I am Diana Morgan. That’s actually a pen name. It comes from two of my favorite characters in literature. Diana is for Wonder Woman’s alias Diana Prince. She was the first superhero I encountered as a kid and I’ve always been obsessed with her. Morgan is from Morgan le Fay of King Arthur legend. Not always portrayed in a positive light, I have still always found her story fascinating and I love some of the more modern takes that cast her as an anti-hero.
In my day life I work as a librarian. I’ve always been passionate about books. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading. I started writing when I was a young kid. In fact, one of my first forays into writing was a summer camp where we pretended to be authors. I still have the first books I “published” there. I love helping people find new books and authors. I specialize in teen fiction but I’m also an expert in science fiction and fantasy, which is what I read and write.
My current book is Alliances. It’s the first in a planned series. It’s about Livia, a space pirate that is attempting to save the last colony of human survivors after they were driven off Earth by killer robots. But she has to contend with the egotistical admiral of the colony, Travs, as well as his assistant who doesn’t trust her and more pirates from her past. The story takes place mostly in space and in a space station. It has a lot of Battlestar Galactica and Firefly vibes. Space opera is one of my favorite genres and getting to play in this world has been huge fun.
I’m currently working on a second book for this series, continuing the adventures of Livia and Travs as they try to keep the colony of Earth survivors alive while dealing with the AI robots pursuing them as well as pirates and even more surprises in deep space.
I have several other projects in the works. I’m not the fastest writer, but I hope to have a lot of new stories out over the next year.
If I’m not working on writing I’m hanging out at the library. Keep reading!
We denizens of LitUnd Towers are absolutely thrilled to announce that Crone Girls Press has joined our cooperative! Some of us have already had the pleasure of seeing our work published by Crone Girls in its fascinating and creepy anthologies, and we’re looking forward to many more terrific volumes from this up-and-coming new press.
This coming weekend is our triumphant return to Midsouthcon after four years or so of missing out on the Memphis fun, and we’re delighted that Crone Girls publisher Rachel Brune will be joining us for the first time there! (That means Rachel also hasn’t experienced the Literary Underworld Traveling Bar. Shhh, no one tell her.)
We hope you enjoy the offerings from Crone Girls as much as we have, and look forward to sharing them with you! And now, a few words from Rachel.
In 2019, I sat down to publish a collection of my sister’s short horror fiction. When she sent a grand total of one story, I decided to recruit some of my writing friends who also wrote horror, and our first anthology, Stories We Tell After Midnight, was born.
With our first title under our belt, I decided to branch out and publish two anthologies in 2020. The first, Coppice & Brake, was a full-length anthology of horror and dark fiction with distinct Ray Bradbury vibes. Its publication also coincided with the Great Plague of March 2020 and beyond.
Even though writing, reading, and publishing horror in the midst of a life-changing pandemic isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, we’ve managed to put together a decent slate of horror anthologies that feature the work of authors from all over the world. In addition to the full-length projects, we began a series of three-novella mini-anthologies, Midnight Bites, the first of which featured the work of Literary Underworld’s own Elizabeth Donald.
So, what’s next for Crone Girls Press? We’re currently working on a sequel anthology to Coppice & Brake, titled Tangle & Fen. We have several Midnight Bites volumes scheduled for 2022, and are currently reading submissions for more. You can find us at a number of fan conventions throughout the southeast, as well as with the Literary Underworld.
And, finally, if you’d like to come hang out with the Fiendish Readers of CGP, come check out our Facebook group.
As a military journalist, Rachel A. Brune wrote and photographed the Army and its soldiers for five years. When she moved on, she didn’t quit writing stories with soldiers in them; she just added werewolves, sorcerers, a couple of evil mad scientists, and a Fae or two. Now a full-time author and writing coach living in North Carolina, Rachel enjoys poking around former military installations and listening for the ghosts of old soldiers… or writing them into her latest short story. In addition to writing, she is a contributing editor to the Writerpunk Press anthology series, which benefits the PAWS no-kill animal shelter in Lynnwood, WA. She also contributed her editing talents to the Pride Park anthology, proceeds of which benefit the Trevor Project. She lives with her spouse, two daughters, one reticent cat, and two flatulent rescue dogs.
Everyone knows that shipping delays and supply issues are haunting most retail these days. Fortunately, most of the Literary Underworld’s stock is present in our warehouse and ready to hit the mail as soon as you order! If we are out of stock on something, it can frequently be obtained by backorder, but the website will indicate if that’s the case.
We’ve been informed of the deadlines for shipping. In order to guarantee arrival by Dec. 25 (as much as guarantees work with the postal service), you should plan to place your order by Dec. 15 for media mail. If you want to pay a little extra, you can have it shipped first class if you order by Dec 17, or Dec. 18 for Priority Mail. International orders should be placed by Dec. 6.
Of course, we can always arrange custom shipping with private services like UPS at cost. Just message us and we will see what we can do for you! Happy holiday shopping!
We’ve got a bunch of news to share, but first we’re going to talk about PATREON.
If you’re under a rock and don’t know what it is, Patreon allows people to subscribe to a particular writer, artist, musician etc. and receive regular content on an ongoing basis. Much like the patrons of the Renaissance, you get to be part of supporting independent artists in a culture and economy that doesn’t really make space for the arts. For many of us, it’s a really important part of making our living, and your $1 or $5 a month goes a lot further than you think.
And we have several authors with terrific Patreons and awesome content!
New to the club: Underlord Frank Fradella is launching a brand-new Patreon this month. Frank is the Renaissance man of our time, I swear: he’s been a novelist, a blogger, an editor, a publisher, a stand-up comic, a filmmaker, a podcaster, an educator, an artist, a pirate radio show host, a game designer, a comic book writer, a tarot deck creator, a mindset and empowerment coach, and the dad of three amazing boys. His Patreon will offer art, blogs and other writing, podcasts, serialized fiction, webinars – stop it, Frank, you’re making the rest of us look bad! Check it out here.
Nick Rowan is offering crafts and pictures, writing and Sexy Saturdays. Some higher levels get goodies in the mail! He writes: “My goals are to improve my writing, both novels and short stories and to continue providing quality content. (Also to decrease my yarn stash!) Welcome to my little corner of the universe. Where drunken PIs stalk the undead, where even demons fall in love and where the Space Exploration Rangers make life a little better for everyone.”
Sara M. Harveyis offering fiction and art history at her Patreon! “This Patreon will be devoted to a series of short stories called Starcrossed about two immortals who are dreadfully ill-matched but become lovers anyway. These tales will span hundreds of years from Ancient Greece to the present day and will be told in the order in which our narrator shares them (so, not necessarily in chronological order). While nothing will be explicit, this is a romance so expect some naughtiness… In addition to Starcrossed stories, I will also be filling in with some blog-type posts about the art history and clothing of the time period I’m writing about. My goal is one piece of fiction and one instructional post per month. (And maybe some bonus silly content like dog and kid stuff.)
Elizabeth Donalddoes essays, travelogues, photography, fiction, poetry and blogs from the MFA Circus at her Patreon! Posts range from wordcraft and publishing discussion to poems created in workshop to photo shoots on the road and travelogues from around the country (at least when the pandemic isn’t locking her up in her tower).
• We’re happy to announce that Literary Underworld is going back on the road! After more than a year staring wistfully at the boxes of books, we are booking cons again. First up will be Imaginarium, taking place July 9-11 in Louisville, Ky.; then Archon in Collinsville, Ill. on Oct. 1-3 and ContraKC in Kansas City on Nov. 5-7. In the meantime, of course, all our books are available at our online store!
• Underlord J.L. Mulvihill has a TV show! On the Page focuses on writers and writing, as Jen interviews Michael West, John Hartness, L.A. Story and others. Check it out here!
• Congratulations to Underlord Steven Shrewsbury on his nomination for the Imadjinn Award for best horror novel, honoring Along Came Evening. We don’t have that one yet, but you can bet we’ll be picking it up soon! Good luck, Shrews! Here’s the full list of nominees.
Thanks for sticking with us, friends. Hopefully we’ll see you on the road soon!
“The new phone book is here! The new phone book is here!” Steve Martin screams out in excitement in the movie The Jerk. “I’m somebody and this is the kind of spontaneous publicity that makes people.”
That is exactly how I feel every time a new book or story of mine comes out, or even when someone randomly mentions my name on Facebook. Ah, but this time I have gone bigger. This time a crazy person has allowed me to interview people on television for all the world to see ,and I am going to take advantage of this.
Okay, so maybe my show is not the only show to debut on Geeky Side TV, a new television network that has the geeky side of everyone talking. Geeky Side TV offers a peek into the world of
science, sci-fi, the abnormal and the paranormal.
My new show On the Page features me interviewing some of my favorite people, and I can’t believe that someone would just let me do that on television. It’s my total dream job, next to writing. My first interview is with one of the biggest and talented authors in paranormal romance, Sherrilyn (Kenyon) McQueen. I had the best time talking with her and listening to her share some fun childhood stories, like the time she traded her little brother for a wagon.
On the Page will be a weekly show of interviews, and I am hoping a little different from other interview shows. I decided when I was first asked to do this show that I would not ask the normal interview questions. Yes, of course everyone asks writers: Where do you get your ideas? What is your writing process? These are all very good questions and I love hearing the answers to them, but when an author has been asked the same questions over and over again, they tend to get a little cookie-cutter with their answers.
My evil plan is to ask questions they don’t expect. I don’t mean to dive into their deep dark secrets and embarrass them, I’m not that evil. I just think there are other ways to see people and who they are by asking what may seem like a simple question, but really shows you the depth of the person. If you want to find out what I mean, you will just have to watch the show.
I hope you will check out Geeky Side TV through Roku, Fire, or click on the link below. There are shows there that may intrigue you as well as my show, and lead you through a haunted New Orleans, cooking shows, or interviews with country western musicians. Yep, there is a wide variety of weekly shows and right now they are all free.
Jen Mulvihill is an author who writes young adult, chillers, steampunk, and science fiction. You can find her works at jlmulvihill.com or Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as J L Mulvihill. You can also buy her books directly from Literary Underworld.
What better way celebrate the holidays (and the impending end of 2020, thank Zod) than to support authors and artists through these times and introduce your friends and family to something new?
We have a few suggestions for your list. (You thought we might.) Remember that when you buy from Literary Underworld, you are buying from the authors and small presses directly, so they will get to keep much more of the sale price. Every little bit helps your favorite author keep creating those fascinating new worlds.
For obvious reasons, this year we have to sadly suspend our pickup service for St. Louis residents. Instead we are offering $8 flat-rate shipping OR free shipping for orders of $49 or more!
For the romance fan…
The Carolina Wolf box set by Sela Carsen ($7) combines Carolina Wolf and Carolina Pearl, two tales of werewolves and true love in South Carolina. Whoever said there were no wolves in South Carolina lied. Put a little grrrrl power into your romp in the swamp this holiday season!
Heart of the Beast by Jim D. Gillentine ($20) tells the story of Andrew, a man with a beastly secret, and his horrifying journey with his love Angela from the dark streets of Memphis to the cold reaches of Alaska, from faraway places to deep within each other’s souls, seeking peace and freedom to love one another – if only the world would let them.
Princess by Mistake by Kit Tunstall ($7). What started out as the worst day ever just got worse. Incorrectly identified as her strange roommate, curvy Jory finds herself spirited away by an intergalactic bounty hunter intent on returning her to the prince she’s expected to marry. Except she’s no princess, and forget a prince when she could have the sexy, magenta-skinned alien instead – if he’ll accept that she’s a mistaken princess and give in to the desire simmering between them.
For the fantasy fan…
Throne of the Bastards by Steven L. Shrewsbury ($15). Learning that his family is in danger, Rogan returns to his former kingdom, now under siege from foreign invaders and supernatural forces led by his bastard son. With time running out, the aging barbarian must forge an alliance of new friends and old foes to retake the kingdom.
The Blood of Angels trilogy by Sara M. Harvey ($25) is, sadly, going out of print. Only a few are left! Snag your copies before they’re gone, and treat yourself (or your favorite steampunk fan) with the tales of Imogen and Portia, lovers and users of dark magic separated by intrigue and death. Includes Convent of the Pure, Labyrinth of the Dead and Tower of the Forgotten.
Wild Hunt by Nick Rowan ($10). When the Preternatural and Magical Squadron dumps an ugly batch of child serial murders into her lap, DJ Admire has a few weeks to find the killer before the next victims are found dead in their own little beds. On the Nightside of Memphis, few things are as they seem and even allies have their own agendas. And DJ has no magic, just a Desert Eagle and an ongoing romance with Captain Morgan and Admiral Nelson…
For the weird Western fan…
Mojo Hand by Steven L. Shrewsbury ($15) After a gun battle in an 1884 Peoria cathouse, one-armed ex-Confederate guerrilla Joel Stuart finds himself at odds with dire magical forces. He runs headfirst into an army of the undead, a demon guard, the persona of African god Damballah, and even finds himself beneath the lid of a coffin.
Last Man Screaming by Steven L. Shrewsbury ($15) is a tale of action, courage and terror. Last Man Screaming will appeal of readers of Lovecraftian lore, tough westerns and horror. It teaches that survival isn’t always pretty…
The Alamo and Zombies by Jean A. Stuntz ($5) is exactly what it says! Zombies at the Alamo, what else could you want?
For the horror fan…
Red Diamond by Michales Joy ($10). There’s a monster coming to the small town of Pikeburn. In half an hour, it will begin feeding on the citizens, but no one will call the authorities for help. They are the ones who sent it to Pikeburn. They are the ones who are broadcasting the massacre live to the world…
Nocturne Infernum by Elizabeth Donald ($20) compiles the three books of the Nocturnal Urges series into one volume filled with heat, horror and intrigue. In this alternate Memphis, vampires are a dark underclass whose bite offers pleasure and pain in one sweet kiss. Humans take advantage of the pleasures vampires can provide, but call them friends? Lovers? The strain between human and vampire grows as death rises in the streets…
Stories We Tell After Midnight($10). Here, the shadows keep their secrets and the moon hides from deeds cast in her glow. In this collection, the Fae walk as human, the dead burn with their anger at the living, the creatures that live in the dark places of the wrong zip code creep out of the shadows and into the kitchen.
Planet of the Dead ($5) by T.K. Reilley. Commander Kate Daniels expected to find incompetency when sent to assess the terraforming progress on Primos. She didn’t expect a saboteur to force a crash landing, stranding them at the mercy of the hungry creatures roaming the planet.
For the sci-fi fan…
Dream of the Navigator by Stephen Zimmer. For most, virtual realms, substances, and entertainment provide escapes, but for Haven, Cayden, Jaelynn, and Salvador, growing up in Technate 6 is a restless existence. A hunger for something more gnaws inside each of them. Discoveries await that open the gates to transcend time and space, and even new planes of existence. Nothing in their universe, or others, is impossible to explore.
Paradise Earth by Anthony Mathenia ($12) is a deconstruction of faith at the end of the world and beyond. When blazing balls of fire fall from the sky, a religious sect interprets it as the fulfillment of long-held prophecies foretelling the end of the world. The members flee to their religious sanctuary, believing that this global cataclysm is the portent of a new paradise of eternal happiness. Inside, one cold and starving man struggles to hold onto his hope for the future as the torturous night drags on and he struggles to hold onto his hope for the future.
Ace’s Odds by Sela Carsen ($10). Mkhai is a former soldier in debt to the mob boss who runs a glitzy, glamorous space station casino hiding a dark underworld. The only hand he’s got left to play is getting the mob boss’s daughter off the station… but Silbe is no pampered princess, even if her father is one of the most feared men in the galaxy. Embroiled in a desperate scheme to keep her family safe, Silbe must team up with a roguish smuggler who makes her want to bet on him with everything she’s got.
For the comic reader…
Out of the Blue Vol. 2 ($15) offers both tricks and treats for horror fans, filled with 125 pages of comics and art from more than 50 creators.
Hunter’s Lore ($15) is a graphic novel set in a time of quiet peace, as a remnant from a Knightly order lingers on; not to protect the people of the world from injustice, but to simply maintain their old guard. The order of the Knights of the Black Star have buried themselves away from the common people, unaware of the dangers that lurk from beyond their gaze…
For the YA reader…
Katana by Cole Gibsen ($10). Rileigh Martin gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial-arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she’s harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior. Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana – a deadly Japanese sword that’s also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she’s always been and embracing the warrior inside her. (Splurge on the trilogy for $25!)
The Boxcar Baby by J.L. Mulvihill ($15) is the first book of the Steel Roots series. Born in a boxcar on a train bound for Georgia. At least, that is what Papa Steel always told AB’Gale. But now, fifteen years later, the man who adopted and raised her as his own is missing and it’s up to AB’Gale to find him. (Or splurge on the whole series for $40!)
Redheart by Jackie Gamber ($10). Kallon Redheart lives with his back turned on his fellow dragons, on humans, and on everything he once understood. Riza Diantus is a young woman with dreams too wide to fit inside her village fence. Their unexpected friendship is risky in Leland Province, where Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, has inflamed tensions between dragons and humans to the brink of war. When Riza is threatened, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her.
For something shorter…
Between the Lines ($15). Stoker Award-winning editor and author Michael Knost gave his online writing students an opening sentence and a closing sentence and asked them to write a story. Every story opens with: “Kelvin pressed against the wound as blood seeped around his hands.” And ends with: “Watching the train disappear into the night, he brought the flower to his nose before tossing it to the tracks.” This anthology is the amazing result.
Moonlight Sonata by Elizabeth Donald ($15-30) is a collection of award-winning short stories of the Twilight-Zone-creepy design. Imagine a haunted church, where the ground has turned sour and something walks in the shadows to the mournful hymns. A silent covered bridge that no one dares to cross. Angry spirits that cry out from beneath the ground of a cemetery that will not lie still.
Support an important cause with When the Shadow Sees the Sun($15), a collection of essays and short stories exploring the impact of depression on the creative life. All profits from sales of this anthology are donated to a local suicide prevention nonprofit.
For the cosplayer…
A handmade leather mask (no, not that kind of mask) is the perfect stocking stuffer for the cosplayer on your list! Branson’s General Store has a variety of colors in the simple $5 design, so be sure to indicate your preferred colors!
As always, we at Literary Underworld appreciate your continued support of the small press and our authors, especially in these trying times. We hope the very best for you and your family in this holiday season, and here’s to a better year in 2021. (It would almost have to be, wouldn’t it?)
Literary Underworld co-founder Elizabeth Donald has a new novella out from Crone Girls Press, the next adventure in her Blackfire horror series!
Elizabeth discussed this new release in a recent interview with Crone Girls Press managing editor Rachel Brune.
Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing?
I’ve been writing since I could pick up a crayon, but my first published fiction appeared in 2001 or thereabouts. I wrote short stories that usually ended up in the last issue of each magazine, so I was the Typhoid Mary of the small press for a while. My first novel was published in 2004, and I’ve been writing fiction ever since – usually horror, science fiction, a spot of romance and a touch of fantasy, but often where several of these coincide. By day, I was a newspaper reporter for 20-odd years and continue to commit journalism on a freelance basis; by night I write about ghouls and monsters, and I try not to mix them up with Congress.
Q: This is a prequel to your Blackfire series. Can you give readers an introduction to that series and tell us a little bit about it?
Blackfire started with a novella intended for a collection like this one: traditional monsters written in nontraditional ways. I was assigned zombies, which was a relief since I’d spent the last several years writing about vampires and I wanted the switch. Zombies are traditionally a gross-out horror: fear of disease and putrefaction coupled with the survivalist subgenre. So I went another way entirely, and strove to find a way to make zombies scary without eyeballs and entrails. That was The Cold Ones, but the anthology was canceled before publication. A year later I found a publisher willing to take it on even at that very short length, and the print run sold out in 48 hours. Since then I’ve written a full-length novel, Blackfire, and a handful of short stories published in genre magazines and traditional literary magazines, as well as in my own short story collection, Moonlight Sonata.
Yanaguana is part of that story – a prequel by its setting, but it doesn’t require knowledge of all the other stories to enjoy it. It’s a good introduction to Sara Harvey, Paul Vaughn and the rest of the Blackfire crew, and it’s my hope to keep writing tales of their adventures for a long time to come. Unfortunately, the original publisher went out of business, so those two early books are out of print for now.
Q: This story was partly inspired by a trip to San Antonio. Can you talk a little about that, and how the story came out of it?
San Antonio is a nifty city! I travel a lot for my work as a journalist and as an author, averaging about 30 nights a year in hotel rooms when there isn’t a global life-threatening pandemic. Last year I was in San Antonio on business for journalism, and I fell in love with it. The history (ghost-related and otherwise), the food, the fascinating layout of a city on two levels. And did I mention the food? Yum.
But mostly it was that fascinating layout, of the Riverwalk and the thread of the San Antonio River meandering through downtown, and the city itself bustling about a level above it. I wandered along the river and realized what a wonderful setting it would be for monsters and demons and ghosts, because that’s the way my mind operates. Ask poor Memphis how many times I’ve infested it with monsters!
Before my trip, I had arranged to be allowed a photo shoot on the grounds of the Alamo (though not inside the chapel, they don’t allow God himself the rights to shoot inside there). I visited three times for photography and research, developing a travelogue for my nonfiction work.
But as I was planning the story of Yanaguana, I knew something had to happen at the Alamo. The city itself is practically a character in the novella, and the Alamo is the center and heart of the city and its history. Yes, it’s a huge tourist draw and I have no doubt economics is a big part of its importance, but it has special meaning for the people of Texas and San Antonio in particular. I knew I wanted it to be a big part of my story, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to do my research properly. I hope I’ve treated the city and its history with the respect they deserve.
Q: What were some of the challenges of revisiting a series after some time away, especially writing something that happens before the other books? How did you meet that challenge?
It was harder than I thought it would be! Not so much revisiting these characters, because they’re still very much alive for me. In fact, a short story featuring Parish Roberts was published earlier this year in River Bluff Review, so I never go too long without playing with the Blackfire crew. But the prequel aspect was a struggle, because I am a Star Trek-level nerd about continuity. I was continually checking the previous works to make sure the events of Yanaguana fit into the timeline of the Blackfire story and don’t contradict events prior to or after its occurrence. I remember searching for quite some time to figure out in which leg Sara was stabbed way back in the first book! I never want my creative impulse to create questions in the mind of the reader that throw them out of the story or compromise the realism of the characters’ stories – as much realism as one can have when you’re talking ghosts and monsters.
Q: Can you explain why every time I read one of your stories, there is always a scene or sentence that makes your editor cry (in a good way)?
A horror writer isn’t necessarily an emotional sadist, but it helps! If I make a reader cry, or afraid, or laugh, or any strong emotional response, I win. The enemy of good fiction is boredom. If I hear someone lost interest in my story partway through, or even fell asleep at midnight reading it, I want to know where I lost them so I can fix it next time. The most beautifully written descriptive passage isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if the reader is skimming past it, muttering, “So when is something going to happen?” And if I hear they cared enough about my characters to cry for them, or that their snark made the readers laugh, I know I’ve created something that reaches them and will stick with them after they finish the book. And that’s really the point of the job, isn’t it?
Q: I recognize a lot of what I think of as “subtle accuracy” in your writing, especially around local law enforcement, mortuary affairs, etc. You’ve spent many years working as a reporter–does this inform your writing? For those writers without this experience, what would you recommend they do to achieve familiarity with these characters and situations?
As of this writing I’ve been in journalism for 23 years, and while I don’t tend to run out to crime scenes or courtrooms as a freelancer now, I did it for a very long time and have the scars to prove it. It goes back to that wish not to throw the reader out of the story. If you ask real cops and prosecutors what they think of forensic procedural TV shows like CSI, you will get a lot of laughter and some four-letter words. For the sake of dramaticism, they’ve got lab rats that kick down doors and interrogate suspects, and don’t get them started on the “not-a-cop who helps the cops” a la Castle or even Mr. Holmes. It’s important to me to get as much realism into my dark fantasies as possible, because it lends credence to the more fantastic elements. I have cop friends who read my interrogations and police procedures; I have military friends who review military aspects; I have gun experts to tell me the difference between a clip and a magazine because those are the tiny details that throw a reader out of the story. (Don’t get me started on my own reaction to the Evil Soul-Sucking Lying Journalist trope.)
It’s also important to have first readers check you when you’re writing about populations beyond yourself, whether we’re talking about race or ethnicity or religion or sexual orientation and gender identity. I edited a piece once for a straight male client who was writing a love story between two men, and with his permission requested a sensitivity read from a fellow writer who was gay. Because both the client and I were working from outside our life experience, it helps to have the perspective of someone whose experience aligns more closely to your characters. The goal is to accurately and realistically portray people we made up from our imaginations, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of stereotypes and clichés that are offensive, inaccurate, or simply boring and overdone.
The easy answer is to do your research and never fall into the laziness of, “Nobody will notice.” (Someone always notices. Always.) There are groups like Writing the Other that offer seminars and strive regularly to help writers seek and destroy stereotypes and microaggressions that can creep into our writing, and professional sensitivity readers can also help you along those lines.
The more complex answer is that a writer is an observer of human nature, and you should seek out life experiences and acquaintances with a wide variety of ideas and expertise and backgrounds. The writer alone in her garret might not have much in the way of distractions from her art, but eventually it will become solely self-reflective art. Stephen King wrote that the most brilliantly rendered fictional character is “but a bag of bones” next to the dullest living human being, and so we can do worse than to become students of human nature and reflect that in our characters.
Q: What’s next in your fiction travels?
I am currently in year three of five years of grad school, working on two (2) masters degrees so I can be truly over-educated. I’ve begun the coursework this semester toward an MFA in creative writing, and so my focus has been on developing short stories and evolving my craft through the program. Next summer will be free, however, so I imagine a novel will be forthcoming. But I haven’t decided which novel it will be yet! I listen to requests from my readers, and the last few conventions before the pandemic had a cacophony of requests for more Blackfire. There’s a final confrontation coming, and I know how it ends…
Q: Anything to add?
I had a fantastic time playing with the Blackfire gang again, and infesting San Antonio with critters, as they call them. This has been a fun experience, and I hope the readers enjoy Yanaguana as much as I did. I remain grateful and humbled that publishers continue to gamble on me and readers continue to plunk down hard-earned cash for my work, as it’s a privilege and an honor.
Elizabeth Donald is a dark fiction writer fond of things that go chomp in the night. She is a three-time winner of the Darrell Award for speculative fiction and the author of the Nocturne vampire mystery series and Blackfire dark fantasy series, as well as other novels and short stories in the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres. She is the founder of the Literary Underworld author cooperative; an award-winning journalist and guest lecturer on journalism ethics; a nature and art photographer; freelance editor and writing coach. She is currently pursuing two masters degrees at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and is a teaching assistant at the college. She serves as president of the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists and Eville Writers, and is a member of the national SPJ Ethics Commission, AEJMC, ELLA, Freelancers Union, Editorial Freelancers Association and others. She lives with her husband and son in a haunted house in Edwardsville, Illinois. In her spare time, she has no spare time.
If you’re running low on reading material, rest assured that the Literary Underworld is open and shipping on time. We have the luxury of sheltering in place and reliable postal pickup, so we can continue to ship any product in stock.
We have also put a large number of products at a significant discount, including out-of-print first editions you won’t find anywhere else. Keep in mind that these books come from the personal stock of the author or small press, so your purchase here directly benefits the creators who are suffering right now from the cancellations of cons and book tours and release events.
We hope you are all safe and not yet fantastically sick of your house. Stay healthy as best you can, and we will all see each other again soon.
The following is a missive from one of our member small presses, Apex Books. In the time of coronavirus, all book publishers are suffering and so are booksellers. If you have the means, do give them a hand.
Support Apex Books Company
As every small business can attest to sales have slowed to a trickle what with *gestures at the world* everything going on. But hope is not lost.
The wonderful folks at GoFundMe, Yelp, and Intuit Quickbooks created the Small Business Relief Initiative to aid small businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. They’ve committed to matching $500 of any small business campaign that can raise at least $500.
This initiative is a ray of hope for many small businesses, including us. A potential $1,000 would help us fill the gaps caused from recent sluggish sales, allow us to keep our production plans for future publications on track, and provide a bit of cushion for the coming months.
We know we are not alone in needing help during this global time of crisis. Your support in spreading the word of this campaign and your generosity, even $1, help us keep pushing and fighting to make a difference.
Thank you lovely readers for being a part of the Apex family! Together we can do anything.
Literary Underworld continues to operate via mail order, so please feel free to buy some plague reading material at any time! Shipments will continue to go out as long as the mail keeps operating and everyone remains healthy here at LitUnd Towers. We hope you stay healthy and safe, and we will all live to make bad jokes about this another day.
Gently he pushed her onto the bed and tucked the blankets around her. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t like to go, but we grownups have to do that sometime.”
“Okay Daddy.” She rubbed her eyes, which was the universal signal for sleepy child, thank God. “The shiny people will keep me company.”
“Shiny people?” That was a new one. “Who are the shiny people?”
Rowen’s eyes were drifting shut even as she spoke. In her sleepiness, her voice sounded more like Debbie on the cold meds. “The shiny people in my room.”
“Okay, you have fun with that,” he said, smiling. He leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. “Dream pretty pictures.”
He stood up, his knees popping a little more than he liked. He walked to the door and reached for the knob. Then he caught sight of himself in the large mirror over Rowen’s dresser.“Oops,” he laughed quietly. He was still wearing the silly crown.
He stepped over in front of the dresser and removed the crown, wincing as its plastic curlicues caught in his hair and pulled a couple of strands free. I need to keep the hair I’ve got, thanks, he thought ruefully.
He laid the crown on the dresser. In the mirror, he caught movement behind him.
“Sleep, little lady,” he ordered, turning around.
Rowen was asleep. She lay perfectly still in her toddler bed, the blankets he’d tucked around her undisturbed.
Then who was moving behind him?
Coming soon from Crone Girls Press: Coppice and Brake, an anthology of dark fiction edited by Rachel Brune. This anthology includes an original short story by Literary Underworld founder Elizabeth Donald, who will also see two short stories appear in River Bluff Review this month!
“Shiny People” is a short story inspired by a tale told at a convention last year, and Elizabeth is delighted that it has found a home at Crone Girls Press. River Bluff Review will include two other original stories: “Dear Katrina” and “Sergeant Curious.”
Elizabeth Donald is a dark fiction writer fond of things that go chomp in the night. She is a three-time winner of the Darrell Award for speculative fiction and author of the Nocturne vampire mystery series and Blackfire zombie series, as well as other novels and short stories in the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres. She is the founder of the Literary Underworld author cooperative; an award-winning journalist and instructor; a nature and art photographer; freelance editor and writing coach. She is married to author Jim Gillentine, and their family lives in a haunted house in Illinois. In her spare time, she… has no spare time.
You can preorder a print copy of Coppice and Brake from Literary Underworld for $10! Preorders for the ebook edition are coming soon from Crone Girls Press, and we will have print copies available at conventions throughout the rest of the year.