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Month: June 2023

It’s an honor to be…

… and that’s not sarcasm. It really is an honor just to be nominated.

In all the flurry of my travels this month, I neglected to blog about being named a finalist for the Michael Knost Wings Award. Locus has a write-up about the shortlist, which is the second part of this I didn’t expect.

The Knost Award focuses on up-and-coming new writers and writers who’ve been around a while but aren’t getting the recognition they deserve. I presume I’m in the latter category in their estimation, since 20 years is a long time to be up-and-coming. As they say, it takes 20 years to become an overnight sensation.

The full announcement is here, and the winner will be announced at Imaginarium this July. I’ll be present at the convention with the usual suspects in tow, and whether they call my name or it goes to one of the eminently deserving candidates on the list with me, it’s a huge honor just to be considered. One never really knows what impact you’ve had on the profession or the genre or the industry, beyond the occasional thank-you note from a student or another author you’ve mentored. That isn’t why we do it, of course, nor do we do it for awards (and certainly not for fame and fortune, cue laugh track). But it’s immensely gratifying to see that others perceive value in your work.

So thank you very much to the nominating committee and to Mr. Knost himself, and I’ll see you all in Louisville in July!

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Con Report: ConCarolinas 2023

There’s something wonderfully invigorating about con, the freewheeling friendly atmosphere and hobnobbing with one’s fellow wizards, surrounded by people who get the crazy fun stuff that fascinates you even when the mundane world says, “Huh?”
Who knew this many people can fit in a hotel room?
ConCarolinas is very much a writers’ con. There’s also a film festival, paranormal circuit and gaming track, among others, but since I didn’t interact with those, I couldn’t say how valuable they are. The writers’ track, however, has some truly useful and interesting panels, and hot and cold running writers everywhere.

I shared my table with Rachel Brune, my editor at Crone Girls Press and newly minted acquisitions editor for Falstaff Books’ new horror imprint, Falstaff Dread. Rachel and I go waaaaaay back to the early 2000s and our mutual membership in the Sarah Connor Charm School, and it’s always a delight to see her.

 

There was plenty of discussion of representation in horror, of A.I. and its implications for creatives, of the surge in book banning, the implications of the WGA strike, of various esoteric topics from cryptobiology to warding off evil spirits that could be useful for speculative fiction research. As usual, I only got to attend a fraction of the panels that interested me, as I was working.
My first round was a 9 a.m. panel (because obviously I have angered someone) on trunk novels and other work that will never see daylight. My buddy Jeff Strand and I were on this one. We talked about those early (and not-so-early) works that were, shall we say, learning experiences.
Naturally, I talked about Sanctuary, as an example of a trunk novel that stays in the trunk because of an internal factor – i.e. I believe it’s not good enough to be released. At the time, I trunked it because I knew I was not a good enough writer to tell that story in the manner it deserved. And I think this was the first time I have talked about the sequel, which I wrote sometime around 2001-02 exploring my idea of an interstellar Underground Railroad. This was a very ambitious novel attempted by a twentysomething baby writer who had no idea what she was doing, and had the audacity to think this was her story to tell. I am so glad Amazon KDP did not exist back then.
I still love that universe, and a couple of short stories have made their way to publication based in it. I sometimes wonder if now I am a good enough writer to do those novels justice, and the novels I have outlined to follow them. But for now, it’s trunked.
That’s an example of a novel trunked for an internal reason. External reasons, for example, might be a novel that you feel is strong and powerful, but others have told you it sucks, or now is not the right time for it, or it’s been rejected too many times, etc. There are times when those external factors might be overcome with tenacity, better timing, or reevaluating your approach.
Next up was “what to do after finishing your book,” which I was delighted to discuss with Gabino Iglesias, Gail Z. Martin and others. Some of you know I have a whole two-hour workshop about what you do after you write The End, so naturally I had plenty of things to say. In fact, I think I’m doing that workshop solo at Imaginarium next month, if you’re planning to join us in Louisville.
I really enjoyed some of Gabino’s anecdotes, and so I picked up his Coyote Songs – alas, too late to snag his autograph. Next time!
This was followed by “body shape as the last frontier,” which allowed me to discuss with a friendly audience some of the prejudices we see particularly as women of size. I’ve written before that I see a significant difference in how I am treated in various professional capacities as I grew older and rounder and became disabled. The conversation was very honest, discussing not only weight but male-gaze objectification, disability, race, gender presentation and the body image issues faced by men as well. We could have talked for another two hours on these issues.
This also allowed me to put on my Media Studies Masters hat and talk about cultivation theory for why this issue is important beyond making us feel better about ourselves: what we see in our media tends to impact our impressions of real life. If we see umpteen images of a fat person obsessed with food and gobbling sweets every time she passes the buffet, we will assume that every person of size is that way because they can’t control their eating. (And I delete a rant, but there’s a column in my future on this topic.)
Finally, I got to put on my MFA hat for “Vaguely Based on the Title of the Novel,” a discussion of film adaptations both good and nauseating. Having just finished an entire semester studying adaptation theory, I was the Annoying Academic of the panel. Unlike several of my fellow panelists (Jeff again!) I have never had a work optioned for the screen and while I have written a screenplay for a short film, it’s never been considered by anyone. Thus I presume my academic studies and my work as a film critic were the reasons for putting me on the panel.
Other panels I had to miss included writing morally gray characters, misogyny in romance, avoiding scams in publishing, writing an alternate history, developing a magic system, the author/editor relationship and much, much more. For beginning writers, I can strongly recommend the programming at ConCarolinas for an excellent three-day tutorial.
Because I flew to Charlotte for the con, Rachel collected booze, and so the Literary Underworld (Mini)Bar was open both nights to a full house. Not too shabby a collection for castoffs! Perhaps next year I’ll be able to drive, and Jim and I can bring the full Traveling Bar.
I had a wonderful time in Charlotte (though unfortunately did not get to see anything of the city itself), and learned a great deal as well as connecting with old friends and new. I was delighted to clap for Nancy Knight, writing track director for Dragoncon; and author Nicole Givens Kurtz, who each received lifetime achievement awards from the convention.
Me and Ari!
Also, the media guest of honor was Ari Lehman, the actor who played Jason Voorhees in the first Friday the 13th movie. He’s now a punk rocker (his band name is First Jason) and a big proponent of the Jason film series. My son was madly texting me during opening ceremonies because as a film nerd, he’s a big fan and asked me to tell Ari he really appreciated all that he’d done for the franchise even after he was finished with the role.
I happened to catch Ari right after opening ceremonies, and not only did he offer a selfie, he asked to record a brief video for my son, addressing him by name. I am now Mom of the Year, and Ian was delighted.

 

I share this because we hear so many stories about actors and other performers being selfish shitheels or egotists, and I think people deserve to get kudos when they take the extra step to thrill a fan. 

Now home, for the next leg of the summer travel: PARIS. I’ll be doing a daily travelogue from the City of Lights for

my Patreon


, so consider subscribing! 

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June 2023 Linkspam

We were prepared for some time that there would be what the bigwigs call a “gap in employment” once I graduated. May was the first month of my hiatus. Yet somehow I ended up almost as busy as I was in grad school! Of course, the month kicked off with the graduation and celebrations, all of which was detailed in last month’s newsletter. We had more than 50 people at the big graduation barbecue, and I didn’t think I knew that many people, much less could fit them in my house!  Then came figuring out this whole don’t-have-a-job thing. Which isn’t really true: I have my freelancing work, and as I’ve always found, you get out of freelancing what you put into it. To be honest, I didn’t put in as much as I anticipated, because I’ve been kind of in recovery mode. I’ve been sorting out my house, doing my physical therapy, cleaning out my inboxes, covering my meetings and so on. I’ve been reading books – for fun! I remember what that was like – and crunching on some long-delayed deadlines for fiction work. I caught up on the nonprofit/volunteer work – sorta – so that Eville Writers, St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists, Relay for Life, AWP adjunct caucus (proposed), and the St. Andrew’s Book Sale all got some attention. We also had a long-awaited visit from the Awesome Stepkids, and so I was wrangling the most energetic twentysomethings in the Central Time Zone last week. 

Publicity/Appearances

No public appearances in May – like I said, recovery mode – but June is kicking off with ConCarolinas! As I write this, my plane is delayed, but I’ll be in Charlotte sooner or later to run my mouth about various topics and hobnob with my fellow wizards.  Unfortunately this means I’ll miss Relay for Life this Saturday, which was rescheduled from April due to an unplanned tornado. The Awesome Husband will be running the show in my absence, and my team has already raised more than $3,000 for the American Cancer Society (some of which is not showing, but it exists). If you’d like to kick in a last-minute donation, you can find us here. Then it’s off to Paris! This is a family trip, a very kind gift from my mom and stepdad, who will be meeting me in the City of Lights next week. I’ll be tweeting as possible @edonald and @edonaldmedia, and full travelogues and photo essays will be on the Patreon. Subscribe now for the whole thing and all my backlist, starting at $1 a month!  In other news, the TechWrite STL grammar chat has been set for July 11, and there’s a possible trip back to the old homestead in Tennessee in September. Stay tuned… 2023 calendar: • ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. June 2-4 (guest author) • TechWrite STL, St. Louis. July, 11. (presenter) • Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 14-16 (guest author) • Dragoncon, Atlanta, Ga. Aug. 31-Sept. 4 (guest author) • SPJ Conference, Las Vegas. Sept. 28-Oct. 1 (presenter) • Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 21-Oct. 1 (LitUnd only) • ContraKC, Kansas City, Date TBA. (guest author)

Journalism/Blogs/Essays

• Cafe Birdie’s menu evokes the casual, coastal feel of a beach cafe (Feast Magazine) • Child pedestrian injuries surge in summer, Highland police warn (Highland News Leader and Yahoo Sports Canada) • Paramedics get a raise, new contract in Highland (Highland News Leader) • Renovation of Highland City Hall delayed by higher-than-expected bids (Highland News Leader and Yahoo Sports Canada) • Ceremony honors fallen workers in Madison County Federation (St. Louis Labor Tribune) • Highland’s oldest structure, a bell tower, donated back to city (Highland News Leader) • Illinois launches pre-apprenticeship program for climate-related fields (St. Louis Labor Tribune) • Highland student disciplined for airsoft gun on campus (Highland News-Leader) Note: Not all articles are available online, and some may be behind paywalls. 

Fiction

• Infinity, Pt. 1 (Patreon) • Infinity, Pt. 2 (Patreon)

Patreon/Medium

Coming soon: this is the Summer of Bond, as I received a boxed set of all the Bond movies for Mother’s Day and I’ll be unpacking the action, awesomeness, misogny and racism with bonus snark all summer long. Watch for that on Patreon!  • Be water: Neil Gaiman on comics, craft and a cup of tea (Medium and Patreon) • Traveling Woman (Patreon) • Review: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (Patreon) Note: Recently I indexed all the entries I’ve posted on the Patreon going back to launch in 2018. I wanted new Patrons to be able to easily find the work that they’ve missed, and hopefully seeing how much work is on the Patreon might encourage some good folks to subscribe. (Hint, hint.) Seriously, subscriptions start at $1 a month, and I truly believe some of the best work I’ve ever done is on the Patreon. Check out the index here.

Photography

Not much to report, but I expect that will be significantly different when I get back from the June travels! There is a pair of cardinals nesting right outside our dining room window, and it is the great frustration of my life as a photographer that I simply cannot get a good angle to see into the nest without going outside and therefore disturbing them. Other than that – and a whole bunch of silly candids from the Awesome Stepkids Weekend – it’s been mostly taking pictures of food for my culinary writing exploits and some spot news photography. 
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June 2023 Linkspam

We were prepared for some time that there would be what the bigwigs call a “gap in employment” once I graduated. May was the first month of my hiatus. Yet somehow I ended up almost as busy as I was in grad school!

Of course, the month kicked off with the graduation and celebrations, all of which was detailed in last month’s newsletter. We had more than 50 people at the big graduation barbecue, and I didn’t think I knew that many people, much less could fit them in my house! 

Then came figuring out this whole don’t-have-a-job thing. Which isn’t really true: I have my freelancing work, and as I’ve always found, you get out of freelancing what you put into it. To be honest, I didn’t put in as much as I anticipated, because I’ve been kind of in recovery mode. I’ve been sorting out my house, doing my physical therapy, cleaning out my inboxes, covering my meetings and so on. I’ve been reading books – for fun! I remember what that was like – and crunching on some long-delayed deadlines for fiction work. I caught up on the nonprofit/volunteer work – sorta – so that Eville Writers, St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists, Relay for Life, AWP adjunct caucus (proposed), and the St. Andrew’s Book Sale all got some attention.

We also had a long-awaited visit from the Awesome Stepkids, and so I was wrangling the most energetic twentysomethings in the Central Time Zone last week. 

 

Publicity/Appearances

No public appearances in May – like I said, recovery mode – but June is kicking off with ConCarolinas! As I write this, my plane is delayed, but I’ll be in Charlotte sooner or later to run my mouth about various topics and hobnob with my fellow wizards. 

Unfortunately this means I’ll miss Relay for Life this Saturday, which was rescheduled from April due to an unplanned tornado. The Awesome Husband will be running the show in my absence, and my team has already raised more than $3,000 for the American Cancer Society (some of which is not showing, but it exists). If you’d like to kick in a last-minute donation, you can find us here.

Then it’s off to Paris! This is a family trip, a very kind gift from my mom and stepdad, who will be meeting me in the City of Lights next week. I’ll be tweeting as possible @edonald and @edonaldmedia, and full travelogues and photo essays will be on the Patreon. Subscribe now for the whole thing and all my backlist, starting at $1 a month! 

In other news, the TechWrite STL grammar chat has been set for July 11, and there’s a possible trip back to the old homestead in Tennessee in September. Stay tuned…

2023 calendar:
• ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. June 2-4 (guest author)
• TechWrite STL, St. Louis. July, 11. (presenter)
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 14-16 (guest author)
• Dragoncon, Atlanta, Ga. Aug. 31-Sept. 4 (guest author)
• SPJ Conference, Las Vegas. Sept. 28-Oct. 1 (presenter)
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 21-Oct. 1 (LitUnd only)
• ContraKC, Kansas City, Date TBA. (guest author)

Journalism/Blogs/Essays

• Cafe Birdie’s menu evokes the casual, coastal feel of a beach cafe (Feast Magazine)
• Child pedestrian injuries surge in summer, Highland police warn (Highland News Leader and Yahoo Sports Canada)
• Paramedics get a raise, new contract in Highland (Highland News Leader)
• Renovation of Highland City Hall delayed by higher-than-expected bids (Highland News Leader and Yahoo Sports Canada)
• Ceremony honors fallen workers in Madison County Federation (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland’s oldest structure, a bell tower, donated back to city (Highland News Leader)
• Illinois launches pre-apprenticeship program for climate-related fields (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland student disciplined for airsoft gun on campus (Highland News-Leader)

Note: Not all articles are available online, and some may be behind paywalls. 

 

Fiction

• Infinity, Pt. 1 (Patreon)
• Infinity, Pt. 2 (Patreon)
 

Patreon/Medium

Coming soon: this is the Summer of Bond, as I received a boxed set of all the Bond movies for Mother’s Day and I’ll be unpacking the action, awesomeness, misogny and racism with bonus snark all summer long. Watch for that on Patreon! 

• Be water: Neil Gaiman on comics, craft and a cup of tea (Medium and Patreon)
• Traveling Woman (Patreon)
• Review: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (Patreon)

Note: Recently I indexed all the entries I’ve posted on the Patreon going back to launch in 2018. I wanted new Patrons to be able to easily find the work that they’ve missed, and hopefully seeing how much work is on the Patreon might encourage some good folks to subscribe. (Hint, hint.) Seriously, subscriptions start at $1 a month, and I truly believe some of the best work I’ve ever done is on the Patreon. Check out the index here.

Photography

Not much to report, but I expect that will be significantly different when I get back from the June travels! There is a pair of cardinals nesting right outside our dining room window, and it is the great frustration of my life as a photographer that I simply cannot get a good angle to see into the nest without going outside and therefore disturbing them. Other than that – and a whole bunch of silly candids from the Awesome Stepkids Weekend – it’s been mostly taking pictures of food for my culinary writing exploits and some spot news photography. 

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