Monthly Archives: November 2011


Sometimes the best Disney gifts can be found in places we often don’t consider—like at Scranberry Coop, an antique and vintage collectibles center in Andover, New Jersey.

Can you get something for that Disney or Disney Parks fan on your list if you’ve cut back on the spending this year?

I was recently reminded that yes, you can—you just may have to look someplace you’d never expect.

The entrance to Scranberry Coop.

A view of Scranberry Coop from Route 206.

Last year, Nathan and I were visiting his family in New Jersey for Thanksgiving weekend, and he took me to Scranberry Coop, an antique and vintage collectibles center. I was surprised to discover that there were plenty of Disney collectibles in nice shape—for very reasonable prices.

I’ve wanted the Fantasia Anthology—the special 60th anniversary edition—for a long time. The consistent asking price on Amazon for a new set runs between $67-$70. At Scranberry Coop, Nathan picked it up this mint condition set for me for Christmas—for $12.

So if you’ve cut back a bit this year but still want to get something Disney-related that’s special—and easier on the wallet—take a few minutes and think outside the box: visit a thrift store, flea market, antique shop. You might be surprised at what you find.

Below, a virtual inventory of some of the treasures we discovered at Scranberry Coop. If you’d like to know more about them, you can visit their website at

Several of the shop’s shelves displayed Disney memorabilia.

This Die Cast Flik, from the Disney/Pixar feature A Bug’s Life, was selling for $3.

These Monsters Inc. and Toy Story sets were tagged $5.

I don’t know how much the Mickey figurine was going for (the $10 tag belongs to an item on the shelf above), but the glasses—issued for Walt Disney World in 2000—were $2 a piece; in a current Ebay auction, the opening bid for the set was $19.99.

This Dumbo figurine was tagged $14. I don’t know how old it is, but a quick search on Dumbo figurines on Ebay revealed that some can go for hundreds of dollars (whether new OR old).

This Disney snow globe carried a $10 price tag. Snow globes (of all kinds) at the Disney Store website range in price from $15.50 to $150.00.

These unopened Indiana Jones action figures were fetching $7 each. The 12” Indiana Jones action figures on Amazon right now are going for $62.00.

This Mickey Mouse Club lunchbox dates to 1977. Current price for this item on Ebay is $95; at Scranberry Coop, they wanted $5.

This Donald Duck figure seemed a little bit pricey at $15 (firm), but a similar one I found online was running $24.

This framed wall art was $20—a very good deal.

These are currently sold in the parks; I don’t know how much they sell for there, but I’m pretty sure they’re more expensive than this one, which was going for $2. At first I couldn’t really figure out who would want this, but you never know. Someone could be a huge fan of Hollywood Studios and want to buy this for their next trip so they don’t have to purchase one in the parks.

Star Wars Battle Packs retail for about $19.99-$24.99, according to the Hasbro website. These were selling for $10 and were new. All you had to do was dust them off.

It was difficult for me to say “no” to these, since I had some when I was a kid (but they were, of course, broken years ago). From left, the ones which feature Luke, Chewie, C-Threepio/R2-D2—and then the one all the way at the far right with Darth Vader’s looming face—are vintage 1977 and are being sold as a set on Ebay for $65; the one with Darth Vader turning away and Lando are vintage 1980 and are selling on Ebay right now for about $13 each. These glasses were $8/each.


Me, left, at Culture Scary Dairy contest winner Dave Goudsward at AnthoCon 2011 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on November 12.

My flash fiction piece “Slow Grill” was runner-up in Culture magazine’s annual Scary Dairy Contest (fellow NEHW member Dave Goudsward took first place for “Michael, is that You?”)—he’ll be receiving a basket of cheesy goodies just in time for the Holidays! NEHW member Stacey Longo also entered (her story’s untitled).

You can read all three stories here.


Paranormal Researchers of Fredericton (Canada) recently interviewed me for a feature on their website! If you’d like to read the interview—about, of course, ghost stories, things that go bump in the night and a few odds and ends and advice about the writing life, visit

Interested in paranormal research or better yet are you up in the Frederictonarea? Be sure to check out P.R.O.F.!


May December Publications has accepted my short story “Whether Girl” for its upcoming Wake the Witch anthology, the proceeds of which will be donated to an as-yet unannounced charity.

“Whether Girl” was first published by The Wheel in its Summer, 2005 issue, and hasn’t been available—in print or digital—since. The Wheel was a great little magazine of pagan fiction, and I miss what it featured. I’m proud that “Whether Girl” is now going to be available again now that The Wheel is no longer around.

Here’s the Table of Contents for Wake the Witch, as posted on May December’s website here:

1 Chantal Boudreau Witch Vanity

2 Kristi Petersen Schoonover : Whether Girl

3 David Landrum : The Conduit

4 CW LaSart : A Wise Woman’s Revenge

5 Ken Goldman : Mercy Hathaway is a Witch

6 Adam Millard : The Witching Well Hag

7 Elizabeth Butler : of cucumbers and curses

8 Marius Dicomites : Born Again

9 Bennie Newsome : Generational Curse

10 Michael Frissore : Trevor Talks

11 Walter Campbell : You next appointment

12 Mark Jones : The Strange Case of Melinda P. Zinnecker

13 DA Chaney : Homicidal

14 Geoffrey Crescent : 360 Degrees


Autumn’s dying…it (officially) ends on December 21—so it’s the perfect time to check out my short story “Screams of Autumn,” which is featured on this week’s Fiction Friday over at Sci-Fi Saturday Night! Here’s where you can check it out:

Sci-Fi Saturday Night—the Official Podcast of the Boston Comic Con—is a lively, popular podcast that covers all things Sci-Fi—from films and features to books and art, you won’t want to miss it. Past guests include authors Harlan Ellison, Ben Bova, Spider Robinson, Tracy Hickman and Christopher Golden; Wizard World founder/CEO Gareb Shamus; actors Amber Benson, Mark Metcalf, Adam West and Doug Jones; physicist Stanton Friedman; plus editors, musicians, game designers and more! 

I’m honored to announce I’ll be on Sci-Fi Saturday Night on Saturday, 12/17/11, to talk about Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole—Tales from Haunted Disney World and some sci-fi with the whole gang: The Dome, Kriana, Illustrator X, AwakebyJava, The Dead Redhead, Zombrarian and Dru Silla! Check out the show here:


My table set for Thanksgiving, 2010.

My father often talked about “slow glass.” He said if it were in your windows, you could look out on your lawn and see something that happened in that same spot in the past. I thought him genius and asked why he didn’t write a story about it. He said it’d already been written, but he couldn’t recall its title or author.

The concept haunted me as much as it did him. I desperately wanted to read the story, but no one I asked knew anything about it. I gave up, he died, and as the years went on, I’d try searching for it on the Internet—with no luck.

Last year, a week before Thanksgiving, I scored.

The short story is called “Light of Other Days” by Bob Shaw. I could understand why it had so moved my father: one of its themes is letting go of the past so you can move on to what’s right in front of you.

A week later, on Thanksgiving Day, I had a houseful. My Aunt Delores was showing my housemate, Charles, how to make garlic mashed potatoes. There was only one problem: our masher was missing.

The missing potato masher.

I tore apart the kitchen, but found nothing. I got upset—it was like the missing masher was a trigger for mourning everybody that wasn’t around anymore and the way things used to be or could have been.

Nathan did not want to go shopping, but he volunteered to at least see what was open. He returned with a masher. It was cheap and too flexible (not at all like the great one from the 1930’s, solid metal with a thick wooden handle, that had mysteriously disappeared), but it did the job. Peace was restored.

The new masher Nathan picked up on Thanksgiving Day. I think he got it at Walmart.

A few weeks later, I was cooking dinner. I grabbed a wooden spoon from a vase on the counter—which I had done many times since Thanksgiving—and I spotted our potato masher. It had been sitting in the vase the whole time.

The masher was in its home in the jar next to my stove.

As I had a good laugh, I remembered “Light of Other Days.” If there were something called “slow glass,” I’d probably have it in all my windows, and while I was sitting gazing at “better times,” life would pass me by. I wouldn’t appreciate the people who are here now, the things that are, the way things could be.

The Holidays are a hard time for many people because of the past. This year, if it gets rough, step away from the windows and look at what’s around you (and I’d also recommend knowing your potato masher’s location).

From our house to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.

You can read “Light of Other Days” by Bob Shaw here: light-of-other-days

Auntie Del’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes.


To those who don’t live it, there’s something sexy about living the writing life. Thanks to famous (or infamous) classic writers like Hemingway, Shelley, Byron and Poe…and many others…it’s assumed we’re all haunted by tragic childhoods, have a string of dysfunctional relationships, go to wild parties, smoke, drink, and do everything to excess. Even today, I often sense that when someone talks to me about my life as a writer, they may be asking about how I get my ideas, how I juggle the craft around everything else in life, how I get my work published, et cetera—but let’s face it. What they really want to know are details about the secret, glamorous life I must lead (right, I hear all of you writers out there laughing now).

Still, I won’t lie and say that some of that isn’t true. In today’s world, it probably isn’t true for most of us on a daily basis. But that doesn’t mean anyone wouldn’t glimpse the ghost of it when once a year you throw two hundred of us together in hotel—even we like to role-play.

So here’s a trip to last weekend’s first annual AnthoCon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I’m already looking forward to next year.


GhoStory Guru: “The Boarded Window” by Ambrose Bierce

If you’re a ghost story lover and you haven’t read Ambrose Bierce’s classic “The Boarded Window,” then I’m surprised…but it’s never too late, and if you’re anything like me, then discovering a classic you missed can sometimes be more fun than reading something that was just published: you know you’re getting something so good it’s withstood the test of time.

I had read this so long ago I didn’t even remember it, and what a ride. What makes “The Boarded Window”—which deals with themes of loss and grief—so striking is how vividly it brings the foreboding newness of the American West to life for modern-day audiences by comparing it to the foreboding newness of widowhood. Bierce, through well-chosen words, conveys the maddening loneliness of the pioneering landscape and the lifestyle required to survive in it, lulling us into pity. And then there’s an ending you truly never see coming that drives you from pity to feeling this man’s suffering in your own gut.

Although “The Boarded Window” is popular enough that it’s probably available in a number of print and electronic collections, the copy that I have appears in Penguin 60s’ Three Tales of Horror with Poe’s “Hop Frog” and Stevenson’s “The Body Snatcher,” so if you want a triple-threat you can literally carry with you in your pocket or purse, this is the edition you want. Penguin 60s were issued in the mid-1990s and were limited and all out of print now, but inexpensive used copies are available at the Amazon Marketplace here:


I’m honored to be on the air twice tonight!

First, I’ll be on Paranormal, Eh? Radio’s End of the Year Awards Show with a special announcement you won’t want to miss! You’ll be able to listen live at 6 p.m. ET here:

Then, I’ll be a guest on Dawn Short’s P.M. Lites on ParaRockTV! On the live hour we’ll be talking psychic ability, paranormal, scary stories and my new novel coming in winter from Vagabondage Books: Bad Apple. You can listen to that live—and join in the Chat Room, too—at 9 p.m. ET here:

If you can’t listen live, I’ll provide links where you’ll be able to download and listen later.


The cover of the program for TheatreWorks New Milford’s production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical.

The ticket. I attended the run’s final performance.

Several months ago, I wrote a short piece about the persistence of electronic media and how it helps us cope with loss (“Yes, Cynthia, There Is an Afterlife,” January 30, 2011: How a person who has passed away can remain with us, in a sense, because of the way in which we can preserve them on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, photos, and videos.

The crowd I run with is—no surprise—very creative. What comes with that is a certain heightened awareness—we have to reflect the world around us, whether in words or brushstrokes or dance steps or clay—and so we just, I think, tend to be observant.

This is where signs come in.

You know what kind of signs I’m talking about—the ones that confirm, portend, remind, or even forewarn. I have a—ahemnot nice ex whom I always know is going to turn up like the bad penny he is in one way or another, because it never fails, shortly before he does I see his name—not a common one—three times in odd places. Whenever unexpected money’s about to come my way, my right palm itches (it appears this old wives’ tale really is true). Because I do believe in an afterlife, I feel that the spirit of my late Dad is around me when I get three or more random references to Robert Frost (I’m talking about in the most unexpected places, like the line at the grocery store or a commercial on TV).

My late friend Cyn, who lived in Texarkana, Arkansas, passed away in December (as you already know). We had always joked around about my going to visit her. “Why in God’s name would you wanna come down here?” She’d say to me. “I mean, vacationing in Texarkana? What the hell is wrong with you?”

I’d explain that, besides the fact that she lived there, I’d had a fascination with that region and nearby Fouke due to 1972’s The Legend of Boggy Creek, which was set in that area and had terrified me as a child. She’d even bought a copy on DVD so we could watch it together when I visited, and she was saving it for that occasion. As far as I know, though, she never watched it. One of the things I regret was the fact that I never did make that road trip to Texarkana.

Earlier this summer, I went to see a musical up at TheatreWorks New Milford called The Great American Trailer Park Musical. For some reason, Cyn was on my mind, and I wasn’t sure why—it wasn’t the anniversary of her visit or her death or anything like that; thinking about her all of the sudden had just seemed sort of random.

Then, at the top of Act II, during a number called “Road Kill”—in which one of the characters sits on a motorcycle and to convey the feeling that he’s traveling across state lines actresses and stage hands sprint across the stage with road signs—I spotted this prop:

One of the road signs in the musical number “Road Kill” in TheatreWorks New Milford’s production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical.

Okay, yes, it’s misspelled—but that isn’t the point. The point was it was just so odd that they’d pick that tiny little town—where Cyn, about whom I’d just been thinking, lived—and make a sign out of it. Of course, I saw the show’s closing performance, so I asked if I could have the prop since I knew they were probably just going to toss it (I have had a long, long history in community theatre in this area in many capacities, so I know a lot of people).

My long-time friend Suzi Pettibone—theatre buddy going way back—and I drinking cocktails before the show.

Do I think Cyn was trying to tell me something from beyond? Who knows, but it sure was a comfort to think so. Meanwhile? I have a nice sign—that really is just a sign—on my wall.

Flamingo prop outside the theatre.

Me and the sign on my back porch. Notice the flamingo glass.

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