Brain Babies: How to Nickel-and-Dime Yourself to Death!

(satire)

 

Probably, like me, you’ve been told your whole life that you need to save, Save, SAVE!

Set up that nest egg, that rainy day fund; make sure you have enough when you retire.

 

Where’s the fun in that?

 

Okay, so you might find it difficult to kick the saving habit. I’m here to help.

There’s something you’re probably doing already, that you can increase with surprising ease

Drink more coffee!

If you drink, say, two cups a day now, drink five! And none of that “free refill” nonsense either. Go to different cafes; don’t bring your own cup (they give you discounts for that). And, if you drink the regular stuff, switch to lattes; they cost at least twice as much.

And the best part? You just piss it all away!

Speaking of which, alcohol is another great choice: not only is it even more addictive than caffeine, it’s also more expensive.

You may be a collector. I know I am. Now, here you have to be careful. Things like stamps, coins and baseball cards can actually increase in value. Nobody wants that.

I used to play Magic the Gathering. When I finally kicked the habit, I sold all of my cards (some 200 or so) at once at a con. I had two Mox Pearls and a Black Lotus; I got $10 for all three. Nowadays, those are worth hundreds, if not thousands of dollars! The key is getting rid of them in a timely fashion, before they appreciate too much.

But, hey! If you somehow miss that window, it’s okay. Remember, trading cards are made of paper, and paper is flammable. In fact, so is money!

 

Stop working. Right now. This instant. Walk up to your boss, look them straight in the eye, and let them know just how much you really hate them. Then, because this might not actually be enough to get you fired (especially if you’re in a union), pee on their shoes. This is easier for people with penises, but manageable for everyone if you’re willing to put a little effort into it.

That, right there, will drastically decrease money coming in, and make it so much easier to get rid of what you have. You see how easy it can be?

 

Give whatever you might have saved up away to a charity, but don’t get a receipt. This is crucial, because, at the end of the year, you could get money back in taxes. Nobody wants that.

If you have a car, leave it running somewhere. Don’t worry; someone will steal it, even in a nice neighborhood. Teenagers, in particular, just can’t resist going for a joyride.

But, please, make sure you don’t have insurance on it. It’s important to plan ahead.

If you own a home, great! Most of your money is already going into paying for it! However, if you’re not careful, a house can actually become more valuable. Be sure you don’t fix anything! It’s also helpful to leave your doors and windows open at all times, so that wildlife can come in and help destroy your environment. Bonus: thieves will have full access to your other possessions, which frees you up from having to find other ways to get rid of them.

If you rent, even better! You’re basically throwing your money away! I strongly suggest you also rent your furniture and appliances, too; this is a great way to hemorrhage your cash.

Did you know you can rent cars, too? Find a really nice one: they cost a freakin’ ton every month.

 

Well, there you have it. In no time at all, you can be freed of your worldly assets, and live your life not having to worry about paying the bills or sending the kids to college.

No responsibilities. No pressures. No cash.

For the complete how-to guide and workbook, please send $17,000 to Ken MacGregor. It’s a great start!

WIHM: Why Do We Need Women in Horror Recognition Month?

Why Do We Need Women in Horror Recognition Month?

Julianne Snow

At times, I look on the acronym WiHM and it seems like a catchphrase, something the community tosses about in January and focuses on in February, but then forgets in the first few weeks of March. Technically it’s not a bad thing, just an observation.

With the focus on the ladies in the month of February, there is heightened sense of visibility, something that likely would not have been achieved any other way. But does that visibility actually gain us anything? Why does there need to be a month set aside to shine the light on the work of women?

I can only speak from my own perspective and it all stems back to my formative years. Some of my literary loves started with recommendations. Who gave me those recommendations? Librarians. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Conner, Mrs. Maher and Mrs. Street were invaluable to me in many ways, but their education in horror and science fiction was lacking at times. Sure they knew the ‘greats’—King, Poe, Lovecraft, Bradbury—but that’s where their knowledge ended. Not that I blame them, despite the fact a librarian should know it all, there is such a thing as taste and preference.

In fact, I can remember picking up a Christopher Pike book in elementary school and having Mr. Conner tell me it wasn’t for me, stating it was a little too gory for my mind. Looking back now, I’m not sure if he was saying that because I was a girl, or because I was only in Grade 4. Little did he know I’d been devouring Stephen King since Grade 3 and could definitely handle the subject matter contained between the covers of Scavenger Hunt. I signed it out anyway and then asked him to bring in more by Pike in the coming months (I already knew he wasn’t going to bring in King, despite having been asked more than once). He did, but I think he did it begrudgingly.

If I were to pause to question why he was less than thrilled to satisfy my demands for decent horror reads, I’d say it had a lot to do with what he felt I should be reading. I was constantly pressed with Roald Dahl, Charlotte and Emily Bronte and Lucy Maud Montgomery, and there’s nothing wrong with any of those choices, but they weren’t what I was interested in reading.

And if reading’s not fun, you’re less likely to do it. If I hadn’t been persistent in searching out those books and authors, (keep in mind the internet really wasn’t readily available back in the mid-to-late 80s the way it is now) I would never have found them.

So what bearing does all of this have on Women in Horror Recognition Month? Well it helps to answer the question of why we need it. Sure, it’s a great way to highlight the work of women in the creative industries, but it also serves as a reminder that the minds of young girls need to be kept open. That reading is a good thing, a beneficial thing to the growth of a young mind. And that horror, while not for everyone, has a place. If we don’t help to highlight the works of today, they’ll be forgotten and not introduced to the generations of tomorrow. That’s why we need WiHM—for the women who will come after us.

 

Julianne Snow

Julianne Snow

Author

Julianne Snow is the author of the Days with the Undead series and Glimpses of the Undead. She is the founder of Zombieholics Anonymous and the Co-Owner and Publicist at Sirens Call Publications. Writing in the realms of speculative fiction, Julianne has roots that go deep into horror and is a member of the Horror Writers Association. With pieces of short fiction in various publications, Julianne always has a few surprises up her sleeves.
You can find out more about Julianne at: The FlipSide of Julianne.

WIHM: Time and the Single Parent Blog

I became a full-time single parent—by full-time I mean 24/7, 365 days a year—in 2003 and thought that was the end of writing until the kids left the nest. Three mentally unhappy and restless years followed and I realized I felt the way I did because I wasn’t writing. I had always written and to stop wasn’t working for me. Never one for watching much TV, I read instead, I decided to cut down my two hours of reading time after the kids went to bed down to one and spend the other writing. It took a while to get into the habit but I stuck with it. When the kids were younger, it was much easier as their bedtime was much earlier but as they got older it became harder. Strange to think it’d get harder but I am one of those who can’t write when their kids are up and about.

I try to write 200 words a night but have to remind myself 200 words a day are better than zero. 200 words doesn’t sound like such a hard number to reach but when you’re gone ten hours a day, making dinners, playing mom-taxi, making sure homework is completed, and all the rest of the duties it takes to run a household, it can become like trying to scale Mount Everest.  Some nights by the time I get to the keyboard, I’m done. On those nights, after staring at the screen in a kind of waking sleep, I’ll write a sentence or two of what direction the story was supposed to go in that session and go answer emails that need answering. I won’t beat myself up for not getting my 200 words in for one night.  One night. If I let it go more than one, I get caught in the “I can catch up tomorrow” cycle and before I know it a month has gone by with nothing written.

One hour a night, 200 words a night, 1,400 a week, 5,600 a month, and 67,200 a year can be frustrating when you see others posting word counts of 2,000 a day on social media. It used to drive me nuts with word count envy. And it still can but I have to remember I doing the best I can with that I have. I guess if I have any advise for full-time single parents, it’s to remember you are doing the work of two people and not to get down on yourself if you’re not as prolific. As long as you keep at it, keep eking out time even if it’s one hour a night, four hours on the weekend, or, if you live near the other parent and share custody, a weekend day devoted to writing, you are still writing. You are still doing what you love even if it takes a bit longer.

But what about keeping up with social media, blogging, marketing, and the business end of writing? As I started to have work published that presented its own set of challenges. Slow times at work, lunch breaks, and coffee breaks became the time when I’d hop on my phone to check emails and, if it required a short response, respond. Also, I’d make a stop at my social media sites and posted about an upcoming publication if there was one or a random meme if there wasn’t. Except for a few guest blog posts here and there blogging never became my thing, as it is a bridge too far in the time I have available. As for research, I take the write first research after approach just to get the thing down. My manuscripts are full of highlighted areas to “double check”. Or, if the research needs to be done beforehand, I forgo my leisure reading time.

The point I’m trying to make is writing and single parenting is hard but doable. There are sacrifices too. Like giving up that favorite TV show or computer game or reading time. It may be slower and you may feel like those you started this trek with are passing you by—in low moments I know I can—but it is possible. Just find that hour a day or that one day a week and write your heart out. I know you can do it. As another single parent writer I know with little time to write once told me, “Everyone has to poop.”

Chris Marrs

Chris Marrs

Chris Marrs lives in Calgary, Alberta with her daughter, a cat, and a ferret. She has stories in A Darke Phantastique (Cycatrix Press-2014), the Bram Stoker winning The Library of the Dead (Written Backwards Press-2015), and in Dark Discoveries Issue #25/Femme Fatale, October 2013. Bad Moon Books published her novella Everything Leads Back to Alice in the Fall of 2013. Her novella, Wild Woman, was published in September 2015 as part of JournalStone’s DoubleDown series. Entangled Soul, a collaborative novella with Gene O’Neill, was published by Thunderstorm Books in November 2016. January Friday the 13th, saw the publication of Intersections: Six Tales of Ouija Horror in which her story Sounds in Silence appears. She has two stories forthcoming with Great Jones Street short story app.
You can find her at www.hauntedmarrs.com or Instagram as hauntedmarrs.

WIHM: The Purging Method

Over a year ago, I fell into a slump in my writing. I had published the first book of The Blasphemer Series called Maxwell Demon and though I knew what I was going to do in the next book, I wasn’t fully sure the direction of that singular piece to continue the smooth flow of the series as a project in and of itself. I stopped writing. I was stifled and that bothered me. I began to worry that I was going to end up in a writer’s block, something I strongly believe is possible and even has experienced. At this stage that would’ve been the death of my publishing career when it had just began. I couldn’t have that!

I would open my word document to begin and the blinking vertical line would ultimately begin taunting me, “Come on, type. You can’t? Well neener–neener.” As all writers, I too am hard on myself. I am my worse reviewer and tell myself all the petty comments as I write, but I’m also a self-motivator and slowly began taking this as a challenge. I began looking into writing programs, researching methods, and even tried old school outlining. I bought Scrivener, I got WriteWay, and even LibreOffice hoping that maybe writing in something different would help me, to a point it did. Scrivener was something gotten to help with my writing, but instead of writing it keeps me organized and it’s a fantastic organizer for stories and projects. WriteWay quickly fell for me into the background and LibreOffice didn’t really change anything.

After wracking my brain, trying so hard to figure out what to do as this struggling began to affect other writing projects I needed to just get everything out for every single story. I had ideas, but wasn’t working, and outlining has NEVER worked for me. I can never keep to them when I had tried in the past so all together quit doing it. I once more had the vertical line taunting me with its blinking. I began to purge. I started with writing all the titles of the books and if I didn’t have one I would replace it with ‘book 4’ or whatever the book in the line for my series it would’ve been. Under each title I began purging all that I wanted to happen in that specific book, dialogue I thought would be very good, asking questions that I would need to answer, and all of that. I just had to get it all out.

As I worked through my new little project of purge I began answering the questions I had typed. I would see flat out in a bigger picture style that some things could or should work out in sooner books rather than later ones. Slowly, but surely this took The Blasphemer Series from eight books that I had figured it would be to tell the story down books, condensing them until I was left with roughly five books. I also gained through this method a better sense of each book as a singular project within the greater one.

I even continued into the secondary series that I wanted to do in the world I was creating focusing on the witches in the world ‘after’. I loved it!

After I had solved my problem I began noticing fellow writers struggling and decided to posted snips or screenshots of my newfound method on my Facebook page.

I explained that this is what my madness had brought me to and how it had actually helped me. It was shortly around the time of my post that a friend of mine, Rae Ford, contacted me asking more about the method I had posted about. I then proceeded to explain it to her in more depth what I had went through, what I had done, what I had asked myself, how I answered myself, and about the post. I even sent her the snips I had previously shared so that she could use them for reference. I hoped it would help her, but wasn’t sure if it would. I wasn’t sure if it would help anyone it wasn’t anything I had been taught in school, it wasn’t anything I had seen others doing, but I held hope.

As a writer I can have sympathy for my fellow writers when they struggle because I’ve been there. I know what works for me may not work for others, but a suggestion can change things. I didn’t hear much about Rae and this method until recently when I discovered she wanted me to write an article about this method. She had done her own independent research and found that this method had a name, brain dumping. I had never heard of that before and was very interested. It’s not a method that works for everyone, but for those it works for it’s wonderful. This was also when I discovered that Rae had continued using this method! I was pleasantly surprised. I’m still glad that I was able to help a friend struggling.

When I was given the chance to write something for a website that could possibly help others as it had helped in the past I jumped at the chance. That doesn’t mean that this will definitely work for everyone, but you never know, it may work for you in the way it has helped myself and Rae. This is a method that I continue to refer to when I’m truly stuck, it has morphed from computer to notebook and converted back, but it’s always the same set-up. Title, ramblings, questions, answers to the questions, and next title then repeat the process until I’ve struggled out of the quick sand of my block. It’s a method I highly recommend with personal testimony!

L. Bachman

L. Bachman

At a young age, L. Bachman started creating stories and art. This form of expression led to becoming a published author with the stories Maxwell Demon, Human Ouija, and Harvest. She has also been included in several anthologies. In March 2016, her short story, The Painting of Martel, was included in the anthology Painted Mayhem. Following its release, she was once more included in an anthology, And the World Will Burn: A Dystopian Anthology, with her work The Gaze of Destruction. She will once again be included in a December 2016 anthology called Crossroads in the Dark II: Urban Legends with a short story, A Farmhouse Haunting.

Bachman first gained attention in the independent publishing community with her cover design of the collection entitled Murder, Mayhem, Monsters, and Mistletoe: An Anthology. This led to her working with several authors, including Lindy Spencer and Rae Ford. Following her work on the anthology, she wrote The Blasphemer Series: Maxwell Demon in January 2015. It was nominated for Indie Book of 2016 by Metamorph Publishing, along with her bestselling short Human Ouija.

Her graphic arts provided the beginnings of her portfolio. Testimonials of her clients can be seen on her graphic design website, Bachman Designs. When she is not working in the graphics arts sector of the independent publishing industry, she works for the publishing house Burning Willow Press, LLC. They took notice of her portfolio after she provided a graphic design for author Kindra Sowder, CEO of Burning Willow Press. L. Bachman now is a full-time staff member working in the graphics department of the publishing house doing promotional media… videos, promotional materials, and cover design. Through her work with Burning Willow Press, she’s provided materials for the likes of Kerry Alan Denny, SL Perrine, Jay Michael Wright II, and James Master. She continues to work independently for her own clients, having plans to continue her independent writing.

After the passing of her father in April 2016, she dedicated The Blasphemer Series: Harvest to him, dubbing him one of her biggest supporters, if not her biggest fan. In honor of him, she continues to do charitable work and supports active duty military personnel. Her submission to the anthology Painted Mayhem raised money for military personnel suffering and living with PTSD. This also led to her donating some of her work to “Authors Supporting Our Troops”, an event held by author Armand Rosamilia that sends copies of books to active duty military.

Between her publishing and her graphic arts work, she has been a featured guest for many book releases held by other authors, interviewed multiple times by blogs, featured on many podcasts, such as “Unfleshed” with TJ Weeks in September 2015, and has been a returning guest on “Armcast” with Armand Rosamilia and “The Darkness Dwells”, just to name a few.

She continues to write from her home in Northern Alabama where she lives with her husband, the poet and writer DS Roland, their son, Damien, and one very judgmental rescued elderly cat named Mouse. Bachman continues to educate authors interested in improving their writing and marketing skills, as well as holding onto her mission of empowerment, inspiration, and aid to young writers.

My links –

WIHM: The Gift Of Rejection

Create, edit, and submit. For some writers this cyclonic habit can suck the confidence right out of you. Seasoned writers know the key to not obsessing too much is to have a stable of submittable stories and markets at the ready. They are too busy working on the next story to stop and grieve the rejection that just came in. I’m not saying it doesn’t still sting, but with the next market send out a new hope begins; and that is, in my opinion, the key.

Publishing houses of all sizes can get an overwhelming number of submissions to any call and sometimes it can take months to sort through, decide, and respond to them all. This leaves the anxious new writer checking their email numerous times a day – if you only have a few stories out. If however you start writing a new story as soon as you’re done the last, then your mind moves on to something else to be preoccupied by and your productivity and chances for publication rise.

This may seem obvious but you would be surprised how many new writers just stop writing and start waiting.

BING!

Oh, was that an email notification? You just got another rejection? Well let’s analyse it, shall we?

First off, was it a form rejection or a personal one? If it was a form perhaps the editor simply replied that it wasn’t a good fit at this time and try again in the future. They may have already accepted a tale that is too much like yours. A personal rejection – although not as common – can hold gems for the writer. If you have received numerous rejections with comments compare the notes. Do they say the same message? If so, I suggest you seriously consider the advice. If not, then see what you agree with or you feel will contribute to the story. (These people usually don’t take the time to send a personal rejection unless they feel your story has potential.) Perhaps they talk about confusion with character point of view, or the pacing is too slow, too quick, or all over the place. Consider this a sort of free edit that will give your story a better chance with the next submission. These small gifts are far and few between so remember to send a brief ‘Thank you’ for their time. That kind of etiquette can go a long way if you submit to that editor again in the future.

Speaking of submitting, shouldn’t you be working on your next masterpiece? Get writing!

Jo-Anne Russell

Jo-Anne Russell

Jo-Anne Russell is a dark fiction writer and a publisher at Lycan Valley Press. She is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, the Writers Guild of Alberta and the Edmonton Arts Counsel. Her work can be found in a multitude of anthologies, and as standalone stories. Her debut novel The Nightmare Project was republished last year with Book 2 to follow. She is a wife, mother of eight children, has numerous pets, and is legally blind.

You can find out more on her website at www.jo-annerussell.com.

And on Amazon.

WIHM: Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Female Horror Writer and Proud

Hi All, it’s February already, scary, right? And February is (Drum roll please) Women in Horror Month. Yes, this is the time for all you female horror writers (myself included) to tell everyone what amazing horror writers you are.

I’ve been writing seriously since 2012 (wow, time sure flies), but I had no clue that there was a month dedicated to horror writers until I joined the Horror Tree crew. I know, shocking, right, considering I’m a female horror writer? Well, this year, I have decided to write something for this special month.

So, what do I have for you today? Well, I want to talk about how you shouldn’t let self-doubt stop you from writing those dark and disturbing stories just because you’re a woman.

Often when a person thinks of a horror writer, they automatically assume it’s a man. So, when a woman steps forward and tells the world that she loves writing horror, she is likely to get some funny looks. I should know – I’ve had plenty of funny looks when I’ve told people what I write.

Because I’m a woman who loves pink (I wear it a lot), who bakes, watches Barbie films and musicals, and has a huge (and I mean huge) collection of cuddly toys, people are often gobsmacked when I tell them that I write horror stories. Obviously, they assume I must write chick lit or that romance stuff, but I don’t want to write about a girl with relationship dramas and blah blah blah. No, I want to write about a girl being possessed and murdering her entire family.

Even though some would say I don’t look like a typical horror fan, I’ve been a horror fan even before I started writing.  When I was younger, I loved watching programmes like Are You Afraid of the Dark and Goosebumps. I read horror stories – R.L. Stine and Stephen King are my favourites. I also love the zombie horror genre – The Walking Dead and Z Nation are my favourite TV programmes – I’ve also read some of the Walking Dead books. I love being scared, and even better, I love scaring people. So, of course, I was going to become a horror writer.

However, since I started working on my novel, I wondered if anyone would buy a horror novel from a female writer. It’s not easy going into what appears to be a male-dominated genre. When people think of a horror writer, they picture a man, not a woman dressed from head to toe in pink (I’m exaggerating, but I do love pink). Sadly, I’ve heard about many female writers (not just in the horror genre) that use a pseudonym or initials, so they don’t put off male readers. This has made me wonder if I should have done the same – used initials. And then doubt starts creeping in: if people don’t think women horror writers are good enough, then they’re not going to think you’re good enough. Everyone’s going to laugh at your weak attempts to frighten them.

But then I decided to fight back. Being a woman doesn’t mean you can’t be scary. It doesn’t mean no one will buy your books. You don’t have to change genres. And there’s no point in hiding behind initials because people will eventually find out who you are, especially if you do book signings. I don’t know what the secret is to guarantee success, but all I know is that you have to do what’s right for you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something – unless it involves a crime, then it’s best not to do that.

So, don’t listen to Mr. Self Doubt. Don’t let him stop you from doing what you love if you love horror, no matter what your gender, you should continue to write it – Say it with me, ‘Horror writer and proud!’

To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:

“Don’t you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can’t be exactly who you are.” ― Lady Gaga

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