Showing posts from October, 2015

Wash your spirit clean

There is something magical about the quality of light in the early morning when it is filtered between trees that weren't planted by any landscaper. I came late to hiking and backpacking; my parents took us on one or two camping trips when I was young, but Dad's idea of camping was (and still is) a four-star hotel on a golf course. I didn't really start camping until I was in college, a few rowdy trips when I didn't know what I was doing beyond the instructions in a book I found in the library. But my first husband was not particularly fond of the outdoors. He said his family's idea of camping was a sleeping bag and a fishing pole. If you didn't catch anything, you starve, and you can just sleep out under the stars and eat bugs like a man. No wonder I could never get him into the woods. The call of the wild. Eventually I took it upon myself to begin hiking and backpacking solo. And I fell in love with it. The light, you see. That strange ethereal qua

Decisions, decisions

Since I'll be leading a group of diligent Nanowrimo folk, I suppose I ought to work on something myself. I know many people dislike Nano, and I wouldn't try to argue it with them. For some people it works as a kick in the pants to really dig in on a project. For some people it's distracting and leads to lousy writing habits. And for some people whose lives regularly interfere with their writing, Nano provides them with an escape to give them leave to work on their passion - the spouse and kids can't tap them on the shoulder if they're at a write-in. For me, it is an opportunity to focus on writing, as opposed to the business of writing. I am sorry to say that between my daytime profession, my own promotion, travel, the Literary Underworld and the Eville Writers, I spend probably 2-3 times as much time on the business of writing as I do on actually writing. For Nano, that gets flipped, and if that is the only benefit I draw from it, it's very much worth the

Hell Week

This is one of those "hell weeks" when we have something going on every. single. night. Tonight Boy is knocking on doors to sell popcorn. Which is due... today. It's only half his fault. He missed a meeting or two when I was on tour, because Jim works nights and neither of them thought to arrange his transportation to and from meetings. Then he sort of forgot that "gee, it's fall, shouldn't I be selling Boy Scout popcorn?" I looked at the calendar and saw "popcorn forms due" for today, which means he is scrambling to get some sales before his Scout meeting, where they will be untangling - er, sorting - Christmas lights for the city of Collinsville and turn in their popcorn forms. Note: Family and friends, if you would like to buy popcorn from Ian, you can still do so online. You can go to the Trail's End website , enter ZIP code 62025 and select Ian S - Troop 1031 St. Andrew's Episcopal Edwardsville as the Scout you would like to s


Two years ago, my husband did the hardest thing he's ever done. Something so difficult, so traumatic, so impossible that many people live and die never managing to do it. And we did it with him. Never think that something this hard affects only the person involved. If anyone has ever brushed up against the monster of addiction, you know that the whole family goes into the shredder with him. Jim smoked for more than 30 years. He came from a family where smoking was as natural as eating or drinking, from a region where 23 percent of adults smoke, well above the national average. It was part of him long before we met the first time, before we re-met years later on the book tour.  It's not like he didn't know it was bad for you. You can't grow up, live or breathe in the United States without knowing that cigarettes and nicotine are unhealthy. We can shift it onto vaping as much as we like, and it's still just muting the impact of an unhealthy, expensive habit

FAQ: The Blackfire Series

If there was one question I got on the Fall Deathmarch more than any other, it was, "When do we get the next Sara Harvey novel?" This is meta-funny, since the real Sara Harvey has written a marvelous novel called Music City and you should all go buy it. But they're asking about the Blackfire  series, the books I've written about the fictional Major Sara Harvey, leader of a paramilitary crew of supernatural-critter-fighters. (Note: I need some help on this side point. Sara Harvey was a U.S. Marine before she was recruited into Blackfire.  Always diligent with research, I asked several real Marines who told me you never say "ex-Marine" unless the officer in question was kicked out; once a Marine, always a Marine. The proper term for one no longer on active duty is "former Marine," they told me. But after a panel at ... um, somewhere, can't remember which time zone ... a Marine came up and told me even "former Marine" doesn't e

Raise a glass of the blue stuff

Goddammit. Sadness comes, of course, but whenever I lose a friend to cancer my automatic reaction seems to be fury. I've been pissed off since Rachael died, and each time since it gets worse. This year has been particularly bad: at last count, we've had seven friends and family members diagnosed with cancer, and had already lost one only weeks after her diagnosis. And now another friend is lost to us. Shorty. His real name was Stuart Bergman, but I never once heard anyone call him Stuart. Nearly seven feet tall, of course his name was Shorty. He was known to everyone who traveled the con circuit in the mid-south - after all, he was hard to miss. Shorty. A gentle giant with a bellowing voice and an omnipresent bottle of the mysterious "blue stuff," an alcoholic mixture of his own devising that left your mouth numb if you were foolish enough to bolt the shot. Shorty. Master of the dealer's room, the man who corralled all of us in and out of the hall year aft

Fall Deathmarch: Online Edition wraps up at Archon!

Day Five of the Virtual Tour In Which Elizabeth Doesn't Have to Split Cab Fare With Strangers. Courtesy of the fine folks at  Seventh Star Press  and Tomorrow Comes Media, I'm doing a blog tour and interview blitz this week. Today's batch includes a lovely review and another interview - aren't you people sick of me yet? Highlight of the review from Bee's Knees: "Donald is one of those writers that paints such a vivid painting of her world, I can see myself walking the streets of Memphis watching the nightlife unfold in front of me." And if you're wondering what the snarky taglines above are talking about, here is a link to my ongoing feud with American Airlines: Escape From Orlando . Add your own Snake Plissken jokes. I apologize, con-prep ate me and I missed a day. Posts to date: • Interview with Elizabeth Donald , hosted by Deal Sharing Aunt • Review of Nocturne Infernum by Bee's Knees Review • Interview with Elizabeth Donald , hos

Escape From Orlando, or, How American Airlines Screwed Me

I want to begin by saying this: American has always been good to me. And up until a certain point, they handled the debacle that was Flight 1660 from Orlando to Chicago mostly with competence and grace. The journalism convention had been marvelous (different post pending on that) and I had a late flight out of Orlando, connecting through O'Hare to get home to St. Louis. My good friend Mark was on call to pick me up at the airport. I survived Orlando's horrendous security line, losing a hair clip to the scanner, and managed to snag a cup of Cuban coffee on my way to the gate. Trouble was brewing. The plane had not yet left Miami because of a mechanical problem. Now, I try to be fairly sanguine about such things: I'd rather they fix the plane than let me become a smoking hole in the ground. But I was getting nervous, because I only had a 55-minute window to change planes at O'Hare. The American staff told us that anyone with a connecting flight should come see them