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Showing posts from 2010

Find Your Bookstore Contest!

It's been a couple of years since I updated my database of independent bookstores. When I created the list in 2007, there were 579 appropriate, viable bookstores on it.

Today there are 505. That's pretty awful, but when you consider the impact of the economy in the last three years, it's not nearly as bad as it could have been. Considering that overall, only half of new small businesses survive their first five years, it's pretty damned good. I'm happy to see that a lot of bookstores that had eschewed the internet now have web sites. And web sites of their own, not just listings in Booksense. You would think that, say, an independent bookseller on the Upper East Side of Manhattan would know that it should have a web site, but apparently bookstores are among the last to join us here on our intertubes.

Here's the thing: I'm betting there are a lot of good, viable bookstores that haven't made my list yet. There are 1200+ booksellers in the American Booksel…

Interview with Seventh Star Press

Stephen Zimmer with Seventh Star Press interviews me about the Literary Underworld and my secret plan for world domination. In which I talk about the state of the small press, big box vs. indie bookstores, the challenges with fitting the booth in my Camry and the pain of sending rejection letters. With secret bonus plans for next year's insanity!

EDIT: Meanwhile, Author Adventures says nice things about Stephen saying nice things about me. Oh, and about my wish for a van. I would totally paint our giant half-skull on the side, I'm just saying.

Molasses in Not-January

As my father told me, the hardest part of being a parent is not laughing in front of them when they do something hilariously boneheaded.

ME: [All Three Names]!*
BOY: What!
ME: What in heaven's name did you do to the molasses! It's all over the counter!
BOY: ...
ME: Tell the truth.
BOY: You know how you're always saying, "slow as molasses in January"?
ME: Yes.**
BOY: Well, I saw the jug of molasses, and I wondered how slow molasses is, so I turned it upside down and the cap was loose and -
ME: You were trying to see how slow molasses in January is?
BOY: *nodsnods*
ME: It's not January!
BOY: It's December, it's close enough!
ME: Go clean up the counter!

And then I went in the other room to laugh myself silly.


* Some things are universal. When Mom calls you with first, middle and last names, you're in trouble.
** As my mother told me, and her mother told her: "You're as slow as molasses in January!" Rinse, repeat.

Chronicles of the Muse: The Muse At Subway

Many years ago, I began writing stories of the Muse. She lives in my head, and she's the source of my work. She used to be the only source, but after a while she got some companions. She's not all that happy about it. Because I thought it might entertain you, I am reprinting some Chronicles of the Muse in this journal. And maybe it'll entice her to come back and visit me more often. 

This was written while I was waiting for Nocturnal Urges to be released, and writing a novella that would eventually become Yellow Roses. The idea spawned by this dream eventually became "The Sheriff of Nottingham," which will be in my upcoming collection Moonlight Sonata. I named neither protagonist Matt.


May 3, 2004


MUSE: You IDIOT!
ME: Shh, someone might hear you.
MUSE: Not likely, you moron. I'm in your head.
ME: Yeah, well, it's not my fault.
MUSE: We get a full lunch hour to work on the goddamn book and you don't recharge the laptop?
ME: I did recharge the laptop!…

oh hey, this blog exists!

I feel rather like a deep-sea diver who is surfacing after a very long time underwater.

The fall book tour (a.k.a. Deathmarch) is done. The new book (a.k.a. The Bitch) is done. The election is done. In fact, the only thing that isn't done is the laundry. But that's never done.

Okay, technically I still have one more booksigning this Saturday. But since it doesn't require sleeping in a hotel or packing a suitcase, I say it doesn't count. I am slowly unearthing my kitchen and I might even get crazy and run a vacuum. Pretty soon I'll put that suitcase in the closet, because really, I won't need it for a couple of months.

It's a heady feeling. Even better is this: last night I got home and realized that I did not have to work on the book.

This might seem weird, but for months now I've been on the midnight shift. I work the day at the newspaper, then I get off duty and go be Mom for a while. Once the boy is in bed, then I break out the laptop and work anoth…

Code Words

I was trying desperately to get out the door on Thursday for a weekend of book sell-n-sign, but the Cooks Source nonsense exploded on the internet. Penned on the fly, I wrote the SPJ Ethics Committee's response on Code Words, the blog where we comment on breaking-news ethics issues. Not quite a press release or a white paper, mind you, and the words and opinions are my own.

I haven't done this before, and I decided to go with my usual conversational tone rather than the more formal style I would use for other venues, because it's a blog. And the thing I like the most about blogs? I get to talk like a person. :)

Enjoy me roasting Cooks Source.

How to Survive a Horror Movie, 2010 edition

HOW TO SURVIVE A HORROR MOVIE
by Elizabeth Donald et al

1. If the house you're living in tells you to "GO AWAY," do it. Now.

2. If you're a virgin, stay that way.

3. If a killer with a knife is chasing you around the house, do not go upstairs. Go out the front door.
4. For the love of God, turn on the lights.

5. Never split up.

6. Never stoop over to see if the killer is dead. He's just waiting for you.

7. Never get naked in front of a window.

8. Avoid the following geographical locations, even on a bet: Amityville, Elm Street, Crystal Lake, Transylvania, remote islands, lover's lanes, secluded mountain resorts and all small towns in Maine.

9. Never pick up hitchhikers.

10. If a small town off the highway is deserted, it's probably for a very good reason.

11. If your speedometer suddenly starts turning backward, trade the car.

12. Never dig up strange-looking objects in the woods.

13. Never bury pets or loved ones in old Native American burial …

the bitch is done

It's funny how the end of the rough draft always feels like I've spent the last mumblety months slugging it out with the Muse, and that bitch does not fight fair. I've got the bruises to prove it.

Someday maybe rough drafts won't be like pulling teeth sans anesthetic. Someday I might even be able to write a book ONCE and be done with it. But no - whenever I write a book, the first draft is a long, awful slog through the story I know I want, and no matter how good I think I am, the book is never, ever as good as it was in my head.

This one is no exception. Finishing the first draft always feels a bit of a letdown: "Well, that wasn't nearly as good as I thought it would be. I suuuuuck."

It's the second draft when it gets fun. Because I'm deranged, I rewrite a book from scratch. As in, I retype the entire thing, rewriting as I go. I wish I could do like other authors; print out a copy, mark it up with red pen, make the changes and off we go. But my m…

Dragoncon: Denouement

Angelia woke me up again Monday. I fired her again. I got to my panel on time and rehired her.

The morning panel was on horror and comedy, starring Lee Martindale as moderator and several other fine folks. I barely remember this panel, as I neglected to consume caffeine before it, so hopefully I didn't say anything too stupid. Death is easy; comedy is hard.

Then began the mad dash. Angelia and I returned to the room to pack up and pack out; most of our roommates had already vacated the premises. First we had to haul my six boxes of books down to the booth, then my suitcase, cooler and bag o' food to luggage storage. The only upside was that I checked out on the in-room TV, which was a nice bit of the future and saved me standing in that line.

Thus I bid farewell to Angelia with my soberest gratitude for manhandling me through the convention. When talking to her father, Angelia said the best part of being my flunky was access to the VIP greenroom. I snarked that I thought the …

Dragoncon: Sunday

Angelia woke me up again. I fired her. But I unfired her when she gave me tea, so I think she’s holding them in reserve.

My signing was scheduled with Mercedes Lackey and A.C. Crispin. When Mercedes saw the line to Spain for her books, she declared in a loud voice, “You are all insane!”
Note to self: Mercedes had pre-signed bookplates for those who had more books than she could sign. That would be a good choice if/when I ever become famous enough to need them. In the meantime, I'll sign whatever you put in front of me. We sold a few books, mostly to Lackey fans who wandered over. It's funny that I do 10 times more signing in halls and after panels than I ever do at my actual SIGNING. I don't mind at all, but it's so dull sitting there at the signing that I wish people would come by just to chat. :)

From there I went to the reading, and that went really well. The room had a decent crowd, including a few people I didn’t know. As always, I had to duck out for the five …

Dragoncon: Saturday

I am too old to stay up until 4 a.m. and get up at 8:30. Just. Too. Old.

My flunky for this show is Angelia Sparrow, who was kind enough to volunteer her services as “bodyservant.” That’s a new title for the person who gets me from point A to point Z, makes sure I do things like “eat” and “drink water,” and generally kicks my ass.

Angelia woke me up at 8:30 to remind me that I volunteered to join Walking With the Stars. It’s an effort by Stu Segal to counteract the health-destroying aspects of con: get up a little earlier and go for a walk around the block. To entice the fans, Stu asks authors and artists and other famous people to walk, so the fans will exercise in order to spend time with us. It’s an excellent goal and I clearly remember volunteering as a “star.”

So I fired Angelia and told her I was going back to sleep. Fortunately she’s impervious to being fired, because she watched me fire Dana several times last year and God alone knows how many times I fired Katie. I haven’t …

Dragoncon: Friday

Thank goodness, the Kerlak booth was up and running before I even got there. My books are happily ensconced on the shelves, hopefully not to stay there long. Hello, book lovers! You can find me in the center of the exhibition hall, near the Troma Films booth. I will happily sign anything you put in front of me.

I got into the hotel room with a minimum of fuss, which is remarkable. Now that I’m here and most of the nonsense is behind me, I find that I’m not all that stressed anymore. Maybe it’s because as I write this, I’ve spent the last couple of hours lounging around my exceedingly luxurious hotel room. I may quibble with the Marriott’s prices, but I must say, they know how to make a comfy room. It may be less comfy when the hordes descend, but that’s okay too.

I wish I had money. They have a spa in this hotel offering all kinds of ridiculous body wraps and massage and facials. Just once I want to be rich enough to have all that kind of stuff on a trip. Alas, I’ll have to settle for…

Dragoncon: Thursday

THURSDAY

This is the year of being broke. Okay, I’m usually broke. Especially at Dragoncon. But this year I have discovered new depths of poverty. And misfortune, as I discovered the key to my cash box has vanished, leaving the small amount of cash and a few checks inside inaccessible to me short of rolling over the damn thing with that cartoon squishy thing from ROGER RABBIT.

Wednesday night I drove down to Nashville and crashed with my good friend Stephen. The starscape over the Land Between the Lakes is something to behold – the faint stars-between-the-stars you can only see when you get well away from the lights of civilization. It was almost worth how utterly exhausted I was post-drive.

Thursday allowed me to sleep in, so I did. Then I drove from Nashville to Atlanta, which let me meander over the foothills of the Cumberland Mountains. Along the way I suspected my tires were soft due to excessive rattling, so I stopped at the Sam’s Club in Murfreesboro to fill up a bit. That’s wh…

Author kaffeeklatsch at Dragoncon!

Because y'all said you wanted it… an informal Meet The Authors Kaffeeklatsch has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday on the atrium level of the Marriott! Since we can't exactly reserve space, look around for the sign and a handful of ink-stained wretches gulping Starbucks.

Definitely joining me will be author Angelia Sparrow and Kerlak Publishing editor/author Allan Gilbreath. Tentatively we will also be joined by John Everson and Van Allen Plexico, pending scheduling changes. I've invited a few others still checking their schedules. We will probably pick up some more once the show gets going; follow my Twitter (@edonald) for updates and changes.

EDIT: Adding nonfiction author Fiona Broome!
EDIT: Tentatively adding author M.B. Weston!

Anyone and everyone is welcome. Very informal. We're just going to sit and talk and answer your questions if you have any. Don't bring anything for us to read; we're brain-dead by Saturday morning at Dragoncon. But we're happ…

Chronicles of the Muse: The Return

This was written while rewriting the original NU novella into the book Nocturnal Urges. Isabel was a voice born to make me write about emotions and true love and sex and all sorts of things that don't have a caliber attached to them. She tries, at least. -Mgmt.

Jan. 27, 2004

ME: Fuck.
ISABEL: Yes?
ME: Not you. This sucks.
ISABEL: Well, it is a vampire story.
ME: God, you're dumb. We're heading full-tilt toward the Most Predictable Ending in Mystery History.
ISABEL: Hey, that rhymes.
ME: You know what this means.
ISABEL: Uh, no. I'm new here.
ME: Shower.
(I hop into the shower)
ISABEL: Why are you doing this?
ME: It's how I solve blocks. Nothing to distract me. I stay in the damn water until I figure out the problem.
ISABEL: You must have a great water heater.
ME: Now I do. When I lived in the apartment, I damn near got pneumonia solving some of the problems in "The Polaris Passage."
MUSE: Hey.
ME: Jesus! You scared the shit out of me.
MUSE: Shower, huh.
ME:…

Chronicles of the Muse

Many years ago, I began writing stories of the Muse. She lives in my head, and she's the source of my work. She used to be the only source, but after a while she got some companions. She's not all that happy about it. Because I thought it might entertain you, I think I shall reprint some Chronicles of the Muse in this journal. And maybe it'll entice her to come back and visit me. 

These entries were written when I was writing Nocturnal Urges. The book to which she refers, Absence of Light, is the third book in the Sanctuary series, as yet unwritten. - Mgmt.

------

Oct. 28, 2003

My mental picture of The Muse looks a lot like Aurora Crawford. She's darker than I am, with long hair she keeps in a braid so it'll stay the fuck out of her face. She's got a Sarah Connor physique, a nasty scar on her arm* and chain-smokes, although I've never smoked. She wears a black tank top, black jeans and black combat boots, plus a black leather jacket when I let her out t…

To Harper Memorial Scholarship: Thank You

Nobody gets into this business for fame and fortune. In fact, if you throw that cliche at a journalist, you will get a sarcastic quip and possibly a pica pole thrown at you, since there's no other practical purpose for a pica pole anymore beyond backscratcher and self-defense implement.

There's a great moment in Ron Howard's movie THE PAPER, in which Robert Duvall tells Glenn Close, "If you try to make this job about the money you'll be nothing but miserable, because we don't get the money. Never have, never will." This is more true now than ever, as newspapers everywhere are trimming budgets, laying off staff and even making the paper smaller.

There is a tendency among us all to cut out what we consider to be superfluous: training, and professional organizations like SPJ. But now is when SPJ is the most useful, when we need intelligent programming and thoughtful discussion among our peers.

Over the last year and a half, I've had a crash course in ma…

random thought of utter hubris

If I was to arrange an unofficial kaffeeklatsch at Dragoncon, would anyone be at all interested? I see the other authors arranging a time to sit and chat with readers, and wonder if that's something I should be doing, if I have fans that want to talk to me without the formality of a panel.

Nothing as organized as a Q&A, just a comfortable place to talk and answer questions like "When the hell are you going to publish Sanctuary" and "how long before I get my next Nocturnal Urges fix," which are the two questions I get the most this year. :)

On the other hand, if I just end up alone with a latte, I will feel really fucking stupid.

Thoughts?

Dragoncon sked!

Keep in mind this will likely change, as there are always tweaks to the schedule between the time I get it and the time I show up at the con. I will be live-Twittering as much as I can remember throughout the show at @edonald, so check there for last-minute changes.


Dragoncon!

• "Under the Skin: Body Horror and Deformation in Horror Fiction," 5:30 p.m. Friday, Cairo-Hyatt
• Art Reception, time TBA Friday, Marriott
• Maybe finally after six years see the dang parade on Saturday.
• "Oil Disasters: Human-Made Apocalypses," 2:30 p.m. Saturday, L508-Marriott
• "Love Rots: Zombies in Erotica," 10 p.m. Saturday, Montreal/Vancouver-Hyatt
• Autograph session, 10 a.m. Sunday, M301-304-Marriott
• Reading, 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Roswell-Marriott
• "2012: Are We Doomed?" 4 p.m. Sunday, L508 - Marriott
• Atlanta Radio Theater Company's performance of "At the Mountains of Madness," if I can get to it Sunday night. Who's with me?
• "Dark Fantas…

Dorchester and the ebook revolution

The publishing world went nuts over the weekend when Dorchester Publishing announced they would stop publishing all mass-market paperbacks in favor of ebooks. There will still be trade paperback releases for the ebooks that do well.

This affects not only Dorchester's romance line, which is what the wider publishing world i focusing on, but Leisure Books, the horror imprint. Leisure is arguably the biggest horror publisher in the U.S. - anyone know somebody printing more monsters than Leisure? There are authors with books coming out in a few weeks who are suddenly being told their books will be ebooks instead. Yikes. It's an entirely different marketing strategy, and I really feel for them.

It is apparently a "stay in business" move, as retail sales for Dorchester fell 25 percent last year. As of a few weeks ago, mass-market was still the plan. God knows I wouldn't want Leisure to crash and burn. Half my bookshelf is Leisure mass-markets, and a good number of my …

The last time I'll bug you... (this year)

Image
Y'all know my Relay for Life team finished up about $500 short of our goal. That's not so bad, considering we lost a few team members and were pushed indoors by a monsoon.

But I have until the end of August to make our goal and by God....

Since the Relay in June, my team has raised another $295. Because my team rocks. Special thanks to Macie Boyd, who came up with the bulk of that. Go Macie!

That leaves us $205 to raise by the end of the month.

I know I've asked before, and next year I'll be asking again. But this is important. This is cancer. We all know someone fighting cancer. Most of us know someone who died of cancer. It respects no boundaries. It kills our friends and family and loved ones, but it can be beaten.

Help us fight it. Even if all you can spare is the five bucks rattling around in your Paypal account. If you haven't had the chance or thought it was too late... help us out now. I know we can do it. Click the link below to donate via my Relay page.





a funny thing happened at the signing...

In the final few moments of the library author fair last Sunday, a woman was rushing from author to author to pick up books before we packed up. Bless her, she was buying book after book. She came to my table, looked at my array of horror and grief and misery, smiled and said, "I'm going to take a pass on you, if that's okay." I laughed and said that was fine.

And it is. Really. People largely seem to feel guilty when they just don't care for horror. I'm sure it's just politeness, because clearly I wallow in the death and pain because it gives me sadistic glee. But my work isn't for everyone. It isn't for children, it isn't for those who are prone to nightmares, it isn't for those who are squeamish about the Bad Death or emotional trauma. I wish I could write The Bridges of Madison County, because it would make a better Christmas present and my grandmother would be thrilled. But alas, my work is that of things that go chomp in the night.

I…

hate it when they use my words back at me

Scenes from Julnawrimo:

ME: WRITING SUCKS I QUIT.

Jay Smith: Sorry, I already quit tonight. You gotta cover my shift.

I reiterated this pouty statement after completely failing to make more than 600 words in three frigging hours last night.

COLE: Hey, that's 600 words you wouldn't have if you didn't try.
DIANE: *laughs her head off*
ME: Gaaaah! Stop using my own words back at me!

The Muse, I must admit, has mostly been absent as I slog through BLACKFIRE v. 1. The Muse is a fickle bitch, and when she shows up the writing goes smooth and exciting and fun like the rollercoaster it's supposed to be. The rest of the Chorus does the best it can in her absence, but that's when the writing is more like a slog up a snow-covered hill. I'll get there, but it's hard going, man.

The first draft is always like this. Pockets of awesome in the middle of a sea of dreck. It's the second draft when the Muse shows up and things really start to rock. In the second draft - w…

delusions of adequacy

In an ultimate act of hubris, I have created a fan page for myself on Facebook.

I thought it was rather egotistical of myself - love me! Love me! But the fact is, the YahooGroup gets almost no traffic these days because most folks have moved on to Facebook and Twitter. Traffic on my FB profile is fairly brisk, as well as the Twitter account. But the fan pages are more easily designed for letting you characters know what I'm up to as far as the book tour, upcoming releases, etc.

So if you like me ... and if you don't, why the hell are you reading this? You could be watching porn ... go forth and "like" me on Facebook. Assuage my inflated ego.

And while you're at it, check out the Literary Underworld page. Yes, I am shameless.

As always, I keep you updated on this blog, on my web site and any number of other places online. At this point I don't even know all the networks to which I belong. But I'm betting most of us are going to be on Facebook for the fores…

HG WORLD snarkfest!

As you know if you've been paying attention here, I'm writing an episode of the post-apocalyptic podradio serial HG WORLD later this year. Series creator Jay Smith is bringing in three outside writers to do standalone episodes: Keith R.A. DeCandido, Dayton Ward and me. Keith and Dayton write for people like FARSCAPE, SUPERNATURAL, STAR TREK, Disney/Pixar, BUFFY and other big-time folks you've actually heard of.

Then there's me. Hi!

Mr. Smith invited us to a roundtable interview, in which we snarked about convention lifestyle, the difference in writing for radio as opposed to novels, the joys of zombie fiction and whether Jay Smith has compromising pictures of us. Dayton slipped into interstellar porn and I'm not sure, but I think Keith propositioned me. :) Meanwhile, I flubbed the presentation of my own book, like I haven't intro'd THE COLD ONES nine hundred times by now, and they mercifully cut the part where I mispronounced Keith's last name.

I was gi…

Twittering Writers

Whatever would I do without my HelpMeObiWanKaTwitter? The participants last night were authors Sara Harvey, Vic Milan and Mari Adkins, and journalist Dana Franks. It kicked off because Sara admitted she was watching... reality television. For the purposes of this story, you should know that the heroine of THE COLD ONES (and the sequel, BLACKFIRE, currently under production) was named after Ms. Harvey, as one of my dearest friends. The journalist in all three Nocturnal Urges books is named after Ms. Franks.

ME: You're watching AMERICA'S GOT TALENT? … Is this a gestation thing? I won't judge, I chewed ice cubes for 9mo.
SARA: I actually like AMERICA'S GOT TALENT and have watched all 3 seasons. And who are you to snark, Ms. AIR SUPPLY? Hmmm?
MARI: oooooooooo
ME: I WAS TWELVE. What's your excuse???
SARA: You WERE twelve? What, did you write "Sisyphus" when you were twelve, too?
ME: Do you not recall that in "Sisyphus" it was the Evil Song? :P Be nic…

in lieu of actual content, let's make with the funny.

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Real content pending again someday.

Elizabeth Needs a Flunky, Part 491

I totally forgot to announce:

• Keith R.A. DeCandido, Dayton Ward and I will be guesting on a roundtable snarkfest tomorrow (Sunday) for HG World's podcast. You might recall that the three of us are writing a trio of episodes for the excellent post-apocalyptic zombie podradio show this fall, and I can attest that Keith and Dayton have awesome ideas. I look awesomer standing next to them. Is awesomer a word? Do I need sleep?

Not sure when the interview podcast will air, and it probably will help if I can figure out this Skype thing before we record tomorrow afternoon. Looking forward to chatting and snarking with Keith and Dayton, whom I have heretofore only "met" on the interwebs.

• Next Saturday, July 24, I will be speaking at the O'Fallon (Ill.) Public Library about writing horror, with possible reading if the crowd is amenable and little kids can't hear me swear up a storm. My stuff will be available for sale, natch, but feel free to come by and just listen! I…

uh... WHAT.

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I pasted in the latest scene from BLACKFIRE.


I write like
James Joyce I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!



Uh...

a moment of silence

I would like a moment of silence for Linda.

None of you who read this know Linda, except maybe Kit Tunstall and Starr Rathburn, but I think both of them were gone from the Writers' Circle before Linda came. Linda went by the moniker TheCritic on Writing.com, which is where I lived before LiveJournal, Facebook and Twitter. And when Kit and Starr left, Linda took over the WC.

The Writers' Circle taught me more about writing than anything ever had, including college. I was hiding from an unhappy marriage by writing short stories filled with sadness and horror. They told me what worked and what didn't. They watched me write my first flailing attempt at a novel and encouraged me when I tried to give it up about nine times. When I got my first book contract, they cheered me on. It is one of my great regrets that the WC has mostly fallen to pieces, with posts becoming fairly rare and most of its members moving on to greener pastures.

Linda was a sweet lady who devoted her time a…