Out of the box thinking with attitude
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Weirding people out since 2006.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Techno Heaven

I feel I fall somewhere between a techno-phile and a techno-freak. What can I say? If it's new and it has lots of shiny buttons, I want it. Heck, I don't even care if it's new, as long as it's newer than what I had before.

Which is why I'm going absolutely batty over my new monitor. Flat screen, LCD, high definition--2000:1--hell, I don't even know what that means. All I know is that I can play with the entire range of sizes, that there are things on Blogger that I didn't even know existed before. Take for example that blue bar that's the background on my title? There are bubbles. I had no idea.

Well, maybe that's not my monitor, but the new graphics card. Who the heck cares? Everything looks cooler.

Don't ask me what I need all this stuff for. I don't, not really. Well, that game I've been wanting to play perhaps, but that's going to be distracting as an all get out as soon as we can get the thing to work. (Total number of times this game has tried to install into this computer: 5. Number of times my husband has thrown the game across the room: 2. Number of times that I've said, "Yeah, that'll make the game do what you want it to.": 2)

My computer is not the only thing that has been blessed with a technological upgrade, I just got a new CD player. CD player? You may ask, Ipods are the thing! Well, like I said, it's new for me! And, at the end of the day, that's all that really matters. That and the fact the CD player came with digital headphones.

Lawdy, there's words in music I had never heard before. Specifically, spoken words. And the clarity...I could go on and on, but I don't think I will. Especially since I want to take more time to look at the Blogger bubbles.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Stupid Characters and What to Do About Them

Well-developed characters like to wander all over the place. They'll tell you about your Aunt Edna, that experience with the pudding and a ladder, they'll even tell you about that time when they lost their tooth in the first grade and the Tooth Fairy forgot to show up and how it traumatized them for life.

Experience writers know how to give the characters just enough rope so they can tell an interesting story, but not so much that they end up hanging themselves. Or, at least that's the theory. Because sometimes a character will come across a situation he or she simply can't handle. It's one thing if you've got someone who shouldn't be able to adapt to the situation and it's early enough in the book where this character would need some help. It's another thing altogether if the character is supposed to have some sort of training and sits there like a bump on a log doing nothing.

When this happens, I'll have an interview with the character right then and there. Chances are he or she isn't as competent as I thought or fear has knocked all sense out of his or her head. Either way, I find out what the hell is going on and try to figure out a solution to the problem. If it's early enough in the story, I'll drop in someone who can help. If it's later on? That idiot is going to die and there's nothing I can do to stop it from happening.

Not that I really want it to.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Why Multi-Tasking is Not a Good Idea

Plotting out your next novel while waiting for the doctor, despite what some folks might think, is not multi-tasking. That's just a way to avoid having to read crappy magazines.

On the other hand, running your own counterfeit ring while being an otherwise elusive and hard to catch serial killer, is. It's also a bad idea as James Mitchell (“Mike”) DeBardeleben II found out.

So, boys and girls, the lesson for the day is "If you're going to be a serial killer, for heaven's sake, do not make funny money."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What the Hell Has Happened to Me?

In my early days of posting in public message boards (way before avatars were commonplace) I used to be bold. I'd ask anything that was on my mind. I'd tell someone to stick it in places and ways that I'd only dream about doing in real life. Funny thing is, I'd make both cyber friends and enemies quicker than would be possible in real life.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'd never go so far as to break or even bend posted rules of the boards (not that the concept really existed way back when...or, more specifically on the boards that I was at). I'd respect those in charge but not to the point of kowtowing.

Today though, there was a series of questions I wanted to ask someone, privately, but I didn't, nor do I plan to. What in the world is going on? Ok, the questions are controversial and about a controversial POV. I pretty much know how this person feels about this specific topic, I just wanted, well, details.

So why not just ask them, point blank?

Funny thing is, I don't know this person. Sure, I've seen a few posts and she's liked a few of mine as well (this is on a board with "rep points" and comments re: said points). She seems to be witty, open-minded and intelligent but other than that I'm not sure about her.

Perhaps I've matured in my attitude towards others in cyberspace. I approach others and speak with them as I would in real life. I'll ask what questions are important to me and my world when someone is out there that may be able to answer these questions, but, if for some reason it's not immediately important that I get the question answered, I can be patient. I give time for a friendship to develop before I'll ask these same nosy questions I would have asked before.

Is that cowardice or maturity? I haven't decided yet, but until then, I'll keep the questions to myself. Well, unless it becomes information I need for a character, then I'll ask anyway.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Corpse Disposal: Part 2

In my last post I covered the most basic supplies that you will need in case of an impulse murder. This post presumes, however, that you now have the time to eliminate or otherwise dispose of a corpse.

  • Dumpster: For this method you'll just need a dumpster. For best results choose one far and away from the original murder scene. On a scale of 1-10 of recommended methods of disposal however, this one ranks a -1,000. There are just so many ways the body can be found even long after it has been brought to the dump.
  • Wood Chipper: Great if you live out in the country, not so good if you live in an apartment in the city as neighbors' will complain about the noise, plus it's a pain to haul up the stairs.
  • Acid: Be sure to use a heavy duty acid such as hydrochloric so that the body will dissolve quickly. If you don't want to destroy the flooring of your home, you may also wish to have a vat. However, if you are an apartment dweller and find the downstairs neighbors annoying, skip the vat and leave town for a long long while as the acid will destroy both your floor and your alibi.
  • Hope Chest: Unless your victim is petite, prepare to use an axe or chainsaw to chop him or her up. Since this is a rather messy procedure, you may also wish to cover up. I recommend a used butcher's apron since it already has bloodstains on it and any more will go unnoticed. Laying down plastic is also a good idea, especially since you can use that to wrap up the entire mess and just dump into the chest. One final note on hope chests, since you will more than likely have to get rid of that as well (vis a vis burial or submerging) make sure that the grandma that gave it to you is already dead (bonus irony points if the gift-giver is the one hidden in the chest).
  • Shallow Grave: Don't do this. Ever. Animals like to dig stuff up, especially stuff that smells like food and the cops will find the corpse before you can brag about it at the local bar. If you must dig up a hole in order to dispose of your corpse, take your danged time and tell any curious passers by that you found a treasure map and you just know the dubloons are down there somewhere.
  • Consumption: Don't knock it 'til you've tried it I always say. And with the price of meat just going through the roof, placing long pig stew on the menu just may do wonders for your budget. Unfortunately, this means you still have to get rid of the bones and since Rover likes to bury them in the backyard and will more than likely dig up a tell-tale skull at the most inconvenient time, grinding the bones to a fine powder and then just dumping them in the garbage may be the best solution. I recommend doing this with an old fashioned mortar and pestle since bones are hell on a food processor.
  • Incineration: Do your research before you try this method. Your household oven is not a good place to try and get rid of a body, nor is an industrial convection oven recommended. Slip it in with other corpses to be cremated during an extra busy period (winter holidays are the best for this) and no one will know that your vic's ashes just got mixed in with the dearly departed Aunt Edna.
  • Drowning: It can not be said enough: make sure the body will remain permanently submerged. Weigh it down with chains, cement boots, whatever it takes to assure a gaseous, water filled body will not float to the surface. Shallow lakes and rivers are also bad choices. Choose the deepest part of the ocean you can possibly get to and dump it over the side. Cruises are especially great times for this kind of disposal.
  • Toilets: This is only here because this has been tried and tried again without success. Don't do it unless you're a professional plumber who can tear apart those pipes and fix that clog on your own, Draino just doesn't cut it.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Corpse Disposal: Part 1

While it is best to plan how you will be disposing of a corpse well ahead of time sometimes you just lose your cool and the next thing you know you've got a body that you need to take care of. There are several things you need to take into account before deciding how to eliminate the potential evidence:

  • Your weight compared to the corpse's weight. If you're a big and burly fellow and the vic is petite, tossing him or her over your shoulder shouldn't be a problem. A bit messy, sure, but at least you'll only have to make one trip and dragging him or her across the lawn (or down to the basement) will be unnecessary since you can just lift and toss. If the reverse is the case, then perhaps chopping or otherwise segmenting the corpse will be needed before you can even move it.
  • Time. If you've planned ahead, you can take all the time you have in order to get in a good corpse disposal. If, however, you've lost your cool and the party guests are in the next room just toss the unfortunate vic into a nearby trunk or armoire, do a quick mop up and hope for the best until you can do the job properly. Alternatively, hide the vic in plain sight. Assuming that alcohol has been consumed by said vic, then propping them up in a drunken pose will serve its purpose until later. Granted, this risks that you could get discovered, but being that most people at a party are highly unobservant, the chances of them even noticing ol' Jim is missing is very slim and won't happen until you've found the time.
  • Method of homicide. For most methods of disposal, this isn't even an issue but if you have poisoned your victim, consuming the flesh is not recommended. Unless, of course, you wish to find yourself posthumously awarded with a Darwin.
  • State of the victim before death. Again, usually not an issue, but consuming the flesh or exposing yourself unnecessarily to the blood products of someone that is HIV positive is not only unrecommended, but just plain dumb.
  • Cleaning supplies. Yes, corpses are messy and it's your job to clean up (trust me, you don't want anyone else to). At minimum you should have: bleach, polyurethene gloves (or latex if you're not allergic), large garbage bags as well as either a mop or sponge. Since most households have these items (or, in a pinch, you can use gallon size freezer bags as gloves, but it's not a good idea if you don't have to) even an impulse killing can result in a quick clean-up.

My next entry will cover actual methods of disposal.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Keep Your Opinions to Yourself

There are two folks in this world that don't give a snot about what you think: pregnant women and writers.

Pregnant women are constantly given unasked for advice from strangers. This is unwanted, unwelcome and basically in the category of "Just because I'm carrying a child doesn't mean that child is any of your damn business." Most of this "advice" is useless and some is even harmful.

For example, when I was pregnant one woman told me that breastfeeding would starve a baby so I would be better off giving it formula. Well, crap, someone better tell my 7yo that he died of starvation as an infant. I'd bet he'd be surprised to hear that. Though, with the way he likes to play "zombie" and/or "vampire" at any given time, I'd be hard pressed to say that he'd be disappointed with the news.

Another time, a doctor (not my OB-GYN) told me that all herbal remedies did more harm then good. Oh really? So that cup of chamomile tea I had every night that helped me sleep was actually harmful to my kid? Crap, I need to bring in my 9yo for chamomile poisoning! Call the medics!

The thing is, about pregnancy, it ends after nine months and then everyone tries to tell you how to raise your kids. This advice I either absorb or toss, but it doesn't aggravate me as much because most of the time it comes with reminisces and regrets so it's not as bad.

Still, unasked for parenting advice generally ends after eighteen years, so that, at least, ends at some point.

Advice for writers, however, never ends as long as, in some form or another, you declare yourself a writer. What amazes me though, is how they come across this advice.

"Self-publishing is the way to go!" Declared one advice-giver of forgiveable age (he was in his early 20s, and I, too was clueless at that age). When asked how come he thought that he regaled a story about how his grandmother had self-published a cookbook for the local community and raised a good amount of money for the PTA. Apparently, his idea of "self publishing" had something to do with a photocopier.

"You should write (insert whatever genre the particular speaker enjoys). You'd be so good at it." Yeah, but I damn sure don't want to spend a year on something just because I'm good at it. I would much rather write something I enjoy writing.

Which brings us to the next piece of "advice."

"You should write (insert whatever genre is "hot" at any given moment)." Uh, yeah, like by the time I could write that (assuming it's interesting in the first place), it would still be a trendy topic, and then there's the time it would take me to find an agent and the agent to find a publisher and then the lead time for publication, etc. etc. etc. In other words, I don't write what's "hot" because it more than likely won't be "hot" five years from now.

"I know...you could write my life story. It would sell millions!" Ok, and what's so fascinating about you that a million people would want to read about it? Hey, wait, I've got an idea...why don't you write it since you think it would sell a million copies and then you can turn around and say "I told you so." Meanwhile, I'll just write stuff that scares the snot out of people and go from there.

"You really shouldn't write such gruesome scenes in your stories." Ok, technically, this was "asked for" advice in that it was a critique given to me during a writing group, but still. Hellooooooooo...it's a horror story, we're known for stuff like that. To make matters worse, when I asked "Did you feel it (the particular scene she was referring to) moved the story forward?" she (the critiquer) said, "I don't know, once I got to that scene I couldn't read any further. Ugh.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Me: Who the hell are you?

Some 3" tall dude in polyester: Your new muse, call me Frank.

Me: What the hell kind of name is Frank for a muse?

Frank: Look, I didn't choose it. Now, do you want a muse or not?

Me: I already have one.

Frank: Been so long since the two of you worked together eh?

Me: Yeah. It happens though...get caught up in research, squashes creativity, that sort of thing.

Frank: Research squashed your creativity? That's one hell of a lazy muse who lets that happen. Guess it's a good thing she died then eh?

Me: She died? She couldn't have she's immortal.

Frank: Been going to the beach a lot?

Me: The lake, but what does that have to do with it?

Frank: Vampires, sunshine, nasty pile of ashes, that sort of thing.

Me: Ok, so now what...Frank?

Frank: Let's start with the basics. How often do you want to write?

Me: Everyday would be good. I'm hoping for 2,000 words or so, but I'd be happy with about 500 at this point. I really can't write that often because of the kids. I think better when it's quiet, so either late at night or early in the morning would be good.

Frank: Ok, good, good, don't interrupt you too much when you're dealing with the children but get in about 2,000 words. I'd like to try for a goal of 5,000 eventually, but this is a good start considering your time constraints.

Let's see, what about your genre? (checks his notes) Ah yes, I see, horror and I notice you prefer to write ones with a psychological bent to them but you're not adverse to blood and gore or bodies piling up. Is there anything in horror you absolutely won't write?

Me: Sex scenes, whether they're titillating or violent. Not because I'm averse to them, just that I suck at writing them.

Frank: Well, let's see if we can work on that. No taboos is good though, gives me a lot more leeway. How much research would you like to do for each story.

Me: None if I can help it (laughs), but if a story requires it I'd rather spend more time writing it than researching it. I have a tendency to get lost in the research and use it as an avoidance tactic.

Frank: Ok, would you prefer to write short stories or novels?

Me: Well, novels are where the money is at, so I'd like to have at least one of them going at any given time. Short stories however, are better for contest entries and writer's groups of one sort or another. Getting my name out there as it were.

Frank: One novel, at least, and a short story. Do you have any limits as to the maximum projects you'd like to be working on at any given time?

Me: I really haven't found a limit, but I'd really like to be able to feel like I'm accomplishing something, so basically not too much, not too little.

Frank: Not very specific are you?

Me: Sorry, but how many projects I like to work on really depends on my mood. That's the best answer I can give you.

Frank: Do you use any special tools?

Me: If you call a computer and some spiral bound notebooks special, then yeah. Otherwise, no.

Frank: Can you write while driving?

Me: I don't drive, but when my husband does I can write in short spurts, nothing too intense though, mostly WIP* notes and the like.

Frank: One last question before I just hang out in the background and whisper in your ear. How do you feel about mixing horror and humor?

Me: I think it's an absolute requirement, even for straight horror. I also like tales that mix the two so much that it's difficult telling where one ends and the other begins. Granted, it's crappy for novels, but it's fine for shorts.

Postscript: After this conversation, Frank woke me up at 3:00 in the morning with an amazing story. I wrote close to 15K on it before I came up for air. What a freakin' rush, but apparently he didn't listen to the "it's crappy for novels" part since it's most definitely a humor-horror piece. Oy! Muses! Can't live with 'em, can't write without 'em!

*For those of you who don't know, a WIP is a "Work in Progress"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


My 9yo is scared spitless of coyotes. This is a rather recent development and he has even convinced himself that there is one that sleeps on his bed when he's not there.

Considering that this is a child raised in what could comparitively be called the city and we now live out in the country, his fear of coyotes is not completely without foundation. Y'see, each night, after the moon rises and when it gets really dark the coyotes start to howl. Thing is where we live you can hear anything for miles and we most certainly hear the coyotes.

In fact, I enjoy going out on the porch just to listen to their baying. I find it peaceful, better than eerie silence and most certainly an improvement on incessant chatter. When I listen closely, I can even tell which coyote is answering which one. Or maybe not, but I like to think I can.

Either way, I've come across a bunch of parenting articles that would say that my 9yo has "issues" with coyotes. To me, this just sounds like an excuse to say "It's okay to be fearful." I disagree. Which is not to say that feeling fear is bad, only that catering to it is wrong. In fact, if I did that with my 9yo, it would be all I'd be doing, so I tried a different approach.

For a few nights I took him outside with me to let him listen to the coyotes howl. The first night I could tell it took everything in his power to keep from running inside. He clung to me and shook like a leaf whenever he heard one of the howls and I even told him we could go inside whenever he wanted to but he shook his head and just clung tighter.

Each night, he clung less and listened more. Until, finally, this night he was guessing the question and answer pattern right along with me. He even made up little conversations as to what they may have been saying:

"It's hot toniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!"
"I knooooooooooooooow!"
"I wish the wind would bloooooooooooooooow!"
"Me tooooooooooo!"

Back and forth like that until I knew he was ready for bed.

This is not to say that he wouldn't be afraid of a coyote if he saw one face to face, but he should be. Being able to enjoy the howling of a group of coyotes that are nowhere to be found? Well, that's just enjoying nature at its finest.