I’m excited to host an interview with author Loren Rhoads here today.
Most writers I know were starry-eyed readers as children. What do you recall about the first stories that captivated your heart?
My mom used to read books to my brother and me at bedtime. The first one I remember falling in love with was Peter Pan.
I’m not sure what about the story intrigued me initially, but when I was four, my family moved to a brand-new house built in the middle of one of my grandmother’s fields. There wasn’t any yard, then, just piles of dirt dug out for the basment. All around the house rose these little hillocks, covered in willows and weeds and wildflowers.
Everything seemed feral, like something out of Neverland. My brother and I acted out our own Neverland adventures. We were so disappointed when the steamroller finally came and smoothed everything out for a yard.
When did you start writing your own stories?
I’m not sure when I first started writing things down, but I remember when I started to tell myself stories.
My mom was a firm believer in naps. She was in her 20s, working full-time as an English teacher, with two kids under 5. She may have needed a nap more than we did.
In order to get us to settle down, my mom made my brother and me get in her big bed with her. I had to hold still so they could sleep. I passed the time making up stories. They were about mermaids, like the puppet Marina in the Stingray show on TV.
What made you keep going?
When I was in junior high, I met some girls who actually wrote their stories down so they could pass them around. We didn’t think of ourselves as writers, really. We just wanted to share the stories we had in our heads. Sharing stories was a revelation for me.
I loved that I could create pictures that would live inside someone else’s imagination. I took my first creative writing class in high school. After that, I took every writing class I could find.
What was the path to publication like for you?
It’s been a long road. I published my first stories in the 1980s, after I went to the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop.
Soon after that, I had a teacher who discouraged me from writing science fiction, so I turned to horror. The horror community was so much more welcoming.
Since then, my short stories have ranged from erotic horror to science fiction to urban fantasy, while my novels have been space opera and a succubus/angel love story. I’ve written a couple of nonfiction books about cemeteries, too.
What was the best writing / publishing advice you ever received?
Years ago, I met Ray Bradbury, my writing idol, at a book signing in San Francisco. I told him I was struggling with my first novel because I felt like I had to know everything before I could write a word. I felt like I needed to be an expert.
He told me not to think about it so much. “Just write,” he said. “You’ll find out what you need to know as you’re writing. Don’t think so much.” He was so very right. I’ve been a pantser ever since.
Was there any unhelpful or bad advice you can steer hopeful writers away from?
I hate “Write what you know.” What you know can be boring. Write to find out what you think. Write to discover things you want to know more about. Write what you’re interested in.
What would you like readers to know about your work?
My latest project has been a series of short stories about a witch who travels the world to find monsters. Her stories combine my love of travel with the old “psychic detective” stories. I’ve released three short collections on Amazon and plan an omnibus paperback edition of them for the fall.
Here’s the link to the first collection: Alondra’s Experiments
What question do you wish I would have asked that I didn’t?
What am I working on now? I’m glad you asked!
I’m editing a charity anthology for my local Horror Writers Association group. The book is called Tales for the Camp Fire. We’ll be selling them to raise money for survivors of last year’s devastating wildfire, the most devastating natural disaster in modern California history. The book should be out in May. I am really excited about the caliber of the work in it.
To learn more about Loren Rhoads online,check out her site: lorenrhoads.com/
Thanks for stopping by! Happy writing & reading all.
So now what? That’s what I am asking myself.
My first ever novel is a fait accompli. Saturday, July 7th was the official release day for my romantic time travel adventure novel, Time Flash: Another Me.
Truth is, I should have known the answer.
I’ve had 9 poetry collections published to date–6 full-length and 3 chapbooks.
And each time, I was thrilled. And my friends were thrilled. And there was incredible buzz.
I gave readings and shook hands and sold a few books.
But then, there was this huge sense of deflation–the post book release blues.
This giant now what?
How could I keep the excitement for marketing my books alive after the first couple of weeks?
How could I keep telling people my poems are something they should care about?
Well, the first thing I needed to do was remind myself that the words I put together in those books arose out of my deep passion.
And that passion to create remains alive in the words.
And those passionate words are meant to be shared, to connect, to embrace, and hopefully inspire others to create as well.
So with the novel, as with the poetry books, I need to stay impassioned, stay positive, keep believing.
And I do believe in the magic and power of books.
Books by others have transported me and transformed me.
I need to believe my own words can do that too, for others.
(Yes, I truly believe my novel can bring delight!)
And I need to stop feeling like a failure because my book isn’t instantly flying off the shelves or getting hundreds of 5-star reviews.
Putting a book into the world is always a long haul.
The words will be there for others when they need or want them.
They just might not want them right now.
The marketing part of being a writer is the hardest for me.
I need to say in various and creative ways that my book may be a wonderful book for the reader.
And I may need to say it more than once for the reader to notice.
But I also need to keep to writing.
And keep believing the next story, the next poem, the next words matter too.
It can feel like an impossible balance–the marketing and the writing and the believing.
But living a creative life is such a gift.
Being able to metamorphose your imaginings into something that truly exists for others to experience in the world is wonderful, indeed.
As long as I remember that wonder, I can stop feeling disheartened, and keep on going, one word after another.
I know a lot of my friends really, really dislike
going the grocery store.
I can empathize with why.
We all have busy lives.
Lives packed with too much to get done
in our limited waking hours.
And the hassle of going to the supermarket,
often with kids in tow,
can just be overwhelming.
Plus, there’s the battle for a parking space.
Rising food prices, limited resources,
will there be enough money to get everything on the list this time?
And then, there’s the long checkout lines.
But the truth is
I really love going to the grocery store.
Maybe that’s why grocery stores feature heavily in my novel?
I’m very far from anyone’s idea
of Suzie Homemaker, though.
I really dislike most household chores.
Can’t stand cleaning in any shape or form.
I usually end up breaking stuff whenever I do clean.
And I am not a good cook. I burn everything.
But oddly, I love doing laundry. (That’s a story for another day.)
I work from home.
And the mess from my desk tends to overwhelm the rest of my house.
Grocery shopping is a good excuse to get away from my own mess.
Get out into the world.
Plus, my repeated circumnavigating the store maze looking for where they moved the sunflower seeds counts as exercise.
But there are a couple more reasons I love going to the grocery store.
One of those is how much I love buying nourishing foods–
okay, maybe I love buying a comfort food or two, once in a while.
When it’s on sale.
Or every week.
But the biggest reason I love to go grocery shopping is…
that the store is a wonderful place
to practice kindness.
I know that sounds odd.
But the grocery store–even in my small town–
is filled with people I don’t know,
probably doing a chore they hate.
So while I’m wondering the aisles wondering where the devil
they moved the sunflower seeds to this time…
I look for someone who seems to need a little cheer.
Finding something kind to say is the easy part.
People have great haircuts,
interesting t shirts,
(yes, the employees deserve some kindness too)
wear colors that complement their skin.
Or maybe the person reminds me how at ease with myself I want to be when I grow even older.
There’s always something to say that brings a little light into a person’s day.
I love doing that.
It makes me feel a bit better too.
After bringing someone some cheer, I can face the rest of my work day with more energy.
Kindness is good exercise for the soul.
Do I worry that sometimes my good intentions will go awry?
Have they gone awry?
A nice old man thought I was hitting on him.
Well, that made his day, too.
So all in all,
kindness is worth the risk.
I am fortunate and grateful to share with my readers this exquisite essay by writer Sally McGee that speaks to all of us #metoo survivors with such grace and courage.
Sally McGee is a writer, community organizer, and nature conservancy advocate living on the Oregon coast. In the 1970s in New York, she worked tirelessly until rape survivors were treated by legal authorities with the dignity and respect they deserved as victims of a serious crime, instead of the blaming-the-woman mentality that prevailed for decades.
MELTDOWN by Sally McGee
The phone rings.
A neighbor was calling looking for a reference.
Some people I know want to rent his house.
Unable to get a letter of recommendation and having heard some unsavory things, he was looking for information.
Could I tell him anything?
I begin to shake and find it hard to get words out.
The man is big and menacing.
Often unemployed, he has drinking and anger management problems.
The police have been called.
What can I say?
I find it hard to talk and begin to stutter.
I am surprised at how shaken I am.
Things get worse as the week progresses.
The night descends and I crawl into bed.
The nightmares begin.
Growing up female in an out of control family, I was often afraid.
I wake feeling disjointed.
Something is trying to rise from my unconsciousness.
What my body knows, my brain has not yet figured out.
I am confused.
Monday I think is Friday. Wednesday is Monday.
Get it together! You are scaring people around you.
It is the trauma that is being brought forth from early childhood.
The trauma triggered by 11 white Republican men wanting to grill a sexual assault victim while her attacker looks on.
A woman who thought she was going to be murdered, the weight of a male body pinning her down.
His hand on her mouth stifling her screams while his friend looks on.
Some on the committee have already pronounced her guilty.
Senator Orin Hatch, well established member of the Republican power structure, next in line after the Speaker if something untoward happens to the President and the V.P., has pronounced her, “Confused”.
Virtually the same thing he said 20 plus years ago during the testimony of Anita Hill before the Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas hearings and we know what the men did then.
If they win this one, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.
Too many women are watching and feeling the attack on Professor Ford to be an attack on them.
Old traumas are being re-lived.
Traumas that will spell the death of the Patriarchy.
And I say, “Thank God”.
Some years ago I spent 8 days in the Trinity National Forest in Northern California backpacking; 3 women, 3 dogs.
Leaving, the hardest part was saying good by to the trees.
There was no wrapping my arms around the trunk because of their mammoth size.
But I leaned into them and quietly spoke of my love.
The surprising thing was the response.
Clearly they said, “We love you.”
This forest burned in the fires of 2018 but destroying the Redwoods is next to impossible.
They were here in the beginning.
One of the oldest life forms.
Their presence is a gift that uplifts me and sustains my life.
And for them I am grateful.
With trauma in the news every day, I vow I will not be defeated.
All is not lost.
Life goes on.
I live in a community that was logged 100 years ago.
The trees were cut down and removed but their life not destroyed.
Many came back and today I walk among them some 60, 70 feet tall.
They are unusual looking because the cut made 100 years ago was 10 or more feet above the ground so the tree I see today has very large roots high above the ground.
I make my escape running to Sanctuary, the family home in Portland where my daughter and her B.F. live.
The house was built in 1915 and is in one of the older, close-in neighborhoods.
Craftsman houses and Bungalows surrounded by very large trees that were somehow spared 100 years ago.
Sanctuary and I am safe.
Surrounded by family and loving neighbors.
Children’s voices ring out.
It is music to my ears.
I rest and sleep.
Thank you, Sally McGee for your lovely words.
For a survivor like me in this treacherous time in our nation, your words are my balm and sanctuary.