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Category: books/publishing

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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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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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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“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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Farewell, old friend.

This wasn’t exactly how I’d intended to christen my new website, but here we go: as of July 31, my oldest title Setting Suns will be going out of print.

Setting Suns wasn’t my first book, but it was the first to appear in paperback. Way back in the dawn of the ebook era, my first novel Nocturnal Urges came out from Ellora’s Cave Publishing, but they only published in ebook (two years before there was even such a thing as a Kindle!). If the ebook did well, they released it in paperback later. 

Nocturnal Urges came out and it sold well, won awards and the publisher demanded a sequel despite all the people insisting, “I’ll wait until the real book comes out.” I kept yelling, “It IS a real book! Ebooks are real books!” Now people look at my paperbacks and say, “I’ll get the ebook,” and I want to yell, “Where were you in 2005??” 

I was working on that sequel when Frank Fradella, founder of New Babel Books, came to me with the idea of putting my short stories into a collection. I’d published a handful of short stories in horror and science fiction magazines that had a disturbing habit of going out of business right after they published me. I was the Typhoid Mary of the small press in the early 2000s. Frank suggested collecting those stories and writing another half-dozen or so just for the collection, and thus Setting Suns was born.

It wasn’t my first book. But it was the first time I opened a box of books and saw my name on the cover. Ask any writer about that moment, and see the look in their eyes when they remember. 

Setting Suns has been in print for 15 years, give or take, and that’s one hell of a good run for a small press collection. It won the Darrell Award for best short story for “Wonderland,” a weird little Frankenstein riff told entirely in emails and online chats that gave Frank apoplexy in layout, and contains two of my most popular short stories: “Sisyphus,” a tragedy exploring toxic grief and lost love; and “Jesus Loves Me,” known as the Evil Teddy Bear story.

The Evil Teddy Bear still exists, here in my office. And there were T-shirts. 

But there are other stories that didn’t get as much attention. There’s “Prisoner’s Dilemma,” a literal funhouse horror piece that looks at the different kinds of love a person can have for the people in her life, plus crazy man with gun. 

There’s “Silent,” which was one of my very first short stories to be published for money, that smacks of a haunted house as told by The Twilight Zone. There’s “Deep Breathing,” a future-world submarine scarefest involving a monster several readers have referred to as “Cthulu-esque” which was funny because I’d never read Lovecraft at that point. 

There’s “Memory Lane,” another escapee from Twilight Zone about a husband’s desperate search to find his missing wife, and the dark secrets that come to light. That one began as my first attempt at a short-film screenplay, rewritten as a short story for Setting Suns.

There’s “Gauntlet,” an action-flick of a science fiction story set in my Sanctuary universe that only reaaaaally dedicated readers know about, since it’s had a couple of stories published but the novels remain in the trunk until I get them to not suck. Three of the Setting Suns stories are set in Sanctuary, but “Gauntlet” is my favorite.

There are even two stories that would qualify as “literary” with no SFFH elements whatsoever, though entering an MFA program and exploring literary fiction was the absolute last thought on my mind in the waning years of my twenties. 

After 15 years, Setting Suns is still the “entry drug” for Elizabeth Donald fiction. Long-time readers sometimes tell me it’s their favorite of my titles (which is a little humbling since I’ve published maybe thirteen books and novellas since then, give or take a few). 

I’m gonna miss the old girl.

I want to thank Shane Moore, publisher of New Babel Books, for working with me to put Setting Suns out of print with grace. It will be available through July 31 if you haven’t snagged the ebook yet, and we still have a few in stock if you want the print edition

I also want to thank Frank Fradella, who is no longer with New Babel Books, for his contributions to making Setting Suns what it was. The book was Frank’s idea, and his editing, layout and design coupled with the cover art from Darren Holmes made a wonderful book that I was proud to call my first. 

Thanks also go to Jason R. Tippitt, who co-authored one of the stories with me (“I Live With It Every Day”) and served as sounding board and inspiration through much of the book’s development. I very rarely work in partnerships – I don’t play well with others – and it is a testament to Jason’s patience and skill that our story turned out well. The book was dedicated to Jason, who is a fine writer and I hope you’ll hear more from him in times to come. 

It’s been a terrific run for my first “real” book, at least as far as I’m concerned. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

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Book birthday!

I’m happy to announce that my new Blackfire novella, Yanaguana, is now unleashed on the world courtesy of Crone Girls Press.

It walks along the San Antonio river, and it carries all your fears in its grasp.

Paul Vaughn and the Blackfire team have been summoned after several mysterious deaths, because that’s what they do. They face the things that lurk in shadows, and they save unknowing civilians from their grasp. 

But this one will challenge Blackfire more than any they have yet faced, as they must fight not only the demon that lurks along the Riverwalk… but the things they fear the most.

A standalone novella preceding the events of The Cold Ones, Yanaguana adds another chapter to the Blackfire series and will hopefully introduce new readers to this world of ghouls and beasties. Paired with two other novellas under the Crone Girls Press collection Foul Womb of Night, Yanaguana is now available for $2.99 from Amazon or FREE for Kindle Unlimited readers. 

While I’ve got you… I have a few people to thank. Because nobody writes a book alone, as much as we like to pretend.

Many thanks to David Szucs, officer and gentleman, who provided a sanity check for military parlance; to David Tyler, who answers my rambling messages at two in the morning; to Ian Smith, who helped me devise what’s going on with new characters Juliet and Tommy; and to my husband Jim Gillentine, who always cheerleads.

As usual, many thanks to the real Parish Roberts, Jim Bell, and the late Vic Milan, who let me steal their names for characters more than a decade ago.

Thanks to the good people of the Alamo Trust, who kindly gave me permission for a photo shoot and visit to the historic site, and the staff there who answered my many questions. San Antonio is a wonderful city, and I always show my love to the places I visit by infesting them with monsters.

Special thanks to Rachel Brune, editor extraordinaire who is blessed (or burdened) with indomitable patience and grace.

Finally, thanks to the real Sara Harvey, who couldn’t be more different than her fictional counterpart, except that they both kick ass.

Crossposted from DonaldMedia.com.

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