Every year I recap the writing triumphs and disappointments of the previous twelve months. Almost every year, I feel like I haven’t done enough. To be honest, I feel that anything that got accomplished this year was a triumph against entropy. I’ll call this post “Never Enough” for consistency’s sake, but I’m actually quite proud of my writing life in 2020.
I started the year talking to two publishers who wanted me to write cemetery books for them. For various reasons, both of those books fell through. I still hope to write another cemetery book someday, but I was relieved not to be under deadline in 2020.
I’m really pleased with the books I did manage to publish this year, especially since the last two I hadn’t even conceived of when the year began.
In February, Angelus Rose finally came out to complete the story of Lorelei and Azaziel. I’d planned to attend all my local conventions this year, in order to get the book into readers’ hands. Obviously that didn’t happen. I got sick in early March and missed FogCon, then San Francisco went into lockdown… I went out of my first blog book tour in support of the series, where I met a bunch of new-to-me bloggers.
A bunch of hoped-for reviews haven’t appeared (yet?) but Booklife had nice things to say: “Rhoads and Thomas craft a plausible romance for the angel and succubus without betraying their inherent natures; readers won’t forget that Lorelei is an inherently infernal creature with undeniable carnal needs who serves truly evil masters. Vivid prose (“she felt the portal’s heat crawl over her skin like a thousand cockroaches”) keeps the reader immersed. The authors keep the personal stakes balanced against the larger conflict at hand, which builds slowly to a violent resolution.”
In September, Unsafe Words came out. It collected 14 of my previously published stories and featured one that had never been published, introduced by Stoker Award-winner Lisa Morton. It also has a glorious cover created by Lynne Hansen.
Publishers Weekly said: “Rhoads’s prose is effervescent, rendering her imagined worlds with nuance and the occasional dose of black humor. This carefully crafted collection makes an excellent showcase of Rhoads’s skill across a multitude of subgenres.”
Earlier this month, my third book of the year was published by HorrorAddicts.net Press. The Spooky Writer’s Planner is a compilation of all the tips and tricks Emerian and I have learned about writing, publishing, staying creative, and managing the business of writing. I am really proud of it.
Short fiction & poetry publications:
“Mr. Moonlight,” a fairy story from Alondra’s childhood, appeared in the 50th edition of The Siren’s Call, published on July 1, 2020. You can read the whole issue for free here: http://www.sirenscallpublications.com/pdfs/SirensCallEZine_June2020.pdf
“With You By My Side, It Should Be Fine,” a time travel, post-plague nonbinary love story, was published for the first time in Unsafe Words.
“Transubstantiation,” a poem I wrote many years ago as lyrics for the band Trance, appeared in the HWA Poetry Showcase, available now in ebook and paperback from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KftTNv
Short fiction sales:
I’ve sold a brand-new story, but the contract hasn’t been signed yet, so I can’t announce the details. I’m really excited about it, though. It’s a story that I’ve meant to write for more than a decade. I’m thrilled that it sold on its first submission.
Other than that, I’ve got 5 other stories out that I haven’t heard back on yet. Fingers crossed that one or more of them will land.
In all, I got 13 short story rejections this year. One story alone accounted for 9 of those. I trust that every story will find a place eventually, but in the meantime, I’m aiming to write some new stories in 2021.
In 2020, I wrote three new stories and did radical revisions on two more. I think I can do better next year.
Short Nonfiction Publications:
My essay “Bosses from Hell,” about how my first boss out of college inspired Asmodeus, was published on E. M. Markoff’s Ellderet blog on September 2, 2020: http://www.ellderet.com/emmarkoff-blog/2020/9/1/bosses-from-hell-loren-rhoads-guest-post-paranormal-romance
My essay “Scarier than Halloween,” about trick-or-treating and my kid’s chronic illness, was published on the Horror Writers Association’s Halloween Haunts blog on October 10, 2020: https://horror.org/2020/10/halloween-haunts-scarier-than-halloween/
My essay about 15 books that inspired the stories in Unsafe Words appeared on Horror Made on October 10, 2020: https://horrormade.com/2020/10/10/15-books-behind-unsafe-words/
My essay about “Celebrating my Birthday in Cemeteries” was published on Readers Entertainment on October 10, 2020: https://readersentertainment.com/2020/10/10/birthdays-in-the-cemetery/
My essay explaining the songs on the Unsafe Words playlist appeared on Fang-tastic Books on October 12, 2020: https://fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com/2020/10/playlist-unsafe-words-by-loren-rhoads.html
My essay about my Pandemic Garden appeared at Creatively Green on October 15, 2020: https://creativelygreen.blogspot.com/2020/10/in-garden-with-loren-rhoads-inthegarden.html
I wrote about how visiting a cadaver lab inspired my story “Valentine” for Jennifer Brozek’s Tell Me feature. It was published on October 28, 2020: http://www.jenniferbrozek.com/blog/post/2020/10/28/Tell-Me-Loren-Rhoads1
My essay about the books and luxury I would take to entertain myself all night as a “Graveyard Warden” appeared on Kendall Reviews on November 9, 2020:
My “Childhood Fears” essay, about my closest cousin and a childhood seance, was published on Ginger Nuts of Horror on December 1, 2020: https://gingernutsofhorror.com/features/childhood-fears-by-loren-rhoads
I managed essays for the HWA newsletter about green burial, the grave of the Black Dahlia, the Capuchin catacombs of Rome, and “Additions to Your Cemetery Library” this year.