Mercedes M. Yardley Named On Bram Stoker Awards® Preliminary Ballot 2022

Mercedes M. Yardley Named On Bram Stoker Awards® Preliminary Ballot 2022

Weird Little Worlds is proud to announce that author Mercedes M. Yardley has been identified as a preliminary ballot candidate for the prestigious Bram Stoker Awards® in Best Short Fiction.
Her story, “Fracture,” appears in the 2022 anthology Mother: Tales of Love and Terror published by Weird Little Worlds Press. It is a story about the vulnerable fragility and the sense of protection that mothers have over their children. Because let’s face it, motherhood is scary no matter how you look at it.

“Fracture,” finds its well-deserved place among the top ten stories in the Bram Stoker Awards® Best Short Fiction category. Final nominations will be announced at the end of February 2023. We at Weird Little Worlds have every confidence that Mercedes will once again shine as the talented author that she is.

Mercedes has been recognized in past years for the following awards:

Mercedes M. Yardley is a dark fantasist who wears poisonous flowers in her hair. She is the author of Beautiful Sorrows, Darling, Pretty Little Dead Girls, and Detritus in Love.

Don’t miss this amazing story, “Fracture,” in Mother: Tales of Love and Terror. We also recommend her essay on Mother’s Day found on Mercedes’ own blog. You can read the entire short story for free here.


8 Animals That Eat Their Young: What Nature Can Teach You About Parenthood.

8 Animals That Eat Their Young: What Nature Can Teach You About Parenthood.

Warning: It’s possible that SOME of the “research” in this article may not be entirely correct. All I remember is eating a bunch of chocolate and talking to a lot of random people. I’ve blocked most of it out. Also, I do NOT condone child-eating, unless they’re free-ranch, hormone-free, organic children. Just FYI. 

WLW Features - Polar Bear

For centuries, science has been looking to nature for answers about behavior. I mean, why else would humans eat bananas, unless they were going to monkeys for advice about what to make for dinner? Seriously, y’all. Bananas are gross.

As a mom, I really wanted to get some insight as to how animals raise their children, and I found a shocking statistic – almost 99% of animals eat their young. Actually, I heard that from a guy who hangs around my apartment’s dumpster and smells like feet. Pretty sure it’s true, though. (Thanks, Dirty Ernie!)

But, there are some that actually do eat their young, and for shocking reasons. Even though you and I are a highly evolved species that would never eat or harm our children, identifying similar situations could save your children the ignominy of being someone’s lunch.

1. Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs, or “Your Dinner is Not Poisonous.”

In several black-tailed prairie dog colonies, researchers have observed that these cute little critters spend much of their time sleeping and playing while their matriarchal leader finds and creates food for them to eat. After having spent most of her time and effort gathering delicious and nutritious foods, putting them on special plates, and carefully considering each one of her broods’ tolerances for new food, she will gather them to the dining area. Sometimes, the young black-tailed prairie dogs will immediately complain about how much they don’t like liver, or how they would rather eat hot pockets. Upon hearing this response, the mother simply nips the complaints in the butt. Literally.

2. Burying Beetles, or “What Did You Call Me?”

Although the burying beetle is a tolerant parent, there are some lines that just can’t be crossed. In the wild, it happens occasionally that an adolescent burying beetle gets into a heated argument with his or her parent about what time to come home to the dung heap, or whether they can take a member of the opposite sex to the seedy part of the savannah. The argument becomes deadly when the hot-headed teen calls their parents something idiotic, like a “dung-eating bug-face.” At which point, the parent responds by biting his or her head off.

3. Honey Bees, or “There’s One in Every Family.”

Sometimes, even the best honey bee hive can be afflicted with offspring that continually makes poor judgement calls. An aggressive disease, known as assholianism, affects nearly every hive. In this situation, honey bee offspring rebel against authority by hitting other bees, stealing their lunch money, and sometimes even peeing in the collective gymnasium bee shower. In addition, they pose a real threat to the hive as the disease spreads to younger bees who think their older sibling is “SOOOO COOOOL.” Honey bee moms and dads, in an effort to save the hive, sometimes just turn the wayward youth into a tasty and nutritious after-school snack, preferably on biscuits or toast.

4. Rabbits, or “ALWAYS. KNOCK. FIRST.”

No one knows copulation better than rabbits, so it’s no wonder that they’ll eat a child that gets in the way of their union. Still, a rabbit couple won’t usually turn to aggression unless there is good reason. My research (a 2-minute conversation with my drunk neighbor Sasha) says that rabbits often commit infanticide when a bunny has walked into a room that was mistakenly unlocked, and refuses to leave without knowing why someone hasn’t made them a snack. My sources also say that the most dangerous time for a baby rabbit is when it continues to knock on the door, talk through the keyhole, or put its little rabbit fingers underneath to wave “hello” after it has been told to go away. The parents’ mojo is lost and suddenly, that bunny looks mighty tasty…

5. Bottle-Nosed Dolphins, or “Stop Hitting Your Brother.”

Bottle-nosed dolphins are some of the most highly advanced creatures on our planet, with intellect rivaling and maybe surpassing humans. And yet, even they know when it’s time to just take out a kid or two. In the tight family pod unit, dolphins travel thousands of miles each year. Unfortunately, these long trips can affect the mental stability of even the best dolphin parent. After the 300th game of “Rock, Kelp, Crab,” or hearing “The Song That Never Ends” for 45 minutes, a dolphin parent simply can’t handle the stress of an inter-sibling fight. When the “I’m not touching him” phase of the journey begins, the dolphins will do anything for a little peace and quiet.

6. Polar Bears, or “NO MORE DORA!”

Polar bears often spend much of their time cooped up in their lairs with their children. A tired and frazzled polar bear mom may allow her offspring to watch some television in order to give her a moment to kill some dinner or to clean up the cave. Especially with a very young polar bear cub, the mother is subjected to hours of inane child-oriented programming, often starring a mono-syllabic talking animal or a musical medley that is impossible to get out of the head. When a polar bear parent attempts to turn the program off, the cub will go boneless, kick its feet, and scream unintelligibly about how mean the mother is. Needless to say, the polar bear tends to prove the cub right.

7. Tiger Salamanders, or “Can You Hear Me Now?”

For tiger salamanders, the adolescent years are some of the deadliest. A recent development in tiger salamander technology has allowed them the ability to communicate with each other via electronic messages. A parent of an adolescent tiger salamander will often ask their child a question, which results in verbal silence, a soft click of electronic buttons, and a delayed response of, “Huh? What did you say?” After weeks, days, or sometimes just hours of the child choosing to use the electronic device rather than participate in real-world activities, the device fuses with the body of the adolescent, making it almost impossible for him or her to have normal brain function. Upon seeing this, a sad and reticent parent will choose to put the child out of its misery, knowing that it can never truly live a normal life again.

8. Chickens, or “Procrastination Unto Death.”

It’s true: chickens aren’t the smartest creatures of all, but they have their limits. On the farm, there are duties that chickens must fulfill. Scientists have observed that several species of chicks are required to do large projects that must be completed by certain times. In severe cases, these chicks will wait until a few hours before the project is due to share that information with the adult chicken. This process usually results in poor quality science projects, badly-written papers, and dioramas that look like they were created in a hurricane. Finally, after being told and shown how to have better time management, the chick will again bring the parent a poster project that must be researched and completed by the next morning. Guess what’s on the menu that night? Chicken.

Leia: Lessons from a True Princess

Leia: Lessons from a True Princess

Princesses get a bad rap. They usually have nice clothes, sing to wild animals and generally act happier than anyone else in the room. Disney was wise to poke fun at themselves in the beautifully naïve character of Giselle in Enchanted. The culminating moment? When the saccharine princess finds out that she has learned to be angry.

Thesis: If you’re a princess, you have to be happy, beautiful and perfect all the time.

Because of this totally unrealistic perspective on what it’s like to be a grown-up girl, a lot of super-progressive moms have made it clear that princesses are off the plan. “Oh, I don’t let my girls watch those movies,” a mom said to me. “It’s not the way things really are, and they’re not very good role models.”

I can’t really argue that, can I? I mean, Ariel was married at 16 to a guy that she had never really talked with. He was attracted to her talent and fluffy hair, not her personality. Not many other Disney princesses had dissimilar fates. Aurora, Snow White…even Pocahontas – all of them barely met their future spouse before they decided to marry them. There was no great emotional connection to these heroines. They become vehicles to drive a romantic story that ends inevitably in marriage and “happily ever after.”

Once, I complained that my 5-year-old daughter was becoming obsessed with the idea of marriage and romantic love as the end game of life and worried that the Disney brand of princessing was having an effect. My well-meaning friend looked at me with unfeigned shock. “Well, isn’t that what we’re trying to do, get our girls ready for marriage? What’s so wrong with that?”


But, what am I saying? This is an argument FOR princesses, right?

And so, let us take one of the newest princesses in the Disney pantheon, Leia, as a case study. Through her, it is clear to see what a real princess is like, and how acceptance, love and moral strength form the bedrock of the true princess mentality.

Real Princesses Have Opinions

Anyone knows that our little Leia wasn’t about to be bossed around by anyone, especially not some scrubby nerf herder, a pre-pubescent boy and a dog who could drive. She had things she believed in, she had causes she was willing to fight for – to the death if necessary. Being a princess doesn’t mean being nice and letting people underestimate your personal power. Being a princess means making your own destiny and showing people you can make a difference, tiara or not.

Real Princesses Sacrifice for the Greater Good

Guess how much Leia wanted to see her home planet get blown up? Not very much. But, she was willing to sacrifice her own personal interests in order that evil would be kept at bay. Even though it cost her the things that were most dear. This is not the kind of princess that we see on reality TV shows like My Sweet 16 and Yes to the Dress. These false princesses demand that their needs be the most important thing in the lives of everyone around them. A true princess is able to clearly see what will benefit the most people, and then sacrifice whatever is necessary so that her people, all people, can find happiness.

Real Princesses Know (and Love) Their People

It’s not often that we are asked to befriend beings that are outside of our own species, but Leia paves the way for true princesses everywhere. When the chips are down and she is taken hostage, what does she do? Give up? Fight the strangers that have her captive? No. She gets to know them. She finds out about them. She learns their weird dances. Fake princesses spend so much time with their own cliques that they don’t have time to get to know the little people. True princesses see the importance of even the smallest, hairiest and weirdest person in their kingdoms. Those people are often the most important to her. Not just because they may help her later, but because she is often the only one powerful enough to defend them against tyranny and evil.

Real Princesses Are Beautiful Regardless of How They Look

Whether it is a mind-blowing metal bikini or a safety jumpsuit made of camouflage, a princess isn’t a princess without beauty. Undeniably, Leia is a beautiful woman, but she is made more beautiful by her passion, her spunk and her kindness. She spends lots of time being dirty, smelly and showing virtually no cleavage. Although some people might object, I conjecture that she is made beautiful by her actions and attitudes, not the clothes she wears or the grubby starship that she flies in.

Real Princesses Have Bad Days

When your planet gets exploded, that sucks. We live in a world where our universe can do the same, virtually at any time. There is no rule that says you have to keep smiling through the miserable parts of your life. Take a moment and scream. Cry and beat at the sky. Feel bad about things, about yourself, about the future. That’s what real princesses do.

Real Princesses Never Lose Hope


Still, Leia would tell you that you can’t stay down forever. Just because things go horribly wrong doesn’t mean that you can give up. Then the dark side wins! Instead, you have to believe that things can get better. And then, you have to wait and work for that better day. It took her years before she was able to set things right with the man that destroyed her home planet. But, she never gave up and she never stopped believing that things could, and would, get better.

Real Princesses Are Not Afraid to Be Alone


Notice that Leia doesn’t have to be with any boys to be special? Getting a man isn’t her number one concern. She doesn’t spend hours in front of the mirror or think of ways to “catch” Han. Instead, she focuses on her personal goals – goals that have been chosen because of their greater good. She eventually finds a companion, but she is already a whole person without him. Her life is focused on making the world better, not making herself into a product for men to consume.

Real Princesses Ask For Help

“Help me, Obi-wan…” It’s Leia’s first line, and indicative of her strong character. A real princess knows when she can’t do something alone. And, most princesses know that asking for help doesn’t make them weak, it just makes the people who help them stronger. In fact, a true princess is a combiner, knowing that if one person can make a difference, more people with the same goal can make a bigger difference. To a false princess, asking for help just takes away from her, making her seem unfit or stealing her thunder. A true princess uses her need to help build up those around her, knowing that they need the lessons of giving just as much as she needs to learn how to receive.

Real Princesses Appreciate Diversity

Who else has squid-men, hairy-faced people and blue antennaed mutants that they have to deal with on a daily basis? Well, certainly not Cinderella. But, let’s think about that. Would Leia judge Cinderella for her interest in rodents? Probably not. Would she make fun of Snow White for having a neat streak? I doubt it. Just because someone wants to be pretty, or sing constantly or ride in a nice carriage, doesn’t mean that they don’t have value. A true princess see the royal streak in every person she meets. Instead of judging people by how they look or their interests, she values them for their inner worth and how they share that worth with others.

Real Princesses Seek and Find Joy

A real princess knows what it’s like to dance with abandon, to laugh till she cries, to ride fast through the forest, to kiss the people she loves with her whole heart. Leia isn’t the only one who does this, though. Every princess, from Snow White to Elsa, is looking for their version of happiness. Whether that means finding a person to truly love, or finally accepting the fact that you can freeze dry the universe, each princess is seeking for deep happiness. And, you know what? Because they seek for happiness, they tend to find it. Real princesses eventually find that happiness isn’t something that was outside of them, but something that was always just waiting to be discovered inside of themselves.


P.S. – This is a coloring page! Print it out and color it in with your own little princess!


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