Muffins and mayhem. Werewolves, witches, and delicious little lemon cakes. Mercedes M. Yardley has carved herself a niche in the world of dark fiction by blending beauty and horror in unexpected ways.
“I don’t like things to be dark simply for darkness’ sake,” Mercedes says. “I very much believe in hope. I believe that suffering makes us stronger, and we can overcome our obstacles. I want the reader to realize that although things don’t always turn out ideally, there’s something positive to be said for the experience. I also find that my work sells well in the horror market because people want something a little lighter mixed in with their usual dose of despair.”
One of Mercedes’ first published pieces, “Murder for Beginners” was published in Shock Totem Magazine. A year later, Mercedes was brought aboard the magazine as a nonfiction writer. She was then bumped up to a contributing editor, a position that she still holds.
“Working for a small press changed everything for me,” she says. “It was definitely an accelerated learning curve, that’s for sure! Reading slush helped me improve my work as a writer. Learning the ins and outs of the business took away a lot of the confusion and fear. Shock Totem has graduated into publishing books as well as the magazine, so I’m learning that aspect, as well.”
Mercedes has over 100 published pieces to her credit, including her short story collection Beautiful Sorrows and her new novella titled Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love which was released in September of 2013. Both are small press releases.
“I’m in the unique position of having a literary agent in New York who is shopping my novels to mainstream publishers, but he gives me free rein to do novellas and collections with the small press. I get to straddle both sides of the industry, and that allows me to have a clear perspective on the pros and cons of the traditional and small presses.”
Mercedes will be teaching the “Writing For and Publishing with a Small Press” class at the Kanab Writer’s Conference, on October 25 and 26. The class will cover
• Researching a suitable market
• How to write an appealing query letter
• Adapting your manuscript or piece to fit the market’s needs
• Small press etiquette
• Forming positive relationships within the small press
• The pros and cons of a small press
Mercedes is excited that the conference will be held in such a beautiful place.
“I can’t wait to come back to Kanab!” she says. “I’m from Emery County, Utah. We used to go to Kanab all of the time. There was this Mexican restaurant that I was wild about. I’m hoping it’s still there. It’s been a while. Too long.”