So…. starting this month, I will be the Illinois correspondent for the St. Louis Labor Tribune, as Carl Green is handing over the baton to me. I’m looking forward to the challenge of a labor-focused beat.
(And yes, this is my sixth job. The seventh doesn’t start until June!)
i expect I’ll be writing a great deal during the upcoming elections, and I hope that the Illinois union folks will drop me a note when there’s something going on. Never fear, I will continue my work for McClatchy/Highland News-Leader as well as my other clients! Watch for links in the monthly linkspam.
It’s no coincidence that this month’s meme is Toni Morrison. All this semester I have been studying Morrison, as I am privileged to attend a university that offers a class solely focused on her writing. The nuances and intentionality of her prose are powerful and inspiring, and I’ve greatly enjoyed exploring her work. So far we’ve done deep dives on The Bluest Eye, Sula and Song of Solomon, with side trips into her essays and academic writing. I can already tell that I’ll be digging out Beloved and Paradise over the summer.
My Deep Thoughts on Morrison and my other studies in the MFA program are a continuing feature on the Patreon. I recognize that I have an enormous privilege to be able to pursue an MFA in creative writing and spend three years developing my craft and studying literature, and not everyone has the financial or practical freedom to do so. Therefore I am sharing what I learn on the Patreon, so that my readers get an MFA by proxy! Or something like that.
As we enter the homestretch of the Longest Semester of My Life, the travel schedule is picking up. As I write this, I’m one week back from Memphis and heading to Wichita later this week, with more travel on the horizon. Am I coming to a show or festival near you? If not, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.
Meanwhile, I’m delighted that the anniversary edition of Setting Suns is out now! “But wait, Elizabeth, I already read that book.” Sure you did, but this anniversary edition has a new short story, a new afterword and other tweaks. I am very happy with the way it came out, and many thanks to Kody Boye Publishing Services, who did a great job on the book.
We premiered it at Midsouthcon this past weekend, and had a great time seeing our old friends and meeting some new ones. The official release event is slated for April 15 at Spine Books here in St. Louis, and I hope to see you there!
More about the Setting Suns release on the blog, but in the meantime, here’s where you can pick up a copy:
A nightmarish funhouse turned deadly. A couple trapped in a futile journey through time. A single baleful eye watching from the deep. An assassin waiting in a snow-covered tree. A toy that seems to have a life of its own. A pair of soldiers trapped between death and something worse. A tenebrous hand reaching out of the shadows.
These are the award-winning tales and terrors of Elizabeth Donald, writer of things that go chomp in the night. This new anniversary edition is being released 20 years after the first story was published, now including a bonus short story and the author’s reflections on twenty years of twilight tales.
In that space between evening and nightfall, between consciousness and sleep, the moment when the light fades and the shadows take over… These are the lands of the Setting Suns.
In March I simultaneously attended the national conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and Midsouthcon on the same weekend, which was a hilarious bit of scheduling. Many thanks to my husband and our fellow Literary Underworld authors, J.L. Mulvihill and Rachel Brune, for their patience as I dashed up to the hotel room for AWP panels, then back downstairs for a Midsouthcon panel. Rinse, repeat.
Kimberly Richardson of Viridian Tea House gave a wonderful review for Nocturne Infernum with five out of five cups of tea. “This is one hell of a book,” she declared. Check it out here!
I am so excited to be reading and signing Setting Suns on April 15 at Spine Books here in St. Louis. Spine Books specializes in indie and small-press publishing, primarily from local writers, and I’m honored to be featured in their Friday night showcase series. The fun starts at 6 p.m. – check out the Facebook event for details!
Other highlights of the coming month include the SPJ Region 7 Conference in Wichita next weekend, where I am presenting on the practical applications of the SPJ Code of Ethics; our annual (ha ha) SPJ Trivia Night (postponed five times due to COVID); the First Amendment Free* Food Festival; and the Afterwords Bookfest in Edwardsville, Ill. on April 30. Whew! It’s going to be quite a month.
I’m also pleased to announce I will be attending ConCarolinas this summer as a guest author. I’ve never been to this particular con, so I’ll have to see if I know anyone there…
Coming up: • SPJ Regional Conference, Wichita, Kan. April 8-9 • Spine Books signing, St. Louis, Mo. April 15 • Afterwords Bookfest, Edwardsville, Ill. April 30 • Smithton (Ill.) Library signing, May 28 • ConCarolinas, Charlotte, N.C. June 3-5 • Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 8-10 • Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Oct. 7-9 • SPJ National Conference, Washington, D.C. Oct. 26-29 (tent.) • ContraCon, Kansas City. Nov. 11-13 (tent.)
I’m delighted to report that the St. Louis Writer’s Guild has asked me to talk to them about how to portray journalists in fiction.
This is pretty much my biggest soapbox, as you know if you’ve been following me for any length of time. The Thesis That Will Not Die is focused on journalists’ representation in film, ranging from Spotlight to Die Hard, under the cultivation theory of media consumption. Like most academic theories, it uses convoluted language to explain that which is patently obvious: watching media that portrays a group negatively leads to negative impressions of that group. Representation matters.
I’ve done this kind of talk before, usually to pop culture convention panels where we discuss how the movies have mangled us. I haven’t done it for a group solely comprised of writers before, and I’m quite happy for the opportunity. I’ve said many times at cons and writing panels: If you’ve got a journalist in your story, for the sake of Edward R. Murrow, talk to a journalist. You wouldn’t write a brain surgeon or a police officer or a deep-sea explorer without doing research; don’t assume that you know how journalism works because you’ve read the news.
At any rate, I’m looking forward to this opportunity, and thank the Writer’s Guild for inviting me. I’m not sure if it’s open to the general public or only Guild members, but I’ll be sure to let y’all know.
If you’re like me, you’re entering this brand new year with hopes that it will not suck as much as the previous two years. So far we don’t have a lot of indicators in that direction, as my email is crammed full of nervous announcements about classes going online, cons and festivals being canceled, and7 other things that complicate my life and pocketbook.
My good friend John Hartness, author and publisher at Falstaff Books, is never one to mince words. He posted this week, “Y’all get your damn shots. This damn plague is starting to fuck with my business again, and getting between a redneck and his money is not a good move. So get your shit straight, get your shots, and maybe we can finally put this fucking disease behind us.” He went on at extensive, profane detail, and if you are friends with John on Facebook, you should really go read it. It’s a thing of beauty.
As of this moment, my classes are all still intended to be face-to-face with the exception of my fiction workshop, and I’ll be teaching and tutoring face-to-face as well. Other events are starting to look questionable, so while I’m listing them here, please keep an eye on ElizabethDonald.com to ensure that an event is going forward as planned.
And get yer dang shots. I want you alive, healthy and able to buy my books.
Who does a book signing outdoors in December in Illinois? This woman! The Edwardsville Winter Market took place Dec. 4, and was treated to fairly reasonable weather, which means I was only half frozen to death by the time the family showed up to collect me. (What? They were not dumb enough to actually stay with me all day.)
This was followed by the Collinsville Author and Artist Fair, which was blissfully indoors and oddly had a much lower turnout. That’s maybe not as surprising when you realize it was the day after the tornado struck Edwardsville. It’s obvious that my family and I were unharmed, as I am writing this newsletter, but thank you to all who reached out to us in concern. We were lucky; the workers in the Amazon warehouse on the Edwardsville-Pontoon Beach border were not. The Edwardsville Community Foundation continues to raise funds to help those impacted by the tornado, and you can donate here.
Coming this month: the Millstadt Library Author Fair, which kindly did a terrific write-up of my novel trilogy Nocturne Infernum in advance of the event. “Unique, modern, intelligent, and feisty, Donald’s stories are more than entertainment – they are political statements about civil and sexual rights, independence, privilege, agency, and STILL MADE ME BAWL at the sad romance of it all,” they wrote, and that’s going on the website! Funny thing: through their post I discovered that their library system has several of my books available, including some that are seriously out of print.
I’ve also been informed that Conflation is moving to a mostly-online format in late February. Awaiting details, but however the Goddesses decide to run the show, I’ll be there in any way I can.
On the publicity side, Cuppa Words is kindly featuring me for the month of January! Here is my introduction, and all month they’ll be talking about my work. I’ve been happy and proud to be associated with Cuppa Words for the last few years, and look forward to another great year with them.
Coming up: • Millstadt (Ill.) Library Author Fest, Jan. 15 • Conflation, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 25-27 • Midsouthcon, Memphis. March 23-26 (tent.) • AWP, Philadelphia. March 25-27 (tent.) • AuthorCon, Williamsburg, Va. April 1-3 (tent.) • Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 8-10 • Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Oct. 7-9 • SPJ National Conference, Washington, D.C. Oct. 26-29 (tent.) • ContraCon, Kansas City. Nov. 11-13 (tent.)
I’m happy to announce that Spine Bookstore is now featuring my work, along with that of many independent and small-press authors in the bi-state area. I’m delighted to be part of this new concept and look forward to events beginning soon at the shop and cafe. Spine is located on Arsenal in St. Louis near Benton Park, and is definitely worth a stop.
Happy holidays! I am delighted to announce that I will be an adjunct instructor at St. Louis University beginning in the spring semester. Yes, probably the last thing I needed was a fifth job, but I’m very excited to be teaching journalism again. Never fear, I am continuing in my assistantship at SIUE teaching English composition in addition to my MFA classes, editing work at the student newspaper, my freelance writing and reporting work, my volunteer activities… I think I forgot a job in there somewhere.
Only one week left until the semester is over and the signings end for a little while, at which point I will… do more writing. And probably bake some stuff, seeing as how the holidays have enveloped us. I appreciate the patience of the Patreon people in particular, as pickings have been slim while I trundle through to the end of the semester. The Literary Underworld and Elizabeth Donald shops are bustling with the holiday orders, and please see the infobox at the end of this newsletter for deadlines to order in time for Christmas.
That said, we just finished Thanksgiving, and if I haven’t done so up until now: Thank you. Yes, you, particularly. You stick with me and this newsletter, you support my work and many of you subscribe to the Patreon and/or buy the books. That keeps the lights on in my house and feeds my family, and I am always humbled by your continued support. As every year, I give thanks for you.
November kicked off with ContraCon in Kansas City, which was the last Literary Underworld event for the year and at which we won Best Booze! This is an honor we have received before, and I can only assume it is our staggering array of bottom-shelf liquor and menu of geek-themed cocktails that wins us these accolades. Seriously, I am so pleased that the Traveling Bar brings so much joy to our guests at the cons, and it absolutely makes it worth hauling all those boxes of booze around the country.
Jim and I took a long weekend to Galena, Ill., which is a lovely little town with an old-fashioned Main Street and plenty of ghost lore that we’ve intended to visit since our first anniversary. On the drive up, I was pondering: when was the last time Jim and I traveled anywhere outside the St. Louis region that did not involve books, signings, public appearances or the kids? We’ve had family vacations and a few overnights in St. Louis and St. Charles, Mo., plenty of solo travel, sadly a few funerals, and more cons than we care to admit. But honestly, to meet those parameters, we’d have to go back to our honeymoon in Jamaica. It was a delightful weekend even if the ghosts were a bit of a disappointment, and soooo much food.
I was delighted to return to Writers of the Riverbend in Alton, Ill., which is partly a sale and partly a networking opportunity for writers of the Alton-Edwardsville-St. Louis region. As always, there were familiar faces and new acquaintances, and I had a great time. Also, the charcoal mocha at adjacent Maeva’s Coffee cannot be beat.
I was also happy to host write-ins all month long for the Eville Writers’ Nanowrimo, and the first-ever write-in for Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society at SIUE. (See, I opened my big mouth and suggested it and thus I was put in charge. This happens a lot.) Two more holiday markets coming up in December, and then I’m staying home for whole weeks.
On the publicity side, I (briefly) contributed to another author roundup for Sean Taylor’s Bad Girls Good Guys blog, on “The End.”
Coming up: • Collinsville (Ill.) Winter Market, Dec. 11 – last of the year! • Millstadt (Ill.) Library Author Fest, Jan. 15 • St. Louis SPJ Journalist Boot Camp, Feb. 15 (tent.) • Conflation, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 25-27 • Midsouthcon, Memphis. March 23-26 (tent.) • AWP, Philadelphia. March 25-27 (tent.) • AuthorCon, Williamsburg, Va. April 1-3 (very tent.) • Imaginarium, Louisville, Ky. July 8-10 • Archon, Collinsville, Ill. Oct. 7-9 • SPJ National Conference, Washington, D.C. Oct. 26-29 (tent.) • ContraCon, Kansas City. Nov. 11-13 (tent.)
I’m delighted to report that my short story “Fever” will appear in the River Bluff Review literary magazine next spring. While ostensibly it seems like a COVID story, I swear I wrote it just before the Voldevirus hit, so the fact that it refers to a terrible illness is entirely coincidental.
Now that all the paperwork is being filed, I am free to announce that beginning in the spring, I will be an adjunct instructor at St. Louis University.
I’m delighted at the opportunity to teach news editing at SLU’s communications department, and very grateful for the recommendation from my former-and-sometimes-current boss at SIUE. I’ve had several productive conversations with my new department chair, and spent a lot of time in the past several weeks planning out a syllabus and evaluating possible textbooks. It’s not a class I’ve taught before, but editing is a significant part of the newswriting class I taught for two years at SIUE and certainly I have enough professional experience in the topic.
Never fear, I am continuing in my work as a teaching assistant at SIUE. I’ll be teaching English composition again in the spring, working in the Writing Center, assisting the editors of the Alestle, taking a full course load in my progress through the MFA, and continuing to write for my freelance clients, including the Highland News-Leader. The Patreon continues, as does the Literary Underworld and the ongoing tour/travel schedule (plus or minus pandemic cancellations). I am hammering away at the thesis for the first masters (more like driving a stake through the heart of a vampire, there…) I am still president of the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists, running the Literary Underworld and the Eville Writers, and captain of a Relay for Life team. And somewhere in there I probably should write another book.
So if you’re wondering why I haven’t emailed you back, take note of the above paragraph and gently remind me to pull my head out of the books once in a while. Who needs sleep?
Silliness aside, it’s a terrific opportunity and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.
Happy Halloween season! This newsletter is late! And that’s because we had such a spectacular time at Archon that we are still recovering three days later. Folks, I’m getting too old for these shenanigans.
Archon is our hometown con, and it was a delight to be back after last year’s cancellation and see so many familiar faces. Attendance was about half the usual throng, and yet we sold just as well as we did the year before the world fell apart! I think they missed us, and I know we missed them. Many thanks to everyone who came by the booth, who dropped by the Traveling Bar, and who came to my reading to hear me read happy stories about bunnies and unicorns*. It was fun! Official write-ups are pending on my various blogs, with plenty of pictures.
I’ve always said that if you’re a horror author in October, you’re working nonstop or you’re not working. That’s certainly the case this year, even if things are still a bit muted. I’m booked basically every weekend from now to November, though I’ve worked in a couple of moments to spend with my family. I hear they’re nice.
Don’t worry – we’re being very safe with masks and sanitizer and weekly COVID screenings to make sure we’re not contributing to this mess we’re in. The Traveling Bar had more precautions than we’ve ever had – not just badge and ID checks at the door, but a required hit with the hand sanitizer upon entry, masks and gloves for the staff (i.e. me) and masks on throughout the evening. Pull down the mask, take a sip, push it back up. It’s really not that hard, folks.
It was also our first outing for Frodo the Bookmobile! After eight looooong years as a one-car family, Jim and I finally purchased a new-to-us Honda Odyssey with an enormous space for hauling the booth. It was such a delight not to have to play car Jenga to get the booth into the Honda Fit. We are delighted with our new toy, and plan to put it to good use on the tour.
I hope to see you out on the road!
This weekend is the Edwardsville Book Fair! Again! This led off last month’s newsletter, but it was canceled due to cats, dogs and small barnyard animals falling from the sky. I am looking forward to finally attending this event in person, as it is usually cross-scheduled with other events to which I am committed or virtual.
Spied in the wild: Nocturne Infernum, a preferred recommendation at the Smithton Public Library! Apparently the earlier edition was recommended in their blog some months before.
And hey! I was in the news from the other side of the notebook! You’d think as many times as I have interviewed people, I wouldn’t feel awkward or weird when someone is interviewing me. Here’s a piece about Archon, with quotes from yours truly and a brief mention of the Literary Underworld, which gets press even more rarely than I do.
Coming up: • Edwardsville Book Fair, Oct. 9 • ContraKC, Kansas City, Mo. Nov. 5-7 • Writers of the Riverbend, Alton, Ill. Nov. 20 • Edwardsville Winter Market, Dec. 4 • Conflation, St. Louis, Mo. Feb. 25-27 (tent.) • AWP, Philadelphia March 23-26 (tent.)
• Archon ahoy! (Patreon and blog and DM) • Wheels (Patreon) • MFA: What the fractal (Patreon) – with fiction • Freedom for women, sexual and otherwise (Patreon) • Hello from totally not New Orleans! (Patreon)
This weekend is Archon, our local con and a delightful return after last year’s cancellation. Many of our familiar faces won’t be there, unfortunately, but I understand the concerns. We share them, of course, but I made the decision a while ago to return to the con circuit and I am very pleased that Archon will be requiring vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours before the show. Masks will be required as well, and we will be taking extra precautions for our room party.
The Literary Underworld will be set up in our usual spot by the door of the dealer’s room, and I hope folks will come by and say hello!
Here’s my schedule, at least as of now:
“That Wasn’t Supposed to Happen!” When your story goes in a different direction than you had planned. Friday 17:00 – 18:00, Marquette A (Gateway Center)
“The Once and Future Kings” What are some of the best retellings or reimaginings of the King Arthur legends? Friday 20:00 – 21:00, Marquette B (Gateway Center)
Author Reading with Elizabeth Donald, Sela Carsen, and Ryan Dalton Saturday 11:00 – 12:00, Cahokian (Authorquarium) (Gateway Center)
“Editing: My Way or the Highway” You’ve scored a book contract with a major publisher, but they want changes. Editors can’t always be right, can they? Is there a ‘line in the sand’ you just won’t cross? Saturday 14:00 – 15:00, Marquette A (Gateway Center)
Autograph Session with Sela Carsen and Elizabeth Donald Saturday 16:00 – 17:00, Cahokian (Authorquarium) (Gateway Center)
“Social Media and You: How to Make It Work For You” Want to utilize social media more to promote yourself or business but don’t know how to? Well, let’s help you! Saturday 17:00 – 18:00, Salon 4 (Gateway Center)
“Virtual Pros and Cons” During the shutdown, both individual authors and artists, vendors, and conventions attempted to operate virtually. Who did it well, and what flopped? Saturday 20:00 – 21:00, Salon 2 (Gateway Center)
Sunday I have no panels, so you can find me at the booth! We are starting a new benefit, by the way: all Patreon subscribers get 10 percent off at the booth. So if you happen to be there, please do visit!
I’m delighted to finally attend the Edwardsville Author Fair in person!
They’ve been holding this festival of the written word for a few years now, and each year it has conflicted with another major event: Dragoncon, the Society of Professional Journalists, etc. Then last year the event was virtual, of course, because the Voldevirus required all such things to be in Zoomland. Thus I was actually able to participate after a fashion!
I thought I was going to have to bow out this year again, because I am president of the St. Louis chapter of SPJ and will be representing them as delegate at the annual conference next weekend…. which was supposed to be in New Orleans. Sadly, the Voldevirus strikes again and I will not be chowing down on beignets at Cafe Du Monde. The SPJ conference will be entirely virtual. (Of course, it’s likely it would have struck a landmine anyway, since Hurricane Ida is aiming at the Gulf Coast with a fury.)
But that leaves me home and free-ish to finally participate in my hometown’s book festival! I’ll be stepping in and out of the festival to participate as needed in the SPJ conference events, but my husband will be on our booth selling our books and my art throughout the day. Look for us in the author section of City Park 9am-2pm Saturday, Sept. 4.
The above image is Setting Suns, the first book of mine to appear in print. I’d had a novel out before it and a second one was pending, but both were released in ebook-only in an era when ebooks weren’t really considered “real books,” so it was only when Setting Suns came out that I was considered a real live author. (Seriously, one of my first cons changed my bio to call me an “aspiring author” because I was in ebooks.)
But beyond what the publishing industry thought… Setting Suns was the first book where I opened a box and saw my name on the cover, and any author will tell you that’s a life-changer. See the links below for my essay on this moment.
Setting Suns was in print for 15 years, which is something of which I have always been proud. It’s a great run for a small press title, and I am always grateful for it and for the doors it opened for me. That run came to an end on July 31, and the book is now officially out of print. (I do still have a couple of copies, so if you were thinking of snagging it, click here and grab them before we run out.)
In other news, I finally got the new author website going. I bid farewell to the moldy old website I’d been maintaining since the mid-2000s using iWeb, of all things. The demise of Setting Suns hastened its launch and I’m not entirely done with the design, so please feel free to offer feedback. Gently.
In other other news, progress is actually… progressing? on Ye Olde Thesis and even on some fiction. By the time next month’s newsletter comes out, school will have started. Thus much of my time the next three weeks will be taken up with preparing my syllabus for the two classes I am teaching, as well as Year Two of the MFA. And finishing that thesis.
So… why is this newsletter super late this month? Because my Bungee Tour is undergoing constant changes! See below for details on how we might actually see each other in meatspace this weekend!
The Bungee Tour kicks off this weekend! I’m sorry to say a return to Louisville is off the menu, as the author fair I hoped to attend has been postponed to April. As of this writing, I plan to be in Nashville, Tenn. on Saturday, Aug. 14. The coffeehouse stop has been canceled, but I’ll be shooting in and around the Opryland area, so if you’d like to meet up and snag a book, contact me ASAP and we’ll make it happen! Then I’ll be at the Tamp & Tap Coffeehouse in Memphis, Tenn. at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15 with books in hand. At this time I’m not planning to bring art unless I get a special request, so if you want some, look at elizabethdonaldphotography.com and let me know!
Imaginariumwas the highlight of July, with a new venue and hybrid format that worked really well. It was delightful to see many authors and publishers from the con circuit and to share a few (dozen) drinks. I always come away from Imaginarium reinvigorated with new ideas, and this one was no exception. Many thanks to my publisher Seventh Star Press and the terrific gang at Tomorrow Comes Media for hosting us, and to LitUnd henchman (new title!) David Tyler for hauling all the boxes of books and booze and standing as bouncer for the Traveling Bar, not that we need much security among the friendly folk of Imaginarium. That’s not always the case. Some of y’all get rowdy!
Sadly, the other event this month had to be canceled due to weather. The Alton artisans’ market may be rescheduled at a later date when the skies aren’t raining cats, dogs and small barnyard animals.
The current schedule is:
• Bungee Tour, various. Aug. 14-17 • Edwardsville Book Fair, Sept. 4 • Archon, Collinsville Ill., Oct. 1-3 • ContraKC, Kansas City, Mo. Nov. 5-7 • Writers of the Riverbend, Alton, Ill. Nov. 20
And don’t forget I will be in New Orleans Sept. 1-6 for the SPJ National Conference. I am not presenting this year and there isn’t a signing scheduled at this time, but I will bring books if anyone local wants to meet up. EDIT: Never mind! SPJ has been converted to an all-virtual conference, so I will be attending from my comfy home office. Sorry, N’awlins!