Archive for July, 2006

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What Stace had to say on Sunday, July 30th, 2006
Kickin’ It Old School

So, this article on MSN got me thinking. For those who are too cool to click, the article is titled “Can’t judge romance novel by its steamy cover”–Audience expanding as genre is no longer all about smut, shirtless heroes. (Thanks for the link, Sybil).

From the article: ATLANTA – Strong women and edgy plots about relationships are replacing the heated passion and ripped bodices of swooning damsels in distress traditionally associated with romance novels.

You know what? I like books about heated passion and ripped bodices. I like damsels in distress (granted, mine usually aren’t swooning, but still.) In fact, I just wrote an almost-genuine bodice ripping scene the other day, in which the hero tears the heroine’s dress off, and damn, I enjoyed that!

I miss romances like they were in the 70’s and 80’s (and if anyone ever wants to buy ol’ December a giftie, I collect 60s/70s gothic romances, the ones where the heroine is always wearing something diaphanous and running away from a large looming mansion with her hair flying in the wind behind her. I love those books.) I miss shirtless heroes and those luridly colored old clinch covers–I love those covers. I miss the huge, bloated, sex-filled romances I read when I was a young teen. (Many of those, btw, were my mother’s. I’m not THAT old, okay? I’m only almost 33.) The ones where the couples fight and fuck and have adventures across three continents, and there’s very little worry about how they’re growing as people.

This is one reason why I love Connie Mason’s books so damn much. So Connie isn’t the best writer in the world. So some of Connie’s dialogue passes the verge of ridiculous and plunks itself right down in the middle of stupid. So her characters are sometimes a little TSTL (Too Stupid To Live). So what? How can one resist prose like, “His mouth took hers once more as he spread her thighs and fondled her, his drugging kisses turning her to putty in his arms” or “Their bodies were all but glued together, and she felt his man part prodding ruthlessly against the secret place between her thighs.” Who doesn’t love that shit? C’m ON! Connie’s books are just sex scene after sex scene, and the spaces in between are filled with pretty people having dumb-ass arguments and doing dumb-ass things. But they’re good books. They’re FUN. Romance should be FUN.

Can I get an amen? Romance should be fun. I’m really rather tired of these romances that are all about social issues or how people learn to grow and change. They take themselves so seriously! If I want to read about people growing and changing, I’ll read literary fiction. I like literary fiction. I have quite a lot of it. But I read romance to escape and enjoy myself. I write it because I love writing it.

I’m not saying issues and romance don’t go together. Of course the people have to be real people (although this is one reason why I prefer historicals, both reading and writing–because I don’t have to hear about nuclear war or the environment or whatever in a medieval.) Of course they have to have their issues. You guys know I love heroes with dark secrets and all kinds of damage done to them. Nobody’s saying romance shouldn’t deal with people and their lives.

But I’m so tired of socially responsible romance. I want some hairy alpha males, attempted rapes, forced seductions, life-threatening danger, virgins wondering at the strange new sensations in their bodies and turning into sex slaves, all that good stuff. I want to feel like I’m really having FUN when reading a romance.

And I think the fun has kind of been forgotten as everyone tries so hard to prove that romances are Real Literature.

I’ll probably do a part 2 to this post. I’m planning to start blogging more often but with my sd here I’m not having much chance. She leaves end of the week so hopefully I’ll have more time then.)

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 26th, 2006
My Beautiful Cover!

As I mentioned before, Nancy Donahue from WCP (she also has her own art site, Cottage Magic) designed this, and I really do think it’s beautiful. I’m extremely pleased with it, and excited!

The book will be out in January in ebook and trade paperback!

Here’s the blurb:

They called him the Prince of Death…

Wa is coming, and Prince Cynwrig’s enemies the Cliothens will do anything to have victory. So when he finds Ayani Suntwister, a Cliothen warrior woman, lying beaten and near death in the road, he knows she’s dangerous. When he allows her to seduce him, suspecting there is more to her sudden appearance in his lands than meets the eye, he knows he’s risking his life.

What he doesn’t know is that the danger isn’t just to his body, but to his heart as well. Will the Prince of Death find a reason to live in the arms of a woman he cannot trust-but cannot resist?

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 25th, 2006
Is it A Record?

I’m still in a good mood!

Even the latest RWA bullshit can’t dull my high spirits. In fact, I had actually planned to do a tiny amount of ranting about that, but I’m too cheerful. Besides, a lot of other people have already said what I would have said.

Well, okay, except this. The idea that gay people falling in love is somehow unromantic is fine. (No, it isn’t, of course, but stay with me.) But according to the same types of people who would say something like the above statement, sex doesn’t really belong in romance anyway. They prefer their romance squeaky-clean and sex free. These are generally the same people who remind us over and over that romance novels aren’t about sex, and the physical aspects of the relationship aren’t so important, it’s the people and their sweet kindness and the way they manage to find each other and blah blah blah anything that doesn’t involve cocks. Sex in romance is shameful! What sort of person wants to read about such things? They have loftier interests, they do. They’re interested in people’s souls, much like Satan waving those contracts around.

So that being the case, what difference does it make if the people falling in love are a men/woman combo, or man/man or woman/woman, or man/woman/man, or whatever? If the filthy little sexual aspects are unimportant and don’t belong in a romance novel, what difference does it make? Information about people’s dirty bits and how they fit together has no place in romance anyway, right, because somehow sex is not romantic. So why not just submit a novelization of Lethal Weapon or, my favorite, John Woo’s The Killer? If romance novels are basically just man/woman buddy movies, why not?

I’ll tell you why not. Because romance is for adults. If it wasn’t, we’d call it YA. It’s for grown-ups, and grown-ups not only have sex but sometimes like to read about or see other people having sex. (Remind me to rant about porn sometime, and how if the porn industry would film some erotic romance novels–not the books themselves, you understand, but scripts based on them–women would probably enjoy porn more. I’m not a fan of porn, but I’d sure watch it if it was costume porn, with knights and lots of ass-kicking in between the graphic sex scenes. Make that romantic graphic sex scenes, that is. Oops, guess I ranted about porn when I wasn’t paying attention. My rants have developed a life of their own.)

Anyway, romance novels are for grown-up people, by grown-up people and about grown-up people. If you want to read books where nobody has sex and only pretty ladies and squeaky-clean men fall in chaste love, read inspirational romance or shit written for teenagers, and get your nasty little hands off my sex scenes.

But, as I said, I’m not going to write about that. I’m too happy. Why?

Because I just saw the cover art for Prince of Death, and I am really, really, REALLY pleased with it. I love it. I think it’s beautiful, I think it’s romantic, I think it’s just a little sexy. The artist, Nancy Donahue, did a smashing job and was more than willing to fix my little nitpicks to make it perfect. I’m not allowed to post it until we get the okay from WCP’s EIC/Publisher, but the minute I do I will put it up. I really love it and hope you will too, and all is right with the world (except those damn RWA bitches and their pissy little letters. But screw them–I have a pretty cover!)

What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 20th, 2006
And Now For Something Completely Different

I’ve been ranting a lot lately, and I fear my righteous anger and propensity to use “fuck” a lot has perhaps concealed the true sunny goodness of my personality.

Nah, not really. But I would like to be a little light-hearted today, so I’m going to talk about something fun. (No, this isn’t the Snakes on a Plane post. That will come later. Can’t wait for Snakes on a Plane!)

Instead I’m going to talk about Reno 911! and Encyclopedia Brown.

How are the two connected? you may ask. I’ll tell you how they are connected, and in so doing will reveal the reason for this post, too.

Okay, first, I love Reno 911!. I think it’s hysterical, the kind of funny that, like Office Space or Free Enterprise, gets funnier every time you see it. I love the characters-Lt. Dangle and his shorts (so he can move like a Cheetah); Jonesy and his seemingly insatiable sexual appetite; Raeneshia who likes being a cop so she can push men around; Wiegel the racist idiot; Garcia the boob; Junior the white trash petty thief; and Clemmie the whore. (I know they added someone new to the show in Season Three, but being in England I haven’t seen it yet.) Every character is so perfect, and so perfectly funny. The show is a gem, and if you are a writer who likes to do comedy, you could do a lot worse than studying this show, because the humor is so character driven.

Where the show fits in with this blog is in one particular classic episode, I believe from Season 2. (I have the first two seasons on DVD but I’m too lazy to go hunt for it.)

The Sheriffs of Reno respond to a 911 call and arrive at the scene of a fire in an apartment building. A man is outside in his robe, begging them to let him go back in to rescue his manuscript. It’s his only copy of a novel he’s been working on for several years.

They ask him what it’s about, which is funny in itself. He tells them it’s about a man whose father died, and twenty years later he starts getting letters, and they’re from his Dad, and his Dad was murdered…

“Oh, it’s that movie,” says Dangle. The Sheriffs argue about whether it was Randy or Dennis Quaid in the film (Frequency) for a while, blah blah, all very funny. They tell the author it sounds derivative, it’s already been done. Then Lt. Junior shows up. The writer begs him to go get it. Junior starts to go but is called back by Dangle, who says, “Nononono, don’t bother. It sucks.”

The plot is explained to Junior, who insists that’s an Encyclopedia Brown story. Meanwhile the writer is freaking out.

The Fire Dept. arrives. The writer begs the fireman to go get his book. The sheriffs tell him not to. The fireman asks the writer what the book is about. The frustrated and upset writer mumbles some half-assed response. And, in one of the best moments ever, the fireman says:

“You know, if you can’t get excited about your work, how can you expect anyone else to?”

At which point I collapse into giggles and decide Reno 911! is one of the smartest, funniest, bestest shows ever.

Becuase it’s true. You need to be passionate about your work. You need to believe in it. Passion is a good thing. Loving your book is a good thing. If you can translate that passion onto the page, readers will feel it, and they’ll be passionate about it too. Love like that, excitement like that, is infectious, and translating it to the page is half the battle.

Personally, I tend to dislike my work until it’s done, as I’ve mentioned before. I’m about 15k into a new book at the moment that I’m really enjoying, but I know that I’m almost at the point where the whole thing will start to seem like useless drivel to me. I’ll push on, because I love to finish a book and I’m just a deicated kind of a girl, but when I finish it I’ll put it aside with a sigh of relief and a determination to never show it to anyone, that it sucks and blah blah blah.

Then I’ll go back and read it a week or two later and fall in love with it all over again.

I’m reaching a point where the only books I want to read are my own. Am I the only one who gets that way?

That episode reminded me of somethng else, though, too. How much I used to really like Encyclopedia Brown I loved those books! I loved trying to match wits with his enormous intellect. Just like those One-Minute Mysteries or Five-Minute Mysteries you used to be able to get. Can you still find Encyclopedia Brown books in the stores? Or has he been totally phased out by Girls Who Are Smart and Have Adventures While the Boys Bake Cookies or Feminist Retellings of Every Kid’s Book, Myth, or Legend You Ever Loved As A Child books?

That’s one of the things I love most about Harry Potter. The cast is largely male (with the exception of Hermione, who is more interesting now than she used to be but who I still wouldn’t care to spend a lot of time with.) It’s about boys doing boy things, and I love it.

End Notes

I am out of town again this weekend.

Are my posts too long?

Should I post more often?

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 18th, 2006
Why do Women Suck so Much?

No, this post isn’t about that. It’s actually sort of an addendum to my earlier post about the to-do at Romancing the Blog.

There’s another little mess a-brewing. Some woman posted a negative review of Jennifer LaBrecque’s Blaze book, Highland Flings, on Amazon. So Jennifer, in a sweet, classy move, offered to refund the reviewer’s money at the RWA convention.

It should have ended there.

Of course, it didn’t. Why? Because the Everybody’s Special Especially Us Romance Writers Crew had to leap on in and start bitching. (I’m making these up, because I don’t want to quote anybody, so these are composites, if you will):

It takes a lot of talent to write a book. That reviewer doesn;t know what we go through. It’s hard work.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all.

It’s a good book because it’s a published book.

The value of the book lies in the work the author put into it, not in how good one person thinks it is.

Oh my GODS. Shut UP you miserable, whiny little soft-porn Pollyannas! Every time something says something bad about anyone or anything, you all have to leap in like a bunch of frigging Southern Baptists at a gay wedding and Put A Stop To All This Meanness Before Somebody’s Precious Feelings Get Hurt.

Instead of pulling out those dumb-assed platitudes about how special we all are, why not remember an even better, more valid life lesson, about how to be a good loser? About how not everyone is your friend (I’m sure as fuck not)? About how not everyone likes the same things?

See, the thing is, I know you bitches. I went to high school with you. We all went to high school with you. You insisted then that we all conform and like what you liked, and you’re still fucking doing it now. It’s shit like this that totally stifles intellectual debate, that makes it impossible for people to disagree but still appreciate the value of another person’s opinion. It’s shit like this that reinforces the stereotype that romance writers are a bunch of miserable, PMS-ridden morons who wear nothing but pink and teach their kids that if they get the answers wrong, they’ve still succeeded. Well no they haven’t, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let you people turn the public image of romance writers into some simpering, babyish Niceness Monitors in fluffy pink cars, surrounded by hair-bow-wearing minions like the fucking Stepford Scribes or something.

Ladies (and I use the term loosely, because where I come from a lady allows other people to think independently), when we write a book we have to expect there will be people who don’t like it. More than that, if all we ever get from readers is “nice things” then we never know how to reach a bigger audience. This is how people actually learn. Do I expect that everyone will like my work? Fuck, no. Does it hurt when they don’t? Of course it does. But, as I have pointed out so many times before, my work is not me. Just because someone doesn’t like my voice or my story doesn’t mean they’ve said they don’t like me. And you know what? Fuck ’em if they did.

I put my work out there. I hope people like it. If they don’t, I wonder why. But that’s as far as it goes. Frankly, I’m a little too busy to spend my days chasing them around cyberspace to tell them how mean they are. (Although I do agree that if you’re trying to get published, criticizing the work of the house you’re subbing to may not be the best idea.) And really, I don’t have the right to insist they keep their damn mouths shut if they don’t like it. Because once I put it out there, it’s not mine anymore. It becomes the property of the readers. (Yes, technically it’s mine, but you know what I mean.) They can use my book as toilet paper if they so desire and it’s none of my business.

It’s the arrogance of these people that stuns me. Once we start insisting that readers don’t review our books unless they’re going to be positive, where does it end? “And don’t read my book if you haven’t showered yet. Or if you’re…answering nature’s call (that’s as close to a toilet joke as you’re ever going to get from me, btw). Or if your hands are smudgy. Don’t read it if you don’t watch Nip/Tuck, because I like Nip/Tuck and you’d better like it to if you expect me to deign to allow you to read my precious words. If you are over 40, don’t read my book. If you are a manual laborer, you will likely not understand my book so I would prefer you not read it.” (That isn’t my opinion, just to clarify.)

Contempt for the readers and their opinions? Fuck you. The readers are why we’re here. If you don’t like it, why don’t you pick another career, you pussy? Why not take your own sage greeting-card advice and keep your mouth shut?

Jennifer LaBrecque has style. She took it on the chin and kept smiling. That’s the way we should all be.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 18th, 2006
Part of Today’s Post

The first part of my first short is up at Indulge. I’m not sure how much I like it, unfortunately, but there it is, so give it a read and tell me what you think.

More later.

What Stace had to say on Monday, July 17th, 2006
Real Post Tomorrow

Just a quick note, I made it home safely but I’m up to my shell-pink little ears in work, so no blogging for me. :-(

Historical paranormal won. I’m hard at work on it as we speak and will post the first bit tomorrow. (I will of course post the link here in the nice post I promise to do tomorrow.)

What Stace had to say on Friday, July 14th, 2006
On the Fly

I’m just getting ready to walk out the door-we’ll be in London for the weekend so I won’t be around until Sunday night.

While I am gone, it would be great if you could help me out with something. Starting Monday I will be writing a short tory for the Indulge blog-one short “chapter” every three weeks.

Is there a particular setting you’d be interested in? Historical-maybe medieval or Victorian? Or a paranormal? A combination? Might be fun to do a paranormal historical.

Let me know. Most popular option wins.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 13th, 2006
Am I Jumping on the Bandwagon?

Maybe a little, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

So lately there’s been lots of lalala happening in Blogland. Bloggers being snarky, writers stepping in and being downright shitty, publishers threatening everyone. Romancing the Blog had a post about this the other day (the link will take you straight to said post. If you feel up to it, read some of the comments. Specifically mine. Here’s what I said:

“I think it’s about time we all started saying something about this. Romance has a bad enough reputation as it is, the last thing we need is for readers to start saying, “And the romance writers act like whiny children when criticized, too.”

If your boss criticized your performance, would you start calling him/her names? Not if you wanted to keep your job, you wouldn’t.

The readers are my bosses. They’re all of our bosses, no matter how much a few writers would have us believe they’re somehow superior to those pesky readers.”

Guess which part of the comment I thought might get people talking? That’s right, the bit about how shit like this spoils the reps of romance writers in general. Because it does. Publish America doesn’t get reviews, in large part because they’re shit, but also because the few places that took pity on their writers and did review them found themselves knee-deep in nasty letters if they didn’t give the book a glowing, five-star recommend.

That wasn’t the part that people responded to, though. Instead they all had to leap on my to tell me how readers aren’t their bosses, they would never see the readers as their bosses, they work for themselves and I’m just wrong to the nth level of wrong for daring to suggest that we keep our readers in mind when we write, and that we not pop into their blogs to call them names if we don’t like their response.

Okay, it was an analogy, folks. That’s all. The example worked. I suppose I could have said “You don’t insult your customers if they hve a complaint about your service” but the fact is someone would have said something pissy about that too (aside from the fact that I worked in Customer Service and retail for years and regularly insulted my customers. And no, I wasn’t a dominatrix.) The problem with the customer analogy is that it is easy to insult one customer. You know if they want your product they’ll probably be back, unless you spit at them and call them horrible names. We’ve all had bad service somewhere and still gone back because we really do love the food, or because the store is right near our houses, or whatever.

But readers aren’t like that, and you don’t fuck with your boss. Your boss is sacrosanct to his face. To tell your boss what a flaming dillweed he is to his face is career suicide. So should it be with our readers. To have your boss assign you to a project on, say, development of a new sales script, and you turn around and give him a project on the way fountains would brighten up the building’s grounds, is a perhaps less serious form of career suicide, but a bad idea just the same. So it is with readers. Yes, we write for ourselves. But once we’re published, our writing for ourselves–or rather, our livelihood therefrom–is governed not just by our own whims, but by those of our readers.

The other ranty thing happened on a different blog. Contracts were being discussed, and some brave anonymous popped in to say how any writer who signs a contract with a certain publisher (I think I know who it was) must be desperate because the contract is so bad. They turned it down, because their work is better than that and they want to find the right home for their baby. Arguments ensued, which I followed with great interest.

While I understand that mindset (except for insulting writers who made different choices than you did), I don’t agree with it. You know why? Because while each book I write is my baby, it’s not my only baby. I know I will write another one, probably an even better one. (Like, for example, Prince of Death, out Jan 07 from Whiskey Creek Press-Torrid! Which to be honest I thought kind of sucked, but last night I reread it and was pleasantly surprised. It’s not bad. So you should all buy it. Anyway.) Selling a manuscript is selling a manuscript to me. So the contract for this one or that one isn’t the best. So I wish I had found a bigger publisher for that one or that one. Whatever.

There will be other books. My books are not me. They are not full of my precious, golden words that only the exalted may gaze upon. They’re stories, and I love them, but I’m also in this business to try and earn a living. I’ve chosen to start at the bottom and work my way up. I have complete faith in my writing and my books, this has nothing to do with that. But if I can go to an agent or editor with some credits, I might have a little leg up. I might be less of a risk than someone with no credits.

And if not, I’m still earning money as a writer while they wait for That Perfectly Author-Friendly Contract, because they won’t sell this book until they find it. Which means they will probably never sell the book. Why? Because they’ve gotten their egos so wrapped up in it that they think it’s their only chance. I know each book I write is not my only chance. Not by a long shot. I’m in this for the long haul, which means I’m working as hard as I can and selling what I can. An unsold ms is not a precious baby who still needs a home. It’s however many months of my life wasted. And yes, maybe one day I’ll sell it, when I’m a huge bestseller and people are desperate for anything by me :-). But until then it’s still months of my life wasted. (And btw, when I hit that bestseller list, you better believe I’ll be buying out my less-than-perfect contracts, baby.)

Well. I have really rambled on. I had some questions for yall, but I think I’ll post them tomorrow.

What Stace had to say on Monday, July 10th, 2006
The Pirate’s Family Jewels and the Same-Sex Lovin’

Got your attention now, eh?

I owe you all My Exalted Opinions on several different manifestations of same-sex sex, but first I had to relate my silly titles.

I was thinking of writing a highwayman story. Cuz I’m all about the highwaymen. What could I call it? I thought. The Highwayman’s Treasure? Well, no, because highwaymen don’t really have treasure, per se. The Highwayman’s Gold? Eh, no…what’s a good word for stolen stuff? Booty? The Highwyaman’s Booty? Uh…yeah.

Which got me thinking about a series of tongue-in-cheek pirate stories: Stolen Booty, Hidden Booty, A Big Pile of Booty, Stealing Booty, Booty in the Chest, My Beloved Booty? How about The Pirate’s Hidden Treasure? The Pirate’s Stick of Gold? Oh, does the hilarity ever stop?

Okay. Now for the sex stuff. First, I do have a very strong opinion about men having sex with each other in the World Cup locker rooms. I am totally against it. Because I am a fan of old-time sports superstitions, or really any kind of semi-obsolete thought on anything, I don’t think footballers should be having any kind of sex during the World Cup, heterosexual or homosexual, in the locker room or in their luxurious hotel rooms filled with champagne and performance-enhancing drugs. (I’m just kidding about the drugs, of course. Ha ha!) No sex! Sex steals their life force, or makes their muscles weak, or whatever the reason used to be for why athletes should keep it in their pants before The Big Game. You want pent-up sexual rage on the field, baby!

Now according to everything I’ve read and seen lately (all my insider info, y’know), the Next Big Thing in the erotic romance game is man-on-man love. Especially when that love is, ah, penetrative. Menage books are big, m/m books are big. Girl-on-girl not so much. I’ve written (to some extent) both.

There is a girl-on-girl scene in my vampire novel (it involves a vibrator, too!) It’s a show being put on for the bad vampire, who is no longer capable of “performing” and so comes up with more and more interesting things to watch. Nobody is particularly tunred on by this except for the bad vamp, but I imagine if you were turned on by that sort of thing, it’s a pretty hot scene. I mean, it’s supposed to be, although it is short and a little less detailed than my other scenes are.

Keep in mind that’s erotic erotic romance, though, meant to be strictly for the over-18s. I wouldn’t put a scene like that in all my stories–it fit this one and gave us some insight into the motivations of Mr. Bad, but apparently readers aren’t big fans of the g-on-g.

M/m, on the other hand…I’ve seen a lot of articles about this lately. And I just wrote my first menage story, along with my excellent crit/writing partner Anna J. Evans. We’ve been wanting to do something together for quite a while, and the opportunity came up.

It isn’t a full, full menage. Technically there is no man/man penetration, although there is some oral and hand interaction. I’m proud of the way we did it, actually, and I love the book (and fingers crossed will have some news soonish!)

What’s my point? I’m not really sure. I definitely prefer to write straight one-man/one-woman stuff. (If for no other reason than keeping your pronouns straight when you have two “he”s and they’re both doing things to each other is really a bitch, and if you’re not careful you sound like you’re describing some sort of man-beast with three hands who’s watching the action in a mirror.) But writing the man/man stuff was fun. It was something different, a bit of a challenge, which is always good.

I’d be sad if the world of erotic romance becomes exclusively women reading about men touching each other. I actually think that says a lot about men today, if you think about it, that women are so desperate for forceful men that they’re now looking for men who spend their time skewering other men in the ass. But I guess that’s a blog for another time…



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