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The time has come to talk of many things, on this most ominous day of the year, when we crunch leaves underfoot and walk in fearful anticipation of the U.S. election results. Talk we must, of Halloween, Plagues, a Publication, Photographic Dreams, and A Virtual Release Party.

You are invited!

The impending publication of my novel, The Con, has been much on my mind. I've seen a photo of the first ever real copy, sent to the publisher to check before confirming the print run. Google this morning finds me at Publishers Weekly, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and, of course, the publisher. The release date remains November 13, 2020; the e-release party will take place November 14, 2020, at six pm. Drop by! You don't need to log into the site, unless you want to ask questions.

I will be doing a guest post at John Scalzi's blog the following week, discussing the Big Idea that drives the novel.

I spoke with the publicist last week and have signed off on the press release.

Now all I require are readers who actually enjoy the book.

So we're still entertaining a plague.

I had high hopes for a Halloween this year falling on Saturday with a full moon, a blue moon the last time I'll see that convergence. However, I did assemble my Plague Doctor costume, and wore it yesterday to work.

The head I made mainly from an inexpensive witch hat and a plastic mask. It also incorporates a PPE mask. The most expensive part of the costume were the eyes, which are German safety goggles. I think they ran me $10.00. I bought the cloak/coat twenty years ago from a thrift shop. I combined it with black jeans, a dark hoodie and turtleneck, and an old beaten pair of walking shoes that should have been thrown out. I own a rain hat made from treated leather that fits the bill. To round out the ensemble, I carried a staff, in reality an ornamental curtain rod I found at Value Village for $2.00.

A bit of video exists, myself and another Plague Doctor standing a little ways away and turning to look at each other. The movement instantly transforms the creepiness of the iconic outfit into comedy, two crows on a wire.

The nearby charity haunted house will apparently run, with significant COVID-related protocols that will probably eliminate the fear factor. I know the person who runs it, and may drop by in my costume for a spell, adding to people's nightmares.

What would be autumn without vaguely unsettling dreams?

I mentioned in a previous post a photograph from my birthday in the Spring of 1970. I had recently contacted a friend visible to one side of me in that shot, and had thought of contacting the other, with whom I've much longer been out of contact. I didn't then. But slumber took me to a scrambled version of my childhood neighbourhood, and his home. Heavy transportation devices carried giant statues of horses over the snowy ground to the Steel Plant, where they were to be installed, for some reason. I entered this friend's yard from the bushes behind our street (we often used that route) and saw a smaller horse statue carried by a a team of sled dogs. They stopped to rest in his driveway. I knocked on the side door. When no one answered, I opened it and called.

The family had long moved, as they have. His parents are both deceased, and the four children have gone into their lives. A single mother and her son live there, at least in my dream. We have a lengthy conversation. The boy reflects regularly, he tells me, on the people who might have inhabited the house before them. He's intrigued by someone like me, because, in my childhood, most of the people on our block were the original inhabitants of their houses. The street was built in the 1950s. It's summer during our conversation, but the snow and dogs reappear at the end.

The mother says they may be moving soon.

In the second dream, I see a display of objects unearthed in my old home after we sold it. One consists of a framed and mounted advertisement of no apparent interest. Behind the ad, however, we find a photo collage, reminiscent of the Exile on Main St. cover but more family-focussed. A note claims the photos were taken between 1939 and 1966, but some look older. A few show my maternal grandparents as they were in the early 1970s, when they were not so much older than I am now. They're a range of family photos. A few items do not quite fit the theme, including a comic-strip of some sort from, possibly, the 1920s, featuring a man in a straw boater. My sisters and brother appear, comment on the photographs, some of which they identify as long-lost. Our father informs us that the collage had been assembled as a present for some event, and was hidden behind the ad to keep the surprise. It then vanished without a trace, until now.

The veil between the worlds is thin.

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