Changes to Fiction Page

Yes! I live. And I’m updating my Fiction page with paintings. Let me explain.

So, it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me, but I have been writing. The words have been hitting the pages and cutting board alike – as is expected until the nightmares stop – but not the publishing floor. It may be a while yet faithful fans (all 2.5 of you), but rest assured that the grue shall return in full blood and glory.

Thanks to a friend, there are new images on the Fiction page. All the previously published fiction is still listed there. Let me know if the links are down. Not long ago they were working just fine. Some of the websites are dead or dying. Ughhh. I apologize and will continue to work to bring the grue to you




Shameless plug –> All these wonderful 4 by 6 inch gouache paintings are available for purchase. That’s right. Don’t charge (haha).

Not saying much yet about the horrors to come to the Fiction page in the way of actual fiction. Expect more bad dreams, more warped delusions, and more shivers.  More better and more available? ‘Til then, keep the covers over your head and your feet tucked in.

Thanks for hanging in there.


Poetic Template: And Now for Something (Nearly) Useful

poetic injusticeEver want to talk from your fridge? Use some interesting cubular highlighted words to jazz up your scrapbook projects? Me too! And, since the internet did not provide me with the proper set of magnetic poetry knockoff templates, I made my own. It took a few minutes of cursing, but here it is in docx format. Alternatively, you may like to print the pic. You’ll just get underlines.

Cut and Paste Poetry

Fill in your own words. Add rows by setting the cursor a row and hitting the table tools menu tab marked layout, and clicking on insert below button.


Don’t hesitate to get crazy with the mod podge and magnets or glue sticks and photos. Or even printable magnet sheets, which I haven’t chanced. Have fun.

Attention: Small victories may result in… fright?


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


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.


Fitting in

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



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…


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.


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!



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


American Gothic


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

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


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?


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.


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


“Little pig, little pig. Let me in.”


Baseball trophy

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




Pop art



Zipper face


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


“Always gonna be an uphill battle…”


Body bag




Go, Gadget, go!


“Wanna take a bath?”


Do you Voodoo?


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

Whether ghostly or shady, people will take notice.




The Shadows


The Real Perfect Storm


True Doll


Ice Queen

Hope you enjoyed. Good luck on that costume.



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

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:

(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,


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.

Class is in… Movies

Carrie-01Back to school movie pick by Merideth Grue.

Let’s get in shape kiddos.

Physical Education

Carrie (1976) R
98 min – Horror

Sissy Spacek portrays a young 17-year-old girl with an abusive mother, telekinesis, and a predisposition for being teased. The ridicule heightens on prom night, leading to a bloody conclusion. Brian De Palma directs this first of many Stephen King novels to be adapted into a movie. Carrie moves us supernaturally. No matter how much you hate going back to school, it shouldn’t turn out like this.

Best quote:
Margaret White: They’re all gonna laugh at you.


Read the PG-13 picks here: Back to School Movie Night

The Night Has A…

The Night Has A Thousand Eyes

The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one:
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.

© Francis William Bourdillon. All rights reserved

The Night Has a Thousand Eyes
This is one of my most favorite poems because of its haunting truth. I have always believed that the dark sees us, or perhaps its inhabitants do. Sitting here, imagining the thousands of eyes prickling my flesh as they stare at me from a corner, or beneath me, I get goose bumps.
They await the passage of the sun, hungry for our flesh and worse – our essence. Those eyes see what we cannot, and are governed by another nature. In the dark, we act. We play. We hide, and try not to fall into one of the pockets of the night that conceal the lost.
Worse, however, is the abyss one can fall into inside one’s own mind. There, the thousands of judging eyes never turn away, never shut, never fail to see. It is nothing to be taken on alone.
Love is the light that can drown out the night.
I think we all have this light. It starts on the inside, but grows when shared. Find it, cultivate it, hold it.
Or just read some poetry.