Let me start off by saying that it has been a very long two weeks in my life. I’m tired most of the time, considering I haven’t had a day off of work in several weeks, my debit card was hacked and money was stolen by some faceless prick, my email was hacked and a virus email was sent to everyone in my contact list—and on top of all of that, a spiteful cat who’s decided to use the kitchen floor as their litter box instead of using their actual litter box. Did I say I was tired? Damn right.
But last week really topped the cake with shit-flavored frosting.
When I got the call from my good friend, Mandy DeGeit, telling me she finally got her copies of the recently released Cavalcade of Terror anthology–which not only featured her debut short story but one of my stories as well—my days of hell have only gotten longer.
What happened to her story was every author’s worst nightmare: It was completely rewritten.
The editor of the anthology, Anthony Giangregorio, without any of the authors’ permissions went about hacking and slashing like Jason Voorhees, doing whatever his little heart desired to the stories in his anthology, and Mandy got the worst of it. When she informed me what had happened, I was immediately sick to my stomach. It was happening again, this time to someone else. If you’re asking yourself what the hell I am talking about, I’ll tell you.
Last year this very thing happened to me, which you can read about here. Basically, my first short story was slated to appear in an anthology from a first-time editor looking for stories set in a certain state (blah, that’s a mouthful). My story was accepted to much praise from the editor, and nearly everyone who had read it at the time, but when the story was released for sale on Amazon I was horrified to discover my story had been completely rewritten by the editor, so much so that they actually made up words to use for medical terms that I had to spend time to research. The very tone I was going for in the story was severed, then replaced by what could only be described as a junior high student’s dirty joke only told in giggles and whispers. I was absolutely humiliated. Why didn’t I make it as public as Mandy did with her mangled story? Because after several apologetic emails from said editor, my story was quietly taken out the anthology, my name was removed from Amazon and the publisher’s website and any and all promotional aspects of the book. (By the way, if you’re wondering, that story has now gone on to a MUCH, MUCH better place.) The editor didn’t berate me. They didn’t laugh in my face. They didn’t write nasty emails informing me to talk to the hand, or tell it to someone who gave two shits. I was lucky.
Mandy was not so lucky.
I won’t go over every detail, as they have been said many times over already, but please take the time to read each of these blog entries to better understand the situation at hand:
Mandy’s initial entry on what had happened.
Books of the Dead’s interview with Mandy.
Their interview with the book’s editor Vincenzo Bilof.
A short entry about a terrifying message from Mr. Giangregorio himself.
And author Kelli Owen’s entry on the matter. (scroll down to the entry “Writers Beware)
Though my own story went about 99% unharmed (only a few punctuation changes which made me scratch my head), but I want to go on record by saying that I am NOT OK WITH WHAT HAS BEEN DONE. As an observer, what Mr. Giangregorio has done over the last two weeks has been completely unacceptable in many forms, and as a writer who is now a part of the mess, it saddens and disgusts me to know that someone who many, many people trusted with their work, their pride and joys, could so recklessly stomp on anyone’s dreams of becoming a published writer. I know what it feels like to open up that first box of books with your first published story in it…and I know the feeling of misery of finding out when someone crushed that dream under their boot heel. It’s a son-of-a-bitch.
Once again, let me state that my silence over the past two weeks was not an acceptance of what has happened. Far from it. I’m sickened by Mr. Giangregorio’s attitude toward the mess he created and how he’s gone about treating everyone involved. He’s a predator and should be treated as such.
(By the way, even after he emailed everyone saying that they had the rights back their stories and that the anthology had been cancelled, the book showed back up on Amazon the next day…with another story by Mr. G himself. I emailed him to ask WTF, but got a phone call instead. I didn’t answer the phone, but I did listen to the incredibly creepy message he left me. After not calling him back, he emailed me and told me he had no idea how the antho was back up for sale. Right…it sprung back up on it’s own with another story…Right…)
What was the lesson learned here, folks?
From a small scale perspective, you, the author, has rights. You have the right to be paid for your work, and most importantly you have the right to see your work shine in the best light possible. This means galleys, people. For insight from someone much wiser than myself, please visit Kelli Owen’s recent blog on the do’s and don’ts of a publishing newbie. I’m still a newbie. You may be too. We’re going to make mistakes, and that’s ok. If possible, please follow the advice of Ms. Owen or anyone higher on the publishing ladder than yourself. They didn’t get there by accident.
On a larger scale, we saw that one person really can make a difference. Mandy’s cries of outrage reached the ears—and computers—of thousands of people ready to lend a helping hand to the matter, even reaching up as far as Neil Gaiman and Ramsey Campbell. If anything it renewed my faith in the writing community, and not just the horror writers, but the fans, and the reviewers, and the select few who can call themselves REAL EDITORS. It was amazing to watch the feedback grow, and astonishing to witness the stories of prior encounters with Mr. Giangregorio and his haughty, kiss my ass, I’m the boss, fuck you attitude.
I’m proud to be in this industry, and I’m very fortunate to have the friends and mentors that I have, but what makes me most proud is how we pulled together to fight against the wrong doings of one of our own.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s some good news. After finally having her story pulled from the now infamous anthology, Mandy DeGeit’s debut story can be read on Kindle. All proceeds are going to a good cause, which can be found on the product page on Amazon. Please consider buying a copy—they’re only $0.99!
Thanks, and have a good night.