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Author: elizabethdonald_7o83t2

Catching figs

As my semester draws to a close, one of our projects has been an online anthology of work centered on “Imagining Madness,” a semester-long examination of madness in fiction. Not to be confused with actual mental illness, it centered on people perceiving the world differently or whose ideas or behaviors violated the normatives of their society. 

My contribution to the anthology was “Catching Figs,” an essay examining Esther of The Bell Jar and what it reflects of second-wave feminism. I was also selected to present this paper at the SIUE Graduate Student Symposium this semester, and my poster slide from that is included below.

If this kind of literary analysis interests you, you can read my revised essay here. Then click around the other offerings and see what people have written. There are poems and character studies and much more. It’s really been a delight and a fascinating discussion all semester, and I’m going to miss it.

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Independent Bookseller Day!

Just a quick update that April 30 is Independent Bookseller Day, and we will be joining the celebration at our local indie, Afterwords Books! Look to the lawn surrounding this lovely little store in Edwardsville, Ill. for authors in tents, selling and signing. We have a long-standing relationship with Afterwords and are happy to celebrate their part in the literary community of our town.

The local paper did a write-up, along with a list of the authors participating. 

If you’re not local, celebrate the day at the local shop of your choice! 

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April 2022 linkspam

It’s no coincidence that this month’s meme is Toni Morrison. All this semester I have been studying Morrison, as I am privileged to attend a university that offers a class solely focused on her writing. The nuances and intentionality of her prose are powerful and inspiring, and I’ve greatly enjoyed exploring her work. So far we’ve done deep dives on The Bluest Eye, Sula and Song of Solomon, with side trips into her essays and academic writing. I can already tell that I’ll be digging out Beloved and Paradise over the summer.

My Deep Thoughts on Morrison and my other studies in the MFA program are a continuing feature on the Patreon. I recognize that I have an enormous privilege to be able to pursue an MFA in creative writing and spend three years developing my craft and studying literature, and not everyone has the financial or practical freedom to do so. Therefore I am sharing what I learn on the Patreon, so that my readers get an MFA by proxy! Or something like that. 

As we enter the homestretch of the Longest Semester of My Life, the travel schedule is picking up. As I write this, I’m one week back from Memphis and heading to Wichita later this week, with more travel on the horizon. Am I coming to a show or festival near you? If not, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do. 

Meanwhile, I’m delighted that the anniversary edition of Setting Suns is out now! “But wait, Elizabeth, I already read that book.” Sure you did, but this anniversary edition has a new short story, a new afterword and other tweaks. I am very happy with the way it came out, and many thanks to Kody Boye Publishing Services, who did a great job on the book.

We premiered it at Midsouthcon this past weekend, and had a great time seeing our old friends and meeting some new ones. The official release event is slated for April 15 at Spine Books here in St. Louis, and I hope to see you there! 

More about the Setting Suns release on the blog, but in the meantime, here’s where you can pick up a copy:

Signed copies direct from me
Amazon
Kindle

A nightmarish funhouse turned deadly.
A couple trapped in a futile journey through time.
A single baleful eye watching from the deep.
An assassin waiting in a snow-covered tree.
A toy that seems to have a life of its own.
A pair of soldiers trapped between death and something worse.
A tenebrous hand reaching out of the shadows.

These are the award-winning tales and terrors of Elizabeth Donald, writer of things that go chomp in the night. This new anniversary edition is being released 20 years after the first story was published, now including a bonus short story and the author’s reflections on twenty years of twilight tales.

In that space between evening and nightfall, between consciousness and sleep, the moment when the light fades and the shadows take over… These are the lands of the Setting Suns.

Publicity/Appearances

In March I simultaneously attended the national conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and Midsouthcon on the same weekend, which was a hilarious bit of scheduling. Many thanks to my husband and our fellow Literary Underworld authors, J.L. Mulvihill and Rachel Brune, for their patience as I dashed up to the hotel room for AWP panels, then back downstairs for a Midsouthcon panel. Rinse, repeat. 

Kimberly Richardson of Viridian Tea House gave a wonderful review for Nocturne Infernum with five out of five cups of tea. “This is one hell of a book,” she declared. Check it out here!

I am so excited to be reading and signing Setting Suns on April 15 at Spine Books here in St. Louis. Spine Books specializes in indie and small-press publishing, primarily from local writers, and I’m honored to be featured in their Friday night showcase series. The fun starts at 6 p.m. – check out the Facebook event for details!

Other highlights of the coming month include the SPJ Region 7 Conference in Wichita next weekend, where I am presenting on the practical applications of the SPJ Code of Ethics; our annual (ha ha) SPJ Trivia Night (postponed five times due to COVID); the First Amendment Free* Food Festival; and the Afterwords Bookfest in Edwardsville, Ill. on April 30. Whew! It’s going to be quite a month. 

I’m also pleased to announce I will be attending ConCarolinas this summer as a guest author. I’ve never been to this particular con, so I’ll have to see if I know anyone there…

Coming up:
• SPJ Regional Conference, Wichita, Kan. April 8-9
• Spine Books signing, St. Louis, Mo. April 15
• Afterwords Bookfest, Edwardsville, Ill. April 30
• Smithton (Ill.) Library signing, May 28
• ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. June 3-5
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 8-10
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Oct. 7-9 
• SPJ National Conference, Washington, D.C. Oct. 26-29 (tent.)
• ContraCon, Kansas City. Nov. 11-13 (tent.)

Journalism/Essays

• Highland council considers deficit budget (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland residents have options for rising utility bills (Highland News-Leader)
• Voters to decide on $40 million school construction referendum (Highland News-Leader)
• Embracing the werewolf (Medium)

Fiction

I premiered a few pieces at my Midsouthcon reading, including two literary fiction stories from my MFA workshop and a selection from Setting Suns. Happy stories about bunnies and unicorns, of course. 

In the meantime, read a bit about how this anniversary edition of Setting Suns came to life in “Twenty years of fever dreams.”

Patreon/Blogs

• Old Home Week at Midsouthcon (Literary Underworld)
• King Lear, identity chameleons and Andy (Patreon)
• Housekeeping and linkage (Patreon)
• Five cups of tea for Nocturne Infernum (Patreon and Elizabeth Donald)
• On the road again (Elizabeth Donald)
• Welcome to Crone Girls Press (Literary Underworld)
• Another slingshot around the sun (Patreon)
• My birthday present to you! (Patreon)

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Five cups of tea for Nocturne Infernum

Kimberly Richardson of Viridian Tea House gave a smashing review of Nocturne Infernum on her YouTube channel this week!

“I flew through this book,” she says, and declares that the erotica scenes gave her hot flashes. “A couple of times my boyfriend asked, ‘Are you going to be okay?'” She gave it five out of five cups of tea. 

Check out Kimberly’s review of Nocturne Infernum and another vampire novel by Kurt Amacker on YouTube!

“This is one hell of a book.” — Kimberly Richardson, Viridian Tea House

Now I want some tea… 

 

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On the road again…

This weekend I’m returning to Midsouthcon, one of the first cons I attended and where I was a GoH a few years ago. I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones, and to picking up some good Memphis barbecue while we’re in town. We always leap at an excuse to go to Memphis, my husband’s hometown and site of my college years. 

I’ll be simultaneously dialing in* to the national conference for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Next year it doesn’t seem that AWP will conflict with Midsouthcon, which will be an enormous relief for me. Fortunately we have at least four LitUnd authors and a henchman to help us work the booth this weekend.

My schedule is roughly as follows:

FRIDAY
• Booth Babe, followed by the Literary Underworld Traveling Bar!
SATURDAY
• Signing on Pro Row, noon, prefunction area.
• Reading, 2 p.m., Conf. Room 11
• Ghosts and Vampires and Ghouls, Oh My! 7 p.m., Conf. Room 6
• Literary Underworld Traveling Bar, Part Two!
SUNDAY
• The Importance of the Subgenre, noon, Conf. Room 6
• Epic Women in Epic Stories, 2 p.m., Conf. Room 7

I’m also happy to announce that I’ll be at the Smithton (Ill.) Public Library on May 7 for a signing; and celebrating Independent Bookstore Day on April 30 at Afterwords Bookstore in Edwardsville, Ill. I already had Wichita on the schedule for the SPJ Regional Conference on April 8-9, and I hope you will catch up with us at one of these events. 

I’m so delighted that the cons are back, and we are learning to travel and meet people safely. I’ve missed you all.

 

Dialing in = Zoom, of course. Isn’t it funny how phrases like “dialing” or “taping” things stick around long after the technology has surpassed them?

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Twenty years of fever dreams

Harlan Ellison once asked me, “How many stories have you sold?” Nervous, I flubbed the question, because the answer certainly was “far fewer than you, sir.” 

My first short story published for pay was “Vertigo,” a weird Twilight Zone-esque piece set in the middle of a campus shooting. It appeared in DogEar Magazine in 2002, and while I’d played around with the freebie sites beforehand, it was the first time someone paid me money for my fiction. 

Three years later, the amazing Frank Fradella founded New Babel Books and came to me with an idea for a collection. Setting Suns collected all my published short stories and a handful of new ones written just for that volume, and it won the Darrell Award for best short story and stayed in print for more than 15 years. 

I’ve had several books go out of print over the years, and some have been reissued by other presses, while others have quietly gone on into obscurity. But Setting Suns is a book that many of my readers continue to cite as their favorite, and I have a particular fondness for the old girl. It was not my first book – that distinction belongs to Nocturnal Urges, an ebook released in 2004 by Ellora’s Cave Publishing – but Setting Suns was the first time I opened a box of books and saw my own name on the cover. Ask any writer about that moment, and see the look in their eyes when they answer.

While I was thinking about this, I realized I was coming up on my anniversary: it’s been 20 years since my first paid fiction sale. That’s a nice round number, and I wanted to commemorate it somehow. 

Thus was born the anniversary edition of Setting Suns, to be released this spring. It includes a bonus short story and a new afterword from me reflecting on the last twenty years and how damn lucky I am to have the career I have. After all, Harlan didn’t ask me how many stories I thought about, or plotted in my notebook, or even how many I managed to scribble out over the last 20 years… he asked how many I sold, and that ever-changing number is due to your support and continued willingness to plunk down your cash for my fever-dreams.

I’m very pleased to be able to offer this book, with my thanks for the past twenty years. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed walking through its garden of shadows. 

To add to the fun: I’ve recently gotten a handful of books back from a store that had them on consignment, and to my delight, there are three out-of-print rarities among them! I now have two copies of Dreadmire and one each of Setting Suns (original edition) and Blackfire to find homes.

So we’re running a contest! To get an entry, you should: 

Sign up for my newsletter!

Subscribe to my Patreon!

Preorder Setting Suns!

Each of these gets you an entry in the contest, and three winners will be randomly selected to receive one of the out-of-print rare books, signed upon request. Spread the word!

Setting Suns Anniversary Edition

Setting Suns Anniversary Edition

$15.00

Buy now

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Virtual Con Report: Conflation 2022

For the second year in a row, Conflation had to go to an online format. They made the decision when Omicron was looming over us, and I certainly couldn’t argue with their logic. It’s perhaps frustrating that the virus is now down to fairly low levels and restrictions are loosening up just as the con took place, but once again the organizers of Conflation came up with wildly creative alternatives to the dry Zoom-panel format.

There were, in fact, Zoom panels and activities, including a stitch-n-bitch, fashion show, freestyle discussion groups and my writing workshop, which was the first time I’ve tried to incorporate my MFA training into a con panel. The good people of Conflation were kind enough to be my experimental subjects, and I was very happy with how it came out. I think in the future I might shorten it a bit to allow more interaction, to let the writers talk a little bit about their experiments and how they came out, to give time for a Q&A – it would be perfect as a two-hour workshop, and I may propose that for the next round.

But what is unique about Conflation’s solution to the Voldevirus is Second Life. If you’re not familiar with it, I wrote a column about it last year. It was last year’s Conflation that introduced me to Second Life, and much of the programming this year took place in that virtual environment. I gave my writing workshop sitting in a lovely coffeehouse deep in a fairytale wood (with a cow and the Wendigo watching from the door – what’s surreal about that?). It was simultaneously broadcast on Zoom and on a live stream, so I might have achieved peak social media at that point.

Everybody is sick of Zoom, though it certainly provides a decent alternative to canceling events altogether. However, Second Life programming allowed us to “see” each other, to dance to fantastic music, to float in a pool and wax philosophic about surviving the pandemic, all those social interaction moments that make the difference between an online convention that is a progression of Zoom presentations and a true meeting-place for the mind. 

I had a delightful time at Conflation, even though I missed getting to see the good folks at the con. As much fun as we had dancing up a storm into the wee hours, I hope that next year we will be able to hug each other in real life, as some things simply can’t be replaced.

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In which I talk in symbols….

@*%&)!*#!

Not those.

Sean Taylor runs a blog titled Bad Girls, Good Guys, and Two-Fisted Action. Despite the title, it is not a sausage fest, nor is it solely focused on crime/noir/genre fiction. It’s one of the best, most thoughtful writing blogs out there, and one that doesn’t get enough attention.

I’m happy to be part of today’s writer roundup, in which we discuss symbolism from the perspective of the writer. While we can all find symbolism in what we read, whether intended by the author or not, how do we approach the use of symbolism as writers? It’s “the curtains are fucking blue” argument, that frequently we seek out a reflection of what we already believe in our fiction, while the author may simply have chosen blue for the curtains because that’s what he saw in his mind’s eye. Is symbolism in the eye of the beholder, or is it an intentional commentary on This Modern Life? Or something in between?

As an MFA student, finding symbols is kind of our stock in trade. Where would we be without dissecting the true meaning of the letter opener on the table or the broken wine goblet? And then there’s what Hemingway allegedly said:

Check out what Sean’s latest author roundtable had to say about symbolism, including me. What is your take on it?

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Now at Spine Books!

I’m happy to report a selection of my work is now available at Spine Bookstore and Cafe, a neat new concept in south St. Louis!

Spine carries solely the books of local independent and small-press authors, which allows our work to be featured in a way we usually can’t get in a traditional bookstore. Owner Mark Pannebecker has operated the St. Louis Indie Book Fair since 2015, and plans to continue hosting the fair at his new business as well as monthly author events. 


I’m delighted that Spine will be carrying my in-print titles, and look forward to discovering a lot of new voices from its shelves. Drop by and check it out on Arsenal Street!

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January linkspam!

If you’re like me, you’re entering this brand new year with hopes that it will not suck as much as the previous two years. So far we don’t have a lot of indicators in that direction, as my email is crammed full of nervous announcements about classes going online, cons and festivals being canceled, and7 other things that complicate my life and pocketbook. 

My good friend John Hartness, author and publisher at Falstaff Books, is never one to mince words. He posted this week, “Y’all get your damn shots. This damn plague is starting to fuck with my business again, and getting between a redneck and his money is not a good move. So get your shit straight, get your shots, and maybe we can finally put this fucking disease behind us.” He went on at extensive, profane detail, and if you are friends with John on Facebook, you should really go read it. It’s a thing of beauty.

As of this moment, my classes are all still intended to be face-to-face with the exception of my fiction workshop, and I’ll be teaching and tutoring face-to-face as well. Other events are starting to look questionable, so while I’m listing them here, please keep an eye on ElizabethDonald.com to ensure that an event is going forward as planned. 

And get yer dang shots. I want you alive, healthy and able to buy my books.
 

Publicity/Appearances

Who does a book signing outdoors in December in Illinois? This woman! The Edwardsville Winter Market took place Dec. 4, and was treated to fairly reasonable weather, which means I was only half frozen to death by the time the family showed up to collect me. (What? They were not dumb enough to actually stay with me all day.) 

This was followed by the Collinsville Author and Artist Fair, which was blissfully indoors and oddly had a much lower turnout. That’s maybe not as surprising when you realize it was the day after the tornado struck Edwardsville. It’s obvious that my family and I were unharmed, as I am writing this newsletter, but thank you to all who reached out to us in concern. We were lucky; the workers in the Amazon warehouse on the Edwardsville-Pontoon Beach border were not. The Edwardsville Community Foundation continues to raise funds to help those impacted by the tornado, and you can donate here.

Coming this month: the Millstadt Library Author Fair, which kindly did a terrific write-up of my novel trilogy Nocturne Infernum in advance of the event. “Unique, modern, intelligent, and feisty, Donald’s stories are more than entertainment – they are political statements about civil and sexual rights, independence, privilege, agency, and STILL MADE ME BAWL at the sad romance of it all,” they wrote, and that’s going on the website! Funny thing: through their post I discovered that their library system has several of my books available, including some that are seriously out of print. 

I’ve also been informed that Conflation is moving to a mostly-online format in late February. Awaiting details, but however the Goddesses decide to run the show, I’ll be there in any way I can. 

On the publicity side, Cuppa Words is kindly featuring me for the month of January! Here is my introduction, and all month they’ll be talking about my work. I’ve been happy and proud to be associated with Cuppa Words for the last few years, and look forward to another great year with them. 

Coming up:
• Millstadt (Ill.) Library Author Fest, Jan. 15
• Conflation, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 25-27 
• Midsouthcon, Memphis. March 23-26 (tent.)
• AWP, Philadelphia. March 25-27 (tent.)
• AuthorCon, Williamsburg, Va. April 1-3 (tent.)
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 8-10
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Oct. 7-9 
• SPJ National Conference, Washington, D.C. Oct. 26-29 (tent.)
• ContraCon, Kansas City. Nov. 11-13 (tent.)

Journalism/Essays

• Elon Musk is a bad Person of the Year… but not for the reasons you think (Medium with intro on Patreon)
• Brewpub closes only weeks after opening (Highland News-Leader)
• A kidney for Christmas (Metro-East Living)
• Schools on alert after violence threat (Belleville News-Democrat)
• Council approves gas station over residents’ complaints (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland Police move into new station (Highland News-Leader)
• Local contractor gets $113 million Air Force base contract (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland voters to decide school construction referendum (Highland News-Leader)
 

Fiction

I’m happy to announce that Spine Bookstore is now featuring my work, along with that of many independent and small-press authors in the bi-state area. I’m delighted to be part of this new concept and look forward to events beginning soon at the shop and cafe. Spine is located on Arsenal in St. Louis near Benton Park, and is definitely worth a stop. 

In addition, River Bluff Review went live early, including my short story “Fever.” It’s available online for free here.

Patreon/Blogs

• ‘Fever’ is published! (ElizabethDonald.com)
• A blessed season (Patreon)
• New story published! (Patreon)
• A Second Life (Patreon)

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