Scarlet Letters

The not-so-private thoughts and rants of Elizabeth Donald, journalist/author and founder of the Literary Underworld.

Friday, September 30, 2005

another nail in the coffin

Judith Miller gave in.

No, I don't particularly like Miller. And I don't think the story should have run in the first place. So blame Bob Novak, since he ran with it like the good Administration lapdog he is. After that, ignoring the story would have been criminal. Miller never wrote a story, yet spent three months in jail.

So now, whistleblowers will see that even sources who are FOR the Administration will be outed once someone issues a subpoena, so telling the press about the evil being done behind closed doors BY the Administration will mean jail or worse.

If Nixon were president today, he'd be in no danger whatsoever.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

an annoying commercial interruption

"But I don't like ebooks! I'll wait for the paperback."

Heard it a hundred times.

Yeah, sometimes an ebook just doesn't do it. But you don't have to wait for the paperback, which could be a year or more in the future. I am offering a 9x12 comb-bound printed copy of A MORE PERFECT UNION for $20. That is the actual cost of printing, plus the cover price of the book and includes shipping and handling. I am required by my publisher to charge the full amount. Sorry, folks.

The book has a full-color cover and is printed exactly as it appears in the ebook. These were quite popular with the first book, NOCTURNAL URGES, which is also still available for $16.

If you're interested, please contact me at Paypal, checks and money orders are accepted, but keep in mind your book will not be ordered until the money is in hand. Sorry, but I don't have the cash flow to front you.

Of course, the eBook is available direct from Ellora's Cave at

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Book Release!

I am happy to announce that A MORE PERFECT UNION is available as of today from Ellora's Cave Publishing.

A MORE PERFECT UNION is the sequel to last year's NOCTURNAL URGES, which won the Darrell Award and was a finalist for the Prism Award. It's an erotic vampire mystery/political thriller. Follow the bouncing genres! Seriously, I had a lot of fun writing this book, and I hope it'll be as fun for you.

Along with A MORE PERFECT UNION, today my CafePress shop reopens with more products, new designs, some really cool stuff!

Muchas gracias to graphic designer Devin Harris, who accomplished some spectacular work on very short notice. I just wish her "Hard Rock Cafe" takeoff could be offered to you guys, but CafePress apparently is a) chickenshit or b) never heard of the "parody" exception to copyright infringement. I personally once owned a Hard-Rock-style T-shirt with "Ten-Forward" on it. Yes, I am an enormous geek. Bite me.

So drop by the shop. The money goes to fund my appearances at cons, which is becoming my single largest expense. I really want to keep attending cons, and not just to sell my books - it lets me hang out with you guys! So drop by!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

new book coming out

The new NOCTURNAL URGES book will be released on Wednesday at the Ellora's Cave Publishing web site:

To celebrate, I'll be continuing my tradition of the release-night chatroom party. Beginning at 9 p.m. CST, I'll be hanging out in my Yahoogroup chatroom and serving up virtual blood punch. If you are so inclined, drop by.

To join the chat, go to the group site ( and click CHAT on the left side. It should automatically put you in the chat.

And of course, don't forget to buy the book!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Special Hell

From FIREFLY, the Joss Whedon series:

BOOK: If you take advantage of her sexually, you are going to burn in a special level of hell. The level reserved for child molesters and people who talk at the theater.

The Special Hell. The poor actor who played Shepherd Book, Ron Glass, has had to field more "Special Hell" comments than any actor ever should.

But if there is a Special Hell, it should be reserved for self-proclaimed white separatist Frank Weltner, who has allegedly been seeking donations for Katrina victims and diverting the money to white supremacy organizations. - do NOT give them your money. He has been sued by the attorney general of Missouri, who is also seeking a court order to shut down the web site.

Sometimes there are no words. I'm a reporter, for heaven's sake - we have seven men on the front page charged with keeping a fifteen-year-old girl stoned and drugged so they could repeatly rape her. When she finally regained sobriety, she escaped. May they rot. But we are used to this kind of venality.

The utter selfishness of those using Katrina to further their political aims or dogma - like the religious group, as yet unnamed, that blamed the destruction on a gay festival as "God's wrath." It boggles the mind.

Jesus called. He wants his religion back.

So how evil do you have to be to trick people into giving to homeless, sick and starving people, and diverting the money to hate groups? Isn't that just asking for a Stephen King novel to happen to you?

If this were a novel, Mr. Weltner would be visited by the ghost of the disabled old lady, who was stiill able to communicate with her police-officer son from her flooded home. He assured her help would be coming on Wednesday. And on Thursday. And on Friday. And on Saturday. And on Sunday, except that's when she drowned.

Then he would be forced by the spectre of a nine-year-old who was raped and murdered to go down to New Orleans. There he would have to apologize to the bereaved survivors of the police officers who committed suicide after days of hell.

Mr. Weltner would be forced to survive by drinking floodwater, contaminated with acres of pesticides, floating excrement and noxious chemicals.

There he would be forced to search the entire state for Snowball, the missing dog forcibly taken from a screaming child's arms when he was evacuated. No sleep for Mr. Weltner. No clean bedsheets, clear water or safe food. He should dogpaddle through the New Orleans soup, carrying containers of water and gasoline on his back to the enclaves of survivors, stopping at every demolished home to apologize to the dim phantoms of the inhabitants.

If he finds Snowball, he will be required to carry the dog across the state of Louisiana and into Texas, all the way to the Astrodome, where the boy was headed. But he will be denied the privilege of actually handing Snowball to his weeping owner. The mother or father who has spent the last week comforting their traumatized child over the loss of his pet, his home, his school, his friends and his entire life will reintroduce Snowball to his owner, and Mr. Weltner will be sent on his way to walk back to Mississippi.

Now he will help clear downed power lines from the streets of Biloxi, and set himself to rebuilding street signs so the refugees will be able to find their way through the streets. He will fetch Port-a-Potties and carry them on his back to the RV camp set up in a newspaper parking lot. The reporters working there are not just the homeless survivors - they are volunteers come from across the country to help the newspaper stay afloat, so to speak. Someone has to keep telling people what's going on, after all.

There's a CNN photo I've seen, a cardboard sign outside a broken building: "Shelter From Hell. Bush Come Live Here in Hell."

It's a Special Hell. One reserved for child molesters and those who trick well-meaning donors into giving their money to hate. Unfortunately, this Special Hell is real - and all the wrong people are swimming in its toxic soup.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dragon Ladies

DANA: *climbs into bed*
ME: I notice we're still sleeping together.
DANA: Well, just respect me in the morning.
ME: Oh, I better start blogging.

The drive from Nashville to Atlanta is just as soul-crushingly long as from St. Louis to Nashville, but has the advantage of absolutely stunning Appalachian scenery. About nine times I wanted to stop the car and haul out the camera, but since I don't feel like dying anytime soon, I decided it would be better to keep driving along the twisting mountain roads between the giant truckers.

Yes, gas really is at $3.15 a gallon. I have not seen the rumored Atlanta gas pumps at $5.99 a gallon, because I was momentarily intelligent and topped off the tank in Chattanooga. But I have no doubt these prices exist, state of emergency or no.

ME: The thing that sucks about a breakup is that it ruins a song for you. You know, the Song you had with that person. It's ruined from then on.
DANA: Or a whole artist.
ME: Like *song deleted*. That was my song with *man's name deleted*
ANNE: I could write a song titled "What the Fuck is Wrong With You?" That could be your song with him.

Ah, affirmation. I sometimes have wondered about the success of "Sex and the City." I enjoyed it myself, but often pondered how we can so adore a show about four self-absorbed, man-obsessed women with enormous non-New York apartments and a seemingly endless disposable income without ever actually going to work. Then I realized - it was the friendship between those four women. Men may have watched the show because it had hot women talking frankly about sex, but women watched it because they were the women we wanted as friends - or who reminded us of our friends.

Dragoncon is the one time of the year that I'm with the Dragon Ladies. While we don't always get along, there's a level of friendship and snark that we rarely find the rest of the year. It's the kind of friendship that will always take your side when a man done you wrong, and will just as quickly tell you - in the nicest, most loving way possible - when you're so full of shit your eyes are brown. Women are out there nodding right now - you know. The women who tell you when you're making an incredible mistake, when you're overlooking the obvious, when you're just plain being a bitch.

Those are the friends you treasure.

DANA: I want a tribble.
ME: And it wants you.
DANA: *giggle*
ME: You're in that state again, where you laugh at anything I say.
DANA: *giggle*
ME: Try it, Anne, it's fun!
ANNE: Nutmeg.
DANA: *giggle*
ANNE: Cardamon.
DANA: *giggle*
ME: See?

We're watching the utterly brilliant DragonconTV. Yes, Dragoncon has its own TV channel, broadcast only in the hotel rooms. I want to meet whoever writes these scripts. Pretending to hawk astromech droids on DVC, the DOX News channel, commercials for the Blue Pill (a la Matrix) and Elfzyte (don't ask), the hilarious Dragoncon PSAs, and especially fun Zork mockery. You know you're talking to a specific audience when you get good ratings with Zork mockery.

Am I supposed to be working? Oh yes, I have a book coming out in two weeks instead of two months. I have an author's note to write, flyers to mark up with room numbers and a manuscript to review. Not to mention a new book I'm fiddling with, a proposal I'm working up and a client's manuscript to finish reviewing.

And yet, sitting in this room, dishing over ex-boyfriends... I can't bring myself to work. At the end of our lives, do any of us say, "I wish I'd done more work"? Or "I wish I'd gotten drunk more," or "I wish I flirted with that guy".... Oh, wait. Maybe that last one.

So 20,000 geeks give blood in Atlanta in between panels and book signings. I am safely ensconced in our skylit room, and looking forward to meeting the people tomorrow. All is right with the world.