Stalk Not, Waste Not

For entertainment purposes only. Don’t call me on this. Literally.

So, I sometimes find myself thinking of things to say far after the conversation has ended, the event past, an appropriate opportunity gone. Speaking of which, this may seem inappropriate anyway. So goes for this blog post. But, we are talking about those ‘far past appropriate’ moments. Like when a blasted romantic song feels like a drill bit to the temples, affection like warm sandpaper, a stolen kiss like a face rape, a plea for attention – a cry for psychiatric drugs.

After hanging with some gal pals, I happen to be currently meditating upon stalkers. Or acute social annoyances. A rose fertilizer by any other name…

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Socially unawares

Talk about real life horror. Stalkers come in many packages, but most are covered in low self worth, tell-tale overblown idealism, or unrequited introspection. Driven? Obsessive? Intense? Often all three. Stalkers somehow lack essential understanding of very basic concepts. Like that of freewill. Or of the definition of harassment. Or personal space.

Or the weightlessness of letting go.

Signs that you may have encountered a stalker might include; text messages from the individual – perhaps numbering in the two or three digit variety – most closely resemble a conversation they are having with themselves, the hairs on the back of your neck rest only at night (when you cannot), random acts of serendipity, and/or changing your name has become a viable option.

Signs that you may be a stalker? Honestly, if you have to wonder, you probably already know.

Though mildly a subject of my expertize, while I never really got why, I got lucky. God blessed me with the kind of personality, and family, that naturally repels such creature attacks.

To ward off unwanted affections (or perhaps complicate matters further) I once executed a trick learned from my older sis. It seems dirty but calms the waters for a while. Especially if threats have become a part of the package.

The simple premise: start a rumor you are dating a cop or the like. Think ‘Easy A’ plus ‘Jump Street,’ which might be called “Easy Street.’ A risky endeavour, yes, but desperate times… Well, you know.

It seriously takes zero dates, only a few public appearances (plain clothed) which should include some arm locking, hand-to-back placing, and endearment calling. Courting the five-o gets noticed fast and outlasts even the most stubborn of other rumors.

You go, you dirty lil cop dater.* Just get ready for some very creative nicknames and a challengingly enriched social life.

Meanwhile, enjoy many late nights free of multiple phonecalls, belligerent voice mails, or heaping text messages. Walk outside without fear of being grabbed. Enjoy the idea of the opposite sex in the nearer future. All for the low, low price of your soul.

And the next time you catch CSI or Criminal Minds alone at night, you won’t imagine your name on a report. As much.

They had a saying in school, “snitches get stitches (or ditches, depending on whom you asked). You might substitute, “stalkers get walkers (or chalkers)”. In trusted company, anyways.

The truth?

* personal experiences may vary. Offer not suggested valid in geographical areas where dating a cop makes your stalker look like your ally.

Dealing with stalkers is serious. There is help. Don’t isolate yourself. Do exercise caution. Keep calm and continue on. Be kind, but never rewind. Your life is better off with someone who allows you the choice to be in theirs.

If you found this, you can find more resources online. While joking can ease tensions, it can also me misconstrued. Don’t play the threat game. Be polite, firm, and grounded. Cops can help. Talk to them.

On the other hand, if you have trouble letting go yourself, remember that nothing is worth chasing your self respect away for. Sometimes you really do get what you need without getting what you want. Besides, ill gotten gains are never treasures, as they always develop an unsightly patina.

Your life is better lived in the now and hereafter than in the past. And you do deserve people who make a choice to be in your life. Get off facebook, stop wondering what they’re up to, and concentrate on you.

More meme wisdom to follow, via facebook.

RLH – Update

My ‘puter is at the doctor’s office. One swipe of a flash drive sure could’ve saved me some money. For you, post reader, do call someone when doing any at-home programing.
My hopes are that my docs will be restored. They say it looks good. Turns out, computer memory works much like a book. Inside, there’s a table of contents. No matter what reformatting is done, which is what this amateur attempted, there is still a slot filled with previous formatting. All they need to do is find the right spot in the TOC. Fingers shaking and crossed. Oh, and I picked up a new hub whilst I was there. Yay me. :S

Real Life Horror – Windows Unable to Start or My Misadventures in Hubbing

I own a laptop which operates Windows 7. It has two USB ports, far less than what I require. Frustrated with swapping devices in and out and trying to get them recognized, I purchased a ten port hub on eBay, which arrived yesterday. I liked the wall mounting option because of my small desk area. And the price.
I unwrapped it and plugged it into the powerstrip and connected my keyboard, mouse, printer, and then laptop via its special cord.
The horror begins.
My HP went black screen of nothingness. Needless to say, I unhooked everything and began to act like I was locking up inside myself. All the work I have done and failed to back up raced through my mind like the matrix green and black screen on speed. My brain began to overheat. Three keys glowed on the laptops keyboard, but no startup. I turned it off and began my plans for panic attack.
After my boyfriend – hereby known as Magic Finger of Hope – pushed the power button, it finally spit out something about thermal hibernation. We let it power down and set to cool.
I read reviews on Amazon (post purchase of USB hub) to find out that it A)Does not support Windows 7 and B) Can possibly BACKFEED POWER.
Oh good. Backfeed as in distributing power to things that do not need it. Maybe that was why the battery was acting as nuclear reactor. I might be dramatizing a bit. Only a bit.
Hot lil laptop plus writer deadlines plus Meri equals you-haven’t-seen-crazy-yet-beeches.
So, I am in “this may take several minutes” stage of startup repair mode. Oh, dear Lord please save my files.
For all of you readers (all seven of you) DO read reviews BEFORE you purchase anything that connects to the multihundred dollar device of your favor. Just do.
Oh my God. A new screen. Let’s hope it doesn’t contain the word fail!

Okay, recovery process has begun. File backup first, then restore. Wish me luck, loyal fans!

Never Give Up, Just Bury Yourself in It

I’m posting this today with irony. Editing this for press, my mind is on the fact that I’ve possibly lost quite a few files that older versions do not compare to. Backup often, and well. I will not, however, give it up. What a glorious opportunity to rewrite. (Silent screams)
On to the post.

Do I ever want to give it up? Someone asked me this about writing. In fact, another – less avid reader, mind you – suggested it unless I started imagining love stories versus horror tales.
Do I want to give it all up some days? No, I say. I take heart from the greats and occasionally envision digging a long, shallow hole, crawling in, and scooping handfuls of dirt over myself. It’s not suicide, it’s good business sense. Dead writers are more salable (sans writer salaries), and exponentially more likely to become famous writers.
I’m sure the climate down there might get to me, and I would soon find myself lumbering around like the walking dead after the next agent. Perfect pitch, indeed.
Imagine a living dead version of a lemonade stand. I with my dreams, making the best of it. All I need is customers.
Maybe the first few won’t like it. Too sweet. Too sour. Too light, too heavy. Too lemony.
Everyone’s a critic. Seldom do words of praise get uttered. They are tucked away behind fear and excuses. Instead we get buried in complaints. Sometimes ones from left field. Don’t get me wrong, advice is precious to me. I thrive on the fact that someone deems me worthy to receive it. It is an honor to be chosen as a potential learner. Think of how few people you wish to openly advise. Now imagine yourself a busy editor. If only I knew the proper way to send concise thank you notes to all those who offer me assistance.
But, some say that sometimes bad calls get made. A sentence is murdered because of a bubbly coffee burp turns it sour in someone’s mind. Don’t tear it up, they say. Send on. Crunch on. Go on.
That’s life. Don’t sweat the setbacks, the sludge, the bad calls, the negativity or even the silence. Just bury yourself in the goods. Accept the possibility of success (in life, preferably!), and trudge on.
Bury me in progress.

Walk on the Dark Side

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Music can change our hearts, but can it change our minds? What if life reflected a song instead of the other way around?

Inspired ny music, the anthology Dark Side of the Moon contains short fiction from the ragged, mad corners of the mind. Named after Pink Floyd’s album of the same name, this book stretches the imagination to the tunes of some psychedelic progressive rock.

Plus, my short story “Couple Modifications” is on the set list! (Catches random clothing article and flashes winning smile.)

Dark Side of the Moon is now available on amazon and createspace! Will update the fiction page shortly, but here are the links. Kindle on amazon.com or paperback at createspace

Attention: Small victories may result in… fright?

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Warning: Not to be used as prosthetic

In life, any victory along the way can encourage us, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to others. For instance, putting your shoes on the right foot the morning after can really boost your survival-type confidence level. In the event of a disheveling event like an apocalypse, you will at least not have smushed toes whilst running to safety.

Yesterday, I didn’t finish the Great American Novel. I didn’t become a New York Times Bestseller. I didn’t get Doubleday or Scribner to know my name. I’m still not in the Horror Writers Association.

But, I did see my name on an Amazon Author Page.

It was kind of devastating in a nice way. It really is no lie that success is far more frightening than failure. Now, don’t get the idea that I think this is some milestone of grandeur. I just feel this spot in stomach that must be housing thousands of cocoons of butterflies to come. It’s not spinning or bubbling, but preparing. For the inevitable. The inevitable what? Attention. That thing equally required and threatening to living a truly prosperous life.

Didn’t I start doing this because stickball was too violent and I preferred the company of a keyboard? It never criticizes my multiple perspectives or shallow indignities or even my pathetic pleas for.. oh, yeah. Attention.

It’s really no wonder that word appears on labels before important warnings, like, say, do not dry pets in microwave or hammers may be harmful if swallowed (Miley, that means you!).

So, speaking of attention, I’m good. Really. But buy the one book on the page, and any scheduled after. Just, um, never mind me.

Unmasked: Real Halloween Costumes

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Vintage Halloween costumes rival modern gore with atmosphere

Here’s looking at you this Halloween!

Halloween has changed over the years, as have the styles of costumes we wear. Now, Pinterest influences us more than the local five and dime. The best  costume pins that don’t require masks and leave colored contacts optional, I bring to you.

Besides well-known characters, we have plenty of clever, homemade, and fun costumes to choose from. Some are elaborate and some are great last-minute endeavors. And some are for professionals, but sure look cool.

If planning to go out with others, you could try to match them. If you are fortunate enough to entice a group into a coordinating costumes, the looks below are real winners.

Some other ideas might include: pop star nightmares, dark parodies, Sharknado style matchups…

imageThese lurking silhouettes are elegant and frightening. Black skin suits can be purchased, or tights might do the trick, too. Matching blacks might be a major challenge, but it will be worth it for the finished product.

Warning: shadow children may be impossible to locate in the dark. Adults could make great use of this costume themselves.

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Fitting in

Remember Tetris? This group does! Kind of looks like portable furniture, right?

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Wine-y

Another popular group trend leans toward alcoholic beverage themed costumes. Whether you pick flavors of vodka, wine, or shooters to express yourself, try to keep the outfits upright on the dance floor.

Mixed drinks could inspire some interesting interpretations of their names when set to attire.

*_*

And my favorite group costume is…

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These positively photographic three take black and white to the next level with grayscale makeup. If you can’t afford grey or black contacts when picking up your rinse out hair tints, think color splash photography.

Maybe you don’t have access to a whole group for a costume. You may still be able to rope one other person into your trickery this Hallows Eve. Though some of these group costumes would be just as nice in a pair, I’ll show you some others I found instead.

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Another fun costume idea revolves around childhood toys. Yes, those things before the Xbox. Physical toys. Tangible play things. Anyways.

I remember little green army men like it was yesterday. Loved them back then, and still do. This would be great for a group or a one man unit. Real life in plastic takes no prisoners!

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How cute! Admit it, you have a soft spot for nerds too!

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American Gothic

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Cops & Doughnuts. They go together like a horse and carriage.

Clever ideas and simple construction equals super fun Halloween party attire.

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Day of the Dead inspired looks are perfect for couples. This could be a fairly inexpensive costume variation to put together, too. Think paint on an old jacket, face paint, fake flowers, and headband.

*_*

Maybe you’d like to be your own pair? Who’s to stop you with this updated classic look?

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If you like to do things yourself, there are plenty of DIY costumes that are very fun and scary. Just be realistic.

You may want the nurse on Silent Hill look, but you aren’t a professional.

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What these guys did was a lot more fun! (And cheaper.)

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“Little pig, little pig. Let me in.”

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Baseball trophy

But, if you insist on making pretty ugly this October, here are some looks that YouTube might be able to teach you.

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Pop art

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Zipper face

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And some you might be able to figure out on your own.

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“Always gonna be an uphill battle…”

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Body bag

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Steampunk

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Go, Gadget, go!

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“Wanna take a bath?”

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Do you Voodoo?

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And some that are a little more advanced, but may also inspire.

Whether ghostly or shady, people will take notice.

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Apparition

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The Shadows

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The Real Perfect Storm

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True Doll

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Ice Queen

Hope you enjoyed. Good luck on that costume.

Parafornication

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It’s kinda what it sounds like. But, if you want to read it, you’ll have to wait until 100 Doors to Madness comes out from Forgotten Tomb Press. The anthology promises there are many doorways to madness, one hundred of which exist between its covers. “100 scares. 100 authors. 100 ways…”

Just one, ‘Parafornication’ tells a tale of found video footage that will turn heads. Can reading it expose a portal to the ethereal dimension where restless spirits are clamoring to get through? Probably not, but you might get sucked in anyway.

Merideth Grue

Email Ediquette: Correspondence with Editors

Untitled (2)Emailing more editors than pals these days, this writer wonders what the conventions of proper correspondence say about formatting formalities. Etiquette standards have changed since high school, and I aim to keep up with the times. Politely.

I’ll admit it. The first few queries I wrote contained addresses like the old fashioned cover letters from ninth grade. I must have gotten some snickers.

Then, as I received responses, I realised the electronic cover letter comes equipped with its own address lines. Apparently, there’s no need to repeat an address already entered in the ‘to’ and ‘from’ fields unless it’s requested in the submission guidelines.

Now, no street address gets included unless requested. Most payments are made via PayPal when submitting electronically, but some recommend or require a physical address on the first page of the manuscript.

I try to pay attention to preferences. Rushing through multiple submissions on a busy day has caused some mistakes. Mistakes get submissions ignored. As English gurus say, ‘If you cannot follow instructions, you cannot get paid.’ Now, I follow the rules: Read. Reread. Follow.

Nowadays, most editors use commas after greetings, lower case letters on second words in closings (aka signature: Best regards vs. Best Regards), and first names only in the salutation. eHow shows parts of a business email appearing much this way.

My first email still goes out fairly formal, complete with colon, somewhat like:

Dear Editor:
(Or Dear Benice Tome:)

In 23 words, ‘Formerly Brilliant’ gets dumb fast. Obsessed with palms, Professor Duncan leaves the FU campus to start a hand modelling school, only to meet the pair of his dreams.

Nadia Byline works free, tries hard, but must pay to live. See more Byline at neverclick.com.

I hope you find “Formerly Brilliant’ a good fit for Burning Paper. Thank you for reading this far.

Best Regards,

Nadia Byline

 

 
I generally get something back which requires nothing but a look of shame and disappointment on my part. Sometimes, I receive rewrite requests or contractual dealings. These generally look a lot like:

Nadia,
(or Natia)

After building up a sentence that seems to stretch forever beyond its actual length before telling you my decision, while containing vaguely discouraging compliments before exclaiming congratulations! We somewhat like your story and will put it in Mostly Mad 2. Abbreviations to follow.

We require this of you and will be on this loosely defined schedule. This is another bit you might like to know. Oh, and the fired writer once said to the editor, “Sir, concision.” Laugh or you’re fired.

Peaceful heartbeat normalizing prose only a busy editor knows.

Best wishes,

Firstnamebasis

Now, not only is that a long first name, I never know if I should use it back. I generally maintain a third-email rule, lest I feel like a bit of a slut. Get me to that third ‘date’ in the outbox, and your getting tongue. I mean first-name-comma salutations, bud!

Don’t fire away.

Here’s where success proves to be more frightening than failure. For reasons I might list later. All that elation turns to nerves when it’s time for the follow-up email. How to answer?

Way I figure, in the dance of emails, an editor may play slop, step on my feet, even get a little closer than cousins before I. They are busy, I am still keeping enough distance that none of the school chaperones are pulling us off one other, and I’m gettin’ published! Dance around the desk? Yes.

Equal amounts of editors include their title beneath their name which maintains some proper (“Arms length!”) distance in the dance. Your lead, boss.

Note to the wise. If you have a name that gets underlined when typed, autocorrected, and slaughtered by ‘oh I donno’ everyone, check it three times an email. And on the site. Also, read the proof if sent one and the copy. Always. Bored? Write better.

Follow your editor like that one that keeps getting away.

So in this merciless dance, be cordial, compassionate, and positive. You’ll need some class and humor, not guile and ego, to get a response.

Says the barely published. To my defense, I have read a lot of advice. Lots.

No editors were mocked in the making of this post. Respectfully and sincerely yours.

Anyways, please share any thoughts or experiences in the comments.