Come Write with Me

I am now an event organizer for Shut Up & Write!

In the Before Times, I used to attend two Shut Up & Write groups that met in cafes in San Francisco. Since the pandemic trapped me at home, I’ve been attending various SU&W groups over Zoom. As strange as it sounds, it is surprisingly motivating to have a screen filled with other writers working, even if we’re scattered around the world. I feel like, if as long as they’re working, I should be, too.

Now I’ve volunteered to host my own Shut Up & Write session.

Please come join me every Tuesday morning at 10 AM PST, if you’d like to have a couple hours of peace to yourself or if you have something to get out of your system or if, by any chance, you are working on a novel.  All are welcome, as long as you’re willing to put your head down and bang out some words. If you like, I will give you a gold star just for showing up.

Last week, only three of us showed up to write.  That was okay:  we got some work done and felt virtuous.

It would be more fun with more people. I’m just saying.

The RSVP link:

The description:

Staying at home to do your civic duty during the COVID-19 pandemic? Join us via Zoom for a couple of hours of writing from the comfort of your own home.

I’ve discovered that it’s strikingly helpful to write with others, even if we’re all just hanging out online together. See if it’s true for you at 10AM Pacific time on Tuesday mornings.

Be it a book, blog, script, essay, dissertation, resume, melody, poem or just plain work stuff, you are invited to write it with us. Instead of just thinking about writing, come and get some real writing done. Don’t worry, no one will see what you’ve written or give you unsolicited advice.

10:00 – Quick introductions
10:15 – Timer starts: write until noon
12:00 – The End: chat, take off, or keep writing

A computer with working camera and microphone, a good internet connection, and optionally, headphones or earbuds. Also, an idea of what project you’d like to spend your time on.

Technical difficulties are part and parcel of getting together online.

If you’ve never used your computer for an online meeting, take a few minutes before we meet to familiarize yourself with how to use Zoom by reviewing the below tutorial:

If you run into technical issues, remember that this is the time you’ve carved out for yourself and your writing. Whether or not you are able to join our online meet-up, go ahead and get your writing started, then leave a comment below to let us know how it went for you.

In addition:

I’m hosting Creative Support, a non-Shut Up & Write group for writers and artists, on Zoom on Wednesdays from 10 am to noon PST. The format is more or less the same: a few minutes to check in at the beginning, then two hours of silent, self-directed creation.

If you’d rather join that group, drop me a note through this contact form and I’ll send you the link.

Posted in writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Year’s Goals

I always get a charge in the fall, as if the new school year is starting. (Admission: I haven’t been back to school in a very long time.) I get another jolt of ambition at New Year’s. Of course, the things I expect to accomplish in the course of a year don’t always happen, but as long as I keep nudging all the pieces forward, I’ll finish them in the end.  Right?

This year, I aim to finish another 3 books. I’m going to state this right out in public, so I can get that accountability jolt, too. There’s no drawback if I get distracted by something shiny or lucrative, but I would like to see these projects completed. So…goals, not resolutions.

  1. A collection of personal essays tentatively called This Morbid Life. I envision this as a collection of stuff I wrote for Morbid Curiosity magazine, for the zines File 13 and Zine World and Enterrupted, for Scoutie Girl and Jane and various magazines online. I bought the cover image last year from Lynne Hansen, so now I just have to assemble a book that will do it justice.

2. The Death of Memory was my first completed novel: the origin story for Alondra DeCourval, the witch about whom I’ve written so many stories. I keep going back to the book, trying to polish it so I can unleash it on the world. This is finally the year. I really need that book done, so I can move on to tell more of Alondra’s adventures.

3. Writing in Cafes is the project that’s farthest from finished. I imagine it as a workbook for writers that will help people discover how they work best and what they need to do to support their own creative processes. I think it will be a fun project to work on, too.

In and around all that, I’d like to finish the Alondra novella set on the Farallon Islands. I’d also like to write a handful of new stories — let’s say 5, shall we?

And I want to do a better job selling the books I have stashed away in my garage.

And I want to increase the readership of my monthly newsletter.

This year especially I feel like creativity can save us. We need the inspiration and escape of writing/making/creating things. What have you envisioned for this year?

If you’d like to help support my work, please buy me a cup of tea. I would be really grateful!

Buy me a cup of tea!

Posted in writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Is Frankensteined a word? When it comes to planners it is!

Guest Post by Emerian Rich

I’ve Frankensteined planners for so many years, it doesn’t seem strange anymore. Sure, I waste time and money on several I end up not using, but how else am I supposed to create the perfect planner for my year?

Funnily enough, when I brought this problem up to my friend and fellow horror writer, Loren Rhoads, she had the same problem.

How, we asked ourselves, are we supposed to keep organized and productive without totally cutting and pasting our favorite parts into one monster book that will take care of all of our needs? If only there were a writer’s journal already on Amazon that we could order every year. One that addressed all of our needs at once.

I don’t remember who said it first. Was it Loren? Was it me? But suddenly an idea explosion erupted in that little chat window.

What if we teamed up to make the perfect Spooky Writer’s Planner? One that could be versatile for every writer. One that could be purchased in print for those of us who like to carry around a book, but also be digital for those of us who like to print and keep records in binders? One that included essential sheets for writer record-keeping like submissions we subbed, contacts for future ideas, and lists of what we had already published.

Could we possibly create such a monster?

Yes. Yes we could.

And now, for your approval we submit the…Spooky Writer’s Planner.

Are you spooky?

Do you write horror, speculative fiction, dark fantasy, paranormal romance, or fairy tales?

Are you a spooky blogger, macabre non-fiction columnist, or haunt travel vlogger?

Are you ready to stop dreaming and be a writer?

Are you an author who wants to take your career to the next level?


13 months of monthly and weekly spreads

Monthly goal and recap sheets

Weekly check-ins and note pages

Writing challenges, planners, and instructions

Submissions, published works, and contacts trackers

Marketing, newsletter, and blog planners

Check-off sheets for website maintenance, social media profiles, and expenses

Fun sheets to generate writing ideas, track your favorite TV series, or to be read and watched lists.

Authors Loren Rhoads and Emerian Rich share the tricks they’ve learned over the course of a combined 50 years in publishing, from working with traditional New York publishers, small presses, and as indie publishers themselves.


PRINT: The Spooky Writer’s Planner is perfect-bound with a glossy cover, printed on high-quality 8.5 x 11-inch paper. Everything you need is included in one handy book you can grab and go! Have book, will travel!

DIGITAL: The quick-download version gives you a digital copy so you can print the pages you want, print multiples of those you think you’ll use the most, leave those you won’t use, and create your own Frankenstein’s Monster of a planner! These pages are designed to be printed on 8.5 x 11-inch paper. You can put them in a three-ring binder, bind them with disks, or a spiral, as you choose. You can print different sheets on different colors.

Click here to find out more about this planner, see pictures, and spreads for each version.

Posted in Books for sale | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bride of Never Enough 2020

Normally I’d write one post about all the live events I did in a year: the readings, lectures, book signings, convention panels, book sales, and what have you. Instead I managed 3 readings.

I’m trying to figure out if I want to lecture online next year. In the olden days, I gave talks in public on graveyard ghost stories, the removal of the cemeteries from San Francisco, and tracing the Mission Dolores graveyard through tourist postcards. I could adapt any of those to online audiences. I could figure out how to teach cemetery history or writing and revision… I just am not sure if it’s worth the time I would need to spend developing things. Maybe, if I start to think about it now, I’ll be ready for next October!


In the meantime, I read the entirety of “In the Pines” and “The Acid that Dissolves Images” from Unsafe Words at Story Hour on August 5, 2020. You can watch the video on Facebook. I start about 29 minutes in, but you might enjoy RS Benedict’s story, too.

I read “The Angel’s Lair,” the short story that inspired the Lorelei/Azaziel books at Story Hour on November 11, 2020. I read first. My co-reader was Mike Allen.

I read a touch of “The Magic of Fire and Dawn” for the San Mateo Public Library’s Fourth Annual Tales of Horrors event. The video premiered on October 5, 2020.

Radio and Podcasts:

Ken Volante invited me onto his Something (Rather Than Nothing) podcast to talk about Morbid Curiosity magazine, cemeteries, and the purpose of art in these dark days. Airdate: September 1, 2020.

Bridget Marquardt shared her love of cemeteries with me on her Ghost Magnet podcast. Airdate: September 21, 2020.

Here’s a clip from that interview:

DJ Lilycat invited me back to her show on FCC Free Radio. I read part of “With You By My Side, It Should Be Fine,” a story that was published for the first time in Unsafe Words. Airdate: September 27, 2020. CW: the discussion got a little real, since we were FCC-free. You can listen to the whole show here:

Xtina Marie and James Longmore invited me to read part of “Here There Be Monsters” from Unsafe Words on Panic Room Radio. Xtina’s response is delicious. Airdate: October 29, 2020.

Joanna Penn and I had the best cemetery conversation of my life on her Books and Travel Podcast: Life Obsessed. Cemeteries, Graveyards and Ossuaries. Airdate: October 29, 2020.

RS Benedict invited me to talk about catharsis and how horror prepares us to deal with the harder parts of being alive at her Rite Gud podcast. Airdate: December 10, 2020.

Finding Beauty In Darkness

Finally, I read a little snippet of “Here There Be Monsters” for KALW’s New Arrivals feature. Airdate: December 17, 2020.

Posted in Resume, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Never Enough 2020

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.

Book publications:

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 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:

“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:

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:

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:

My essay about 15 books that inspired the stories in Unsafe Words appeared on Horror Made on October 10, 2020:

My essay about “Celebrating my Birthday in Cemeteries” was published on Readers Entertainment on October 10, 2020:

My essay explaining the songs on the Unsafe Words playlist appeared on Fang-tastic Books on October 12, 2020:

My essay about my Pandemic Garden appeared at Creatively Green on October 15, 2020:

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:

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:

{Graveyard Shift} Loren Rhoads, author of Unsafe Words is this week’s warden.

My “Childhood Fears” essay, about my closest cousin and a childhood seance, was published on Ginger Nuts of Horror on December 1, 2020: 

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.

Posted in Resume, Reviews of my books, The Weekly Morbid, writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments