Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Social Media is broken...

I know you're all looking at this post title going..."what is she on about? Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/(insert other social media site I am oblivious to) is working fine." Yes, the sites might be working fine, no glitches, no outages, but I'm talking about our use of said sites. So maybe I should have titled this little rant "people are broken." I'm not alone in stating recently I decided to limit my use of Facebook. I check my notifications, I sometimes scroll through my newsfeed, but I've snoozed/unfollowed/unfriended a vast number of people. I only stop to read the posts that are about people's personal lives/careers/kids, funny memes, animal pictures, and recipes. I've subscribed to several motivational pages in an attempt to lighten my newsfeed. I'm so tired of the ranting/complaining/whining and sheer hatred I'd been seeing every day. It's funny, my mother used to tell me, "if you can't say something good, don't say anything at all." And though she meant it in regards to commenting on other's appearances, I think it kind of applies in this situation. WTF is up with all the negativity?

"Oh that," you say. Because I know you feel me here. Sadly, some of you reading this are probably offenders. I get that a vast majority of people are unhappy with the political and social climate of the country, and I'm not even going to go there because I try so hard to keep Politics, Religion, and Meanness off of my wall/blog/Twitter.

 "But, Stacey," you whine. "Things are SO bad. And people need to KNOW." Newsflash: People already KNOW. We read/watch the news ourselves and form our own opinions. "But maybe they didn't see this article!" Ah, but maybe you didn't see THIS article. Let's face it, you can find articles/videos/news reports/statistics to back up every side of every argument if you look hard enough. And the real truth is: you aren't going to change anyone else's opinion by blasting yours all over the place. Seriously. Especially, if you're nasty about it. Not even once have I read a rage filled rant on the internet that countered my own views and thought, Man, that person is so right! And neither has anyone else. In the history of ever. All you are going to get from that post is either people who share your views posting comments equivalent to, "Hells yeah, bro!" or the opposite, "Shut the F*ck up, you moron!" Because negativity breeds negativity. And hate? Well that breeds more hate. So why the hell are so many of you spreading that shit around? Who has convinced you that divisiness and sheer fury are going to heal our country? Because that shit is the real fake news.

And don't even get me started on the people from other countries doing it. Sorry, guys. I LOVE my foreign friends and followers, but tend to your business. Isn't there a saying about glass houses and stones? There's not one country on this planet currently that is problem free. There are skeletons in every continent's closet if you dig deep enough.

"Stacey, this is most unlike you. What prompted this little outburst?" you ask. I could make you a powerpoint presentation, complete with color coded handouts, but since we are all also pressed for time (I'm like a super busy author, don't you know?), I will make it short. The tipping point today was my Twitter feed. I logged on because I wanted to see what some other authors were tweeting. I don't really focus on my tweeting much, but decided I need to up my game before the new releases I have coming out. But instead of seeing awesome tweets by people much farther along in their careers, all I saw was politics. Either their own tweets, or retweets of others. It made me sad. I don't read your books because of your opinions on politics or religion or vegetarianism or even if you got your kids vaccinated. I read your books because I enjoy them, and often in spite of those other things (although, I don't know if I could set aside the vaccination one, but that's a personal trigger). So I want to hear about your process, your life, your next book, what films you've liked recently, what books you read. Simple stuff. Good stuff. Happy stuff. And if you want to give me a serious opinion on something? How about which charities you support and why you think they're worthy.

Okay, rant over. I had to get that off my chest, because sometimes that's how you let it go. "Why don't you just stay off social media," you casually suggest. I try to. Honestly, my amount of time spent on those sites has dwindled measurably in the last year. But I pop on to check out some groups I'm in, catch up with a few friends, look at videos of my grandbabies, and hopefully post something that makes people smile. Sure, sometimes I post about being chronically ill or in pain, but I try to make is casual. I'm not asking for sympathy when I do so, though a bit of empathy would be lovely. But I post to let myself and others know that we are not alone in this battle. So many people with serious health issues (and especially work from home creative types) have a tendency to be isolated. Whether by choice, or circumstance, it can be lonely. So I hope that people can connect with my posts. If even one person laughs, I've made the world a little brighter. And gosh knows, we could use some light nowadays. Happiness is a choice, but it's also a lot of work somedays. I'm trying to do my part. Join me, won't you?

I really do 💗 you guys. Well, most of you anyway.

💋 Stacey

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Did You Know There Are Travel Sites Dedicated to Visiting Cemeteries?

Well, did you? Why didn't I know this?

I've always been fascinated by cemeteries, the older the better. My Grandma's house was near the oldest cemetery in Quincy--Woodlawn Cemetery, and we used to go there and play hide and seek when I was young. Once, my uncle took my cousins and I to the cemetery at dusk, told us a vampire story, and then drove off and left us. (This explains quite a bit about me.) I have been known to stop the car and venture through a cemetery or two, taking photos and soaking up the atmosphere. My husband and I used to picnic in the cemetery. He's used to my brand of weird. But, apparently I'm not the only one with this fascination. Imagine how stoked I was to find out an author I know wrote a book, 199 Cemeteries to see before you die? Super stoked! And, she graciously wrote a blog post for us today! So without further ado, here's Loren's explanation for why she likes cemeteries and visits as many as she can~

I got started vacationing in graveyards by accident.  I mean, it wasn’t like I’d never been to a cemetery before.  I’d been to the graveyard where my grandfather was buried.  My family had visited John F. Kennedy’s grave in Arlington and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg.  After the junior prom, my date organized a field trip to take prom pictures on the steps of a local mausoleum. I’d gone to sit in the graveyard down the road when I needed a quiet place away from my parents.

Still, it seemed breathtakingly weird when my husband decided he would rather see Highgate Cemetery than visit the Tower of London. I’d bought a book of luminous black-and-white photos of Highgate in the tourist bookstore in Victoria Station, but I’d never considered spending one of the limited days of our unexpected trip to London to poke around a graveyard.

To my delight, Highgate Cemetery was glorious.  The cemetery had been all but abandoned by the 1970s, when parts of Taste the Blood of Dracula were filmed inside it.  Real-life vampire hunters had broken open tombs and staked corpses before the Friends of Highgate Cemetery formed to rescue the place.  When my husband and I visited in 1991, parts of the cemetery were being maintained as managed woodland.  Ivy crawled over the marble angels.  Hedgehogs and foxes roamed between the headstones. A feral cat befriended us: my first cemetery cat, although certainly not the last. Overall, even on a blustery, gray day in January, Highgate Cemetery was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen. That beauty inspired me to want to see more cemeteries.

Once you start to notice, people really are buried just about everywhere. Every tourist destination has a cemetery, from New York City to Paris to Honolulu. Some tourist destinations are tombs: the Great Pyramids of Egypt or the Taj Mahal, for instance. There are permanent residents in museums, houses of worship, ghost towns, battlegrounds…even in national parks. You may have already visited someone’s grave without giving it a second thought, if you’ve been to Pompeii or Westminster Abbey or the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

But why would anyone go out of their way to visit a graveyard intentionally? In addition to the fascinating stories they contain, cemeteries can be open-air sculpture parks full of one-of-a-kind artwork. They provide habitats for birds and wildlife.  They can be gardens of surprising beauty. Cemeteries appeal to art lovers, amateur sociologists, birdwatchers, master gardeners, historians, hikers, genealogists, picnickers, and anyone who just wants to stop and smell the roses. Our relationships with the places we visit can be deepened and enriched by learning the stories of those who came—and stayed—before us.

Why visit cemeteries?  Because every day above ground is a blessing.  Because there is no better place to feel alive than a graveyard.  Because people visiting cemeteries tend to be on their best behavior.  Because there’s something really healing in breathing fresh air, looking at green grass, and listening to the birds sing.  Because life is short and that is the most beautiful thing of all. A little reminder never hurts.


Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She writes about graveyards for the Horror Writers Association and blogs about cemeteries as vacation destinations at

You can find her books on Amazon, or by clicking these links. 199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel

Thanks for joining us today. I'll try to get better at blogging so it's not a year between posts this time. 🙂

Happy Reading,
💜 Spot

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

And sometimes you have to tell the truth...

This is a blog post that I’ve put off writing as long as possible. Why, you ask? For many reasons. The first being that it’s one bad spot in a year of otherwise positive happenings and I’d much rather focus on them. The second being I want to keep the blog post professional, but the feelings are very personal. It’s not just about shoddy business practices, it involved a betrayal of trust and the demise of a friendship (or what I thought was a friendship). So I’m not going to mention people by name, most will know who I’m referring too, but that’s to help me separate emotion from fact. So here is the story (bear with me, it's a long one)…

Once upon a time, star date 2014, a publisher realized she could no longer keep her business afloat. There was very little money coming in, she’d spent a shit ton of savings keeping it going, put in long hours, struggled, and things just weren’t getting any better. And if she was honest with herself, she should NEVER have been in the business to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, her heart was in the right place, she was good at certain aspects (but not so good at others), and she’d made some invaluable friendships along the way. But you can’t pay your own bills or anyone else’s with good intentions or friendship. She had good ideas, she was very good at working with people (authors, cover artists, other editors, other publishers), she was a good editor (and hopefully helped a few authors become better), she had a fantastic cover artist, help from her sister, and she actually had great math skills. But she did not have good business sense, unlimited amounts of money, or great marketing skills. Those three things are must haves for publishers, or, if you have the second, you can hire people who have the other two. She sometimes pushed book releases back, was sometimes a few weeks late with contributor’s copies, and was sometimes late with royalty payments, though she always paid them. 

So our publisher realized she would have to close up shop. She felt awful about books she’d recently released and one she was currently working on. So she looked around to try to find another publisher who might take these projects on. And she thought of friend who had just that year opened a new publishing company with a friend of his. Talks commenced and they agreed to buy (a word only, no money changed hands) her little company and make it an imprint. And then they asked her to come along and be the managing editor for the imprint. What a stroke of luck!! They were going to re release her latest projects (two novels and two anthologies), publish the upcoming ones (two anthologies and a YA novel (who's author later pulled her book)), and she had a job. Granted, the job wasn’t going to pay much, but a lot of their other employees were working for free, so yay! And her friend was going to be her boss. Problem solved. *sigh* Enter problems stage left.

Skipping back several months, the same publisher had put on her editor/author hat and come up with the anthology idea for Grimm Mistresses. She had a novella length work that had never been published, a modern take on the tale of the Pied Piper. She had an author friend who’d once subbed a modern Cinderella tale to her that could be lengthened. What if she asked three other female authors she admired to contribute modern retelling of Grimm fairy tales? What an awesome book that might be. HOWEVER, since she had a story she wanted to include, she didn’t want to be the editor, nor the publisher. That screamed “vanity press.” So she approached that same friend and his new publishing company and asked if he would be interested in the project. After all, they’d done several anthology projects together. And he was. He told her to go ahead and invite the other authors, and they had more talks and set up due dates and time lines. She invited CW LaSart (the author of the Cinderella story she already had), Allison M. Dickson, Mercedes M. Murdock, and one other author who later pulled out of the project. She discussed who they should invite to replace her and was told the publisher had someone in mind. The authors turned in their stories and assumed (yes, Dad, I do remember what you told me about assuming) that editing was underway. Meanwhile, our stories converge…

January 2015 the former publisher put on her editor hat and went to work for the company. Right away she was unhappy. She was named as managing editor of the imprint, but books were being published she hadn’t even seen. Now, maybe this is how it’s done in big publishing, and maybe she’s the one in the wrong, but she was upset that her name was on something she had no claim to and hadn't approved. And she wasn’t happy with the editing of said book. She sent the managing editor of the company a copy of errors she’d noticed in the published books. She was told they were subjective (since when is grammar and punctuation subjective?). She still wasn’t happy, but let it go. Then she was shown the publishing schedule and sent books to edit. And as she read through them she had to wonder who’d agreed to them. Because she didn’t believe in them. She asked the managing editor of the company and it turned out he hadn’t read them, nor had the other owner. They relied on slush readers and sometimes went with marketability over substance. If they thought the book would sell because of author's name, author’s friends in high places, etc., they signed it, unread. Now, this didn’t sit well with our girl, but she thought well, maybe this is how it’s done and set to work editing the material and working with the author to try to make it better.

Meanwhile, the book she was an author in was getting close to its publishing date. She finally got to read (because she hounded her friend) the other story from the author they’d chosen. And she was super pleased because while the story wasn’t really horror, it was so beautifully written that it was an asset. It would set off CW’s extreme horror, Mercedes’ gut wrenching emotionality, Allison’s sci-fi vibe, and her own story. But then all of the authors began to wonder where their edits were? Time was drawing near and no one had been sent edits to approve. Turned out that’s because no one really did edits. The pieces saw a copy editor, who everyone agreed actually put in a few errors. The authors pointed this out, cleaned up their stories and sent them back. But they were worried. Then the book was published. And our editor was dismayed to find her name in it as managing editor. Wasn’t that the very thing she’d tried to avoid? Her friend’s name was nowhere on it. But the book sold and started getting good reviews, and they did some interviews and such, and no one pointed it out, so she decided to just be happy about the book.

However, on the publishing front, things were getting worse. Her “friend” was getting tired of her pointing out things she thought weren’t right. The co-owner of the publishing company stopped answering her messages at all (which suited her fine) and she was growing frustrated. So she turned in her project (a little late, she will admit, but she was beginning to wonder if anyone else was going to even go over it anyway), and told her friend she thought she’d better leave the company. They agreed she would still turn in the two anthologies she was working on and they’d still publish those.
Fast forward a few months. Things have not gotten better. The authors of Grimm Mistresses have not received their promised contributor’s copies. The signed hardcovers of GM have not been sent to the people who ordered them. And one of the authors confesses  the publisher is late with her royalties from other books she’s published with them. Grumbling ensues. Now our editor is worried about her upcoming anthologies. Will the authors even get paid? Won’t she be partially responsible should that happen? And she begins to drag her feet on turning in the anthology that’s due. She debates on pulling it and looking for a new publisher. And then the publisher pulls a move so heinous, her decision is made.

She had been messaging her friend about the cover art. He had told her he would let her see it as soon as it’s done. A month before the book is due out, an author emails her and asks why she changed the title. What? She didn’t change the title. He says it’s on the cover advertisement on the publisher’s website. She goes to the publisher’s website and sure enough, not only is the cover art (which she still hadn’t seen) been made public, but so has a new title that was never even mentioned to her. The editor is beside herself. Why wouldn’t they have even mentioned that they considered changing the title to her? The anthology is all her’s: her idea, her editing, and they’d signed it with no discussion of a name change. So the editor thinks maybe she’s overreacting and emails the Editor of all editors, Ellen Datlow. She asks if this is standard practice, without mentioning any names, and Ellen assures her that no, this is not done, and it’s rude in the extreme. So our editor messages her friend, who gets downright snotty with her and tells her he doesn’t have time for her attitude. That he was out of town and didn’t know the other guy was going to release the cover art. But he did know about the name change and when our editor states that it would have been common courtesy to have the name changing conversation with her, he suggests they just drop the anthology and not publish it if it’s such a big deal. She agrees. (I mean, she’s having doubts anyway) and states that she thinks it’s best to pull her other anthology also. Her “friend” says “fine,” and BLOCKS her. Yep, you read that right. He blocked her, because that’s professional behavior. No, let’s reconsider what’s going on here after we both calm down. No, we are adults and should be able to work through things. And then he fires off emails to all of the anthology authors saying the anthologies have been cancelled due to “creative differences.” And our editor emails those authors as well and continues the use of “creative differences.” Because, well, what would have been the use in telling the whole story? It’s he said/she said anyway. And she didn't want to be blacklisted as an editor, or labeled “hard to work with,” because she has high quality standards and expects courteous treatment. And so our editor has no further contact with the company.

Why am I telling this story now? Because the other authors have had enough. Because they want to tell their story and mine coincides with theirs. And because I feel responsible for pulling them into this mess in the first place. And to all the other authors who worked with me and thus thought these might be good guys based on my recommendation.I'm sorry, people. Apparently I am not a good judge of character.You can read Allison M. Dickson's blog post on the subject here. And CW LaSart's here.

To bring our story up to date, none of the authors of GM have received any sort of royalties, even though the book came out in February 2015. And I do know from other authors in the publisher's stables that books released after have had royalty payments made. But, we were the noisemakers from the start. Sometimes, the squeaky wheel gets ignored. I’m told the book was pulled (at least the kindle version) as of a few hours ago.

As an editor, I never received any payment either. It wasn’t much that was owed to me, but that’s not the point, is it?

The thing I find ironic in this whole mess is that my former friend sued a publisher for just such shoddy treatment.

And the thing I find the saddest, that I can still barely believe, is not that a company (though while small, had a reputation for putting out quality work) was engulfed, chewed up, and spit out, and I had a hand in it. A company I’d worked so damn hard to build. No, what I find the saddest, is that someone I genuinely liked, had poured out my heart too, and trusted implicitly, could turn on me and then shut me out completely. That shit sucks.

I'm not posting this for sympathy. I made poor decisions and I own the responsibility for making them. I don't need 15 minutes of internet fame over it. I'm not even posting this as a warning, though I hope others will heed it as such. Or as an apology, or an excuse. I'm posting it in support of my fellow authors who are pissed and decided to go public with their stories. I want you to know that their stories are true and relevant. They aren't just crying wolf. Watch out sheep and shepherds alike, the wolves are out there, and this is just one example. 


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

And this is why my head will never get too big...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately and wondering how it works for other writers. Who is your biggest supporter? What do your spouse and children think of what you do? Your friends? Your neighbors?

When I think about it, my sister is my biggest supporter/cheerleader. She's amazing. She reads everything I write and is always up to give me her honest opinion. Which means she doesn't always like everything I write, but if she doesn't like it she's quick to tell me why. She shares my posts and collects my books. She travels with me to conferences and helps take the sting out of sticky reviews. I don't know what I'd do without her.

Don't get me wrong, my folks are supportive too. They read all my published pieces and collect them. My dad has talked about me to his golf buddies, which resulted in me meeting my biggest fan and making a fantastic new friend.

I have some fantastic friends who follow my career and buy my books and tolerate my weirdness.

But my immediate family? Hmm. Well that's a bit of another story. Oh my husband supports me financially and listens to me ramble on about story ideas and publishing woes. And is more than happy to let me do my thing. But to date he's only read one of my published stories. And I'm pretty sure I guilted him into that. I should note that he's really not much of a reader (I know, right? How does that even happen?) so it's not like he's choosing to read something else before my work. He just chooses not to read.

And my kids? Well, my daughter reads some of my work. She's an avid reader, just not a horror fan. And my son reads some of my work. But they aren't impressed with my job. They don't listen to or read my interviews. They often seem surprised that I have followers or someone actually wanted to interview me. I tell them news and I get a lot of, "ohhh." You know, as in "oh, that's nice, mom." As though I've just told them we had sunshine today. I'm about as important as the weather, probably less so. And it's kind of an ouchy spot for me. Maybe it's because I didn't start my career until they were teenagers and completely unimpressed by anything I did.  I wonder...

So how goes it at your house? Do your spouse and kids care about your work? Is my offspring's attitude the norm? Enquiring minds want to know...


Saturday, March 21, 2015

An award? For me? Awesome!

So I got nominated for a Liebster award. Never heard of it? Me neither. But so what? It's an award, and I'm rather fond of those. It also allows for the answering of questions and I really like to talk about myself so (um... wait? Did I say that out loud? Ugh...)

The purpose of the Liebster Awards is to help fellow bloggers gain greater exposure. I’m glad to help out my fellow blog writers in this way. Thanks much to Steven Rose Jr who nominated me for this lovely award. The rules are:

1) Thank the person who nominated you
2) Answer the questions given by the nominator
3) Nominate 11 bloggers with 100 or less followers and link them to your post
4) Create another 11 questions for them to answer in their blog
5) Notify them

So, here are my answers to Steven's questions:

1) What is your dream car?
Dodge Charger

2) What is your favourite/favourite kind of food?
Mexican. I could eat it every night. But then again, I'm very fond of food in general.

3) What is your favourite genre/sub genre of reading?
Horror, of course!

4) Do you prefer Star Trek, Star Wars or neither?
I love both!

5) Of these classic/old school horror films, do you prefer Halloween, Friday the 13th, Universal’s original Frankenstein, Psycho or none of the above?
I'm not a huge fan of the slasher flick. I love the old Universal black and white films, and I love Psycho. But my all time favorite is Rosemary's Baby.

6) If you won the lottery, you would . . . (do what?)
Pay off all of my bills and buy a new car. Then I'd pay off my kid's bills and buy them new cars, then I'd call my financial planner and do what he says. He's a smart man. I'd probably take an expensive vacation he'd frown on though. ;)

7) How would you respond to a film agent who offered you a part in a big budget film?
After I got done screaming and hugging him??

8) Do you have anything (interest, toy, habit, etc.) from childhood that you will not let go of as an adult? If so, what is it?
So many things. My fear of the dark, my love of horror, an old doll named, "Sugar," my Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls.

9) What do you do when a person you’ve met for the first time bores you with their talk?
I've perfected the ability to look interested when I'm a million miles away. Then I avoid that person like the plague.

10)  Do you believe the world’s ready for commercial space flight? If so, why? If not, why not?
Wow. That's an odd question. I don't think so. I think we need somewhere to go first.

11)  What is more important to you, money or love (of humanity, including significant others/family and friends)?
Definitely love. No question.

And now on to my nominees **cough cough** victims. In no particular order:

1. Jaime Johnsee
2. Lisa C. Hinsley
3. Malina Roos
4. Caren Widner Hanten
5. Mckenzie Fawcett
6. Aaron Gudmunson
7. Kirk Dougal
8. Allison M. Dickson
9. Frank Michaels Errington
10. Paul Dail
11. Matthew Scott Baker

Some of the above are authors, some are reviewers, all are fantastic. Some of them I can't tell exactly how many people follow their blogs, but they all deserve more love. Doesn't everyone? So check them out, watch them play along, stalk them. I mean, uh, follow them.

My ten questions for them:

1. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
2. Favorite animated movie?
3. Thing you must have before sitting down to blog?
4. Reason for blogging?
5. All time favorite horror film?
6. Favorite holiday?
7. Name you wish you'd been named in an alternate universe?
8. Favorite childhood memory?
9. Dream vacation?
10. Cause most likely to get your donation?
11. Ultimate goal in life?

And there you have it. More newsy post coming soon.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Grimm Mistresses Releases Soon!!

So I just realized I haven't blogged anything about the upcoming release of Grimm Mistresses.WTF, me? For those of you who haven't been bombarded with it on my Facebook or Twitter, Grimm Mistresses is a collection of five novellas retelling Grimm Fairy Tales. The novellas are all by female authors, hence the name. I'm super pleased to have my novella, "The Night Air," included. The collection releases on Monday, February 23rd. Here's the synopsis:

Remember the Grimm Brothers?Those dark fairy tales that made you leave the light on long before Disney went and sanitized them? Well, we do! Now the MISTRESSES GRIMM take back the night,five female authors who will leave you shuddering deliciously. Get ready to leave the lights on again with four pieces of short fiction bringing the Grimm Brother’s tales into the present. Be advised: these aren't your children’s fairy tales!

 And here is the amazing cover art:

Honestly, I couldn't be more excited. And the best part? I got to hang out and work with four amazing ladies, each one a super talented author. Our stories are all different: different writing styles, different approaches to the work, different visions for the theme. And yet, they all blend together into a collection that offers something for everyone. 

CW LaSart's story, "Hazing Cinderella," is hardcore horror. Fans of extreme horror will love it. 

SR Cambridge's story, "The Leopard's Pelt, is an enchanting retelling of the Grimm Brother's "Bearskin." Safe for non horror fans. 

Mercedes M. Yardley's "Little Dead Red" explores the lengths a mother will go to in order to avenge her daughter's death. Lyrically written, but still dark and grim.

Allison M. Dickson's story, "Nectar," is a sci-fi/horror blend that brings new life to "Hansel & Gretel." Scary, sexy, and thought provoking all at the same time.

And my story? Well, I hope "The Night Air" hits the mark of subtly creeping dread. Also relatively safe for non horror fans. 

I hope you'll check the book out. May you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it.

It will be available in eBook form at Amazon and other retailers on Monday, March 23rd. But if you have a hankering for a signed, limited edition copy, you can order those here:


Friday, January 23, 2015

Meet Wendy Webb

I stumbled on to Wendy Webb's writing quite by accident, but it was a happy accident to be sure. I thoroughly enjoyed her book The Vanishing so much that I immediately bought her other two novels as well. Something she said in the back of The Vanishing prompted me to contact her and set up this interview. It was a philosophy I share. She said, "That's really what it's all about for me. With my novels, I'm not trying to define a generation, right any great wrongs, or change the way you think about the world or your places in it. I just want to craft a good story that will delight you, entertain you, grab you and not let go, and send some shivers up your spine along the way." Mission accomplished, Mrs. Webb.

If you'd like to read my review of The Vanishing, head over to See Spot Read. Go ahead, I'll wait. Back? Awesome. Without further ado, I give you Wendy Webb--

1. How old were you when you first knew you were a writer?

Very young. Two books influenced me in a powerful way when I was growing up, setting me on my path. My grandmother read “Little Women” to me when I was about eight years old. It was absolutely clear to me that I was, in fact, Jo March, the dark-haired, headstrong sister. I identified with her so strongly that, since Jo loved writing, apparently I did, too. That’s really how I looked at it. I started excelling in writing at school and got more and more praise for my essays, and I never had a moment of doubt about the fact that I’d be an author someday. Jo got her book published. So would I. I don’t know what I’d be doing with my life if Louisa May Alcott hadn’t written “Little Women,” but it probably wouldn’t be this. Last fall, I visited her home, Orchard House, and when I saw the desk by the window where Louisa dreamed up the book that would chart the course of my life, I burst into tears. Everyone else on the tour thought I was insane. But the guide didn’t. “You must be an author,” she said. “We get that a lot.”

The other book that turned my young mind toward writing was “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle. A librarian recommended it to me when I was thirteen. The story didn’t have anything to do with writing — I already knew I was going to be a writer. I just didn’t know what I wanted to write about, until I read that book. It was magical and real and scary all at the same time, and when I finished reading it, I knew I wanted to write books like that one.

2. I know you are currently the editor of the Duluth-Superior magazine. How do you balance your editorial duties with fiction writing and a family?

Actually, the magazine closed last spring, but it was indeed a juggling act balancing my magazine responsibilities and a book tour. I was traveling all over the country for six months after “The Vanishing” came out, and I still had the same deadlines. The Internet made everything easier, though. I could get everything done on the road, but it was hectic at times.  I don’t write fiction when I’m on tour — too many distractions.

3. I think of your books as “modern gothic.” They include all the elements of the classic gothic genre (woman in peril; large, often isolated house; ghosts or some element of the supernatural; a romantic interest; an older woman; a villain of the piece; and a mystery), but they’re set in modern times. What genre do you consider your work and why?

When I wrote my first book, “The Tale of Halcyon Crane,” I didn’t think at all about genre. I just wrote the book that I wanted to read. It turns out it’s gothic, and “modern gothic” is a good fit. Reviewers have started calling me the Queen of the Northern Gothic, saying I invented a genre, because most gothics are set in England or down South. Again, I didn’t set out to do that, I just wrote a story set in the place that I know best.

4. Animals always seem to play a part in your stories, mostly dogs. Why?

The dogs in my stories are actually my dogs, Tika, Tundra and Molly, all giant Alaskan Malamutes. They never knew each other in life (one 130-pound dog in the house is enough!) but it has been really fun for me to put them together in my books, especially all three of them in “The Vanishing.” I’ve always walked through the world with a dog at my side and I can’t imagine life without them, so when I’m dreaming up my stories, it’s natural to feature animals as characters.

5. I’ve read that, for you, the setting inspires the story. How do you pick your settings?

I stumble across them. “Halcyon Crane” was inspired by a trip I took to Mackinac Island in Michigan, which a very haunted place, and a particular house you can see from the ferry on your way there. The plot of “The Fate of Mercy Alban” came to me when I was on a tour of Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minnesota. I started thinking of how great it would be to have a summer party on Glensheen’s magnificent veranda, and then I thought: “Ooo. What if somebody winds up dead at that party?” And I was on my way.

6. The spiritualism age plays a part in The Vanishing. Have you always been interested in spiritualism or did you have to research it for the book? Either way, what do you find the most interesting part of it?

I’ve always been interested in it but I did research before I started writing. There were a lot of charlatans at that time, but I believe there were, and are, mediums and psychics who can indeed talk to the dead. I absolutely believe there are spirits among us. I’ve traveled all over this country for readings, and every single time, somebody tells me a ghost story that happened to them.

7. And, on a more personal note, what scares you? Any silly phobias? Do you work your own fears into your fiction?

What scares me most is not a spirit floating around the house late at night, but an actual intruder in the house late at night. That said, though, I am also afraid of the dark side of the occult. In “The Vanishing,” I have a Devil’s Toy Box that unleashes a whole lot of bad stuff at Havenwood. I actually got one of those for my birthday the year before I started writing that book. It was a really pretty box, handmade by my brother, but before bringing it into my house, I called a friend of mine who is an expert in the occult. She told me that it was very dangerous and to destroy it. I did. Similarly, Ouija boards. Never use one. You won’t be talking to who you think you’re talking to. I’m researching demonology right now for an upcoming book, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to write it. That’s some scary, scary stuff.

8. What authors would you consider the biggest influences on your writing?

You already know about Louisa May Alcott and Madeline L’Engle, but modern authors who influence me are M.J. Rose and Carol Goodman, both of whom write beautiful, magical tales, and both of whom I’m proud to call friends.

9. Five favorite books?

Oh, boy. This is a hard one.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The Shell Seekers and its sequel, September by Rosamund Pilcher (people are always surprised when I say that, but I love those books.)
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

10. And last but not least, best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

When I wrote my first manuscript (which didn’t end up getting published) my agent kept saying: “Show, don’t tell.” I couldn’t get the concept. I’d been a journalist my whole career and we tell stories. Then another author let me in on her trick. She said: “When you’re writing a scene, imagine that you’re the director of a movie. Visualize everything in that scene — where it’s happening, what the people are wearing, what they’re doing. Hear what they’re saying. In a movie, if a character is angry, you wouldn’t hear some narrator’s voice saying: “Jane is angry!” You’d see Jane throw her coffee cup across the table and stomp out of the room, and you’d know Jane was angry. Authors need to do the same thing with words. That’s showing, not telling.”

Wendy's Bio:

Wendy Webb is the author of The Tale of Halcyon Crane, a gothic mystery set on an island in the Great Lakes. Her first novel, Halcyon was selected as an IndieNext Pick by IndieBound, the Independent Booksellers Association of America; as a Midwest Connections Pick by the Midwest Booksellers Association; and as a Great Lakes Great Reads Pick by the Great Lakes Booksellers Association.

Wendy is also a career journalist. She is at work on her next novel.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon:
Twitter: @wendykwebb
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