Michaeline: Autumn is Calling

Two young women gathering grapes in a Grecian setting

Not quite summer, not quite fall — something delicious in between. (Image via Wikimedia)

Autumn is coming in! I know, I know, equinox, blah-blah-blah. But modern people tend to jump the gun a little – perhaps we’re more attuned to the marketing cycle than we are to the actual season, but that’s OK. A lot of us are sick of summer, anyway.

How do I know it’s autumn? Well, I suspected it last night when Randy Rainbow sang to me of pumpkin spice on YouTube. That’s the first whiff of autumn these days – the cinnamon and cloves and nutmeg get re-branded as pumpkin spice, and jazz up any number of delicious, non-pumpkiny things – the real pumpkin being saved for Thanksgiving, I think.

This morning confirmed things. Nearly the first tweet I read said: “WE ALL HARD AGREE THAT HALLOWEEN SEASON BEGINS SEPTEMBER 1, RIGHT?” Lisa Marie Basile, you are ahead of time, I thought. And then I remembered . . . thirty days hath September, and that means August has 31. We were at the end of summer.

At the time, there were 2,080 tweets in the past hour for Halloween costumes, and 910 tweets for hashtag Halloween. I’d say Halloween season has begun.

This summer has been such a bubble of confined space for me. I’ve been getting by, concentrating only on the stuff right in front of my face, and barely paying any attention to the passage of time. When I managed to get enough water, I felt I’d accomplished enough for the day. When your focus is so tight on the next five minutes, there’s also a strange feeling that time will go on forever.

Autumn is a lovely season, but there’s that bittersweet haze of “ending” that hangs over it. Winter is coming, and so are the short days and long winter’s naps. But, it’s good reading weather, and good writing weather.

The thing is, I’m still behind. People serious about publishing are already knees-deep into their Valentine’s Day offerings, and already starting to think about summer stories. So, maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if I linger in summer for just a few more weeks. Either way you look at it, I’ll get caught up to the seasons, or the seasons will get caught up with me. Time goes on, and there’s writing that needs doing.

Michaeline: Around the Campfire

An evening's entertainment by the light of a flame. (Via Wikimedia Commons, Ferdinand du Puigaudeau, Chinese Shadows:  The Rabbit)

An evening’s entertainment by the light of a flame. (Via Wikimedia Commons, Ferdinand du Puigaudeau, Chinese Shadows: The Rabbit)

Stuck in your writing routine? Here’s some food for thought: the Smithsonian speculates on how the campfire entertainment of our ancestors may have direct influence on the way we entertain ourselves today.

The post links to an abstract that says, “Night talk plays an important role in evoking higher orders of theory of mind via the imagination . . . .”

October is a great time for stories, and the early nightfall gives you plenty of time to explore evening storytime. So, if you are a little stuck, turn out the lights, light a candle, and tell a story to yourself or a loved one. See what happens, and have your writing tools near to capture anything that appears out of the dark.

Jilly: Guy Fawkes – Gunpowder, Treason and a Great Story

Guy_fawkes_henry_perronet_briggs

The Fall Guy

Remember, Remember
The Fifth of November
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot
We See No Reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should Ever Be Forgot

In recent posts Michaeline and Kay have explored the history and customs of Halloween, with its ghost stories and supernaturally assisted techniques to identify one’s true love. We enjoy Halloween in the UK, but the tradition doesn’t run as deep here thanks to a scheduling clash with the Gunpowder Plot, a real-life political thriller from November 1605, such a brilliant piece of theatre that the story lives on more than four hundred years later. Continue reading

Kay: Halloween—or 50 Ways to Find Your Lover

Fortune-Teller-Image-GraphicsFairy-thumb-150x150Halloween goes back a long way—about 2,000 years, to the time of the Celts, who celebrated the new year on November 1, the day that marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark, cold winter. The Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead blurred, and ghosts returned to earth. The presence of otherworldly spirits helped the Druids, their priests, to predict the future. Continue reading

Michaeline: Halloween antagonists and villains

Yoshitoshi ryakuga

An antagonist comes to life on the page.

When I’m reading, I really appreciate a nuanced antagonist – not an evil, evil bad guy, but someone who has some depth and dimension. But when I’m writing, I tend to think of protagonists and antagonists in very simple, moralistic terms – I want a good guy and a bad guy, and I tend to enjoy writing over-the-top characters – all head and no real body. Maybe I can excuse myself because Continue reading

Michaeline: Halloween and Love Stories

By Ellen Clapsaddle (1865–1934) (Drawing by Ellen Clapsaddle) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Practical magic

(BONUS! Mouse over the text to find the mystery Halloween links!)

 

Last week I talked about Halloween being the beginning of the story season. This week, I’ll concentrate on another great Halloween tradition: romance.

To our modern minds, Halloween is half cutesy kids’ stuff, and half horror and blood. But 150 years ago, people also thought Halloween was the best time to find your future mate. The boundaries between the everyday world and the world beyond blurred, and single men and women used all sorts of fortune-telling tricks with apples and mirrors. On a more practical level, Halloween parties brought young people together, and Halloween games gave them a chance to sneak off alone into the kale patch to seek their fortunes and canoodle in the dark.

So it should come as no surprise that Halloween has inspired some sweet, some sad, and some scary love stories. There’s something about a shiver and a chill that adds a little extra frisson to a romance.

One of my favorite stories Continue reading

Michaeline: Start of the Storytelling Season

halloween002[1]There’s a strong storytelling tradition linked to Halloween – and Christmas, too, for that matter. In the ancient world of the northern hemisphere, October must have been the start of the storytelling season. The crops were all in, daylight hours were getting shorter and shorter, and it was the most plentiful time of the year. Good food and time to relax put people in the mood to create as well as listen. Continue reading