Interview: Rebecca M. Senese, on “The Haunting of Melsbury Manor”

Now available via Bundle Rabbit as part of the Haunted bundle!

Find the author at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Greetings! I am freelance writer, editor, and designer DeAnna Knippling; I am interviewing authors for for Blackbird publishing because a) Jamie knows me, and b) I love having the chance to ask writers nerdy questions. EEE!

Today’s author is Rebecca Senese, whose story “The Haunting of Melsbury Manor” is available in the Haunted bundle on BundleRabbit and other sites.

The questions:

Is this story really polite enough for a Canadian? I kid, I kid… You’re a Canadian from Toronto with a history of participating in haunted houses. Tell us what it’s like to get involved in a haunted house and scare the crap out of people. I’m assuming that it’s a blast. How did you get involved in the glamorous, high-stakes culture of haunted houses?

Answer: It is a blast to get dressed up in a scary costume and scare the crap out of people! I’ve had people fall over, gangs of boys grab onto each other for dear life, and even a huge, hulking guy who looked like he could squish me with one hand grab his chest like he was going to have a heart attack! Then when I started to follow him, he almost squealed and tried to push past his friends to get away.

Such fun!

I’ve always loved horror and haunted houses. Over ten years ago, some friends of mine were running a haunt north of Toronto and over a period of a few years, I slowly became more involved. After they closed, I’ve volunteered at other haunts in and around Toronto. I’m also involved with the haunt community, helping to run the Canadian Haunters Association (

Funny thing, one of the very first stories I remember writing in elementary school was about a haunted house. It was about a group of kids exploring it and had a vampire, a werewolf, a mummy, the Frankenstein monster, and a gorilla in it, because at the time I thought gorillas were scary. Fortunately, that gem is lost in time.

What brought you to write this particular story—other than needing to submit a story for Jamie’s “Haunted” bundle?

Answer: I actually wrote this story a number of years ago. When Jamie mentioned the bundle to me, I immediately thought of this story because it is a different kind of haunting story. What brought me to write it is lost to the mists of my memory, sad to say. I do remember wanting to tell this story from a particular point of view. Saying any more might spoil it.

Your story, “The Haunting of Melsbury Manor,” is full of twists, more twists in one short story than most writers attempt in a novel. I was effusing to you about them. Do you normally think of stories in terms of plot twists? Are those the stories that you love best? I hate to ask you about your favorite plot twist in your own work—who wants a plot twist to be given away?!?—but I do want to hear about what place you feel they have in your stories.

Answer: I don’t usually think about plot twists as such in stories. For me, I’m more concentrated on my character and what’s happening to them and how they react to it. So if a twist does come up, I think about it in terms of its effect on my character. As far as “The Haunting of Melsbury Manor,” some of those twists are more reveals about the character. That sort of thing is very satisfying to me. It makes the plot twist do double work, creating more action or drama and revealing something more about the character. When I can manage that, it’s a double whammy and I like it!


I’m struggling to ask this question without giving anything away. “The Haunting of Melsbury Manor” seems to be about building families based on mutual support rather than blood ties. Where do you get your sense of family from? Friends, relatives, both?

Answer: My sense of family is that it is who they are. For some people, they’re born into a family that treats them that way and for others they have to go outside the biological relatives to build their own family. And for others, it’s a combination of the two. In older societies, you had the extended family which included the tribe, not just the parents and siblings. I like that idea a lot because of the idea of defining family as connecting to more people rather than defining family as an exclusion of others, which is how the so-called ‘nuclear’ family appears to me. I much prefer inclusion rather than exclusion.

You have a number of much darker horror books out, as well as science fiction and mystery. Do you mentally sort out what kind of book you’re writing before you write it, or do you just sit down and see what happens? I’ve known you for some time, and it’s always kind of surprising and fun to see you spread further and further into different genres.

Answer: I always pretend to know what I’m writing. 🙂 I often start out assuming I’m writing a certain type of story but then the story will have its own idea of how it’s going to go. Other times it will actually stay the same type that I start out writing. Other times it will morph into something completely different. So you could say I do both! I mentally start with an idea of what the story will be in mind and then I follow where it takes me, wherever that is.

and last but not least, the bonus question:

Is there any note that you’d like to leave your readers on? (Hint: the additional promo question.)

Answer: Check out my website at for more paranormal stories. Two of my other ghostly tales are “Leg Me Call You Sweetheart” and “Snow Bind”, both listed on my site with links to your favourite ebook retailer. Sign up for my newsletter at and receive the “Rebecca M. Senese Sampler” for free, featuring science fiction, mystery, horror, and urban fantasy.

Rebecca M. Senese weaves words of horror, mystery and science fiction in Toronto, Ontario. She garnered an Honorable Mention in “The Year’s Best Science Fiction” and has been nominated for numerous Aurora Awards. Her work has appeared in Fiction River: Visions of the Apocalypse, Fiction River: Sparks, Fiction River: Recycled Pulp, Tesseracts 16: Parnassus Unbound, Imaginarium 2012, Tesseracts 15: A Case of Quite Curious Tales, Ride the Moon, Hungar Magazine, On Spec, TransVersions, Future Syndicate, and Storyteller, amongst others. Find her at

DeAnna Knippling is a freelance writer, editor, and book designer living in Colorado. She runs Wonderland Press, a micropublisher of curious fiction and non-fiction for iconoclasts.


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Bundle story: “Never After” by Jaime Lee Moyer

“You wake and remember why he haunts you.
Blood washes off in the shower. You cry and never feel clean.”

Lillian Bryan goes to the office each morning and tries to ignore her co-workers’ stares, and her boss’ suspicions. She wants to believe that the battles she fights each night aren’t real, that it’s all a vivid dream. Lily tries to pretend that the nightmare will end; that she’ll stop waking up stiff and sore and bloody, haunted by the memory of those dying all around her. Haunted even more by how quickly she heals, and that she can’t seem to die.

The truth is she’s starting to forget living a life without fear and pain, or without ghosts staring in silent reproach. What’s happening to her is real, and Lily can’t break free of the nightmare.

Not without help.

“Never After” is in the Haunted bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.

Bundles With Stories by This Author

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About the Author

Jaime Lee Moyer lives in a land of cactus, cowboys, and rhinestones, while dreaming of tall trees and the ocean. She writes novels about murder and betrayal, friendship, ghosts and magic. Her first novel Delia’s Shadow was published by Tor Books in 2013, A Barricade In Hell in 2014, and Against A Brightening Sky in 2015. Delia’s Shadow won the 2009 Columbus Literary Award for Fiction, administered by Thurber House and funded by the Columbus Art Counsel. She writes a lot. She reads as much as she can.

Find the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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What are story bundles, and why should authors care about them?

A story bundle is an ebook box set that has a few characteristics that make it different from standard ebook box sets.

The main story bundling websites right now are BundleRabbit, StoryBundle, and Humble Bundle. StoryBundle and BundleRabbit only bundle books; Humble Bundle also bundles games.


Bundles can be purchased through a bundling website and, depending on how that site works, may also be available through online stores like Amazon, iBooks, etc.

Most bundles are available for a limited time only – for example, a bundle might be available for three weeks, and then it’s gone forever. Availability is determined by the rules of the bundling site, and by the duration the curator sets.

For example, The Escapist Bundle is currently available on Storybundle, but only for another eighteen days. The Witches’ Brew bundle is available on BundleRabbit, Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble, and at present there is no set end date for this collection.

How does one create a bundle?

The person who organizes a bundle is referred to as the curator. For StoryBundle and Humble Bundle, someone wanting to curate a bundle should contact the site; for BundleRabbit, anyone can create an account and put together a bundle.

The curator determines the theme, invites authors to participate, writes the sales copy, handles creation of marketing images if needed, sets the price, determines the duration of the bundle, decides if a portion of the sale price can be donated to charity, etc.

How can an author participate in a bundle?

If you know someone who is or will be curating a bundle, you can request to participate. Or you might suggest another author create a bundle, and offer one of your stories (this approach has the added advantage of you not having to do the organizational work…).

BundleRabbit is unique in that authors can upload stories they’d like to have in bundles; curators can search the available content and extend invitations to authors through the website.

How does the revenue split work?

The bundling site will take a percentage of the proceeds after taxes and fees, then the rest is split between the curator and the authors.

Unlike a typical anthology, the bundling website handles splitting and delivering the revenue. This is a huge plus for the curator as he/she can focus on the content, images, marketing, etc.

Why should an author want to participate in a bundle?

Bundles generally include stories from multiple authors, each of whom has their own set of fans. By participating in a bundle, an author’s work is exposed to readers who might not have come across it otherwise.

The authors typically each do some form of promotion, whether it’s posting on Twitter, sharing information on Facebook, or talking about the bundle in a newsletter or on a blog. Because there are multiple authors all doing promotion, each individual author gets more exposure than they would be able to on their own.


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Bundle story: “Something After Saturday” by Steve Vernon

Daddy thought that he could just put old Granny out onto the hillside, just because he didn’t want her around the house anymore – only Daddy had another think coming. Something was going to happen. Something bad. Something dark and nasty, sometime after Saturday.

“If Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson and Robert Bloch had a three-way sex romp in a hot tub, and then a team of scientists came in and filtered out the water and mixed the leftover DNA into a test tube, the resulting genetic experiment would most likely grow up into Steve Vernon.” – Bookgasm

“Steve Vernon was born to write. He’s the real deal and we’re lucky to have him.” – Richard Chizmar

“Something After Saturday” is in the Witches’ Brew bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.

Bundles With Stories by This Author

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About the Author

Steve is a writer and an oral tradition storyteller; he learned the storytelling tradition from his grandfather, and regularly tells stories to in-person audiences ranging from 5 to 5,000 spectators. He writes horror, paranormal, dark fantasy, and ghost stories, and specializes in the fine old art of booga-booga.

Think of Steve as that old dude at the campfire spinning out ghost stories and weird adventures and the grand epic saga of how Thud the Second stepped out of his cave with nothing more than a rock in his fist and slew the saber-tooth tiger.

Find the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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Three easy ways to use Facebook to get mailing list sign ups

Here are three different ways you can use a Facebook page to direct people to your mailing list/newsletter sign up page.

  1. Add a sign up button to your page
  2. Provide a link in your page’s cover photo
  3. Use an app to add a sign up tab and form

Add a sign up button to your page

Underneath the cover photo on your Facebook page is a button labeled “+ Add a Button.”

If you click on this you’ll see a popup containing a slew of options. To set up a link to your sign up page:

  • Select ‘Get in Touch,’ then on the next popup select ‘Sign Up.’
  • Enter the URL to the sign up page on your author/publishing press website and hit ‘Add Button.’

Your Facebook page now has a ‘Sign Up’ button that takes you to the link you entered. If you hover over the button you’ll see a ‘Test Button’ link – click it to verify that the button goes where you think it should.

Provide a link in your page’s cover photo

  • Click on your page’s cover photo.
  • Edit the description for the photo and add a link to your sign up page.
  • Save the description.

Now when someone clicks on your cover photo, the description – with the link you added – will be displayed.

Use an app to add a sign up tab and form

You can use an app to a tab to the sidebar of your page. When the user clicks on that tab, a sign up form will be displayed on your Facebook page.

aWeber, Constant Contact, and MailChimp are a few of the companies who currently provide apps to integrate mailing list/newsletter sign ups with Facebook. Each app works a bit differently, so make sure to read the documentation for whichever one you use.

Here’s a screenshot showing how app configuration works with aWeber. Notice that the list and the form used are options, so you might create one form for use on Facebook and another for use on your website.

And here’s how this particular sign up form looks on a Facebook page. Notice the ‘Email Signup’ link at the bottom of the sidebar – clicking that takes you to this page. In this screenshot, there’s also a ‘Sign Up’ button under the cover photo that was created following the ‘Add a sign up button to your page’ steps above.

If your email marketing provider doesn’t offer an app, you can always write one yourself.


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Bundle story: “Phoenix” by Leslie Claire Walker

A mystery girl appears in the midst of a winter thunderstorm, seeking a witch to break a terrible curse: the girl has accidentally destroyed the Realm of Faery.

Seventeen-year-old Stacy, young to the Craft but growing in power and reputation thanks to her hand in thwarting the last apocalypse, might be able to save both Faery and the girl.

If Stacy refuses to help, both the realm and the girl will die. But helping the girl can only lead to heartbreak—and a choice that will change them both forever.

An impossible problem. A heroine with the courage and heart to take on the challenge against all odds. To enter the magic, read PHOENIX.

PHOENIX is a story in The Faery Chronicles series.

“Phoenix” is in the Fantasy in the City bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.

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About the Author

Leslie Claire Walker grew up among the lush bayous of southeast Texas. She lives in the spectacularly green Pacific Northwest with cats, harps, and too many fantasy novels to count. She takes her inspiration from the dark beauty of the city, the power of myth, and music ranging from Celtic harp to heavy metal. Her short fiction has appeared in many magazines and anthologies.

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Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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Adding social media buttons to your Goodreads author profile

Your Goodreads author profile is much more versatile than it might first appear. 🙂

The ‘biography’ field supports HTML, so while that does mean you can do nifty things like format words in bold or italics (although not change the font color, alas), it also means you can provide links to images or other websites. This gives you the ability to add buttons which link to your various social media profiles, your website, your favorite cat videos on YouTube…the only limit is your imagination!

If you have a website already set up, you probably have social media buttons that look something like this, where each button takes you to the appropriate website.

You can set up the same type of thing on your Goodreads author profile with a little bit of very simple HTML. Here’s an example of the end result.

Note that you can use any image you want, and link to anything that floats your boat – it doesn’t have to be just buttons linking to social media pages. Just be mindful of how this will look to the reader. Plus the Goodreads librarians might not appreciate you linking to images of dinosaur photos – unless perhaps you write books about dinosaurs. 🙂


  • Edit the author data on your Goodreads author page.
  • Look for a section called ‘biography.’
  • Add the appropriate HTML (see below) to this section.
    Note that you can add the buttons anywhere, but they’re going to be more noticeable and recognizable to the reader if they’re displayed at the top, just under the other summary data about you.
  • Click save.
  • Verify that the result looks correct, and make sure to test the links.

HTML text

For each button you link to, you’ll enter HTML that looks something like this in the “biography” field.

<a href="">
<img src=""></a>

If you are adding multiple buttons, like in the screenshot above, you don’t need to add spaces or newlines in between them. For example:

<a href="">
<img src=""></a><a href="">
<img src=""></a>

Where to find images

I created a new directory on my website to hold the images I’m already using elsewhere because I wanted to use the same images in all places. I also wanted to maintain my own copies of the images so that I could easily modify them if I chose.

That might not be an option for you, or you might not have the same type of control issues. 🙂 If you’d like to link to icons maintained by someone else, Michael J. Sullivan has been kind enough to provide access to his icons. You can find instructions on how to access them, as well as a much more in-depth description of this entire process, in a document he’s put together called Creating contact icons in a Goodreads profile page.

Michael’s Goodreads author page is an excellent example of how you can add buttons and other relevant images to your profile. Michael and his wife/business partner Robin talked about this topic, as well as a number of other interesting ways to use Goodreads, when they were interviewed on Stephen Campbell’s Author Biz podcast..


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Bundle story: “All the Retros at the New Cotton Club” by DeAnna Knippling

Bernice had a good life with Bobby. She mighta been the second wife but to him she was number one. Then he died of cancer—something that not even the modern docs who could treat a ninety-year-old man to look like he was twenty-five again could cure.

Most of the money went to his kids. She’d get a house and enough to live really good on if she hosted an illegal copy of his A.I. for three years—his “ghost.”

It was almost like having him back. They could go to underground clubs and hang out with the other A.I.s who were slumming it with the living. She could see him, talk to him, feel his touch—

And hide him from the people who were lookin’ for him. And who mighta just found out where he was hidden…

“All the Retros at the New Cotton Club” is in the Haunted bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.

Bundles With Stories by This Author

More by the Author

About the Author

DeAnna Knippling is a writer, a parent, and an overthinker who boldly paranoids where no one has paranoided before. Her superpower is speed reading. She ghostwrites novels for fun and profit. She has an essay in the award-winning Women Destroy Science Fiction! collection. She has had stories published in Penumbra, Three-Lobed Burning Eye, Black Static, and more. Her latest novel, Alice’s Adventures in Underland: The Queen of Stilled Hearts, comes out of her obsession with all things Alice. She writes books for middle-graders as De Kenyon.

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Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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How to claim a title as your book on Amazon

If a book is not showing up on your Amazon author page, you need to ‘claim’ the book as yours.

This can happen even if your name is listed as an author on the book’s page. In this situation you can search for your name and the title and the book will come up, but it won’t be listed on your Amazon author page.

Another way this can occur is if you’re one of more than 10 authors participating in an anthology, box set, etc. Amazon’s interface only allows 10 names to be entered for each ebook title, and additional names must be added later.

If either situation applies to you, don’t despair! 🙂

Here’s how to claim your book.

  • Log in to Amazon Author Central.
  • Click on Books in the menu at the top of the page.
  • If the book is missing from your list of titles, click the button labeled Add more books.
  • Search for the book.
  • Once you’ve found it, click the button underneath it that reads This is my book.
  • A screen will pop up listing the names of the authors in that book.
    • If your name is in this list, select it.
    • If your name is not in this list:
      • Look in the Need your name added? section and click on the contact us link.
      • Fill out their form.
      • Wait a little bit (maybe as long as a day).
  • Shazam! The book will be listed on your Amazon author page!

Note that if there are more than ten authors, your name will still not appear on the list of names on the book’s page, but the book will appear on your author page.

Reference: Amazon’s help page on this topic.


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New Bundle: Haunted

The Haunted bundle is now available!

If you purchase The Haunted Bundle on the BundleRabbit website, you can choose to donate a percentage of the purchase price to either World Vets or Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

The bundle can also be purchased on Kobo, Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble.

This collection was curated by Jamie Ferguson, and contains stories about ghosts, hauntings, and mysterious things by Alexandra Brandt, Rebecca M. Senese, Dayle A. Dermatis, Leah Cutter, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Chuck Heintzelman, Deb Logan, Steve Vernon, Dean Wesley Smith, DeAnna Knippling, Brigid Collins, J. A. Campbell, Mark Leslie, Jaime Lee Moyer, Louisa Swann, Valerie Brook, T. Thorn Coyle, P. D. Cacek, Jamie Ferguson, and J. Daniel Sawyer.

More information on the authors and the stories will be appearing on the bundle’s Facebook page. You can also check out the bundle’s Goodreads page.

Have you ever felt as though someone was watching you, but when you turned around no one was there?

How many times have you been unable to find something, then it later turned up in the exact place you’d searched over and over?

Why does your cat act as though it’s staring at something, even though you can’t see anything?

Just because you can’t see anything doesn’t mean there isn’t something there…

But don’t worry. Ghosts aren’t real.

Or are they?


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