Halloween Extravaganza: Rachel Aukes: Halloween

My Favorite Holiday;
My Dog’s Least Favorite Holiday

I love Halloween. Not for the treats, though I loved trick-or-treating as a child. What I love about the holiday is the chance for anyone to dress up any way they want; they can be any one they want. Now, I wish people treated every day as Halloween, but that’s not the world we live in, so I’ll savor the one night a year when the world goes wild.

My dog goes wild, too. Even though she’d prefer not to.

I have a fifty-pound Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. She’s a hunting dog. She loves to hunt, point, flush, chase, and retrieve. She is an outdoorsy dog that has terrified the local squirrel, chipmunk, and rabbit populations. She does not like dressing up.

She’s two and a half years old right now, which means she’s worn two costumes and will be wearing her third soon.

Ellie’s first Halloween came when she was only six months old. If you’ve never had a puppy, six months is the age of boundless energy, endless curiosity, and destructive playfulness. Knowing this, I bought her a simple harness with angel wings. I thought, she wears a harness on walks so this will be perfect! Nope. The wings lasted roughly three point two seconds before she figured out how to reach one. Her angel costume had become a fallen angel costume, which, looking back, does fit her personality better.

Ellie’s second Halloween came for an older and better trained dog. I found the perfect Halloween costume for her. She dressed up as her favorite character: the UPS driver. You see, we have Jimmy, the best UPS driver of all time. With every package he delivers, he’d leave a treat for Ellie. I swear, she could hear his truck from a mile away and would be waiting, in a perfect “sit” position, for her inevitable treat. And so when I came across a costume of a UPS driver in my dog’s size, I knew it’d be perfect.

She did far better her second Halloween. Her costume lasted nearly a minute before she’d torn into the mini package on the front of the costume. She was disappointed that there were no treats within.

(Note: I couldn’t get a good picture of Ellie in her UPS Driver costume as there were too many things for her to chew on: the hat, arms, package, you name it—it was truly irresistible to her. Attempt 1: Ellie was intent on shredding an arm. Attempt 2: I had to snap a picture the split-second after I said, “treat!” She resumed chewing immediately after the shot.)

For Ellie’s third Halloween, I haven’t yet picked out her costume, though I certainly will get her one. After all, it’s a tradition. So, help me! Give me ideas for Ellie’s Halloween costume. And maybe, your idea will turn into a costume my dog will model for at least ten minutes (fingers crossed) this year!

Rachel Aukes is a science fiction writer with over twenty books in print, including 100 Days in Deadland, which made Suspense Magazine’s Best of the Year list. She is also a Wattpad Star, her stories having over six million reads. Her popular Tidy Guides series covers tips on writing, editing, and publishing your first novel. When not writing, Rachel can be found flying old airplanes with her husband and an incredibly spoiled 50-pound lap dog over central Iowa.

Fringe 5: Fringe Legacy

It’s an age of heroes and sacrifices. 
The colonies won their independence.
But they are not at peace.

New enemies come at the fragile Alliance of Free Colonies. Assassination attempts. Kidnappings. Murder.

When Aramis Reyne is nearly killed, he turns the tables and hunts the hunters. He learns things are not as they seem. When Critch disappears, he must make an impossible rescue. 

If Reyne fails, the Alliance will fall. War will claim the colonies once again. 
The race is on and time is running out.

The Tidy Guide to Writing a Novel

Learn to write a novel in 30 minutes!

Do you dream of writing a novel, but not sure where to start? Have you been working on a book for ages but feel stuck? Despite all your best efforts, do you feel overwhelmed? The Tidy Guide to Writing a Novel brings you a no-nonsense approach to write your book right the first time. 

In this guide, you’ll learn how to: 
• Plan and organize your story ideas by breaking them out into easy, digestible bites 
• Use the simple yet mighty Little Ups approach to confidently write your first draft and subsequent drafts

The Tidy Guide to Writing a Novel is a 30-minute read that’s jam-packed with information essential for writers at any stage in their careers.

Halloween Extravaganza: Matthew C. Woodruff: Embrace Your Weirdness

I have to get better at organizing these guest posts if I plan to keep the subject “Halloween,” as I noticed that, in my “struggle” to get over a hundred authors involved, that I missed out on a few of these guest posts that I should have posted before Halloween. This is one of them. He talks about the struggle of choosing a costume as an adult, a struggle that I go through as well. Now you have… what? 341 days… to decide.

Embrace Your Weirdness

When I was young I was not allowed to celebrate Halloween. The idea of ghosts, witches and spirits returned from the dead was considered, I kid you not – Satanic. My parents were believers in a very conservative and ancient form of Christianity.

Now as an adult (at least in body) I see Halloween for what it is – a harmless opportunity to take on the alter ego of a favorite character, dead or alive. Outside of Comic Con and Furry Con there is very little opportunity for an adult to embrace their other selves. Halloween gives us the perfect opportunity to not only embrace our weirdness but to fit right in with everyone else.

Last Halloween I dressed as a Day of the Dead character – complete with face paint, top hat and walking cane. There is something oddly liberating in being masked, giving us the illusion of freedom from how we see ourselves and our own limitations.

This year I am yet undecided on how I may dress. The bummer is I have a doctor’s appointment that day so I will be limited as to what I can wear. I will have to reach within myself and pull out a realization of what my inner self wants to be.

Will I be an alien? Maybe, I like aliens but what is the psychology behind wanting to be something as alien as an alien? Will I go Goth? I could, after all, all the books I write are dark – dark humor, dark fiction… or I could transform myself into a monster – a Vampyre, a Zombie, a Werewolf. But am I, inside, any of those things? Pirates, Ninjas and Princesses – to me all those characters are too trite. I’m not any of those either.

Maybe I should stop and take an inventory of myself. I am anxiety-ridden. I am sarcastic. I am funny. I am tired. I am fueled by coffee, doughnuts and cats (I don’t eat the cats). I worry about where I’m going to park. I drink margaritas, when I drink. I count the number of things. I don’t kill bugs. I still do math on my fingers.

Of course, I’ve got it. I will just dress as myself, after all what could be weirder than that?

Whatever or whomever you decide to dress as this year, have a Happy Halloween!

Matthew grew up in upstate New York surrounded by books (and snow). After founding what became the most widely distributed alternative arts and entertainment magazine in upstate NY (based in Albany), Matthew moved to Greenville, FL where he accepted a position on staff at the University of Florida.

His first book, 26 Absurdities of Tragic Proportions, was inspired by his love of the macabre illustrations by artists like Edward Gorey. Selected as a finalist in the American Fiction Awards, 26 Absurdities may be the most unique collection of short stories ever written.

Matthew’s second book, Tales from the Aether, continues in the Dark Humor/Dark Fiction genre and is scheduled to be released November 1, 2019.

Matthew loves to be contacted by fellow authors and readers and can be found on Twitter or Facebook.

26 Absurdities of Tragic Proportions: Unusual & Enjoyable Tales

Awarded Finalist Prize in the 2019 American Fiction Awards ‘Short Stories’ Category by American Book Fest. 

An utterly fascinating collection of short tales inspired by Edward Gorey’s alphabetical illustrations in “The Gashlycrumb Tinies.” These tales capture the essence of dark humor and satire with one tale for each child depicted in Gorey’s most famous illustrations. These tales are all about human behavior, characteristics, chance and choice, and life and death. From mystery to sci-fi from drama to fairy tale and from adventure to gothic, this book has something for everyone.

Tales from the Aether: Extraordinary Tales of Dark Fiction, Dark Humor, & Horror

In this extraordinary collection of ‘dark’ short stories, Matthew C. Woodruff explores the timeless questions of Joy, Fear, Love, Loss, Foreboding and Incomprehension. All set around particular holidays, the characters in these twelve stories experience things we can only imagine. These stories will make the reader stop to wonder if anyone ever really knows those closest to them or even the world around them.

Halloween Extravaganza: Mark Sheldon: A Brief History of My Creative Mash-Up Halloween Costumes

Halloween has always been my favorite of all holidays. The earliest Halloween I remember, I was about four or five years old – mostly I remember it, because my dad had a fairly extensive video made of the party with his now-antique VHS recorder. My mom went as a witch, dad was Count Dracula, and I was a lion (though I didn’t wear the head piece very much because it was too hot!) We had this big walk-in pantry that we’d turned into a haunted maze, we had a bucket for bobbing for apples on the porch, dad had carved two pumpkins into Bert and Ernie heads, and there were skeletons and ghosts hanging everywhere.

Dressing up in costumes, though, I think was always my favorite part. My favorite costume of all time was one I made first back when I was going to college in Boston. I bought a UFO alien mask and gloves, stitched a pair of Groucho Marx onto the mask, and pulled on a hoodie sweatshirt over the whole thing so that I was an alien trying to pose as a human. A few years later, I added on a Rastafari dreadlocks wig to the ensemble. No particular reason, really.

Another year I went as Sherlock The Ripper – I had a long black coat and top hat, fake handlebar mustache, a bloody knife, and a Sherlock Holmes pipe and magnifying glass. At night he put on a fake mustache and went around London dissecting Protestants. By day, he removed the mustache and pretended to attempt to solve the crimes he had committed, so as to alleviate suspicion. That year, my wife Betsy went as Afronighty, the Roman Goddess of Dusk. Our theme was that we were bad high school essays.

Most recently, I punned out my job as a hotel night auditor and went as Sir Abacus, a Knight Auditor of the Rounded-Up Table. I had the full knight’s armor complete with an old-school accountant’s visor and a spool of calculator tape attached to my belt. The hotel’s general manager loved it so much she insisted I wear it on my shift, despite the official dress code policy.

Mark Sheldon is the author of The Noricin Chronicles and the Sarah Killian series. He has also published a collection of short stories titled Mores From the Maelstrom. He lives in Southern California with his wife Betsy.

Sarah Killian 1: Serial Killer (for Hire!)

Meet Sarah Killian, a professional serial killer (for hire!) with a twisted sense of humor.

Sarah Killian is not your average thirty year-old single woman. Foul-mouthed, mean-spirited, and a text-book-case loner. Also, she is a Professional Serial Killer. 

In this Crime Fiction / Thriller novel with a twisted sense of humor, Sarah works for T.H.E.M. (Trusted Hierarchy of Everyday Murderers), a secret organization of murderers for hire headed up by the mysterious Zeke. You’ll be surprised to learn who their biggest clients are. Conspiracy theories, anyone? 

But a wrench is thrown into the clockwork of Sarah’s comfortable lifestyle when, on her latest assignment, she is forced to take on an apprentice, Bethany—a bubbly, perky, blonde with a severe case of verbal-vomit. In short, Bethany is everything Sarah is not. 

Will Sarah be able to adjust and work with her new apprentice, or will she break her contract with T.H.E.M. and murder the buxom bimbo?

So if you’re looking for a strong female lead that doesn’t care what you think, in a book similar to the best of Dean Koontz and J.A. Konrath, then look no further than Sarah Killian – Serial Killer (For Hire). 

Just don’t call her an ‘assassin.’ You might not live long enough to regret it.

Sarah Killian 2: The Mullet of Madness

Have you ever woken one morning with a burning, insatiable desire to go out and kill someone?

Sarah Killian, a notoriously foul-mouthed and mean-spirited serial killer for hire, along with her cohort assassin Mary Sue Keller, are back on assignment for the Trusted Hierarchy of Everyday Murderers (T.H.E.M.).

After receiving an ominous warning from a mark-gone-wrong, it becomes clear that Nick Jin—Sarah’s former nemesis—is still at large and singling her out.

Sarah and Mary Sue are dispatched to Tennessee to discreetly kill off an accused family of KKK organizers, but their true mission is to lure Nick Jin into a trap. But will Nick—always several steps ahead of T.H.E.M.—see their bait for what it is? One thing is guaranteed: blood will be shed.

In the spirit of Sidney Sheldon, Dean Koontz, and Joss Whedon,The Mullets of Madness is a truly unique blend of horror, suspense and espionage.