Archive for October 5th, 2007

Okay, I know this is a book site. But I eat, drink and live books every single day. With Halloween on the horizon, I’m thinking treats (I’m usually thinking treats even when I’m focusing on books, but that’s beside the point). I used to have a big party every year, but since I started writing I haven’t had the time. These days my only ghoulish pleasure involves killing off a few characters in my books. <G> But if I had a free evening amidst my current life’s literary murder and mayhem, I’d make one of my favorite recipes. So I’ve decided to share two with you today. The first one is a little different, but as they say with a book—don’t judge it by its cover (or, um, list of ingredients). You must sample it to see how wonderful it really is.


Fantasy Popcorn Cake


½ cup butter & ½ cup oil

1 lb. marshmallows

6 quarts popped corn

2 cups peanuts

1 cup M&Ms (black and orange, if you can find the Halloween bags)

1 cup small spiced gum drops


In a large saucepan, melt butter, add oil & marshmallows and cook over low heat until marshmallows are melted, stirring often. In large bowl or pan, mix other ingredients together and add the marshmallow mixture, mixing well. It is helpful to wear well-buttered rubber gloves and mix with your hands. Pack in generously buttered angel food cake pan (or I sometimes simply use a bowl and make it like dome). Cool in refrigerator. When completely cold, remove from pan and cut in slices (or you can do what we do—simply grab handfuls with our hands).


Serve for a horror movie night (who needs regular popcorn for Halloween?). Line up some real bone-chillers and enjoy!


Another family favorite is homemade pumpkin bread. This was always on the menu at my annual Halloween party.




4 eggs (beaten)

3 c. sugar

2 c. pumpkin

2/3 c. water

1 c. vegetable oil

3 ½ c. flour

½ t. baking powder

2 t. baking soda

1 ½ t. salt

3 t. cloves

3 t. nutmeg

3 t. cinnamon




  1. Mix all ingredients with beaters.
  2. Grease and flour pans.
  3. Bake at 325 for 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours.


And now we need to decorate, of course. The cheapest, simplest Halloween decorations I’ve ever made were black construction paper bats. I simply drew a cool bat on a piece of construction paper, traced it about fifty times onto other paper and cut them all out. Then I used fishing line and thumbtacks to hang these floppy suckers from the ceiling of my Victorian porch (when I owned a Victorian—LOL). The wind catches them and they dance about, making your house look frighteningly ready for the dark holiday. Add some inexpensive fake spider webs and you’ll have a porch to be proud of! (If you really want to go the extra mile, make a mummy or a scarecrow by stuffing old clothes as a base and position your creation near the front door along with some fake blood coming out of his mouth.)


One of my favorite front yard decorations for Halloween is a cemetery. I once found a store that sold headstones made out of Styrofoam. (Sure wish I would’ve stocked up—I’ve found various headstones since but they’re either very expensive or too flimsy and silly looking. These were awesome.) They came in varying shapes and sizes with pegs to insert them in the earth, but now they’re destroyed (they can only last a couple of years with small children.) As an alternative, I guess you could make your own headstones out of wood and add a few wooden crosses for extra spookiness. Between the bats and the headstones, I had an inexpensive but fun yard. Candles and scary music are, of course, another penny-pinching way to make the most of this spooky holiday.


But what Halloween would be complete without the requisite suspense novel? Here are a few recent or upcoming releases on my own To Be Read list:


DIE FOR ME by Karen Rose

ALMOST DEAD by Lisa Jackson


BOOK OF THE DEAD by Patricia Cornwell (is this one fitting, or what?)

DEAD HEAT by Dick Francis


So now you know what my Halloween will be like. What about you? What will you cook? How will you decorate? And, most importantly, what will you read? Bwahaha…


Brenda Novak

DEAD RIGHT, On Sale Now!


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