A few months back, I wrote a two part short zombie-esque story entitled “Rejuvenation/Rejuvenated”. I liked the story from the moment I got the idea. I thought it would be cool to show what the scenario looked like from multiple perspectives without retelling the same thing. I finished the story and began looking for a market for it.
I had previously placed a different short story of mine, Finishing Last, with Open Casket Press in an anthology called Women Of The Living Dead. I hadn’t gotten galleys or been allowed to review my work before it went to print, but I didn’t think much of it. After all, I was (and am) still pretty new to the publishing world, what did I know? I read my story after the book was sent to me (I didn’t even know when it went to print, let alone when it would be available) as my payment for that story had been a contributor’s copy. There were a few sentences that had been rewritten, but on the whole it seemed fine. I added the story to my bibliography after tracking down the link on amazon.com by myself.
Later on, publisher/editor of that anthology posted on facebook about another book he was working on, a project tenatively titled “Zombie A Day”. I sent him one story I’d done a while back entitled “Blind”. He accepted and asked if I had anything else. I mentioned the two part story I’d finished and he said he’d like to read it. I sent it to him, hope shining in my eyes like the eager little writer worm I was. He liked it, and wanted to print it, but not as I had intended. There was a bit of back and forth between he and I about combining the stories into one, which I didn’t want to do, as I liked the idea of keeping them separate but related.
A short time later, he announced that he hadn’t gotten enough material for the proposed Zombie A Day collection, but would be printing my stories in another anthology called Zombie Tales. I was thrilled, as I had found a home for not one, not two, but three stories… Or so I thought.
The anthology was released under the name of a different publisher, Undead Press, and my story was no longer my story. It had been butchered. I sat in my livingroom with one of the 6 copies I had purchased, flipping through the pages, eager to see my words in print… only they weren’t my words. It wasn’t even my TITLE. Parts of my story had been cut out, names and details had been changed, things I was never made aware of and had never agreed to. I sat there in numb shock. Here was my name, attached to a story I no longer felt connected to. People were going to read this, it might be their first, possibly only, exposure to my work and what they were going to find were the words the editor had ascribed to me, which were very different from my own. My heart sank. I threw the book at the wall. What the hell was I going to do?
In the end… I did nothing. I bit my tongue and kept silent about my interactions with Anthony Giangregorio and Undead Press/Open Casket. I was afraid that he, as a publisher, would somehow blackball me within the industry if I spoke up or opened my mouth in any way. So I didn’t say a word to anyone other than my close friends and family. And I’m sorry for that, because the very same thing happened to a friend of mine just recently. Mandy DeGeit had a story published in Undead Press’s Cavalcade of Terror, which was similarly mistreated. I learned my lesson about being quiet. If someone does you an injustice, murders your artistic creation and sews the pieces back together in some sort of Frankenstein’s Monster parody of your original work, speak up. SHOUT. Tell everyone you know and ask them to tell everyone THEY know. Get the word out. Don’t let this kind of thing happen to others. The industry as a whole suffers when tainted by the warped vision of one so-called “Editor” who thinks he has the right to make changes to your vision without consulting you.