My Top Three Favorite Halloween Traditions

Spooky Halloween Traditions – © JenkoAtaman – Stock.adobe.com

Halloween boasts fun traditions: scary costumes, yummy candy, spooky stories, and pumpkin spice. Based on the sacred celebration of Samhain, our modern parties have given this ancient custom a pop culture flavor. Simple masks to ward off evil have been replaced with “Sexy Nurse” costumes. Soul cakes will no longer do for 21stCentury kiddies. Now we buy $15.00 bags of assorted sugary candy to appease the little boys and ghouls.

I may sound nostalgic for the old days, but I’m not. Give me my scary movies, a pumpkin spice latte, and some Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I’m ready to be entertained.

Top Three Favorite Halloween Traditions

Jack O’ Lanterns

Glowing pumpkins line our streets every Halloween Night. These orange guardians against evil weren’t the original food medium. That honor belonged to the lowly turnip. Carving and illuminating the little root vegetable began in Ireland to shoo away Stingy Jack. This mythical man, known as the stingiest man in the land, is believed to have outsmarted the devil. Jack hated to spend his own money. He tricked the devil by convincing him to turn into a coin to pay for their drink. Jack then pocketed the coin next to a silver cross, preventing Satan from turning back into his original form.  He freed the devil sometime later, but the tricks didn’t stop. Jack convinced the devil to climb an apple tree, then he carved a cross into the bark and trapped Satan again. This time the devil agreed to leave Jack alone.

Stingy Jack, however, was too clever for his own good. He died and went to Heaven, but God wouldn’t give him entry. Jack had been too stingy and wicked during his life. Then he traveled to Hell, but the devil had made a promise not to take Jack’s soul. Satan sent him packing with a single burning coal to light his way throughout eternity. Folklore tells of a bobbing light moving aimlessly across the open land. It is Stingy Jack or Jack of the Lantern still wandering the Earth. People in Ireland and Scotland carved and illuminated turnips, potatoes, and beets to keep Stingy Jack and other evil spirits away.

Trick or Treat

Our tradition of Trick or Treat dates back to the Middle Ages. There is evidence this custom may have originated to the pre-Christian Celts. People dressed up as ghosts, spirits, and witches to scare away evil on Samhain. They’d dance around the bonfire and partake of treats to appease the spirits. The Celts and others celebrated their sacred Samhain to honor the dead.

America’s Influence – Halloween and Trick or Treat Traditions were Americanized into our Pop Culture in the 1950s. Peanuts and Disney firmly established Halloween as the Kid-oriented holiday it is today with their cartoons.

Ghost Hunts, Haunted Houses, and Graveyard Tours

Halloween season is a popular time to seek out the scary. We, against our wiser nature, join other thrill-seekers inside graveyards after dark in the hopes of spotting a prowling ghost. It is the Spooky Season, and we want to be scared. Why? Maybe we want to feel the thrill of terror in our otherwise mundane lives? Or perhaps like our Celtic ancestors, we want to connect with the dead? I go on ghost tours to catch a glimpse of the supernatural. One day, I might see a bit of real magic.

Bonus – Bobbing for Apples

I ran across this little tidbit while researching my blog post. Did you know bobbing for apples was part of an ancient Roman celebration of Pomona, goddess of agriculture, and abundance? The Romans brought the festival with them when they conquered the British Isles. Bobbing for apples stuck and is still played at Halloween Parties today.

Don’t Forget Your Jack O’ Lantern! © yellowj – stock.adobe.com

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Winners

Congratulations to the Grand Prize Winner of the Creed of the Guardian Halloween Giveaway and the Where The Readers Grow Instagram Winner!

Winners!

Creed of the Guardian, Book Three in the Heart of the Warrior series, is here! 

Dark Fantasy Books

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Protect the Innocent. Punish the Guilty.

Seth the Ice Lion, now an Apprentice in the Jalora Legion, reluctantly travels aboard ship with his new battalion. Western Beta’s mission seems a dull assignment. Guarding miles of bogs and old ruins should be a simple task, but Seth soon learns nothing is easy for the Bearer of the Lion Ring. The Jalora is the embodiment of Good and the source of Seth’s power. It commands he search North Marsh for a relic capable of saving his homeland from the ravenous appetite of the Jackal invaders. Surrounded by deadly bogs and savage beasts, he must find the relic before the Lion Spirit inside of him takes control of their shared body.

Invaders from across the sea hold a firm grip on Valdeon, but their thirst for blood remains unsated. They lust for the riches of Andara. Using fear and greed as weapons, the Jackal enlist aid from the continent’s unscrupulous mercenaries to prepare for a larger invasion. They build a stronghold – Stone Fang Fortress – in the Bloodtooth Mountains of the north. It is here they prepare to conquer the free world.

Will Seth find this powerful relic before the Jackal swarm invades Andara? Or will his people be enslaved under the iron fist of the Jackal Lord? Seth’s answers hide in the deadly bogs of North Marsh…

Excerpt

Chapter One

Seth D’Antoiné punched his fist into a helpless bundle of hay secured in the airship’s hold. Trapped like mindless livestock, he and his best friend—his squire, Riley Logan—had been herded inside a reinforced section of the hull. The suffocating enclosure was typically used to house mounts for the Jalora Legion’s traveling rangers. Fortunately for all concerned, the battalion wasn’t taking horses with them to North Marsh.

“Great gulls! Would you stop? I’m near death, and you want to punch things.” Riley gripped the porthole with one hand and covered his mouth with the other.

“You’re already airsick? We haven’t set sail yet. Our journey to North Marsh Outpost spans three days. The trip will be a rough one if you don’t settle your stomach. Can’t you make some concoction?”

Ignoring Riley’s glare, Seth leaned against the hold wall. The Lion Ring on his finger pulsed to the beat of his angry heart. It, too, resented being caged by their uneasy allies. The Jalora was the force for good on Erthe. Its Legion consisted of men, each of whom had been bonded in service by a Heart of the Warrior ring. Every such talisman clung to its bearer’s left middle finger, feeding off the host’s blood. Seth lifted his Lion Ring and regarded it. His blood surged and ebbed with the tide inside the yellow crystal.

“They’ve no right to cage me like a beast! I have things I must do.”

His thoughts returned to the hidden passageways boring through the granite body of the Obsidian Citadel, his former duty post. A few hours before the Legion caged him, Seth had chased his murderous half-brother, Julian, to the battlements. Mercenaries had been waiting for him there, ready to fight. His new Lion Friend, Lord Fausto De Quintaro, and the men of Valdeon had stood with Seth to drive the villains from the stronghold. Fausto had vowed to return to Valdeon with rebellion in mind. Seth desperately wanted to go with him, but the Jalora Legion had other plans in mind for the new bearer of the Lion Ring.

“Aye. But you’ve been grousing for the last half-hour. Please give me a little peace so I can calm my aching head.” Riley swayed forward with a groan. “Tell me what happened when you met with that foul-tempered uncle of yours. As quietly as possible, if you please.”

Seth’s uncle, Esteban D’Antoiné, was a prince of Valdeon and bearer of the Hawk Ring. His very name sent Seth’s temper surging. Esteban’s intrigues had ripped their family apart.

“Hawk was the ranger who bargained with the assassin Pavel Sandor on Marianna,” Seth reminded his friend. “My uncle found Mother when I was a baby and promised her he would protect us by keeping my existence secret. Hawk assumed he had Pavel under his control. We both know his madness was uncontainable.” Seth ran a hand across his face. “My uncle claims he sends us with the Phoenix for my protection.”

Riley sighed. “Who knows what waits for us at the end of this journey. I’m not sure I trust that uncle of yours. It seems to me he should have waited for Cardinal Dragon to return.”

Find out more about the series on my website: www.crrichards.com

The Funniest Alien Invasion Ever

Watch The Skies! © BibiDesign – stock.adobe.com

You hear those piano keys pound, and the distinct fifties sound begins. Immediately, you recognize the prologue of THE best horror comedy to come out of the 80s. I’m talking about Little Shop of Horrors, of course! Admit it. You just started singing the lyrics. I watched the movie two days ago, and I can’t stop the Da-doo.

This unique movie was adapted from an off-Broadway musical by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman that they based on a 1960 film. In 1986, Frank Oz gave it his magic touch, and a classic was born. Who can forget Audrey II, voiced by Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops? Feed Me, Seymor!

Beware the Greek Chorus

Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon are the mysterious girls who appear throughout the movie as musical narrators. You know something’s about to happen when they start singing. I love their costumes and hairstyles. Each look fits the song and circumstances perfectly.

The strength of their voice talent adds to this outstanding musical score. Every song is gold. They get stuck in your brain until you have to sing along.

Cosmic Comedic Cast

The cast of Little Shop of Horrors is a list of “Who’s Who” in the comedy scene of the 80s. Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, Bill Murray, Jim Belushi, John Candy, and others I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

We can’t overlook the amazing puppeteers behind the inner workings of Audrey II. That was one huge plant, and I’m sure it took a large crew to make this flowery invader come to life.

I give this movie Five out of Five Intergalactic Green Thumbs!

It’s Release Week!

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Embrace the Creepy – Five Must Do October Activities

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October is all about the Spooky Season. Relishing in the creepiness, we seek out ways to scare ourselves. Horror movies and scary books are a great start. Why not take it to the next level? All Hallows Eve only comes once a year after all.

Here are my top Five Spooky Season Activities:

#5 – Fall Festivals – Think pumpkin patches, cider and hayrides

#4 – Horror Classics on the Big Screen – Grab a bucket of popcorn and attend a special showing of your favorite classic horror flick at the local movie theatre

#3 – Zombie Crawl – Plaster your best Walking Dead make up on and join the rest of the mob as they search for brains in your city

#2 – Haunted Houses (or Amusement Parks) – Enter at your own risk for a ghoulish good time! While these are super scary, I have to say, “Ghoul Please!” I was at a REALhaunted house this weekend. Which brings me to my #1 October Activity.

#1 – Ghost Tours – I’ve been on ghost tours and hunts all over the United States and some places in other countries as well. These tours are always an eye opener, especially when you discover the chilling history of your home town.

Bonus Activity – Regional Events. Your home state/province is unique. Clever organizers use that special something to plan themed events. Here in Colorado, one of our special somethings is our mountains. A few of the foothill and mountain towns offer haunted trail walks through the creepy woods at night.

So many October activities. So little time! Let that inner little kid dressed in the super hero costume out. Go have some fun!

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.Be Spooky. Be Gruesome. Be Goofy.

A special Halloween treat on DTJ next week! Stop by for a book cover reveal for Creed of the Guardian(Book Three of the Heart of the Warrior series)!

No Sweetie. Vampires Aren’t Sparkly

5 Reasons Why Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the Best Version of Himself

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Sparkly, but sullen teenage vampire hunks. Cutesy fanged monster toddlers. Friendly blood suckers who own hotels and throw parties. The entertainment industry has taken a classic horror icon and defanged him.

I’m a Dracula purist. Nothing evoked more fear in my childhood than the mere mention of the legendary vampire. Bram Stoker’s book haunted my imagination and inspired me to write tales of dark fantasy and horror.

Here are 5 reasons why Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the best version of himself:

 

  1. He is “The Count.” While Polidori penned “The Vampyre” decades before, Bram Stoker made Dracula an unforgettable classic character.
  2. His story is weaved with mysteries that keep the reader enthralled.
  3. Stoker’s book contains the common elements of Horror with a terrifying villain, elicits feelings of fear and dread, immerses the readers in a macabre world.
  4. His intelligence and power over his victims add a psychological terror element many of the other horror classics lack.
  5. Dracula is iconic. Put on a cape and fangs for Halloween. Everybody will immediately recognize your costume.

Dracula is my favorite monster of all time. If you’re looking for a horror classic to read during the Spooky Season, give it a try.

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.Be Spooky. Be Gruesome. Be Goofy.

 

Are You Ready for The Zombie Apocalypse?

They’re coming, and they want your brains!

© mike silent – Stock.Adobe.Com

Be warned, Dear Reader. A pestilence is chewing its way toward your home town. The chilly fingers of October herald their coming. Summer gardens wither under their rotting feet. Look for them in the darkened skies of All Hallows’ Eve.

You can’t run. Their lumbering bodies will infest the streets, making it impossible to navigate toward the safety of open country. You’ve been warned. Be prepared to ward these Zombies off with brightly illuminated Jack O’ Lanterns and the “Good” chocolate.

What to do if you’re away from your fortress and surrounded? Prepare in advance. Learn from Master Zombie Hunters. Here is a list of essential Zombie Fighting Guides:

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.Be Spooky. Be Gruesome. Be Goofy.

What Tales of Terror Are on Your Book Shelf?

The Spooky Season is upon us! It’s time for warm cider, pumpkin cookies and scary stories. Whether you indulge your ravenous appetite for ghosts and ghouls on the screen or in hard copy print, nothing is better than being captured in the pages of a book.

Looking for some “scare the pants right off you” ideas? Here are a few great places to check for suggested reading:

© Sergey Nivens – Stock.Adobe.Com

Goodreads Lists– Here you can find a list of reader favorites for every genre. Try Horror and Paranormal in October for perfect Spooky Season suggestions.

Horror Writers Association– Why not look to the experts at Horror.org? As a member of HWA, I’ve had the opportunity to meet several of these gifted authors. You may recognize some of the Bram Stoker Award Winners on their website.

Grab a book or better yet, let a book grab you!

Be Positive. Be Happy. Be Well.