Scarlet Letters

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

Saturday, May 30, 2009

King of Frakkin' Swords

This book hates me. It wants me to die in a fire.

Of course, I have 3912843 other things going on right now and I suspect if I locked myself away somewhere for a long period of time, I might actually get real work done on it. I might even start to enjoy it. But lacking a long period of free time or any creative energy at the moment, I expect I will not enjoy this motherfucker until I'm doing the second draft.

Just once, I want to be able to write a book well the first time.

In other news, COVER OF DARKNESS is in and preorders will ship after the weekend. Other things are brewing, but I can't tell you yet. Looking forward to Hypericon next week. For now, sleeeeepy. Goodnight, moon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Adventures with PRESSURE

I finished up my night shift a little early tonight, and thought I'd do my friend Jeff Strand a solid by picking up a paperback of PRESSURE. It's a terrific book, and Jeff was rightfully nominated for a Stoker for it.

I already have the fancy-schmancy hardback, but if I had a paperback, I could read that to smithereens and save my fancy-schmancy for when Jeff has a zillion dollars and nubile slave-girls feeding him peeled grapes and his first Big Break Book is worth a zillion dollars.

I went to the horror section, and to my chagrin, there were no PRESSUREs there. Now, I know the terrible stories as well as Jeff. The first week is the most important for a NY-published book, the first month is crucial, and authors whose books don't make it quickly onto the shelves can wind up screwed. There have been authors whose whole careers tanked because bookstores were lazy about stocking the books they ordered.

So I proceeded immediately to the information desk and asked if they had PRESSURE by Jeff Strand, I'd heard it was out today. She looked it up on the computer and frowned at it. The computer said "not yet published," but the date of publication was today. So she dug into the super-secret Borders inventory and said, "Let me check the back."

You go on and check the back. That'll teach those clerks not to stock books on the shelves on day one, I thought. Sure, things get busy, but these are careers we're talking about.

So I stared at the standup rack of Charlaine Harris and the latest array of self-improvement. I thumbed through a copy of I'LL BE BACK THEREFORE I AM: TERMINATOR AND PHILOSOPHY, which wasn't nearly as dumb as its back copy. Finally the clerk returned.

CLERK: It seems we sold out of the copies we'd ordered.
ME: Already!
CLERK: Yes. We've ordered more - would you like us to order one for you?
ME: Yes, please.
CLERK: They don't usually sell out this fast.
ME: Well, it was a Stoker nominee.
CLERK: I heard, I guess that's why it's so popular.

So she ordered me a copy and a few more for the store. And I walked out whistling, because so far, Jeff is a hit. At least in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Relay sale!

Welcome to the post I'm going to repeat so often you'll all hate me by the end of the month!

Most of you know I'm a team captain for Relay for Life, the primary fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. We're in the homestretch, and my team is small but mighty. But last year Relays were down by something in the area of 50 percent, and my team didn't make its goal for the first time since our inception.

So help me out! I'm scrounging for donations. Even $5 makes a difference, $20 makes even more.

And you'll get something out of it. In previous years, I've offered a short story. This year, you get a different short story for every $5 you donate, up to four! Two of them have never been published, even.

Please consider donating to my efforts. I guarantee when you stop and think about it, you know someone affected by cancer. Someone who fought it. Someone who died of it. Cancer is the truly universal disease. It knows no boundaries, respects no race, religion, creed or background. But it CAN be beaten.

Go buy yourself a short story, and help give someone a second chance at life.

Donate by clicking here. Then email me at and let me know you've donated, and I'll email you your stories.

Thank you!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dreadmire addendum...

As I have gotten multiple requests public and private...

Sorry, I cannot take preorders yet for DREADMIRE, as we don't have pricing information. I'm gratified at all the interest when we haven't even got a cover yet! I may take reservations, but we're not doing that until at least June. COVER OF DARKNESS is taking all our efforts right now, and if I add another preorder Katie may quit, and then where would I be? :)

But rest assured - once we have our undead ducks in a row, you'll hear all about how you can buy DREADMIRE...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Almost forgot, didn't ya?

Got word today that THE DREADMIRE CHRONICLES will come out in mid-July. It looks like we're going to release the book at Babelcon in Baton Rouge, July 17-19.

I'm really excited about this book. It was a real departure for me, doing the sword-and-sorcery thing, and playing in Randy Richards' sandbox was a blast and a half. I think you guys will really enjoy the romp through the swamp.

Unknown yet whether I'm going to do a premiere event in St. Louis. I'm considering it, if we can find a way to fit it into the schedule (and budget!) without killing me or driving Katie into the asylum. She's already giving me The Look over our summer: "Baton Rouge in JULY??" Hey, we're Illinoisans. We don't do hot.

Welcome to the muck...

The alma mater

I attended my first two years of high school at the Bryn Mawr School for girls in Baltimore. I was a scholarship student, and it was my only experience with private school. We moved the summer after my sophomore year to Martin, Tenn. where I finished high school in public school.

But I always loved Bryn Mawr, as the wonderful, progressive and ground-breaking school it was, for its history and inclusiveness and intellectual challenge. I keep my class ring in a special place, and I was glad they allowed me to join the alumnae association even though I graduated elsewhere.

Recently they asked me to answer a few questions for an upcoming newsletter on alumnae authors. I rattled something off at about 1 a.m. the night it was due. Just like old times! Ah, the midnight oil burned as I crammed for those history exams...

Anyway. I was floored to find the Communique in my mail and see that they gave me an entire page, plus a picture of me and cover art from ABADDON and SETTING SUNS. Whee!

If you care at all, here's what I had to say. I'm on page six. A touch flowery, perhaps, but I've done far, far worse at 1 a.m. Much of it at Bryn Mawr.

I have got to get my ass back to Baltimore some day, if only to visit the old girl and say hello.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Preorders almost over!

I am taking preorders for COVER OF DARKNESS only through Sunday! This horror anthology from Sam's Dot Publishing includes my short story "Weathergirl" and comes out on May 10. Cover price is $10 plus $5 shipping, but if you order any other title from me at the same time, shipping's on me.

What's that? You want the entire collected works of Elizabeth Donald? Here's what we have in stock:


Or you can get all three for $30. Toss in COVER OF DARKNESS and it's $40. Bonus: You get them all signed.

Also available for $1 each: Buttons! Too many images to upload, but here at the slogans:

Aim For the Head
I Got Bitten at Nocturnal Urges and All I Got Was This Lousy Button
Fire Good, Zombies Bad
I Baked You a Halfling, But I Eated It
Halfling: The Other White Meat
I Don't Drink.... Wine
O-Positive: Shaken Not Stirred
Paddle Faster, I Hear Banjos
Rock Paper Crossbow
Show Me Yours and I'll Show You Mine (with sword)

You know you want one. Or several.

For newbies: find out more about my books on my web site at, and order by emailing Orders must be received by 11:59 p.m. CST May 10 to qualify for the free shipping deal.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Reader chat!

We haven't done this in a while, and since the anthology's about to come out, I guess it's time for a chat!

WHAT: Fan chat
WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday, May 4
WHERE: The Wilderness Chat Room (directions below)
WHY: For fun! Prizes and silliness will abound.

Wilderness Chat Room Directions:
a) Go to
b) Wait while it loads. This can take a minute. You may see a little coffee cup thinking.
c) If it asks you if you trust the applet, you say YES.
d) You'll see a little black screen. Click File and go down to Connect.
e) It will ask you for a login name and password. You only have to do this step once. Remember your password for the next chat!

Join us!