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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Weird Crime: Supernatural Road Trip to Walmart




Panama City, Florida

In the early morning hours of June 24, 2014, employees of an area Walmart called police to report that a vehicle was awkwardly moving through their parking lot. This normally wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary (especially at a Walmart in Florida), but in this summertime instance, the vehicle was school bus.

When police arrived on the scene, they pulled up behind the bus and turned on their emergency lights. To their amazement, a 12-year-old kid named Michael Wade Propst exited the vehicle. He quickly explained to the officers that the driver was actually a man named 'Constantine' and they were just stopping for gas.


...along with some cigarettes...and maybe few mystical artifacts.


After that story didn't hold up, the boy finally admitted to stealing the bus, which he found at a bus driver's home 14 miles away (with the keys still inside it). Security footage from the bus also showed that the kid was a pro at driving the thing...except for the $2,000 worth of damage he caused during his trip.

Michael Wade Propst was arrested and charged with grand theft over $100,000 and felony criminal mischief. He was taken to the department of Juvenile Justice for processing. When his mother was contacted by the police, she asked them to talk to her son because "she was not having any impact on him."



Hopefully, his time in juvie includes
lots of important life lessons...and a haircut.



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 kid bored during the summer decides to read a book instead of steal a school bus.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Weird Crime: Shoot Me Once, Shame On Me




Port Charlotte, Florida

To say that Florida resident Peter James Bonfiglio has a checkered past would be a gross understatement.

- In 2005, Peter was arrested for making threats against the life of then President George W. Bush. Then in 2006, the 19-year-old was busted for manufacturing false secret service credentials...including one that bore the likeness of the very agent who arrested him.



- 2008 saw Peter losing the sideburns while gaining an arrest for larceny.


- In 2009, Peter went from making threats to actually carrying them out. After a three hour standoff with police, he threw a lit bottle at a police cruiser and pointed a gun at them. The standoff resulted in him getting shot and arrested.

- In 2011, Peter brings back the sideburns while getting in trouble with the feds again




...twice.



In 2013, he was busted for violating his parole while operating a comb over.



His most recent arrests, however, may actually be the most absurd of them all. In 2013, Peter called police to report that someone hiding in the woods had shot him. The shooter turned out to be him.

The on June 18, 2014, Peter decided to try his luck at deceiving the police again. This time, he claimed that a woman he knew and a man he didn't had robbed jewelry from him at gunpoint before shooting him in the foot.

When the police interviewed the woman, however, she was able to show them text messages proving that Peter had actually approached her about buying jewelry from her. They also found the cab driver who drove the woman over to Peter's home, who confirmed that she went there by herself (and should really be more careful about who she visits alone).

As if all that wasn't bad enough, the woman also said that Peter's foot was already shot/injured when she got there. Once again, the old "shoot yourself and call the police to blame it on someone else" trick had failed.

Peter Bonfiglio was arrested and charged with filing a false police report. There were probably some other things they could've/should've tacked on as well (probation violation, illegal possession of a firearm, etc), but the mugshot below might show why they didn't.


Holy hell...I'm not saying I've aged all that well, but the change from 19 to 27 for Peter is like something from a really bad (or particularly bad) episode of Cold Case.

Either the police just felt bad for him or they've given up charging him with stuff. But the fact that he somehow keeps getting access to guns is yet another reason that The Bugs Bunny plan for Florida looks like a better idea every day.





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, Florida gets a little bit closer to breaking free of the southeastern United States.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Not in My Write Mind: Rumble in The Writer's Arena, Part 3



'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.



As my day in the Human Echoes Podcast Writer's Arena edges closer, I have finally begun to construct my story. There are a few key elements, both large and small, that will go into creating my masterpiece and/or polishing this turd.

Let's start with the small stuff, first:

1. Coffee and isolation

I tend to write a lot at Starbucks. Yes, I know that makes me sound like a douchey walking cliche, but they do have great coffee. They also provide a place where I can shut off the rest of the world without feeling badly about it.

When I write at home, I tend to shut out my wonderful wife Karen and our three very needy dogs. I can get very prickly when Karen dares to do such things as ask me how my day was or if I feel like going out for dinner. This makes me feel like a worse person than I already am. At Starbucks, however, I don't mind shutting out the hipsters, weird old dudes, or other wannabe writers like myself.

2. Music

Music can be a great help for pushing you through a small creative slump. The particular effectiveness of various musical genres, however, tends to vary greatly from person to person (I came up with the idea for my current story when 'California Love' by 2pac came up on Pandora, for what it's worth).

The two main sources of 'writing music' I like most are:

-Two Steps from Hell. Composers of incredibly epic orchestral music that you have probably heard in a million different movie trailers. Below is one of my favorites.



- Sam Cardon, specifically his work on the movie The Work and the Glory: American Zion. It's a pro-Mormon movie about Joseph Smith...so yeah, not something I expected to ever watch or enjoy. But a student of mine had a role in it and their family asked me to attend the premiere with them.

Not only was the film surprisingly good, but the quick track below caught my attention and led me to listen to more of Cardon's work.





Now onto the big stuff:

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am a HUGE fan of author Chuck Wendig. Not only do I absolutely love his work, but he is constantly dispensing valuable writing advice in various books, his Twitter account, and his blog, Terribleminds.com.

I don't consider myself a good writer yet, but do think that I suck a whole lot less than I used to thanks to much of Wendig's indirect tutelage. When I'm not reading one of his excellent, urban fantasy novels, I am often reading his advice on how to continue improving my craft through disciplined methods rather than just 'trying harder.'

In essence, Chuck Wendig is my writing Yoda.




















"Excuses for not finishing your work, you must stop making."


There's lots of his advice I'll be using (along with various other tools of the trade), but here are two of my favorite nuggets of Wendig Wisdom:

1. A theme

 Your work must have a theme. I know that seems simple, but you'd be surprised how much stuff we watch or read doesn't have any real theme at all. It's just a bunch of actions scenes smashed together. If you want your writing to be something that people actually remember, it needs to have a primary message or idea behind plot and characters. It can be subtle or at the very forefront of the story. It can develop as you work on the tale or it can be your starting point. But it absolutely must be there.

Reaching the end of the universe (which is the story prompt for this battle in The Writer's Arena) is rife with good thematic material, so that shouldn't be a problem.

2. Question-driven plotting.

Your story should constantly have the reader asking 'And then what happened?' as they move from scene to scene. The 'end of the universe' presents a small problem since it's 'the end' and all, but I think I'll be able to manage it.

There's lots more good stuff to learn from Mr. Wendig (especially on character creation), but all this talk about writing stories has me actually wanting to...you know...write a story. Go check out his words of wisdom for yourself; you'll thank me when you're done in a few months.

As for me, it's time to crank up the music and get this story crackin'.


...while hoping that this man doesn't 
kill me for my horrible MS Paint skills.


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, I get one step closer to breaking down and purchasing Photoshop.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Weird Crime: Paying By Lobster...How Does That Work?




Deland, Florida

Around 2:00 PM on June 11, 2014, 30-year-old Nichole Reed attempted a daring heist. She entered a nearby Publix grocery store, went back to the seafood section, and proceeded to shove 7 lobster tails (valued at $11.99 a piece) down the front of her pants.

I refer to her theft as "daring" because she did it in full view of Publix employees and Publix security cameras...which gives us the chance to watch the crime (and marvel at an over-sized pair of jean shorts) in the embedded video below.




Reed walked out of the store without paying, prompting the Publix loss prevention officer to bravely charge towards a telephone and call the police. ALLEGEDLY, his description of her somehow led officers to Nichole Reed's home, where the loss prevention officer positively identified Nichole as the lobster looter. My guess, however, is that she already had a bit of a reputations in the area from her six prior arrests.

At least Nichole was honest, though. She immediately confessed to the crime, explaining to the police that she'd intended to trade the lobster tails for dilauded (prescription painkillers) or food from a Chinese buffet.

It's at this point that the story really throws me for a loop. I can almost understand someone trading delicious seafood for drugs. But just how shady is a Chinese restaurant that will exchange all the General Tso's chicken you can eat for stolen lobster tails? I mean, seriously...how does that deal even get set up in first place? 

And by the way, Nichole...YOU'VE GOT (or had) FREAKING LOBSTER TAILS! Boil some water and skip the MSG-pedaling middleman.

The whole incident had gone from desperate to downright weird, so I began looking for more information about Nichole. I eventually found her Facebook page, where Nichole lists her occupation as 'eating them' at The Dark Carnival....which is the annual gathering of Juggalos...which actually causes all of this to make a lot more sense.

Pictured: People who would probably trade lobster tails for magnets.

Nichole Reed was arrested and charged with theft from a merchant. As of Thursday, she was still a resident of the Volusia County Branch Jail.


That's the face of a woman who definitely does not believe in miracles.


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 woman looking to score pain pills with a side of pot stickers decides to go out for seafood, instead.




Thursday, June 12, 2014

Not In My Write Mind: Rumble In the Writers Arena, Part 2



'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.


Today, I began the process (again) of trying to figure out what my story for The Writer's Arena would be. As you might recall, the prompt for it read:

..this challenge asks the question, what happens when you reach the edge? What happens when you stare beyond the bounds of reality and find something else staring back at you?

To help spur me on in my pursuit of glory, I got a very artfully crafted and quasi-threatening letter in the mail from Tony Southcotte himself.




It was basically a repeating of the prompt/challenge, but this time in a physical (i.e. real) form. It's always nice to get mail, especially when its something cool like this.

Unfortunately, I still wasn't sure about what tale I was going to tell. It was time take a walk with the dogs and think things over. After about two miles, a few ideas had popped into my head...most of them terrible. The good ones, on the other hand, all appeared to have been previously taken.

Me: What if the a spaceship goes to the end of the galaxy and finds some sort of hellish dimension...or even hell itself...which causes the entire crew to go crazy?
Brain: That's basically the plot to 'Event Horizon.'

Me: Crap! Alright, what if I go in a completely different direction? Maybe it could be a comedy about some sort of bar or rest stop at the end of the universe...
Brain: Second Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy book.

Me: SON OF A...okay, this might be a little out of my wheelhouse, but perhaps I should go with a bigger scope. A spaceship gets to the end of the universe and is greeted by God or some type of god-like entity. The spaceship's crew grapple with how their view an all powerful creator differs with what is before them...or if it really is a 'god' at all.
Brain: Yeah...Star Trek V and Star Trek: The Next Generation S1, E8.






Maybe my ideas aren't exactly like those, but they still felt far too derivative. It's perfectly fine to take inspiration from something, but at the end of the day, you need to tell your own story. 

I'm also struggling with the fact that the vastness of space isn't an area in which I'm very comfortable setting a story. I prefer urban and claustrophobic over contained expanse. How the heck can I tell a story about the end of the universe and still create that type of environment. I mean, I guess they could *redacted for story secrecy*. That would actually make for a pretty cool movie or book, especially if they added in *redacted for story secrecy.* Oh, and it would be so cool if *redacted for story secrecy*. Man, I would love to read that...

...wait a second. I think an idea idea just officially popped into my head. Bits a pieces from different basic/generic plot points begin to pull together with a mix of my own characters, story arc desires, and direction. I stop walking as scenes of a story I haven't read or seen before...a story I would very much like to read or see...begin to take shape inside my brain.

It's nestled there in my head now, inspired by a number of factors:

1.) Previous stories I have enjoyed and experienced.
2.) The fact that I haven't seen a story exactly like it (and if I wasn't writing it, I would really want to read it).
3.) A looming deadline.

Now for all I know, this story idea could be complete crap. That's not me trying to be graciously self-deprecating, by the way. This thing may very well suck; I've had plenty of bad ideas (and resulting stories) before. But it's my idea, gosh darn it, and I'm going to see it through.

Time to head over to Starbucks, order a venti cup of delicious liquid inspiration, and hope that the old guy who watches Youtube videos on his phone with the sound turned up finally bought a set of headphones.


Let's do this.

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, I get a new story idea (which may or may not be complete rubbish).



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Not In My Write Mind: Rumble In the Writers Arena, Part 1




'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.



One of the many places that I send off my stories to be viciously savaged by editors is the Human Echoes Podcast. They have periodic prompts for 1,000 word stories, the winner of which will have their tale turned into a fantastic audio broadcast, published on their site, paid $10, and bask in self affirming glory.

Human Echoes also has an excellent and enjoyable podcast that people actually listen to. This means that when they offer 'exposure', people will actually read/see your work rather than what other publishers mean with the dreaded 'e-word' (i.e. getting 'exposed' to the ass end of the publishing business).

Their prompts also tend to be the type that really get me going. I love to create worlds and characters, but I often find that I need some sort of spark to get jump started into it. Maybe I'm just not good enough at coming up with things, but I prefer to think of my problem as being more in line with the illustration below by Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal.




That comic is pretty accurate, but Inman is comparing the creative process to regular work, while I'm comparing to the creative process to my own feeble limitations. I also don't consider creative writing to be 'soul sucking' (quite the opposite, actually) and it's definitely not easy.

But when I get cool prompts like 'What if earth was invaded by aliens in ancient times' or 'What do the monsters of our nightmares fear themselves'....or the current one, DINOPUNK DEATHMATCH!...my imagination goes into overdrive with possibilities. 



Yeah...I can work with that.


As of May 8, 2014, I had submitted to them twice...and been rejected. Both times, however, I was contacted personally and told that my story made the finals and was greatly enjoyed by their staff.

For any publishers out there, you have no idea how much a personal letter (especially one with some kind words and/or constructive criticism) can go towards lessening the sting of rejection. Look, $10 isn't a lot, but those letters made me want to submit to Human Echoes again more than some other higher paying markets that repeatedly punch my soul with form notices.

Within my second rejection letter, Tony Southcotte, the mastermind behind HEP, asked me about taking part in a new project on their site. I expressed my interest with the usual flair and professionalism that many have come to expect from me.




He gave me the pitch for The Writer's Arena, which is what this week's series of blog posts will be about. Here it is in Tony's words (read through a Darth Vader mask).

I want to offer you a consolation prize though. Something that is new, fun, and possibly right up your alley. We've been building and piloting a new competition called The Writers Arena. thewritersarena.com is now up, and though we are tweeking it and making the art, it will be chugging along here soon. We will be having a weekly head to head match to see who can make a better short story off of an unknown prompt.

You would be going up against one of the podcast crew, which is Al, Joseph, Danny, and Tony (myself). I've been impressed with your writing. I've seen your ability to hit deadlines and be persistent. You've been on the cusp of winning more times than I can even remember. I think you have what it takes for this contest.

We would give a few weeks warning, then you would have around 10 days to finish the prompt. It would be judged by our editors for the first two votes, and the third would be from the audience.

We would want you document your trials, tribulations, etc, in coming up with a story. Just a few tweets or a blog post. In the end, there would be a winner, but we want to keep it gracious and friendly.

Let me know if this is something you want to be a part of.

I said yes, of course...AND submitted what I think/hope is a great story for their 'DinoPunk DeathMatch' submission call.

A few weeks later, I was informed that I'd be going up against Joseph Devon in early June. We'd have up to 4,000 words to write a tale, which will then be voted on by the editorial team and the readers.

I've never met Joseph, but I'm sure he's a perfectly nice guy. As far as this contest goes, however, I plan to smack him so hard that his momma feels it.

See the blood on your logo there, Joseph? That's gonna be yours...

Yesterday evening, I got the prompt. It reads:

"Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."

Or, at least, so we've been led to believe. But this challenge asks the question, what happens when you reach the edge? What happens when you stare beyond the bounds of reality and find something else staring back at you?

This is a contest that came from the humble beginnings of the Human Echoes Podcast, and unfortunately we couldn't crown a winner. I've always wanted to see this one redone, and the Arena is the perfect place for it.

You have 4,000 words or less. Use them wisely!

You have until June 18th to complete this, and one edit after that due on the 23rd.

Now begins the fun part...mostly. As soon as I received the prompt, my brain began what I like to call The Writer's Dance. In this instance, the steps were as follows:

- OH, I'VE SO GOT THIS! End of the world, cosmic entities...that stuff is write up my Lovecraftian alley!

- Heh...'up my Lovecraftian alley'. That made me laugh....but come to think of it, I do use Lovecraftian elements in my stories quite a lot. Maybe I should try branching out.

- Why am I so dependent on another author's work for my world building? Maybe it's because I suck.

- No, I don't suck. I can totally come up with something fresh and original. And even if I do use Lovecraftian elements, I can still make it good.

- *Stares at the computer screen for a few minutes*

- I'm a terrible writer...maybe I'll just go see what's on Netflix or take a nap.

This violent collision of conflicting emotions and thoughts can be summed up quite nicely in the following graph:



So yeah...still not sure what I'm going to write about. But you can be darn sure that the looming deadline will spur me into squeezing something out of my brain soon.

Join me here next time as the idea for my story (hopefully) takes shape. Maybe it will still end up being something steeped Lovecraft mythos. Perhaps it will be piece that deals with the intersection of religion and science. 

Or I might just write a story about farts...who knows...


"I better get royalties for this one, earth dweller!"


Click here for Part 2


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, I get a new idea for a story...or find another show I need to catch up on with Netflix.



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Weird Crime: Hog Wild and Hopelessly Lost

(photo @ wikipeida)


Chuluota, Florida

In the early morning hours of May 29, 2014, 24-year-old Andrew Joffe was lost on a dark highway (on foot) and being chased by pigs. That wasn't a derogatory term for the police, by the way...he was allegedly being pursued by wild boars.

Fortunately, Andrew had a cell phone he could use to call the police for assistance. After dialing 911, officers converged on his location and presumably chased off the rampaging bacon. They also discovered that Andrew had an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license.

Now at this point, Andrew's decision to call the authorities while being a wanted man might still make sense. Even if Andrew wasn't actually being chased by wild animals, he was lost on a dark highway in the middle of the night. I mean sure, he had a phone, but maybe it didn't have a GPS function.

When the police officers searched his backpack, however, they found a plethora of stolen items....including a handheld GPS system.




Andrew Joffe was arrested and taken to jail in Bartow, Florida. No charges are listed, but one can assume they included theft along with being a complete dumbass.


....but at least he'll be safe from the deadly pigs of the night.


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 stupid criminal decides to live a more kosher lifestyle.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Weird Crime: Golden Arch

(photo @ wikipedia)


Dover, Pennsylvania

A little after midnight on April 27, 2014, 30-year-old Tammy Dawn Clement decided to attempt something at McDonald's that most of us want to try, but never have: Walking through the drive-though.

Okay, maybe I'm the only one without enough balls to have ever done this. But when I go to Mickey D's (or any other fast food location), it's because I'm desperately hungry. Any tale I've heard about those brave enough to order in the drive through on foot have ended with them being refused service.

For Tammy, that's exactly what happened. Her reaction to this perceived injustice, however, is where things really got kicked up a notch. After trying to climb through the ordering window to exact revenge on her minimum wage adversary (and failing miserably), she proceeded to pull down her pants and urinate in the parking lot.


                                   epicwtfs.com
...which still isn't as horrifying as what
 you might see inside one of their bathrooms.


There are probably much worse things that have taken place on the asphalt surrounding a McDonald's location, but Tammy's actions were still more than enough to warrant a call to the police. Before they got there, however, she beat a hasty retreat...to a convenience store right across the road.

When officers arrived at the store, they heard a loud banging noise coming from the women's restroom...which very well could have been the sound of Tammy's remaining inhibitions and good sense aggressively clogging a toilet.

While the police attempted to take her into custody, she spat at them so vigorously that a shield was required to protect the officers from her toxic, crazy-lady saliva. Once Tammy was finally placed inside the police cruiser, she proceeded to bang her head against the inside of it. She also continued to spit at the officers so much that they finally had to put a mask on her.


"I ate his Big Mac with some french fries...and a diet 
 soda in which I'd deposited a mixture of mucus and saliva."


Once Tammy arrived at the police station (after allegedly trying to fake a seizure) she was charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and public drunkenness.

She was later released on $5,000 bond. No current information on her court date (which should be a doozy) has been released at this time.

It should also be noted that this whole incident started with Tammy getting out of a car to walk through the drive-though...so I'm totally calling her decision to order on foot being the result of a dare.


Actual Mug Shot. No Mask, No Sense.


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 crazy woman decides to get her late night meals at Taco Bell, where they probably won't care what you do.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Weird Crime Wednesday: 'Possibly' Not The Best Way To Get Home

(photo @ wikipedia)


Indian River County, Florida

In the early morning hours of April 6, 2014, an ambulance taking their patient to the hospital noticed something odd: A man, 20-year-old Timothy Torfonz Baker Jr, had hitched a ride on the rear railing of their vehicle. When they came to a stop, he got down and  ran in front of them, effectively blocking the roadway.

As if that wasn't weird enough, Timothy also wasn't wearing any pants. When approached by the EMS workers, he then began insisting that they were in a completely different county.

Police were called to the scene. Once they arrived, Timothy admitted to the officers that earlier in the evening, he'd partaken of alcohol, marijuana, and 'possibly' crack cocaine (which seems like the type of thing you should know for certain).

He also repeatedly claimed that one of the officers was actually from another county, which probably seemed much more annoying than disrespectful.

Timothy Torfonz Baker Jr. was arrested and charged with disorderly intoxication. After arriving at the jail, police found a bag of weed inside his sock, which could 'possibly' result in more charges.


...and his very own pair of prison issued pants.


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 carnivorous dad decides to call about issues with school administration rather than meet in person.



Friday, April 18, 2014

Weird Crime: When Zombie Helicopter Parents Attack




Detroit, Michigan

On April 14, 2014, 34-year-old Keron Wilson arrived at Cooke Elementary School for what promised to be a tense meeting. He'd just learned that his child was not going to be allowed on a school field trip and demanded the school provide their reasoning for the exclusion.

The school's principal, Phillip Van Hooks, agreed to meet and gave him the reason...which none of the incident reports have revealed. It must have been something pretty good, though, because Keron responded by punching Van Hooks in the forehead.

This should have been more than enough for Keron to make his feelings about the decision known. Just in case his displeasure wasn't clear, however, he also bit Van Hooks on the forearm. He was later arrested and charged with aggravated assault.

Keron Wilson was scheduled to be arraigned on April 17, but as today, no record of his criminal misdeeds within the Wayne County court system database...except his two prior busts for drug dealing/possession.



Let's hope he didn't eat the prosecutor.



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 carnivorous dad decides to call about issues with school administration rather than meet in person.


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.