Writing Prompt: my circus, my monkeys

Some of my best ideas stem from real life…even when they completely terrify me. The following prompt is based on a true story.

The prompt:

You stay up late reading a book when you realize you are out of water. You don’t bother turning on the lights as you walk to your kitchen. Passing the darkened living room you stop dead in your tracks; sitting there in the solitude is a small red and white circus tent. You don’t own a red and white circus tent. Upon closer inspection, there are two stuffed animals sitting in it’s open doorway…

Naturally, when I traipsed into this scene, I didn’t stick around to figure out if an army of tiny clowns was going to parade out of those blue flaps. I turned right around and sent a quick text to my brother-in-law (who doubles as my roommate) to figure out of a portal to hell had just opened in our living room. Lucky for me, it wasn’t the opening scene from a new episode of American Horror Story- it was just a new toy bought for my niece and nephews. Although, I am still a bit nervous about the two stuffed animals that found their way inside- the kids had been with their mom the entire weekend.

To be continued… (sorry, I grew up with Goosebumps and couldn’t resist using my old favorite ending)

Happy Halloween! (and may the odds be ever in your favor, Nanoers)

Happy Halloween to all of my ghosts, ghouls and goblins out there this lovely day! It’s hard to believe that October is coming to a close, and in a mere few hours the hustle and bustle of Nano (and the upcoming holiday season) will be settling in.

I will be honest, I did not accomplish everything that I set out to do in October. My editing projects floundered a bit, but I did get some good ideas ready to go for my Nano project, and got some fresh content for this humble little blog sorted out. All in all, I would rate it as a successful month. After all, I did get to run through downtown Portland dressed up as a banana while being chased by Gorillas.


And I got to spend a little bit of time visiting one of my favorite spooky spots, Halloweentown:



Not to mention trying on a few costumes at Target, and carving pumpkins with the family. I didn’t hit all of the holiday things that I wanted to do this year, but let’s be honest- there isn’t enough time in the month to do everything on my list.

I had a blast and went out into the world instead of spending so much time lost in my own thoughts. Sure, I could have managed to get a bit more work done, but every now and then we need to stop and remember that life is about more that a word count. And sometimes the best inspirations you will encounter will be out there in the world, not at home staring at a screen.

Now we are quickly hurdling towards November. I already went over my goals for the month yesterday, so I wont bore you by repeating myself. But I cannot believe that Nano will be here in a matter of hours! I feel like a little kid at Christmas, only instead of getting presents, I’ve been invited to work a season in Santa’s workshop- it’s a lot of hard work, but its also a dream no self-respecting child would pass up.

I planned ahead this year and even managed to snag a few days off from work so that tonight I get to indulge myself and stay up late for the midnight start! Woohoo! I think I’ve only managed to do that once or twice in all of the events that I have participated in.

So tonight, I will be dressing up the dog and taking him for our nightly walk. I will come home and eat pizza while I watch Hocus Pocus. I will glance at the clock every five minutes or so to see how close I am to midnight. And when that clock strikes, poof- I will turn into a moonlight writer, chasing my dreams through the flitting words on the page.

Good luck, my dear friends, have a safe and happy Halloween. And when you get a chance to sit down and start writing, my wish for you is that the words flow smoothly, the ideas never wane, and the characters dance through your dreams with a lively enthusiasm. This is what we do, this is why we can’t stop. We spill our souls onto the page and hope someone will read their own when they see the words. May the odds be ever in you favor.

Missing Halloweentown: Childhood Dreams and Treading Common Ground

I am a Halloween junkie- I don’t think I can possibly stress that enough. I adore everything about this season, and I always have. As I get older I find myself falling even more in love with the atmosphere, the camaraderie, the general excitement that buzzes through the air. I have a soft spot for scary stories that you read by flashlight under your covers (although I will admit, I have upgraded to reading by the light of my kindle in more recent years). I love horror movies that keep me awake long into the night, forcing me to cuddle closer to my German Shepherd for safety. I adore the candy, the costumes, the hot drinks and cold days. I am also a deeply nostalgic person- I love traditions, which means that every year my dad has to sit down and watch The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown with me. And if we can’t be in the same place when it’s on tv, he always remembers to send me a text so that we can still watch it ‘together’ even when we are far apart.

I am fortunate enough to live in a beautiful place that is close to many holiday adventures. We are only a few hours from Seattle (they do haunted underground tours every year- taking you through the city hidden underneath the city, telling you all the spooky stories as you roam through a world of yesterday). Portland is only a few minutes away- they have some famous pumpkin patches (to include the Roloff farm) and amazing haunted houses this time of year. And then there is a hidden gem that spread through the internet like wildfire last year.

If you grew up in the 90’s you will probably remember the Disney channel movie Halloweentown, a place that I will shamelessly admit I always wanted to go visit. It’s no secret that every child has a fascination with magic- we all wanted to learn that we had special powers, that we could befriend werewolves, and dine with vampires (with the specific stipulation that we were not on the menu). I grew up and my dream to visit the realm of fantasy faded, though it never completely disappeared.

And then, to my complete wonderment, I learned that I could actually go there in real life. I could see the place that inspired so many childhood fantasies and stories. As it turns out, the movie had been filmed in St. Helens, Oregon. A mere hop, skip and a jump from where I live. And, to make this story even sweeter- they recreate their famed fictional town every year.


Last year I hopped in the car with a couple of fellow Halloween-enthusiasts and we trekked out to the little town- along with about 5,000 other people. It was a record setting turnout, considering the hype that social media started (after all, that was how I learned about it). We got to watch Marnie (actress Kimberly Brown, the star of the movie) light the pumpkin in the town square surrounded by some of the buildings featured in the film.

Now, normally I am not a big fan of crowds- and 5,000 bodies crunched into one little town square is a bit overwhelming under normal circumstances. But it is an altogether different experience when you are all sharing the same buzzing energy, it’s like a concert, the atmosphere is contagious. As we all chanted the ‘magic words’ together, I couldn’t help but smile- in a world that is so often polarized and easily divided between vastly differing opinions; there we were, 5,000 strangers standing in solidarity over a mutual love for something so simple- an old movie and an oversized pumpkin was all it took to bring us together, if only for one night. You see, it is usually the simple things in life that bring us the most joy, and it is the love of these things that give us a common ground to stand on. It is these little moments that we cannot simply brush aside. In a society where a single sentence can spark a wildfire of aggression and hate- we need to find our common roots and remember the importance of small moments. Little events like standing in a crowd on a rainy October night and counting down to light a pumpkin. Sometimes the simplest answers can be the most poignant.


Sadly, I missed the event this year (my brother made the tragic mistake of planning his wedding for the same day as the event- I know, the horror of this miscalculation is not lost on me). But I plan on still making the trek out there in the coming weeks. Why? Because what is life without experiences? Even simple ones like going to a fictional town to visit a pumpkin. Growing up is vastly overrated, and I don’t think I am quite willing to join those zombie ranks just yet.

Ghosts, Goblins and Ghouls: October is here

October is finally here! It is the time for pumpkin patches, corn mazes and haunted houses, the time for spiced cider, skull-shaped chocolate and silly costumes that I will try on in Target (spoiler: this has already happened).

It is the time of year I get to watch my favorite scary movies with my sister (and a few not-so-terrifying holiday gems: Hocus Pocus will probably be playing on repeat for most of the month). It is the time of year we will try to get through all of our spooky baking- brain jello molds, coffin chocolates, pretzel bones- a day or two of extreme sugar and lots of laughs. I get to re-read some of my all-time favorite books (Hello, Dracula, it’s good to see you again), and perhaps dust off a few of my unfinished writing projects to get into the spirit: zombies and vampires, oh my! This is the time of year where I get to feel like a kid again, with the single adult benefit of being able to buy as much candy as I want.

I adore everything about this season. I am infatuated with the holidays, I am head over heels in love with the promise, the sparkle, the fun frivolity that comes with the next few months. So please excuse my giddiness, my excitement for life knows no bounds this time of year. There are some things that you should never grow out of, and remembering to have fun is one of them.

That is why October is going to be a little bit different for me when it comes to my goals. I am still going to be working and writing- that never changes, I don’t know how to be me when I’m not doing these things. I will be continuing to plod the editing path while planning for my Nano project this coming November. But this is the season to step out of your routine and do new things, create memories, live adventures. And that, my friends, is what the next few months will be about. So this month there will be: creepy crafts with the littles (nieces and nephews), pumpkin patches with the family, baking and movie night with my sister, a possible Halloween party, a few treks through the haunted houses and races in the corn mazes. This month I am going to sign up for a class with my mom and reach out to some old friends I haven’t seen in ages. I want to break out of this comfort zone I’ve been cuddled up in. Halloween is the best time of year to face your fears and learn to have a little bit more fun. We could all use some more of that in our lives.