Scarlet Letters

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

The list grows every year, originally compiled from "Don't Do That, You Stupid Twit!" by Dr. Ralph Donald and the denizens of the Green Mile, with my thanks. I hope everyone is having a nicely creepy Halloween!


If the house you are living in tells you to "GO AWAY," do it. Now.
If you're a virgin, stay that way.
If a killer with a knife is chasing you around the house, do NOT go upstairs. Go out the front door, you idiot!
For God's sake, turn on the lights.
Never split up.
Never stoop over to see if the killer is dead. He's not.
Never get naked in front of a window.
Avoid the following geographical locations: Amityville, Elm Street, Crystal Lake, Transylvania, islands, lover's lanes, secluded mountain resorts and all small towns in the state of Maine.
Never pick up hitchhikers.
If a small town off the highway is deserted, it's probably for a very good reason.
If your speedometer suddenly starts turning backward, trade the car. Now.
Never dig up strange-looking objects in the woods.
Never bury pets or loved ones in old Native American burial grounds, because they aaaalways come back.... Muahahaha!
As a general rule, don't try to solve puzzles that open doorways to Hell.
Find out what your parents were up to when they were younger. You never know if they burned up a serial killer, had a mysterious "other child," are not your real parents, or opened up a doorway to Hell.
Ask yourself seriously, "Do I really want to float?"
If there is a knock on the door in the middle of the night, but no one appears at the peephole, do NOT open the door and step outside to see who's there.
Never turn your back to a door or press your ear against the door to hear what's going on in there.
Don't assume it's your naked boyfriend/girlfriend under the sheet.
Never mess with DNA. For any reason.
No sex in graveyards.
Keep your car filled with gas, tuned up, and for God's sake keep your keys with you!
On Halloween, there is no such thing as "coincidence."
Never stay overnight in the old house at the end of town that's supposed to be haunted. Let them think you're chicken. Even if the prize is one million dollars. It's not worth it.
Pig's blood does not make for a good practical joke.
The guy conducting an "insomnia study" in the spookiest old mansion in town that no one will approach after dark is not telling you the truth.
Watch out for the guy with an accent purchasing the abbey next door who works the night shift.
If you're alone in the house and something calls out your name, leave immediately through the nearest exit. If there is no exit, make one.
When you've shot the monster six times to no effect, don't bother throwing the gun at it. It will do you no good.
Do not answer distress calls from deserted planets that never see daylight.
Don't touch the TV that calls your name.
When the power goes out, do not go into the basement armed only with a candle to see if the fuse is out.
Reasons to consider moving out of that great house that was such a bargain: bleeding walls, disembodied voices, too many flies, a room in the basement painted red that wasn't on the blueprints, phone service that seems to come and go, windows that look like eyes, next-door neighbors chanting in the middle of the night, finding out horrible murders were committed in the house, secret passages behind the bookcases, all the women loooove to do housework.
In fact, when these things start happening, just set fire to the house. It always ends that way anyway and you'll save time.
There is no good reason why anyone's eyes should glow red.
The crank caller breathing heavily into the phone is already in your house.
Children speaking in deep, scary voices should be listened to.
There IS a boogeyman.
If a kid says, "I see dead people," believe him.
If you just ripped your phone out of the wall and it rings anyway, don't answer it!
Clothing to avoid: capes, high heels, dangling earrings, ancient amulets you don't understand.
Never break quarantine.
People wearing hockey masks, ski masks or any Halloween costume that covers the face should be avoided.
Don't back up. Look where you're going.
The crazy old guy everybody laughs at knows what he's talking about.
Leprechauns really don't want to grant you three wishes.
The deal with the devil isn't worth it and the monkey's paw is not your friend.
Elevators going up and down by themselves have something wrong with them that a maintenance man can't fix.
Do not attempt to kill your spouse for her inheritance/life insurance/to marry your secretary. You will not get the results you seek.
The killer is one of your friends.
Reasons you are probably toast: you're a mayor, sheriff, high school principal or some other person of authority who doesn't believe in the monster; a lawyer, politician, CEO of a polluting corporation or similar sleazeball; a cop, doctor or similar adult trying to help the kids; you are obsessed with sex and/or drugs; your breasts are bigger than your brain; your name does not appear among the first three in the credits.
Never open the locked door.
Don't go in the water.
Pay attention to dogs, cats, horses and other more intelligent creatures. If they're nervous, scram.
When using a matter transporter, triple-check the pod for flies.
Don't mess with the gypsies.
Never repeat any names while staring into the bathroom mirror.
If the price of that really neat knickknack includes "a favor," you don't want it.
Never take anything from a clown in a sewer.
Don't pick in the miserable geek or the ugly, unpopular girl. You'll get yours.
Skip the shortcut.
You won't be right back.
The aliens are not friendly.

And finally....

No, it's not your imagination.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

a first time for everything

I am happy to say that I sold out today's book signing.

The last signing for NOCTURNE was at the Fairview Heights, Ill. Borders this afternoon. By the end of the signing, I had sold every book, including the display copy in the front window.

Bookstore signings are tricky things. You are sometimes mistaken for a bookstore employee, and they ask you where they can find the geography books or the coffee bar. Quite often people don't realize you are the author, even with an "author" sign in front of you. Most of all, though, customers avoid eye contact or conversation. Saying "hello" can weird them out and they scuttle away.

It's the fault of those kiosk operators in malls, I swear. If you make eye contact, you're lost. They've got you, and you'll be forced - forced, I say! - to buy fifteen bucks' worth of nail care products. If you make eye contact with an author at a book signing, you're stuck. You will have to buy the book. So they act like I'm trying to mug them.

Not today. Today's people were much more relaxed and barely blinked at NOCTURNE's cover price. I sold easily twice as many books today as I sold at any other signing. It's such a relief, too, because I hate the store getting stuck with extra copies. The marvelous staffers said it was the most successful signing they'd yet seen. That works for me.

Overall, I'm so pleased with how NOCTURNE has been received. Critics are mostly ignoring it because both "Nocturnal Urges" and "A More Perfect Union" were heavily reviewed as ebooks. But it's sold out at Dragoncon and Archon, sold well at bookstores and sold out at this signing. Better yet, distributors are having a hard time keeping up with demand, and my publisher's stock is also getting low. That tells me it's performing better than anyone, including I, expected. (Including me? Oh, I hate grammar.)

This officially ends the NOCTURNE tour, and while it's been fun, I'm glad. There's a few actual writing projects I'd like to focus on, and it would be good to finish the laundry for the first time in three months. I hear there's this kid who lives with me, has eyes that kind of look like mine and wants to spend some quality time with me. I think we can arrange that.

Friday, October 27, 2006

a quick update....

First of all, Aoife's Kiss Magazine has bought "Silent" and will reprint it in the March 2007 issue. Be sure to pick up a copy, support them and me! Don't worry, you'll get another reminder.

There's more... but I can't talk about it yet.

In the meantime, I've uploaded an excerpt from "The Cold Ones" to my YahooGroup.

It can be accessed by clicking on "files" on the left side of the screen. You might not be able to access it if you're not a member of the group. Join us! We don't bite... oh wait, we totally DO.

Evil grins!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Halloween Sale!

To celebrate that blessed time of scaring you silly, I present the first limited-time-only T-shirt!

"Can't sleep... bear will eat me," featuring the angel bear from "Jesus Loves Me." Available only until the witching hour Halloween night! This is what you people get for making me read that story aloud on the circuit all year and having to do the voice of the teddy bear.

In addition, I'm offering autographed copies of SETTING SUNS for two dollars off the regular price. $11 plus shipping, while supplies last!

Also, please keep in mind that all the Nocturnal Urges designs can be special-ordered! If you really like the design on the sweatshirt but want it in a spaghetti top, etc., I can do it for you. Just email me with what you want and I'll give you the price quote.

Special offers expire at 11:59 p.m. CST Oct. 31. Void where prohibited. You must sign over your second-born
child to receive said offers. Just kidding.