Scarlet Letters

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

Thursday, March 26, 2009

2009 Horror Bail Out

Hey buster, wanna buy a book?

This is the chorus most often found in convention dealer's halls, as we're all getting so desperate we're nearly mugging the passers-by. While sitting behind the rack of books at Midsouthcon this past weekend, I tried the Jedi Mind Trick: "These ARE the books you're looking for." I got a lot of amused giggles. Not so much with the sales.

We're all in trouble. Nobody's buying books. Heck, Borders itself may go under any day. So I beg you to participate in the 2009 Horror Bail Out! The banks got one, so did Detroit (but not newspapers!). Here in the horror world, we're dying on the vine. Books aren't selling, magazines are folding and publishers are clinging by fingernails.

So take a whole $20 and go buy a horror novel or subscribe to a magazine. Any magazine, any book. (Though you can try mine if you really want to - I make a great birthday present!) Go buy from one of Choate's participants and you'll get another benefit besides great fiction: List what you bought, and on June 1 there will be a drawing to award "Gift Baskets From Hell" courtesy of us struggling fictioneers.

Participating publishers currently include Graveside Tales, Apex Books, Shroud, Skullvines Press and Necrotic Tissue. Allow me to toss my own hat in the ring: anyone who orders from me ( will be entered into a drawing for a basket of cool stuff, including books and coffee. You know you wanna! Be sure to indicate in the email that you are a contest participant.

You might consider starting your participation with Apex, which has been honored this week with a Stoker nomination for Fran Friel's MAMA'S BOY. Sara Harvey's CONVENT OF THE PURE is out now and quite the hot ticket, I might add. And you CultureGeek readers know I named UNWELCOME BODIES by Jennifer Pelland as last year's best book of the year.

Every single panel in which I participated last weekend turned from its assigned topic, whether "pulp fiction" or "killing characters" or "novelizing RPGs," to the state of the publishing industry. I said it till my face turned blue and I'll say it again: YOU decide. You vote with your dollars. Make it a good one.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Walkin' in Memphis

Midsouthcon was held this past weekend in a strange Escher-like hotel with ramps and staircases leading to nowhere in particular. I have to say, it was a neat environment, even if the hotel policies annoyed me to no end. But this is not the place to gripe. Also, bourbon is evil.

Instead, I'll tell you something interesting that happened in Memphis. I had just finished a panel on pulp fiction in which I was completely and utterly faking it - no idea what the hell I was talking about, but I've never yet missed an assigned panel, so I wasn't about to start.

As I left the panel, I nearly bumped into a woman arriving for the WATCHMEN panel. She stopped and said, "Oh, I LOVE YOU!"

This threw me off my step just a tad, and grinning, I stopped. She pointed at me and said, "SETTING SUNS!"

Squee. You know, sometimes I still think SETTING SUNS is my favorite book. About half the stories seem horribly amateurish to me now and it's been out for years so just about everyone who was ever interested in my work has it. But it's my first paperback, and it's the best introduction to my work yet - it has a little bit of everything I like. Don't get me wrong, I love the vampire fans. But when I meet someone who loves SETTING SUNS, it makes a big difference.

And they aaaaaall love the teddy bear.

We chatted for a bit, and I let her know I have ABADDON this year in print and DREADMIRE is on its way. Onward to the rest of the con, in which every panel I was on devolved from whatever subject was intended into the state of the publishing industry and how everything is changing and none of us has the slightest idea what's going to happen next. I think we were all on a three-day oh-shit bender.

Not that you could tell from the dealer's room, where books were moving fast. Of course, there were tons of publishers and booksellers - MSC is really becoming WriterCon, I have to say. We usually don't have this much competition. Even so, our books were flying. Well, those of my colleagues. And of other authors. And Pocky. Not so much glow necklaces.

And not so much my stuff. I was really shocked, because ABADDON won the Darrell Award at last year's MSC and it wasn't out in print now, and here it was at three bucks off cover price but I couldn't move it. It was pretty depressing. The Pocky, now, it was moving fast. In fact, I had to send a minion out for more, because apparently Memphis is in a quantum singularity and carries Pocky at Wal-mart, while here in St. Louis I'm ordering it from Japan. By Sunday, I was resolved to give up this writing thing and become a Pocky salesgirl.

But up comes the woman I'd seen on Friday. She'd been wandering the con all weekend, but she wanted to come get NOCTURNE and ABADDON because she had loved SETTING SUNS so much. I gratefully signed the books for her. Then she said, "Now, you keep writing! Because I just love your stuff."

Thank you, ma'am. You have no idea how good your timing was.

I've got some work to do.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Pick an ad, any ad...

For reasons passing understanding these colors are all screwed up. Pretend the colors are normal.

I cannot make up my mind.