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Author: elizabethdonald_7o83t2

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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Nifty review and upcoming event at Millstadt Library

I’m looking forward to the first event of 2022, which is the Millstadt Library Author Fair. Millstadt is in the process of expanding and will be running a referendum to build a new library soon, and I’m happy to be one of more than 20 authors who will be signing and speaking at the author fair on Jan. 15.

In advance of the event, Millstadt’s library blog wrote this lovely introduction to me and my work. I’d seen a previous write-up on their blog and saw they were still circulating the original Nocturne, which was from the first publisher and did not include the third novel of the Nocturnal Urges series, Abaddon. I donated a copy of Nocturne Infernum so that they’d have the most updated version, and they said this: “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.”

Well, that’s the kind of comment that makes a writer’s day.

If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll consider joining us in Millstadt on Jan. 15!

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“Fever” is published!

I wasn’t expecting the annual publication of the River Bluff Review until early spring, so it was a pleasant surprise to find that it’s already live on the interwebs!

River Bluff Review is a student-edited literary magazine, and only recently made the transition from print to all-digital. I was honored that they selected my short story “Fever” for this year’s edition. It’s a weird little piece, one that reads like a COVID story but was written the month before the pandemic began.

I remember it well, because I had been very ill that February – a flu that simply knocked me on my ass.* I recovered in time to go for a weekend getaway at Valentine’s Day with my husband, at a hotel we adore called the Cheshire Inn. Each room at the Cheshire is named and themed after a famous British writer – the suites are for the big boys like Robert Louis Stevenson and William Shakespeare, and the smaller rooms get the lesser-known authors. We were booked in the Romeo & Juliet suite, and after Jim fell asleep I was restless.

So I sat at the little desk in our suite and considered myself lucky to have kicked that nasty flu in time for this trip… and started writing. I wrote the tale of a woman so ill with fever that she hallucinates a monster in her house… or does she?

The entire first draft was written in the wee hours of the night in that hotel room, refined over several weeks and workshopped in my MFA program before submitting to magazines. I’m delighted that it was picked up so quickly, and I hope you enjoy it and the other fine stories included in this year’s River Bluff Review.

 

 

* Yes, it has occurred to me that it might actually have been COVID Original Flavor, before we knew much about it. My doctor said that “we may not have seen COVID before, but it’s probably seen us.” No real way of knowing, except I’m still alive and kicking.

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December linkspam

Happy holidays! I am delighted to announce that I will be an adjunct instructor at St. Louis University beginning in the spring semester. Yes, probably the last thing I needed was a fifth job, but I’m very excited to be teaching journalism again. Never fear, I am continuing in my assistantship at SIUE teaching English composition in addition to my MFA classes, editing work at the student newspaper, my freelance writing and reporting work, my volunteer activities… I think I forgot a job in there somewhere. 

Only one week left until the semester is over and the signings end for a little while, at which point I will… do more writing. And probably bake some stuff, seeing as how the holidays have enveloped us. I appreciate the patience of the Patreon people in particular, as pickings have been slim while I trundle through to the end of the semester. The Literary Underworld and Elizabeth Donald shops are bustling with the holiday orders, and please see the infobox at the end of this newsletter for deadlines to order in time for Christmas. 

That said, we just finished Thanksgiving, and if I haven’t done so up until now: Thank you. Yes, you, particularly. You stick with me and this newsletter, you support my work and many of you subscribe to the Patreon and/or buy the books. That keeps the lights on in my house and feeds my family, and I am always humbled by your continued support. As every year, I give thanks for you. 
 

Publicity/Appearances

November kicked off with ContraCon in Kansas City, which was the last Literary Underworld event for the year and at which we won Best Booze! This is an honor we have received before, and I can only assume it is our staggering array of bottom-shelf liquor and menu of geek-themed cocktails that wins us these accolades. Seriously, I am so pleased that the Traveling Bar brings so much joy to our guests at the cons, and it absolutely makes it worth hauling all those boxes of booze around the country.

Jim and I took a long weekend to Galena, Ill., which is a lovely little town with an old-fashioned Main Street and plenty of ghost lore that we’ve intended to visit since our first anniversary. On the drive up, I was pondering: when was the last time Jim and I traveled anywhere outside the St. Louis region that did not involve books, signings, public appearances or the kids? We’ve had family vacations and a few overnights in St. Louis and St. Charles, Mo., plenty of solo travel, sadly a few funerals, and more cons than we care to admit. But honestly, to meet those parameters, we’d have to go back to our honeymoon in Jamaica. It was a delightful weekend even if the ghosts were a bit of a disappointment, and soooo much food. 

I was delighted to return to Writers of the Riverbend in Alton, Ill., which is partly a sale and partly a networking opportunity for writers of the Alton-Edwardsville-St. Louis region. As always, there were familiar faces and new acquaintances, and I had a great time. Also, the charcoal mocha at adjacent Maeva’s Coffee cannot be beat. 

I was also happy to host write-ins all month long for the Eville Writers’ Nanowrimo, and the first-ever write-in for Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society at SIUE. (See, I opened my big mouth and suggested it and thus I was put in charge. This happens a lot.) Two more holiday markets coming up in December, and then I’m staying home for whole weeks. 

On the publicity side, I (briefly) contributed to another author roundup for Sean Taylor’s Bad Girls Good Guys blog, on “The End.”

Coming up:
• Collinsville (Ill.) Winter Market, Dec. 11 – last of the year!
• Millstadt (Ill.) Library Author Fest, Jan. 15
• St. Louis SPJ Journalist Boot Camp, Feb. 15 (tent.)
• 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 (very 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

• Substitute shortage forces Highland schools to cancel class (Highland News-Leader)
• New police chief sworn in (Highland News-Leader)
• Alhambra, Grantfork schools renovating for security (Highland News-Leader)
• SIUE investigates reports of frat racism (Alestle)
• Highland residents to vote on school referendum (Highland News-Leader)
 

Fiction

I’m delighted to report that my short story “Fever” will appear in the River Bluff Review literary magazine next spring. While ostensibly it seems like a COVID story, I swear I wrote it just before the Voldevirus hit, so the fact that it refers to a terrible illness is entirely coincidental.
 

Patreon/Blogs

• Writing the Adventure (Patreon)
• Body horror in MFA Land (Patreon)
• The Dance (poem) (Patreon)
• Job No. 5! (Elizabeth Donald and Donald Media)

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Job No. 5!

Now that all the paperwork is being filed, I am free to announce that beginning in the spring, I will be an adjunct instructor at St. Louis University.

I’m delighted at the opportunity to teach news editing at SLU’s communications department, and very grateful for the recommendation from my former-and-sometimes-current boss at SIUE. I’ve had several productive conversations with my new department chair, and spent a lot of time in the past several weeks planning out a syllabus and evaluating possible textbooks. It’s not a class I’ve taught before, but editing is a significant part of the newswriting class I taught for two years at SIUE and certainly I have enough professional experience in the topic. 

Never fear, I am continuing in my work as a teaching assistant at SIUE. I’ll be teaching English composition again in the spring, working in the Writing Center, assisting the editors of the Alestle, taking a full course load in my progress through the MFA, and continuing to write for my freelance clients, including the Highland News-Leader. The Patreon continues, as does the Literary Underworld and the ongoing tour/travel schedule (plus or minus pandemic cancellations). I am hammering away at the thesis for the first masters (more like driving a stake through the heart of a vampire, there…) I am still president of the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists, running the Literary Underworld and the Eville Writers, and captain of a Relay for Life team. And somewhere in there I probably should write another book.

So if you’re wondering why I haven’t emailed you back, take note of the above paragraph and gently remind me to pull my head out of the books once in a while. Who needs sleep?

Silliness aside, it’s a terrific opportunity and I’m really looking forward to the challenge. 

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