Lisa's July 2018 Newsletter (#19)
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Hi Gang!

So, how's your summer going so far? Mine's been all about home repairs. I know that comes with the territory when you live in a 53-year-old house that still has its original electrical panel and a 43-year-old air conditioning system, but I'm getting really tired of repairmen. My wallet is definitely feeling the summer heat!

But there's good stuff, too, like evenings with friends and summer movies and pumpkins and, of course, reading. Plus I'm heading south on July 19th to the San Diego Comic-Con, where I'll be participating in two panels. Maybe I'll see a few of you there!

Hope you all have a great 4th of July, and stay cool.

Lisa
Still Life
In which I rhapsodize about favorite movie photos from my collection
My favorite monster was always The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but the Wolf Man was a close second.

In preparation for my visit later this month to Comic-Con, I decided to take another look at one of my all-time favorite graphic novels, Emil Ferris's My Favorite Thing is Monsters. This incredible book came out in 2017, garnered tons of rave reviews and awards, and left a lot of us asking, "Who is this Emil Ferris?"

Well, turns out Emil Ferris is a 55-year-old woman. Who loves monsters.

Yeah, I can relate a little to that.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters is about a 10-year-old artist named Karen Reyes who loves monsters, and who feels so isolated from her peers that she imagines herself as a werewolf.

When I was a kid, I loved to draw. I loved to draw monsters. And I would stand in front of a mirror making werewolf or vampire faces to study the expressions. Needless to say, I never achieved the level of skill that Emil displays in her gorgeous work, but I also obviously never lost that love of monsters. Lon Chaney's 1941 lycanthrope is still beloved in my house.
The Halloween Spirit
Tips for keeping it going all year 'round
The above photo shows my 2018 pumpkins so far.

They don't look like much so far, do they? Well, they're not supposed to - I only planted them about a week ago (so I'm pleased that they germinated so quickly!).

While late June means the start of summer to most everyone else, those of us who grow pumpkins for Halloween know it's a great time to plant. Pumpkins usually take about four months to finish producing all that beautiful fruit, so mid-to-late June is a perfect time. Also, if you live here in Southern California, it means your new plants are well-established before the brutal heat of August kicks in.

This will be my third year as a pumpkin grower, and I'm trying a few new things: first off, we moved the location of our pumpkin patch to a larger space in the backyard where we can accommodate more plants (I'm aiming for five, and if you know how big pumpkin plants get, you know that's a lot of space!). Secondly, I tried a method of germination this year that's a little more complex than just throwing seeds in the ground: you actually file the edges of the seeds, soak them in warm water for a few hours, then plant them in peat pots. It's supposed to make germination happen more quickly and produce better plants.

The last thing I'm doing this year is four different varieties of pumpkins. In the past, I did the regular jack-o'-lanterns (your classic 8-12 pounders) and the Big Max, which usually hits around 40-60 pounds. I added "Spookies" this year, little 4-5 pounders.

And then I made the mistake of visiting the Harris Seed website. And OH MY GOOD GOD, are there really THAT many varieties of pumpkins?! Harris offers pumpkin seeds in a whopping 91 different varieties. Sure, I knew about white pumpkins and green pumpkins and sugar pumpkins and Atlantic Giants, but "Silver Moon", "Porcelain Doll", and "Pumpkin Toad"?

I succumbed to the lure of "Mini-warts", so that will be 2018's fourth kind of pumpkin for me. Wish me luck growing these whimsically ugly little suckers!
Visit the Harris Seeds Pumpkins
Strange Fruit
The weirdest thing I've recently uncovered in my research
Edgar Allan Poe lied.

I mean, we all know that fiction writers are kind of like professional liars. But when you see a writer offer up a quote attributed to someone else in a book or story, you kind of automatically assume that quote is real, don't you?

I recently discovered this was not always the case with Poe.

For my forthcoming annotated classic ghost story anthology, I recently went through Poe's "Ligeia". The story starts with a quote attributed to Joseph Glanvill, a seventeenth-century philosopher;

Except...Glanvill never wrote that quote. Most scholars agree that Poe made it up and attributed it to Glanvill. It seems likely that Poe also made up a few other references as well.

Well, of course...this was the days before the Internet made quote-grabbing easier!
Behind the Screams
About a Story
Ghosts: A Haunted History
 
I've never talked about the story behind one of my non-fiction works before. So I thought I'd celebrate the recent announcement of a new Bram Stoker Award category for Short Non-fiction by talking about my last non-fiction book here.

Ghosts: A Haunted History was published by Reaktion Books, the same fantastic company that did my book Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween. After completing Trick or Treat, my editor at Reaktion, Ben, told me the company was going to do a line of creature books. They'd already done books on trolls, werewolves, and Medusa. He wondered if I'd like to do one.

Ummmm....YES.

Having recently completed Zombie Apocalypse!: Washington Deceased, my brain went right to zombies. However, Ben told me zombies were already taken. I asked Ben if he had a wish list of creatures. He did, he sent it to me...and the instant I saw "ghosts" on there I knew that was it.

The deal was set up, contracts negotiated and signed, deadlines put into place. I started reading everything ghost-related I could get my hands on. I was surprised to find that there were very few histories out there, and all of them focused almost entirely on ghosts in the western tradition.

I knew then that I wanted to cover ghosts not just throughout history, but also around the world.

I also knew that was potentially overwhelming, or at least very ambitious. I had a word count limit of 50,000 words.

Now, let me talk a little about my approach to non-fiction: as I've written elsewhere, I approach non-fiction in much the same way I approach fiction. I want to entertain the reader, to tell stories. Would I have enough room to spread out from time to time and tell some of the amazing stories I was already finding in nineteenth-century travel and folklore books?

So, here's how it played out: I was working on Ghosts in 2014, and everything was going swimmingly...until my life took some very abrupt turns. My stepfather died that summer, leaving me to care for my elderly mother, whose dementia was becoming increasingly severe. During the last few months of 2014, I had to sell her house, buy a new house where we'd live together, and pack up and move her house and my apartment. While that was going on, Rocky Wood, President of the Horror Writers Association, died, leaving me to take over his position.

I had to extend the deadline on Ghosts once, but a second extension was out of the question. I finished the book in a month of all-nighters as I sat on packing boxes in our new home.

Given that, I'm still shocked by how well the book turned out. There are things in it I would have done differently, given more time, but the book garnered me some of the best reviews of my career and excellent sales. The ghost expertise I gathered doing the book has paid off, too, with things like the deal for the forthcoming.classic ghost stories anthology.

And because I know you're going to ask: No, I've never seen a ghost. But that sure hasn't stopped me from writing about them!
Read more about Ghosts: A Haunted History
WIP It
My current works-in-progress
I'm still working on the annotations for Ghost Stories: Forgotten Classic Tales, co-edited with Leslie Klinger, that'll be coming from Pegasus Books in 2019.

I've also had some fantastic short fiction news recently that I'm dying to share, but alas - my lips (and typing fingers) must stay sealed for now.

One other thing that I'm proud of: working with the Horror Writers Association, I've just overseen the completion of the first website devoted entirely to the organization's iconic Bram Stoker Awards. You can now visit www.thebramstokerawards.com and learn all about the awards. Each nominee/winner has an individual listing, cross-indexed to categories and years. Click here if you'd like to visit mine, and THANKS!

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!
Scream and Scream Again!
Includes my YA story "Summer of Sharks". Coming in July 2018. 
Start Screaming!

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!
The Lovecraft Squad: Dreaming
This volume in Stephen Jones's "mosaic novel" includes two chapters by me. Coming in November 2018.
Pre-order Now
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
The Mammoth Book of Halloween Stories
Includes my story "The Ultimate Halloween Party App". Coming September 2018.
Get Ready
I think I need to give away a signed paperback of Ghosts: A Haunted History this month!

But let's have some more fun with this! Because I also talked about a new Bram Stoker Award for Short Non-fiction above, I want you to suggest ideas to me for a non-fiction article. C'mon, I'll bet there's something you'd like to know more about! Add your idea to your entry for the giveaway, and for the next issue of the newsletter I'll pick my favorite idea and write about it. The resulting article will be presented here next month with copious thanks to the winner. It's almost like everyone wins!

So, don't forget: all entries for the Ghosts: A Haunted History giveaway must come with a suggestion for an article you'd like to see.

The deadline for entry is 7/15. That'll give me enough time to research and write the article.

Good luck, and hit me with your best non-fiction shot!
Sorry - this giveaway has ended
Copyright © 2017 Lisa Morton All rights reserved.

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