Note: the Halloween giveaway is closed.
I love Halloween–everything about it. I love the costumes, the decorations, the crisp fall air. Some of my favorite, most vivid childhood memories involve halloween parties, trick-or-treating, watching scary movies at slumber parties, and forcing myself to go through haunted houses with my much braver friends. (I’m kind of a wuss when it comes to scary stuff, what can I say?)
I also find this time of year to be oddly romantic. So much so that when I began writing my upcoming release Something About You (which, while still a contemporary romance, has a suspense subplot), I knew I wanted the book to take place in Chicago during the fall. And I’ve been wondering lately why I find the Halloween season particularly romantic. This morning I started scrolling through my Halloween memories, and one in particular jumped out at me.
Freshman year. His name was Steve.
I was thirteen years old (darn November birthday) and in my first year of high school. One of my best friends, we’ll call her Emily, somehow met and had become friends with–gasp–a sophomore boy–named Steve. She had a crush on him. Big time. A few weeks into her crush, she introduced me to Steve at a football game and we all began talking. And then… when Emily ran off to buy a hotdog or something, Steve asked me for my phone number.
I distinctly remember trying to figure out how to handle this situation: of course I was supposed to decline, my friend really liked this guy, but on the other hand Steve didn’t know Emily liked him and she would’ve killed me if I had told him. And there was another problem: Steve was really, really cute. Now before you slay me for what I’m about to say next, keep in mind that I: (a) was thirteen years old, and (b) had absolutely no experience in How To Handle Boy Issues because I’d gone through a really awkward phase in junior high that involved glasses and blue eye shadow (thank you, late 80’s) that mercifully had begun to cease over the summer (thank you, contacts). So having a boy ask for my phone number was wholly new to me.
So I did it. I gave Steve my phone number. Back-stabbing ho! you cry. Well, maybe. But in my defense when Steve called the next day, my conscience kicked in, and I brushed him off. So he called again. And again. Eventually we started talking, a lot, and now–big problem– I liked Steve, too. Not knowing what else to do, I gave in and told him that Emily had a crush on him and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Steve, to his credit, was that most rare of high school creatures– A Really Nice Guy–and he didn’t want to hurt Emily either. So we agreed that we would hold off on “going out” (remember the days when you called it that?) to see if Emily got over her crush.
A few weeks later, it was Halloween. Emily, myself and some of our other girlfriends went to the town’s annual Haunted House, which was actually pretty big and scary. We “happened” to meet Steve and his friends there. (Okay, Steve and I may have had something to do with that.) We decided to go into the haunted house together, one large group of girls and guys. Someone suggested we go in boy-girl-boy-girl (to protect us frightened females) and “somehow” Steve and I ended up next to each other at the end of the line. We got into the haunted house–and yes, being the aforementioned wuss, I was actually kind of scared–when I suddenly felt Steve slip his hand into mine and pull me back from the rest of the group. We waited for everyone to get lost ahead of us, and then, in the darkened coffin-filled and fake-blood-splattered hallways of the haunted house, he, well… kissed me. Then we went through the rest of the haunted house holding hands, and when we got to the end we let go and pushed out the exit door. We found Emily and our other friends waiting outside for us.
“Wow. We must’ve gotten separated at that part with the strobe light. Frea-ky,” I said breathlessly. (How sly was that…?) Emily appeared not at all suspicious, and I felt kind of guilty, and also like I had this secret, this big, romantic thing–a first kiss– that had happened to me that I couldn’t tell anyone about. Heady stuff, for a thirteen year old.
What’s really funny to me now, is that in Something About You, I wrote this scene that is in some ways similar to that Haunted House moment. But I hadn’t even picked up on those similarities until I sat down to write this blog post. I guess that’s the neat thing about blog-writing: in writing about yourself, you sometimes learn something about yourself along the way. In any event, for those of you who do happen to pick up Something About You, I’ll be curious to know if you catch which scene I’m referring to. 😉
So now for the giveaway part. (Yes, this isn’t just some weird sharing moment, there’s still a giveaway.) Speaking of romance, haunted houses, and other paranormal things… I’ve often said that I’m a newbie reader to paranormal romance. Not because I don’t like it, more because I simply don’t know where to start. But over and over there were two series of books that people told me I had to read: the Gardella Vampire Chronicles by Colleen Gleason, and the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh. I’ve since begun both series, and I have to say: I’m a big fan.
As such, to celebrate Halloween, this week I’m giving away to one lucky person copies of both The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason, and Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh, the first books in each author’s series. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below. You can share a favorite (or romantic) Halloween memory, you can tell me which paranormal romances are your favorites, or you can just say hi. (I’m not fussy.) The contest will remain open until 10pm CST on Friday evening, and the winner will be announced on Halloween.
Happy reading! And Happy Halloween!