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Author: elizabethdonald_7o83t2

Fall into terror! It’s… August.

A funny thing happens to college instructors when July turns into August: we start to panic.

With so many college instructors and professors on my social media, it’s funny watching us all begin the scramble to get ready for the new semester. I’ve spent much of this week planning my schedule for my English composition classes, figuring out my physical schedule, picking up textbooks, looking up the new Required Syllabus Language at both universities, and so on. 

I moved into my new office at The Jesuit School last month, but my computer wasn’t installed until this week. It’s a shiny shiny Mac Pro, so I’m looking forward to playing with it as soon as I can get over there. At Ye Olde University, I’m still in my cubicle in the Hall o’ TAs, hopefully with actual company this year, though most of the fellow grad students I’ve worked with have graduated by now. Because how many idiots deliberately choose to be in grad school for five years doing two degrees?

*crickets*

For those playing the home game, that’s three (3) offices for me including the home office, which is where I’ll be working three days a week when I’m not bouncing all over the world two days a week this fall. When I say “physical schedule,” I mean days I’m driving across the river or I’m on the local campus or  I’m driving all over the universe to union meetings or I’m ensconced in my home Tower. There’s a spreadsheet and two color-coordinated calendars. 

With regret, I have dropped the class in Black speculative fiction I intended to take this semester. It’s absolutely killing me, because come on – to spend a semester reading Octavia Butler and N.K. Jemison and exploring Afrofuturism and horror and get credit for it? 

Indeed, my one regret as I approach my final year of MFA Land is the number of classes I won’t get to take. Just this semester alone, my department is offering the above class in Black speculative fiction, young adult literature, African-American rhetoric and oratory, quest fiction, Black music as literature, Black women’s writing, as well as the usual lit classes. 

In previous semesters I’ve seen classes on heroes and villains in fiction, an entire semester on Toni Morrison, “inventing America through writing,” American literature and social change, dystopian/apocalyptic fiction, semester-long comparisons of Poe and Hawthorne or Whitman and Dickinson, the American dream as represented in literature, “nasty women” in fiction, and so on. 

I think I could happily sit back and take these classes till doomsday. I’ve been so delighted that the reputation of MFA programs as a) relentlessly white/male, b) abusively cruel to their students, and c) stultifyingly resistant to genre and popular fiction have been absolutely untrue. I’m sure some programs deserve the reputation, but if anything, my experience and my observations at AWP indicate that the current-day programs are well ahead of the industry itself in diversification and openness for writers and writing styles. 

But I digress, unhappily, back to abandoning a class I really wanted to take. At least I still get to take slipstream fiction, which should be a lot of fun, and I will begin my planning and research for my community project – Writer in the World, required of all MFAs, and buckle in because it’s going to be my whole year. 

Meanwhile, I am teaching two completely full sections of English composition at Ye Olde University and commuting into the city two mornings a week to teach newswriting at the Jesuit College. That’s approximately 75 students to wrangle. In addition to the Writer in the World practicum, I’ll be working on my MFA thesis novel, and my non-MFA fiction writing (more on that soooooon). 

Then there’s Donald Media, which includes my freelance work for various news publications including McClatchy, the Labor Tribune, Feast Magazine, etc. There’s keeping up with the four (4) blogs I manage, the Patreon, the Literary Underworld, attending two cons and a journalism conference, the ethics committee, St. Louis SPJ and its fall boot camp, not to mention being president of the Sigma Tau Delta honors society and gearing up to take over the quarterly charity book sale in my town that I’ll start running in 2023.

Something had to give. I mean, I have a family. I hear they’re nice. 

At least one thing will be off my plate, one way or the other: this Friday is the final defense for my media studies masters thesis. So far none of my committee have emailed me to yell that it’s a worthless piece of garbage and I have to go back to the drawing board because I’m a looooooooser. Who’s nervous? Hopefully their suggestions will be quickly feasible, as next week is my last of the summer “vacation” and my ability to give the bloody thing my undivided attention before the fall chaos descends. 

Assuming nothing goes sideways, technically I am done with that degree, and would have the right to walk in the December graduation except that feels silly when I’m allegedly graduating for good in May! 

Then whatever will I do with all my spare time?

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August linkspam!

Gee, Elizabeth, this newsletter sorta skipped a month. What happened to July?

Well, folks, there was this thesis… Only two years late! Technically not “late,” as one has six years from the point where one finishes the coursework to complete a thesis in order to get their masters degree. There was this pandemic, you see, and pivoting to teaching online, and then I launched a completely different masters program, and and and… 

But this summer, I dug in and finished the thesis. It is currently awaiting defense and final approval by the Graduate School. It is my sincere hope that by the next newsletter, I will be the recipient of a masters of science in media studies, and embarking on my final year of the MFA.

In the meantime, freelance nonfiction work is really picking up, and I’ll be returning as an adjunct professor and graduate instructor at two universities in the fall. I also had the pleasure of working with high-school students for two sessions at the SIUE Youth Writing Camp this summer, and continuing my usual appearances at book fairs, libraries, festivals and conventions. I also took another class toward the MFA, on teaching creative writing via memoir. What, me busy?

And there’s this other thing. Which I can’t share. Not yet. Once the contracts are signed, I can *mmmmmf* 
 


Publicity/Appearances

Reviewing June and July: I launched the summer tour at ConCarolinas in Charlotte, N.C., which was a terrific time and a great chance to see folks I haven’t seen since before the world ended. In July, I got to see practically everyone else on that list at Imaginarium in Louisville, Ky. I held two workshops there: the first on “So You Wanna Be a Writer” going through the creative process with an eye to publication, and “Don’t Quit Your Day Job,” on the business side of being a writer. These workshops went really well, and I may develop them further as I go into my “Writer in the World” project this fall in MFA-land.

I also spoke to the Plethora of Pens writers’ group in Glen Carbon, Ill. on July 11, and added the Collinsville Library Book Fair at the very last minute on July 30.

Coming up in August: It’s actually pretty light! Much of my schedule was cleared to deal with the thesis defense and whatever revisions will be necessary, and then the semester begins in about three weeks. So we’ll call that “free time.” 

Also: the latest issue of Quill Magazine referenced the controversy a few months ago when my chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists challenged the governor of Missouri to stop threatening prosecution of journalists for *checks notes* doing journalism. Here’s the report if you’re interested.

I was part of an author roundtable on Sean Taylor’s excellent writing blog in June, discussing how we balance ideas and projects. “I’ve been told that perhaps I focus too much on the salability of a project, perhaps to the detriment of the art. That’s possibly true, but there’s also a lot of privilege to the idea that we should do art first and market second. When you have the rent paid by other means, maybe you can do art first. But when you feed your family by the written word, you need to prioritize what you can sell and keep your work out where the eyeballs can find it.” Full column here.

Coming up:
• Edwardsville (Ill.) Book Festival, Sept. 17
• St. Louis SPJ Journalist Boot Camp, Sept. 24
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 30-Oct. 2
• SPJ National Conference, Washington, D.C. Oct. 26-29 
• ContraCon, Kansas City. Nov. 11-13 

Journalism/Essays

• Tharp sworn in as state senator (St. Louis Labor-Tribune)
• Highland residents to pay higher trash fee (Highland News-Leader)
• Judge candidates elected despite write-in ballot (St. Louis Labor-Tribune)
• HCS subscribers to get refund following outage (Highland News-Leader)
• Illinois moves to make ‘right to work’ illegal (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland police get three-year contract (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland passes $40 million school referendum (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland will open public restrooms during festivals – providing people behave (Highland News-Leader)
• Developer plans high-end apartments for historic hotel (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland votes to move forward on controversial storage facility (Highland News-Leader)
• New program allows low-income kids outside district to get library cards (Highland News-Leader
• Highland board declines proposal for storage facility (Highland News-Leader)
• Family tax relief from Democrat-sponsored bill (Highland News-Leader)

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

 

Fiction

*mmmmmmf* I can’t tell you. Shh. Shenanigans afoot.

Patreon/Blogs

• A second life (Medium)
• The coffeehouse chairs (Medium)
• Freedom Day 2022 (Patreon)
• Hey new people! (Patreon)
• Kitty! (Patreon)
• Imaginarium is a wrap! (Patreon)
• The beauty halo (Patreon)
• Follow me, scribes (Patreon)
• So where do you get your ideas? (Patreon)
• Where are you from? (Patreon)

Are you a subscriber to my newsletter, which has this and much more, including photo of the month, coupons and freebies etc.? Well, you should! Don’t worry – I’m way too busy to spam you more than once a month. Click here to be assimilated.
 

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June linkspam!

The summer is now in full swing, as the temperatures rise in concert with my desire to hide under an air conditioner until Halloween. 

What else is in full swing? My summer employment! I am fully launched at the St. Louis Labor Tribune as I continue with the Highland News-Leader (and pretty much any other publication that will pay me). I’m working with the SIUE Alestle and at the youth writing camp, which is an entirely new experience soon to be detailed for the Patreon. I’ve never taught kids younger than 18 before, and it is a different world.

I’m also in a class this summer: teaching creative writing with a focus on the memoir, which is now in its second week and quite interesting. Our first reading was The Bluest Eye, which is funny because I just read that for my Morrison class, but now we’re on to W.E.B. DuBois. 

In addition all the work stuff I’m doing this summer, my Relay for Life team is wrapping up its efforts this month. My team has been raising money for the American Cancer Society since 2005 and we’ve raised more than $47,000 for cancer research and support services for patients. This is going to be the year we break $50,000! The local Relay event happens on June 11, and I’ll be raising money before and after to help my team make its goal. If you know someone who has fought cancer or died from it (and really, is there any human who DOESN’T know at least one?), please consider supporting us with a donation

Finally, I want to remind you all about my Patreon. I really feel the pieces I’m posting there are some of the best work I’ve ever done, and to be frank, we rely heavily on the Patreon income each month. If only 5 percent of my Facebook followers subscribed at $1 a month, it would nearly double that income; 10 percent would be amazing. If you have the means, please consider subscribing, and enjoy the essays, travelogues, book and movie reviews, photography and fiction I’m posting there, along with the free books and chapbooks you get each March. 
 


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.

Signed copies direct from me
Amazon
Kindle

Publicity/Appearances

This newsletter is delayed because the first weekend of the summer was taken up with ConCarolinas! A full con report is pending for the blog and Patreon, but the shorthand is that it was a fantastic time, with old and new faces and some wonderful opportunities that *mmmmmf* I can’t talk about yet. A gazillion thanks to Rachel Brune, publisher extraordinaire of Crone Girls Press, who was kind enough to share her table with me and room with me so we could both save expenses. Rachel is a great writer and a good friend and now she knows what my hair looks like first thing in the morning. 

May concluded with a signing at the Smithton, Ill. library, but unfortunately the Alton Market on May 21 was canceled due to weather. I hope to reschedule my appearance there later in the summer. 

Coming up in June: a guest speaker appearance at Plethora of Pens in the Glen Carbon (Ill.) Library on June 11 and Imaginarium in Louisville, Ky. on July 8-10. Literary Underworld will have a full booth at Imaginarium and yes, I’m bringing the bar and a henchman to assist. 

Coming up:
• Smithton (Ill.) Library signing, May 28
• ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. June 3-5
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 8-10
• Plethora of Pens speech, Glen Carbon, Ill. July 11
• Edwardsville (Ill.) Book Festival, Sept. 17
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Oct. 7-9 
• SPJ National Conference, Washington, D.C. Oct. 26-29 
• ContraCon, Kansas City. Nov. 11-13 (tent.)

Journalism/Essays

• Highland Library to launch Cards for Kids program (Highland News-Leader)
• Irish pub under way in Highland (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland tech director pushes for broadband access (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland superintendent pushes for construction funds (Highland News-Leader)
• Happy Pride! (Literary Underworld)
• But why does it always have to be political? (Medium)

 

Fiction

*mmmmmmf* I can’t tell you. Shh. Shenanigans afoot.

Patreon/Blogs

• The Coffeehouse Chairs (Patreon)
• Review: Firestarter (Patreon)
• Review: A Day Like This (Patreon)
• Toni Morrison: The Measure of Our Lives (Patreon)

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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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