June Linkspam!

Once upon a year, my husband graduated from college. We planned this big celebration, with a huge party and barbecue followed by a trip to Disney World, which is a very special place from my family’s history with Disney and because my husband proposed to me there.

But lo, the Wicked Witch of the West visited a plague on the world, and we all had to sit inside for a year. No graduation, no party, no Disney. 

Now that the world is apparently starting to come back to life, we all got the vaxx, my husband’s long-delayed graduation ceremony finally happened, and we finally got to go to Disney World after four reschedulings. Per the request of some of my Patrons, I chronicled each day of our trip as “The Masked Mouse,” which turned out to be even more bizarre because the nationwide mask rules abruptly changed halfway through the week.

So that’s what ate May! Here’s the rest of what I’ve been up to:
 

Publicity/Appearances

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be returning to Imaginarium this summer! I’ve been at every Imaginarium from its launch up until last year, and it’s always a great time. Jim will not be able to join me due to his new job at the university, but my minions and I will be there (and serving the booze, if allowed!). 

The Cuppa Words local author group has a heavy calendar of events this summer, and I’m happy to be joining them after having to take most of last year off and hide. First up is the Melting Pot in Granite City, Ill., taking place on the town square on June 5.

Next I’ll be at the Route 66 Art Fair in Edwardsville, Ill. as a solo act, June 12 in the city park beside the library. 

The current schedule is:

• Melting Pot with Cuppa Words, Granite City, Ill. June 5
• Route 66 Art Fair, Edwardsville, Ill. June 12
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 9-11
• Alton Market, Alton, Ill. (tent.) July 31
• Peach Fest with Cuppa Words, Pere Marquette (tent.) Aug. 8
• Edwardsville Book Fair, Sept. 4 
• SPJ National Conference, New Orleans, Sept. 2-5 (tent.)
• Apple Fest with Cuppa Words, Pere Marquette (tent.) Sept. 19
• Archon, Collinsville Ill., Oct. 1-3
• Leclaire Parkfest, Edwardsville, Ill. (tent.) Oct. 17
• ContraKC, Kansas City, Mo. Nov. 5-7
 

Journalism/Essays

• Highland approves former police chief as city manager (Highland News-Leader)
• Survey shows Highland businesses recovering from pandemic (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland ramps up efforts to help local businesses (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland approves new budget with electric rate increase (Highland News-Leader)

Fiction

• Fiction: A Matter of Honor experiment (Patreon)
• Poem: A Single Tear (Patreon)

Also: Patreon subscribers finally received their annual bonus! The print limited-edition chapbook of Yanaguana went out in May, only two months behind schedule. There are a few extras, and I’ll be deciding soon what do with them… 
 

Patreon/Blogs

• Travelogues! At last! (Patreon)
• The Masked Mouse: Preshow (Patreon)
• The Masked Mouse: Arrival Day (Patreon)
• The Masked Mouse: Disney on Wheels (Patreon)
• The Masked Mouse: Eating Around the World (Patreon)
• The Masked Mouse: A Galaxy Far, Far Away (Patreon)
• The (Un)Masked Mouse: “Rest” Day (Patreon)
• The Masked Mouse: Animal House (Patreon)
• The Masked Mouse: Last Call (Patreon)
 

Photography

Memorial Day: Nashville National Cemetery (Patreon

It looks like all the other photos this month center around a big castle ruled by a giant rodent! Never fear, I hope to get some good shots in the coming weeks now that the semester is over. 

I haven’t had the chance to process art photos from Disney yet, but I hope to get to them shortly. Also on the list of potential shoots: the life-size origami at Missouri Botanical Gardens, a possible trip to Marceline, Mo. and a definite trip to Louisville, Ky. As always, the travelogues go to the Patreon first, but will eventually appear at elizabethdonaldphotography.com

May linkspam!

(Wait, Elizabeth, where did the April newsletter go?? This is it. I decided it was stupid to headline each newsletter for the preceding month; y’all can read.) 

If the linkspam this month looks light, it’s because it’s the end of the semester. Spring is always a time for spinning plates while rollerskating, and this year is no exception. I am finishing my first full year teaching English composition, which will be its own reflection once the dust settles. I’ve spent this semester deep in workshops, with both fiction and poetry portfolios to complete during finals this week. 

This summer will be largely freelance writing, the resumption of photography trips (yay!) and local signings, and looking to resume something like a con/tour schedule in the fall, barring disaster. I’m so grateful to be fully vaccinated against the Voldevirus, and looking forward to seeing friends and family and readers on the road. Of course, I am also finishing my thesis, so look for the grad student endlessly banging her head against a brick wall sometime in July.

In the meantime, I’ve been elected vice president of two honors societies at the university: Phi Kappa Phi (general honors) and Sigma Tau Delta (English honors). With SPJ, that makes three honors cords to wind around my neck at my (eventual) graduation, which should be truly hilarious. 

Publicity/Appearances

The SIUE CAS Honors Day ceremony was virtual, of course. I was technically part of it as the recipient of the Mimi Zanger Award for Literature. If you actually enjoy honors ceremonies, feel free to access the ceremony here. My brief appearance (nonverbal) is at 21:10.

Somehow I neglected to link this interview I did several months ago, talking about Yanaguana and my adventures with the Blackfire series. 

The schedule is starting to fill up! The Cuppa Words local author group has a heavy calendar of events this summer, and I’m happy to be joining them after having to take most of last year off and hide.

You might notice there is a conflict already in my schedule. We do not yet know what’s going to happen with the SPJ National Conference; it may be online, which would permit me to attend the Edwardsville Book Fair, or in realspace in New Orleans, which would require some finagling. We’ll see! As with just about all public gatherings this year, everything is subject to change.

The tentative schedule is:

• Melting Pot with Cuppa Words, Granite City, Ill. June 5
• Route 66 Art Fair, Edwardsville, Ill. June 12
• Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. (tent.) July 9-11
• Alton Market, Alton, Ill. (tent.) July 31
• Peach Fest with Cuppa Words, Pere Marquette (tent.) Aug. 8
• Edwardsville Book Fair, Sept. 4 
• SPJ National Conference, New Orleans, Sept. 2-5
• Apple Fest with Cuppa Words, Pere Marquette (tent.) Sept. 19
• Archon, Collinsville Ill., Oct. 1-3
• Leclaire Parkfest, Edwardsville, Ill. (tent.) Oct. 17
• ContraKC, Kansas City, Mo. Nov. 5-7 

Journalism/Essays

• F-1 tornado strikes Highland (Highland News-Leader)
• New mayor sworn in (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland raises electricity rates in new budget (Highland News-Leader)
• Highland ramps up efforts to help local businesses (Highland News-Leader)

Fiction/Patreon/Blogs

• One week only! (Donald Media)
• Revisions and portfolios and poems, oh my (Patreon) (includes new poem!)
• The Amazing Adventures of Michael Chabon (Patreon)
• Confessions of a Godzilla widow (Patreon)

Photography

My photography is featured this week only in an online art show at the university. A portion of the proceeds will go to the SIUE Photography Club, which provides workshops, seminars, guest speakers and other opportunities to student photographers. The sale closes Sunday, May 9, so click here to shop! There’s some nifty stuff besides my photo prints: cyanotypes and digital art and some really fascinating photography. 

That’s all the news that fits for this month, folks. Keep in mind that much of the best stuff is going on the Patreon first, as befits the folks who kindly help pay my electric bill. Feel free to join them for as little as $1 a month!

One week only!

Over the last year and a half, I’ve been privileged to be part of the SIUE Photography Club. We haven’t been able to meet in person all that often thanks to the Voldevirus, but we’ve made good use of Zoom and even had a couple in-person workshops that unfortunately I was unable to attend.

Now we’re part of an online art show, and I am proud to have five images included. A portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the photography club, which (in normal years) provides workshops and seminars, guest speakers and sometimes group outings for photo shoots.

There’s quite an eclectic collection, from cyanotypes to digital art to traditional photography. While I’d be thrilled if you buy me, of course, there’s some wonderful work by my colleagues I think you’ll enjoy.

The sale is only running for one week, so click here to shop before Sunday, May 9.

And, of course, if you want to check out the rest of my photographer, please visit my online portfolio. Most images are available for purchase through my personal shop (which also carries my books), and a limited selection is available on etsy.

March 2021 Linkspam

So…. it was March, and that means I turned 39-plus-tax. Again. Shush, you who can do math. For Patreon subscribers: I have made it my tradition to send my loyal patrons a free bonus item in the month of March, usually something they can’t get anywhere else. Why March? Because it’s my birthday, so YOU get a present.

But grad school is still a thing, so the project has been delayed. It’s moving forward and I hope to have your bonuses in hand and into the mail within the next month. So since I am slow, if you sign up for the Patreon in April, you also get the annual bonus! (Make sure you include your snail mail address when you sign up!) It’s available to all levels, which begin at $1 a month. 

Now for the rest of what’s been going on….

Publicity/Appearances

The AWP Conference kicked off my March with five days of intensive panels and discussion among my fellow writers and MFA denizens. AWP is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and it was my first conference that isn’t journalism or specifically geared to SFFH. I live-blogged the entire experience on Patreon, as part of my ongoing series sharing the MFA experience with my patrons, and I hope you find it interesting and helpful. I gained a great deal from it, including the terrific keynote performance by U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo, as well as discussion of some issues in the freelance writing world that will consume much of my professional life in the months to come.

Last month I warned you that my author website will be coming down shortly for a massive overhaul after *mumblety years of the same static design. Guess what STILL didn’t happen? After having created and launched about four websites on WordPress, I decided it was time to actually know what I’m doing, and so I am taking a class (in my spare time, ha ha) to teach me the finer points of WordPress. Better website ahoy!

Note that I’ve also consolidated my webstore to offer books and photography from the same site. Never fear, I’m still part of Literary Underworld! And my work is still available on Amazon, of course. But if you’ve been interested in picking up an Elizabeth Donald book or photograph, try the website first. 

Up this month: Not much, since it’s the final lap of the semester! The Society of Professional Journalists’ regional conferences are virtual this year, and will be taking place on April 10. 

Whew! Let’s see, what else has been going on?

Journalism/Essays

Highland has tornado touch down with no fatalities (Highland News-Leader)

Highland’s long-time mayor dies weeks before stepping down (Highland News-Leader)

Highland schools plan for graduation, fall (Highland News-Leader)

Unopposed candidate set to take over as Highland’s mayor (Highland News-Leader)

Three people run for two seats on Highland City Council (Highland News-Leader)

Flashback: Miracle Girl (Patreon)

Fiction

FREE short story on the Patreon as part of the current previews: Sergeant Curious (which was originally published in River Bluff Review in 2020)

Setting Suns is on sale this month only, celebrating its 15th anniversary! Get my first collection of short stories for only $12.50. This book was first published in 2006 and is still in print after all this time! 

Photography

New posters! A new line of posters incorporating my photography with famous quotes is my latest project, and they’re now on display in the photography portfolio and in the store, and on etsy. Check them out! Have any quotes you wish were on an awesome poster? Let me know!

Patreon/Blogs

Experiment: Cento Poetry (Patreon)

Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill (Patreon)

AWP: And we’re off! (Patreon)

AWP: Wednesday/Thursday (Patreon) – finding agency as a woman writer, life in academia without tenure, women writers over 50 (not there yet!), nonfiction of the apocalypse, code-switching, southern short fiction, sociopolitics in fiction, #PublishingPaidMe… whew!

AWP: Friday (Patreon) – the art of the craft essay, anthologies, building literary magazines, agents, small press publishing

AWP: Saturday (Patreon) – Finding our own paths to creativity, genre-bending fiction, ageism in publishing world, small press books

AWP: Sunday (Patreon) – digital thesis repositories

February Linkspam

So this has been a pretty nifty month here at Donald Media Tower, because I won an award. *cue confetti* I was informed this month that I am this year’s recipient of the Mimi Zanger Award for fiction writing, which is the first time in several years that I’ve snagged a fiction award.

You can take the woman out of journalism, but…. no, you can’t. As soon as I heard, I started researching Mimi Zanger and found that her husband was one of the early English professors at my university and both of them were influential in developing the artistic and literary culture that thrives in my town. (She was a puppeteer, among other things!) It turns out that they lived not far from our house in the historic neighborhood of Leclaire, which has its own cool history I will narrate someday. It also turns out that their relatives still live here in town, one of their sons operates a cool restaurant near the library, and one of their nieces is a friend of mine! Small town, small world. 

At any rate, I was honored and briefly speechless to receive this award, and very grateful to my professors and mentors at the university for their support as I develop my craft.

For Patreon subscribers: It’s March! You know what that means…. okay, maybe you don’t. I have made it my tradition to send my loyal patrons a free bonus item in the month of March, usually something they can’t get anywhere else. Why March? Because it’s my birthday, so YOU get a present. And if you sign up for the Patreon before my birthday, you also get the annual bonus! (Make sure you include your snail mail address when you sign up!) I think you’ll like this year’s offering…

(BTW, you could get all this plus a bonus photo per month if you subscribed to my newsletter.)

Now for the rest of what’s been going on….

Publicity/Appearances

I was delighted to “attend” the virtual edition of Conflation this weekend, and it was an absolute blast. I’ve been to a few virtual conventions since the pandemic began, and while they were all very educational and interesting, none have managed to recreate the socialization aspect of a con as well as Conflation did! It helped that they got us all into Second Life, which I can easily see will suck all my spare time out of my eyeballs… on the other hand, if I just reduced the amount of time I waste on Facebook and waste it there instead, I think my blood pressure might mellow out.

Next up for me is the AWP conference, which begins this week and runs for five days. In the alternate universe where the pandemic was quickly routed and none of us had to go into our caves for a year, AWP would have meant five days eating barbecue in Kansas City instead of tied to my tower desk with a ham sandwich, and I’m. not. bitter. at. all. AWP is the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, and my first conference that isn’t journalism or specifically geared to SFFH, so it should be a neat learning experience. I will be blogging about it, so watch Donaldmedia.com for updates.

Last month I warned you that my author website will be coming down shortly for a massive overhaul after *mumblety years of the same static design. Guess what didn’t happen? I really shouldn’t schedule major projects like that mid-semester. At any rate, I hope it will happen this month. 

Note that I’ve also consolidated my webstore to offer books and photography from the same site. Never fear, I’m still part of Literary Underworld! And my work is still available on Amazon, of course. But if you’ve been interested in picking up an Elizabeth Donald book or photograph, try the website first. 

Whew! Let’s see, what else has been going on?

Journalism

• End of an era as mayor plans to step down (Highland News-Leader)

• Highland High plans in-person graduation (Highland News-Leader)

• Refinancing allows Highland to plan construction (Highland News-Leader)

Fiction

• FREE short story on the Patreon (see below): Sergeant Curious (which was originally published in River Bluff Review in 2020)

Also, Yanaguana is still available. Hint hint. 

Photography

New posters! Last month I promised you a new line of posters incorporating my photography with famous quotes, and they’re now on display in the photography portfolio and in the store, and soon on etsy. Check them out!

Also, a selection of my work was on display in the art show at Conflation – which meant it was also on display in a gallery in Second Life! That’s a nifty new venue I had never considered. 

Unfortunately, I am sorry to report that due to the pandemic, Highland Arts is moving to a new space that is roughly one-third the size of their old studio, and will no longer be able to offer most of my artwork in their shop. They will continue to carry my Highland collage poster, but the rest of my work has been picked up. I wish them the best of luck in their new space and am happy to be associated with them. 

Patreon/Blogs

As part of our Conflation promotion, I added a few free offerings to the Patreon this month along with a free ebook to any new subscribers. I will extend that promotion until my birthday on March 17, so if you were just sitting at home pondering, “Whatever can I give Elizabeth for her birthday?” consider subscribing to the Patreon! Subscriptions start at $1 a month, and you get weekly content out of the bargain!

• FREE Travelogue: The St. Louis Art Museum (Patreon)

• FREE short story: Sergeant Curious (Patreon)

• Me am poet. You poem too? (Patreon)

• And the winner is… (Donald Media and Patreon)

• My own half-blood prince (Patreon and Medium)

• MFA experiment: The Artist (Patreon)

And the winner is….

Me!

I’m pleased (almost) beyond words to announce I have been honored with the Mimi Zanger Award for fiction writing. This is an award granted by the English Department at Southern Illinois University, where I have begun my coursework for an MFA in creative writing (in case you’ve missed all the other references to my MFA here and on my Patreon …. somehow).

The story I submitted for the contest’s consideration was written in workshop last semester. My first inclination was to share it, of course. However, it is currently under submission to a literary magazine, and thus it would be inappropriate to publish. I sincerely hope I will be able to share it with you soon.

Near as I can tell, the award is named after the wife of Dr. Jules Zanger, a professor at SIUE before it even became the university we know it today. Dr. Zanger grew up in Brooklyn and fought in World War II, as did many of his generation. After the war, he earned his degrees and met Mary Proctor – known as Mimi – while finishing his PhD at Washington University in St. Louis. Like many academics, the Zangers bounced around from Ohio to Chicago and so on before moving to Alton, Ill. and settling at SIUE. Dr. Zanger taught at SIUE for 35 years, retiring as professor emeritus after receiving Fulbright grants to study in Brazil, France and Czechoslovakia.

Mimi died in 1991. Dr. Zanger continued with his research and extensive travels, eventually remarrying and relocating to Frankfurt, Germany, where he died in 2014. His obituary states that he was “a great lover of good books, good food, good wine, good music, and good conversation. He loved fine restaurants, but was also a skilled home chef, preparing many memorable meals for friends and family. He loved and frequently attended the opera, never understanding why everyone didn’t.”

When Dr. Zanger died, his survivors indicated that memorials should be made to the Mimi Zanger Award endowment, so that it could continue to support students like me who seek to explore the joys of the written word.

It sounds like the Zangers would have been terrific people to know.

As I write this, I am playing Don Giovanni, in honor of the opera lovers, and hope that I can be worthy of their legacy. I am humbled and grateful for the honor and support of my mentors in the writing program, and look forward to all I have to learn from them.

February linkspam!

One month of 2021 down, 11 to go, and hasn’t it been entertaining so far? I don’t know about you, but I could use a little less excitement in my news… and also a little more sunshine, because this has been the longest, grayest January I can remember.

This is Women in Horror Month, and just in case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a horror writer and a woman. I’d like to recommend this essay by Mary SanGiovanni, who is a terrific writer and very smart human, as she discusses some of the challenges facing us as women horror authors. It spurred me to do a rare Twitter rant on this issue, and I hope you’ll consider Mary’s call to do more than scan the ubiquitous lists of women writers: read them, discuss them, share their work. 

But now let’s talk about what’s been going on! For one thing, I’ve slightly altered the Patreon. In addition to the new MFA Adventures posts, I’m adding book reviews (and maybe movies if we EVER get to go see them again) at the $3 level. This is in part because I’m doing so much reading and finding such neat stuff as I work through the MFA, and in part because my pandemic-induced isolation means I have very few photo shoots and no travelogues. I’ve got plenty of backlog, mind you! But until I can move around again, y’all deserve fresh content. 

Meanwhile, the semester has begun at Ye Olde University. I am teaching English composition again, and studying fiction and poetry writing. This should lead to some interesting posts in the Patreon! 

Publicity/Appearances

I’m sorry to say it looks like all the conventions for the first half of the year have been canceled. We’re still waiting to hear on the July-Dec. cons and conferences, and assuming I can get a jab in the arm, I’m looking forward to seeing folks again! However, I plan to attend Conflation in its virtual format later this month, and we’ll see what other shenanigans I can manage from my Rapunzel tower!

Not quite publicity but important: Be aware that my author website will be coming down shortly for a massive overhaul after *mumblety years of the same static design. I am not a programmer and I really suck at site design, yet I manage something like five sites. *shrug* We’re a work in progress.

In the meantime, take note  my photography portfolio at elizabethdonaldphotography.com. I’ve also consolidated my webstore to offer books and photography from the same site. Never fear, I’m still part of Literary Underworld! (Which has two nifty new titles this month, you should check it out.) And my work is still available on Amazon, of course. 

And I have a Patreon. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it in the last two paragraphs….
 

Journalism

• Highland schools move forward with building projects (Highland News-Leader)

• COVID-19 still plagues city, schools (Highland News-Leader)

• High levels of lead found in Highland water (Highland News-Leader)
 

Fiction

• MFA Experiment: The Artist (Patreon)

Also, Yanaguana is still available. Hint hint. 
 

Photography

We have some new posters in development! Right now there’s just the one new poster available on the photography portfolio in addition to the older poster designs, but there are several others in the works that will be available in the store and on etsy. Stay tuned!
 

Patreon/Blogs

• Review: Pat Conroy (Patreon)

• Review: The Writing Life by Jeff Strand (Patreon)

• Essay: Hidden Joy (Patreon)

Also: Big news coming that I can’t share yet, but I can’t help but add it here because vaguebooking is fun. See you soon…

November-December Linkspam

Whoops. Somehow November’s Linkspam never posted, and I never noticed and none of you yelled at me. That’s a sobering lesson!

Suffice to say the end of the year is now upon us, and good riddance. There’s been plenty of work for us writerfolk, but a lot of others have been suffering. It’s hard for me to complain about having to hole up in my little attic office all the time when my son the college student will have to take on a third job because his restaurant job has cut his hours and his setbuilding job is on hiatus and tuition bills are looming.

Here’s the links for the last two months of the year, and thank you for sticking with me, folks. Here’s to better things in 2021 – they’d almost have to be, wouldn’t they?

Publicity/Appearances

Review for Foul Womb of Night, which includes my novella Yanaguana.

Journalism/Essays

The richest man in town (reprint; updated for 2020 in Medium)

Highland city leaders survey effects of COVID-19 on businesses (Highland News-Leader)

Highland Arts Council developing mural project (Highland News-Leader)

More parents request to move kids back into the classroom (Highland News-Leader)

Council approves proposed coffee shop with gaming room (Highland News-Leader)

Scouting for Food teams with Edwardsville Lions for food pantry (Belleville News-Democrat)

Latzer Library to renovate (Highland News-Leader)

Council not sold on proposed coffee shop (Highland News-Leader)

COVID forces shutdown of after-school program (Highland News-Leader)

Highland cautions residents to take rising COVID numbers seriously (Highland News-Leader)

Gentlewriters: Start your engines (Medium)

Fiction

Not much to report other than the ongoing MFA work, which has been keeping me very busy. I’ve been narrating my thoughts about the MFA in the Patreon, so if you’re really interested in that material, you might subscribe. (Was that subtle?) This semester I wrote three short stories and began two others still in production. Whee!

Excerpt: Banshee’s Run (Patreon)

Also, Yanaguana is still available. Hint hint.

Photography

The final Door Poetry collection (Patreon)

(I also did a nifty couples shoot with my son and his terrific girlfriend.)

Patreon/Blogs

Writer’s Resolutions (Patreon)

Happy Holidays! (Patreon)

Finish line! (Donald Media)

Giving thanks (Patreon)

Elizabeth’s Rules* For Nanowrimo (Patreon)


Finish line!

It’s not much of a finish line, but today marks the end of the fall semester. At some point today or tomorrow I will file my students’ grades and turn in one last assignment, and I am DONE for the semester.

I’m not done with the masters thesis still hanging over my head from media studies, and I’m sure as hell not done with the MFA – it’s gonna be a long three years, folks. But I will have four weeks to… um, I’m trying to remember the word… relax? I’ve read about it in books. I thought I might also try sleeping. I hear it’s nice.

The family has postponed our ha-ha graduation trip again to May, so we won’t be traveling during the holiday break. For those playing the home game, that’s the fourth rescheduling of our vacation to celebrate Jim’s and my joint graduation. (Of course, I didn’t graduate, but that wasn’t going to stop me from slapping on the mouse ears, folks.)

Stupid virus.

In the meantime, I’ve revised and updated my holiday column on “It’s a Wonderful Life,” musing on the ups and downs small-town life, the Capra Corn moment, the essential nature of humans and other lightweight subjects.

The Richest Man in Town

I should add that my Medium channel has a new URL: elizabethdonald42.medium.com. ElizabethDonald was taken, so I opted to add “life, the universe and everything” to my name. Please feel free to bookmark and visit as often as you like! I get paid by how much time people spend reading my essays, which means I probably ought to write more of them.

At any rate, I hope this weird, wild holiday season is treating you well. Tip your curbside servers, leave the light on for your postal worker, wear your mask and remember to treat others with kindness. The worst that can happen is that we make the world a little better than it was yesterday.

October Linkspam

If you’re a horror writer, October is always your busiest month of the year. If you’re not working in October, you’re not working.

That said, October is super-mega-special busy for me – in a normal year. In October 2015, I visited eleven cities in two time zones, flew on four airplanes through three airports, drove 2,017 miles, hugged and shook hands with approximately four zillion people, stayed in five hotels, rode public transportation without number, attended at least a dozen public events, visited the Magic Kingdom twice and averaged five hours’ sleep. All while working my full-time job at the newspaper (plus or minus a few vacation days).

So this was the strangest October I can remember since my first book was published, because I went nowhere. I mean, I left the house a few times. We successfully moved my stuff out of my university office, and then we moved the Literary Underworld and all its trimmings to a storage facility. Yes! LitUnd now has a warehouse! (Kinda.) It was taking over my house, which has more than enough piles of detritus that it doesn’t need the competition.

I also left the house to go to a pumpkin patch and get this year’s carveable gourds. Look, I will put up with a lot to stay safe from COVID, but some things are sacred.

If it were not for COVID, I would have flown to Washington D.C. for the SPJ conference and to Atlanta for the College Media Association conference. I would have attended Archon in Collinsville, Ill. and I’d be raring up for ContraKC in Kansas City next week and I would have been running the Leclaire Parkfest book sale for the American Cancer Society and somewhere in there I’d probably have had a stark raving mad nervous breakdown but that’s standard for October too.

Instead, I was home, teaching my class and attending what I could via Zoom, and happily celebrating the release of Yanaguana from Crone Girls Press!

Have I mentioned it enough yet?

So even though I stayed home and didn’t “see” anyone, I still feel like it was one of my busiest Octobers ever, and I can’t remember how I did my usual Octobers without losing my mind. I have no doubt, however, that I will sign right back up next year for the usual Fall Deathmarch, because really… I miss y’all.


Publicity/Appearances

Have I mentioned yet that Yanaguana came out last month? Okay, okay, ya heard it. Seriously, though, I had so much fun playing with the Blackfire crew again, and I’m so grateful to my fantastic editor Rachel Brune for including my little novella in Foul Womb of Night, the first in Crone Girls Press’ Midnight Bites series.

Here’s an interview I gave about Yanaguana, my writing life, the trip to San Antonio that inspired it, and other ramblings.

Journalism/Essays

Highland schools face deficit budget (Highland News-Leader)

Highland approves interim police chief (Highland News-Leader)

GoFundMe set up for coach in need of kidney due to COVID (Highland News-Leader)

Highland police adopt 10 shared principles of civil rights and racial justice (Highland News-Leader)

COVID forces shutdown of after-school program (Highland News-Leader)

Highland leaders report more than 100 new cases in two weeks (Highland News-Leader)

How to survive a horror movie: 2020 edition (Medium)

Fiction

Wait wait don’t tell me…. Yanaguana came out. Just so you know, your purchase of Foul Womb of Night gets you more than just me. There are two other novels of military-themed horror by Adam Stemple and Gustav Bondoni included in the collection, and all for $2.99 (or free if you’re on Kindle Unlimited).

Photography

No photo trips again this month (I am going out before the leaves turn, COVID or no COVID) so here’s a flashback shot for you.

This image is “Fields of Pennsylvania,” a picture that nearly killed me. I was on the Furlough Tour in 2013 and trying to make my way across the toll roads of Pennsylvania for an early dinner in York before heading up to New York City. I think. That whole tour is something of a blur.

I was annoyed at the tolls, but the view made it worth every penny. The scenery was simply astounding, and when I saw this field with the farm at the treeline, I swerved my little rental car over to the side of the road and got out on the highway to get this shot. I didn’t have my good camera yet, so I had to be content with the resolution of my small point-and-click. It’s one of my favorite images from the tour, and still doesn’t do half justice to the beauty of Pennsylvania in the fall.

Patreon/Blogs

Dark and stormy night (Patreon)

Blackfire crew rides again! (Donald Media and Patreon)

Book birthday! And thank you. (Donald Media)

How to survive a horror movie: 2020 edition with pictures! (Patreon bonus)

Happy Halloween! (Donald Media)


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