I’m happy to announce that my short story “Azrael” has been picked up by parABnormal Magazine (Hiraeth Publishing).
“Azrael” is a funky little story with a weird genesis. I was sitting in one of my favorite coffeehouses, happily typing away with a cup of caffeine beside me. A young man walked up to my table and I looked up at him.
“You die now,” he said. Then he turned and walked out of the shop.
After a few blinks and “what the hell was that?” I started writing. Because that’s what we weirdos do.
“Azrael” went through a few iterations (and titles), was workshopped extensively in the MFA program. Eventually it was included in my MFA thesis portfolio, and I told the tale of its inspiration at my MFA jury. I’m so delighted that it will see print. Many thanks to editor H. David Blalock for picking it up, and I look forward to working with him.
It’s slated for the December edition of parABnormal, and I’ll let everyone know when it’s live so you can snag a copy. I will try to get a batch myself for sale at events and signings. (Such as this Saturday in Martin, Tennessee! Click here for details.)
So thank you, strange young man whom I’ve never seen again. Your inspiration is much appreciated.
I’m delighted to be returning to Dragoncon after a long time away! Below is my schedule, where I get to meet up with some old friends and new faces as well. It’s a fairly light schedule, so I may have free time (!) to meet up and chat!
I will have a limited quantity of in-print books for sale at my reading and signing. If you want a book, you might message me in advance to reserve it. As I am flying, I can only bring so many.
See you in Atlanta!
2:30 p.m. Signing with Timothy Zahn (Overlook, Westin)
11:30 a.m. Vampire variety in urban fantasy (Chastain 1-2, Westin)
3:30 p.m. Reading (Marietta, Hyatt)
10 p.m. 101 Interesting ways to kill off a character (Embassy EF, Hyatt)
10 a.m. Writing effective short horror fiction (Peachtree 1-2, Westin)
2:30 p.m. Forecasting the future of fantastic fiction (Embassy EF, Hyatt)
I shared my table with Rachel Brune, my editor at Crone Girls Press and newly minted acquisitions editor for Falstaff Books’ new horror imprint, Falstaff Dread. Rachel and I go waaaaaay back to the early 2000s and our mutual membership in the Sarah Connor Charm School, and it’s always a delight to see her.
Now home, for the next leg of the summer travel: PARIS. I’ll be doing a daily travelogue from the City of Lights for
, so consider subscribing!
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.
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.
• 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)
• 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.
• The Good Samaritan (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.
Nothing new in the art department, so you get silliness from the graduation!
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.
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.
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.
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…