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Elizabeth Donald Posts

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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May Linkspam: Graduation Edition!

Cue the pomp and circumstance, don the World’s Silliest Hat. I am graduated.

This, by the way, is why the newsletter is a week late. As you know, it was right up the wire catching up all my schoolin’ after my illness in order to graduate in time. When I got out of hospital, I had ten significant pieces of academic writing that needed to be completed in five weeks. I defended my thesis on Monday, turned in the final seminar paper on Wednesday, taught my last class on Thursday and graduated on Friday. On Saturday, there was barbecue and laughter and more than fifty friends and family gathered to celebrate with us. 

In short (too late), it’s been a hell of a ride.

Below is the usual list of appearances and publications, but graduating was pretty much the highlight. Those of you who’ve been following me for a while know that’s it’s been five years, fourteen semesters, an M.S. in media studies, an M.F.A. in creative writing, a plethora of students, a myriad of classes, more than 130 books, a gazillion papers and an infinite number of Starbucks Tripleshots. It’s been quite the journey over the last five years, learning to be a teacher while re-learning to be a student again, and launching a full-time freelancing and creative writing business from my “side gig” all these years. 

But the best thing I’ve learned on this ride is that we’re always students. Graduation is an accomplishment, to be sure, and hopefully a gateway to better things. But there are always new things to learn, new perspectives to consider, new books to fall into, new ideas to try on for size. We never graduate from that lifelong journey, and we are the better for it. I know that I am. 
 

Publicity/Appearances

I canceled most of April’s appearances, but I did keep a couple of them! I spoke at the annual SIUE Mass Comm Week on April 20 for my usual ethics discussion, which this year featured A.I. and its implications for journalism. My thoughts on this subject continue to evolve, and I imagine I will be writing more about it in the months to come. Mass Comm Week also featured the First Amendment Free* Food Festival cosponsored by the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists, as well as many other panels, roundtables and events. 

I also took part in a group reading for this year’s edition of the River Bluff Review, which accepted two poems, a short story and a photo from me this year. It was a great reading and a lot of fun to hear the diverse voices in this year’s edition. The video is available on Patreon.

I was also honored to speak at the Second Life Fantasy Faire, a two-week event in metaverse that raised money for the American Cancer Society. I gave a short craft talk and read a short story, which was very generously received. I was asked if I would consider returning to do a writing workshop, and I informed them that VRaze The Bar will be scheduling me for an in-world workshop in the near future, rescheduled from the one that was canceled when I was in hospital. I’m really enjoying the events in Second Life and look forward to doing more in metaverse in the future. 

No formal readings or appearances are planned for May – still trying to take it easy – but June will kick off with three weeks on the road, so that makes up for it! Stay tuned. In the meantime, if you wanted to see the graduation for some strange reason,the livestream was saved here.

In addition, the Banned Books Roundtable in the last week of March was uploaded to YouTube as well. If you can overlook my pneumonia voice, I thought it went off very well. It was also posted to Patreon.

2023 calendar:
• ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. June 2-4 (guest author)
• TechWrite STL, St. Louis. July, TBA. (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

• Documenting family’s immigration leads to discovery, award for author (Highland News-Leader)
• Historic hotel is ‘hopeless,’ will be torn down (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo!Sports for some reason)
• Paid leave is now the law in Illinois (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Repeated complaints lead to charges against Highland man (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland schools struggle with staffing problems (Highland News-Leader)
• Ten tips for attending AWP (Medium)
• Once more unto Second Life, dear friends (Elizabeth Donald)
• RBR reading (Elizabeth Donald) and SL reading (Elizabeth Donald and Patreon)

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

 

Fiction

• The Good Samaritan (Patreon)
 

Patreon/Medium

• Review: A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (Patreon)
• MFA Reading List (Patreon)
• River Bluff Review reading video (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

Nothing new in the art department, so you get silliness from the graduation!



 

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Once more unto Second Life, dear friends

I was honored and pleased to join the good folks at the Fantasy Faire LitFest on Second Life this afternoon, giving a brief craft talk and reading a short story. Since all but one attendee had never heard of me before, I defaulted to “Sisyphus,” which reads well and people seem to enjoy it. 

I really enjoy these Second Life readings. I can do them from home in comfort, and my avatar has this whole Sophia Loren thing going that looks pretty awesome. I found her a dress spattered with blood – it’s on point for my work, at least. 

Photo courtesy of Nicole Rodovsky

It is a little disconcerting not to have the visual cues for feedback – did they laugh at the joke, did they seem enthralled by the story… In live readings, I’ve had an audience member literally throw herself out of a chair (ah, Abaddon, such a fun opening number) and people who literally gasped at the twist in “The Train.” 

But longtime SL people use the local chat to indicate when they’re surprised or amused, and that kind of makes up for the lack of eye contact. It’s a really interesting experience, and one I hope to repeat in the future.

Fantasy Faire is going on through May 8 with a variety of experiences, and the entire program is to benefit the American Cancer Society. As you all know, I’ve been a Relay for Life team captain for going on two decades now to raise money for ACS, and I always seem to have new names to add to my lists of reasons why I do this.

Unfortunately, another name was added to that list yesterday: my friend Wez Nicholson, whose wife Mitzi was a bridesmaid in my wedding and has been a dear friend for many years. We are all heartbroken to lose Wez, and angry that we must add another verse to the chorus of Fuck Cancer. I have been looking for two days to find a picture of me and Wez, and I know there are a dozen, but they are stubbornly hiding and it is bothering me to a disproportionate amount. Please keep Wez’s family and especially Mitzi in your thoughts.

If you aren’t on Second Life and thus can’t wander past the giant mushrooms and sleeping dragons to click the donation kiosks, you can donate to the American Cancer Society here, with my thanks.

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RBR reading Tuesday

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be joining the other authors in this year’s edition of the River Bluff Review for a group reading on Tuesday.

I was honored beyond words (uncharacteristically) that the staff of the River Bluff Review chose to include a short story, two poems and a photograph from my submissions in this year’s edition. I’m looking forward to hearing all the other writers share their work, and have been instructed to read both prose and poetry at the event.

That means the short story, “Tiny Monsters,” and one of the poems, which will probably be “Seasons.” You can find them in the online publication of the magazine here.

The reading will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 18 at the Cougar Bookstore in the Morris University Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The public is welcome to attend.

The photo they chose to include is seen at the top of this post, titled “Edgar.” It was shot in 2018 at the grave of Edgar Allen Poe in Baltimore. Prints are available on my webstore.

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SL reading set for April 29

I’m delighted to announced that I have been selected to join the Second Life Fantasy Faire as a guest author, and will be reading an excerpt of my work on Second Life at 4 p.m. SLT (that’s 6 p.m. CST, if I calculated correctly).

Fantasy Faire is a weeks-long celebration of all things fantasy in Second Life, and it is a benefit for Relay for Life. Those of you who have read me for a while know that I am a Relay for Life team captain, and my team has raised more than $50,000 for the American Cancer Society over the past 15 years or so.

My own Relay for Life just got postponed from this weekend to sometime in June, but my team has already met its goal for fundraising (not that we’re stopping). It’s bittersweet as always, because there are far too many good, close friends who are no longer here because cancer took them too soon. Most recently I lost my Uncle Brian to cancer in October , and earlier this week honored my dear friend Andy, who was a year younger than me and lost his fight in 2020. 

It’s a delight and an honor to be selected to join the authors reading for this important cause, in the hopes that someday we can stop adding names to the list of those cancer has taken from us. 

Fantasy Faire opens up on April 20, and when I have more specific information and landmarks for you, I’ll be sure to share them. In the meantime, my team’s progress is being charted here

Now to pick something to read…

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April 2023 linkspam

What a weird month March was! I kicked off with my much-anticipated trip to Seattle for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs convention, which I wrote about in exhaustive detail for Patreon (see links below). I also posted a great deal on social media and photography is pending, so if you’re interested, you should subscribe to the Patreon and get access to all my previous posts! (See how I subtly worked that in?) I fell completely in love with Seattle and enjoyed the hell out of my time at AWP, returning fully reenergized to make all the words!

Unfortunately, three days after returning from Seattle, I started getting sick. I thought I’d caught the usual confluenza, but by the end of the week I was in hospital with pneumonia in both lungs. I had top-notch medical care, solid insurance coverage and my husband with me the entire time, so I count my blessings while acknowledging the privilege I have to be treated and recover without fear. I’ve been out of hospital a week at the time of this writing, and I’m not yet fully recovered – they say it may be a month or two before my lungs are back at their previous capacity, and I’m also looking at physical therapy for a while. 

I want to thank all the people who sent their well-wishes to me in the hospital and after my release, who sent supportive messages to my husband as he fretted, and offered to help out as best they could with any of our needs. It makes an enormous difference in the isolation and claustrophobia of a hospital room to hear that people are thinking of you and praying for your recovery.

Of course, it had to hit six weeks before graduation, and now I am significantly behind in all the projects I am spinning as I prepare to finish grad school. That also means very little freelance work was done this month. I am canceling most public appearances and reducing much of my “extra” work in an effort to recover physically and catch up on my work. I know you will understand, and rest assured this summer you won’t be able to shut me up. 


 

Publicity/Appearances

As mentioned above, my illness required canceling most appearances this month, including the Second Life writing workshop scheduled for April 1. I’m in communication with VRazetheBar to reschedule the workshop for a later date, after my voice and lungs return to full capacity. I’m looking forward to resuming events in metaverse and real life soon!

The event I couldn’t cancel was the Banned Books roundtable on March 28. As president of both the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists and SIUE Sigma Tau Delta Honor Society, I was the moderator, and no one was more nervous than my poor understudy when I was in the hospital. Fortunately I got out in time to rest up for the roundtable, my voice held out and I didn’t have a horrible coughing fit in front of a live studio audience. The event was very productive, with a robust conversation ranging over a lot of topics relating to book banning and the current backlash on education. There was news coverage in advance of the event and of the event itself, which I really appreciated. I’m not sure everyone understands exactly how much worse this issue is compared to previous years, but as one of the panelists put it, this is one issue on which journalists cannot afford to stand by the sidelines. The First Amendment protects us all, and it needs us to defend it. 

I’m also keeping my guest lecture on the practical application of journalism ethics for SIUE’s Mass Comm Week, which will also include the First Amendment Free* Food Festival co-sponsored by St. Louis SPJ and the SIUE Alestle every year. That’s when we offer students the opportunity to sign away their First Amendment rights for free pizza, and it always turns out to be a terrific object lesson in the importance of the First Amendment. Other than that, I’m trying to rest until ConCarolinas and Paris in June! 

I’m also glad to announce that I was accepted at Dragoncon once again, and will be returning to the Labor Day marathon after a long absence.

2023 calendar:
• SIUE Mass Comm Week: Ethics, Edwardsville, Ill. April 18 (presenter)
• ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. June 2-4 (guest author)
• TechWrite STL, St. Louis. Date TBA. (presenter)
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 14-16 (guest author)
• Dragoncon, Atlanta, Ga. (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

• Budzinski introduces LEAP Act to expand apprenticeship programs (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland’s budget for 2023-24 looks promising, city manager reports (Highland News-Leader and Yahoo Sports Canada)
• Post Commons becomes cornerstone coffee shop in Alton, Ill. (Feast Magazine)
• Budzinski signs on as co-sponsor to PRO Act (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Illinois contractor forced to pay back wages and fines under Prevailing Wage Act (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Highland man charged in death of 3-month-old infant son (Highland News-Leader)
• Job training, support for Illinois workforce top governor’s agenda (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Funding for annual Highland art festival in limbo as council weighs options (Highland News-Leader)
• Steelworkers union could block sale of Granite City Mill (St. Louis Labor Tribune and Illinois Business Journal)
• Hotel-restaurant complex coming to Highland (Highland News-Leader)
• Granite City hospital sale to California corporation is final (Belleville News-Democrat)
• What Illinois’ paid leave law means for union workers (St. Louis Labor Tribune)

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

 

Fiction

Currently bustling away on a screenplay for my adaptation class, the MFA thesis and some badly overdue fiction work I owe to editors who are being astoundingly patient. Nothing to see here yet, move along… 
 

Patreon/Medium

• Ten tips for AWP (Patreon)
• AWP 2023: That’s a wrap (Patreon)
• AWP 2023: Attack of the inkstained wretches (Patreon)
• AWP 2023: Hey, there’s a convention here (Patreon)
• AWP 2023: Klondike Gold Rush (Patreon)
• AWP 2023: The Emerald City, Pt. 1 (Patreon)
• Quote unquote: Ray Bradbury (Patreon)
• AWP 2023: So many evergreens (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

• Seattle photodump! (Patreon)
• AWP 2023: The Emerald City, Pt. 2 (Patreon)

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March 2023 Linkspam

What do Seattle, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Paris have in common?

Me!

In a few days I am off to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Seattle, which ticks off another city and state I’ve never visited on the life list. I’m looking forward to my first AWP and all the awesome literary lore I can soak up, as well as exploring a brand new city.

As is my habit, I’ll be posting daily from the conference and sharing a travelogue of the nifty things I find in Seattle, so join the Patreonif that interests you! They get all the good stuff first.

I realized earlier this month that this might be the craziest year ever for me and travel. Last weekend was Conflation, which at least wasn’t a long drive! This month it’s Seattle for AWP, then after graduation it’s ConCarolinas in Charlotte, N.C. My husband and I are road-tripping to Charlotte, with hopes of a quick stop in Nashville on our way to meet up with some of our Tennessee miscreants – er, friends. 

Right after that it’s PARIS. Yup, watch out Europe, because I’m going to the continent! My mother is taking my sister and me to Paris for a life-list week where we eat our weight across the City of Light, and you better believe I am visiting Shakespeare & Co. and at least taking a picture of Notre Dame even though I can’t go inside. Do you know something nifty to see in Paris? Please let me know! 

Once I’m back in the U.S., it’s off to Louisville for Imaginarium in July, and then (drum roll) I’m back at Dragoncon! It’s been *checks watch* at least seven years since I darkened Atlanta’s doorstep, but now I’m returning to enjoy the company of 70,000 of my closest friends. Hello to Peachtree Street! 

Theoretically I’m also going to my 30th (???) high school reunion, followed by the SPJ conference in Las Vegas, and wrapping up with Contra in Kansas City. And then I unpack. Whew! 

I’m just saying, if you were ever considering signing onto the Patreon for travelogues and photos and food reports and musings on faraway places, now is a good time. 

If you’re going to be in the vicinity of any of these events, please stop by and say hello! I’m looking forward to getting back on the road, even if I may occasionally forget what state I’m in. 


Publicity/Appearances

In February I was honored to lecture at the Wednesday Club about Edgar Allan Poe and “The Raven,” which was a terrific experience. I felt quite warmly welcomed by the good people of the Wednesday Club, and not just because they laughed at my jokes – though that’s always a way to get on my good side!

The month also saw Writers of the Riverbend, always a blast at Maeva’s Coffee in Alton. Two student journalists at The Bridge, a student newspaper at Lewis & Clark Community College, chatted with me at the event, and whaddya know – some of my comments made it into their story

Conflation took place in late February, and there’s a write-up pending as we experimented with simulcasting my reading/workshop in Second Life as well as in person at the convention. It was a nifty experience, and one I’m looking forward to repeating. Many thanks to the good folks at VRazeTheBar, which organized and managed the whole thing with the technogizmos I don’t understand. They have already scheduled me for a workshop on April 1!

This month is the aforementioned AWP conference, my first academic convention since AEJMC in 2019. Also, my Writer in the World workshop offered this semester in partnership with Shameless Grounds comes to an end this month, with a public reading by my students on March 4. 

2023 calendar:
• Conflation, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 23-25 (guest author)
• Writer in the World reading, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 4 (emcee)
• AWP Conference, Seattle, Wash. March 8-11 (attending)
• SIUE Banned Books roundtable, Edwardsville, Ill. March 28 (moderator/panelist)
• Writing workshop, Second Life. April 1 (presenter)
• SIUE Mass Comm Week: Ethics, Edwardsville, Ill. April 18 (presenter)
• ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. June 2-4 (guest author)
• TechWrite STL, St. Louis. Date TBA. (presenter)
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 14-16 (guest author)
• Dragoncon, Atlanta, Ga. (guest author)
• SPJ Conference, Las Vegas. Sept. 28-Oct. 1 (attending)
• Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 21-Oct. 1 (LitUnd only)
• ContraKC, Kansas City, Date TBA. (guest author)

Journalism/Blogs/Essays

• Illinois expands pre-apprenticeship program for construction trades (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Electricity rates on the rise in Highland (Highland News-Leader)
• New playground proposed for Silver Lake (Highland News-Leader)
• Foxes Boxes brings pastries, bread to new space in Bethalto (Feast Magazine)
• Highland public safety faces changes in law enforcement (Highland News-Leader)
• What Illinois’ new paid leave law means for union workers (St. Louis Labor Tribune)
• Foodie: Grasshopper Brownies (Donald Media)

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

 

Fiction

I’m happy to announce that this year’s River Bluff Review is live on the interwebs! It features one short story, two poems and a photograph from me, which was truly unexpected and humbling in my last semester. Click here to read them, and be sure to check out the other creative work offered by the writing community at SIUE. Also note the blog entry I wrote about these pieces, especially “Tiny Monsters.” 

Sadly not much else to report, as I am madly writing two seminar papers, my thesis stories and the Blackfire compendium coming out next year. Whew! 
 

Patreon/Medium

• Fiction: Help Me (Patreon)
• Fiction: Perchance to Dream (Patreon)
• River Bluff Review (Patreon)
• The falling chandelier (Patreon)

Photography

• Grounded (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.

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Con report: Conflation returns

I have to give the good folks of Conflation massive credit for the most creative way to keep a con alive during the pandemic: move the whole thing to the metaverse. 

And no, not that lame Meta-verse that the artist formerly/currently/whatever known as Facebook is attempting to pass off on us, but the original-ish metaverse of Second Life. Conflation’s organizers recreated the entire con, right down to the design of the Comfort Inn at Westport where it’s taken place for umpteen years, including the recalcitrant automatic doors and funky stairwell and not-actually-a-fireplace in the lobby. Only when you walk out the back door, instead of a shuttered pool and parking lot, you would see a vast playground of oceanfront walkways and hot tubs and dance floor with swirling lights and other fun things. For two successive Conflations, we partied in Second Life, and it was delightful – and introduced me to Second Life, about which I have written before.  

Conflation returned to meatspace last week, and it was glorious. As is the tradition for a relax-a-con that puts emphasis on socialization and relaxed schedules rather than panels and workshops, we sell out of our rooms and open/close as we see fit. I’ve vended at Conflation for umpteen years, running the Literary Underworld Traveling Bar and hawking the books in the same place, and I love it. 

Proof of life. Sorta.

This time I was solo, as my scheduled minion contracted the Voldevirus and had to quarantine. Fortunately I have many pals at Conflation and elsewhere who helped me unload the van, set up the tables, and watched the booth while I did my workshops. Special props go to the Branson-Koppenhofer-Rendleman family, author Elizabeth Lynn Blackson, and Conflationites David Szucs and Brad Hicks for doing extra duty helping me out

And that leads me to the unusual part: with so much success in Second Life during the pandemic, they opted to simulcast my reading in SL while I was speaking in real life at the con. My avatar looked smashing. (As I said at the time, she’s a lot prettier than I am and her dancing is a vast improvement.

Later, I gave a two-hour writing workshop that is essentially a condensed version of the workshop I developed this year in the MFA program, and I will conduct that workshop again in Second Life on April 1.

It was a first for me, plus an international audience I’ve rarely had, and I thought it was a great success. It’s a little disconcerting to read to a roomful of avatars, as I never quite realized how much I key off body language when reading – are they bored? Excited? Distraught? Checking their phones? Surprised? Making eye contact? Avatars aren’t stone still; they have scripts that make them move or shift, but it’s automatic and subtle, and it’s impossible to read their reactions.

I read “Sisyphus,” which I’ve probably read too often, but it’s always well-received and kind of my default reading. I wasn’t sure of the audience, and I wasn’t sure they would be ready for something more obscure like “The Train” or, god save us, the popobawa excerpt. I made the mistake of reading that one once and it freaked out several members of the audience. No, wait! Buy the book! Fortunately the majority of listeners in real life and SL had never heard “Sisyphus” before, so the ending comes as a surprise.

I made good on my personal vow to always attend at least one panel I’m not on, and I got to spend time with some of my favorite humans and enjoy the festivities we once enjoyed before the world ended. It was a wonderful kick-start to the convention season, and a blessed return to a little bit of the World That Was.

 

Note: I took several photos of awesome costumes with permission, but I did not explicitly ask if I could post said pictures, therefore I have omitted them. Darn ethics.

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River Bluff Review

They didn’t tell me! The annual release of River Bluff Review is live, and I didn’t know. I was honored to see one short story, two poems and a photograph accepted for publication in my final year, and you can see them all here. 

“Tiny Monsters” has extra weight for me, as it is not only one of very few stories I’ve seen published with no speculative-fiction or supernatural content, but also draws a great deal from my life in the past. I found that the more I delved into literary fiction, the more I was exploring parts of my life and self, some of it deeply uncomfortable. Fiction shouldn’t be therapy – or at least it shouldn’t be only therapy, or you get bad fiction. But I was surprised by how much of myself and things I buried deep came to the surface as I experimented with this kind of writing.

Likewise, I hadn’t written any poetry since I was seventeen, because everyone writes poetry when they’re seventeen. My youthful poetry is buried at sea where it can’t get loose and hurt anyone. But then I took an advanced poetry workshop a few semesters ago, and two of those poems appear in River Bluff Review. That makes them the very first poetry I’ve ever had published. 

Finally, if you click “visual art” in the header, you’ll see my photographic depiction of “Edgar” among the other art accepted for the issue. It’s interesting that it goes live now, because I’m finishing my presentation on Edgar Allan Poe and “The Raven” I’ll be giving next week, and I’ve got Edgar on the brain.

Well, now I’ve got something to put in this month’s newsletter…

In other news, I’m signing at Writers of the Riverbend on Saturday, so if you’re local to Maeva’s Coffee in Alton, Ill., come by and see us 11:30 to 4 p.m.! 

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January 2023 Linkspam

Hey, look what didn’t post! The webmaster here at Donald Media will be sacked. Wait, that’s me. – Mgmt.

Alas, the holiday break here at Donald-Smith-Gillentine Inc. was shut down on account of the Voldevirus. My husband came down with it right after Christmas, and somehow I managed not to get it or the flu, but instead something between bronchitis and pneumonia. I’d like to thank the fickle fates for choosing to hit us with this on the only ten-day stretch of the entire year when we are both off work, more or less.  It’s been a pretty quiet December, wrapping up the semester and spending the holidays with my family. Before the onslaught of the Dreaded Plague, I spent a lot of time baking things, because that is one of my favorite hobbies. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m fascinated by culinaria, both the making and the eating, and thus it’s been a delight working with Feast Magazine this year and getting to explore haute cuisine. While I am mostly doing features with Feast, I am planning to begin restaurant reviews independently on Donald Media in the new year, as well as reviving the book reviews I kind of let slide this year.  Oh, and one other thing. I sort of graduated. As you’ll recall, I finished the Thesis of Doom last summer, which was my examination of the representation of journalists in film and the final requirement for the masters degree in media studies. There was no summer commencement, so officially I graduated in December, walking across the stage wearing too much “academic bling” and figuring out how to accept my diploma and shake the chancellor’s hand while using a cane. Jim and Ian were there to cheer me on, and it really was a lovely evening, even with the silliest hat in history frantically pinned to my head because my hair rejects all hats. (Seriously, there was an emergency Walgreens stop on the way to the ceremony. It was a sitcom moment to be sure.) So that’s done, and yet I’m still here, because I have one degree to go. Much of the winter break that wasn’t spent baking or coughing was spent working on the thesis and my “Writer in the World” project, which are the final requirements for the MFA and you’ll hear more about that next month.  Until then, happy new year, and may you have a safe, happy (and healthy) holiday as we all begin another jaunt around the sun.


Publicity/Appearances

I usually try to take much of December and January off for sanity, so all we had this month was the Collinsville Holiday Market on Dec. 2. January will be quiet, with public appearances starting up again in February.  Next in 2023: • Writers of the Riverbend, Alton, Ill. Feb. 4 • Wednesday Club, St. Louis. Feb. 8 • Conflation, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 23-25 • AWP Conference, Seattle, Wash. March 8-11 (attending) • ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. June 2-4  • TechWrite STL, St. Louis. Date TBA.  • Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 14-16 (tent.) • SPJ Conference, Las Vegas. Sept. 28-Oct. 1 • Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Sept. 21-Oct. 1 • Contra, Kansas City, Date TBA. 

Journalism/Blogs

• Cleveland Heath returns to the classics (Feast Magazine) • Highland City Hall closed for water damage (Highland News-Leader) • One year after tornado, Amazon is rebuilding with no fines (Labor Tribune)  • Madison County to build bike trail near Highland (Highland News-Leader) • Ameren proposes new transmission line (Highland News-Leader) • Highland moves forward with road projects (Highland News-Leader) • Governor signs proclamation declaring WRA passage (Labor Tribune) • Illinois Democrats now hold widest majority in state history (Labor Tribune) • New medical clinic opens in Highland (Highland News-Leader) • 10 gifts for the adventurous foodie (Feast Magazine) • Developer to turn former printing facility into meat-packing plant (Highland News-Leader)

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

Fiction

Right now I’m deeply mired in finishing a portfolio of slipstream fiction for the MFA land, and on revisions for my fiction thesis that will be going before the committee in the next few months. I also kicked off the new year by sending out every short story currently available for submission. Brace for the rejection slips!   

Patreon/Medium

• The books of 2022 (

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) • 171 pages (

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) • Poem: Seasons (

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) • The original guilty pleasure (

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) • One more in the books (

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