12 weeks until Halloween! The seasonal activity checklist is ready for you.

Soon it will be time to start thinking about autumn and Halloween, but right now it’s high summer, and there’s much to celebrate about that.

Now is a GREAT time to think about what you still want to do, while the weather is hot and sultry, and while we’re still in that magical season that feels at least slightly less structured than the rest of the year. The days are still long. The nights are still warm. Stormy weather still comes in sprints of wind, lightning, and thunder that pass, instead of marathons of cold and ice and snow that strand us in our homes.

If summer is slipping by too quickly, and if you want to remember to do all the things that make each season memorable, click the following shareable countdown image, or the link below that, to go to the Halloween Countdown post where you’ll find a printable checklist of fun seasonal activities … activities that begin right now.

hallowen countdown 12 weeks final

EDIT Sept. 17th, 2015: The blog and especially the Halloween posts are undergoing reorganization. The Halloween Countdown is changing. I have updated the following links.

With 12 weeks to go, I’ve prepared for you a printable, portable, Halloween Countdown checklist of activities that will remind you to enjoy the rest of this summer and autumn, and help you suck every delectable bit of marrow from Halloween’s bones … from now until the wee hours of November 1st.

Halloween Treats: a celebrate the season activity checklist

To see more Halloween Countdown content, visit the homepage:

Halloween Index


Fall 2014 television schedule: TV for lovers of horror, paranormal, dark fantasy, suspense (and retro.)

halloween countdown 9 orange

It’s still hot and sultry here in Minnesota, with no hint of autumn weather to lure me outdoors. Last week, I provided a selection of Halloween-themed crafts and hobbies that can be started now, in the dog days of August and September. This week, I’ve scoured the web to  find and curate a list of  new and returning television shows to watch while crafting or hobby-ing. (Or simply escaping the weather.)

Disclaimers: I like my television paranormal, gothic, fantastic, and/or mysterious. (I don’t watch much in the way of personality-based reality and/or investigative shows like Ghost Hunters or Paranormal State. Documentaries are another story entirely, but I’ll save those for another post.)  I also have a taste for juicy historical and retro shows.

Information: I’ve included the premiere dates for new AND returning shows that are likely to appeal to my readers. (But I don’t watch them all.) For returning shows, I’ve researched the availability of past seasons, just in case you think you maybe made a mistake in the past by not making room for a particular show. (I regret not watching Grimm from the beginning.)

Tips: If you click on the pic, you’ll be taken to either IMDb (for new shows) or Wikipedia (for returning shows.) If the series has specific page provided by the network, I’ve linked to it with the word ‘homepage’. If the series is available via Netflix, I’ve linked to the appropriate listing to simplify your queue management.



Under the Dome | CBS | Mondays | 10/9c | resumed June 30th
(2nd season, 9 of 13 episodes have aired.)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs. Season 2 can be reserved, but is not yet available.
From the homepage:
“Based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel about a small town that is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by a massive transparent dome.”

tv show witches of east end
Witches of East End | Lifetime | Sundays | 10/9c | resumed on July 6th.
(2nd season, 7 of 13 episodes have aired.)
Season 1 is available on Netflix streaming.
From the homepage:
“Inspired by Melissa de la Cruz’s New York Times best-selling novel, “Witches of East End” centers on the mysterious Beauchamp family: free-spirited artist Joanna (Ormond) and her two grown daughters, wild-child bartender Freya (Dewan Tatum) and shy librarian Ingrid (Boston), both of whom are unaware that they are gifted (and cursed) with a magical birthright.”


Extant | CBS | Wednesdays | 9/8c | debuted July 9th, 2014 | NEW
Episodes 4-10 are available at the homepage. (Apparently it will have 13 episodes.)
From the homepage:
“In a thrilling drama, Berry will play an astronaut who returns home from a year-long solo mission in space and tries to reconnect with her husband and son in their everyday life. Her experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.”

the strain poster

The Strain | FX | Sundays | 10/9c | debuted July 13th | NEW
All  previously aired episodes are available IF you can access them via you service provider. Click “VIDEO” tab at this link and follow the instructions, or just check to see if they are available on your TV ON DEMAND. (My Comcast Xfinity has them.)
From the homepage:
The Strain is a high concept thriller that tells the story of “Dr. Ephraim Goodweather,” the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. As the strain spreads, Eph, his team, and an assembly of everyday New Yorkers, wage war for the fate of humanity itself. Co-Creators, Executive Producers and Writers Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan co-wrote the pilot script for The Strain, which was directed by del Toro.”


Oh. My. God. Have you heard about THIS?!?

Utopia | FOX | Tuesdays | 9/8c | Sept 7 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“Behold UTOPIA, a bold new series based on the hit Dutch program. Watch what happens as 14 pioneering Americans wave goodbye to the lives they’ve known, move to a remote location, and set out to create a society from scratch. They’ve got limited supplies, wildly diverse backgrounds, and zero bathrooms…” No, seriously go read the rest here.

Okay. Back to sane TV:

tv show haven

Haven | Syfy | Thursdays | 10/9c | Sept 11  (RETURNING – 5th season)
Seasons 1-4 are available on Netflix streaming. (Formerly only available via disc.)
from the homepage:
“Syfy’s one-hour drama series Haven, starring Emily Rose, is based on the novella The Colorado Kid from renowned author Stephen King. The series follows the shrewd and confident FBI agent Audrey Parker (Rose) as she arrives in the small town of Haven, Maine on a routine case. Before long, her natural curiosity lands her in the epicenter of activity in this curious enclave, which turns out to be a longtime refuge for people that are affected by a range of supernatural afflictions. The truth about Audrey’s mysterious past (which she can’t fully remember) starts to come out as well.”


Z Nation | SYFY | Fridays | 10/9c | Sept 12 (NEW)
From the homepage:
Z Nation starts three years after the zombie virus has gutted the country, a team of everyday heroes must transport the only known survivor of the plague from New York to California, where the last functioning viral lab waits for his blood. Although the antibodies he carries are the world’s last, best hope for a vaccine, he hides a dark secret that threatens them all. With humankind’s survival at stake, the ragtag band embarks on a journey of survival across three thousand miles of rusted-out post-apocalyptic America. Z Nation comes from The Asylum, the production house behind Sharknado and Sharknado 2.”

tv show sleepy hollow

Sleepy Hollow | FOX | Mondays | 9/8c | Sept 22nd (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Seasons 1 is available on Netflix discs.
from the homepage:
“In this modern day twist of Washington Irving’s classic, Ichabod Crane is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to unravel a mystery that dates all the way back to the founding fathers. Revived alongside Ichabod is the infamous Headless Horseman who is on a murderous rampage in present-day Sleepy Hollow. Bound to the Headless Horseman by a blood spell cast on the battlefield of the American Revolution, Ichabod quickly realizes that stopping Headless is just the beginning, as the resurrected rider is but the first of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

gothem poster
Gotham | FOX | Mondays | 8/7c | Sept 22nd (NEW)
From the homepage:
“GOTHAM is an origin story of the great DC Comics Super-Villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. GOTHAM follows one cop’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering between good and evil, and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time.”

tv show the-blacklist-poster

The Blacklist | NBC | Mondays | 10/9c | Sept 22 (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“For decades, ex-government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) has been one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives. Brokering shadowy deals for criminals across the globe, Red was known by many as “The Concierge of Crime.” Now, he’s mysteriously surrendered to the FBI with an explosive offer: He will help catch a long-thought-dead terrorist, Ranko Zamani, under the condition that he speaks only to Elizabeth “Liz” Keen, an FBI profiler fresh out of Quantico. For Liz, it’s going to be one hell of a first day on the job.”

forever poster

Forever | ABC | Tuesdays | 10/9c | Sept 23rd (NEW) –
Update: Episode 1 is on Mon. 22, then show is regularly on Tuesdays, starting the 23rd.
From the homepage:
“Doctor Henry Morgan, New York City’s star medical examiner, has a secret.  He doesn’t just study the dead to solve criminal cases, he does it to solve the mystery that has eluded him for 200 years—the answer to his own inexplicable immortality.  This long life has given Henry remarkable observation skills which impresses his new partner Detective Jo Martinez.  Each week, a new case and their budding friendship will reveal layers of Henry’s long and colorful past.  Only his best friend and confidant, Abe knows Henry’s secret.”

tv show agents of shield

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D | ABC | Tuesdays | 8/7c | Sept 23rd (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“Clark Gregg reprises his role of Agent Phil Coulson from Marvel’s feature films, as he assembles a small, highly select group of Agents from the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Together they investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary.” Executive producer: Joss Whedon

NCIS new orleans

NCIS: New Orleans | CBS | Tuesdays | 10/9c | Sept. 23rd (NEW)
From the homepage:
“NCIS: NEW ORLEANS is a drama about the local field office that investigates criminal cases affecting military personnel in The Big Easy, a city known for its music, entertainment and decadence. Leading the team is Special Agent Dwayne Pride, aka “King,” a native of New Orleans who is driven by his need to do what is right. Working with Pride is Special Agent Christopher LaSalle, who plays hard but works harder; and Special Agent Meredith “Merri” Brody, a charismatic and tough interrogator who transferred from the Great Lakes office in search of a fresh start. Supporting them is coroner Dr. Loretta Wade, who is as eccentric as she is smart. This colorful city that harbors a dark side is a magnet for service personnel on leave, and when overindulgence is followed by trouble, Pride’s team is at its best.”
NOTE: This is clearly more crime drama than paranormal, but: New Orleans (!) Scott Bakula (!) & Lucas Black(!)


How to Get Away With Murder | ABC | Thursdays |10/9c | Sept 25 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“The brilliant, charismatic and seductive Professor Annalise Keating gets entangled with four law students from her class “How to Get Away with Murder.” Little do they know that they will have to apply what they learned to real life, in this masterful, sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller.”


Once Upon A Time | ABC | Sundays | 8/7c | Sept 28th  (RETURNING – 4th season)
Seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix streaming.
From the homepage:
“This is Fairy Tale Land. It’s filled with magic, monsters and all of the characters we all know from stories growing up. It’s real, and so are the people in it. But unlike the “happily ever after” you may have heard about, their stories continued, and The Evil Queen cast a Dark Curse over the land….This is Storybrooke. It’s a quiet, little, New England town filled with people who go about their everyday lives with no idea who they really are. The Queen’s Curse has trapped them here and placed her in near-complete control. They have no real memories and no real hope.”

NOTE: There is a special scheduled to air on Tuesday, Sept. 2nd, at 8/7c, called: The Story of Frozen


Resurrection | ABC | Sundays | 9/8c | Sept 28th (RETURNING – 2nd season)
Season 1 is available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“The people of Arcadia, Missouri are forever changed when their deceased loved ones suddenly start to reappear. An 8-year-old American boy wakes up alone in a rice paddy in a rural Chinese province with no idea how he got there. Details start to emerge when the boy, who calls himself Jacob, recalls that his hometown is Arcadia, and an Immigration agent, J. Martin Bellamy, takes him there. The home he claims as his own is occupied by a 60-year-old couple, Henry and Lucille Langston , who lost their son, Jacob, more than 30 years ago…”


Stalker | CBS | Wednesdays | 10/9c | Oct 1 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“…a psychological thriller about detectives who investigate stalking incidents – including voyeurism, cyber harassment and romantic fixation – for the Threat Assessment Unit of the LAPD. Det. Jack Larsen is a recent transfer to the Unit from New York City’s homicide division, whose confidence, strong personality and questionable behavior has landed him in trouble before – but whose past behavior may also prove valuable in his new job. His boss, Lt. Beth Davis, is strong, focused and an expert in the field, driven by her traumatic personal experience as a victim. With the rest of their team, young but eager Det. Ben Caldwell and deceptively smart Det. Janice Lawrence, Larsen and Davis assess the threat level of cases and respond before the stalking and intimidation spirals out of control, all while trying to keep their personal obsessions at bay.”
Note: Another crime drama, but I do love Dylan McDermott.

gracepoint poster

Gracepoint | FOX | Thursdays | 8/9c | Oct 2 (NEW)
From the homepage:
“When a young boy is found dead on an idyllic beach, a major police investigation gets underway in the small northern California seaside town where the tragedy occurred. Soon deemed a homicide, the case turns neighbor against neighbor and sparks a media frenzy, which throws the boy’s family into further turmoil and upends the lives of the town’s residents.”
NOTE: Okay. It’s ANOTHER crime drama, but there’s certainly a creepy vibe.

AHS freakshow poster

American Horror Story – Freakshow |  FX   |  Wednesdays | 10/9c | Oct 8th
Season 1: Murder House & Season 2: Asylum are available on Netflix streaming.
Season 3: Coven – Not yet available on Netflix.
For some reason, FX has not yet provided us with a new homepage for AHS: Freakshow.
From Wikipedia:
“The fourth season will be set in Jupiter, Florida in 1952. It will be centered around one of the few remaining freak shows at the time, as its members do anything to keep the business alive. The season will focus on the conflict between the freaks and the “evil forces” who do not understand them. The season will also feature a “clown killer” and a “bearded lady”.”

walking dead season 5

The Walking Dead | AMC  | Sundays |Oct 12 (RETURNING – 5th season)
Seasons 1 – 3 are available via Netflix streaming.
AMC is pretty great about doing marathons before a new season begins … keep an eye out for season 4.
Homepage here. I trust no story description is necessary?

constantine poster

Constantine | NBC | Fridays | 10/9c |Oct 24th NEW
From the homepage:
“Based on the wildly popular comic book series “Hellblazer” from DC Comics, seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine is armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and a wickedly naughty wit. He fights the good fight – or at least he did. With his soul already damned to hell, he’s decided to abandon his campaign against evil until a series of events thrusts him back into the fray, and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect the innocent. With the balance of good and evil on the line‎, Constantine will use his skills to travel the country, find the supernatural terrors that threaten our world and send them back where they belong. After that, who knows… maybe there’s hope for him and his soul after all.”

tv show grimm

Grimm | NBC | Fridays | 9/8c | Oct 24th  (RETURNING – 4th season)
Seasons 1 – 3 are available on Netflix discs.
From the homepage:
“Grimm” is a drama series inspired by the classic Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales. After Portland Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt discovers he’s descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as “Grimms,” he increasingly finds his responsibilities as a detective at odds with his new responsibilities as a “Grimm.”

Stuff on The CW:

I don’t watch this network, but it appears to be overflowing (like a heaving bosom from a tight bodice) with paranormal / horror shows. Here’s a few highlights, but if these kind of programs are your thing, it’d be best for you to explore the whole CW line-up.

The Vampire Diaries | Thursdays | 8/7c | Oct 2nd (RETURNING – 6th season) 
Seasons 1 – 4 available on Netflix streaming.

The Originals | Mondays | 9/8c | Oct 6th (RETURNING – 2nd season) Vampires & New Orleans!! 

Supernatural | Tuesdays | 10/9c | Oct 7th (RETURNING – 10th season)
Seasons 1 – 8 are available on Netflix streaming.


Penny Dreadful | HBO | Season 2 expected spring 2015 (Season 1 not available via Netflix.)
NEW: The Whispers | ABC | “coming soon”
NEW: Aquarius | NBC | “coming soon”
NEW: Emerald City | NBC | “to be announced”
Salem | WGN | Season 2 will air Apr 2015 (Season 1 is not available via Netflx.)
Hannibal | NBC | Season 3 expected spring 2015 (Seasons 1 & 2 available on Netflix discs.)
NEW: Wayward Pines | Fox | 2015 – mid-season replacement | Juliette Lewis, Matt Dillon. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. (I’m excited about this one!)
The Following | FOX | Fridays | 9/8c | 3rd season expected January 2015 (Season 1 available on Netflix streaming.)
Downton Abbey | PBS | Sundays | 5th season expected Jan 4th, 2014 (Seasons 1-4 available on Netflix discs.)
Bates Motel | A&E | Mondays | 10/9c | 3rd season expected early 2015 (season 1 on Netflix streaming.)
Mad Men | AMC | Sundays | 8th (and final) season is likely to begin in Apr 2015
Lost Girl | Syfy | Sundays | 10/9c |5th season expected 2015

Cancelled, but:

CANCELLED: Crossbones | NBC | – | John Malkovich as Blackbeard (Can watch all episodes online.)
CANCELLED: Believe | NBC | – | (Can watch all episodes on Netflix discs.)

Did I miss anything you love? What show are you most looking forward to?


halloween countdown main fridays



Halloween Scavenger Hunt: our results.

2015 UPDATE: The 2nd Annual Halloween Photo Hunt is up and running HERE.

A few weeks ago, I developed a photographic scavenger hunt intended for smaller, slightly less “social” social groups. (I admit, I had selfish reasons. My little nuclear family is made up of introverts. When it comes to public outings, none of us want to beg actual items from strangers.)

We got a chance to give the game a full on test run last Friday. We played parents v. kids, in two teams of two. It was chilly, so we limited the game to two hours.

We had a blast. I’d play again in a heartbeat.

While the simple items from the scavenger hunt list are still on display, have a go at it yourself. I’ll bet you can come up with even more creative shots and poses than we did.

My favorite photos:

And here’s a video collage of the whole thing.

Print your scavenger hunt list here.

blogher Blogroll_Large_Oct_2013

Halloween Decor: easy, inexpensive haunts to make for the house and yard (plus some wow-projects.)


halloween countfdown 5 updated

For many of us, October 1st is the official start of the Halloween season. (At least the part of the season that happens outside the broom closet.) Before I post the next countdown article, that magical date will have arrived. This, then, is the week for pulling out all the dusty boxes of decorations, shopping the seasonal aisle of discount stores, locating the nearest specialty shop, and making a new project or two to flesh out the theme of this year’s display.

NOTE: All photographs and images below are used for the sole purpose of referring readers to the original website that offers the pictured content, At posting, all links are current and active. If a link fails to direct properly, it is due to a change by the site-holder which is out of my control.


These just caught my eye as I prowled. They range from insanely cheap and easy to more elaborate but still doable. Click project name for instructions.


This year, I found some great videos. I’ve shared a variety below — from “wow, that’s a crazy and potentially dangerous project” to “yeah, I could do that.” I’ll let you categorize them for your self.

Yard Ghosts from Tomato Cages

Frankenstein’s Lab Light Bulbs

Bloody Sheet with Masks (cool adaptable technique)

Body Bags (This is a 20 min. video, folks.)

Boarded-Up Windows (easy and cheap)

I might add more links to this section as I continue to wander. Anyone know of a good link? Leave a comment below 🙂


The following link takes you a page showing 31 consecutive days crafty posts, by Priscilla, from Halloween 2012. (In reverse order.)

Go read her journey through the season – she’s charming and it doesn’t take long. Oh, and there’s some great classic projects.

31 Days of Halloween at Thrifty Crafty Girl

For some reason, The Boy will not agree to be my model for

the awesome mummy project Priscilla has up on Oct 25th.

decor mummy tape


At Frugal Frights and Delights, Debbie shares her experiences related to constructing a fantastic front-yard haunt, peopled by some of my favorite characters. She uses material that we can all easily lay hands on and gives down-to-earth instructions.

Here’s what caught my eye:

decor ring girl with patch

The Ring Girl Samara Tutorial


The Well from the Movie The Ring, version 1 (heavy) AND new version 2 (light)

Recently, Debbie has expanded her amazing collection of characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas with new The Mayor:


click the pic to go to tutorial

decor sally complete


In 2013, she created Sally in FOUR detailed posts.

Photo courtesy of Marciniak Photography.

Photo courtesy of Marciniak Photography.

I admit, that’s pretty elaborate stuff. Here’s something quick & easy from Debbie’s place:

decor see no evil

See No Evil Jack O Lantern stack


This site is a treasure trove of brilliant how-tos by a professional prop master. Despite his credentials, he uses everyday objects and imagination, rather than expensive specialty items and power tools, to craft most of the projects he shares. (I find his blog to be generally entertaining too.)

Here’s what caught my eye:

Bloody, Dripping, Head Sack How-To

And here are some more of my favorite projects – but this is only a sampling.

Make a Moving Monster Eye – this is so cool that I called The Boy from the other room to come see. You’ve gotta read the article to really get it.

Morphing Ghost Picture with LCD Photo Frame – I have a fantastic old photograph of my grandmother as a young girl, flanked by her two brothers who are showing off their guns. (Perhaps you’ve seen a potion of the picture in my randomly displayed header images.) I also have a husband who is a Photoshop wiz.

I’ll post a little video of our results when we’ve finished.


I’ll admit it – forums confuse and overwhelm me. Which is a shame, because I think Halloween Forum is a gold mine of serious cool. For you – despite my trepidation – I girded myself and explored a bit. I’ve returned from the forum wilds with these projects. They are well beyond my available time, energy and skill, but – OMG – they are fun to look at.

decor grim reaper

It seems Terra, from the forum, has a collection of video tutorials on this dedicated YouTube channel:

Scary Lady Videos

new This is the easiest, most appealing project I found among Terra’s treasures:

Black Light Ghillie Suit – Halloween Scare


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


2014’s Countdown-to-Halloween Ideas & Checklist

Join The Paranormalist’s 1st Annual Halloween Photo Scavenger Hunt from here

Print your 6-week planning calendar from here



halloween countdown main fridays

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

Creepy reads for the Halloween season: good horror authors, old & new.


halloween countdown 7

At Halloween-time, there are few activities more satisfying than falling whole-heartedly into a scary book. Reading opportunities abound:

  • read during the last couple of trips to the cabin, because the lake turns chilly as soon as the earlier dusk sets in
  • take your lunch hour at a park when the leaves are turning, the sun is warm, and the breeze is cool
  • curl up with a mug of your favorite hot beverage and a blanket during one of the season’s last thundery evenings
  • steal a chapter or two while waiting for the kid’s band / dance / karate lessons to end
  • stay up too late so you can get through just one more chapter


I don’t read enough.

I used to. From the time I could pick up a book until my first child started walking, I was voracious. I’m well-versed in at least one era of horrorbooks. (See my favorite titles, from my favorite old-school writers, at the end of this post.)

Once my adulthood began in earnest, though, my time became scarce. I read as much as I could but I had to spend some time on more instructional things – books on parenting, budgeting, cooking, raising chickens, staying sane, etc. I lost track of most of the developments in my preferred genre. When I had time for fiction, the great temptation was to re-read old favorites, and seek out titles I may have missed from my stable of tried and true authors.

That’s not to say I missed out on EVERYTHING in those years, I managed to stumble across authors like Scott Nicholson, Poppy Z. Brite and some kid named Joe Hill.

(Yes, that’s how out of touch I was — I didn’t KNOW Joe Hill was Stephen King’s son until after I bought Heart-Shaped Box. I was pleased, however, that I figured it out myself. I clearly remember getting really excited about this new writer within the space of the first chapter. I thought, Wow … this is like a modern King. I turned to the book jacket to read about the author and thought, Wow. He even looks a little like Constant Writer. Actually, he looks A LOT like him … and he’s from ‘New England’. Beat. Beat. OMG!!!)

It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve made an effort to come up to speed on what’s going on in the horror world. What I’m seeing in the genre looks promising.

I think it’s harder to find new authors than it once was though. It doesn’t help that many bookstores have done away with the horror section. (Damn you, Barnes & Noble.) It doesn’t help that some of the horror imprints I used to count on have disappeared. (Right now I’m relying heavily on Samhain Horror.) In truth, I find Amazon overwhelming, and I’m not a big fan of the self-publishing craze. (I know there’s good stuff out there, it’s just hard to separate from the chaff … and I’ve found some awful chaff in the wilds of Amazon.) For all these reasons, I thought it might be helpful to tell you what I have found that I like.

Full disclosure: I “know” the new authors I’m about to list. There are no reviews of specific novels below. I can’t publicly critique the work of people I’ve come to think of as friends. Rest assured, If they are here, I like their work. This is simply a round up of resources for readers who are ready to try someone new. I’m comfortable telling you these guys are worth checking into. I’ll let you know which books I’ve read and show you where you can get a free sample or two of the author’s work – whether that be an ebook, a published short, an audio clip, or an outstanding blog post.

Hunter Shea:


Hunter is the first author I connected with here in the blogosphere, and I did it before I read any of his work. I wrote a whole post about stalking him. (I’m more subtle about that kind of behavior now. But, if you think I’m trailing you, I probably am.) He was amazing to me, and I’m grateful for his support and encouragement. I was terribly relieved when it turned out he can really write too.

I’ve read:  Forest of ShadowsSinister Entity, Asylum Scrawls, The Waiting, The Montauk Monster

Sample his work here:  The Graveyard Speaks is avaiable as a free ebook download. (This is a short story that bridges time between Forest of Shadows & Sinister Entity, but it’s a fine stand-alone.)

UPDATE: I told you a year ago to keep an eye on this guy. Not only is he prolific, he’s getting better with every book. The Montauk Monster, for example, was named one of the best reads of the summer by Publisher’s Weekly:

This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer!

His latest release is Hell Hole.

Extra fun:

I’ve had the opportunity to interview Hunter about, well about all sorts of stuff, this year. Have a listen:

Hunter and his friend Jack Campisi do a great little video podcast about all things horror. Links to all episodes can be found here: Monster Men




Brad C. Hodson

I’ve read: Darling

book cover hodson darling

Sample his work here: Read the first chapter of Darling at his blog.

And/or, listen to one of Brad’s short stories – Breathe – read by John Shirley, on the podcast Tales to Terrify. (I’ll be getting back to that little gem in another post.) In the player available on the linked page, Breathe starts at approx 10:20 and continues to approx 17:45.

Extra fun: I think the book trailer counts.


Jonathan Janz

I’ve read: The SorrowsThe Darkest Lullaby, Castle of Sorrows

Sample his work here: Night Terrors ( Part one of the five-part serial novel, Savage Species), available as a free ebook download.

UPDATE: Next up for me is Dust Devils:

Beware when the vampires come to town.

When traveling actors recruited his wife for a plum role, Cody Wilson had no idea they would murder her. Twelve-year-old Willet Black was just as devastated the night the fiends slaughtered everyone he loved. Now Cody and Willet are bent on revenge, but neither of them suspects what they’re really up against.

For the actors are vampires. Their thirst for human blood is insatiable. Even if word of their atrocities were to spread, it would take an army to oppose them. But it is 1885 in the wilds of New Mexico, and there is no help for Cody and Willet. The two must battle the vampires—alone—or die trying.

Extra fun: The finest Halloween blog post I’ve read yet: Born in Halloween. If you click on no other link in this post, click this one. This post is how I knew I needed to find and read his novels.


Mitch Lavender

As far as I know, Mitch has confined himself to short stories so far, but I think he’s a comer.

I’ve read: Untrue Stories, Volume One – It Didn’t Happen This Way

Sample his work here: Mitch makes many of his short stories available at his blog. One of my favorites is A Kiss of Thorns

Extra fun: Mitch offers an amazing selection of wallpapers for writers at his blog too.


This Halloween, give a thought to these new authors and give them a chance. I suspect you’re going to be glad you did … now and in a few years.

That said, there’s nothing wrong in turning to one of the established masters. I will be re-reading some of these this fall … because I have to. The following list of great horror is nowhere near all-inclusive. I’m forcing myself to choose ONE book from my favorite 13 authors. For me, this is canon:

  1. Stephen King – IT
  2. Robert McCammon – Swan Song
  3. Dan Simmons – Summer of Night
  4. John Saul – Suffer the Children
  5. Poppy Z. Brite – Lost Souls
  6. Dean Koontz – Odd Thomas
  7. Peter Straub – Ghost Story
  8. Robert Bloch – Psycho
  9. Clive Barker – Cabal
  10. Richard Matheson – Hell House
  11. Anne Rice – The Witching Hour
  12. Shirley Jackson – The Haunting Of Hill House
  13. Joe Hill – Heart-Shaped Box

Anything above should satisfy your taste for horror this fall, but if you want something truly evocative of the Halloween season, I’d suggest:

book something

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

book harvest home

Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon



2014: Countdown-to-Halloween Ideas & Checklist

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


halloween countdown main fridays

Hunting a haunting Halloween on Etsy: artisanal, hand-crafted tricks and treats to order now.

2013 halloween countdown week 8


If you’re looking for cute stuff on Etsy, you do not need my help. There are 250 pages of cute Halloween items, as of today. I’ve searched through most of them in order to find a slightly less cute, more sophisticated sensibility to share with you. With any luck, I’ve brought you a selection that shows you the darker, quirkier side of this site that does not discriminate against darker, quirkier craftsfolk who want to offer their handmade wares directly to us darker, quirkier consumers.

Hang in there non-shoppers (that include you guys.) I know this is a shopping post, but there’s stuff here for you too. Some of it’s just fun to look at, and some of it might be just what you are looking to add to you Halloween celebrations.

This is an eclectic tour, and I know I’ve probably missed some wonderful gothic and horror artists, but one can only scroll Etsy listings for so long before going mad. If you happen to know of an Etsy artist that should be included here, please let me know about him or her. 

NOTE: All photographs and images below are used for the sole purpose of referring readers to the original Etsy shops offering the pictured merchandise or content, At posting, all links are current and active. If a link fails to direct properly, it is due to a change by the vendor which is out of my control. I have NOT purchased the following items, so I cannot guarantee quality. Read descriptions carefully.

Please, comment to the post as a whole rather than the individual photos in gallery mode. That just confuses me 🙂


If you actually read the disclaimer note above, you might have noticed that I say I have not purchased the items featured in my tour. There is one, very-important, super-cool, totally-rocking, exception to that statement. I have indeed purchased and received my first set of magnetic buttons – and the magic necklace that allows me to wear them – from my daughter’s shop. I’m so excited about this that I made a video:

Pooka Creations Halloween Selection

So order some stuff from her, ‘k? Or send a link to this post (or to the video, or to her shop) to someone you know who might be interested. Or share such a link on your social media (if you can figure out how to do that without spamming folks with my proud-mother button-necklace-hawking.)




A few more jewelry shops, because I’m fair that way:

Weirdly Cute


SinisterVanity  – Jewelry, yes, but also gorgeous ethical taxidermy.


(If you love something, poke around. There’s probably similar stuff there.)



Mixed Media Human Heart Prop/Sideshow Gaff 2012 | $55
Pale Man lifesize latex bust from Pan’s Labyrinth | $200
Zombie walking dead severed head halloween film prop | $39


(Harkening back to my crafts & hobbies post.)

Halloween Digital Vintage Steampunk Paper Doll Download | $6
Witches Brew Halloween Primitive Sampler E-Pattern PDF | $7
Halloween Steampunk skeleton paper jointed doll with skull | $3.50



Believe | $14.99
Boo Hoo | $14.99+
Bigfoot | $14.95



1940’s Kirchhof Pin Up Witch Halloween Tin Ratchet Noisemaker with Open Ends | $35
Vintage childs halloween Mask DEVIL in its original box | $18
Vintage Halloween Noisemaker Tin Horn Circa 1950s US Metal Toy | $25



Latex Clown Prosthetic Appliances | $25
Gas mask | $24
Handmade burlap latex Scarecrow Halloween Deluxe full head mask w/ dreads | $150



Happy Halloween Retro Three tiered Apron | $52.99
Cemetery Scene In Purple And Grays | $20
Retro Style Halloween Apron | $35



Masquerade Mask Tattoo multiple use with included spirit gum | $25
Gothic Black Elbow wedding veil | $18.99
Gothic Burlesque Steampunk Bustle Skirt | $75 



Werewolf Milk – Pre-Made Witches Apothecary Bottle | $6
Mad Scientist: Lektra Laboratories Vacuum Tube Darkroom Interval Timer | $18
Primitive SPELLBOOK Halloween Witch | $24


(I admit it, I’m addicted to good bath products.)

Halloween Soaps (10 favor-sized) | $20 
Halloween Sugar Scrub Scoops | $8.50
Handmade Candy Corn Soap for Halloween | $4.99
Three Halloween Skull Soaps in Buttercreme and Snickerdoodle fragrance | $3
Werewolf Soap | $6
Shower Cap Spooky Halloween | $15.50



etsy as cute as i get crow

Crocheted crow | $15



While prowling, I found items I loved – that I would have included in the categories above – except the WHOLE shop was awesome. Have a look:

Halloween Whimsey – Wooden items, wonderfully hand-painted, including dozens of Halloween-themed wooden pub-style signs:

idolatre clothing co. – Gorgeous, sexy, EXPENSIVE costume-wear. The middle pic below shows the price for just the head-dress part of the costume.

NancyMichalak Paper Cutting – One of the first not-my-daughter shops I favorited. I love looking at this intricate work.

hhfashions (Helene Hawthorn Fashions) – Beautiful Gothic and Victorian styles for costumes AND regular wear.


That’s it, folks. Remember, it’s only EIGHT weeks until Halloween. More importantly, it’s only about 26 days until October 1st – the day we can come out of the Halloween closet and trumpet our love to all. Will you be ready? Now’s the time to be thinking about:

  • maybe having a Halloween party
  • costumes
  • decor projects
  • watching Halloween movies (No one can judge you for what you do in the privacy of your own home.)

PS: I spent so much
pooka comic swears-ing
time on this post, that I haven’t yet made my week 8 countdown image. I’ll add it when I’m done.
(Yes, that was a sneaky way to link to Pooka Creations one more time.)

UPDATE: So, it’s there now. But I’m leaving the link 🙂

halloween countdown general

13+ Halloween-themed movies
Printable checklist of Halloweeny activities – enough for 13 weeks of fun
How and why to spend an afternoon with the dead at your local cemetery
 Halloween hobbies: monster models, knitting, cross stitch, paper cutting and more
Fall 2013 TV for lovers of horror, paranormal, dark fantasy, suspense (and retro)