Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Something I Wrote

Hey! So I never blog because I don't have anything to say that hasn't already been said better by someone else. But I was looking through my old writing and found something I want to share with you guys. It's an excerpt from an older manuscript of mine. When I was editing, I had to cut it out for various reasons—flow, etc.—but I enjoyed writing it and felt like putting it out there. It's a side story from the narrator of my manuscript. By the way, I'm not weird. The narrator is. So don't judge me too harshly...

When I was younger, I toyed with my kills in a similar way. I’d chase them down, wound them, allow them to escape my grasp several times. Eventually, they would fall to their knees and beg for salvation. Of course, I couldn’t grant it. They didn’t deserve salvation.

Percival Sigmund was the last victim I hunted like this, back in 1694, a dark time in my existence—I’ve changed since then, truly I have. He was a sixteen-year-old boy who had a wicked crush on Ann Tibbins, but she didn’t return his affections. Her rejection ate away at the temperamental Percival Sigmund like an unrelenting maggot until it uncovered his true, murderous nature. Unable to forgive Ann for her disinterest, Percival told the town judge that he’d spied Ann, her sister, and her mother in the forest chanting spells, naked, and sacrificing animals—Percival had killed several woodland creatures and had left their remains as evidence along with a handkerchief he’d stolen from Ann. A trial was held and, after their tortured confessions, fifteen-year-old Ann, eleven-year-old Lucy, and their mother Martha were found guilty of witchcraft and sentenced to death.

Percival Sigmund watched a desperate mother and her two daughters beg for mercy as the nooses were secured around their delicate necks. He smirked when Ann’s neck didn’t break and her frail body convulsed, the rope slowly strangling her to death. Remorse never touched his heart, only the thought, she brought it on herself, the witch that she is.

Two days later, I was fortunate enough to find Percival—alone—setting up rabbit traps in the woods. I hunted him, horrified him. He begged like Ann and her mother and her wee sister. So I granted him the same mercy he granted them.


Grinning, I ate him a piece at a time, keeping him alive until the last possible moment—I sliced off his tongue to muffle his cries for help. I must say, he wasn’t a very satisfying meal—he tasted a bit gamey. After I finished with him, leaving nothing but his hat, I turned around to leap away into the forest. But there behind me, still like a skin-covered statue, stood eight-year-old Thomas Herrick. He’d watched me eat my dinner. 
I smiled at Thomas, placed my finger against my crimson-stained lips and said, “Shhhh.” Then I skipped away. 

Young Thomas Herrick wasn’t the same after that. He spoke of demons in the forest devouring Percival Sigmund, and he began mumbling to himself and constructing strange weapons—weapons to use on me.

Not understanding Thomas’ odd behavior, the town’s people believed he was also a witch and responsible for Percival’s disappearance. They drowned little Thomas, tied rocks to his feet and threw him in the lake to sleep for eternity in a watery grave.

So I don’t toy with my prey anymore. I try to kill quickly and efficiently. Because no one wants another Thomas Herrick now do they?

And there you have it. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Future of Publishing

This morning I read a post written by Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, about Amazon trying to monopolize self-publishing by offering “indie” authors certain perks if they put their books solely on Amazon’s site, a move that threatens other self-publishing sites—Amazon means Satan’s bidding in Greenlandic Norse, so this isn’t surprising (It doesn’t mean Satan’s bidding in Greenlandic Norse. I just made that up.) 

But that’s not why I’m whipping up this blog post. Mark Coker went on to say, “Amazon is smart to realize that indie authors are the future of publishing.” When I read that line I kind of wanted to throw my iPhone against the wall. My prideful side thought, “Don’t tell me I’m not part of the future of publishing, Mark Coker, because I have an agent and am hoping to sell to a traditional publisher.” I worked my butt off to get an agent, and now I’m working my butt off polishing my manuscript in hopes that a publisher will want to buy it. Then if they do buy it, I’ll work my butt off with an editor making even more changes, so the public will get a book that is the best it can possibly be. I refuse to believe that process is inconsequential. Consumers want a good product. 

I will admit publishing is changing, and if you don’t think it is, you’re in denial, but I don’t believe self-publishing, as it is now, is the way of the future. Authors have had their work stolen and put on Amazon under someone else’s name. People are paying to have fake reviews to increase their ranking to sell more novels. There are books being self-published like WET GODDESS, a story of a man who had a sexual love affair with a dolphin, and novels that read like they were written by a fifth grader. WET GODDESS is not the future of publishing. It isn’t. And if it is, then there is no hope for the human race. Because we will all be half-human and half-dolphin. I just hope we have hair. And I’m not too excited about having a blow hole either. 

Now, I’m not trying to say there isn’t good self-published stuff out there. There are some talented writers who self-publish. Cora Carmack wrote a great book called LOSING IT, self-published, and now has a significant three book deal. (You should buy it.) What I am trying to say is I don’t know the future of publishing. No one does. And I don’t think we are close to the answer. Traditional publishing is changing, and self-publishing is growing. That doesn’t mean traditional publishing is dead, and self-publishing is the way of the future. So let’s stop pretending we have the answer. But it isn’t WET GODDESS. That I do know. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

How To Write A Terrible Query Letter

I’m in the querying process, which means I’ve done a lot of research trying to figure out how to write the perfect letter. You can find examples online of well written queries, but after reading three or four, they start to sound the same. And every agent wants something different, which makes it even more confusing. I thought maybe a what-not-to-do letter would be more helpful. And guess what! I know what not to do, so I whipped up a terrible sample query. Do not write a letter like this.

Hey Janice,

How’s it going? Pretty busy, I bet. I just want to drop you a quick email about the fiction novel I wrote. It’s a 350,000 word YA paranormal/erotica/adventure called UNICORNS IN PARADISE. And it is DANG good! I emailed it to my brother, and he forwarded it to our family and friends, and now it’s all they ever talk about! They keep saying, “Wow Stephanie, you have quite the imagination” and “I’ve tried everything, but I can’t get that unicorn threesome out of my mind. It’s burned into my brain!” So yeah, my book is unforgettable. 

Sit back in your chair, kick off those Naturalizer pumps, close your eyes, and let me tell you about UNICORNS IN PARADISE. 

In the year 2014, Iran develops nukes and bombs a bunch of countries. Everyone on the planet dies of radiation poisoning, but one animal species survives: horses. (I don’t know why yet, but for some reason their bodies are immune to the radiation. I’m sure if we brainstorm, we can think of an answer together.) The horses eat the planet’s nuclear-soaked vegetation, and their bodies mutate. The ones who are nice turn into unicorns; the ones who are mean turn into pegasus. (Or is the plural pegasi? I guess that’s what editors are for.) Because the pegasi can fly, they feel superior and try to take over the world by throwing the unicorns into concentration camps. While in prison, a teenage unicorn named Dude hears about a place called Laramie Wyoming that hasn’t been touched by radiation. Supposedly, it’s super beautiful, and the food and water flow like milky nectar from a mother’s engorged teat. Dude convinces his unicorn pals, Lance and Jennifer, to bust out of prison with him and take off in search of Laramie. Along the way, love blooms between Dude, Lance, and Jennifer. It gets pretty heated, and there are a few unicorn sex scenes. (I still think it’s okay for YA because teenagers nowadays are horny bastards.) There’s some jealousy, you know, the usual bisexual unicorn love triangle. The pegasi come after them too, which makes it really suspenseful. You’ll just have to read it.

I know your submissions policy says to only include the first five pages, but I went ahead and attached the whole book, because I’m sure you’ll want to start reading it right away. I did illustrations at the beginning of each chapter too, and I was even thinking UNICORNS IN PARADISE could work as a graphic novel. I’ve sketched out the love scenes already and can send you a copy of those if you want. Just a heads up, you should probably read UNICORNS IN PARADISE tonight because I’m sending out about 100 query letters today, and I know I’m going to get a buttload of offers. Well, I guess that’s it. 


Stephanie Funk

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dear Teen Stephanie

The “Dear Teen Me” blog keeps popping up on my Twitter timeline. It’s a blog where authors write personal, tearjerking letters to their teen self about the struggles of life. I have a few things to say to the teen me. But I don’t think “Dear Teen Me” will have me, because I’m still a nobody, so I’ll write it here on my blog. 
Dear Teen Me,
Well Stephanie, you are pretty damn cool in the future—I don’t even know if you deserve to be me. But this letter isn’t about me; it’s about you. And, at times, you failed me. That’s why I’m contacting you—to give you guidance. I want you to carefully read everything I write and do exactly as I tell you.
Do not get that short, Kelly Taylor haircut. I know Beverly Hills 90210 is popular, but don’t imitate that particular hairstyle. I cringe when I see photos of you. You look like a man—specifically, your brother—and that’s probably why I didn’t date much in the late-90s. 
Within the next couple of years, Kim, a completely terrible person, will do something horrible to one of your friends. You come up with an idea for a revenge prank—breaking in to her gym locker, emptying the contents of her shampoo bottle, and refilling it with Nair so that when she washes her hair, she becomes bald—but you chicken out. Don’t. DO IT. Don’t consider her feelings, you wuss. She’s mean and deserves it. You’re too young to realize it’s experiences like this that make for hilarious stories in the future. She’ll probably even laugh about it. Eventually. Maybe after a bit of therapy. 
Don’t look in Dad’s nightstand drawer. 
Avoid a boy named Travis. You don’t need to know why. Just trust me. While I’m on the subject of boys, stop daydreaming about Jared Leto (a.k.a Jordan Catalano). It’s a waste of time; it will never work out between you two. And soon he’ll form a mediocre band called 30 Seconds to Mars, so just forget about him now.
Okay, this is where I change your life, more importantly my life. I’m attaching a schematic for something called an iPhone. Math and science aren’t your strong suits, so you’ll need to find a mechanical engineer. I think. I don’t actually know—I majored in English. (Don’t major in English.) You know what, just take the schematic to Uncle Kenny; (He’s a copyright attorney.) he’ll take care of the rest. 
Because I’m not sure I can trust you to follow through with my above request, I’m including a backup plan. I typed up a book series that I want you to take to a publisher—it is imperative that you do so no later than June 1995. There are seven novels total. The first one is called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I wrote it—I wrote all seven. When you read it, you may think it sounds British, but the future you is just good at writing different dialects. Australian: “Put another shrimp on the barbie.” Irish: “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya.” British: “Pip pip, cheerio ol’ chap. Bob’s your uncle.” Russian: “I must break you.”  
Stephanie, don’t fail me. We need this. I’ve had my eye on a $200,000 luxury RV, and not only is it out of my price range, but the cost of gas right now is ridiculous.  

Warmest regards,

The Future You

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sea My Point?

I generally avoid discussing divisive issues. I feel more comfortable sticking to lightweight topics, like movies, music, books, Kirk vs. Picard. But I’ve decided to step outside of my comfort zone and write a blog post about a certain topic that has caused many debates in the literary world. Any guess as to what it may be? I’ll go ahead and tell you.
Yes, I’m actually going to share my opinion on self-publishing. And some of you won’t like what I have to say. 
This is a bit scary. Okay. I guess I won’t dance around the issue. I’ll be blunt. Here I go. . .
Self-publishers are, in a sense, defecating on literature. Maybe it’s more like they’re scooping up dog feces, sticking it in a paper bag, lighting the bag on fire and throwing it on Literature’s doorstep while yelling, “Screw you, you old bastard.”
That analogy is pretty harsh—it’s a joke, sort of. If I angered anyone, I’m sorry. But before people call me names or literally throw a bag of flaming dog poop on my doorstep, let me explain my position.
I love books. I love reading books. I think anyone who writes loves to read. If you don’t, then you’ll never be a successful author—in my opinion, at least. It’s books that teach us how to write.
In The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham it reads, “You learn more quickly under the guidance of experienced teachers. You waste a lot of time going down blind alleys if you have no one to lead you.”
I’ve read bits and pieces of self-published young adult books, and the majority of them are pretty terrible. One lady didn’t know how to spell the word “see.” She repeatedly spelled it “sea”—no, she wasn’t talking about the ocean. Many of these books include bad punctuation, clumsy sentences, and lousy plots—I’m in no way saying my writing’s perfect.
Teenagers are reading these books. They’re learning from them, soaking in the bad grammar and poor storytelling—if it’s in a book, it must be correct, right? And as more and more writers self-publish, more and more young people—future writers—are learning from inexperienced teachers.
Don’t kids deserve to be guided by experienced teachers? 
Of course there are exceptions. Not all self-published material is horrid, and occasionally writers make a lot of money going that route. And I do say occasionally. 

I think I just heard someone scream, “Look at Amanda Hocking!” Yeah, well, a guy named Jack Whittaker won the lottery in ’02. The chances of making millions from self-publishing are very slim; I’m more likely to die from a pit bull attack—I’m guessing. 
Now someone else is shouting, “But Stephen King’s doing it!” Fine. But are you Stephen King? Are you a wildly successful author who’s published numerous bestsellers and can pay a professional to edit your novel? If you are, then how the hell did you find my insignificant blog? This is awesome! Do you think maybe you could take a look at my writing? 
I may seem unsympathetic. Really I’m not. I’m not published yet. I understand the desire to find an audience. I also know what it’s like to write for hours and not see a single penny for that work.
Last year, I wrote a 90,000 word YA novel called MORE THAN HUMAN. It took me about five months and many late nights to write—I averaged about four hours of sleep a night. When I finished, I sent out a few queries and got a request for a full. The agent rejected it. I sent out a few more queries, and another agent read my manuscript. While this was all going on, I had the nagging feeling that my book wasn’t good. The feeling wasn’t self-doubt; it was I’m-not-proud-of-this-book-and-I-don’t-think-I-want-my-name-on-the-cover. But I’d grown attached to the characters. And I’d sacrificed so much time and mental energy writing it. If I stopped trying to get it published, that would mean I’d wasted nine months of my life—that’s writing, editing and querying time combined—on a manuscript that no one would read. I almost couldn’t bring myself to set aside the mediocre novel. But I did. And now I’m working on a manuscript that I’m proud of. I want my name on the cover of this one. But if this book doesn’t get published, then I’ll try again with another. I guess what I’m trying to say is, everything we write doesn’t need to be read. Human eyes shouldn’t even see some of it. In fact, I’m embarrassed two agents read my 90,000 word assault on the English language. When I think back to the first draft, I dry heave—it was that bad.  
Sometimes, we’re too wrapped up in our work to see it for what it is. Garbage. That’s why agents were put on this earth—those cold, so-called human beings who destroy dreams. They look at manuscripts in a way that our mothers, best friends and gynecologists can’t. Objectively. And then there are editors who correct those idiotic mistakes that are guaranteed to sneak into our books. 
I know traditional publishing isn’t perfect. Does crap still get published? Definitely. I hope one day my crap gets published. But agents and editors keep a lot of crap out of bookstores. And without a system in place, poor spelling, terrible punctuation and horrible sentence structure would sit on shelves across the world. 
Don’t get me wrong, I like sticking it to The Man from time to time. But can’t we rebel against the system in another way? I have an idea. How about we all make a pact that, from this point on, when writing our queries, we type each letter of the alphabet in a different neon color. It will make reading through the slush pile that much worse for agents. Who knows, we may give a few of them grand mal seizures. That would be pretty funny, right? But let’s leave traditional publishing alone. I like it how it is. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Teenagers Are Idiots

As some of you know, I’m working on a young adult novel—a horror/comedy for boys. I feel that I’m qualified to write books for teenagers because I still act like one. I’m self-absorbed, I make poor choices, and I laugh at any joke that involves a bodily function. 
Because I’m so in touch with my inner teenager, I’ll share three important characteristics of adolescent life. These have helped me capture the awkward, pimple-faced, and generally moronic high school experience in my own manuscript. 
Number one: Teenagers do NOT learn from others’ mistakes. 
I think adults would like to believe this isn’t the case. But it is. Watch the MTV show “16 and Pregnant” or visit a juvenile hall.
I certainly didn’t learn from others’ mistakes. For instance, when my brother was seventeen he took a wood shop class at school. The shop room had one tiny window, one light switch on the exterior of the classroom, and the door locked from the outside—whoever drafted the plans for this room was clearly an idiot. One day, my brother left class to go to the bathroom, and on his way out, he had the urge to shut the classroom door, lock it from the outside, and flip off the lights, trapping the students and the teacher inside the dark room with no way out. So he did. He ended up getting suspended from school for it, too. Apparently, it was a fire hazard.
Flash forward eight years to when I was sixteen. My best friend, Carrie, and I didn’t have a third period class, so we had an hour and a half of free time every day. We seemed to fill it with mischief—like making a sign reading, HOOTER PATROL: Honk If You Have BIG HOOTERS, and sticking it on the back of a popular boy’s car, later watching him drive away from school oblivious of the label. One Friday, we were especially bored, and there was a certain teacher who was a big jerk. His classroom was at the back of the school building, completely isolated, and its entrance had double doors with two U-shaped handles—the kind of handles one could tether together with a rope or slip a stick through, securing the doors closed. 
I’m sure you know where this is going.
Remembering my brother’s prank, we drove to Carrie’s house, found a wood slat in her garage, went back to school, and wedged it in the door handles. I must say, it was a proud moment for the both of us. We sat back on a bench, grinning, and waited for the bell to ring and the kids and teacher to begin beating on the double doors, desperate to escape the classroom. 
Did I care that I could get suspended like my brother? No. I was an invincible teenager; nothing bad could happen to me (Actually, I’d been suspended once before and it was nice. I got to stay home from school and watch TV all day.). Did I consider that the school could go up in flames, and I’d be responsible for the deaths of thirty innocent students and one poorly dressed teacher? Of course not because I was stupid. 
Well, we were never caught and no one died. One of the students happened to be in the bathroom, and when she went back to class, she discovered the piece of wood and removed it, foiling our plan. It was for the best, I guess. 
Number Two: It’s completely normal and even encouraged to stalk a love interest like a homicidal lunatic tracks his next victim.
If Paul, Phil, David and Danny knew how many times my friends and I drove by their houses in high school, they would’ve gotten a restraining order. And hey, Scott, remember picking up your phone in ’95 only to hear heavy breathing on the other end followed by a click? Yeah, that was me. 
People rag on books like Twilight, saying Edward’s stalking—following Bella everywhere she went, watching her while she slept—was obsessive and creepy. But in high school, if a boy I liked broke into my house and gazed at me while I slept, I would’ve been thrilled. As an adult it’s different. It would frighten me. And then I’d worry that I looked ugly when I slept. Was my mouth hanging open? Was I drooling? Wait. Did I mumble in my sleep, revealing my deepest, darkest secret (cat fetish)?   
But teenagers aren’t like adults; they don’t care about that stuff. Their brains are underdeveloped, and they think with their genitals. So if the teen love in your manuscript seems irrational and makes you squirm, then you’ve nailed it. 
Number Three: Teenagers will try anything even if it’s disgusting and/or dangerous.
If you want a perfect example of disgusting adolescent behavior, then read Saint Gut-Free’s story in the book Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. I will never eat a carrot again. Or look a teenage boy in the eyes. If I had testicles and a penis, they would’ve permanently retracted inside my body when I read this story. I can’t explain further without curling into the fetal position and rocking back and forth, so just check it out yourself—supposedly, it’s based on true events, too. 
Although I’ve never personally known a high schooler to do anything quiet as disturbing as the boys in Palahniuk’s Haunted, I’ve seen stories on the news about teenagers blowing their hands off with fireworks and dry ice bombs. I know a guy who climbed on top of a roof and dove into a swimming pool at a high school party. Yeah. . .he missed the pool. His face collided with the cement patio, and his eyeballs popped out of his head. Fortunately, he lived, but he’s not handsome. 
This idiotic bravery usually dies down when an individual reaches adulthood. Suddenly, mortality means something. Now, I get nervous when I flip the switch on my gas fireplace—what if there’s a fuel leak and my house blows up? You don’t want to know how I feel when I walk underneath televisions that are suspended from the ceiling. But a teenager thinks nothing of those dangling TVs that threaten to drop right on top of a passerby’s head. In fact, he’d probably find some way to plank it, and his friend would stand directly below it, recording the whole thing on his phone. 
So here’s a brief recap of the three teen qualities all YA authors should know: 1) When a teenager behaves stupidly, the others fall in line. 2) It’s normal for a boy to love his girlfriend so deeply that he’d wear a suit made out of her skin. 3) Abhorrent and life-threatening behavior is a must. Okay. Now go apply what you’ve read and prepare to make millions off your bestselling YA novel. Just give me a shout out in the acknowledgements, please. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Picture Speaks A Thousand Words

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’ve taken the Twitter plunge. Maybe you’re an aspiring author, using Twitter to get your name out there. Possibly you’re a comedian, testing out your material on the masses. Or, perhaps, you’re a porn bot, trying to convince desperate men to pay $9.99 a month to watch an endless supply of dirty videos.

Regardless of our reason for tweeting, we all want to make a good impression. And the first impression is the most important. It can affect the relationship that follows. It’s true. I promise. I’ll even prove it through an example. 

A guy wearing orange Crocs struts over to a beautiful woman at a bar and says, “Excuse me, did you just fart? Because you blew me away.” 

The beautiful woman glares at him. “Ew, you creep, get lost! And the next time you go out on a Friday night don’t wear Crocs. We aren’t at a community pool, and you aren’t five years old.” 

The poor guy hangs his head and shuffles away, the rubber soles of his crocs squeaking on the tiled floor. 

He’ll never get a second chance.

Unlike the guy wearing Crocs and the beautiful woman at the bar, we tweeters don’t always have a face-to-face first meeting. We have to rely on our profile pictures to make the first impression. Sure, people will explore our Twitter pages and read through our tweets, but they see our profile pictures first, and that’s how they determine whether we’re weird—it’s a pretty infallible method, too. 

I might’ve just made some of you insecure. Maybe you’re questioning your profile picture now, wondering if it falls into the weird category. If you are, then you’re probably okay. Weirdos usually think they’re normal and don’t question their bizarre behavior. But, just in case, I’ll share a variety of good and bad avatars (That’s the hip name for profile pictures.) and tell you what others might think of them. This may help you determine where yours fits in. 

I’ll begin with a profile picture of a woman’s back. Some guys might look at this and say, “Whoa, check out that luscious, blonde hair. Hot! Is that a Victoria Secret robe she’s got on? Ohhh yeah, it is. That means she’s wearing a thong—I know it! I bet she’d have sex with me.”
Then the blonde swivels around, and she looks like this--------------------------->

When people use the back of their heads as profile pictures, I assume their faces are absolutely horrifying—if they have faces—or they’re in the witness protection program and must hide their identity. 

In my opinion, a hidden-face avatar is only acceptable when the face isn’t completely concealed. Below is an example of one that works. I can tell this girl is fun. She has a funky hairstyle and a unique picture. If we were to hang out on a Friday night, we’d probably get something to eat, see a movie, and then drive to my ex-husband’s house and stick feminine napkins on every inch of his car—if I had an ex-husband, that is. But if my assessment is wrong and she’s nuts, I can see enough face to identify her in a line up.

“The eyes are the window to the soul.” Okay, but that doesn’t mean I want to see an up close picture of your moist, veiny, vulnerable eyeball. Great. Now I’m envisioning a needle poking through that eye’s clear membrane. Sick! I just cringed. I literally cringed. Never, I repeat, NEVER use an eyeball as your profile picture. Not only because it’s gross, but also because people will think you dissect woodland creatures or kidnap and murder women. It’s strange. Plain and simple. 

Including hobbies or interests in your profile picture is a great idea. The dapper gentleman to the left is holding a book. He’s surrounded by them. That tells me he likes to read. Hey, I like to read! And people who read are smart, right? At least that’s what I say, out loud, whenever I pick up a book. 

But don’t go overboard and display all of your interests. Especially if you’re wearing a Speedo and your interests are guns, guitars, and water weenies. This picture would work wonders on Craigslist, though. “Hey, ladies. The name’s Dirk. Wanna join me on my woven, grass mat? I picked it up in Tijuana last summer. That’s right, sister. I travel to exotic locales. I’m in a band, too—Iron Nipple. We had a gig at the Elks Lodge once—you’ve probably heard of us. I’m the one who plays the guitar. . .with my tongue. See the Glock nuzzled against my package? That’s Sasha—my baby. She’s not the only loaded weapon I know how to use. If you know what I mean.” I like Dirk. 

Moving on. 

The background of a profile picture is the setting of your story. It gives people a glimpse into your life. For instance, the fellow below is posed beside a slow-moving river. Peaceful. He must enjoy the outdoors, and I definitely appreciate that. On the weekends, I bet he goes on hikes and picks wild blackberries and then brings the berries home and bakes an organic cobbler. Although, I guess he could be the outdoorsy type who likes to kill deer with a shotgun—or his bare hands if he has rage issues. I’ll say he’s the berry picking type. 

Some locations aren’t as pleasant as the one above—like any place where hundreds of strangers urinate. I can think of only one, semi-cool reason for this guy’s public bathroom photo shoot: He’s like Jason Bourne, running from a rogue arm of the government. He has no home toilet, so he goes from public restroom to public restroom, dyeing his hair and changing into different disguises, documenting each one. But, despite it all, he keeps a smile on his face—and keeps us updated via his Twitter account, @LoneWolfLookingForAToilet. 

Everyone loves animals. They’re soft and cuddly, and they don’t judge you when you eat an entire carton of ice cream, weeping, while Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” plays on a continuous loop. 

But, if you have professional photos taken with your cat and use one as a profile picture, you love animals too much. People may even think you two are romantically involved (having sex). And you don’t want that. I hope.

Animal profile pictures aren’t always a no-no. Here’s a cute one of a young lady and her pet. I can tell she loves her doggy with his fluffy, white beard. But she doesn’t love her pooch enough to throw him in a sweater identical to her own, drive to the nearest Sears, and sit down with him for a photo shoot. 

Professional photo = No

Amateur photo = Yes 
(But I’d think twice before using any picture that includes your cat. Or your iguana. Or your snake.)

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to share all profile picture dos and don’ts—there are many—though, I’d like to think my short list helped at least one, confused soul. But if you're still not sure that your picture gives a good impression, find me on Twitter and I’ll help you out—I’m the one with the Justin Bieber avatar