posted on October 18, 2016 by Carolyn Haines


midnight-mysteriesWhen the days grow shorter and the chill wind blows, a writer’s thoughts turn to a favorite holiday–Halloween. This season, 9 mystery writers offer a collection of 9 original stories for those who love a gentle walk on the dark side. MIDNIGHT MYSTERIES is available now for $2.99.

LynDee Walker, Eleanor Cawood Jones, and Carolyn Haines share three of their favorite memories of Halloweens past. The good, the bad, and the…funny. When you’ve read our Halloween adventures, write your own. We’re offering a free Amazon download of the book to one lucky winner who comments.

LynDee Walker’s story: The Halloween House.

Every neighborhood has one. And in my neighborhood, it’s mine.

When the leaves start to tinge with orange and red in late September, our brick-front Georgian becomes a haunted hollow: a 30-foot spider web with giant neon arachnids spreads between two trees, a pirate graveyard takes shape on the lawn, and ghosts and ghouls fly between trees, all illuminated in creepy red-orange or black light.

People come from all over to see it: which I didn’t know until year before last, when my baby’s birthday and a slew of other obligations delayed the decorating into early October. One sunny Tuesday afternoon, the doorbell pulled me away from my laptop and I found a scowling woman on my porch. Since my son was at school, I knew he hadn’t broken any nearby windows, so I raised my eyebrows and asked if I could help her.

“Are you new here?” she asked.

Um. “Not really,” I said, trying to figure out what on Earth I’d opened the door to.

“The people who live here always have the coolest Halloween stuff.” She folded her arms across her chest and actually stomped her foot as she gave me the stink-eye. “My kids have begged me to drive over every night this week so they could see the ‘Halloween House,’ and there’re no spiders, no skeletons—nothing but a couple of pumpkins. Did the Halloween people move?”

I think I laughed, but I was so shocked I can’t remember. I know I managed to explain that we’d get the decorations out as soon as possible—not that she looked too much happier for it.

I did make darned sure they went up on time last fall, and this year, I’m unboxing them as soon as I finish typing this. Irate neighbors are way scarier than goblins, y’all.

 Eleanor’s Story: A Different Kind of Bunny

As a sophomore in college I was terrifically excited to be invited to a Halloween party at a fraternity house, and even more thrilled that my roommate volunteered to make us all Halloween costumes. And wow, could that girl sew! Word got out that I would be dressed up as a bunny and apparently that went over big with the party crowd.

With one slight hitch. Back in the early 80s, when you said you were dressing up as a bunny, it was generally assumed it would be of the Hugh Hefner variety: Cleavage, fishnet stockings, and short skirt. Attach ears and tail and voila! Sexy Halloween costume complete!

Innocently, I showed up at the party in my head-to-toe, fuzzy, Easter-bunny-correct Halloween suit. Correct right down to big floppy ears framed by coat hangers, a gray hood and full body suit with plenty of padding, and big bunny feet. The tail made it a little hard to sit down, but I’d be dancing anyway, right?

After the general laughter and open admiration for my friend’s sewing talent died down, a tall young man in a Darth Vader costume asked me to dance, under the stars and in the fresh air on the fraternity house porch. I can still remember the autumn leaves, subdued but still colorful under the porch lights, the chill in the air, and the beginnings of romance as Darth and the Easter Bunny slow danced to a pop song called “True.”

That relationship lasted quite a while, the Easter Bunny suit held up for years afterward and was lent out for many a Halloween do, and to this day I love to dress up for the Hallowed Holiday. Science Fiction companions optional.

 Carolyn’s story: Play Dead—and Stay Dead

My family loves scary movies and Halloween. My mother was an artist with stage make-up for fake blood, etc. When I was about eight, my mother made up my older brother and me as ghouls early in the day so we could enjoy our costumes for more than just an hour or two. My hair was teased and powdered, fake blood all over the front of my white dress, my eyes blackened with eye liner pencil—I was officially CREEPY. And off we went to play in the yard.

My older brother came up with the best plan ever! He buried me in the ditch under cover of mountains of leaves we’d raked the day before. And he gave me instructions. Whenever anyone walked by our house on the sidewalk, he would whistle—my signal to come crawling out of the ditch like a possessed thing, growling and snarling as I scrabbled after the pedestrian. Then Andy would rush up with a broom and pretend to chase me away.

It was an exciting afternoon as we terrorized old ladies, the newspaper carrier, one preacher, and a group of high school girls. Until someone called our mother and tattled on us. Grounded! But you know, it was fun while it lasted!

Post YOUR Halloween story below for a chance at a free e-book of MIDNIGHT MYSTERIES.

Carolyn Haines

Carolyn Haines

USA Today bestselling author Carolyn Haines grew up with both parents working as journalists, and she was bitten by the writing bug at a very young age. Her three ambitions were to be a cowgirl, a mystery-solving sleuth like Nancy Drew, and a writer. Today, she has basically accomplished them all. She is the author of the acclaimed Bones mystery series and in addition, she works as an advocate for humane treatment for animals and operates a small rescue on her farm (7 horses, 9 cats and 6 dogs).

Haines claims to have had “the last golden childhood of the South.” She grew up in Lucedale, Mississippi, a town of 3,000 in the Southeastern Pine Barrens. She rode her bicycle all over the county with her wonderful dog Venus and employed her imagination to create adventures with her friends.

Her first job in journalism was at the local weekly, The George County Times, when she was in high school. She went on to work as a photojournalist at the Hattiesburg American while attending the University of Southern Mississippi to earn a B.S. in journalism.

She worked for nearly a decade in the news business, covering local politics, the state legislatures in Alabama and Mississippi, spot news, writing a personal column and her favorite—writing features and using photography to illustrate the story. With her mother, she ran a statewide bureau in Mississippi for the Mobile Register and the Mississippi Press. As part of her journalistic adventures, Haines covered an armed robbery on horseback, hopped a freight train, and rescued a young, injured bald eagle from certain death. She was the first female reporter hired on the news side of the Huntsville Times.

At the same time, she began writing short fiction for personal satisfaction. Under the sway of Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Doris Betts, and Lee Smith, Haines wrote about the landscape and the people she knew. The end result was being accepted by an agent who urged her to “write a novel.”

Another huge influence was Harper Lee and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Haines’s first novel was SUMMER OF THE REDEEMERS, a coming of age story set in 1963 rural Mississippi and published in 1994. Haines was honored in 2010 with the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writing.

In 2009, Haines was named the recipient of the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence.

From general fiction, Haines drifted into mysteries, and THEM BONES, a humorous mystery with a wise-cracking ghost, was bought at auction. The stories center around Sarah Booth Delaney and her friends. The fourteenth book in the series, BOOTY BONES, was published May 20, 2014, by St. Martin’s Minotaur.

While writing the lighter mysteries, Haines has continued to write in the darker terrain of the crime novel. PENUMBRA and FEVER MOON (both St. Martin’s Minotaur) are historical crime novels.

In May 2010, an anthology she edited, DELTA BLUES, was released to critical acclaim.

Along with writing, Haines is the fiction coordinator at the University of South Alabama where she teaches graduate and undergraduate fiction writing. And she is president of Good Fortune Farm Refuge, an organization dedicated to helping animals and to educating the public on the need to spay and neuter.

She lives on a farm with her “critters.” They are the terror of the neighborhood.

Carolyn Haines Contest

Carolyn Haines is giving away to TWO winners a digital copy of MIDNIGHT MYSTERIES.

Enter Here


  1. Ellen O' Brien says:

    I remember fondly the Halloween when a neighbor stopped by during Trick or Treat hours with her daughter and new granddaughter who was dressed as a Ladybug. My friend had me take a photo of the three of them. I call it my ‘ Ladybug memory’ .

    1. Some of the costumes parents come up with these days are so terrific. We were mostly ghosts or hobos or things like that.

  2. Yifat Cestare says:

    Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. We go all out to decxorate both the inside and outside of our home. Four years there was never an issue, then one year instead of a constant stream of trick or treater’s we had about 20. The next year 10. I noticed that people would stop and look and continue, never oncweringing ourbell, even when thee door was open. I never understood why and it continued for several years. We still continue to decorate and buy treats. I hope eventually the chi!dren will return. I will always decorate.

    1. I don’t know what kids do in the town where I grew up now. So many places are anti-Halloween. I don’t understand. It was such harmless fun for us as children. We looked forward to our costumes all year long.

  3. Candace knight says:

    I got married on Halloween. I was a witch, my husband a vampire, and my daughter a little devil. Everyone that attended dressed up. We had to go to the court house to get married because we couldn’t find a preacher that would do it on Halloween. We had a great party afterwards.

  4. I love this! Now that’s a whopper of a story and real dedication to the spirit of Halloween. Thanks for writing in, Candace.

  5. Marie Preissig says:

    Back when we lived in Chesterton Indiana, we were foster parents of 5 teenagers and my daughter was 5 during this Halloween. Everyone decided they wanted to go trick or treating even tho, it looked like it was going to rain. With all the kids in tow we went to my friends nice neighborhood. Parked the car and headed out. We got over two miles away from the car and the bottom fell out! It was horrible! Every year when we get together during the holidays this story comes up and we laugh so hard.

  6. Hard to live through, but great memories. I have some canoe trips like that. And you’re so right, we remember them now and laugh and laugh.

  7. Daniele K says:

    I don’t have a great halloween story, but I love the holiday. As a kid, one of my best friends had an annual party. Her parents went all out – pinata, Ghost stories, rattling chains in the attic. Good times.

    1. Those are memories that stay with kids. And back when I was that age, we made costumes from things around the house so there wasn’t a lot of money involved in dressing up. Fun.

  8. Allyson A. says:

    We had just moved to a new town, and as newcomers, we were not up to speed with how the community observed Halloween (day/hours). Every other place we lived, celebrated on Halloween at dusk. My daughter was four, at the time.

    As we started to go door to door, no one answered, thought that was so odd. It was Halloween, according to the calendar. I decided to try one more house. This time, someone did answer, but informed me, that the neighborhood celebrated Halloween, last week. Inquiring about that, I learned trick-or-treating was left up to neighborhoods to decide on day and times. Oh dear! That was a custom I wasn’t used to. We returned home to inform my husband, that we missed Halloween. My husband, didn’t give up so easily, and before I knew it, we all loaded up in the van. He drove around the town and we discovered, that there were a few neighborhoods handing out candy. Thanks to my husband, my daughter got to enjoy in the fun and collecting her treats.

    It definitely created a memory. The next time we moved, I made a point to learn about holiday celebrations. Luckily, it was the only time, I’ve ever experienced neighborhoods deciding when to do trick-or-treating.

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