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

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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.

Cake Fear: The Wedding Edition

Cake Fear

Lovecraftian Dream by CAKE Amsterdam

Getting hitched is terrifying. Loving or fearing the idea, these horror-themed cakes will take that chill off the feet and move it to the heart.

Most these cakes are or could be wedding cakes, though some could be birthday or other celebration cakes. What occasion doesn’t just scream for frighteningly beautiful dessert?

Just make sure you eat it before it eats you.

The cake to the left is likely the cuddliest ethereal creature cake in existence. This Lovecraft-inspired, tentacle extending lagoon dweller sure has its eyes on a lifetime commitment. Don’t let it down.

It no doubt takes guts to theme a big event something so often considered offensive. Nonetheless, towering horror cakes are pictured across the net. Many popular themes have emerged, including zombies, brides attack, Tim Burton movies, skulls, and spider webs.

If cuddly isn’t your thing, maybe the next treats will do the trick.

See you at the altar.

New Word Order $

wpid-Soft-white.jpgShort fiction up on Voluted Tales from yours truly. ‘New Word Order’ is in the Voluted Dreams Volume 2 issue.

Writer and editor Christopher Nadeau said, “Perhaps the most startlingly original story comes from Meredith Grue, whose “New Word Order” spells out in no uncertain terms just how horrifying language can be underneath the surface of day-to-day communication.”

New Word Order is available now!

On the (right) Path

wpid-Fictpath.jpgMy short story On the Path has been published on Bewildering Stories! This online speculative fiction magazine is free to read and contains quality stories of various lengths. Click in and stay awhile; it’s worth it.

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be accepted. It’s like cheerleading tryouts never happened.

The story? Avid runner Alice visits her favorite park where she encounters a stranger who behaves suspiciously.

Thanks everyone for your help, support, and interest. I really appreciate it. No matter how life wrings you out, keep trying to iron out the wrinkles with a smile.