Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Hello, people.

It's been a while since we've spoken. I know, I know, but I haven't forgotten about you. I've just been dealing with the OTHER Big Thing in my life right now. Yeah, the one that starts with a C the size of Wisconsin. That one. But I'm still writing, though not as much as I'd like. And I'm still around if you ever feel like shooting me an email, friending me on Facebook, or tweeting @me. I've gone off the grid a little bit, and I'm not as easy to talk to these days, but I do appreicate every kind word, email, and tweet I've received. They mean worlds to me. Knowing that people still think of me and wish me well is an enormous gift, one I only hope I can repay someday. But enough of this sappy garbage. Onto the post in question. My friend Lincoln Crisler tagged me in his Next Big Thing post last week. So I am left with no choice but to pick up and carry the torch. I hope you enjoy my responses.

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Six Feet Underwater

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
I've been dealing with a lot of heavy emotional stuff lately. Not just the cancer thing, but also worries over what treatment will do to my body and my ability to have children in the future, as well as a bunch of crap relating to my ex/the current legal battle I am embroiled in with him. I've been reading nonfiction and some metafiction recently, and somewhere along the line it sort of congealed in my brain that a good way to sort through all of that junk was to sort of put it on someone else. So I created a fictional woman going through some of the same struggles I did/am. It became kind of a repository for my feelings and a way to look at them objectively and figure out where to go from there. Over time, it has evolved into, I think, an interesting almost/barely true narrative.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

That's tough. It's not exactly fiction, but it's not really autobiographical, either. Sure, there are some parts that are suspenseful, thrilling, and even horrific, but they aren't the kind of suspenses, thrills, or horrors people are used to from those genres, more the every day kind that everyone is exposed to at one point or another. So, I'm not really sure where it would fit, to tell the truth.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Gracie, my main character and pseudo self, would best be played by someone sweet and innocent, as that's more the point of view she takes in the work itself. I'm picturing Isla Fisher or Amanda Seyfried. I see Zachary Quinto as the antagonist. Gracie's best friend would be harder to cast. Someone with a good sense of comedic timing, but also the ability to come off as naive and supporting. Perhaps Jenna Fischer, Mary Lynn Rajskub, or Kristen Schaal.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Love, loss, betrayal and the horrors of everyday life.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Well, considering I'm not exactly done yet...

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Oooh, again, tough. A smattering of Brian Keene's Hail Saten, a touch of Jen Lancaster, even a bit of Doctor Phil.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Me, I guess. The best way I can sum it up is that it's the book I needed to write. It may honestly never see the light of day, making this whole thing somewhat irrelevant, but it has helped me tremendously to work on it, to sort things out in my head, to address things I left unresolved. So I did it for me, for my sanity, for my future and my own personal sense of self.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

This story is a lot more raw and real than anything else I've ever written. Instead of giant, throbbing space slugs taking over 1920s street urchins or zombie hordes clamoring for their next meal, it involves more real horror, dealing with things that most people have probably experienced in their own lives, or may be experiencing now. In a way, that's a lot harder to tackle. The big things, the scary boogey men, the vampires, monsters, aliens, and beasts, they go away when you turn on the lights. The real horrors are sometimes the things that remain once the darkness has retreated.

So that's it. That's what I'm working on. Sort of an update, I guess. At any rate, I was tagged and thus I must tag in return. I've chosen my friend and fellow NEHW member Patrick Rahall. Look for his entry on his blog next Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Terrible C Word (And it doesn't rhyme with 'hunt')

In late 2010, I had a headache. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking: Big whoop, take some aspirin and GTFO, right? But this wasn't just any headache. It was a supermegahyperawful headache. One so bad, I've referred to it as the "Cataclysmic Headache Event" ever after. Now, I am no pansy when it comes to pain. I've been high fived by bikers for giggling while being tattooed over my ribs/spine, I've broken and/or dislocated more bones than some mammals possess, and I tend to be, over all, pretty much of the "glue it back on, use duct tape to stop the bleeding, and suck it up" mentality. But this was different. This was a pain that stopped me, quite solidly, in my tracks. Now me being me, as soon as the pain let up I dismissed it as being an isolated incident. I'd just moved to a brand new city in a brand new state. I was starting my life over from scratch and working more than was healthy besides. That had to be adding up, right? That headache was the combined stress taking its toll, my body's way of telling me to take a day off and get some rest, which I did.
Fast forward a few weeks. I'm at work, doing my regular afternoon thing, when suddenly it's BACK! Like that monster movie slasher they should've decapitated before throwing into a wood chipper, the Headageddon has leaped from its hiding place and careened to the forefront of my consciousness. And just like said slasher, all I want to do is kill it with fire. And dynamite. And an entire fleet of battle ships. And the cast of The Walking Dead (Hey, Daryl is pretty badass...). But at any rate...
A friend of mine at work said that I should probably see a doctor about it, since it had happened more than once. I set aside my rampant dislike of all things medical and went to the walk in clinic down the road from the office. The diagnosis? A sinus infection. Yay? I took some antibiotics and bought decongestants like they were going out of style. That seemed to solve the problem, at least for a little while. Six weeks or so later, the headache came back. Again. It's hard to keep a good pain down, right? Or at least one that makes it feel like rabid wildebeests with adamantium claws who've had too much caffeine are careening around inside your skull and playing whirligig with your optic nerves. This time I said screw it, and I made an appointment with an actual doctor.
Doc said I had migraines, which was not at all surprising, as I had a few friends who'd suffered with migraines and that seemed to be their general consensus, too. But the medication they wanted me to take had lots of risks for nasty side effects and I wasn't too keen on the idea of taking medication every single day to prevent something that happened only once every couple of weeks. So I declined the prescription, read up on migraines, and did everything I could to avoid my supposed triggers. La la la, everything was super happypants and I pretty much forgot the entire thing had ever happened. I had so much going on it was easy to dismiss. A budding writing career, an active social life (read as: Swimming the shark and douchefish infested waters that are the Boston Dating Scene and having actual real life human friends to hang out with), two jobs and the life I was building for myself... Why worry about something that had been "fixed", right?
Hit that >> button on your remotes again, kiddos. Or, if you prefer, set your DeLorean to early summer 2012. I'd been living with my boyfriend for a few months. Life was good. I was beginning to settle in to a home, a life, something long term and stable. Happy. Generally, people who intend to reside in a place for a while have things like dentists and doctors. As I had played nomad for pretty much the entirety of my existence, this was a new concept for me. I was used to going to hospitals or clinics only when I was in dire straights, and relying on a combination of WebMD, Google, and the Whole Body department of Whole Foods whenever I was in minor discomfort. Check ups? Physical examinations? What was I, some sort of science experiment that needed to be monitored constantly lest I blow up and take out half of China?
As it turns out, yes.
I developed an unrelated, but unpleasant, persistent hacking cough. I went to an actual doctor in the actual town in which I actually lived to check out said cough. And the actual doctor, in feeling my throat for enlarged glands, found something. Nothing. Of course it was nothing. Just a lump. Thousands of people have lumps on their thyroids. Thyroid nodules are very common and increasing in numbers all the time. It was nothing to be worried about, despite the fact that I was a tad on the young side, because an overwhelming majority of those nodules (Upwards of 90%, I was told) are completely benign and require no treatment whatsoever. But, you know. Better safe than sorry, let's check it out. She talked me into an ultrasound of my thyroid "Just to rule it out". Sure. Fine. Whatever you want, Doc. At this point I wasn't even slightly worried. So they'd found a lump. That was nothing, right? The chances that it was actually something malignant were extremely low, minimal really, especially in someone my age with absolutely no family history of  cancer, thyroid or otherwise.
Ultrasounds are kind of unpleasant. Someone who pretty much refuses to meet your eyes lubes up some area of your body and rubs a cold metal device over it in order to obtain a picture of whatever is inside, be it a baby, a nodule, a tumor, the second coming of The Great Old Ones, your secret twin half brother from outer space... you know, the usual. The pictures get sent to someone else in a far away land for analysis and then sent back to your doctor, who then calls to tell you that yeah, good to have gotten it checked out, but it was totally benign and not even a little bit weird. Only that's not what happened in the version of this tale that resides in some approximation of reality. As it turns out, that megaheadpain in 2010 was the result of a tumor pressing up against my carotid artery, which impeded blood flow whenever my blood pressure spiked... which it did when I was stressed... which didn't really happen all that often... so it was easy to ignore...
The doc called me into the office for a conversation that went something like this:

"I received the results of your ultrasound this morning."
"They're... well, they're inconclusive. Irregular, but not really indicative of anything specific."
"We'd like to run more tests. You know, to rule things out. The chances of it being anything worth worrying about are very low, but we need to be sure."

And thus began a nightmare period of ultrasounds, CAT scans, and MRIs. They just kept coming back irregular but inconclusive. So my doctor made the decision to get A Specialist involved. I had a meeting with the specialist that went something like this:

"I looked at your ultrasound results myself before you arrived."
"They're irregular."
"So I've been told."
"That doesn't mean anything bad. Chances of it being malignant are very, very low. You don't have any risk factors and you're very young."
"I've heard that before, too."
"So, just to be safe, I'd like to do a biopsy."

They suck, like a wrathful vortex spawned by an unliving god from hell, they suck big time. 
A man you've never met before in a white coat comes in and stabs you in the neck with a local anesthetic. Then, while waiting for said shot to kick in, he proceeds to tell you how you have nothing to worry about, that he's done thousands of these and they almost always come back as nothing. (It's amazing to me how many times the words "nothing" and "nothing to worry about" were thrown around, but no one had said The Terrible C Word yet at all). You mutter something in response, being careful not to move your head because you've been positioned in such a way as to maximize exposure to your throat to the Big Scary Overhead Lights that remind you of alien autopsies, the X Files, and every other horrible dissection you've ever seen. After a few minutes, he pokes your neck again and asks if you can feel it. You mumble something dismissive that you don't really remember because right now all you're thinking about is how much you'd like to have this over and it wouldn't matter if they wanted to disembowel you with a rusty rake if they'd just do it already and let you out of this room. The guy in the coat holds your head down while he sticks a needle that's about 7" long into your neck and pokes around until he manages to spear the irregular looking mass, then he fiddles with it for a while, presumably to scrape cells into the end of the Giant Spearlike Needle Of Doom, while you try your best not to stare at the ultrasound screen behind your head, like some kind of window into your own guts, but it's really all there is for you to look at, and you can't bring yourself to look away cause the only other option is to close your eyes, and without the distraction of visual stimulus, you might be forced to think about what "irregular" really means, and why none of these doctors have been able to tell you anything conclusive after all these tests.
After Coaty McStabberson removes the needle, his assistant presses a swatch of gauze against your throat, checking it every few seconds to see whether or not it's still oozing blood. When she's satisfied that you aren't going to bleed out in the hallway once she removes her hand, she cleans off the area, slaps on a bandage, and releases you out into the world. To wait.
While you're waiting, your neck will swell up and bruise so that you look like someone finally had enough and tried to choke the life out of you. People WILL ask about it, so invest in scarves... either that or practice your autoerotic asphyxiation jokes.
So I had a biopsy. But that's not really a big deal, right? It was just to rule something out. Everything was fine.
Except it wasn't fine.
It was irregular.
Let's do another biopsy! Sing it, folks! Second verse, same as the first... only this time we want to be super duper sure we get oodles of tissue, so we've got a pathologist standing by! That means you have to hold still after we take the needle out, while the short guy in the corner looks at a slide of your very own tissue to be sure we have plenty of cells. Also, we're going to approach the mass from the OTHER side of your neck, just so we can be sure we've got a good angle on it. Oh, yeah, we're going to be working very close to your carotid artery this time, so be real careful not to move, mmmkay? And we have to press down on your windpipe for a minute, if that's alright? Just raise your hand if you start to feel faint.
I wasn't thrilled with the procedure the first time, the silver lining being that at least it was over and done with and I wouldn't have to go through it again. Surprise.
And so I waited.
And waited.
And on the third day, a phone call.
I really shouldn't have been surprised, I suppose. It's not like it was anything new. After all, I'd heard the word "Irregular" so many times I was starting to think I was judging a 4th grade spelling bee. So, once more, I had no answers. But this time, a question:

"So what now?"
"Well, the only way to be really sure is to get in there. Physically. Remove it."
"Remove what?"
"Half of your thyroid."
Half of my thyroid.
"Only half? Why only half?"
"Well, you have more nodules on the left side. The risks of surgery are much lower if we only take half. You might not even need replacement hormones."
"But what if you find something bad? What if it's cancer?"
"The chances of that are very, very low."
"But what if?"
"Then we'd need to go back in and remove the other half."
"And if it comes back fine, I'm done with this?"
"Well, no. There are nodules on both sides. We'd have to monitor them."
"Monitor them?"
"Biopsies every 6 months."
"Why not just take it all now and be done with it?"
"There are major risks involved."
"The way I see it, there are major risks either way, but taking the whole thing means it's done, right?"

And thus, on September 18th, 2012 I bid farewell to my thyroid, a gland that had been with me since birth and had served me fairly well for lo these many years, until it decided to get all lumpy and irregular. I'd have a scar. I'd have to take pills every day for the rest of my life. But the nightmare would be over, at least. No more worrying about what irregular meant, if every time it was a little hard to swallow or I coughed and my throat felt funny if it was cancer sinking its fangs into my neck. The scar would probably be minimal, and on someone as fair skinned as I am, maybe not even noticeable at all. From a distance. At night. If I wore a turtleneck. And a parka.
But that was OK, because it would all be well and good and after a week to 10 days of recovery time, I could get back to living my life as normally as I ever had, just with a few minor changes.
They still had to cut into the thyroid itself and poke around with their creepy little pathologist fingers to determine what the heck had gone wrong in the first place. But what did I care, right? The thing was out of me. I was free.
But I wasn't, you see.
I'm not.
That terrible C word has reared its ugly head for real this time.
Yes, I had thyroid cancer. Papillary Carcinoma, to be exact. And yes, it was removed in entirety along with my thyroid. I was cured. Completely free of cancer.
Well, free of THAT cancer.
There was another one.
What are the chances, right?
Pretty fucking astronomical, it turns out. 
In addition to the PapCar, I also have Follicular Thyroid Cancer. That's right. Have. As in still there, still in me. Waiting and growing and spreading. How far, I don't know yet. My medical team has opted to wait until I've been deemed healed from surgery before taking any further diagnostic or exploratory measures. How ironic is that? I have thyroid cancer still and I don't even have a thyroid anymore!

Thoughts and Feelings

I thought long and hard about what to say here. I still don't know for sure, but I decided to just start typing and see what happens, so here goes.

I drafted this blog post maybe 50 times. I've struggled with how much to make public vs how much to keep private, how personal I want to make this, whether or not I should give in to my impulse to hide away from the world and isolate myself completely or share everything and reach out to the friends/fans/supporters who are, by now, probably either wondering what happened to me or have moved on entirely.

I ranted a lot in previous drafts, venting my ire about how unfair it is that I have cancer and I'm not even 29 yet (That happens on Sunday. Happy Birthday.), how scary and awful and painful biopsies are, and how it feels to know that a part of your own body has gone rogue and executed strikes against you, then I shifted the other way and wrote about how strong I am, how I've always been strong, and how I won't let cancer change who I am as a person, but that's a load of mushy self affirming bullshit, regardless of whether or not it's true... and on top of it all, none of that felt quite right, so I scrapped it and started over.

I tried weaving the tale of how this whole mess began, starting with headaches in 2010 that were misdiagnosed as a sinus infection and migraines, all the way through this past summer when the true cause was revealed to be a large, cancerous tumor pressing against my carotid artery. I described the biopsy process, the countless MRIs, CAT scans and ultrasounds, the hell of waiting for results each and every time, and the crushing fear that came with each "irregular but inconclusive" result.

I talked about my surgery and how it ended up taking nearly 3 times as long as expected, how I suffered severe calcium deficiency right afterwards, and how I ended up with an infection (which happens in less than 2% of patients! Aren't I lucky?) which will probably result in an even uglier scar.

I described that fateful phone call, which came around 8:00 at night as I played Guild Wars 2 with my gaming buddies... the way it felt when my doctor told me I had not one, but two cancers and that one of them had spread beyond my thyroid. The way it crushed me to have my feelings of safety and relief (Thyroid's gone, that's the end of it!) ripped away and replaced with uncertainty and fear.

I tried all of these things and more, but none of them felt like the right thing to say.

I find myself fighting the urge to push people away, people I care about, people I trust, people I need to help me get through this, just because I don't want to make them worry and fret and stress. I've gone radio silent on Facebook and Twitter, and not just because I wasn't really feeling up to posting. I guess this blog post is a step towards trying to thwart that, a way of reaching out and letting people know what has been going on so I don't feel so alone. Although I fully admit the seclusion is of my own making and I still don't know if it's what I truly want or not. Part of me fears actually publishing this, because I'm not looking for attention or pity or for anyone to pat me on the head and go "There, there." But I'm not exactly sure of what it is I do want. I just know that I don't want to alienate people or leave those that might care in the dark.

So I guess that's all. Anyone who wants to contact me has the means to do so. I'm around.

And I'll be ok.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Review: Brian Keene's Sundancing

Sundancing by Brian Keene
65 Pages
Release Date: 8/15/2012
Available from Thunderstorm Books


Sundancing is part of Thunderstorm Books' third and latest Maelstrom set, an annual collection Keene himself oversees. This novella is exclusive to the collection and, according to the man himself, is the only edition of this particular work that will ever be published.
I'm a big fan of Brian Keene. You'll note that I didn't say I was a fan of his work, I said I was a fan of him. There's a difference. It's possible to appreciate the talent and artistry behind a volume of writing, a photograph, a song, but not really like its creator as a person. That isn't the case here, which is why I especially enjoyed this work of meta fiction.
I've read most of Brian's work, from the historical-esque worlds of Tequilla's Sunrise and Death Comes For All (Cowritten with author Steven L. Shrewsbury) to the gripping modern horror of Urban Gothic and Jack's Magic Beans, and the tales I've enjoyed the most are almost always the ones in which pieces of the author shine through like rays of sunlight through a dusty windowpane.
Ghoul (which was adapted for the small screen and aired earlier this year on Chiller and is also the focus of Sundancing) remains one of my favorite of his works due to how much of him is smeared, dripped, and sliced onto those pages. Portions of his childhood, things that developed him as a person and an author, veins that unite many of his works exist throughout Ghoul especially, but bits and pieces of these same themes are evident in several of his other tales and that's a big part of what really makes them special and what makes Sundance even moreso. It's a snapshot, a glimpse into the life of someone who is good to his fans, his freinds, his family. An author who knows where his heart is, and he pays tribute to that heart with every word of this 65 page novella. The way he describes and discusses Mary SanGiovanni, Keene's partner and fellow writer, made me smile. The love and admiration he feels for her glows on the page, you could almost see the smile on his face as he described her as "beautiful". But fear not, the book isn't all mushy lovey dovey stuff, there's a good deal of humor, excitement, adventure, and intrigue (And even a bit of Hollywood Glam) in these pages. I nearly cheered outloud when Keene taught a lesson to a pair of wannabe marketing all stars, and the geeky comic nerd in me smirked at his putting them in their place over Batman characters.
Keene relates to many other characters in the story in similar, but different ways. His friends are important to him. His fans mean more to him than just another tick on his list of books sold. He's the kind of guy I'd like to hang out with and have a chat over a platter of sushi and a glass of Wild Turkey (Rocks, of course. What's wrong with kids these days and their "twist" nonsense?), the kind of guy I imagine liking just as much if he weren't The Great Brian Keene and was instead Brian From Down The Street.

All in all, Sundancing is an excellent, quick read and highly worth picking up. And should you miss your chance to own it or need more incentive to shell out the dough, Mr. Keene has kindly put the first chapter up on his official website for everyone to enjoy.

Five Stars on The Walk of Fame out of Five.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Contest Entry

So Chuck Wendig, author of Blackbirds and 500 Ways To Be A Better Writer, had a little flash fiction contest on his website. Well, I like websites, and I love contests, so here is my entry. Enjoy!

She Will Live On

I felt like I was a little overdressed, and maybe I was. I could feel the eyes of the crowd on me, panning over my blue sequined miniskirt that had seemed so edgy and cool at my apartment and so over the top beneath the spotlights. I wondered if it really was too much under my ruffled satin shirt and cropped leather jacket, or if it was just nerves. This was my first night with the band, after all. I wondered what the crowd saw when they looked at me.
I took a deep breath and tried to swallow the butterflies that had made themselves at home in my guts. Was my hair too big? Maybe I'd gone a bit too far with the hairspray. What was it Nanny Fran used to say? The bigger the hair, the smaller your hips looked. Maybe I should’ve taken a shorter bath. Did my skin look a little pruny? Suddenly it didn't matter anymore. Johnny was tapping his drumsticks, our cue to intro.
I tapped my black leather ankle boots in time with the rhythm of Johnny's ivory wands. The chain harness swung against the hard sole, almost an instrument of its own.
One... two... three...four...
Tom came in with his guitar, playing cords as clear and sharp as shards of crystal. I could feel the beat pulsing in my chest, the vibe of the music was taking over. I shook my hair out as Drake stepped in on bass, thrumming deep notes I could feel in my bones. I nodded my head, red curls bouncing in time with Tara's tambourine, pretty little percussion with a purple rose on the drum head. Before I even knew I'd opened my mouth, the words of the song erupted over the worn wood of the stage, reaching beyond me into the sea of shadows that filled the bar like animals in a zoo, a half seen menagerie. I was electric. I was on fire.
Oh it's not the same, I've got no one to blame...
 I was omnipotent, I was ablaze. I was grinning from ear to ear, not at all out of place on stage with my band mates behind me, figures in black with glints of silver in their eyes. Tara couldn't even compete, elegant wonder she was, clad in a slinky black cocktail dress, dark mane shining in the light. The contrast between her creamy, milkshake pale skin and dark hair and clothing made her look like she'd stepped out of an old black and white movie. Her tambourine sparkled. Tom's guitar reflected the light, a red so deep it looked black, save for where the light hit it and made it look like pools of blood on asphalt. His stark white pick was a startling contrast.

All I feel is pain; I'm beginning to change...
The air hummed around us, I've never felt so alive. The music flowed through my veins, I was only a conduit, my voice completing a circuit from somewhere far beyond.
 And it's all I can do not to return to you... to you...
 The crowd is an ocean of darkness, murky pools of shadow around pairs of sparkling eyes. They move with the ebb and flow of the song, it's a melody we've all become a part of.
I just wanna be let loose!
The song swells to a triumphant end, Tom's guitar solo is a wonderful dessert, a perfect finale. Sweat sparkles on my skin like diamonds. I am bliss.
The owner of the bar comes over the sound system, his voice deep and throaty, wafting out of the darkness.
"Let's hear it for The Berettas, everybody! Performing tonight with for the very first time with their new lead singer, Cherilee Tanner!" The roar of applause is like thunder, the ocean in a storm. I'm smiling so wide my face feels like it might split. I take a bow with the rest of the band, my hair flipping over my head in front of me. I stand up so quickly I get light headed. Tom and Tara steady me with hands on my arms. They lead me back to the dressing room.
We all sit down on a shabby leather couch. I'm giddy. I see stars. There's a smile on my face as I look around the room at the other members of the band. I am so elated. I feel euphoric. After a while, that high wears off. Maybe it was all the booze, maybe I was just getting used to being a star.
I hug the others goodbye, Tom and Drake and Johnny and Tara. They all want me to stay a little longer, have a few more drinks, but I'm not feeling it. I was too tired, it was a very intense set.
I wind my way down the hallway at the back of the bar, towards the rear entrance where my car is parked. My little blue Datsun had never seemed so small. The walls were black with red trim. There were posters and pictures from other acts hung at odd intervals. Some were signed, some weren't. Near the end of the hall was a framed photo of The Berettas, Tom and Drake and Johnny and Tara were looking somber and dark, in front of them a girl with short blonde hair smiled over her shoulder. A purple rose stood out on her pale skin.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Doctors: Flash Story

Topic "Competitive Vivisection" as suggested by Garrett Cook.

The Doctors

Doctor James Vander scrubbed his hands vigorously, working the creamy pink soap into a rich lather over his skilled hands. Behind him, the door swung open, swooshing almost soundlessly on its oiled hinges. Jim glanced over his shoulder to see who had entered the clean room outside of the O.R. A smile tugged at one corner of his mouth, producing a sort of lopsided half grin on his thin face.

“How’re you, Kyle?” he asked, turning from the sink with his arms raised, hands held out in front of him as droplets of water gathered on his fingertips before falling to the green tiled floor. The newly entered doctor shrugged. “Same old, same old.” He said, stepping towards the great metal sink. “Marcy’s on my case about Kyle Junior’s behavior again. That kid has a bit of the devil in him, I swear!” Kyle shook his head, depressing the plastic pump on the bottle of soap with his wrist. Dr. Vander nodded sympathetically. “Kids’re tough.” He said.  “Do you remember what you were like at that age?” Doctor Kyle Jennings snorted. “Heh, yeah. Marcy doesn’t know how good she’s got it! I was a hell raiser back then!” “Me, too!” Jim laughed heartily, fingers splayed like a shadow puppeteer getting ready for a show.

“How is Marcy?” James asked, holding his hands out as a nurse placed a surgical mask over his ears and nose, tying the ribbons in back into little white bows behind his head. Kyle finished lathering his hands. Streams of warm water cascaded over them, rinsing the suds into the sink and whisking them down the drain. “She’s well. She’s been volunteering over at the library the past few weeks. It’s good for her, I think. Gets her out of the house. Say, you and Robin should come over for drinks sometime. Maybe next week?”

Jim Vander shook his head. “Can’t do next week.” He said, “Taking the wife down to Cabo. Maybe when we get back.” Jim pulled on a pair of sterile blue latex gloves, snapping them as he released the stretchy material. Bits of white powder briefly clouded the air around his hands before dissipating. The nurse had finished tying Dr. Jennings’ mask on. He donned his own pair of gloves before he and Jim turned and pressed their backs into the large double doors, pushing them open while preserving the sanctity of their gloves and face masks.

Two wide eyed teenage girls were strapped to twin exam tables in the center of the spotless operating room, thick bands of plastic wrapped tightly over their mouths. At the doctors’ entrance, they began to struggle anew, straining at the leather bonds that bound them to their respective tables. Next to each of the girls stood an instrument tray displaying a variety of sharp looking surgical equipment, sparkling under the bright lights that had come on overhead. Jim looked sideways at Kyle, eyes crinkling at the corners as he grinned. “Race ya!” he said, picking up a scalpel.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Black Bubbles by Kelli Owen

Black Bubbles by Kelli Owen
187 Pages
Release Date: 4/10/2012
Available from Thunderstorm Books and Amazon Kindle

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Kelli Owen's work. It all started back when I was a scared little girl in a Big New City who wandered into a little used book store while waiting for her take out sushi order to be ready. I happened upon a copy of Kelli's novel, Six Days, as I browsed the heavily stocked shelves of the tiny shop. I was drawn to it in part thanks to Russell Dickerson's awesome cover. Figuring it was worth the $5 investment (and boy was I ever right! I later found out that it was part of an extremely limited run from Thunderstorm Books' Maelstrom set and has since sold on ebay for over $200.00!) I paid for my prize and left. Back at the sushi bar, I sat down with my purchase (which I carried in a recycled shopping bag from a defunct home goods store) and began reading. I was instantly engrossed. Kelli has a way with words that few people are lucky enough to possess. As I've said before, she has a really remarkable talent for setting the scene, and the opening of Six Days completely drew me in, so much so that I actually sat there until I had finished the first three chapters despite the fact that my sushi was ready... and for those of you who don't know me, it takes something pretty remarkable to keep me away from sushi.

After I had read and thoroughly enjoyed Six Days, I was hungry for more. I hopped on to to check out what else she had available, and I highly recommend that you do the same, starting with the collection I'm reviewing (though it has taken me a bit to get to that, heh.), Black Bubbles.

As someone who works a day job, writes whenever she can, and somehow manages to squeeze in a social life including a boyfriend and two adorable dogs, I appreciate short story collections. I like being able to read a story from start to finish on my lunch break, before bed, or whenever I can grab a few minutes of spare time. Part of the price so often paid for this convenience is filler stories - not the author's best work, but included to pad the rest of the collection and satisfy whatever length requirements were set forth by the publisher. You won't find any of that here. Nosiree, Black Bubbles is 100% USDA Prime story telling. Every single story included in this volume is fantastic, diverse, and remarkably enjoyable. As much as I admire the awesome glittery toed gypsy that is Kelli Owen, I was not expecting the range of themes she was able to expertly pin to the page. I was blown away by how radically different, yet somehow wholly cohesive, this collection is. It runs the gamut from gory zombie stories to black humor, ghost stories, tales of serial killer depravity, and the horrors that can be found in every day life. Among my favorites (although it was really, really tough to pick just a few) were Spell (based on a Nick Cave song of the same name) which is an utterly heartbreaking story that does the song justice in a truly horrifying way, The Rabbit, which, though brief, is fascinating and dark, and the title story, Black Bubbles, which is utterly unique and completely terrifying. This is a collection you definitely don't want to miss. I can't give it high enough marks. Oh, hell, this is my blog, I can break my own rating system if I want to, and this is a book/ebook that most definitely warrants it.

6 Black Bubbles out of 5.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012


It's been 10 days since my initial post about my experiences with Undead Press. Other authors such as Mandy DeGeit and Lincoln Crisler shared their experiences as well, with Mandy's post going viral and thus drawing tons of attention to Anthony Giangregorio and the way he operates. Things got rather out of hand when good ol' Tony G. sent me a veiled threat via Facebook. I won't lie, it was scary. I felt incredibly naive for having given him all of my information on both the cover letter I sent with my submissions and the contract I signed for both anthologies. I have since gotten a P.O. Box and will be using that for all professional correspondance. While I know that the issues I experienced with Tony were one case, one isolated incident, I plan to be a lot more cautious going forward, not only in regards to being far more selective about who I send personal information to, but also in regards to where I send it, as well as my work.
I'd like to say that if I had done my homework and googled Giangregorio, Undead Press, or Open Casket that it might've prevented me from sending in my stories, but in all honesty, I doubt it. I was (and yes, I still am) a hungry young writer. A publisher, albeit a small, local one (local for me, anyway... which made that threat all the scarier) actually went out of his way to ask ME to submit something. There really wasn't much thought required. I jumped at the chance, as I know far too many young writers are willing to do. I know that hunger well. I experience it daily. That burning, powerful desire to see your name in print can overwhelm all else, including common sense, if you let it. It's so very easy to succumb to that bitter temptress, the one that whispers things like "Sure he screwed around with other people's work... but that was them! I'm sure you'll be fine!" and "It doesn't matter what happens, it's YOUR NAME IN PRINT!" But I'm here to tell you not to listen. Pay attention to the reputations of the markets you're submitting to. We live in a wonderful age of free information that is readily available at all of our fingertips 24/7. There is absolutely no reason NOT to research a publisher before sending something in. Don't fall victim to your own desire to be published. It's like anything else, if you're patient and persistent, and if you practice your art until you've honed your skills, you'll find a home for your labors. More importantly, it'll be the right home, hopefully with an editor who knows what editing means, one who respects you and the effort you put into those words and will work with you to clean up any rough edges or awkward phrases. It's worth the wait, I promise. Yes, I had one negative experience, sure, but I've also had positive ones.
Matt Nord at Collaboration Of The Dead is just one example. They published my very first printed work, 78154, in the anthology So Long And Thanks For All The Brains. Matt was a consummate professional. He kept in touch with all of the authors during the process, provided updates and proofs, and edited the works involved without changing the authors' words. He was a pleasure to work with and I do hope one day to work with him again.
Good publishers/editors/human beings are out there, you just have to be willing to work to get to them, and not to sell yourself short for a shot at seeing your name on a TOC. As a friend of mine once said, Make sure the publisher is worthy of your talent.

As a post script, the amazing Mandy DeGeit has published the story that started it all, She Makes Me Smile (this time without the unnecessary apostrophe) as originally written. It's available on Amazon. She intends to use the profits to pay the authors associated with Cavalcade Of Terror as well as hiring a lawyer here in Mass to help with legal issues stemming from Undead Press's treatment of its authors. Please make a purchase. Not only is it for a good cause, but it's from a great new author who is sure to go places.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Suffering in Silence

A few months back, I wrote a two part short zombie-esque story entitled "Rejuvenation/Rejuvenated". I liked the story from the moment I got the idea. I thought it would be cool to show what the scenario looked like from multiple perspectives without retelling the same thing. I finished the story and began looking for a market for it.

I had previously placed a different short story of mine, Finishing Last, with Open Casket Press in an anthology called Women Of The Living Dead. I hadn't gotten galleys or been allowed to review my work before it went to print, but I didn't think much of it. After all, I was (and am) still pretty new to the publishing world, what did I know? I read my story after the book was sent to me (I didn't even know when it went to print, let alone when it would be available) as my payment for that story had been a contributor's copy. There were a few sentences that had been rewritten, but on the whole it seemed fine. I added the story to my bibliography after tracking down the link on by myself.

Later on, publisher/editor of that anthology posted on facebook about another book he was working on, a project tenatively titled "Zombie A Day". I sent him one story I'd done a while back entitled "Blind". He accepted and asked if I had anything else. I mentioned the two part story I'd finished and he said he'd like to read it. I sent it to him, hope shining in my eyes like the eager little writer worm I was. He liked it, and wanted to print it, but not as I had intended. There was a bit of back and forth between he and I about combining the stories into one, which I didn't want to do, as I liked the idea of keeping them separate but related.
A short time later, he announced that he hadn't gotten enough material for the proposed Zombie A Day collection, but would be printing my stories in another anthology called Zombie Tales. I was thrilled, as I had found a home for not one, not two, but three stories... Or so I thought.

The anthology was released under the name of a different publisher, Undead Press, and my story was no longer my story. It had been butchered. I sat in my livingroom with one of the 6 copies I had purchased, flipping through the pages, eager to see my words in print... only they weren't my words. It wasn't even my TITLE. Parts of my story had been cut out, names and details had been changed, things I was never made aware of and had never agreed to. I sat there in numb shock. Here was my name, attached to a story I no longer felt connected to. People were going to read this, it might be their first, possibly only, exposure to my work and what they were going to find were the words the editor had ascribed to me, which were very different from my own. My heart sank. I threw the book at the wall. What the hell was I going to do?

In the end... I did nothing. I bit my tongue and kept silent about my interactions with Anthony Giangregorio and Undead Press/Open Casket. I was afraid that he, as a publisher, would somehow blackball me within the industry if I spoke up or opened my mouth in any way. So I didn't say a word to anyone other than my close friends and family. And I'm sorry for that, because the very same thing happened to a friend of mine just recently. Mandy DeGeit had a story published in Undead Press's Cavalcade of Terror, which was similarly mistreated. I learned my lesson about being quiet. If someone does you an injustice, murders your artistic creation and sews the pieces back together in some sort of Frankenstein's Monster parody of your original work, speak up. SHOUT. Tell everyone you know and ask them to tell everyone THEY know. Get the word out. Don't let this kind of thing happen to others. The industry as a whole suffers when tainted by the warped vision of one so-called "Editor" who thinks he has the right to make changes to your vision without consulting you.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lost In Translation: A practical guide to bleeding on the page

I can't tell you how many times, both as a writer and as a reader, I've come across the phrase "Bleed on the page". I know what it means... it means using your emotions to help you build richer, more detailed, more engrossing characters. But how? I've struggled with this myself, so I decided to share what I've learned with all of you.

Firstly: You & Your Emotional Well: Get to know yourself. Believe it or not, this will not only help you become a better writer, but a better person in general and that's not a bad goal to strive for. Get in touch with who you are and be HONEST with yourself about it. I'm going to admit, right here on a public forum, that I am overly sensitive, I dwell on things, I haven't developed a very thick skin, and maybe I never will. But that's OK. It may not be great, but it's part of who I am as a person and as a writer. That doesn't mean that I won't stop working on those things, but it does mean that I'm acknowledging and accepting them as they are right now and what's more important, I'm developing ways to use those attributes to my advantage. It means that I have a very deep emotional well from which to draw, whereas someone who doesn't let things affect them as much might have to dig a little deeper to bring those feelings forth. That's fine, those people have their advantages as well. In my case, the main drawback is that because I am so very sensitive, I tend to lose sight of what it is I'm trying to do (namely, experience certain feelings to help surround myself with the right mentality to write a certain character in a certain way) and I tend to get stuck in circles of beating myself up over whatever the issue was in the first place. Pay attention to how you react to things, get a feel for how you will likely respond to certain situations, and learn from that.

Secondly: Taking the You out of Using Your Emotions: As I mentioned above, I have a tendency to beat myself up. A lot. It sucks, because quite frankly, it's a waste of time, it's not at all productive, and all it does do is end up making me feel bad, which has the sort of ripple effect I'm sure you've all experienced. One of my characters just made a horribly insensitive comment she meant as a joke, but someone took offense. Ok, that's happened to me before, how did it make me feel? Like hell, in a word (Ok, that's actually two words). But let's dig deeper than that... let's get to the root of it... and along the way, let's remind ourselves that this is about OUR CHARACTER, NOT US. Yes, we had those experiences, and yes they were unpleasant, but rather than getting caught up in that mess and remembering exactly how that coworker/friend/guy on the street looked at us and how it made us feel like Hannibal Lector crossed with Ted Bundy's evil(er) twin, remove yourself from the equation. Sometimes it helps me to visualize someone else entirely taking my spot in that particular interaction, usually it's my character. I push my brain into replacing things in the scene, slowly rewriting it to make it my own. Instead of me standing there with my foot in my mouth like some sort of contortionist, it's the character. Instead of my boss/pal/cute boy, it's a character from a movie or TV show. Instead of a conference room, it takes place in a pool, or a circus, or some other ridiculous, silly backdrop. The reason for this is that it sort of tricks my brain into seeing the situation in a new light, one that falls outside of me and my emotions and helps me look at the situation more objectively and shift the focus onto the feelings and reactions in general, and thus apply them to my character without getting caught up in that whirlwind of negativity. As an aside, and sort of a self help-y thing that I've found beneficial in general, I may spend a minute or two reflecting on the situation, what I've learned from it, and how I could have handled it better or would handle it now that I'm beyond it. I know that hindsight is 20/20, but it does sometimes help me put the issue to bed, at least for a little while.

Thirdly: Real experience is gained through trial and error, and I find that I learn more from my failures than my successes. It's this experience that takes your characters from one dimensional, flat lifeless things and helps you transform them into realistic, three dimensional, beings that show all the emotional qualities of a living breathing person. This vastly improves the believability of your work, that "suspension of disbelief" thing we're always striving for as writers. How many times have you been reading and stopped to say something along the lines of "Pffft, people don't act like that!" or "That's not realistic..."? It interrupts the flow of the story, doesn't it? You don't want that. Ideally, what you should be striving for is a story that holds your readers engrossed from beginning to end. When people call things into question, not only does it lend a bit of negativity to the atmosphere in general, but it causes them to be sucked out of the world you've created and be simultaneously thrust back into the one in which we all dwell. Not good. Essentially, there's more to a good story than just plot, characters, and conflict. What takes a piece of writing from good to great has a lot to do with how easy it is to lose yourself in the world the author has created for you. Bringing your own experiences to your writing helps make that possible. I'm convinced that the whole "Write what you know thing" relates to this concept. Being able to give depth to your environments, your characters, your situations is a skill that comes with time and practice, honed by translating things you know and things you've experienced into things your characters do and say and how they react. It's just that simple. Your own emotions and experiences become the paint by which to color your world and all of the creatures in it.

Lastly: This one has more to do with you as a person than as a writer... It's OK to let stuff go, alright? Easier said than done BELIEVE me, I know... but all told, definitely worth working on. Not everyone is going to love you, like you, or even tolerate you, not even your friends and family will 100% of the time (Unless they're robots, in which case why are you reading this instead of taking over the world with your robot army?) but that doesn't mean they don't like you, and it doesn't mean you suck. It may mean that you have conflicting opinions, it may mean that they don't see where you're coming from or you don't see where they are, or it may just be that one of you is in a shitty mood (Remember in the "Secondly" portion when I talked about that ripple effect?) Try not to take things personally, ok? Learn from your mistakes and try to be the best person you can, and in the end, be proud of yourself for what you've done well and forgive yourself for the things you haven't. As I'm struggling to get through my own thick skull, no one is perfect, and those that are close weren't born that way.

Do you have tips/hints/suggestions on any of this? What strategies have worked for you? Leave comments in the section below.

As always, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I am...

Below you will find a long overdue homework assignment from the fabulous Kelli Owen.

Enjoy, and while you're at it, why not do one of your own?

I AM...

I am loyal, sometimes to my own detriment. I am an adventurous eater. I am an avid lover of sushi, flan, watermelon, sharpies, cream cheese frosting, and the color blue. I am an odd girl who likes to sing dorky songs into makeshift microphones (hairbrushes, wooden spoons, etc) when no one's around. I am a writer. I am creative. I am hopeful. I am honest. I am hard working. I am passionate. I am a second generation American. I am a sister. I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am a coworker. I am a tweep. I am fan of many various things, odd and sundry. I am a crafty individual who loves taking on new projects and making things for other people. I am intelligent. I am patient. I am lost in my own head sometimes. I am sensitive. I am shy, though I try to hide it.
I am going to have many more things published. I am going to have a novel with my name on it someday. I am a dreamer. I am an empath. I am sometimes lonely. I am protective of the people I care about. I am a decent baker and an even better cook. I am an artist. I am a strange person. I am a singer. I am a painter. I am a sculptor, even if my medium is silly putty, play-doh, or gum (eeeewe!). I am an attention whore, despite being shy. I am usually the first to volunteer when someone asks for assistance. I am strong, even when I don't want to be. I am the eldest of 4, though I have very little contact with my siblings. I am a former military brat, wannabe actress, cheerleader, and pageant girl.
I am prone to long stretches of listening to the same music for weeks at a time. I am an avid reader. I am a registered voter. I am a licensed driver. I am a phoenix, risen from the ashes of a burned down life not once, not twice, but three times. I am a hopeless romantic. I am a big fan of love letters. I am trusting and maybe a little naive. I am a sucker for compliments, especially if they are sincere. I am a horrible liar. I am almost completely unable to hide my emotions, especially from those I care about. I am vulnerable. I am a little out of shape. I am courageous. I am trying to be more polite and courteous. I am open minded. I am naturally blonde.
I am caring. I am devoted. I am a good friend. I am good at origami. I am accident prone. I am not easily frightened. I am creeped out by giraffes, oilskin, and canada geese. I am an animal lover, especially dogs, birds, and crustaceans. I am thoughtful. I am observant, though my perception is very, very low at times. I am incredibly fond of almond flavored things, cherries, and fresh fruit. I am a big kid who likes to play with legos, draw pictures of silly things, and dress up. I am a big zombie fan. I am really pleased with my makeup skills, though I have no intentions of stopping where I am or giving up on learning new techniques. I am industrious. I am a jury rigger. I am ½ english, ½ russian, and all bad ass.
I am proud of myself. I am a published author. I am a survivor. I am capable, bold, brave, and determined. I am unable to spell the word "piece" without remembering "Piece of Pie". I am also unable to tell left from right without doing the little L thing with my fingers. I am a harsh critic, though I try not to be mean spirited or cruel. I am a computer nerd. I am blue eyed, though there is a tiny copper ring around my irises due to a blood condition. I am capable of great things. I am able to cut myself, by accident, with things one would normally consider safe (tupperware, chopstics, pudding cups). I am thankful for the wonderful friends I have, all of the positive experiences I have shared with them, and the gifts and surprises the future will bring me.
I am also done with this entry.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Guest Post from Thea Isis Gregory - The Horrors Of Raw Meat

There aren't a whole lot of other female zombie writers out there. Which is really sad, considering how very awesome my friend, Thea Isis Gregory is. Check out her guest post below, follow her on twitter, and like her on Facebook. You won't regret it! This chick has a mastery of gore, zombies, and the sort of storytelling that will keep you awake at night, wondering if every bump and groan isn't a hoarde of hungry undead....

The Horrors Of Raw Meat by Thea Isis Gregory

As an enthusiastic cook and a horror writer, I have a number of body parts in my freezer. Not human, of course, but enough that my hoard of meat seems like a monument to the macabre. The inspiration for horror that I find in meat is not the having, it’s all found in the preparation of the raw flesh.
Home butchering gives you the rare opportunity to observe the dead, and handle a carcass. Of course, the end goal is the meal, why waste an opportunity to learn more about the textures, sensations and contents of a body?
One of the best creatures for home study is a simple whole chicken and turkey. In addition to being delicious and economical, chicken carcasses have skin, joints and flesh that can be manipulated and studied. Cutting through and hitting bone, and observing meat grain were the important lessons with whole raw poultry. I even used the skin in one instance to describe a zombie attack on an elderly woman in Locked In. The paper-think skin was such an apt comparison. Pork has been lauded as the most human-like meat. I enjoy examining its different grains, the fatty deposits. Bone-in roasts present another important morsel for observation: the large bones and joints. The bones of a large mammal are a much closer comparison to those of a human. In many ways, I find pork to be the most gruesome of meats for just that reason.
Offal (heart, kidneys and liver) are good for insight into that perfect dismemberment scene. Heart muscles are smooth and yet have a texture distinct from any other muscle. Liver is slimy, slippery and sticks to your hands. Kidneys are firm, dense and crunch when you cut into them. The internal organs run the gamut of shapes and textures.
In the end, conscientious experimentation is the best way to get the hands-on experience that helps with description and getting the gore well-researched and just right. Do not try this on humans—it’s illegal and messy. Otherwise, get a good filet knife and dive right in, just make sure to wash your hands and sanitize after handling raw meat.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Exclusive Interview with Mary SanGiovanni

For those of you who haven't yet been introduced, Mary SanGiovanni is a unique voice in the world of modern horror. Her works include The Hollower  its sequel, Found You, and Thrall as well as several appearances in periodicals and anthologies and a novella entitled For Emmy. Mary has a unique writing style and an incredible ability to bring you into her world utterly and completely. She wraps you in a blanket of carefully woven suspense, intriguing characters, flowing dialogue and immersive landscapes. If you haven't yet read her works, I highly suggest you do. This is one author who deserves a place on your bookshelf.

Alyn Day: What inspired you to become a writer?

Mary SanGiovanni: I think it was a couple of different things -- my father was one. He used to tell me science fiction stories from Asimov and Herbert. He told me about these sweeping epic worlds that people had created, and, having been a big fan of the Vivid Imagination Home Movie myself, I thought writing my own stories and sharing them with the world would be great. I also have to credit Stephen King, of course -- mostly because of his nonfiction about the joy of creating, and the life he had as a result.

I never set about looking to be rich and famous -- just comfortable and well-read. That, to me, is writing success.

AD: What are some of your favorite books?

MS: Skeleton Crew, Houses Without Doors, Ghost Story, Shutter Island, Enduring Love, IT, The Shining, The Exorcist III, and damn near anything Lovecraft.

AD: What are some of your inspirations?

MS: I'm a very visual writer, I think, so I find visual media most inspiring. Sometimes when I'm stuck on something, I try to work it out in computer art or painting, and then write off what I see. Sometimes I go surfing for images online -- photography, art, even video game stills -- to get concrete visual details.

AD: What is your favorite food?

MS: Pretzels. I also love chicken lo mein and pretty much any kind of seafood.

AD: What is your favorite movie?

MS: I have two: In The Mouth Of Madnes and Session 9.

AD: How long have you been writing?

MS: I've been writing something or other since I was little, but I've been writing seriously, with the intent to be published, since about 1999.

AD: What can you tell me about your current projects?

MS: Currently, I'm working on a third Hollower book due out later this year, called THE TRIUMVIRATE. I am also working on a short story for an anthology, a possible novella, and another novel I'd like to have finished by the end of this year. I think 2012 will be a productive year.

AD: How do you feel about the trend of writers self-publishing their work?

MS: My feelings on this have changed over time. Coming up in the business, we were always told this was a bad way to go if you wanted a serious career as a writer. But really, to have a career as a writer at all, you need to adapt with the continually changing landscape of publishing. I think we're in a unique position now as writers to pioneer the new technology available to us for reaching wider audiences and promoting ourselves and our work. I think self-publishing can be a viable option for writers in certain cases. If you have an established fanbase, for one, and find that traditional publishers at this point can't offer anything you can't get yourself. Also, certain genres (I'm thinking SF, for example) are tough to break into, and even magazines look for a writer to have a following before publishing their short fiction. I think self-publishing could work there, too, in helping to establish a platform and sales figures/fanbase to show potential publishers. However, I think self-published writers absolutely need to be great promoters (which I am not - heh) of their own work. They need to make sure they have as much editorial gateway as they can, to assure they're putting out the best quality product, and they need to be somewhat tech savvy. I think traditional publishers should still be considered, though. The thing is to see where your time and energy are best spent, without sacrificing the old mantra that money should always flow TO the writer.

AD: Do you listen to music while you write? If so, any favorites?

MS: You know, it's funny; I used to. I can't now, I think, because I like to sing, and the lyrics distract me from writing. I tried just listening to instrumental stuff, but strangely enough, I found what works best for me is something droning on the TV behind me. I guess I do like words in the background, just not words that will distract me from my own.

AD: Any words of advice for authors who are just starting out?

MS: "Write what you know" really means "Write what is close to your heart." And if you write what is close to your heart, finish it. Always finish it. Believe in the stories you're telling. Do not let rejection slow you, let alone stop you, because it happens to everyone. Read as much and as widely as you can, and know your genre. Listen to those who came before you (their experience is valuable), but also consider the ideas of those who come after you (their fresh perspective is also valuable). When you write, make sure you're saying something, even if you're just saying "let's have fun for a while." Carry yourself with dignity and respect online and off, but don't forget to be just you. And be patient.

AD: How do you want to be remembered?

MS: I'd like to be remembered as a woman with a beautiful soul, a woman whose love for her child and family and friends was a treasure, a woman who made others smile. And hell, I'd like to be remembered as a good writer, a significant contributor to the body of horror literature I love so much. I'd like there to be those young people who have my books and wish they could have met me at least once in person to chat about them.

AD: If you couldn’t write horror, what would you write instead?

MS: Thrillers. In lieu of that, if thrillers are too close, probably fantasy. I think it would also be fun to write a western, maybe.

AD: Any last words, anything you'd like to share?

MS: Just thanks for interviewing me.
A great big THANK YOU! to the lovely Mary SanGiovanni for participating in this interview.

You can find out more about the very talented Ms. SanGiovanni at her personal website.Many of her works are available for purchase through