There a only a few days left before the veil between this world and the next thins, and the distinction between what is real, and what is more than real, becomes merely a figment of your imagination. To celebrate, I am partying like it’s October 31 with not one but TWO magical bloggers:

The Wicked Faerie Queen:

Something Wicked This Way Comes Graphic

and Vanessa of A Fanciful Twist.
Halloween Tea Party Button
All month I’ve been giving you a sneak peek at my first yard haunt. It didn’t go exactly according to plan, but I’m still pretty happy with how it looks!


And of course, a graveyard is just a field without a story. I’ve got a fun little flash fiction story for all you trick-or-treaters:

La Bruja

“I will have him, Brother.” Rosa hissed. Her venomous tone clashed with the quiet peace of June twilight.

Alejandro handed his sister a glass of wine. While she soothed her temper, he watched Michael, the man she desired, kneel before the daughter of their host, offering her a golden ring.

“He seems to have chosen youth and innocence over wisdom and power, Sister.” Alejandro replied.

“He shall reconsider.”

“Friends! Join me in toasting my daughter and my new son in law!” Don Guerezzo approached.

“You have nothing to toast, Señor. Your daughter shall remain unwed.” Rosa did not trouble herself to be tactful with the father of her rival.

Don Guerezzo stopped smiling and looked between Alejandro and Rosa. “This is a new era, Señorita. We do not believe in la bruja any longer. Be well, friends.”

Rosa smiled as he left to enjoy the congratulations of his other guests. “Then you are a fool.” She whispered. “Come, brother. We have not much time, and you have a young girl to seduce.”

Read the rest of La Bruja

Happy Halloween! Go – mingle, and discover some other fun fantasy bloggers linking up to Something Wicked This Way Comes and the Halloween Tea Party at A Fanciful Twist!

It’s October! The month starts out innocently enough, with colorful leaves and a breeze that’s just a little cooler than September’s. It lulls you into thinking October is nothing more than a time of quiet after the chaos and heat of September. But wait . . . the breeze will bite you soon enough, ripping those pretty leaves from their branches. As October builds, the veil between worlds thins, and you never quite know what is real and what is more than real.

haunted house

Haunted House By Harald Hoyer from Schwerin, Germany [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been watching shows on haunted houses, and I realized something. I don’t hate horror and fright. But I dread haunted houses, because every one I’ve ever seen has relied on cheap thrills rather than real, spine-tingling horror. The kind of horror that leaves you craving well-lit spaces and mindless chatter. The kind that makes you question what you thought you knew about reality.

So of course, I started thinking about the type of haunted house I would design, if I had unlimited time and resources. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit, actually.

The Story Is Everything

Most haunted houses have a theme, but that’s not the same as telling a story. I want to walk through an old mansion where something happened. I want to hear its history – or a more interesting version of its history, perhaps. I want to figure out the mystery as I go through the attraction.

Maybe the ghost of a young woman haunts the attic, where she waits for her lover. (It’s not original, but it’s a start. It’s a story that tugs at our hearts, even though we know how it ends.) Of course, he never comes – but why not? Maybe he was waylaid on his way, one fateful night, by the girl’s protective, sinister father. Or the jealous suitor she rejected – or the one who never had the courage to court her.

Maybe she simply wasted away in this attic, until one night she thought she saw him riding toward her, and she jumped, certain he would catch her – except that what she saw was nothing more than his ghost.

A Place Where Reality Isn’t So Solid

Throughout the house, instead of relying on startles and gore, you would see shadows and hear far-off voices. Some of it would be illusion, of course. But did that door just move?

Or maybe the haunted house would reverse roles – making guests the ghosts who weave, barely noticed, through the reality of the ghostly world.

Immersive Theater

Blum House Entertainment in Los Angeles is doing something similar to what I have in mind – an immersive, interactive theater experience called The Purge: Fear the Night, in which you are thrust into a situation and your choices affect the outcome of the story. If you’re in the L.A. area, check it out and let me know what it’s like!

The Purge is close to what I have in mind, but it’s not quite right. Throughout the experience, you know it’s theater. You don’t leave the event questioning what you thought you knew to be true. That is really the experience I’m after. Do you know if any haunted house that fits the description? Share in the comments.

Last week, I wrote about my latest insanity…er…project: The Yardless Yard Haunt. The madness has officially begun! Sure, on the outside, the house still looks like a boring suburban townhouse, but in my office….well, you can see the carnage for yourself:

Yard Haunt Attack of the Styrofoam

Attack of the Styrofoam!

That was my office! For the weekend, I had an extra table set up so I could create full-sized templates while my assistant cut the styrofoam. So far, the gravestones aren’t looking too bad!

Yardless Yard Haunt gravestones

Gravestones, ready for engraving.

This weekend, I’ll do the detail work and carve out the engravings. Which means I’d better get to work composing epitaphs! These will be how I’ll do my foreshadowing so guests will get a hint of what’s to come in the story.

I’ve always had this love-hate relationship with Halloween. On one hand, it’s the one night of the year when even the most rational among us (you know who you are!) can feel the magic in the air, and avoids those haunted places full of spirits he doesn’t quite believe in. On the other hand, I have vivid and cringe-worthy childhood memories of coming up with wildly creative costumes only to be met by hostile stares and the Worst. Question. Ever: “What are you supposed to be?”

I spend most of October watching those shows about over-the-top Halloween decorations and haunted houses, and I keep telling myself, “I can’t do that – I don’t have a yard.” or “I don’t have time.” This year, I’m calling my own bluff. I’ve wanted to do a really cool yard haunt forever, so…why not?


There are limitations, of course. I still don’t have a yard. I live in the back of a neighborhood that – sadly – doesn’t really *do* Halloween. I have a few neighbors who actively campaign against Halloween because it doesn’t fit their specific religious beliefs. I also have young kids who are scared by the creepier animatronics in the Halloween stores.


I’ll have to make every inch count, since I don’t have very many of them to work with. And I’ll have to work at keeping the scene nicely layered, so the grown-ups and older kids get a satisfying creep without frightening the little ones. As for the neighbors, I’ve thought about it. They’re not going to like what I’m doing, but in the end, I’m not going to *not* carry out what I think is a very cool project, just because they might make a stink about it. If they’re going to try and bully me to take it down, let them. But I’m not going to pre-emptively bully myself into not starting. I did enough of that as a teenager.

As for the problem of being in the back of a neighborhood that doesn’t get much action on Halloween night, there’s not much I can do about that. So I’m going to share my yard haunt with you instead!


Here’s my blank slate:

Yard Haunt Before


The one problem I have with most Halloween yard haunts is that the good ones might have a theme, but there’s very rarely a story involved. I’m out to change that! In fact, the story I have in mind is going to evolve over the next several years. This year, I’m setting the scene. Next year, you’ll meet the characters and get to know their *cough* fatal flaws. After that….you’ll just have to wait to find out!

Next Steps

For the next two weeks, I’ll be hard at work building gravestones. My biggest challenge right now is figuring out a way to let viewers know that this is a place where something terrible is about to happen. Any suggestions for creating a sense of impending doom, without scaring the little ones?

UPDATE: Attack of the Styrofoam!