Scarlet Letters

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

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Dragoncon Schedule

In which I am very, very glad I opted for the latest flight out on Monday.


5:30 p.m. My Favorite Starship Commander is a Woman
(I am not kidding, they signed me up for it. Taking nominations now.)
10 p.m. The Little Death: Erotic Horror
Moderated by my good friend Fred Grimm. Fred, what HAVE you been up to?


1 p.m. Autograph Session
Me and Elonka Dunin. Alas, I shall miss the Baen Books preview.
3 p.m. Reading
I'm the warm-up act for Peter David, folks. Whoa.
10 p.m. And Then What Happened? (plots that intrigue readers)
Aaah! I'm opposite the Firefly Shindig! We'll talk fast.)
11:30 p.m. Devil and Demons
I'm not actually on this panel, but Fred Grimm is, so it should be fun.


4 p.m. Defining the Superhero
I'm not on this panel either, but Frank Fradella is, and it should be a great one.
5:30 p.m. I Did It!
New successes talk about getting published. Me and three others.


11:30 a.m. In a Glass Darkly
Creating an unsettling atmosphere. Well, by Monday morning, I'll just assume tequila had something to do with it.
2:30 p.m. Autograph Session
Just in case you didn't catch me nineteen times this convention! As I stack my luggage in the corner for the mad dash to the airport after. :) Come say goodbye!

Watch this space for regular posts throughout the con. Well, anytime I have my brain together. See you at the show!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Borders Patrol: A Writer's Insanity

Those of you who've tracked my career from the beginning know that NOCTURNE is the first book to achieve national mainstream distribution. The ebooks were available worldwide, but outside of romance, ebooks have yet to really penetrate the mainstream. SETTING SUNS was a small-press release, and bookstores in large part declined to stock it. NOCTURNE is allegedly in every Borders and Waldenbooks in America. That's really amazing to think about, and very humbling.

That doesn't mean it's been EASY. Though with the assistance of the Denizens of the Literary Underworld, I have been able to track our progress.

Aug. 11:
• Preliminary Denizen reports that the book is available in Nashville, Tenn. stores. This is later proven to be a computer error.
• A Denizen reports the book's appearance (and purchase) in Seattle, Wash.
• Boise, Idaho reports the book as "not yet published."
• Borders computers nationwisde list the book at "Nocturne Urges." So does, which also has "no image available" instead of the cover.

Aug. 14:
• I personally confirm three copies on the shelf of the Fairview Heights, Ill. Borders. I squee all over the place.

Then comes the panic.

"Why do they still have three copies? The book's been out for a few days now! All those weekend shoppers! Why didn't anybody snap up those copies? This is my local Borders, everyone knows me here, those copies should be gone and more people asking for them so Borders has to reorder! If those copies stay there too long the store will return them and I'll be a FAILURE! Those copies need to get sold! Maybe I should buy them myself to keep them from being returned..."

Then I tell myself to shut up.

• Borders computers still list the book as "Nocturne Urges." So does and Barnes and Noble.
• I lose my patience and upload the cover image to myself.
• Barnes and Noble insists to a Denizen that the book really isn't out yet, and its title really is "Nocturne Urges." She gives up and goes to another store.
• Atlanta does not yet have the book.

Aug. 16:

• The three books are STILL THERE in Fairview Heights.
• A Denizen reports two copies in Hyannis, Mass.

Aug. 21:
• Sightings in Tampa, Fl. and Creve Coeur, Mo.
• A Denizen reports the computer tells him of three copies in St. Louis South County, but upon arrival there was but one, which he bought.
• Borders computers still list the book as "Nocturne Urges." has fixed it. The book is hovering the 100,000 range for book sales on Amazon.
• Nashville stores continue to tell Denizens it's not published yet.
• The three books are STILL THERE in Fairview Heights. My obsession reaches new levels.
• A Memphis Borders lists the book as being in the store, but is not on the shelves. A bookseller tells the Denizen seeking it that it's probably in the back, but is not inclined to go find it. The bookseller also says someone else was in the store earlier looking for the book, but they were disinclined to help then, either. I grit my teeth and cry.
• A Denizen reports the Wolfchase Borders in Germantown, Tenn. had one copy before he bought it.
• Elk Grove, Calif. tells a Denizen the book is not yet published.

Aug. 22:
• A Vermont Denizen reports that her Borders does not have it in stock, so she ordered it. There were three available in the warehouse.
• A North Carolina Denizen reports one copy in her local Borders before she bought it.

Aug. 24:
• One of the three books is GONE from Fairview Heights!
• The Vermont Denizen's book arrives.

Aug. 25:
• suddenly reports the book is "not yet published" despite having sold and shipped multiple copies, and removes a Denizen's comment from the listing, for reasons known only to the orangutans working the Amazon web site. I whimper in pain.
• Visual confirmations of one copy each at the Brentwood, Mo. Borders and Waldenbooks in the St. Louis Galleria and West County Mall.
• Boise, Idaho is still telling a Denizen the book is not yet published. The Denizens reading their books at home laugh and laugh.
• The two books are STILL HTERE in Fairview Heights.

So you see, getting a book out in stores is only half the battle. Computers, certain booksellers, inconsistent distribution and most of all computers will get in the way of getting the books to the people who want to read them.

But it's the devoted Denizens who make the difference. The ones who take the time to talk to a human being and ask for the book, not just take the computer's word for it that they can't have it. The ones who go to the trouble of special-ordering it, because the store will likely pick up another copy or two while they're at it for the shelves. The ones who search diligently in multiple stores and complain to the computermasters when the title is wrong.

The Denizens make it happen. That's why I have a career. Thank you all, folks. There just aren't words for it. And isn't that funny for a writer?

Friday, August 11, 2006


I have received reports that NOCTURNE has appeared on Borders shelves. Yay!

Don't forget to pick up your copy! If they don't have it, ask about it! Let's make Borders think the teeming millions are dying (heh) for my vampires!

NOCTURNE Tour Schedule!

Aug. 17: Release Chat Party, Wilderness Chat Room, 8-10 p.m. EST

Aug. 20: Edwardsville Local Authors Festival, Edwardsville (Ill.) Public Library, 2-5 p.m.

Aug. 31-Sept. 4: Dragoncon, Atlanta.

Sept. 13: Sleepwalkers Chat, location TBA, 8-10 p.m.

Sept. 16: NOCTURNE signing, Borders of South County (St. Louis), 2-4 p.m.

Sept. 23: NOCTURNE signing, Borders of St. Peters (Mo.), 2-4 p.m.

Oct. 5-8: Archon, Collinsville, Ill.

Oct. 28: NOCTURNE signing, Borders of Fairview Heights (Ill.), 2-4 p.m.

There may be a few more signings in November; negotiations continue. The next two months are going to be the second-most-grueling time of my life, since of course the day job and mommying continue during all this craziness. But it's a nice problem to have!

The NOCTURNE books are in my hot little hands and today the second printing of SETTING SUNS arrived as well. I am happy to hook up anyone who doesn't have a Borders nearby - but remember the Super-Secret Plan! Buy from Borders if at all possible!

Thanks, folks. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize that yes, this is all for real. And you guys are the ones that help make it happen.

I hope to see you at the chat! Directions to the Wilderness Chat Room are, as always, available on the News Page of my web site, and will be posted again shortly before the chat. There will be prizes!


Woo! The new T-shirts are up at the CafePress shop!

I particularly like, "Proud Member of Diego's Kiss." The designs were created by the brilliant Devin Harris, my wonderfully creative graphic designer. If you ever have need of design services, I strongly recommend her, folks.

Please feel free to drop by and check out the stuff! And, if so moved, buy something!

Also, don't forget the Edwardsville Local Authors' Festival on Aug. 20! I'll be there 2-5 p.m. at the Edwardsville Public Library. I look forward to seeing you!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

another kudos for TANDEM

TANDEM is a quickie with an enjoyable plot. Based around a weekend on a dangerous hiking trail this story is packed with a lot of adventure. Ms. Donald has done a great job building a believable story in a small amount of pages. Ms. Donald has weaved danger, love and humor all in one. In a small amount of time Ms. Donald will have you laughing, crying and full of worry that hero and heroine will make it out of the woods alive.

Ms. Donald’s characters are funny yet fearful. This reviewer was drawn in by the heroine’s fear of letting herself go to a stranger. The way Ms. Donald has her heroine withdraw immediately after their sexual encounter is shocking yet touching. This reviewer feels Ms. Donald’s knows her stuff.

This reviewer feels TANDEM is a good read for any one looking for a quick story packed with adventure.

-- Love Romances

In other news, the tour schedule for NOCTURNE is nearly final and the manuscript for INFERNII is almost done with the Tweak Phase. In short, you might actually see original content return to this blog sometime soon. But no promises!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Super-Secret Plan for World Domination

Yup. It's about that time, ladies and gents.

NOCTURNE is about to hit the shelves of the Borders and Waldenbooks stores in your area. I've pegged the street date at about Aug. 18.

That means two things: a) I need your help, and b) PARTY!

Let's deal with (A) first. The fact is, NOCTURNE is just one trade paperback from a press that few people recognize right off the bat. Also, nobody's ever heard of me.

So I need your help if NOCTURNE is to be a success. And why should you care, you might ask? After all, you already bought NOCTURNAL URGES and A MORE PERFECT UNION.

Do you want to know what happens next?

Last night I finished the draft of third book. INFERNII. It's a doozy, folks. I made myself cry. I never cry. I got through TERMS OF ENDEARMENT without a sniffle. It's the book that takes this series out of paranormal horror-romance and into straight horror. I personally think it's gonna be a hell of a ride.

If you want to see INFERNII in stores, NOCTURNE has to be a success. Otherwise, the series will end and I will be very sad.

So. How can you help make NOCTURNE a success? Here enters the Super-Secret Plan for World - er, Bookstore - Domination!

(Which isn't so secret. Since I'm posting it everywhere.)

a) Request the book. Now. Ask your local bookstore when they're getting that new Elizabeth Donald book, NOCTURNE, from Cerridwen Press. You know, the author of SETTING SUNS? It's really good, Mr. Bookseller, I hope you'll be carrying it.

Muahahaha. First salvo fired. They'll go look it up in their computers, and their computers will show a sharp increase in people looking for the book. It can't hurt to do a search for it on those self-service Borders computers, either, so you're not always driving the bookstore clerk nuts.

When you find NOCTURNE in a bookstore, ask if they also have SETTING SUNS by the same author. (They won't.) It tells them there's interest in my work, and they might recommend it or even god-forbid order copies for their store.

b) Buy the book. Duh. But please, unless you absolutely have to have free shipping, don't buy it at Buy it at your local Borders or Waldenbooks. Borders will order about twice as many books as they think they can sell - it's the nature of the book business. Any books they return get taken out of my paychecks, which ain't so great to begin with. Therefore, it is in my personal best interest for Borders stores to sell through as many as possible.

If you simply cannot stand Borders and Waldenbooks, go to your local independent bookstore. It is likely that they won't have it - Borders has a special deal with EC-CP, but it isn't exclusive. They can order the book through Baker & Taylor Distribution under ISBN #1419954040.

Or you can order it through me. I will have a (very) limited number I will be selling personally. While this means tidy profit for me, I only get X number I can sell, and once they're gone, that's it. I'm stuck paying the same price as the rest of you. So try Borders first.

c) Promote the book. Tell everybody who ever liked vampires, horror, mysteries, humor, Memphis or sex. I will happily provide banners to anyone who wants to put it on their web site or journal or anywhere else. (That goes for Setting Suns, too.) Talk about it on message boards and chat rooms. Tell your friends.

d) Put the book on your wish list. That helps Amazon know people are interested in it, and it improves my chances of being one of those recommendations they like to do so much. You can also tell Amazon you want to be notified whenever I have a new book coming out. Like you could miss the announcement! But again, it puts me on Amazon's computer radar. Exploit the system!

While we're talking about Amazon, please go to the Amazon page for NOCTURNE (linked below) and say what you think about it. Many of you did this for SETTING SUNS, and it really, really helps. No kidding.

Unless, of course, you hate the book. In which case, as the Great God Whedon says, this is a time for quiet reflection.

Wait, didn't I just say not to buy it on Amazon? Of course. But there are people who cruise Amazon just browsing for something to fill out their $25 minimum purchase for free shipping, and I want those people. Even if it means I only get a buck from them.

(And yes, I know Amazon currently has the wrong title and no cover image. I've begged and pleaded, and the winged monkeys are allegedly on their way to solve the problem.)

e) They're going to shelve NOCTURNE in romance. This is NOT where it belongs. There's less sex in NOCTURNE than the latest Anita Blakes, which are shelved in horror. It should be in mystery-thriller or horror. But romance is where you'll find it. Ask anyway, so the booksellers know there's interest - and hey, they might actually have bucked the system and put it in horror where it belongs!

I was going to ask you to grab a copy and move it to horror. But I've been informed by bookstore people that this really hacks them off and backfires, leading to lousy placement for the author's books in the future. So we'll leave out this part of the Super-Secret Plan, because bookstore workers are our friends.

When you find it, it'll be spine-out among a hundred other books. Turn it face-out. Statistics show people are much more likely to buy books that are faced-out. Don't mangle the whole display doing it, because bookstore people are nice people and don't want to spend half their day picking up for you. But face it out, so people can see it and go, "Hmm..." If you see it on an end-cap display, take a picture with your cell phone and send it to me! Okay, that's geeky and obsessive. Therefore I'm kidding.

g) Consider buying a Nocturnal Urges T-shirt. No, they're not available yet, but you'll know as soon as they are. The proceeds from the T-shirt sales support my appearances at conventions, and the shirts themselves let people know this series exists. Also, they're funny.

h) NOCTURNE makes a great Christmas gift! So does SETTING SUNS, for that matter!

I want to add something very important: This plan is not just for me. Consider the works of other authors, the people who are still scratching out a living on the midlist. Think about Kit Tunstall, Frank Fradella, Jeff Strand, Jay Smith, Barri Bumgarner, Sarah Monette, Sara Harvey, Angelia Sparrow, Alicia Sparks, Bryan Smith. Just to name a few. This works for all of them. Don't complain that bookstores only have the ninety-seven Forgotten Realms books interspersed with Pocket's eternal Star Trek series - go out and find the books that Borders forgot, and employ the Super-Secret Plan.

Oh, and there was another thing, right? PARTY!

WHAT: Nocturne Release Party!
WHEN: 8-10 p.m. CST (or until we get bored) Aug. 17
WHERE: Wilderness Chat Room (directions below)
WHY: Prizes, snark, trivia questions and virtual blood punch!

We always have a good time at the chat parties, and I know this one will be no exception.

I am exceptionally proud of this book, folks. Those of you who've been around since the beginning know what trials the Nocturnal Urges series has been through, and what it took to reach this point. I truly believe the loves and woes of the folks at that pesky club near Beale Street will mean something to those who read them. I've enjoyed playing with them, and look forward to making their lives literally hell for as long as you folks want to keep reading them.

And as always, thank you guys for sticking with me all this time. You're the ones who really make it happen, and I am always grateful for my wonderful readers. Without you, I'm just talking to myself.


Stay awake.
Memphis isn't safe anymore.
NOCTURNE, by Elizabeth Donald