Lisa's July 2017 Newsletter (#7)
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Hi Gang!

How's your summer going? Here in my neck'a the woods, the temperatures have been crazy - in the 90s and 100s. I've got a new outdoor office that I'm dying to break in, but it's got no air conditioning so spending quality writing time there is going to have to wait until cooler days (and nights!).

It's been a bit of a month of ups and downs. The projects I'd expected to occupy me for the next year have been put on hold or canceled altogether. Of course at the same time some new prospects have begun to percolate, so by next month I could be typing in this same space about new deals I've just signed. And hey, I've got a lot of great short fiction on the near horizon (see below).

Here's hoping we all find dream projects and cool spots to work (and play) in!

Still Life
In which I rhapsodize about favorite movie photos from my collection
This month's column is a bit of a cheat, because it's going to mainly direct you to an old blog entry. Also, the still above is not an official lobby card or studio still, but one I shot on the set.  

The movie I'm talking about is the Disney adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic Something Wicked This Way Comes. You can read the blog entry here, so I won't repeat everything there; just click the link and read for yourself all about the magical day I spent on the set of the film as a guest of Ray Bradbury.

The reason I'm talking about this now is because of some talks I had at StokerCon back in April. I spent a bit of time with the esteemed author and scholar John Tibbetts, whose book The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub was a Bram Stoker Award nominee in the category of Non-fiction. I saw John's presentation on how J. M. Barrie's ghostly play Mary Rose likely influenced Alfred Hitchcock's films, and having written a fairly comprehensive ghost book not long ago I was astonished to find that Barrie had produced a number of ghost stories. In the course of chatting with Mr. Tibbetts, we discovered that we shared a mutual admiration for Ray Bradbury, and John was quite taken with my description of the time I spent on the set of Something Wicked. He encouraged me to send these photos to the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University, and one of these days I'll take him up on that...if I can ever find the original negatives for these shots!
The Halloween Spirit
Tips for keeping it going all year 'round
I love growing pumpkins. I'm sure that comes as a surprise to absofreakinglutely nobody. But it's true, doggone it! Pumpkins are one of the few plants I've been able to grow from seed, they grow quickly, the plants are lovely, the blooms are stunning, and of course the fruit is the ultimate Halloween icon.

I started growing pumpkins when I moved into a house (after nearly three decades in an apartment) in 2015, so this year is only my third year as a pumpkin gardener. The first year I grew a couple of regular plants. Last year I grew one regular plant (called the "Jack-o'-lantern" variety) and two "Big Max" plants, each of which produced a 50-60 pound pumpkin. This year I'm going for two Jack-o'-Lantern plants, two "EZ Gro Monsters" and one Big Max (the latter are both supposed to produce pumpkins as big as 100 pounds, but I'm happy with half that!). Last year I planted in early June, and it was too early - my pumpkins were ready by the beginning of October, so I had to store them for weeks and hope they wouldn't suffer from the storage (several turned slightly green, but it was because the seeds inside of them were sprouting). This year I waited until June 25 to plant. 

By next month's installment of this column, I hope to report on all the plants that have sprouted and begun to take over my backyard. Are any of you growing pumpkins? Feel free to send me photos and reports of your pumpkin plants, and I'll share them here!
More on Pumpkin Growing
Strange Fruit
The weirdest thing I've recently uncovered in my research
Magic sure has changed since I was a kid. 

In case you didn't know this, I was an amateur magician when I was a teenager. Along with my partner and best friend Susan Strahan, I achieved enough skill to charge for performances and we did a lot of children's birthday parties.

I learned magic from my sixth-grade teacher, an amiable giant named Jim Riley. Mr. Riley had an after-school magic club, during which he taught kids magic for free. Those who demonstrated some aptitude might be asked by Mr. Riley to take part in group shows he entered us into. 

At the age of 12, I was a small kid, which was both a good and a bad thing for magic: good, because I could fit into small spaces so I was the assistant who was produced in tricks like "Snoopy's Dog House" (a kid's variant of the classic "Mummy Case" stage illusion); bad, because my hands were too small to pull off most sleight-of-hand (Mr. Riley could palm a frigging orange!). We'd make periodic trips to Hollywood, which in those days had several amazing magic shows (the best one was Berg's, a dusty little hole-in-the-wall tucked away on a second floor of an old office building on Hollywood Boulevard), and look for sleight-of-hand tricks I could pull off. 

But mostly I liked performing on stage, especially with doves. I loved doing a "die box" routine, and had a beautiful little die box that I recall looking very much like the one in the photo above (unfortunately my mom sold off all my magic equipment when I went off to college and she had to move). 

You might remember a few columns back, when I talked about the ghost shows that were big in the '30s, '40s, and '50s. The "ghostmasters" back then were all stage magicians who realized they could make more money (in some cases a lot more money) staging midnight spook shows than playing birthday parties. I'm currently working on a story about ghost shows in the '50s, so I had to research some of the magic tricks they incorporated into their performances.

See, when I was a kid, it was no joke that magicians closely guarded their secrets. Now you can find out how almost any trick is done with a couple of mouse clicks. It's both cool and kind of sad. Of course magic really boils down to the skill and style of the performer, so even when you know how a trick is done it can still be amazing to watch a great magician's act...but my inner twelve-year-old still cringes at the idea that anyone can find these secrets now!
Read more about magic tricks
My current works-in-progress
Right now I'm working on several short stories and one short nonfiction piece (for a collection of essays on the great Netflix series Stranger Things). Although I can't say much about these pieces at this point, here's a list of all the forthcoming short stories that I can talk about, complete with links (where they exist) for your pre-ordering pleasure:

CD Select: Lisa Morton

Cemetery Dance is now offering my mini-collection in a signed and limited 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".
Reserve Your Copy NOW!
My acclaimed book Ghosts: A Haunted History will be available this September in an affordable trade paperback.
Hunt Ghosts!

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. To be released on October 3rd, 2017. Stay tuned for announcements of signing events, launch parties, and giveaway celebrations!
Haunt Your Nights!
Dark Screams Vol. 6 includes my story "The Rich are Different". Just released!
Scream x 6!
I thought I'd celebrate all of my forthcoming short fiction by giving away one of my favorite anthologies from the past: The Museum of Horrors, edited by Dennis Etchison. In addition to amazing work by Peter Straub, Joyce Carol Oates, S. P. Somtow, Richard Laymon, and Ramsey Campbell, this World Fantasy Award winner includes my story "Pound Rots in Fragrant Harbour," which is one of my personal favorites. 

This copy is a scarce hardback first edition, and of course I can personalize it for you...if you're the winner! 

Just click the link below to enter, and good luck!
Sorry - this giveaway has ended
  • Sunday, October 8th - Signing Haunted Nights (with a bunch of the contributors) at Dark Delicacies
  • Thursday, March 1st through March 4th, 2018 - StokerCon in Providence, Rhode Island!
Copyright © 2017 Lisa Morton All rights reserved.

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