Lisa's January 2018 Newsletter (#13)
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In this issue:

Hi Gang!

Woohoo - 2018 has arrived! I've got a lot of cool stuff happening this year (see below) and I'm so thankful to all of you who will be joining me here every month for the adventure.

A lot of you are here for the first time, so welcome! It's a good time to come on board because there's a lot to celebrate: a new year, new books and stories, and this is the 13th issue of my newsletter, meaning I completed my first entire year in 2017.

So let's celebrate with an excellent giveaway this month! Last month I was sneaky with the giveaway: I ended up giving everyone who entered the contest a free e-book, so it's always worth tossing your hat into my giveaway ring. This month I'm giving away a $25 Amazon gift card, so no - I won't be giving one of those to every entrant. But one of you will definitely win, so ENTER!

Thanks again, and I hope your 2018 is a big whopping fun-filled adventure, too.

Still Life
In which I rhapsodize about favorite movie photos from my collection
Yep - it's Star Wars time here in "Still Life".

But instead of talking about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I'm going to talk a little about my history with the very first Star Wars movie (which I still can't call A New Hope). Because I definitely do have a history with that movie.

When it came out (1977), I was a teenager. But I was a teenager who attended every science fiction convention on the West Coast, and so by 1976 I knew about this new science fiction movie coming up. There was a gentleman named Charles Lippincott who was hired to promote the movie, and Charlie hit the fan conventions hard.

Charlie, however, was also a great, personable fellow who was happy to talk about the movie, so I heard all about the special effects company in Van Nuys. They were called Industrial Light and Magic. They were even in the phone book.

Which means my movie-mad friends and I had their address.

So...ahem...yes, we engaged in a little dumpster diving., we found stuff. Lots of stuff. Storyboards. Photos. Tests shot on film. Yes, I've even still got some of it - the photo above of an X-Wing fighter was part of the haul. I also still have some of the original flyers Charlie used to pass out at conventions (click here to see one).

We even took photos of ourselves with our hauls. It's interesting now to see how far we've come since those dumpster-diving days: in the photo below is (left to right) Robert "Bobby" George, who became an engineer for an aerospace company; his brother Bill George, who later went to work for ILM and won an Oscar for Inner Space; Kelly Turner, who became a major videogame designer (and who sadly passed away in 2005); and yours truly.

Sometime shortly after the film came out and it looked like they had a hit on their hands, Charlie decided to set up an official fan club. Overseeing that would be a full-time, paid position.

Charlie asked me to interview for the job. I was 18.

I didn't get it - they made the right choice and hired someone with real experience. But the fact that Charlie believed in me enough to actually have me come into an office and sit down with real P.R. people for an interview was the first time somebody really believed in me, and it gave me a confidence boost to keep going. 

As for the movie...well, you know what happened with that.
The Halloween Spirit
Tips for keeping it going all year 'round
Yeah, I know - it's a Disney movie

But doggone it, Coco is also the absolute best cinematic depiction of Dia de los Muertos ever.

And yes, I do consider Dia de los Muertos to be a separate holiday from Halloween, so I know this is a bit of a cheat in a column called "The Halloween Spirit".

But Coco really is THAT good. It's a glorious celebration of Dia de los Muertos, and it gets it right. As someone who has studied this festival in depth for several decades and who is familiar with most of the regional variations, I loved the way the movie's creators mixed and matched traditions from different areas into one seamless, glorious whole. 

As far as I'm concerned, Coco does for Dia de los Muertos what The Nightmare Before Christmas did for Halloween: it plays with the holiday's imagery and icons in a playful, yet moving story. I can easily see Jack Skellington and Ernesto de la Cruz teaming up for a duet!

When Coco comes out on home video I plan on grabbing myself a copy so I can get into that Dia de los Muertos spirit any day!
Strange Fruit
The weirdest thing I've recently uncovered in my research
Who doesn't love the mystery of a lost treasure ship?

One of history's great lost ships is the Madagascar. This British frigate, considered a fast ship, was engaged in the mid-nineteenth-century gold trade that ran from Australia to England. Under the command of the intriguingly-named Captain Fortescue Harris, the Madagascar routinely carried diggers to Australia and gold back to England.

Routinely, that is, until 1853. That July, the ship was about to set sail out of Port Phillip when detectives came aboard, investigating a recent gold theft. After finding insufficient evidence to arrest any of the Madagascar's passengers, the ship left port...and was never heard from again.

Was one of the passengers in fact a gold thief who sank the ship but somehow made off with the gold? Was the ship set upon by other pirates? Or did something less mundane happen?

In 2014, divers claimed to have found the wreck of the Madagascar, but the story was disputed. As of this writing, the Madagascar is still considered to be one of maritime history's great mysteries.
More on The Madagascar
Behind the Screams
About a Story
"Ofrenda" from Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire
As a lifelong Southern Californian, I've known about Dia de los Muertos for most of my life. By the 1990s, I was celebrating every year with thousands of other Los Angelenos. I love the way the holiday taunts Death, and I love the way it commemorates our vanished loved ones with ofrendas, elaborate tiered constructions that include photos of the deceased, their favorite food and drink, and maybe even something they loved like a favorite cigar or toy.

One of the biggest Dia de los Muertos celebrations in SoCal takes place every year at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It usually begins a few hours before sunset, and continues on until after midnight. This large-scale event includes musical performances, food and drink stands, vendors, ofrendas, parades, folkloric dancers, and more...all taking place in the confines of a cemetery.

When I first started attending the event, admission was free and crowds were reasonable (nowadays there's an entrance fee and wall-to-wall guests). It was big and spread out, with nothing but graves in between the performances and ofrendas. It was easy to imagine someone getting lost there, maybe even hurt. 

When editor Vince Liaguno asked me to contribute a story to Unspeakable Horror 2 (my story "Double Walker" had appeared in the first volume), I was thinking a lot about the Hollywood Forever Dia de los Muertos event. I took the idea of a man who has been hunted down and badly injured during the festivities, but added in a story of a lost loved one and a magical night.

The results was "Ofrenda". 
My current works-in-progress
In a recent Facebook post, I talked about some projects from 2017 that didn't come to fruition, some that may be bumped into 2018, some that were finished, and some that are upcoming.

I won't repeat all of that here, but I will add a bit more information to one of the projects: I'm pleased to announce that my first big project of 2018 will be an annotated anthology of classic ghost stories I'll be co-editing with my friend Leslie Klinger. The book will be out from a major publisher, and I'm really looking forward to digging into this one. 

The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats

The Samhanach and Other Halloween Treats is now available in e-book and print from JournalStone. It collects four novellas, ten short stories, a new introduction by Nancy Holder, and new notes about the stories from me.
Keep Halloween Going!
Ghosts: A Haunted History
My acclaimed book Ghosts: A Haunted History is now available in an affordable trade paperback.
Haunt Yourself
CD Select: Lisa Morton
CD Select: Lisa Morton is a mini-collection gathering together four tales chosen by me, with accompanying notes. Available in either e-book or signed & limited hardcover edition.
Reserve Yours Now!
The Art of Horror Movies
The Art of Horror Movies is Stephen Jones's stunning follow-up to his multiple-award-winning The Art of Horror. I wrote the chapter on "The Evil 80s".
Dive Into the Art

Haunted Nights

This anthology of all-new Halloween (and Dia de los Muertos/Devil's Night/All Souls' Eve) fiction features sixteen stories by some of the genre's hottest authors. The anthology received a starred and boxed review in Publishers Weekly, as well as raves from Rue Morgue, Locus, and many others.
Haunt Your Nights!
Halloween Carnival Volume One
Halloween Carnival includes my novelette "La Hacienda de los Muertos", plus fiction by Robert McCammon, Kevin Lucia, John R. Little, and Mark Allan Gunnells, and it's only $2.99!
More Halloween Goodies!
Unspeakable Horror 2
Unspeakable Horror 2: Abominations of Desire is the long-awaited follow-up to the Bram Stoker Award-winning first book. Includes my story "Ofrenda".
Get Unspeakable
CEA Greatest Anthology Written
This attempt to break the Guinness world record for the biggest anthology includes a Western from me (yes, a Western!) called "Black Jack Lonegan and the City of Dreams". 
Break the Record!
As I mentioned above, I was tricky last month and gave away a copy of my e-book Holiday Spirits to everyone who entered. Thanks, all, and I hope you enjoyed the stories!

Since this is the Lucky #13 issue of my newsletter, let's celebrate in style and give away a $25 Amazon gift card this month. Just click the link below to enter, and I'll use the ol' random number generator at the end of the month to choose one lucky winner. Good luck!

I Want to Win The Amazon Gift Card!
Copyright © 2017 Lisa Morton All rights reserved.

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