Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Weird Crime Wednesday: Dumb Moon Rising

(photo @ wikipedia)

Ocala Florida

On Tuesday, April 15 of 2014, the people of North and South America were treated to a lunar eclipse known colloquially as a "blood moon." Some idiots thought it meant that the end of the world was upon us, but most folks just figured it was a great chance to see a cool celestial event.

A group of teens in Florida, however, decided that their enjoyment of the night spectacle would be greatly enhanced with some chemical assistance. And while it's a pretty safe bet  they weren't the only ones getting high while marveling at the intersection of science and beauty, they were probably the stupidest.

                                                                                          imgur via denimpax
"Whoa man....Mars is like, freaking out..."

For starters, the three teens picked the ceiling of an elementary school as their observation/bong ripping spot. Florida may not be home to much elevated land, but there had to be a better location available than that.

Surprisingly, however, their decision to smoke up on top of a grade school wasn't the most ridiculous thing that happened. In fact, the three toking teens might have gotten away with their evening of drugs, astronomy, and open rebellion...if one of them hadn't pocket dialed 911.

When police arrived, they witnessed the teens passing a bong between each other and the glow of a lighter. The group was arrested and charged with trespassing on school grounds, use or possession of drug paraphernalia, and marijuana possession of not more than 20 grams.

The subjects' names aren't being released due to them being minors, but I'm sure we'll see them in the news again soon enough.

...or at least by the next blood moon on April 4, 2015.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, a group of wayward teenagers decide to smoke pot behind Waffle House like the rest of their friends.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Not In My Write Mind: When Writers Attack Publishers

Not In My Write Mind features trials and tales from my quest to go from a mediocre writer to a published mediocre writer. Please feel free to share in my struggle and laugh at my pain.

Author Caren Widner Hanten (who writes under the name C.W. LaSart) runs a great group on Facebook featuring open calls for horror markets. One thing that makes her group unique is that she only allows paying markets to be posted (with ones for charity being the only exception).

For those of us who feel it's important to be paid something for our words (even if it's just a token amount), this is extremely helpful. I understand that many small/start up publishers can't afford to pay their writers, but there are others that have somehow worked their way up to 'elite publisher' status without ever offering any compensation. 

Plenty of great small presses are out there and willing pay something (even if it's a very small amount) to show their appreciation for your work. It's not going to make you rich...and it might not even be able to buy you dinner...but your writing should always be valued in some way besides "exposure" if possible.

That brings us to Mark Parker and his new publishing venture, Scarlet Galleon Publications. Mark recently posted a very cool looking open call for a Fall themed anthology entitled DEAD HARVEST. The guidelines ask for a Fall-themed horror story that is a minimum of 4,000 words. Compensation for accepted stories will be $25 plus a contributor copy.

It wasn't long before us writer folks unleashed our deadly math skills and figured out that the payment came to less than $0.01 a word. At this point, Mark found himself on the receiving end of some angrily flung feces.

To Mark's credit, he kept his cool and calmly explained why his first time, self funded publishing endeavor was offering what it did...and why he's not a terrible person.

Mark even explained his reasoning behind the minimum word count (while still valiantly defending his honor).

Eventually, Caren and Selene MacLeod, another queen of awesome open call pages, rose to Mark's defense. Others soon joined in, and before you knew it, we had a full blown popcorn fest.

Unfortunately, there was one aspect of the argument that seemed to be missing...so of course I felt the need to chime in. Here is what I said with a bit more thought and (supposed) elegance:

Yes, $25 is very low respective to the word count. Mark probably should have thought through the math a little better on that. But you're missing two other important aspects about the compensation:

1. An actual, physical, real life copy of a really great looking book...something you can hold up to your friends, family, and enemies while proclaiming "LOOK WHAT I'M IN" without anyone assuming you've gotten yourself stuck in the toilet again.

From a pride stand point, that's a whole lot cooler than holding up your cracked iPad and asking people look at something resembling a late 1990's pdf file. Getting a physical copy of a book you're in that can go up on your shelf is very cool, very rewarding, and very not free.

2. Many writers use The Submission Grinder (free) and Duotrope (not free) to track their submissions. This gives us a database of average acceptance rates, rejection types, and wait times.

If you're familiar with either of these databases, then you might have noticed something strange: Occasionally, elite markets will accept someone's work in 1-5 days, while the rest of us wait 1-2 months for a form rejection letter (please ignore my bitterness).

How did those people get their work read so fast? Shouldn't editors and slush readers just be looking for the best stories no matter who sent them in? 

The truth is, the writing world works much like every other business in the "real" world...and in the real world, you have to network. Oh sure, there will be a few who get discovered simply due to their awesomeness, but even they must fight through the horrors of initially being an unknown. 

Case in point: Embedded below is an interview with my current favorite author, Chuck Wendig, on Sword and Laser. You should listen to the whole thing, but at 16:49, he talks about a particularly nasty rejection letter he received from author Thomas Monteleone...who advised him to quit writing.

Luckily for those of us who love great stories (and the Miriam Black series), Mr. Wendig didn't listen. But as inspiring as that story about overcoming a douchey response from a dreaded "gatekeeper" may feel, it's not a license for you to wait to be discovered.

If you're submitting lots of short stories to publishers, that's great. Welcome to the club. The medical tape and antiseptic are over there on that table with all the blood. But unless you somehow find a way to get Tor.com to publish your work ten times a month, you won't get rich doing that. Heck, just getting them to publish you once is basically the new writer's version of winning the lottery.

I'm not saying don't go for it. Submit your stuff to the top publishers. Maybe an editor or slush reader will choose yours out of thousands upon thousands of submissions. But in the mean time, there are small press editors right down there in the trenches with you, fighting and clawing to make a name for themselves. Maybe their start up publishing house will grow into a pro paying market....or maybe they'll get snatched up by an already established and expanding one that needs more editors. But if fortunate does shine down upon them, they just might already have a list of authors whose work they know, like, and trust from when they started out...like when you submitted to their first time publishing endeavors.

None of this means you suddenly get a golden ticket into Published Town. You won't be able to send the sequel to Baboon Fart Story and roll naked in the resulting piles of cash. It just means that might have a better chance of making sure your very best stuff gets seen, read, and considered.

So send your best work to small press markets like Visionary Press, Noodle Doodle, and Scarlett Galleon. If it gets accepted, then at the very least you'll receive a small paycheck along with your work appearing in a very professionally edited and constructed book. You'll also make friends with some very cool and passionate people who are putting all they have into becoming a publisher. From a human and professional standpoint, that's worth a whole lot more than $0.01 a word.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, another new author realizes that they won't get rich publishing short stories.

Weird Crime: Bad Hair Day

(photo @ tvtropes)

Annapolis, Maryland

On the afternoon of April 10, 2014, 29-year-old Ryan Trembly entered Bubbles Hair Salon on a mission. It wasn't to give him a style that would turn heads and attract a new mate, though. Ryan was planning to rob the place.

He walked up to the receptionist, put his hand under his under shirt, and demanded that she give him the money in the register. Unfortunately for him, the young lady behind the counter was not fooled by his finger gun. Instead, she simply laughed in his face,

The receptionist also pointed out to reporters (and hopefully not to him) how stupid it was to rob a hair salon since a bank was right next door...although to Ryan's credit, he may have been correctly setting the bar low with regards to his criminal abilities.

After having completely failed at the robbery (and being completely emasculated), Ryan decided that now was the best time to spit some game, attempting to make small talk with the receptionist before leaving the salon.

She's definitely cute, Ryan, but you'd never win an 
argument after the way things started between you two.

Things must not have gone well. After Ryan left, the receptionist flagged down a nearby officer. According to police, she claimed to have seen Ryan enter another nearby business before being picked up in a white Nissan. The receptionist was able to provide them with a partial tag number for the car...

...which lead to police to finding Ryan at his mother's house.

Please...PLEASE tell me that it was a friend 
who just lived nearby and drove him there.

Ryan Trembly was arrested and charged with attempted robbery (psssh) and theft of less than $1,000, which I assume means that he took more than one mint off the counter before leaving the salon.

At the time of publication, no information on Ryan's bond or future court date had been reported.

...but I'm sure his mom will take care of both for him.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, a man decides there are better ways to meet a girl than robbing a bank.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Weird Crime Wednesday: Deadly Sick Day

(photo @ thegrindstone)

Brandon, Florida

On Monday, March 31 of 2014, police responded to a call by 31-year-old Dwayne Yeager about his home being broken into. In the call, which was made shortly after 7:00 AM, Yeager claimed that he arrived home after being gone 45 minutes to find his front door open.

"I need a sheriff in Brandon...my door's wide open. My windows to my son's bedroom are open. My TVs are laying on the ground." 

He also claimed to have seen a white Honda Civic with a black fender pulling out of his driveway...although something tells me that "fender" was actually supposed to mean "spoiler."

...because that would help to positively identify the suspect as a douchebag

When police arrived at Yeager's house, it predictably appeared to be ransacked. The front bedroom window and blinds were also open, but showed no sign of forced entry. This led police to question Yeager's neighbors, where they discovered that things didn't quite down as the alleged burglary victim had claimed.

Yeager's neighbors explained to the deputies that he had come back to his home that morning, opened the windows and blinds himself, and then waited in his front yard for the police. They also said that story about a douchified Honda Civic pulling out of Yeager's driveway was completely false.

When deputies confronted Yeager with these neighborly allegations, he admitted that the entire burglary story had been staged in the hopes of not having to go to work that day. He then piled on the stupid, claiming that his wife made him do it because she wouldn't let him go to work...AND that he didn't think calling the police about a fake burglary would get him into very much trouble.

As usual, this story leaves us with a few very important questions:

1. Just how much do this guy's neighbor's hate him?

I'm not just claiming they hated him because they told the truth to the police, by the way.

The time frame for the crimes (both real and imagined) took place between 6:00-7:00 AM. The fact that MULTIPLE people were allegedly watching him stage a home break-in instead of sleeping or watching Good Morning America...and that no one gave him the benefit of the doubt...would seem to indicate some sort of previous animosity existed.

2. Why not just call in sick?

It's an obvious question, but still a valid one. Even if he'd used up all his sick leave, there had to be better and less risky excuses than staging a robbery and calling the police about it.

3. Why wouldn't his wife let him go to work?

Either she really wanted to spend time with him, or he just totally threw his better half under the bus.

Dwyane Yeager was arrested and charged with one count of giving false information to a law enforcement officer. He was released later that day on $500 bond.

I'm guessing he still didn't go to work.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, a man decides that a flat tire and/or a broken timing belt is a much better made up excuse for not going in that day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Weird Crime Wednesday: Publix Palm Punch

(photo @ health.com)

Bonita Springs, Florida

On Friday, March 14 of 2014, 56-year-old Stephen Jones was suffering a common grocery store parking lot predicament: Being stuck while waiting to turn. When you combine the horde of roaming pedestrians who are normally found in those types of parking lots...along with being in Florida (i.e. God's Waiting Room)....then a simple left turn can easily become a 10-15 minute ordeal.

Unfortunately, behind Stephen was a gold Lexus occupied by two old people who clearly did not appreciate his situation. The driver began laying on the horn at him, demanding (I guess) that he turn into oncoming traffic for the sake of their convenience.

After a while, Stephen decided to call their 'road rage tough guy' bluff', exiting the car and walking over to them. Now this isn't the actual 'crime' part of the incident, but it is the the point in the story where two separate douchebag behaviors occur.

1. When Stephen approached the vehicle, its occupants rolled up their windows and refused to speak to or acknowledge him.

If you're going to have the gall to lay on the horn at somebody stopped in front of you (which in car language means "YOU'RE A STUPID ASSHOLE"), then you better have the balls to also say it with your mouth when the target of your ire confronts you...

...unless of course they have a gun. You don't want to be caught on an angry Floridian's ground when it starts moving in your direction.

2. Stephen claims that he got out of his car and walked towards the Lexus to "see if they had a problem." 

C'mon, man.We all know you were actually going back there to colorfully describe them as various parts of the human anatomy....and you were pretty justified in doing so. Don't play the faux innocence card.

No one will ever do it better than Eddie, anyway

After Stephen got back into his car, however, 61-year-old Eileen Nemeroff finally found her courage, springing forth from the passenger's seat and storming over to (a now seated) Stephen. According to multiple witnesses, she then proceeded to call him a bunch of nasty names while reaching into his car and slapping him across the face.

To Stephen's credit, he responded by calmly getting out of his car and taking a picture of his attacker's license plate...which he was lucky to catch since the Nemeroff's car hopped a curb and sped away.

The police later caught up to Eileen Nemeroff at her home, where she was arrested and charged with assault and burglary (?). The burglary charge is for reaching into Stephen's truck, but the question mark remains due to that still not making sense.

...unless she also managed to steal Stephen's sunshine

Please feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. 

To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page. Every time someone does, an angry woman decides to take the day's frustrations out on her husband rather than overly cautious motorists.