Author Archives: Mercedes M. Yardley

About Mercedes M. Yardley

Nonfiction Editor, Slushie, Shock Totem Goddess

Sunday Digs: On Claymation Gore, Camel Toe, and Melting People

Hey. It’s Sunday. Let’s get to gettin’. Here are a handful of links from around the Internet that we found interesting this past week.

How about a little claymation gore in the form of Drug Bust Doody?

C’mon, it’s only a shot in the head. Walk it off. And after you’re all nice and warmed up, here’s a video that highlights camel toe and bad lipstick. It elicited true horror when I realized it wasn’t a joke.

Elsewhere, a 17-year-old is buried alive for a suspected crime.

Who knew a flat world on the backs of four elephants balancing on a turtle swimming through space was full of such good advice? Check out these <quotes from Discworld.

And last but not least, here’s a cool pic of some damaged and melted wax figures after a 1925 fire at Madame Tussauds. Awesome.

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Sunday Reads: On Saying No, Joe Hill’s Beard, and Creepy Films

Here are a handful of links from around the Internet that we found interesting this past week.

If you’ve got an hour, check out Booktalk Nation’s entertaining video chat between authors Joe Hill and John Scalzi.

It’s worth the time.

If you like things with a more literary bent, you may be interested the benefits of creative people saying no in order to protect their time.

The daughter of Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple) writes about growing up in a home with fanatical feminist views

We announced Shock Totem #7!

And finally, the creepy short film INSiDE, directed by Trevor Sands. Dig it!

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Sunday Reads: On Drugs, Zombies, and Creepy Children

Here are a handful of links from around the Internet that we found interesting this past week.

Artist Bryan Lewis Saunders takes several different kinds of drugs and then draws self-portraits. Drugs are bad, m’kay, but the results are interesting.

I’m sorry, zombie friend, but I didn’t quite catch that. One of the funniest things I saw this week was a Bad Lip Reading of The Walking (and Talking) Dead.

Zombies aren’t creepy. Children are creepy. Nothing exhibits this better than this very cool, very strange Reddit conversation about the creepiest thing your young child has ever said to you .

And after you’ve been chilled by little Jimmy’s prophecy of your death, or sweet Molly’s insistence that SOMEBODY IS RIGHT BEHIND YOU, you can finish freaking yourself out by looking at these hyper-realistic dolls…of you.

Knock yourselves dead, darlings. See something cool that should be in the roundup? Drop me an email, or leave a post on our forum. Let’s while away our time in the dark.

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Sign Up for the The Bram Stoker Weekend and WHC Pitch Session

Why? Because you want to pitch your stuff. And you won’t be able to sign up at the convention. You have to do so now.

The Bram Stoker Awards® Weekend and World Horror Convention are combined this year in New Orleans. Pitches to several publishers and one agent will be held on Saturday, June 15. The editors and agent are:

Alec Shane – Agent, Writers House
Blood Bound Books – Geoff Hyatt
Cycatrix Press – Jason V Brock
Dark Regions Press – RJ Cavender
Hydra, Random House – Sarah Peed
JournalStone – Chris C. Payne
Nightscape Press – Mark Scioneaux
Samhain Publishing – Don D’Auria
Tor – Liz Gorinski

To secure your slot, email RJ Cavender at with your top three pitch choices. In the subject of your email, please write Pitch Sessions – (Author’s Last Name).

All authors will be signed up for two pitch sessions, available on a first come, first serve basis.

Not sure what each publisher and agent are looking for? There’s a website where they straight up tell you. Read it. See if you have anything that fits. Then sign up, and don’t be nervous.

There will be a dark-haired Shock Totem girl in stilettos who will be helping out. Taking you to your pitch session, letting you know when your time is almost up. Straightening your collar and letting you know if there’s lipstick on your teeth. Join me! It will be fun!

But sign up ASAP. Slots are limited and they started filling up immediately.

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Halloween Night Fever: The Cir-cuss Comes to Town

Let me tell you straight off that this isn’t necessarily a book for adults. If you’re looking for the next Joe Hill novel, this isn’t the book for you. This is a book aimed at a younger crowd, particularly the tween age-set. This is a great, scary-but-not-too-scary story to read with your kids. It’s with this mindset that I write this review.

Reading Dan Graffeo’s Halloween Night Fever series already feels like something of a tradition for me. Last year I reviewed End of the Long Walk, the third book in the series. This year I read and enjoyed the prequel, The Cir-cuss Comes to Town.

Don’t let the word “prequel” fool you. You’ll be incredibly confused if you haven’t read End of the Long Walk first. That book builds the world of Sleepy Owl, where a select group of teenagers, the Pniese, spend their Halloween policing the dark things that go bump in the night.

The Cir-cuss Comes to Town seemed darker than the last one, and I felt like it was written for a slightly older age group. Cindy, a member of the Pniese, spends her time making out with her popular quarterback boyfriend instead of honing her archery and fighting skills in preparation for Halloween. While the group deals with the normal underworldly antics, such as a cyclops who loses a contact, this year is different because a demonic clown has raised an undead circus with the intent of wiping out the teenage Pniese, and he especially has his eye on Cindy.

While I enjoyed the humor in this book, which is one of Graffeo’s strengths, I was impressed by the description of the decayed and rotting circus. The grizzly bear with no eyes, a stiltwalker with blades embedded into his stilts, and an undead elephant with his ribs showing were just a few of the memorable characters. There are plenty of broken bones and flying teeth in this story, and I felt the climax under the Big Top was exciting and creative.

I stumbled a few times over awkward phrasing and unusual use of italics and capitalization, but I doubt the younger intended audience would be bothered by this. It was a spooky, fun book with enough excitement to keep the tween set interested throughout.

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Devour It Before It Devours You

John Guzman sent in this incredibly awesome pic. Rock.

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A Conversation with Anthony J. Rapino

Anthony Rapino is a dark fiction author with a sense of humor. It was cool to interview him. Hope you enjoy!

MY: So, Anthony, thanks for stopping by! Why don’t you start off by telling me what you have out, and what you’re currently working on.

AR: Thanks so much for having me. I have to admit, my first impulse when you asked what I “have out” was to tell a vulgar joke. Let me just tuck that away. The vulgarity, I mean! Oof. What’s that they say about first impressions?

MY: Your first impression is shot.

AR: Moving on. I currently have a few short stories out in print magazines and anthologies such as the Arcane Anthology, On Spec #86, and Black Ink Horror 7. I of course also have the short story collection Welcome to Moon Hill available through Amazon, and my debut novel, Soundtrack to the End of the World available from Bad Moon Books. They put out a beautiful limited signed hardcover edition as well as a paperback edition.

I’m currently working on a two different super-secret anthology submissions. I’m also working on my second novel, which I published an excerpt of in Welcome to Moon Hill.


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Women In Horror

Did you know that February is Women in Horror month? Damien Walters Grintalis, a Shock Totem regular, graciously allowed me to guest post on her blog. Swing by to see my take on why women are not only familiar with horror, but biologically built for it.

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Glitter Rose

Finding Marianne de Pierres’s Glitter Rose collection in my World Fantasy Con swag bag was like taking a walk on the beach and stumbling across a sapphire in the sand. It’s a charming, hardcover book with a soft and feminine cover.

Beautiful, I thought, and I started to read.

Ten years ago, strange spores blew onto Carmine Island, occasionally covering the sand with rose glitter. The spores not only bring beauty to the island, but perhaps something darker and deeper as well.

The five stories—four previously published, one new to this collection—are told from the point of view of Tinashi, a quiet, almost unfriendly woman who has moved to the island for the solitude. She encounters the rather bizarre residents of the island and is pulled into their personal lives very much against her will. I was interested in Tinashi and wondered why she was so bitter. I was pleased when this was explained in a later story, and her actions made sense.

Glitter Rose is written in a fairly straightforward style that somehow manages to be lush and elegant. It reminds me of Deborah Batterman’s collection Shoes Hair Nails: sensual, elegant, and with layers of meaning underneath the surface.

Although only five stories long, I read Glitter Rose in just a few sittings, pondering on the world that the author built. It’s fantastic, of course, but written in a way that almost seems feasible. It’s a thing of subtle, dark beauty.

It isn’t for everyone, but if you want to be immersed in the complexity of relationships, Glitter Rose might be the book for you.

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Ghost Hunting with TAPS

It was with some glee that I got my hands on Ghost Hunting: True Stories of the Unexplained Phenomena from The Atlantic Paranormal Society, by Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson, and with Michael Jan Friedman. Who doesn’t love a slightly creepy, slightly campy glimpse into ghost hunting? After all, I almost signed up for a ghost hunting class while living in Seattle!  (I almost signed up for helicopter piloting and broadsword, as well.  I have the attention span of—shiny!)

I’m familiar with the show and the “try to debunk it” view that TAPS. takes of the paranormal. I was hoping that this book would delve into some of the more interesting cases.

It did hit a large number of cases, but I was disappointed in how briefly each case is discussed. Each chapter covers one case and the average chapter is about four pages long. It briefly runs over what you saw in the show with very little added. Each chapter is told from Jason’s perspective and Grant chimes in at the end with a few summing up sentences. All in all, not what I expected. Aw.

The best part about this book, however, is seeing Jason’s views on the other TAPS members. He’ll say, “So-and-So broke the equipment” and “So-and-So is a workhorse,” and I enjoyed that sort of thing. This book was quick, cheap fun and while I wanted more substance out of it, I scarfed it like a bag of Doritos.

Ghost Hunting is literary junk food and there’s nothing wrong with that.

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