Mid-Year Recap 2021

End-of-year recaps stress me the hell out, but I enjoy having them completed and posted on my blog. They’re like a time capsule that can also be used for reflection, not just at the end of that year, but any future years, too. Taking the time to reflect on our goals and plans as writers, for me at least, has been quite helpful in realizing where I want my focus to be in upcoming years.

This year, I decided to try a mid-year recap instead to make the inevitable year-long review in December a little easier on myself. I also thought this would be a great time to talk about the upcoming women in horror anthology, Chromophobia, and what I am hoping to see from those submissions! Before I get into it all, I want to say thank you as always to the horror community for your support, the constant inspiration you provide, and for all the amazing material you keep writing, even if my wallet doesn’t thank you, but it’s a good problem to have to keep buying all of your books!

Social media is…sometimes a firestorm of heartbreak, confusion, and anger. It is often a tough place for conversation since intent and tone can get muddled in tweets. However, I hope our community continues to come together and lead with kindness and patience, and on the other hand, remember you don’t owe that kindness to anyone who has abused your trust or friendship, or who has proven their one-time apologies were not sincere. Social media drama is not worth your exhaustion. As a writer or reviewer or any creator within horror, you determine your own value. No one can take that from you, and you do not need to be validated by anyone, especially anyone who would rather shout hot takes on social media for the sake of stirring people up.

Of course, it’s important to be informed. Do I want to know when a writer or publisher or reviewer is spouting off hate speech? Absolutely. That’s not someone I ever want to work with. At the same time, you don’t have to spend hours sifting through confusing threads and guessing who people are talking about and never even knowing for sure. I’ve tried. I want to be informed. I don’t want to interact with abusers, but when the whisper network rules and half of us don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes, you can’t take all your anger out on people who have tried to know and are simply remaining in the dark because they cannot find the information. I’m pretty done with it. I’m here to write, and I’ll avoid harmful people to the best of my knowledge, but like all of you, I don’t know everything about every single person in this industry. So, I’ll write, I’ll support and encourage others, and I’ll continue to celebrate the amazing world of horror fiction.

Speak out when you need to and feel comfortable doing so, but also don’t beat yourself up for removing yourself from the situations, either. There’s a whole real world out there, and while social media is important to help get our work out into that world and support each other, it is so far from being the most important thing in anyone’s life. Seek out your peace and your joy. Hold onto it, cherish it; life is too short to do otherwise.

Mid-Year Recap 2021

January:

2021 was off to a good start! I was a guest on Visited by Voices and my flash fiction piece “Dewdrops and Blood” was published in Campfire Macabre. I also started my third semester as a mentor for the HWA Mentorship Program! Working with mentees this whole year has been such a joy.

February:

February saw the release of the Spanish translation for To Be Devoured (Ser Devorado). Working with Dilatando Mentes Editorial has been an exceptional experience. They did such beautiful work with the translation, and I am forever grateful.

I participated on a really fun women in horror month panel hosted by the HWA and moderated by the wonderful Gwendolyn Kiste!

I posted some Horrormance recommendations over on my blog!

My interview with This Is Horror was released. Doing this interview was a huge career highlight for me. I had such a blast! The interview is in two parts below.

Part I

Part II

My flash fiction “Unspooling Screams” was published in Twisted Anatomy and my ghostly short story “Moonflowers” in The Horror Collection: Yellow Edition

March:

I had a blast meeting up (online) with our Pittsburgh HWA Chapter, and I did a really fun interview with The Horror Club!

My poem “Etched in Autumn” was published in a great charity anthology, Like Sunshine After Rain, put out by RDSP and edited by Heidi Ruby Miller.

Cradleland of Parasites received a great review over on Cemetery Dance!

April:

April came with the announcement that I’d be one of the guest judges in this year’s HWA Poetry Showcase! Angela Yuriko Smith and I will be judging the submissions alongside editor Stephanie Wytovich. As I’m writing this, we are all currently reading through the poems, and wow, so many good, gory, gooey stanzas! Some tough decisions ahead for sure. Thank you all for the solid submissions.

For National Poetry Month, I wrote an article hosted by the wonderful Ladies of Horror Fiction in which I talked about what poetry means to me, some inspiring collections, and I created a list of poetry prompts!

I had such a blast with Hailey Piper and the Last Bookstore Horror Book Club as the members read To Be Devoured and Hailey’s The Worm and His Kings. It was a delight to hang out with everyone and discuss our books!

I announced a few poetry acceptances, as well. “The Rattling Howl” will appear in the forthcoming WereTales, and “To Bloom in Blood” and “Shredded Alterations” will appear in Under Her Skin.

I was honored to have a flash fiction piece inspired by Eliot’s “The Waste Land” chosen as one of the winners for April’s issue of Cemetery Gates Society (they do flash fic contests each month, check it out!). My story “To Garden the Bodies” appears alongside wonderful tales by Red Lagoe and Shane Douglas Keene, plus an interview with Jessica Ann York and an article by Gabino Iglesias with publishing tips!

I also got fully vaccinated this month! Hooray!

May:

In May we announced Chromophobia! The next anthology by women in horror published by Strangehouse Books.

Thank you to the wonderful team at Altavoz Cultural for having me as a guest in their first international interview to chat about the To Be Devoured and its translation!

A new Delicious Horror post! Patrick Tumblety chatted with me about Laurel Hightower’s Crossroads novella and made such a great treat to pair with the heartbreaking book.

*Please keep sending me submissions!!!

I chatted with The New Panic Room Radio Show and had so much fun talking with Xtina Marie about all things poetry!

Virtual StokerCon! I was and am still so absolutely honored to have Cradleland of Parasites and Not All Monsters nominated for Stokers. It’s amazing and I’m forever grateful. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees! I had a great time at the online event and participated on the Steel City Horror panel, Horror as a Fairy Tale panel, and I read from my Stoker-nominated poetry collection. Thanks to everyone who checked it out and left such kind words!

I was honored to contribute a little advice in Mark My Words: Read the Submission Guidelines and Other Self-editing Tips, an excellent guidebook created by Lee Murray and Angela Yuriko Smith.

The Devil’s Dreamland received a great mention on this very fun list by Gwendolyn Kiste of “5 Fictional Horror Books Based on True Crime Stories.”

I did a little traveling for my birthday in May, too. I am now in the last year of my 20’s…I don’t want to talk about it…but I had a great time seeing the beach again 🙂

June:

The Stoker-nominated Not All Monsters is finally going to Kindle! From the publisher: “NOT ALL MONSTERS finally makes the jump to Kindle, and you can pre-order the Halloween release HERE. We are offering the Stoker-nominated anthology for 9.99 but ONLY during the pre-order window. After Halloween, the Kindle price will be raised to its regular retail price.”

Otherwise, June has been packed with the day job, things going on behind the scenes, and just me trying to organize my life, as always. I did, however, venture into Pittsburgh twice — the first time since lockdown! I visited the very cool Jurassic Quest Drive-Thru event and got a new tattoo (pictured above).

CHROMOPHOBIA

Now, let’s talk about the forthcoming Chromophobia: A Strangehouse Anthology by Women in Horror. Submissions open August 1st — please read the guidelines carefully here and remember this is a limited demographic (which I mention since I have had a few well-meaning cis men express interest in submitting, I appreciate you guys, but Strangehouse focuses on uplifting the voices of women in horror).

Chromophobia refers to the irrational fear of/aversion to colors, but the stories can really do whatever you want with color. It does not have to exclusively focus on the fear of colors. I want writers to feel free to take the general theme in any direction they want, as long as it’s horror.

I am so excited to read the submissions for this. I love the way color can play such interesting, important parts in stories, especially with horror. Don’t be afraid to get weird here. I’m hoping to be surprised — as horror writers, we might tend to use colors like red and black often, so terrify me with pastels and watercolors, too! (Definitely not opposed to stories where red or black are the focus, though). I’d love to read stories of how colors are seen and used in different cultures and parts of the world. What would a world devoid of color be like? What if one color tried to take over other colors? Keep asking those “what if” questions and come up with something wonderful or horrifying or completely bizarre. Colors laced with poison. Historical horror. What will colors in the future look like?

Need some musical inspiration? I made a Color Theory playlist on Spotify!

Whether color is the main focus or something more subtle, really aim to have fun and tap into a story only you can tell. I want diverse stories from a plethora of writers, whether you have dozens of stories published or you’re seeking your first publication. I’ll be reading every single story to fill the slots — this is not one of those anthologies that’s already pre-filled with just one slot remaining (don’t even get me started on that subject…). While it will take me some time to go through all of the work, please know I read everything, consider it carefully, and really think about how the stories flow and fit together to carefully curate what I hope will be an incredible anthology.

The only thing I don’t like about editing is sending out rejections. Oh my god it’s awful. Sending rejections to people I know and consider friends and sending them out to anyone really is TERRIBLE. I hate it, but it’s part of the process. Please know in advance, my rejections are never personal. So many factors and decisions go into that final selection process, and even if your story doesn’t make it here, I have so much faith in everyone that your story will find a great home.

The only way to fail in writing is to quit altogether. Rejections aren’t fun for anyone, but it never ever means your worth as a writer is devalued. Persist.

Thank you so much for your time, for your trust in me as an editor, and for your support, always. I look forward to what the rest of the year brings!

Take care, friends.

Sara

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s