Irish, Germans, Africans, Mexicans, etc., and how different ethnicities contributed to its celebration. The book takes Halloween through all the events of the 20th century, including the wars, the beginnings of trick-or-treating and up through the 1980s (it was originally published in 1990; it’s been through several printings, and is now published by Pelican Publishing Co.).

Halloween How-To, A: Costumes, Parties, Decorations, and Destinations

The next was A Halloween How To. Costumes, Parties, Decorations, and Destinations, and this was the book that introduced me to the Halloween community that exists today. It was published just after the internet had helped create the Halloween do-it-yourself yard-haunting phenomenon, and I corresponded with celebrants all over the country about monster mud and séances, Styrofoam tombstones, home-made costumes, and giant pumpkin boat races. 

A Halloween Reader: Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloween Past
A few years later I went back to some of the research I’d done for the history book, and starting compiling an anthology of Halloween fiction, poetry, and plays from the past 400 years, which ended up in
A Halloween Reader. Poems, Stories, and Plays from Halloweens Past. I dug around in the wonderful, deep archives of Widener Library at Harvard University, and found material that was sometimes beautiful, often funny, and very quirky.

Witches' Night Before Halloween

A children’s book came next, Witches Night Before Halloween (Twas the night before Halloween and all through the cottages / the witches were stirring their brews and their potages / The cupboards were bursting with hop-toads and newts / And they’d shined up their pointy-toed, fancy dress boots…you get the picture!)

Last year I published Halloween Nation. Behind the Scenes of America’s Fright Night (from Pelican; all may books are from Pelican now), which is my attempt to understand what’s driving the new popularity of Halloween, and why it means so much to so many people.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

The main thing is to write about something you really, really love. A book takes a very long time and there are good days and bad days. If you’re not passionate about the subject, the bad days will sink you. Also, know that you’ll write it over and over again, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Ok ,some fun questions:

What was your favorite costume growing up? Worst?

Gypsy – with my mom’s makeup and a sparkly skirt, I had never felt more glamorous.
Fireracker—it was a good idea on paper, but we made it out of chicken wire and it hurt to walk in it.

If you could be haunted by any famous person, who would it be and why?

Oscar Wilde. I can’t think of a better wing man. And if I could have another (please?), I would’t mind spending some time with Mary Shelley. I have questions about that summer on Lake Geneva.

Once again, thank you so much for allowing me to interview you.  I have found you to be an intriguing person and most fun.