2nd Annual Anoka Walking Dead Pub Crawl

When I went to the zombie crawl on Saturday, I did more enjoying than documenting. There was a great deal of distracting fun to be had while wandering the streets with a bunch of good-natured zombies, and I didn’t take as many photographs of the event as I should have.

It was a cool night after a forbiddingly drizzly day, and I don’t think the turn-out was as big this year as last. There was no Thriller street dance, sadly.

As usual, the making up of  people, which happened earlier in the day,  was the best part for me … And that’s when most of my pictures were taken.

Scroll down to see the final versions, out and about in the night.


Zombie #1 requested bloody and gross. We mixed up a bowl of corn flour and water – then daubed on some blood and fresh scab to simulate brain matter. Turned out pretty good I think. The best part of this makeup, for me, came after he complained about a piece of it falling into his shirt and getting caught in his chest hair.

ME: You have chest hair? Let me see.
ZOMBIE #1: (opens several buttons)
ME: (squeals) Oooh! Lots of chest hair! Can we smoosh brain matter on your chest? We’ll spray it in with hairspray.
ZOMBIE #1: Yeah! That’s a great idea!

He thought the repeated hairspray applications were really cold. Later, he may have regretted his consent, because he had to pull his shirt away from the sticky mess that coated his chest several times. I think he lost some chest hair. But it looked great.


Zombie #2 said she’d be happy with a less disgusting look. Her road rash cheek, bleeding ear and broken nose turned out fine, but there was something missing. She decided to mess up her hair (a lot) which helped. When I suggested she gather a handful of leaves and dead grass and spray that into her rats-nested hair, the makeup really came together.

Zombies #3 & #4: (fewer photos were taken with these two makeups)

Zombie #3 wanted to be an Amish zombie with no blood. Had he been open to it, I would have done a simple throat slit, just to give a pop of color to the overall look.  Working with his bone structure was an absolute joy – he’s made to have shadows and hollows emphasized. I asked zombie #2 to do the right side of his face while I started on zombie #4.

Zombie #4 was open to anything. I did her up last year with lots of peeling face gashes.

Zombie #4, last year.

Zombie #4, last year.

I wanted to do something different this year. We gave her a simple bleeding head wound at the part of her hair, a bitten cheek, and tears of blood. You’ll notice all the blood on her is directional – no splattering, but rather dripping.

I sort of became fascinated with her eyes, as you’ll see in the following pictures. Hers was a subtle makeup, and I’m not sure that she wouldn’t have been happier with something more visceral. But I loved it.

dark side custom crop


Out with the zombies:

Formal portraits:

Other zombies:

We didn’t see as many fantastic make-ups this year as we did last year. Of course, I was also more engaged in the party atmosphere this year too – I may have been too busy playing with my friends to notice. I did chase down a couple of great faces, though:  a guy with missing eyes who had done a nice job of blending the appliance, and a fabulous burn victim.

To see some more good costumes and makeups, check out last year’s post: Anoka MN’s 1st Annual Walking Dead Pub Crawl.

On Thursday, I’ll be sharing some links to good makeups I’ve seen around the web, and I plan to post a video of me doing a zombie makeup on myself, so check back if you’re looking for some tips and tricks.

blogher Blogroll_Large_Oct_2013

Finding Halloween events & celebrating autumn: haunted houses, apple orchards, ghost tours and more.


halloween countdown 6 final


Friday marks six weeks until Halloween. I’m no longer (nearly) alone in my countdown to the big day – horror movies and creepy documentaries are cropping up on all the channels; fun-size candy bars and this year’s Halloween decorations are arriving in the stores; bloggers are writing about costumes and theme parties.

Monday the 22nd will be the autumnal equinox.

I’m not happy about the looming winter, but autumn is my favorite season and I intend to suck every possible bit of creepy, eerie, festive, color-saturated, pleasure from the next six weeks. I will be able to lose myself in my celebration of all things fall-ish and Halloween-y because (for those of you that don’t already know) I am lucky enough to live in Minnesota, not far from where I grew up, in and around Anoka – the Halloween Capital of the World. 


Click for Proof

I realize not all of you live in or near a town so mad for Halloween, but that shouldn’t hamper your celebrations. This week’s Halloween Countdown post is meant to help all my readers – Minnesotans AND folks from farther afield – find great autumn and Halloween events no matter where they live in the US.


Below, you will find a printable PDF calendar of the next six weeks.


 2014  6 weeks until halloween calendar pdf

  • print your calendar
  • look over the included checklist
  • browse the links below for inspiration
  • mark the check boxes of any activities that appeal
  • use the calendar and the links below to plan your season


Probably, the best tool for hunting down your community’s offerings is a local newspaper or the September / October issue of your city or state magazine. As a supplement to such resources, I’ve gathered a set of search engines and guides to assist in planning. THE most useful site I found was Explore Minnesota – our state’s official tourism site. You can find your state guide at www.50states.com.




Start your search here:

In Minnesota:



calendar dog walk cc by skirtpr         OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         calendar reading cc by US Embassy Canada

Start your search here:

  • Go to volunteermatch.org, enter your state or city, and type Halloween into the “I care about …” box.

No matter where you are:

  • check at the local shelter for dogs that would love a walk on a fall day
  • carve a Jack ‘O Lantern (or several) for the local retirement home
  • read spooky stories at the local elementary school
  • play ding-dong-ditch with a twist – leave a Happy Halloween note & a prize



Start your search here:

In Minnesota:



Start your search here:

In Minnesota:


Start your search here:

  • check local newspapers and city magazines
  • Google ‘zombie pub crawl in __________’ (where the blank is your town, nearest metropolitan area, or state.)

In Minnesota:



Start your search here:

In Minnesota:



Many years ago, I had a costume business with a friend.

We made the lion costumes you see at 0:45 – 0:48.

Start your search here:

In Minnesota:


Start your search here:

  • Check your local mega-plex for special showings of Halloween movies.
  • To find an independent theater for cult and horror classics, check PBS’s Independent Lens. (Zoom in on the map.)
  • Alternatively, Google ‘independent theater in __________’ (where the blank is your town, nearest metropolitan area, or state.)
  • Search for a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show near you at rockyhorror.com

In Minnesota:


The 48 Hour Film Horror Project is a creative contest where teams of filmmakers create a horror film in a single weekend. Teams will be given certain elements to incorporate into their short film and 48 hours – the rest is up to them.

The project weekend will kickoff on a Friday evening and all films are due back Sunday evening. Filmmakers and their friends/family will be able to help to celebrate their accomplishments via a screening soon to follow.

All creative work for the video must be done in the official 48 hour time frame. Films must be 4 – 7 minutes long with an additional minute allowed for credits.

In select cities in October & November, 2014:

  • Oct. 3rd: Minneapolis
  • Oct. 10th: Detroit, Pittsburgh, Seattle
  • Oct. 17th: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Cleveland, Louisville, Providence
  • Nov. 7th: Kansas City
  • Nov. 21st: Amsterdam

You must register at the site. The fee to compete is $175.

Visit the 48 hour film: horror project homepage.



Don’t forget to leave room for activities that don’t have to be done on any particular date. Outings are great, but things like decorating the house, stealing an hour to browse the local Halloween shop, and snuggling down with a scary book or movie are important too.

NOTE: If you’re going to have a Halloween party, you should set the date now.


2014: Countdown-to-Halloween Ideas & Checklist

2014: The Paranormalist’s 1st Annual Halloween Photo Scavenger Hunt


halloween countdown main fridays

Setting inspiration for the novel Legacy Falls: Oliver H. Kelly Historical Farm, Anoka County, MN

I’ve been a bad blogger this week, but a good writer.


There are still 10 days left of July, and I’ve blown past my month’s novel-writing goal of 90 hours. As of today, I have spent 101 hours doing hands-on-the-keyboard revision. For the last week, however, I’ve been starting to get a little crazy – the work was blurring and I couldn’t pull myself away from it. Yesterday, the heat wave we’ve been having broke, Ogre had the day off work, and I needed a break. I couldn’t really abandon the novel-writing headspace entirely, so I opted for a sort of working holiday.


Every setting in my novel, Legacy Falls, is inspired by a real place, in or around the town of Anoka, Minnesota. The house where Lizzy, Will and the kids live (and where another family of spirits roam) is based on the Oliver H. Kelly Farm. I have take huge liberties with its location, size, floorplan … well, with just about everything. And I’m okay with that. Now that I’m in the revision draft, though, it’s time to get some half-remembered details right. 



From chapter 1 of Legacy Falls:

Now, as she surveyed the area, she was surprised to find her sense of satisfaction waning. The cellar looked too empty, even barren.

Ought to be full, oughtn’t it? This late in the season.

Heat flushed Lizzy’s cheeks. Despite the chill, she felt sweat welling from her scalp and along her hairline. In the span of a blink, she imagined the room as it should be—the bins overflowing with potatoes and onions, the shelves lined with jars of pickles and preserves.

Apple butter. ‘Should be a dozen pints of apple butter put up by now.

With all this beautiful space at her disposal, why had she never taught herself to can the vegetables she grew in her gardens? Sure, she had been known to blanch and freeze a few Ziplocks full of green beans, but—

But this is just wasteful, idn’t?

A drop of perspiration ran down her temple and into the corner of her eye. When she raised a hand to rub the sting away, she realized her palms, too, were oily with sweat. Instinctively she moved to dry them on her apron … then stopped in mid-motion, with her hands hovering over her stomach. Of course she wasn’t wearing an apron. She hadn’t worn an apron since she was a kid, playing house.

Lizzy knuckled the salt from her eye, pressing hard enough to make phosphenes dance behind her lids. Dizziness flared, then turned into a surge of cold that flashed from her head, through her torso and along her arms. She reached for the counter to steady herself. For a second, she thought she had missed it, but then her fingertips caught the edge.

A small dust-devil—carrying more golden leaves than dust—tumbled down the short flight of wide steps from the yard. All but invisible, it whirled directly toward Lizzy, raised the hair from her sticky nape, then collapsed at her feet. A scent engulfed her, something warm and sharp and pungent. The earthy odor had a bracing effect and her knees steadied.

You should be resting in this heat. Think of the babe.

Apple butter? Apron? Babe? Where were these thoughts coming from? She coughed. Straightened. Wiped her hands down the thighs of her jeans. Still the scent clung to her. Out loud, she asked, “What is that smell?”

Manure, Schatz. Just good manure.

Lizzy stood still. She tried to believe the words had sounded not in her ears, but somewhere in her head. She listened to her own breathing until she heard a squeal and hiss from beyond the cellar door. The school bus had arrived.



July 2013 WriMoProg: 101+ 54 = 156/145
[X + Y = Z / total-hours goal, where X = writing/editing time, Y= other writerly tasks.]