Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to host our friend and frequent visitor to our store, Stacey Longo, on our Spotlight blog. Besides being a supporter of ABSW, Stacey is also an great author and editor. In fact, she and several of the authors from Insanity Tales, an anthology she edited, will be visiting us at 65 James Street on March 22 from 1:00-3:00 PM.
Thank you for joining us, Stacey! What can you share about yourself and your own work as both a writer and editor?
I’m the author of a short story collection, Secret Things, and two children’s books. Most recently, my novel Ordinary Boy was published by Dark Alley Press (due out March 17). I’ve had a couple dozen short stories published in numerous anthologies and magazines. My day job is as a copy editor, and I’ve also edited a few anthologies and books, including the NEHW’s Wicked Seasons anthology in 2013 and Insanity Tales in 2014.
When putting together an anthology, what is it about the stories that makes you choose them? And what are some things that would definitely make you not pick a story?
I look for an engaging voice, first off. If I’m not sucked in within the first couple of paragraphs, my readers won’t be. I like stories that evoke emotion in me—though usually not pleasant emotions. I like to be scared, horrified, or saddened. I’m most definitely not a romantic or a “feel good” kind of editor.
I get angry when someone submits what is clearly a rough or first draft, just slapped together and submitted without any polishing or editing. It’s disrespectful to the editor you’re submitting it toand lazy. Have enough respect for the publication you’re trying to get into to do the extra work that writing requires.
How do you decide the order and presentation when you put together an anthology?
There are a million factors. I like to open a book with an intriguing story that grabs the reader and makes them want to read more. If there are more recognizable names among the authors, they’re definitely placed strategically throughout the book to keep the reader turning the pages to get to them. And I like to put distance between stories that might have similar elements—ghost stories, for example—just for a sense of balance. Story feng shui, if you will.
What do you think the greatest lesson you’ve learned as an editor for anthologies? What advice would you pass on to others interested in editing anthologies?
The smartest advice I ever received was to read stories “blind”—that is, have the author’s name stripped from the piece before reading and considering it. The writing community is small, and everyone knows (or knows of) everyone else. How you feel about a colleague will probably affect how you feel about their writing, whether you want it to or not.
What advice would each of you give to authors interested in writing and marketing shorter fiction?
Read quality fiction. Write, rewrite, get feedback from fellow writers, and rewrite more. Know your market and audience. Before submitting to a market, read some of the stories they’ve published before. When you’re rejected, don’t take it personally. Turn around and submit that story somewhere else.
What other projects do you have coming up that you’d like people to know about?
I just released My Mom Has MS, a children’s picture book. A portion of the sales proceeds from that book is donated to the National MS Society. My YA horror novel, My Sister the Zombie, is due out at the end of this year from Damnation Books. And, of course, Insanity Tales 2 is due out this fall, promising more stories and more scares!
Where can people find out more about you and your other works?
I write a weekly humor blog on my website, www.staceylongo.com. All of the Insanity Tales authors are members of The Storyside (www.thestoryside.com), a writers’ collaborative featuring awesome and diverse talent. And visit my author’s page at Amazon!
Thank you, again, for joining us, Stacey! We look forward to having you and all the Insanity Tales authors to Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester on Sunday, March 22, from 1:00-3:00 PM.