holiday shorts: 1 free, 1 soon

1. If you missed Dreamspinner’s Halloween Howl, it was a promo that went on all October in which authors contributed very short stories that were hidden around the Dreamspinner website. I wrote a story that I thought was maybe not the usual Halloween fare.

Let me explain: I grew up in the Jersey suburbs, in the sort of small but typical town you see on TV. Growing up, Halloween involved going door-to-door in my entirely residential neighborhood with a decorated pillowcase, usually with my best friend at the time and probably my brother, plus maybe some others, with at least one mom in tow. But when I moved to New York City, I discovered it was a different beast entirely. One of the weirdest things to me is that kids trick-or-treat at stores. I guess I can see why—going into a brightly-lit store on a major thoroughfare is safer than going door-to-door on a dark side street—but I still think it’s weird. In Brooklyn, there seem to be lots of weird rules about which houses you can go to. In the neighborhood of Park Slope this year, apparently there was some kind of collective decision that houses with decorations were open to trick-or-treaters, and houses without were not.

This year on Halloween, I was out with a friend on an unrelated errand in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Cobble Hill, which is a cute, quiet, fairly affluent neighborhood. My friend was born and raised in Brooklyn, and as we watched all the kids popping in and out of stores on Court Street, we had a very surreal conversation about Halloween. Mostly it went like this:

HER: Those kids are too old for trick-or-treating.
ME: Aw, come on. You never went trick-or-treating as a teenager? Back home, kids did that all the time. I did when I was sixteen.
HER: In stores?

So you see the fundamental disconnect.

Anyway, now that I’ve veered off topic (participating in NaNoWriMo makes me wordy!) I will say that in my neighborhood, the houses that want trick or treaters send a designated person to sit on the stoop and hand out candy, rather than waiting for kids to come to the door. That’s where the idea for “On the Stoop” came from.

Adrian is experiencing something that I think all transplants to NYC experience at some point, that disillusioned fatigue that comes from the city being harder to deal with than you ever anticipated. (“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere,” sang my fellow Jerseyan Frankie, and I think it’s really true, because New York will chew you up and spit you right out if you let it.) So he’s wondering if all his pain and suffering and rent money are really worth it as he walks home on Halloween night. Then he sees a handsome older man handing out candy on his stoop. They get to talking.

The story is available for free in PDF right here. Enjoy!

2. I think I’ve mentioned, I have a story in this year’s Dreamspinner Advent Calendar. It’s about a man who is in love with his roommate’s boyfriend. It was inspired in part by a Craigslist Missed Connection post I saw about a year ago, and I was so taken by the idea: the guy posting was in love with his roommate’s boyfriend but the roommate took the boyfriend for granted. A classic conflict, no? That’s where the story comes from.

The whole Advent Calendar collection is available here for pre-order. Individual stories will be available in December.

But if you’re brimming over with excitement, I’ve posted an excerpt for your reading pleasure.