Tag Archives: Mercedes M. Yardley

Love and Murder: A Valentine’s Day Tale

Mercedes M Yardley A guest post by Mercedes M. Yardley.

What’s the draw to love and murder? Why does it add such spice to our favorite stories?

I sat down to write a tale. A love story. Not a romance, because that’s something completely different, but a story with love and heart and something a little special. Then I threw in a heavy dose of murder.

Well, “heavy” might be misleading. I based the story on it. Two broken people who find each other and fall madly, cosmically in love, and crisscross the country on a murder spree. Kissing. Dreaming. Whispering their secrets to each other. Wiping blood spatter from their faces and slipping in pools of it, leaving red footprints behind them.

Pretty much your typical love story, I suppose. With blood lust and, hopefully, sympathetic characters.

I’m not alone in this. In February, this month of love and hearts and cupids with arrows, I’ve been reflecting on the love-and-murder relationship, and the way it goes hand-in-hand.

Take Romeo and Juliet. Take, also, its unofficial sequel: West Side Story. What would these stories be without the murders or Tybalt and Mercutio, Riff and Tony? Think about Kind David and Bathsheba. And moving away from romantic love into the area of platonic love, what about Of Mice and Men? Can a greater love story really ever be told? And murder is right in the heart of it. Without murder, that story would be a charming little tale about two good buddies. Sweet and fairly wholesome, but certainly not intricate or memorable.

What makes it that makes the chaos compelling, I wonder? Love and death, romance and murder, they go together so beautifully. Why, even Valentine’s Day is somewhat loosely based on love and death. We’re told many versions of the story, but one of the most popular is that Saint Valentine dared marry young couple in secret at a time when marriages were illegal. As punishment, he was thrown into the dungeon. The story goes that he fell in love with the jailer’s beautiful daughter and smuggled her notes signed “From your Valentine.” Or that, while imprisoned, he received notes and thank you cards from the young couples he had married. Eventually, the most popular theory says, he was beheaded for his crimes.

Crimes of passion. You’ve heard the term. And perhaps that is why death and love are so tightly bound together. Nothing can end a love like death can. It’s the most brutal ending to the most intense and fiery of desires. Edgar Allan Poe famously write about his young bride who died tragically. In his poem “Annabel Lee” he even went so far as to claim that the angels of heaven, driven mad with jealousy, murdered his bride. Passion against passion. Love and the greatest anti-love there is. It’s like a volcano and the ocean coming together and destroying everything. A thing of terror. A thing of beauty.

The intensity demonstrated by linking together such polar opposites as adoration and murder is nearly unfathomable. Love is supposed to conquer all, but death does the same thing. All you need is love. Love makes the world go round. But the only thing you can depend on is death and taxes. Anais Nin tells us that love never dies a natural death, but death spares no one. Take the two biggest conflicting forces, set them at war in a story, and watch the sparks fly. You may love the sparks. They may be deadly. But they’ll be beautiful.

Guest Writer Bio: Mercedes M. Yardley wears stilettos, red lipstick, and poisonous flowers in her hair. She likes to do a little bit of everything, and writes dark fantasy, horror, nonfiction, and poetry. Mercedes minored in Creative Writing and worked for four years as a contributing editor for Shock Totem Magazine. She is the author of the short story collection Beautiful Sorrows, the novella Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love and her debut novel Nameless: The Darkness Comes. Nameless just released this month and is Book One in The Bone Angel Trilogy. Mercedes lives and works in Sin City, and you can reach her at her website, www.mercedesyardley.com.

Mercedes M. Yardley: Your First Hate Mail: How Life Can Change After Working For a Magazine

A Guest Post By Mercedes M. Yardley

Once upon a time there was a girl. She wrote a cheery story about murder and sent it in to a sparkly magazine. They accepted the story. The girl joined the forum. After a while, the Gods of the Magazine asked the girl if she wanted to become a member of the staff. She thought about it and did. They lived happily ever after. Sometimes, they ate muffins together. That made it even better.

I’ve been working with Shock Totem : Curious Tales of the Macabre and Twisted since 2009. Although I had been writing since childhood, I was brand new to the publishing scene. It was horrifying and confusing and daunting. I wrote stories and decided that I would send them into the ether. I really had no idea what happened to them after that.

When the guys asked me if I wanted to join the ST team, I thought about it very carefully. While my initial reaction was, “How delightful! Yippee!” I knew it was a big decision. If I joined, it would be for the long haul. I wouldn’t skip away if things became too tedious or difficult. Did I like the people I’d be working with? Would the dark nature of the submissions depress me? Could I handle the enormous time commitment? And most importantly, could I work on the magazine without sacrificing my own writing?

I decided to jump in and it was a wonderful decision. Not only did my literary learning curve accelerate dramatically, but I have the opportunity to work with people who might be completely inaccessible otherwise. There are more opportunities than ever before for people interested in working for a magazine. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, here are five ways that your life might change.

  1. You check your work much more carefully.
    As harsh as it seems, you’ll realize you can be rejected because you have too many mistakes in your submission. I know! The nerve! It’s a great story and that should speak for itself! Those stupid editors!
  2. Of course mags are looking for great stories. We live for great stories. But each piece has to go through a horrifically painful editing process and if your story is rife with mistakes, well…sorry. There just isn’t enough time in the universe, is there? Of course, there are always exceptions. Perhaps your tale is the diamond in the rough, and the editors’ eyes will glow when they pull it from the debris. But why chance it?
  3. You’ll realize that time is currency.
    There simply isn’t enough of it. Your old schedule won’t cut it anymore. You’ll need to balance and juggle as well as any Cirque du Soleil performer. You’ll have to turn things down, say no, and stay in sometimes when your friends go out. It isn’t just your own work that you’re thinking of anymore; there are other authors and coworkers involved. Don’t be the weak link.
  4. People think you know stuff.
    And you will. You’ll know all about proper manuscript formatting, how to write a decent cover letter (or more importantly, how to avoid writing a crappy one), and what type of tropes are a hard sell. If you have the knowledge, the best thing to do is to share it. But you might find that you need to set limits. Some people think it’s absolutely fine to call you in the middle of the night because they want to know what the magazine guidelines are. People also watch you more carefully, and might let you know whenever they see a typo in a post. They expect more from you now that you “know what you’re doing”, and they absolutely should. Which brings me to #4.
  5. You might receive your first hate mail.
    I did, and it was initially devastating. Remember that people see you as a name on a screen and not necessarily as a person. When you put yourself out there, you lose all control of how people perceive you. They see through their own lens. Try not to take it personally (yeah, right) but save those letters in a folder for future reference if you need them. Don’t read them again, but keep them.
  6. You’ll realize that writing is a business, and therefore attainable.
    This might be the most important lesson of all. Writing was always made of magic. It’s ephemerality and gossamer butterfly wings. You wrote your story (perfectly in the first draft, naturally) and a unicorn carried it off to a publisher’s golden castle. Then you had your book, or so it seemed.Imagine my delight and relief when I discovered for myself that this wasn’t the case! Write your piece. Polish it. And then work your butt off trying to sell it. Go to conferences, write queries, meet agents and editors and fellow writers. Tenacity is your friend. So is kindness. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up.
Guest Writer Bio:
Mercedes M. Yardley is a writer of whimsical horror, nonfiction, and “pretty things.” She works for Shock Totem magazine as a nonfiction editor. You can view more of her work at http://www.shocktotem.com/author/mercedes/.