Lisa's February 2017 Newsletter (#2)
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In this issue:

Hi Gang!

It's been a stressful year for many of us so far. If you're at all politically inclined (as many of us are), you may be waking every day, reading the latest news, and wondering when your life slid sideways into BizarroWorld.

It's at times like this that I think the arts are more important than ever.

They enlighten us. They give us hope. They take us out of our real-life BizarroWorld for a few precious minutes and into something where we expect to experience the strange and unnerving. And when we leave that world, we feel better. We've been entertained. We've been reminded of other like souls, so we know we're not alone.

I think of it as a sacred calling. And it's one more big reason that I'm very grateful to all of you for reading this newsletter. Thank you for letting me entertain you...for just a few brief minutes.

Still Life
In which I rhapsodize about favorite movie photos from my collection
Have you ever watched a movie you loved as a kid (or teenager) when you're an adult, and thought, Wow, that sure doesn't hold up...?

Fortunately, 1976's The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane is NOT one of those movies.

I recently re-watched this for the first time in 40 years,and if anything I like it even more now, when it reveals layers buried just beneath the surface story of 13-year-old Rynn, whose late father groomed her to kill to protect her freedom. Jodie Foster (in a slightly goofy wig) made this the same year she made Taxi Driver; both films play on her odd mix of precociousness and innocence, but in very different ways. The entire cast in Little Girl is superb, with Scott Jacoby as her boyfriend Mario stealing every scene he's in. The only thing that keeps this from being an acknowledged classic is the flat, TV movie-ish direction and a couple of stumbles in the script. Otherwise, this is a film that I think offers up something truly transgressive.

It also has the added plus of being a Halloween movie (something I'd completely forgotten about). It opens on Halloween night, when the bad guy (played with buckets of slime by Martin Sheen) shows up on Rynn's doorstep, surprised to see she's not out with the other costumed kids. In the last scene, it picks up the Halloween theme again by having Sheen step into frame with a gleeful, "Trick or treat!" Just one more reason to love this film.
The Halloween Spirit
Tips for keeping it going all year 'round
Ever look at those cheap plastic jack-o'-lanterns sitting in your garage months after Halloween, and wish you could come up with another use for them?

I've heard of folks turning the jack-o'-lanterns themselves into planters. One article I read suggested spraying them with imitation brass paint, and that looked pretty cool in photos. But last year I heard about this for the first time:

You fill your plastic pumpkin with concrete and you make a concrete planter. You have to cut away the plastic pumpkin, but heck - these things are so cheap that's not a big loss.

When I discussed this with some online friends, I heard about people doing it with a variety of concrete-like materials, and painting the finished planters in all kinds of colors. 

Okay, this is where I have to confess: I haven't actually found the time to try this yet. I keep hoping for a home project that will involve mixing concrete, at which time a little concrete may just find its way into one of my left-over plastic jack-o'-lanterns.

Have you made one of these? If so, I'd love to hear from you, especially if you can send photos.
How to Make Concrete Jack-o'-Lanterns
Strange Fruit
The weirdest thing I've recently uncovered in my research
After years of severe drought, California has received a bit of a reprieve this year as storm after storm has pummeled us. It really has brought about a remarkable change in the state's drought levels. We're not totally out of the danger zone yet, but we're waaaay better off than we were this time a year ago.

My house is located in the northern end of the San Fernando Valley, where the flatlands start to climb up into the hills. One of the many washes that crisscross the Southland runs directly behind my house. I've become very interested in that wash for one main reason: most of the year that wash is bone-dry, and it serves as an avenue for wildlife. Part of my neighbor's yard sits atop the wash with no fencing, and as a result a lot of things come up through his yard and into ours. We've seen raccoons, possums, and coyotes...and several of the latter were there right in broad daylight. 

Our wash doesn't even seem to have a name, but a few blocks to the east is a bigger one with a name - the Bull Creek Wash. On a map, you can trace the Bull Creek Wash all the way up into a patch of wilderness in the hills to the north.

I looked up the history of L.A.'s washes - who decided to line the creeks in concrete, and when? Much of it was done surprisingly late in L.A.'s history - in the 1950s - by the Army Corps of Engineers, who also lined the Los Angeles River. That got me interested in L.A.'s main water thoroughfare, and I was surprised to discover that the L.A. River doesn't begin in the hills or as a spring, but is instead formed when two washes converge in the Canoga Park area, just a few minutes away from here. 

And if you're curious about where this research led...see the next section. 
Read about the L.A. River
My current works-in-progress
Yes, I am working on a short story called "The Wash". What if more than just coyotes and a few possums used L.A.'s hidden waterways to travel?

My main book for 2017 is going to once again be non-fiction, but this time I'll be acting as editor on something very different from anything I've done before. I can't wait to get the thumbs-up to tell the world about this - I'm really excited about it!

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


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
This month we're going to have a physical giveaway...

Because we are in the middle of a political season, I'm going to give away a signed copy of my book Zombie Apocalypse!: Washington Deceased, and I'll throw in an extra surprise chapbook.

Entering is super-easy: just e-mail me! Use the button below, tell me you want to be entered in the February contest, tell me who you'd like to have the book inscribed to if you win, and be sure to include your mailing address. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. PST on February 25th, and the contest is only open to my newsletter subscribers. On February 26th, I'll toss all the names into a little software program and let it randomly choose my winner. Good luck!
Sorry - this giveaway has ended
Copyright © 2017 Lisa Morton All rights reserved.

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