As I stockpile candy and get ready for the trick-or-treaters, I’ve been thinking back to some of my Halloweens as a kid. What was my favorite Halloween costume? Well, I can’t recall most of them. I do remember my sister and I wearing matching clown costumes that my mother made for us when we were very young. Mine was pink and hers was blue. When I outgrew mine, my sister wore it and my little brother wore the blue one. (Hand-me-downs were a big thing in my family.) Most of my costumes were homemade. My mom sewed some of them. Others were cobbled together using old dance recital costumes and stuff from around the house. I think my favorite was my red princess costume. I wore a small crown and a red satin leotard from a prior dance recital, and my mom crafted a full-length red tulle skirt for me that skimmed the floor and swayed back and forth as I walked. I don’t remember how old I was that Halloween, but I couldn’t have been more than 8 or 9. I do remember walking from house to house trick-or-treating and feeling absolutely regal. My Halloween princess costume was nothing compared to the Disney dress-up costumes that girls have today, those sparkly little things made to look just like the ball gowns of Cinderella, Elsa or Rapunzel. Nevertheless, that red, homemade costume made me feel fancy, grown-up and very special. Thanks, Mom!
I spent this past weekend with my youngest niece and nephews. My husband and I joined them (and their parents) for a weekend at Disney World. It was fun and exhausting, and we ate far too much. Possibly because of the hot weather or maybe because we were simply on vacation, we all ate an above-average amount of ice cream. We were limited in the flavors we could choose at most of the ice cream stands: vanilla, chocolate or a swirl of both. (I usually chose the swirl because I was too tired to pick between the two.) However, if my choices are unlimited, I will usually choose mint chocolate chip. (This is assuming I don’t have to eat it all day, every day. See my early post for this particular hypothetical dilemma.) I don’t know when I was first introduced to mint chocolate chip ice cream, but it’s been my favorite since I can remember having a favorite. I can blame my mother for this particular penchant, because mint chocolate chip is her favorite as well, and I’m sure she’s the one who got me hooked. Curiously, when my sister was very young, she liked ice cream that began with the letter ‘B’: banana, black cherry and bubblegum were her top three favorites. Over the years, I’m sure her tastes have changed, evolved and expanded to include more of the alphabet. All that being said, I ate enough ice cream this past weekend, regardless of the flavor, to last me awhile… or at least until next weekend.
I am thrilled and honored that my short story, The Bench at the End of the Dock, was selected by Jacksonville Magazine as the winner of their 2016 Fiction Writing Contest. Go buy a copy of their October 2016 issue! It’s on newsstands now. (This issue was a bit delayed making it to the shops – no thanks to Hurricane Matthew, I’m sure.) You’ll find my short story on page 90.
I confess that I almost didn’t enter the contest. With only a few weeks until the deadline, I decided to write this story and submit it. It was an exhausting and emotional exercise to get this story out of my head and onto the page, but I’m very pleased with the result. Jacksonville Magazine did a lovely job with the layout, and it is so exciting to see my name in print as the story’s author. I enjoyed getting to know the characters in this story, and I think they will stay with me for a long time. I’m really pleased that JAX Mag readers get a chance to meet Guy Babbitt and Annaleigh, too, and learn just a small part of their sweet story.
Thank you, Jacksonville Magazine, for choosing my short story. It is a wonderful honor.
This week I’m reading a book that my husband gave me, one that he picked up in an airport book shop and finished on a round trip flight: David Mitchell’s Slade House. I’m about halfway through it, and, so far, it’s been a fun, quick read, and it’s proper scary – just in time for Halloween. By coincidence, I just finished Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which is also satisfyingly creepy. Reading these two books back to back has inspired me to fill my October with a healthy dose of hair-raising, spine-tingling stories. I have a stack of Stephen King books that are begging to be read. Personally, I think Stephen King is appropriate any time of year, but especially leading up to Halloween. And, I recently purchased a thick anthology of H.P. Lovecraft stories, a perfect (albeit staggeringly long) read for the Halloween season. While I’m not a big fan of horror movies, I do love horror fiction, and this is as good an excuse as any to plow through a list of macabre reads. Is it possible to overdose on scary stories? I’m willing to risk it as I try to finish as many as I can by the end of October. Cue the creaking floorboards, haunting music and eerie, maniacal laughter.