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- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to Make An Awesome Buttermilk Biscuit (Interview With Reviewer and Editor Meghan Shena Hyden)

Howdy, friends, fans, and family!  I'm always happy to have guests on the blog, and I get especially excited on the rare occasions when we get non-authors to jump in and tell us about other aspects of the publishing industry.  So today I'm pleased to feature reviewer and freelance editor Meghan Shena Hyden.  I actually got to know Meghan when...well, perhaps I'll let her tell the story.  Let's get to know her a little bit better and then jump right into the interview.

About Meghan Shena Hyden:

Meghan (that’s Meghan spelled the right way) is an avid reader, a book editor, a story teller, a purveyor of delectable fare and pulchritudinous confections, a lover of big words, and the best aunt in the world. She may not be able to find her wallet, car keys or sunglasses, but she always knows where her Kindle is. When she’s not reading or posting on The Gal in the Blue Mask, she’s working on her own novel, editing for one of the great authors she’s had the pleasure of working with, or spending time outdoors (usually at the San Antonio Zoo). She’s one of the easiest people in the world to talk to, so don’t be afraid to say hi. :)

You can follow her on FacebookTwitterGoodreads, and Pinterest.  You can also follow her on her blog The Gal in the Blue Mask, The Gal on Facebook, her book Pinterest, and Hyde ’N’ Seek Editing on Facebook.


SK: Thanks for being with us today, Meghan. First question: what is the key to a really good biscuit?

MSH: Me making them. :) I make an awesome buttermilk biscuit that people are always asking for again.

SK: I ask this question every time I finagle a reviewer into coming on the blog because I think it is one that there are just no helpful tips for online. Like, there are industry standard expectations of how to approach an agent, a publisher, a marketer, etc., but as far as I can tell not one for approaching reviewers. What do you like to see when an author cold contacts you? A one paragraph pitch and a link to the book? A whole media packet? Something in between?

MSH: I’m not as particular as most people are, but I do have a few pet peeves: 1) Including quotes from other reviews (especially in really large print in that awful orange that, for some reason, authors are using lately). I don’t want to see them in your book description on Amazon and I don’t want to see them in my emails. I don’t know how other reviewers/bloggers do it, but I don’t even look at those reviews when it comes to an r2r. I don’t want other people’s opinions stuck in my head while I’m reading. 2) What I call the “cut & paste email”: where it is very obvious to anyone with a brain that you have just cut and paste things from different places into one email. How is it obvious? The formatting is all off, the font is different, the letters are all different sizes. This makes it hard to read and makes me feel like you didn’t put any thought or real effort into this email you’ve written me. 3) Poorly edited emails. This is a big deal in every profession, but I think an even bigger deal when you’re an author trying to get me to read your book. This doesn’t leave a good impression and makes me wonder if your book will be just as bad.

If you’re going to email me, tell me about your book, give me an Amazon link, include the statistics (pages and genre), and treat me like I’m human. You have a better chance of me reading your book if you introduce yourself to me, tell me a little bit about you … and make yourself memorable. Oh, and tell me you’ve actually read one of my reviews (whether it be on The Gal, Amazon or whatever) and which one - I love compliments. :)

SK: What is your favorite episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation?

MSH: Encounter at Farpoint. It’s the first one of the show - the first introduction to the cast of characters - and the first time we meet Q, who is one of my favorite recurring roles.

SK: Oh, no, I'm sorry, the correct answer was "Masks." Taking one point from Hufflepuff and moving on...I have noticed that you are very particular about your horror. What, for you, are the absolute key ingredients for great horror? Or, if you prefer, a negative list of things NOT to include.

MSH: I want to be scared. SCARED! I want a story that is going to stick with me and creep me out for days, that psychological stuff that really gets in your head and makes you think. Blood and gore is great, but not a necessity.

I am always willing to give a horror novel a chance, hoping that it will be my next favorite one, but there are things that I try to stay away from unless it just looks really good. Zombies have been so OVER DONE lately and I have yet to find one that petrified me. And that sucks because there is such a potential there, especially mixed with dystopian, which makes you think that it could happen any day now. Unfortunately, I also avoid (to some degree) vampires. I don’t want shimmery vampires that fall more under paranormal romance. I want evil bastards that will rip your throat out in a second. Yeah, you can definitely leave that romance crap out.

I do like stories that are very unique and a sarcastic anti-hero. I also have an issue with mirrors, which makes me more willing to read about them.

SK: Sarcastic anti-hero and original zombies, eh?  I'll try to see if I can think of something.  Okay, this is one of my favorite questions to ask, and very rarely do people answer it, but I think unless I misjudge your personality you will be one of the bold and outspoken few. Do you have any authors behaving badly stories?

MSH: Fortunately (and unfortunately), I only have a handful. Since I began The Gal a little over a year ago, I have only *fingers crossed* dealt with one that was just an outright jerk. He decided to scrap my interview and send me one he created on his own, then get mad (vicious, nasty, and threatening) because I am completely honest with my readers and told them that this was not the review I created. (I was a little concerned about him, but he lost all his steam when I refused to answer his emails and changed the settings on my blog so he couldn’t just keep leaving nasty comments.)

The worst one I ever dealt with was shortly after I began reviewing books on Amazon and Goodreads. I had found a book on gardening with children on Amazon and it was free for the day. It turned out to be one giant commercial for her other book and I left a 1 star review (my only one) explaining why I felt this way. She contacted me on Goodreads wanting to fix the situation, but kept changing her story, blaming it on everyone else, and then … in the end … told me that Goodreads and Amazon were closing my accounts because she told them that I was trying to force her to give me a free book (no, I just didn’t think that giving me an erotica book … written by your friend … that is already free … when I hate erotica … was a good exchange for a book on gardening). Being new to everything, I really was scared and contacted both Goodreads and Amazon - she is no longer on either.

SK: Ha ha, wow! Okay, let's end on a positive note, since they can't all be bad. Any authors behaving goodly stories?

MSH: Oh gosh yes!! I have some of the best author friends - and I love that I can call them that. Off hand, Jonathan Janz, Evans and Adam Light, Edward Lorn - good people!! Not only great at what they do, but just some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life.

April Elder (A.L. Elder) has been an absolutely awesome author to work with as an editor and a blogger. She is amazing. She is so thirsty for knowledge and so open to other people’s ideas and opinions … and I really enjoyed working with her and look forward to her being done with the other books she is working on.

I have a great meeting-an-author story (he shares this one as much as I do haha). Those emails out of the blue we were talking about earlier - I got one from this one author asking if I would be interested in reading one of his books and, when I went to look at them on Amazon, I realized why his name sounded familiar - I already had both of them. We have been friends ever since. He’s even interviewing me right now. :)

SK: That last one sounds like a lame-o.  Okay, well, thanks for being with us today, Meghan. Any parting words for your fans?

MSH: Read more!! And leave comments!!

I always say that the world would be a better place if people read more. So do it!! And the comment thing - I want to know your opinions, even if you tell me that what I’m saying is completely wrong. And I know lately I’ve just been doing a lot of reviews, but that’s going to be changing - I promise. I have some interviews of some great horror authors (and a horror blogger who I think is awesome) coming up so definitely keep a look out!!

And thanks. That’s my big one. Thank you for making The Gal what it is today. If it weren’t for you guys, there would be no point at all. When I began my blog, I was sure that it was just going to be me hanging out with just a few people and that it would never go over big. Then I find out that, in a little over a year, I’ve had over 200,000 page views - I never thought I would ever have something like that. And when someone tells me they read my blog, I’m always shocked (especially when it’s an author). So thank you thank you thank you!! :)


  1. Mmm, some warm biscuits sound great right now, it's cold and rainy right now. I always love finding new ppl to follow, off to check out The Gal right away!

    1. See if you can get her to share her biscuit recipe, Leandra. Apparently I don't rate. :)


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