Here We Go Again…

Well, it seems that Mr. Tony G. has not listened to the outcries of damn-near everyone in the publishing community over the last month.  My guess is that he suffers terribly from In-One-Ear-And-Out-The-Other Syndrome.  A few minutes ago I received an email from the now infamous Undead Press editor asking me if I’d like to re-publish my former Cavalcade of Terror story in a new anthology of his–complete with new name, new cover art, and all the Thanksgiving fixings.  I took every ounce of strength to not write back, “Are you fucking high?”  But since I strive to be a professional, I simply wrote:

Absolutely not.

–Wesley Southard

I’m asking everyone out there–whether you’re a writer or a fan–to please not fall for this man’s crap.  It’s obvious he hasn’t learned a thing from this experience and will continue to do what he’s always done best: screwing authors.  I urge everyone reading this to give Tony and his unsavory “publishing” ethics a wide berth, as I imagine what has already happened to several other authors will more than likely happen again.  I don’t mean any disrespect to those who have published with him or will continue to publish with him, and I’m not asking anyone to write any more mean-spirited reviews on Amazon or emails to Mr. G.  Just remember why this entire debacle started in the first place.  (If you need a refresher, just read the post titled “Enough is Enough.”)

Just a friendly warning.

Enough is Enough (Updated: Now with Grammar!)

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.

Midwest Musings

Life is changing in Southwestern Indiana. That little guy to the left is only one of the eight–yes, eight–new members of my household, already joining myself and my frazzled cat.  My girlfriend, after only a few scant months for dating me, decided to take the plunge and move nearly three states over, away from her family, friends, and apparently the “world’s most delicious Maple doughnuts,” to start a new chapter in her life with me.

I’ve been away from the site for a few weeks now–hell, ok, a month–but I’ve had good reason.  February has been a long, strange, exciting month for me, and like most people finding themselves living with someone for the first time, it’s been an adjustment.  We’re still working on the “mine’s” and steadily molding them into “ours,” but we’re getting there.  All good things take time.  And, thankfully, the animals are getting along well enough (although my cat still panics when her dog gets anywhere near him).

I’m a different person than I was even a month ago.  I now get to wake up next to someone every morning.  I get to come home from work to a smiling face every day.  And I get to watch Quentin Tarantino movies every night snuggled up on my shitty leather couch with someone I love.  For a young guy like me, it’s more than I could ever ask for.


On the publishing front, I’ve sold two stories this year so far.  First, I’m proud to say that I have finally sold one of my earliest (and longest) written stories titled “Between Those Walls” to Cover of Darkness magazine, and it boasts one of my favorite characters, Warden Jerome Dempson.  I’m extremely happy to have this be my first magazine appearance, but only sad part is that it won’t be out until November.  It’ll be worth the wait, I promise.

And second, my story “A Promise Not Kept” found its way into Undead Press’s Cavalcade of Terror anthology (cover art below).  Although I don’t have a release date on this yet, I’ve been told Spring of 2012 or sooner.  I’m hoping for sooner myself.

If any of these projects sound appealing, please keep checking back to this site for up to date info on releases and new release giveaways, and as always you can check out the Biblio page for purchase links and synopsizes for all of my “sold” works of fiction.


 As far as appearances go for 2012, I’m still working on that.  Unfortunately I don’t get much vacation time at work, so my travel time is woefully limited.  Although I’d like to be involved with Horrorfind again this year, I’m still not sure what exactly is going on with the festivities.  Those who are usually involved with the scheduling are not taking part this year, so that trip still up in the air.  But there is a local signing I plan to be involved in sometime later in the year.  More info on that as it comes.


Oh, and I just thought I would throw this out there for the world: Please stop saying the world is going to end this year.  I’m so over people refering to the fucking Mayan calandar for every bullshit thing that has happened this year, including tornados, storms, and that pimple on your ass cheek that refuses to leave.  No, the world is not ending in December.  I for one plan on being around for The Hobbit and Django Unchained.  And if you’re one of those who truely believes, then go do yourself a favor and bury your head in the sand and wait for the end.  At least save the rest of us from your babble.  The rest of us have lives to live.


Until next time, you stay classy, Planet Earth.

Always Behind

I fight technology.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been very far behind the rest of Planet Earth when it comes to the latest technology.  For years, my family never had a home PC and were finally the last of everyone that I knew to get one, and even after getting a hand-me-down junker we were still the last to upgrade to broadband internet, still riding the crest of the wonderful dial-up days.  When cell phones came out, yet again we were the last to know.  In fact, now, I may be the only damn person on the planet that doesn’t own a Smart Phone (I’m actually surprised I have a camera on my P.O.S. cell).  When it came to music, though I had always–and will always–love CDs, I was slow to respond to MP3 players.  “What?  A device that allows you to carry every song you’ve ever heard or will ever hear that’s the size of a wallet?  Yeah…I’ll just stick with my CDs.”  I cringe now when I think about that.  Now, I wouldn’t be able to function without that stupid little Zune (yes, I’m a Zune owner; take pictures, I may be the only person you know that love theirs).  Yes, we were even the last to discover the wonders of DVDs.  But that’s just how I’ve always been: I fight technology.  I don’t want to change.  I want things to stay the same.

Last week my parents decided to buy me a new TV for my house.  A very large flat screen plasma, I might add.  But I fought it.  I didn’t want a new TV!  What was wrong with my little 25″ TV that moaned when you kept it on for too long?  The one with the static line that runs through the middle of the screen.  And WTF do I need HD cable for?  Regular would do me just fine, thank you very  much.  But then I plugged it in (and subsequently found the HD channels my cable provider had been telling me about) and was blown the hell away!  What was I fighting?  Awesomeness?  Watching TV and movies in high quality and superior sound?  I must have been out of my mind.

Now I want a Blu-Ray player…and yet again I’m a few years behind.

I’m done fighting technology.  You win.

If Only It Was Fiction…

Imagine this:

You’re a young writer and you dream big, just like any new writer does.  You stand around at work, day after day, letting your imagination be carried away by your muse, so that, night after night, you can go home and pound away at the little black laptop keys and tell the story that begs to be told.  You hope and you dream that someday, someone out there will read this story/book and be entertained, if even for ten minutes.  You hope that maybe…possibly they remember your name long enough to look you up on the internet, track down your other work, then buy and enjoy it.  You dream that some kid, maybe not far off from your age might be inspired to start up writing…all because of you.  Though you’d never say it out loud, you hope that maybe you’ll hit big, sell a few great novels and have that young writer approach you at a convention or a book store, nervous, shaking, just waiting to tell you that you were the reason they wanted to be a writer.

But until then, you keep writing.  You focus.  You learn.  You submit, submit, submit.  You sit, even when there’s something better on TV that you would rather be watching, and you prove to yourself why you deserve to be heard.  You spend four years, against popular standards, writing that novel idea that wouldn’t let you go.  Sure, you should have started out writing short stories, but, hey, everyone’s different.  By the time you finish that novel, you’re prompted to get back into writing shorts because you need to get your name out there.  And you do.  You spend most of the year working on short fiction, trying to figure out how to keep your ideas under 5,000 words–some ideas work, some don’t.

Then it happens.

An editor likes your story, boy howdy, and he/she wants to buy it.  You see that email and you can’t believe your eyes.  This is it!  You’re finally doing it!  Hell, you call your parents to celebrate and they take you out for a Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream cone, but then you go home right after and keep writing.  And you sell another.  And another.  And another.

2011 is YOUR year!

Then you get the word that one of those books is coming out.  You order your copies.  And you wait.  Then you get home one day to find that box on your doorstep.  THE box.  Your breath catches in your throat.  You leap from the car, grab the box, rush inside, open it, take that first book out, smell it, feel it on your fingers.  This is what you’ve been waiting for!  You crack that fresh new copy open, find your by-line and your story on Page 32, then flip to find…

This is not your story.

This is what I’ve been dealing with for the last six days of my life, and you may or may not have noticed that I’ve completely erased not only two of my blog entries, but two stories from my Biblio page and two pictures from my Facebook page.  The reason is simple.

Earlier this summer, after my first two story sales and placing in the final eleven (out of 110 entries) in the Cemetery Dance Amateur Writing Competition, I sold not one but two of my stories to a gentleman, of who I will not name.  These were going to be placed into an anthology showcasing talent from a particular Mid Western state, one boasting horror stories, and the other science fiction.  I kept in regular touch with the editor, and from what I could tell was a fairly nice individual, who was extremely excited to edit what he believed would be an annual anthology based on these two genres.  I was excited as well.  I thought: Hell yes, here’s something I could be proud to be a part of on a yearly basis.

Last Wednesday, when my Amazon shipment hit my doorstep, I opened my book to discover that what was placed between pages 32-37 was not  what I had submitted, but what the editor had decided would be fitting to his needs.  Mr. Editor took what I believed was a mature, psychological story of a man with a debilitating phobia and what he does to conquer it into a poorly edited, incompetent sex romp, complete with phrases like “piece of limp-dick shit”, “your tiny little cock and skinny neck”, “you fucking, pathetic excuse for a man” (notice the awful comma placement), and completely made up words like “Strangulophobia”.  To say the very least, I was outraged.

For the next twenty-four hours I did some private eye investigating, and come to find out, I wasn’t the only one this happened to.  Again, I will not mention names, but from what I gather it seemed as though the few who had received their copies weren’t thrilled about what was done with their stories.  And from what I gather, mine was by far the worst.

Through word of mouth, the editor contacted me and asked me why I was so upset.  And I gave it to him.  He was completely in breach of contract for these two reasons: One, it is stated in the contract that he wrote, that any major altercations made to this story would need written consent from the author, which was not given.  And two, although briefly mentioned as an option, no e-rights were signed for this book, and yet there’s an e-book version sitting happily on Amazon.

The editor, who was extremely apologetic, gave me three options on how to rectify this situation, but I took it upon myself to give him my own option: You are to immediately remove my story (or, your version of my story) from the anthology, remove my name from the Amazon page, the Facebook page and webpage, and shred my contract for not only this book but the other I’ve been signed for.  And it was done with numerous “sorry’s” and “this was my first time doing this’s”.

It was completely shame it had to be this way, but the editor brought it upon himself.  After speaking with two of my very good friends, they gave me two options of their own: We can be loud and boisterous about this and let the world know of this bullshit, or we can quietly sweep this under the rug and try to forget about it.  I chose the latter.  Even though I wanted to spread the word about this nonsense, to scream and rage in frustration, after a few days I calmed down and leveled out, and decided to just forget the whole damn thing and move on, because there are bigger fish to fry.

I guess the point of this lengthy blog to make people aware that there is a dark side to publishing.  Like any entertainment business, whether it’s loud movie or a quiet book, there are other people out there who are willing to fuck it up for you, whether they know it or not.  Do I believe Mr. Editor did this on purpose to screw with my story in a way that it completely changed not only the language but the tone and point of the story?  No.  I believe he truly thought he was making better, doing what he thought would make it something he would read.  But like any writer, we know that’s not the way it’s done.  If he didn’t like the story or the way it was written, he could have either passed on the story, or, like stated in the contract that he so blatantly ignored, suggest how to make it better.

My point is: Get to know who you’re submitting to.  If you find a market that interests you, then study up.  Find authors who are featured in that magazine/antho and ask them about their experience, what they thought of the editor, and what sort of rights were they asking for.  And for God’s sake: READ YOUR STORY BEFORE IT HITS PRINT!!!  As newbies, we’re tempted to send out our work to anyone who’s willing to throw $5 our way just to see our stories in print.  We’re naive and we’ll trust anyone, even when they decide to stick it in and break it off.  We have to aim higher, and we have to beware.  There are good people out there who are more than willing to help you along the way–that I can guarantee–you just have to watch yourself and those you decide to associate with.  I wouldn’t wish what happened to me happen to anyone else.

You should be able open that first box of books with your name on it and cry–not tears of anger, but tears of joy.

This is me

My first blog entry…

To tell you the truth I’m not sure what to talk about.  Let’s be honest: There are a million and two blogs on the internet, and I’m quite sure at least half of those are dedicated to cats, how to sew clown faces onto quilt tops, and home techniques for self-circumcision.

But my blog, you ask?

Well, to be honest I’m not completely sure.  I could always pimp my latest writing endeavor (which I plan on doing when anything fictional hits paper with my name on it *wink*).  I could tell you about a shitty day at work (plenty of those to file under “rants”)  Hell, I could even spout off about gas prices or religion–God knows we all need another public smart ass to tell us how to live our lives according to the Good Book.

Maybe some other time, kiddos.  That just isn’t me.

Let’s introduce me to you.  Nice to meet you, I’m Wesley Southard.  Location: Southwestern Indiana.  Loves: writing, friends, pizza, Doritos, and Ski (I can imagine that most of you don’t know what Ski is, and I truly weep for you).  But for now, let’s talk about my favorite subject in the whole world…

No, not boobs, you pervert.


Anyone that knows me personally knows that I love books.  I love everything about them: the smell, the feel, the joy of getting a beautiful new hardback in the mail just screaming to be opened.  I’ve been known to talk someone’s ear off about a book that I love (for literally hours—I should be a damn college professor!).  But for this blog entry I want to know about you.

In your own collection, what’s your favorite book?  Could be because of the cover art, could be sentimental value.  Doesn’t matter.  Let me in on the book that makes you smile.  The one you pull off of your shelf time and time again to dive in for a few hours of bliss.  The one that you brag to your friends about owning, nana-nana-boo-boo.

Mine?  My first edition hardback of I Am Legend, written by one of my personal literary heroes, Richard Matheson.  I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve taken this age-worn beauty off of my shelf.  This timeless novel was the first adult book I had ever read.  My then 5th grader mind had no idea what the hell was going through it.  But several years, and numerous reads later, I can tell you that it still amazes me how often I think about the story, how far ahead of its time this short novel truly is.  Even though the dust jacket is ripped, the pages are yellowed, and the corners are riddled with thumb prints, memories continue to soar from this book.  That’s my favorite.

What’s yours?