With You By My Side, It Should Be Fine

The story that got me into the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop was about a nonbinary prostitute called Tolly. Thomas Disch, one of my Clarion instructors, was extremely disappointed when he met me and my gender didn’t match his expectations, based on the spelling of my name and the subject of my story.  The same story, when written by someone who presented as a woman, meant something completely different to him.

At the time, I didn’t have the language to describe Tolly. I saw him as a boy who was more comfortable dressed like a girl. Once, decades later, I saw the term nonbinary, I knew that was how Tolly would describe himself.

In this story, which was originally drafted in the early 80s, I’d never heard of nonstandard pronouns. Because of that, Tolly uses masculine pronouns throughout, because that is what was available to him in the world he lived in. I like to think that wherever he and Doug end up, there are wider options available. Masculine pronouns have never encompassed all that Tolly is.

WilyWriters.net invited me to kick off their new reading series. Since it’s Pride Month, I asked if I could read the LGBTQ+ story closest to my heart, the one I chose to end my story collection, Unsafe Words.

This is “With You By My Side, It Should Be Fine.”

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Paranormal Romance eBook Extravaganza!

Enter to win a copy of my succubus & angel romance and so much more:

eBook & Paperback Sweepstakes!

(2) Winners of eBook “Gift Baskets” of ALL ebooks
Other Winners of individual ebooks or paperbacks
(randomly selected)

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Holding Office Hours at the Nebulas

This Friday at 11 a.m., I’m hosting an Office Hour as part of the Nebula Conference of the Science Fiction Writers Association. I’ll be available to answer questions about the future of body disposal from burial in space to cremation to the newest technologies for water cremation, promession (freeze-drying), and human composting.

I’ve been researching memorial gifts like cremation diamonds, tattoo preservation, and memorial forests.

If you’re going to the Nebula Conference, I’d love to talk with you. The signup sheet is here: https://events.sfwa.org/schedule/office-hours/

If you’re not attending the Nebulas, I’ve been collecting my reference materials up on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/MorbidLoren/future-of-death/

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Tales for the Camp Fire

Two years ago, I edited a collection of horror stories to raise money for survivors of the Camp Fire in Northern California. It was one of the honors of my life to edit the book, which has gone on to raise more than $2500 for the North Valley Community Foundation.

All of the stories were donated by their authors, including a story donated by the estate of Clark Ashton Smith. The cover artwork was donated. I donated my time as an editor. The publisher has donated all the profits from the book.

While the survivors of the Camp Fire have now rebuilt or moved away, the number of people who have survived a wildfire in California grows each year. The state received very little rain this past winter — and consequently this upcoming fire season has been forecasted to be the longest and most devastating yet.

Want to help out? You’re in luck! The book is still available for sale in paperback and ebook at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3vKyoSZ (Be aware that if you buy it from one of the “other sellers,” no donation can be made.)

In the meantime, here’s a taste of my introduction to the book:

In the Face of the Fire

My father was five when his home burned to the ground. My grandparents had been sitting up in the evening when a chicken incubator caught fire on the porch. As flames licked up the outside of the house, they rounded up their three kids—my dad was the oldest—and fled into the cold Michigan night. Somehow, in the process of doing what they could to fight the fire, my grandparents lost track of my dad. He wandered back into the burning house and went back to bed. He was too young, too sleepy, to understand the danger. My grandfather braved the flames to rescue him. He was burned coming back down the stairs, but thankfully, they both survived.

Not only did the family lose everything beyond the clothes on their backs, but Grandpa didn’t trust banks. He’d had a thousand dollars in cash hidden in the house. In an instant, everything they’d owned and all of their savings were gone.

I’m not the only author in this collection whose life was shaped by fire. Gene O’Neill’s family lost a house in one of California’s wildfires. Gary Clark wrote in his submission letter, “A woman who lost her home has just moved into the mobile home park here where I live.” Images of families huddled into shelters filled the local news for weeks.

All of us in this book remember the terrible smoke from the Camp Fire. Not only could the fire be seen from space, but smoke blanketed the Bay Area from Napa in the north to San Jose in the south. Because of the unusually still weather last November, smoke poured through the passes surrounding the San Francisco Bay and got trapped by the coastal mountains. Even though San Francisco itself is almost 200 miles from Butte County, for almost a week we had the worst air quality in the world.

Even while it wasn’t safe to breathe the outside air, our hearts went out to the people of Butte County—those who were evacuated from the fire zone and waited in shelters to hear if their homes survived, those who lost everything including loved ones and pets, and those who could not outrun a fire that traveled ten miles in ten minutes, devouring everything in its path before people could even begin to grasp the danger they were in.

In the weeks after the fire, the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Horror Writers Association decided to assemble this volume as a way to raise money to support the survivors of the Camp Fire. The initial idea was put forth by Ben Monroe. I volunteered to edit and E.M. Markoff stepped forward to act as publisher. Ken Hueler helped me get the word out to the members. Submissions flooded in.

Horror is the perfect genre to grapple with questions raised by disasters of this magnitude. What, in the end, is truly important in life? How can we face death? How does one continue when confronted with unimaginable loss? Is it possible to find light in the darkness? Can humor save us? One hopes that catharsis will cause us to value our common humanity all the more.

I am immensely honored to present this collection of short horror stories to you. Many of these tales were published previously, but others appear here for the first time. You’ll find everything from straight-up horror to science fiction to fairytales, stories to frighten, awe, and cheer you.

Thank you in advance for your generosity.

That link again is: https://amzn.to/3vKyoSZ

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Book birthday sale!

In 2018, my kid was hospitalized twice for migraine treatments that ultimately didn’t work. While we spent those weeks in the hospital, I worked on assembling three short collections of stories about Alondra DeCourval, a witch who travels the world to fight monsters and set things right.

Alondra was the first character I created. I’ve spent a large part of my life studying so that I would know the things Alondra knows, in order to write her stories. Lately I’ve been taking a Tarot class with Laetitia Barbier through Morbid Anatomy, because Alondra reads Tarot professionally and I wanted to understand how. I’ve also been taking classes through Treadwell’s Bookstore in London on the Qabalah, because it’s the sort of thing Alondra’s teacher would have made sure she was grounded in.

I’m working up to finally revising, once and for all, the first novel I wrote about Alondra and how she came to San Francisco in the first place. I feel like I owe my old friend to get her story out into the world.

In the meantime, this Sunday is the anniversary of one of the Alondra chapbooks’ publication date. In honor of the book birthday, I’ve made the first ebook in the series free through Saturday. Get your copy here: https://amzn.to/3x7hI9E

I’ve also dropped the price on the other 2 Alondra chapbooks. You can pick them up on Amazon for .99 cents each.

Find out more about the chapbooks here: https://lorenrhoads.com/writing/the-alondra-stories/the-alondra-chapbooks/

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