Scarlet Letters

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Countdown to Crazy: Minus One

Probably when one is running as far behind as I am in preparing for an 11-day business trip, blogging is a dumb thing to do. But I never claimed to be smart.

Remaining on the to-do list:
• Pack Dragoncon suitcase
• Pack respectable-journalist suitcase
• Put checks in mail
• One last load of laundry
• Finish packing books and electronics
• Do itinerary for Jimmy
• Finish promotional flyer layout
• Finish Kindle programming and send
• Email publisher
• Email Mom
• Email Stephen
• File time card
• Find photo sites for post-DC shoot
• Reserve hotel for Nashville
• Tomorrow before leaving town: load car, pick up flyers, drop off Boy's prescription, drop Jimmy off at the college and return library book that will be screamingly late if I don't return it before I leave town.
• While on the drive: Call the reception site to find out when we get access to the space, so I'll know what time my wedding will be, so I can order my wedding invitations, so they'll be ready when I get back so I can frigging send them.
• When I arrive in Nashville: Pick up Gethsemane copies at the awesome and terrific J and J Printers as soon as I get in.

And then collapse, at the home of my dear friend Stephen. Early, though, because the next day begins the Dragoncon Merry-Go-Round. Weirdly, this might be my easiest round yet; while I will have some delightful fun riding about on MARTA, the amount of stuff I'm bringing is less complicated than ever. That's not actually a good thing; my inventory of books is so reduced that it fits in one rolling tote.

Fair warning, friends and neighbors: I will have copies of The Cold Ones, Blackfire, Setting Suns, Nocturne and Dreadmire. For the novellas, I have exactly two copies of Infinity left, plus the new one, Gethsemane. The only ones still in print are Setting Suns, Dreadmire and Gethsemane. That means once I sell out of the others, I'm out. If you were considering a purchase, I strongly suggest hopping to it. :) If I'm not going to see you in Atlanta or Nashville, go to and you can order any of the above.

As far as Gethsemane goes: The PDF edition is now available on Literary Underworld. The iBook version is in the pipeline, but has not gone live yet. The Kindle version is pending some programming nonsense. The print edition is pre-selling on Literary Underworld to ship on Sept. 8; I will have limited stock on hand, folks. I do not know if there will be a second print run, as Gethsemane has a different future ahead of it. (Vagueblogging is an art.)

Housekeeping note: For those of you who follow Twitter, I'll be tweeting through @edonald during my sojourn to Dragoncon. However, after discussions with my editors, we've determined it is best for me to launch a separate Twitter for journalism. I have shifted my journalism-related feed, including my work with the Society of Professional Journalists, to @BNDedonald. If you are interested in that sort of thing, follow me there. The original account will be refocused on fiction, photography, personal yammerings and other such nonsense. Feel free to stay.

The reasons? Frankly, more and more of you are getting your news through Twitter, and we need to be where the readers are. Twitter is unique; unlike Facebook, it is chronological and complete. There is no algorithm that decides what I want to see; I see the accounts I've followed, and in the order they posted. We're going to be using reporters' Twitter accounts more often, streaming them in various places online, and it seems appropriate to separate that content from the stuff none of the newspaper readers care to hear.

That's a long-ish way of saying that after Dragoncon, I'll be proceeding to the Excellence in Journalism convention, a combined gathering of the national Society of Professional Journalists and RTDNA, a.k.a. the Radio Television Digital News Association. Nothing will be misspelled in Nashville for a week, folks. If you're interested in the important work taking place there, follow @BNDedonald.

All right, those suitcases ain't gonna pack themselves. If I ever needed a reminder of how weirdly bifurcated my professional life is, I can just look at the suitcases. One full of creative, flowing, kinda bizarre writerclothes; the other full of sensible black pantsuits. AuthorLady vs. Lois Lane, each with her own Twitter account. Kinda funny, isn't it?

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Dragoncon Stalking Guide

Yup, friends, it's that time again. Time for the ravening hordes to descend upon downtown Atlanta and hang out with 60,000 of your closest friends. As usual, I will not have my books available in the dealer's room unless a dealer with shelf space magically appears out of the genie bottle in the next week, so you'll have to catch up with me if you want my NEW NOVELLA.

Or, y'know, any of my other stuff. Or a hug. Though it's going to be 91 degrees and there's a tropical storm bearing on us, so hugs might get sticky.

Here is my Stalking Guide. I don't have an app code yet, because I'm old and dumb and haven't figured out how they work. But I am open to (most) suggestions, and looking forward to seeing my awesome folks in Atlanta! Yes, even YOU.


Reading -  4 p.m., Vinings in the Hyatt. What will I be reading? Whatever y'all want to hear, or the new novella or possibly interpretive dance. That last one is directly proportionate to the amount of alcohol you bring.


Bits & Pieces: The Makings of a Great Zombie - 2:30 p..m., Chastain in the Westin. Guest appearances by my good friends Jay Smith of HG World and The Diary of Jill Woodbine, and Jonathan Maberry of Dead of Night and half the bestselling zombie fiction on the market today.

Autograph Session - 5:30 p.m. in International Hall South, Marriott. This is your best chance to buy my stuff, as I'll haul out the box o' books for this. I'm flying without an assistant this year, so please be patient with me as I fumble with the moneystuff. Usually they keep that sort of thing away from me.


Castle Rock Confidential - 11:30 a.m. in Peachtree 1-2, Westin. Reviewing what Stephen King and his various properties are up to this year. I will probably get yelled at again this year for not reading The Dark Tower and giving up on Under the Dome, but I'm used to it. Pennywise lives!

Apocalyptic Fun: Inventive and Messy Ways of Killing - 7 p.m. in Chastain, Westin. Apparently we're going to find the silly side of the apocalypse. Aim for the head!


Werewolves, Vampires, Demons & Dragons - Embassy D-F, Hyatt. Oh my, time to play with the faces of the creepy tarot.

Following the convention, I'm taking a day off in east Tennessee, and then I'll be in Nashville for several days for the Excellence in Journalism conference, cosponsored by the Society of Professional Journalists and RTDNA. Our primary focus - or at least my primary focus - will be discussion and passage of the revised SPJ Ethics Code. I'll be pretty swamped with the convention, but pop me a line if you'd like to get together!

For the record, that means Jimmy and Ian will be bachelors without supervision for a week and a half. Anyone wanting to do something nice for them will get my eternal gratitude, especially since they'll be without the car.

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Monday, August 04, 2014


Jimmy and I had the pleasure of visiting Dad and Karen in their lovely new lake house this past weekend, and it was a pile of fun except for the part where Jimmy nearly drowned.

Okay, that's overstating a bit. It was all fun. Including the part where Jimmy nearly drowned.

Dad retired at the end of last semester, and he and my stepmom sold their house in Our Town and moved to the Lake of the Ozarks. (Karen's right behind him on the retirement train, but she's still working one day a week for now.) Now they live just far enough away that we can't harass them on a weekly basis, as was our wont, and probably half the reason they ran away as quickly as possible.

Or it could be they wanted a beautiful house in a quiet forest, so they could go out on their boat anytime they wanted. Something like that. Here they are with their new boat, which needs a name, folks - help us out there?

Early suggestions include Geronimo or perhaps The SS Minnow. Titanic was vetoed.

We had a delightful time, including a fantastic, luxurious spa visit for me, Karen and my stepsister Kim while Dad and Jimmy went fishing. Later was lunch at a tasty lakeside grill, and a road trip out to the local Mennonite community to snag spices and foodstuffs. Anyone ever had real roll butter? Me neither, but I'm planning things to bake just so I can smear it with the stuff.

Then steaks on the grill, relaxing in the hot tub...

Wait. I forgot the part where Jimmy nearly drowned.

He didn't nearly drown, okay. He's a fairly competent swimmer - well, he's drownproofed at least. But Jimmy came back with my dad from their fishing trip dripping wet, right down to his sneakers.

"What happened to you?" I asked.

"There was this giant alligator gar," he said, holding his arms out this big. "I snagged it and it pulled me overboard - it was huge! - and Pop had to hit it over and over with the butt of his rod to get it to -"

"You are so full of shit," I interrupted. "What really happened?"

Dad walked in after him. "See, there was this great big fish -"

"You are both terrible liars."

Turns out that as Dad was nosing the boat back into the slip, Jimmy stepped onto the dock to help guide it in. That is, he put one foot on the dock with his other foot on the boat. As boats do, it drifted a bit, and it turns out Jimmy can only do the splits so far. In a perfect face-first Jerry Lewis pratfall, Jimmy hit the water.

Dad did help him to safety. I'm absolutely sure he ascertained that Jimmy was whole, breathing and uninjured before he laughed his ass off.

So the rest of the day, all of Jimmy's cards and receipts in his wallet laid out on the counter to dry, as I snapped my fingers in frustration that he'd left his bedamned cell phone at the house for the day. I'm not sure the sneakers have recovered yet.

We revisited the as-yet-unnamed boat the next morning for a quick boat ride around the lake before we had to head home. It turns out that Dad is like a 68-year-old Speed Racer when he's behind the wheel of the boat. Zoom zoom! With the wake from all the boats in the middle channel, it was just like a watery rollercoaster ride! I'm a big fan. And Jimmy... well, Jimmy's more of a paddleboat type.

You can see him mentally updating his will. Dad's only going about 30 mph here. That's about 26.5 knots, Patrick Stubblefield.

Whee! I had a blast. Many thanks to Dad and Karen for hosting us, feeding us and for not killing my fiance. I do wish we could install a wormhole from Edwardsville to the Lake so we could simply step through and see them, but I have a feeling we'll be wending our way along I-70 quite often.

See? I eventually got him to sit up front with me.

P.S. They didn't catch any fish.

P.P.S. This blog has been edited to correct my father's age. I suck at math. Both gentlemen also point out that they did in fact catch two small brim, but threw them back. Therefore I should have said that they didn't bring home any fish. This is a serious point of fisherman's pride, it seems. Noted and logged, gentlemen.

P.P.P.S. It seems that particular kind of fish is spelled "bream," but is pronounced "brim" by bearded Southern gentlemen. I'm not writing about fishing anymore.

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