Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lori Michelle is Scary Busy

Horror writer, editor, mother, and dancer Lori Michelle drops by the Blog Mansion for some of my Texas hospitality.

Johnny: I don’t know much about Texas, but I’ve done my best to make you feel welcome. Here try this.

Lori: What is it?

J: Barbecue. Texans like barbecue don’t they?

L: I was born in California.

J: So what brought you to Texas?

L: It’s a long involved complicated story that probably includes kidnapping and subterfuge, and quite possibly drugs or a concussion.  I am not sure.  It’s not a bad place to live, but not where I would have picked given the choice.

J: So… barbecue?

L: Of course, what kind of meat?

J: Tofurkey.

L: That’s not meat.

J: It’s all I had left. After the ants. The ants ate everything else.

L: I guess I’ll try it.

J: It’s hot. I found a special sauce.

L: It’s not so bad. Oh…. Oh…. OH! OUCH! AAAAHHHHH! All I can taste is the heat. I can’t feel my tongue!

J: That’s the Zombie Repellent Hot Sauce . Get it? Because of all the horror you do.

L: Arrggghhhh Gaaarbbbllle… ohhhh tofurkey...

J: Buttermilk will help. Here.

L: Gross.  But it will have to do.  What in the hell possessed you to give me anti-zombie sauce on tofurkey anyway?  Everyone knows that tofurkeys need anti-vampire sauce.

J: Sorry. All the anti-vampire sauces had glitter. Better?

L: I think I hate you.

J: Wait ‘til you get to know me! Tell me about Dark Moon Digest. What is it?

L: Dark Moon Digest is a revolutionary horror quarterly that features stories from new and established horror writers.  The unique thing about DMD is that all the stories are picked blindly, meaning we pick the stories based on how they are written rather than who has written them.  Seriously, the first thing I do is remove the author’s name from the story before sending it to my associate editors for reading and rating.

J: How often do you publish Dark Moon Digest?

L: I do the printed quarterly, get this, once a quarter.  :P  But then we do the emagazine, Dark Eclipse, once a month.  So I am continually busy.

J: How many submissions do you get?

L: I get at least 3-4 short stories a day.  Some days I get up to 10.  To put it into perspective, we are just now getting to submissions we received in January.

J: Who do you work with?

L: Stan Swanson is the creator of Dark Moon Digest.  I am now the co-owner, but everything I do gets run past him first.  Unless he feels like not making a decision, then he likes to remind me that I am the managing editor.  Max Booth III is our assistant editor.  I have several copy editors and about nine associate editors (I can name them all if you want).

J: How did you get involved with Dark Moon Digest?

L: On a fluke, honestly. I was looking for places to submit short stories to after my online writing group disappeared and I came across a contest for vampire stories.  I started to follow Stan’s newsletter.  Then one day, he sent out a mass email looking for editors.  I emailed back that I wasn’t much for editing, but his website sucked.  Obviously I made a good enough impression that he “hired” me as a technical consultant.  From there, I started to format the emagazine, give final proofs the once over, and do whatever assignments came up.  He discovered that I really can edit, even though I tried to hide it.  Last year at the World Horror Convention, he told me that he needed me to take over DMD completely or he was going to let it go.  Since I believe in the quarterly, I felt honored that Stan trusted me to take over.  Last August, he offered me a partnership and I took it. Stan and I work really well together, so it’s one of those mutually beneficial business decisions.

J: What are the challenges of editing a digest?

L: Well, you never get to stop reading submissions. I am lucky though, since I have such a great editorial staff, that I actually don’t read the submissions until they have passed the first round of cuts.  But it’s always a time crunch to get it all formatted correctly at the end.  My least favorite part of the job is sending out rejections. My favorite part of the day is getting the thank you emails from new authors. 

J: How can you deal with all the horror you face every day?

L: After the crap I have faced for the past 4-5 years, it is easy.  I get a lot of zombie stories, and they don’t bother me. My favorite kind of stories are all psychological horror.  Mostly because they could happen, and that’s what’s scary.

J: I was talking about Max Booth III. But that’s good advice.

L: Surprisingly, Max has been the savior and not the horror.  I know, it’s shocking.  My mouth is still on fire.

J: Wait until tomorrow.

L: Yes. I definitely hate you.

J: Are you going to New Orleans for the Horror Writers Association, WorldHorror Convention?

L: YES, I wouldn’t miss it for anything.  Dark Moon will have a vendor table again this year and I am looking forward to seeing writers that I talk to on a daily basis. Plus I get to be a part of the autograph session this year and I am excited by that.

J: I hate you right back. Besides editing, what else takes your time?

L: I have time? Well, I attempt to write, I am the CFO and Interior Layout Guru for Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, I try to take on some freelance web work since I am now technically unemployed, and I take care of my two kids, one 13 and the other 5.  My five year old is still undergoing chemotherapy for his leukemia, so that takes some time.  Luckily, he is doing really well and should see the end of chemo in another year. But since I obviously don’t do enough, I am putting together an anthology where the proceeds are going to go to the Children’s Cancer Fund.

J: Tell me about Dual Harvest, it’s your first novel right?

L: Yes it is.  What do you want to know about it?  I actually wrote it for the National Novel Writing Month challenge one year.  It is an erotic thriller involving a female serial killer, her roommate and a cop.  I am proud of it and was excited when Joe McKinney actually read it and liked it.  Either that or he thinks I am a freak now.

Tigger-Bear knows my tears
J: I ask everyone this; tell me how you went from writer to author. What was the journey to writing a book and getting it published. Did you expertise as an editor help? Did you get rejections? Was it karmic for you to get rejections? Did it hurt your feelings? Did you coil up into a little bawl and cry, holding on to Tigger-Bear and binky until the neighbors complained and you were put on a prescription cocktail of seven different pills and yogurt?

L: I am lucky since I have a built in editor in Max.  He is really good about finding my flaws and making fun of me for the next 6 months about them.  I first attempted to go the route of finding an agent, which is next to impossible.  I found out later that I needed to have some publications under my belt, so I was doing it sorta backwards.  The first place I submitted it to in the independent arena was really nice in their rejection.  He actually told me what he did and didn’t like about it and why he didn’t choose it.  My novel was accepted by the second place I submitted to.  I knew that it would be hard to place genre wise since it is overly erotic.

J: Who are your writing influences?

L: V. C. Andrews, and well...VC Andrews.  Ok I really liked her works.  Not the crap they put out now under her name, but the original stuff. I even wrote a paper once comparing Flowers in the Attic to Wuthering Heights. Oh yeah, I am that cool.

J: What’s one piece of advice would you give authors?

L: Learn how to spell.  Learn how to read and follow instructions.  And learn how to express yourself different than anyone else expresses themselves.

J: Tell me about Dance. Did you really want to be a ballerina?

L: Yes I did.  I was really good, but then when I was 14, I fell and ended up needing knee surgery. I still continued even after that, and taught for a long time.  Some of my groups placed well at National competitions. I miss dancing a lot.  One day, I would like to be back performing on the stage, but I know my chances of that are slim and none.  It’s a nice fantasy though.

J: My fan (hi Mom!) likes to follow up on my guests. Where are you on the net?


TWITTER — @authorlmichelle

(Hi Johnny’s Mom!)

J: You’re drooling a little there.

L: Sorry. My face is numb. Now I feel it in my legs.

J: Burning and stabs?

You can buy all kinds of things on
L: Yes.

J: That’s not the hot sauce. Those are the fire ants I had imported for you.

L: What?

J: I told you. The ants ate all the meat, that’s why we had tofurkey.

L: You imported fire-ants? For me?

J: Yeah, I got three-hundred pounds brought in special for you. It was a deal on I thought it would make you feel at home.

L: Ahhhh!!!! I’m allergic!!!

J: I think you should really hold still. They’re attracted to the sugar in the sauce. I can see you’re a dancer. Very graceful. Don’t go that way - that’s the rattle-snake pit.

L: They’re everywhere!

J: Just like home.

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