The official newsletter of author and Halloween expert Lisa Morton
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Hi Gang!

Hope your 2017 has been happy thus far.

You're receiving this because you signed up via either the Secret Santa Giveaway, Rafflecopter, my website, or my personal groveling, and I'm very grateful you did! I hope to get a newsletter out every month (pardon me in advance if I'm sometimes a bit tardy). I'll try to make them entertaining, maybe a little enlightening, and offer some cool freebie every month.

Here's what you'll find:

If you like movies, the "Still Life" column will pull a photo from one of my personal faves and I'll dissect what I love about the movie and the photo.

You probably love Halloween like I do, so "The Halloween Spirit" will offer tips on celebrating the best holiday year 'round.

Because I'm always discovering weird stuff in my research, the "Strange Fruit" column will share some of that.

"WIP It" will talk (as much as I'm allowed to!) about some upcoming stuff from me. And lastly, you'll be able to find the obligatory links on where you can grab some of my newest stuff.

Let's have some fun with this thing! Feel free to drop me a line at lisa@lisamorton.com and tell me what you think, if there's something you'd like me to talk about, whatever. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, etc. for the latest news (got all the social media links below).

See you around the 'sphere.

Lisa

 
Still Life
In which I rhapsodize about favorite movie photos from my collection
When I was a kid - yes, this is one of those "back when we only had three channels on television" remembrances - afternoons were movie time. The local channels would buy syndicated packages of movies ("The Million Dollar Movie" is one that especially makes me laugh nowadays), often fantasies that home-from-school preteens might enjoy. They ran all the Universal horror films, Karel Zeman's astonishing movies (where IS a great DVD of The Fabulous Baron Munchausen, anyway?!), and Jules Verne adaptations.

And then there was George Pal's 1964 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.

Among all the fantasy films of the '50s and '60s - and there were a lot then, with all the Harryhausen flicks and the afore-mentioned Verne adaptations - Dr. Lao was unique for a number of reasons.

It has a sensational lead performance from Tony Randall, who is so good here it's a shame he's now thought of chiefly as the prissy half of The Odd Couple (Pal, by the way, originally envisioned Peter Sellers in the role).

It has astonishing make-ups by Bill Tuttle, and awesome stop motion-animation by Jim Danforth (who can forget the Loch Ness monster, sprouted from a tiny betta fish, rampaging across the American southwestern desert?).

But most interesting of all is its almost-subversive adult sensibility.

Based on Charles Finney's somewhat nihilistic novel The Circus of Dr. Lao, George Pal's movie explores mature topics like why greed is bad, romantic self-delusion, the hardest parts of coming-of-age, and - yes - sexuality. Because there, stuck in the middle of what's often dismissed as a children's fantasy movie, is a flat-out tribute to eroticism.

It's a scene in which Barbara Eden, the small town schoolmarm, encounters Pan, the God of Joy. She finds herself alone with the satyr, in his little isolated enclave of grapevines, and he begins to seduce her, even transforming from Tony Randall to the film's handsome younger male lead John Ericson.

The barechested, tarantella-like dance Pan performs around the schoolteacher leaves her panting and sweat-slicked, and the silent anticipation as he dangles a grape before her parted lips is both highly charged and ultimately awful, when the moment is interrupted by the arrival of a gaping tour group.

It's one of the greatest scenes of seductus interruptus ever filmed, and it's given me a lifelong appreciation for satyrs.

 
The Halloween Spirit
Tips for keeping it going all year 'round
Halloween may have been over two months ago, but my first at attempt at a yard haunt is still fresh in my head. Forgive me, then, if we're in the winter holidays and here I am offering Halloween haunt tips.

First off, if you've ever thought before about doing something more than just a carved jack-o'-lantern on your front porch for Halloween night...DO IT. It's fun to design, it's fun to put together, it provides a project that the entire family can get involved with creatively, and it's the best to see the huge grins on the faces of the Halloween trick or treaters.

You don't have to put weeks into your haunt to have something that will delight Halloween fans of all ages; for under a hundred bucks (although we spent more...ahem...) and a few trips to the local hardstore, you can put together a magical Halloween display. Among my best tips:
  •     Lighting your display is crucial. If your house is like mine, you may have to run long extension cords from bathrooms and kitchens, so you'll want to decide in advance what gets plugged in. Solar lights are a great way to illuminate your display without using another precious socket (and solar lights look nice on your trees and landscaping all year long). Battery-operated LEDs are another option.
  •     Create a fog effect with just a few dollars' worth of dry ice. Instead of using up another outlet with a fog machine, think low-tech! A lot of supermarkets carry dry ice; it's usually sold in slabs (I think the slabs are 5 lbs. each). Get yourself a large container (plastic Halloween witch cauldrons work great), put a nice big chunk of dry ice in there, position the container, and pour very hot water onto the ice (the water should not be boiling, though). Ouila! Fog will spill out and cover your space nicely. The only drawback to this method is that the fog will dissipate quickly, especially if there's a breeze, but the dry ice is cheap enough that you can stock up (and if you have to store it overnight, it'll stay nice and firm in any large ice chest). REMEMBER: you can burn yourself with even the slightest touch of dry ice, so ALWAYS be cautious and use protective gloves when working with dry ice.
  •     Pick up next year's decorations cheap this year. Hit a Spirit Halloween store on November 1st - everything is 50% off. But don't wait, because the store may be gone by November 2nd!

You can read more about my haunt, see a gallery of photos, and even watch a video walk-through at my blog.
The Blog
Strange Fruit
The weirdest thing I've recently uncovered in my research
I recently had to research a historical piece set against the backdrop of the Kennedy White House in 1963; the piece involved J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, and some of his squabbles with JFK and Bobby Kennedy.

I knew only a little about Hoover. I knew he was somewhat power-mad and that time hasn't been especially kind to this rep, but I had no idea of how thoroughly despicable some of his actions were.

He didn't like the great civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who he thought had Communist ties. He set up surveillance on King (with Bobby Kennedy's consent), and discovered that King was no saint - the reverend had mistresses.

Okay, so King was only human...but what Hoover did was way less than human: in 1964, he oversaw an effort by the Bureau to urge King to commit suicide. They did it by sending the Reverend an anonymous letter that threatened to go public with details of his affairs. The letter was unearthed in 2014.

Hard to create any fictional horror that can equal this real-life act of villainy.
Read the Real Story
WIP It
My current works-in-progress
The above-mentioned JFK/Hoover/1963 research was for a novella called "The Dreams in the White House" that will be appearing in the first volume of the new series called The Lovecraft Squad, edited by Stephen Jones and coming in 2017 from Titan Books. Steve calls this intriguing series a "mosaic novel", and I can tell you that the other authors include Brian Hodge and Steve Rasnic Tem (I know that because I've been trading story notes with them).

Ellen Datlow and I have now finished up the editing on Hallows' Eve, the next official HWA anthology. I'm ridiculously happy with the range and quality of the stories we've assembled. Here's hoping we'll have a cover reveal soon! In the meantime, you can read about the contributors here.

Lots of new short stories have turned up in anthologies and magazines lately - see below for the most recent ones.

 

CD Select: Lisa Morton

Cemetery Dance is now offering my short story mini-collection in an affordable signed and limited print edition. The four stories included are "Joe and Abel in the Field of Rest", "Pound Rots in Fragrant Harbour", "Black Mill Cove", and the Bram Stoker Award-winning "Tested". Also available in e-book form.
Reserve Your Copy NOW!
This new anthology of politically-themed horror includes my story "The Fool on the Hill".
Rock the Vote

Malediction

My third novel, the Bram Stoker Award-nominated Malediction, is now available in an affordable e-book from Cemetery Dance. Malediction is about the cursed history of Los Angeles, the dangers of folklore, and the intersection between healing and hurting. Also available in ePub format from Mysterious Galaxy.
Come to haunted L.A.!
The big Joe Hill double issue includes my story "The Rich are Different", with an illustration by Steven Gilbert.
Make it a Double
Did you get my free Kindle e-book Ghosts for Christmas in December? If not, here's your second chance! This will be free for you to download until February 1st, so don't delay! And if you wonder why getting a book with the word "Christmas" in the title is a good thing in January, rest assured that the four ghost stories in this mini-collection are anything but cheerful...
Sorry - this giveaway is over
Copyright © 2017 Lisa Morton All rights reserved.

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