Halloween Tarot Giveaway

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Win a set of Halloween Tarot cards and help support the debut novel Tarot: The Magician.

Book Blurb

When Kassandra Troy discovers an ancient tarot deck, her life takes a thrilling and frightening turn. She triggers The Magician card, and releases the mysterious and captivating Luke Rykell. He lifts Kassandra out of despair, dispelling the devastation she feels after her father’s death. But Luke has a dark secret. He wants the magical deck for himself. The only way Kassandra can save herself is to journey into the Tarot cards. But once inside, can she ever escape?

Irresistibly compelling and heart-wrenching, Tarot: The Magician is a superb fantasy tale that will haunt you long after you’ve read the last page.

Download the ebook from Midnight Frost Books as well as AmazonBarnes and Noble and Smashwords. Not sure? Read a free sample here. Or click on the fancy schmancy button below.

Snail Sample Button

Tarot Book Trailer

I worked for over two months drawing and coloring the panels you see in this trailer. I wanted it to be as special as the book. However, I was daunted by the music. I’m no musician. However, if it were silent, or had canned music, that would undermine all the hard work I put into the animation. Bradley Coy came to my rescue. For the full story on how the theme for the book trailer was created, read A Theme Song for an ebook.

Book Reviews

Don’t trust me. Here are readers who have read and commented on the book.

“I especially enjoyed Kassandra’s journey through the cards as she tries to solve the problems she’s faced with and find her way out. And the ending gives me hope for a sequel (or a series?)” by Tara at Dividing by Zero

Giveaway Details

By helping me promote Tarot: The Magician, you get your own set of fabulously spooky tarot cards. I’ll mail them to the winner after Halloween. Click this LINK or anywhere on the image below to take you to enter the giveaway. Hurry, this event ends Friday, October 31st!

Halloween Tarot Promo

 

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Three Films That Will Scare the Pants Off You in About a Minute!

We all like to be scared, but sometimes it takes too long. To be able to build atmosphere and reach the scare in just a few minutes is a feat. Look at these three films, that scare you in ever decreasing amounts of time.

Sukablood scares you in 6 and a half minutes. It’s a twist on a fairytale and teaches you not to suck your thumb.

Suckablood – short fairytale horror from BloodyCuts.co.uk on Vimeo.

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Mama is a preview of a film by Guillermo Del Toro. He manages to scare the heck out of you in 2 minutes.

One Last Dive is the fast scare in town. It goes from normal to terrifying in 1 minute.

One Last Dive from jasoneisener on Vimeo.

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Check these out and see if they scare you.

Tim Kane

Smashing Pumpkins (The Puree Way)

October means pumpkins, not just for carving, but gobbling up in soups, stews, pancakes, and pies. It all starts with a sugar pumpkin. I used to wonder what this was because they aren’t available at pumpkin patches. Search for pie pumpkins (or sugar pumpkins) at the grocery store.

Transforming a pumpkin into puree is not as hard as it looks. Most websites will tell you crank up the oven and toss the pumpkin inside and wait. Yeah, I tried that. One problem, was the waiting. It takes time for the oven to heat up and quite a while for the pumpkin to cook. Worse yet, when I tried this the first time, I decided to add water to the glass pan while it was in the oven (did I mention that it was glass). Yes, shards scattered everywhere: in the oven, on the floor.

I found a better way: Microwave. But let’s start with the slicing and dicing. Cut the pumpkin into quarters and then scoop out all the seeds and gook.

Make sure you place the pumpkin pieces into a microwave safe container. The secret here is the water. Just enough to come up to the pulpy part of the pumpkin. You’re basically steaming the pumpkin.

Cover up the bowl (allowing a little space for super heated air to vent) and microwave for 10-15 minutes. With this pumpkin, 15 minutes was the magic number. You know you’re done when a fork goes straight through.

Careful, when the pumpkin is cooked, it is crazy hot. Further proof that you’re on the right track is when the rind pulls easily away from the pulp.

Now it’s time to puree. If you don’t have a food processor, don’t sweat it. Get a potato masher and go to town. For the food processor, you may find that the pulp is too thick to spin. It just sits there like a slug. Try adding up to a half a cup of water.

You’ll only need two cups to make a pumpkin pie (recipe in the next post).

The rest you can save for pancakes, muffins, heck, I even added some to pasta sauce. It’s fall, go crazy.

Tim Kane

Living the Pumpkin Carving Life

It’s October and I’m watching Halloween Wars. No, I don’t style myself on par with the expert pumpkin carvers, but I’ve created some pulpy ghouls over the years. One of the best tools I’ve seen (and one I need to buy) is the bent wire stylus used by clay sculptors. Currently, I use a strawberry corer to make detail work on the face of pumpkins. But I’m going too far. Most folk want to cut your classic pumpkin without all the hassle. I have a few tips.

Now, the pumpkin I worked with ended up being a monster. Seriously, this thing was at least an inch and a half thick. I could hardly cut it. That being said, ditch those orange plastic pumpkin carving tools they sell at the store. Totally useless. Here’s what you need:

  • A bread knife
  • A steak knife
  • An ice cream scoop
  • A bowl to hold all the pulp and seeds

Pumpkin Tools

The ice cream scoop is great because the spoon has sides that are vertical (unlike a flat spoon) which makes digging into a pumpkin through a small hole easy. If you have one with a release lever (like the one pictured) then you never get your fingers gunky (although you loose out on all the fun that way).

I typically use the bread knife to cut off the top because I’m going for power, not finesse. Once I get to the face, I switch to the steak knife. Serrated edges are the key. You want to saw through the pumpkin. Nothing is worse than punching in with a standard knife and have the blade trapped by the pumpkin. Literally, you can’t move that thing.

Cutting out the eye hole.

Don’t be afraid to over cut the holes. Generally, they don’t show. Toss everything in a bowl as you go to ease clean up. For the finished “classic” pumpkin, I use one of those battery-operated candles. These are great because you still get the flicker, but without any heat.

There are all these opinions on how to preserve a pumpkin. Mostly, I leave them out. They’re going to rot. Accept it. If I do want to keep one, I stash it in the fridge. This will only work for one pumpkin, and only then if you can make the room.

Carve away.

Tim Kane

5 Monstrous Picture Books You Need to Own

Okay, so my four-year-old daughter is a book hound. She has a four shelf bookcase crammed with books. Then there’s the walk-in closet with two more shelves of books. Plus the seasonal books. So I guess she’ll be a reader.

When I cracked out the Halloween books this year, I noticed her gravitate to certain ones more than others. And since I’m still doing most of the reading, I also push her toward various titles. Thank goodness we both like the same books. I’d hate to have to read some dreary couplets night after night until trick or treat time.

Finally I got to thinking about the best books in her collection. For pure Halloween, she has maybe fifteen books, and just general creepy or monster books, you could add perhaps ten or fifteen more (I haven’t done an official count).

The five books that follow are the ones I can read over and over and never tire of. Plus she digs these books and comes back to them.


Zombie in Love
Written by Kelly DiPucchio
Pictures by Scott Campbell

We picked this up a week ago in Barnes and Noble. I knew my daughter liked it because we read probably the whole Halloween selection and she only wanted this one. (I did put all the books back in their places).

What’s not to love about a zombie love story. It stars poor Mortimer who just wants someone to dance with. He’s accompanied by a group of tiny worms and his decaying dog. Mortimer is, of course, a zombie. So his come ons to women are molding chocolates and a diamond ring with a rotting finger. (My wife says this is the unrealistic part, as any woman would still take the ring, finger or no.)

The tale is sweet and hilarious as Mortimer tries and fails to get a date for the Cupid’s Ball dance (making this an excellent book also for Valentine’s day). I don’t think I’m spoiling too much when I say he does find someone. The final pages show the couple eating a brain cake picnic in the park. Ah, zombie love.


Halloween Night
Written by Marjorie Dennis Murray
Pictures by Brandon Dorman

I also picked this up a week ago (though the book came out in 2008). I was initially attracted to the Dorman’s amazing illustrations. Mostly I was searching for books with lots of monsters in them. My daughter loves the Universal monsters and likes to see the whole array represented. (Ideally, I want a werewolf book, but those are sadly lacking.)

When I got the book home and started reading it, I noticed that it was a riff off “The Night Before Christmas.” Check out these lines:

’Twas Halloween night, and all through the house
Every creature was stirring, including the mouse;
The walls were aflutter with little brown bats,
While hordes of black spiders crept out of the cracks.

The art inside is captivating. There are bats, spiders, zombies, ghosts, mummies, goblins and a two headed creature called Ogre and Olaf. This is exactly what you imagine a Halloween book should be. A fun ride with lots of monsters.


The plot here is simple. Instead of Santa Claus visiting a house, a witch is setting up a party for the trick or treaters. But when they arrive, they’re scared off by the creepy ghoulies, and the party has to continue human-free. One nice touch at the end is the monsters using a jack-o-lantern as a piñata. (I don’t think it’d work, but I’m dying to try.)

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich
By Adam Rex

True, this is not a Halloween book per se. It’s more a book honoring the Universal monsters (and anyone who loves them as much as I do must own this book). It has the whole crew: Frankenstein’s Monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Phantom of the Opera, witches, the Wolfman, the Invisible Man, Count Dracula, the Mummy, the Yeti and Bigfoot, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, zombies, and Godzilla. Did we leave anybody out?

The book is a series of short stories (some long, some one page) about the various monsters. It’s clear that Mr. Rex adores these creatures as much as I do, because he plays with them without maligning their image.

My two favorite stories are the Phantom and Godzilla. The Phantom is actually a running gag where he can’t write a song because all these others are stuck in his head. Because of this, my daughter only knows the words to “It’s a Small World” as “Angry cursing fills the hall. / Now he’s crawling up the wall. / It’s a small, small world.” Plus she can hum the them to “The Girl from Ipanema.”

Godzilla is a two page gag where Godzilla poops on a poor man’s Honda. Nuff said.

Monster Museum
Written by Marilyn Singer
Pictures by Gris Grimly

I’m a huge fan of Gris Grimly. In fact nearly all of his books would make excellent Halloween stories. Monster Museum features all the major monsters, and this is what drew me in.
The plot is simple, a group of nine kids tours the monster museum. You see one after another nabbed by a critter as the pages unfold. By the end, there are only two kids left. Yet the final page shows all the monsters coming back to school with the kids (the happy ending).

If you’ve never seen Gris Grimly’s artwork, you’re missing out. I visit his booth every year at the San Diego Comic Con. We even have one of his prints at home. He always has a slightly twisted bent on the world that comes through with his figures.

You should pick this up if only for the inclusion of the cockatrice, chimera, and gorgon. Plus these awesome lines about the unicorn:

A lizard with wigs is a horror,
A stallion with wings is a beaut.
A snake with a horn is a nightmare,
A mare with a horn is just cute.


ABC Spookshow
By Ryan Heshka

This book is mostly art, but the illustrations are out of this world. Heshka does the creepiest ABC book I’ve yet seen (and I do own a Cthulhu ABC book, so I should know). Some of the subjects he chooses to represent the letters is just brilliant. Check these out:

E is for Ectoplasm
K is for Karloff
L is for Lugosi
(Even in ABC, Lugosi gets second billing)
Q is for Quagmire Monster

This little book is worth it for the art alone. Any one of the illustrations could be a stand alone poster.

Hope these help darken your mood. They’re all filled to the bring with enough creep to make you giggle and also stand your hair on end.

Tim Kane