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)

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…

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)


Please consider subscribing to my Patreon! You get new and exclusive content, extra stuff no one else can get, and you are helping me pay the rent while I wend my way through grad school. Thank you for your support!

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September linkspam

Note to my English 101 students: Please do not read the above cartoon. It bears no resemblance to actual expectations. No, really. Do as I say, not as I do.

I’m in mid-semester here at sunny SIUE, inflicting rhetorical analysis on my students and writing fiction on deadline, which should mean more fun for you in the near future! I also was proud to serve as delegate to the Society of Professional Journalists’ national conference, which was online instead of Washington D.C. Stupid virus. I’ve returned to the student newspaper The Alestle as a copy editor as well.

There wasn’t much else to report for September, because I came down with a nasty bout of something bronchitis-like right after Labor Day and stayed sick for the entire month. Four weeks of fever is no one’s friend. (Yes, I was tested for the Voldevirus and thankfully was negative.) Working entirely from home meant I could keep working without infecting anybody. On the downside, I could keep working. Many thanks to the professors who were so understanding about my croaky ass remaining on mute during classes so as to not inflict my coughing on the Zoom call.

In better news, I’m happy to report that this month I finished a Blackfire novella that will be coming out from Crone Girls Press later this fall. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you’ll enjoy it. I was startled to find that only a little bit into my MFA, I have already compiled enough short stories to fill about half of a new collection. If you’re interested in the Ongoing MFA Adventure, I’m detailing it several times a month on my Patreon.

Anyway, here’s this month’s links!

Publicity/Appearances

Happy to be part of the Edwardsville Public Library’s Book Festival, which had to be held online for staggeringly obvious reasons. I had to miss the first of these festivals last year because I was on the road, and that is so not a problem this year. All conventions and signings for October have been canceled, along with just about every such appearance since February. Thanks to the Edwardsville Library for helping boost the signal for the starving authors!

Journalism

Mayor implores governor to rethink pandemic restrictions (Highland News-Leader)

Illinois governor has not replied to mayor’s letter (Highland News-Leader)

Full steam ahead for public safety building (Highland News-Leader)

How to have a safe Halloween during COVID (Highland News-Leader)

Photography

Sadly, no photo trips again this month, as I spent all of September inside my house recovering from illness. So instead I give you this one from the archives:

The pumpkin patch at Eckert Farms in Belleville, Ill. A trip to Eckert’s has become part of our family tradition. They have the most amazing fried chicken…

Patreon/Blogs

Yanaguana and the Five Senses (Patreon)

Elizabeth vs. the Voldevirus Patreon

Fiction

Grow Old With Me (Patreon)

Zippo (Patreon)


As usual, I would remind you of my delightful Patreon. I’m adding a new feature, as I begin a three-year MFA program in creative writing: I’m going to share what I learn with you, in the hopes that those of you interested in writing or the MFA experience will find it useful. So if you were thinking of joining the Patreon, now’s a great time!

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July Linkspam

As I write this, I am beginning my last week of summer “vacation.” That last word has to be in quotation marks, because this summer has hardly felt like a break! Between my freelance work and ducking this bloody virus and managing the circus that is my family, I’ve hardly felt like I was on a break.

However, next week begins an intensive two-week training course in English composition pedagogy, which is academic-speak for “teaching English comp.” This being grad school, the readings actually start this week, and then for most of August I will be training heavily and preparing to start teaching in the last week of the month.

While I’m not (entirely) new to teaching, I am very new to English composition. Little-known Elizabeth fact: I never took English 101 or 102, nor a creative writing class until last year. Back in the ancient days (a.k.a. the 1990s), you could take a test called the CLEP (make your own jokes) and a high enough score let you skip straight to the literature classes. So I CLEPped out of English comp, and thus I have never taken or observed these classes. Whee!

Still, this is an exciting new challenge, compounded by the fact that all my teaching (and learning) this semester will be online, as well as my requiring tutoring for students who are struggling with writing skills. I am very grateful for the privilege to continue working entirely from home, as we all continue to ride out the pandemic and try to keep ourselves and our families safe.

In the meantime, journalism! This month was all about the news, as the folks in Highland kept me hopping. I also had a few essays, although I didn’t put any of them on Medium. I’m still trying to sort out what kind of material is going to be of interest on that site, and what people would like to hear from me.

Of course, the first priority is always to the Patreon, as those good folks fork over perfectly good money every month to read my blatherings. They got a couple of essays this month, as well as a photo travelogue from San Antonio. That’s the second of what will probably be four travelogues on San Antonio, and will eventually be repackaged into a travel piece. You know, in my spare time.

Essays/Blogs

The celebrity in the room (Donald Media)

Pay for it. That’s how people live. (Patreon)

Freedom Day (Patreon and Donald Media)

News

Highland parents face choice of in-person or remote learning (Highland News-Leader)

COVID may force schools to off-campus learning (Highland News-Leader)

Highland considers allowing golf carts on city streets (Highland News-Leader)

Highland teacher dances into retirement, but keeps a toe on the stage (Highland News-Leader)

Highland issues verdict on golf carts, ATVs on streets (Highland News-Leader)

Highland city manager set to retire after 40 years (Highland News-Leader)

Photography

San Antonio: The Riverwalk (Patreon)

You can always catch my latest work at ElizabethDonaldPhotography.com, and the shop is linked to all images that are available for sale. If you would like a piece customized as a poster or other item, just ask! 

Miscellaneous

We have been informed that Archon has been canceled for 2020, which was disappointing but not a surprise given the mass cancellation of just about every convention, book fair and signing this year. There are a few possibilities left for the holiday season, but odds are strong that every convention and signing will be canceled this year. I hope to see your faces again someday… 

Finally, work continues on the novella of doom, which should come out later this fall. I’m delighting in the creep factor of my haunted San Antonio (hey, if I like a city, I’m gonna infest it with monsters) and looking forward to seeing it in “print.” More about that next month, I hope! Many thanks to my awesome editor Rachel Brune, who has displayed uncommon patience with me…

In the meantime, have a cover!

The celebrity in the room

Grant Imahara is dead, and that’s a damn shame.

I’ve been a published author for 15 years and spent a lot of time in rooms with people much more famous than me. I’ve had the privilege of being scheduled for signings at Dragoncon and Archon and Midsouthcon and and and and … In the long tradition of SFFH conventions, they usually put someone like me next to a Super Famous Person, balancing out the crowds.

For example, one of my earliest signings was me and Anne McCaffrey. There were two people in line for me, and the line for Ms. McCaffrey stretched to Spain. This worked out nicely for me, since the layout of the room required them to walk past me when they left. Here, have a cover card!

Some of the Famous People I’ve signed with were cool or even dismissive, and no, I’m not naming names. Suffice to say one of them was outright rude and mocked the layout design on my book in front of the room, and another nearly ran me over with her scooter. Twice.

Others were sincerely friendly, and I prefer to remember them. I spent a Sunday morning chatting with Rod Roddenberry in an empty signing room, because seriously NOBODY shows up for a Sunday morning signing at Dragoncon. I told Rod about my father’s fondness for Star Trek back when he was a young airman during the original series, and how he shared it with me and now I was sharing it with my son, because Trek is a family tradition now. He was collecting stories like that for his eventual documentary on the impact of his father’s work. At my last Midsouthcon, I spent most of the signing hour getting terrific advice from editor extraordinaire Ellen Datlow (in between customers), and I’ve written before about my wonderful dinnertime chat with Terry Pratchett and his vest full of stars.

What does this have to do with Grant Imahara? Well, he and I did a signing together at Dragoncon in 2012, and because I was living under a rock, I actually had to look him up to see why there was a line to Spain for him, too. Everybody was at his table! Who was he, again?

Look, I’m a writer. I barely get my nose out of the computer, I didn’t watch Mythbusters. Except the Jaws episode, I watched that one. Giant rock, underneath, me. It was later when my friends were aghast: “You signed with Grant Imahara? He’s the cool one from Mythbusters!

Grant was friendly and kind. His line was extensive and the other two lines were practically nonexistent, so he kept directing people to go visit us after they had gotten his autograph. The tables were set up differently by then – we didn’t share a table, just a room – but before he left he made sure to come over and greet us lowly folk and look at our work.

That was rare for a superstar, folks. There’s a hierarchy, and definitely actors and TV personalities ranked much, much higher than scribbling writers. For any other actor, I think I would have had to stand in line at their own table to exchange a few words. Authors are better attuned to the scrabbling and desperation of gaining eyes on your work at a con, but even then, the Big-Time Names tend to forget us by the time they’re the lead name in a signing. For them to acknowledge our existence was cool; to actively encourage people to drop by our tables and consider our work was damn stellar. I know I picked up at least a few sales from Grant’s fans, and I am always grateful for that kind of support.

Others knew Grant Imahara much better than I did, but by all reports his friendly, gracious nature was reflected by everyone who knew him. I know that his genuine good nature made a far greater impression on me in that one-hour signing than any number of TV shows might have had. In an era where so many people we thought were great folk have turned out to be secret monsters, it is heartbreaking to lose one of the good guys – and so very young.

Rest in peace, good sir.