Archive for September, 2006

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What Stace had to say on Friday, September 29th, 2006
Hero Fridays!

So I thought this might be fun. Checking the stats from my website it seems I have the highest number of hits on Fridays. (I should have done this earlier today but I got distracted–it’s been a very busy, running-around kind of day.)

Anyway, I decided that to coincide with that, I should do some sort of special thing on Fridays–like a Friday Five but…well…not. (Not that I don’t enjoy Friday Fives, I just thought something else would be fun too.)

So here’s what I’m going to do. On Fridays I will blog about heroes. Book heroes, movie heroes, TV heroes…the heroes I love.

I’m starting this off with what I think is a rather odd choice, but I’m going to try to mix in some odd choices.

So the first ever Friday Hero is…Kid Sheleen, as played by Lee Marvin in the 60’s film Cat Ballou.

For those of you who haven’t seen this gem of a film, Cat Ballou stars Jane Fonda (who I don’t like, but she really is great in this and it’s one of the only two films with her in it my parents would allow my brother and I to watch) as a young schoolteacher who goes to visit her father in Wolf City Wyoming, only to find that her father’s life is in danger–the Wolf City Mining Corp. (I think) wants his water rights and they’re willing to kill him to get them.

So Cat does what any girl would do–she hires a gunslinger. Enter “Steel-Eye” Kid Sheleen…falling, drunk, off the bag of a wagon.

He’s a mess. He can’t pick up his guns, he has the shakes, he’s not very smart. He attempts to shoot a target on the broad side of a barn and of course misses the barn.

But the thing about Kid Sheleen is, it doesn’t matter, He’s still awesome. Watching him give a long, very intense speech (while drinking himself back to sobriety) about the life of a gunslinger (“because nobody don’t make no fun of a friend of Kid Sheleen”) is hysterical. He’s honorable. He’s tough. He fallas in love with Cat and when he realizes she doesn’t love him back he threatens to kill the guy she does love if said guy doesn’t go propose right that minute. And when it comes down to it, he sobers up, gets back in shape, and kills his own brother to keep Cat safe.

Plus he helps her rob a train.

And oh yeah, he’s Lee fucking Marvin, too. So I don’t even have to mention “sexy”. In the hands of a less talented actor Kid might have been pathetic, cheap comic relief–a caricature. Lee Marvin, though, makes him fully realized. He’s a rogue, he’s a tough guy, he’s vulnerable, he’s noble and crude, all at the same time. He may not be a typical hero…but he’s one of the first movie men I ever fell in love with as a little girl, and I think you all should go see the movie if you haven’t seen it already.

(I’m also going to try to talk about favorite books on Mondays. So start thinking.)

What Stace had to say on Monday, September 25th, 2006
How Far is Too Far?

So as you all know, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about promotion. Where to place ads, get interviews, do chats. What gives the most bang for the buck? What gives the best impression?

I worry a lot about what kind of impression I’m giving. I worry about readers seeing my name somewhere and thinking, “Oh God, not HER again, why won’t she shut up?”

There’s a feeling, I think, especially in the ebook and romance communities, that anything we do to promo ourselves is a good thing. And to some extent I buy into that, although I have over the last few years seen some techniques that obviously backfire–spam, either through emails or IMs or whatever. The recent brouhaha over spamming an editor’s blog made me wonder if some enterprising writer out there hasn’t had the idea already of going to random lj/Blogger/WordPress/Typepad/Vox/whatever accounts and posting comments about their books.

Of course, we’ve also had the “sockpuppet” discussions over at Miss Snark, coupled with some of the latest controversy about how responsible authors are for what happens in their online forums (my answer: pretty responsible, but I don’t know the whole story, only one side of it, so can’t say whether the author in question should be censured as she is being for it. At least some of the story is up over at Smart Bitches.)

But after my chat at FAR on Saturday (which was a lot of fun) I started wandering around cyberspace. I had a terrible cold–I’m still not feeling great–and couldn’t sleep, so I was downstairs on the computer for hours, just looking at websites (authors and readers) and blogs, etc.

Something left…a bad taste in my mouth. I’m not sure if this is really something that would bother anyone else, or what, so I’m very interested to know what you think.

Author does a guest blog on a medium-popularity group blog (of which there are hundreds, and no I won’t tell you who or which blog). Author’s blog entry is in essence a little short story–very short, like 500 words or so. Author lets it be known far and wide that she has blogged.

Now let’s be honest here for a second before I egt to the meat of it. We all blog as part of promotion. Yes, I have made some wonderful friends here, and that makes me happy. I would keep blogging even if I didn’t have work to promote. But I do have stuff to promote, and my website and blog are part of that. So I do know that authors blog to garner readers. We blog to get attention (mainly because it’s a way to get attenton without having to actually put some decent clothes on and meet people).

So I found the entry hours after it was posted, and there was an outstanding number of replies to said blog entry. I mean, really a stupid amount. How on earth did she get so many replies to such a short little entry? (I should mention here I’m not a fan of the story blog entry anyway. I read blogs to find out about what my favorite authors and friends think and do. I feel cheated when all I get is little fiction clips–which isn’t to say I don’t enjoy them once in a while, I’m talking about blogs devoted to stories.) Anyway.

I start reading the comments. And my interest quickly turns to…something else.

In essence, it looks to me like the friends of the blogging author showed up and started posting interview questions in the comments. The first ten comments were solidly other writers asking things like, “Wow, how did it feel to get such a great review at X site?” or “When is your next book coming out?”

A few readers (as far as I could tell) posted. One asked a question. Shortly after, more friends turned up to ask even more. The comments thread turned into one long interview conducted solely by buddies of the original author–making it look like there were hundreds of rabid fans out there. The blog post itself is not discussed at all.

Am I wrong in being bothered by this? In feeling this is somehow…I don’t know..against the rules? A little tacky? Or am I being an idiot, and this is the way things are done these days?

I suppose in a way it’s no different from me asking any of you guys to come over to FAR for my chat (thanks Jenn!) or to go read the latest installment of my short story at Indulge. I guess in a way it’s no different from any other kinds of promo.

But I can’t help feeling that something is different about it, and I just can’t figure out what it is.

Any suggestions? What do you think of this type of promo? Have you ever come across something you found questionable, but weren’t sure if it really was or not?

What Stace had to say on Friday, September 22nd, 2006
By the Way…UPDATE 9/23

I’m chatting over at Fallen Angel Reviews TODAY, from about noon Eastern Time until either everyone gets sick of me or I have to go to bed.

I’ll have some excerpts to put up, too, and it will be a lot of fun!

So go sign up at FAR Chatters and come on by today!

What Stace had to say on Thursday, September 21st, 2006
The bombshell

So Silhouette/HQ has cut its Bombshell line.

There’s been some very interesting discussion about this over at Smart Bitches, basically relating to whether the demise of Bombshell—a line devoted to that favourite character archetype of mine, the kick ass heroine—means the readers are not interested in those heroines.

My answer? A resounding YES!

Who wants to read books with heroines who can solve every problem, defeat the bad guys one-handed, end world hunger and throw her Hero down on the bed for some female-superior lovin’ all without breaking a nail? Fie!

I know what you’re saying. Oh come on, December. Kick ass heroines aren’t like that! They’re just tough and capable and strong.

No…they’re not. Or, I should say, sure if done well, they are, but they’re rarely done well. Look at Anita Blake. The first couple of books were good. Anita was tough but with vulnerabilities. Now…Anita’s TEH MOST POWERFUL and runs around breaking balls for fun. She’s the alphiest Alpha who ever lived. Think maybe that’s why fan reaction has gone from hot to warm to lukewarm to outraged?

I admit it. In my (pretty rich) fantasy life, I’m Buffy. Aren’t we all? But Buffy, for all her kick-assiness, wasn’t so tough. She got all weepy over Angel. She let that Parker character use her at college, then got involved with poor Riley and was afraid to admit her feelings (although, she was more like the “kick-ass” heroine in that relationship than in any other, with the result that we all thought she was being a big old bitch.) She lost her Mommy. She alienated some friends. She got involved in a dangerous relationship with Spike (who could blame her for that one, though. C’mon, who wouldn’t have given Spike a tumble? Or two, or fifty?) In other words, Buffy had some major vulnerabilities. She needed the Scoobies to help her and support her.

Notice those vulnerabilities were introduced right away in the show. They needed to be. We wouldn’t have watched otherwise. And let’s be honest, didn’t most of us have a favourite Buffy character who wasn’t Buffy? Buffy was the show, but Buffy wasn’t half as interesting without the others.

The problem is, most of us don’t relate to the “kick-ass” heroine. Sure, we like strong heroines. We don’t want them TSTL or wimpy or whatever. But there’s a difference between being strong and smart and running around beating people up, or commanding empires. As we learned in my earlier post on this topic, that’s SFF territory. Not romance.

We romance readers want our heroes to be kick ass. We want our heroines to be a match for them mentally and emotionally.

Beth had an excellent post on this topic. I can only echo her point. With some of these heroines, we wonder why the hero is even there. She doesn’t need him. He doesn’t do anything. And I’m sorry, but a man whose woman is so much tougher and stronger than he is…just doesn’t interest me. I don’t fall in love with him, I don’t even really care about him at all. Do you guys care about any of those long-haired sycophants who follow Anita Blake around, or do you wish (as I do) that they would all fall into the chasm that used to be Sunnydale so we can get some interesting characters into those books? Even Jean-Claude, once the only reason to keep reading the books despite his terrible dress sense, is slowly turning into an idiot whose only purpose is to prove how great Anita is.

Who wants to read that? Do you identify with that? Do you read those books and think, “Wow, if I met (JulianTempleGreysonDaemonwhomever), he’d fall in love with me, too, because I have all the qualities Heroine X has”? No, of course you don’t, because obviously JulianTempleGreysonDaemon is only interested in women who can beat up bad guys and save the universe. So what’s the point?

We should be able to see ourselves in our heroines. Sure, she should be her own person, but she should also be Everywoman.

Everywoman is not generally capable of taking out a room full of bad guys in one go.

I don’t mean that every tough heroine in books is bad, or even in romance. But the Hero has to be stronger, which means we need to reign it in. Or women won’t read it. Why read a book that makes you feel inferior?

Next time, I’ll talk about the subspecies of annoying Kick-Ass heroines—the Horrible Historical KAH.

What Stace had to say on Monday, September 18th, 2006
I’m Quitting

…smoking.

Ugh! I can’t believe I even just typed that! How can I quit smoking? How can I say goodbye to my lovely cigarette friends?

I just have to. They’re expensive. They’re not good for me. Not in the casual, “I’m a little out of breath” kind of way I viewed it in my early 20s, but in an ever-more-serious “I have kids and want to be around when they grow up” kind of a way.

It’s getting cold outside. Since we don’t smoke in the house or around the kids at all, I’m facing another winter of huddling outside in the wind and cold to smoke a cigarette I’m not even enjoying because it’s so damn freezing. When you force yourself to keep smoking because damn it, you lit the thing and you’re not going to waste it, but you just want to go inside…it’s time to just let it go.

I’ve quit before, of course. Six months here and there, ten months with my first pregnancy, almost a year with the second. But I always picked them up again. I missed them. I love smoking. I always have.

But I’m starting to not love it now, and I need to stop it.

I’m not quitting cold turkey, and I’m not wasting money on the patches or anything. (I’ll tell a secret: I used the patch to quite twice. Each time I stopped putting the patches on after the first couple of days. My issue is the oral thing, not the nicotine.) Instead I’m cutting way down. I had four cigarettes yesterday. I’m about to go have my second today. I’ll have three a day for the next couple of days. By the end of the week I’ll be done.

GAAAH!

What Stace had to say on Friday, September 15th, 2006
OMG–Queen Bam knows who I am (sort of)!

Ladies and gentlemen…

I’ve been snarked.

ROFL!!!! AWESOME!

What Stace had to say on Thursday, September 14th, 2006
Missing Miss

Okay, so before I get going, I have to make a confession. I am strangely obsessed with America’s Next Top Model (which come to think of it, I might have mentioned before.) The hubs and I have also recently found Hell’s Kitchen and are fascinated by it. We’ll spend a really silly amount of time after the show analyzing who was eliminated and why, and how Gordon Ramsey is so damn funny or whatever.

So I’m watching an ANTM recap show. Season 2. They have the obligatory-in-the-first-couple-of-seasons “girl who cries and refuses to pose nude, and is sent home” episode. The Girl Being Sent Home in this episode is married and a mother, and “can’t imagine anyone but [her] husband seeing that.” She also used the word “cootchie” which, you know, is just tacky, especially in anyone over the age of about 22. Anyway. So she won’t do the nudie rudie and is sent home, like all prudish cowards.

I turned to the hubby, planning to give him a little speech about how if I had been in that situation, I would hope he would have been okay with the nakedness because this is My Dream (modeling isn’t, but you get the analogy, I hope) and I Will Not Be Denied! “I would have done it,” I say, warming up for the speech.

Hubby looked at me. “That’s because you’re a whore,” he said.

That’s why I love him. He’s so darn funny. It was a joke, of course. No, really, it was.

Yes it was!

Hey, some of us did what we had to do to survive, okay?

(NB-That’s a joke too.)

So now someone’s apparently calling Miss Snark some kind of anti-feminist or something for wanting to be called Miss, and Isabella blogged about this a while ago anyway, so I’ll go ahead and mention it quickly. I don’t really care if there are ladies out there who want to be called Ms. There’s nothing wrong with Ms., and it is nicely all-purpose and always correct (unless you know the lady in question has a different preference, of course.)

But I am so tired of Ms./Miss/Mrs. being frigging “feminist issues”. I’m so tired of women who claim to be all for other women being catty and shitty about the terms of address they prefer.

Me, I prefer “Mrs.” Neither of the others bother me. Usually reviewers call me Ms. Quinn and that’s just fine. Socially I prefer Mrs. I’m a married woman. I didn’t go through a wedding and putting up with a man to be called the same thing I could be called anyway. (And by the way, my husband is my husband. He’s not my “partner” or “significant other”. That’s probably a rant for another time, but oooh that makes me mad, especially since “partner” is all the rage here in the UK. If I wanted a partner I would have gone out and found somebody with more money.)

Anyway, this is the kind of thing that bugs me. It’s nitpicking, nitpicking by bitter, angry women with nothing better to do than to ridicule the choices and preferences of other women. As a stay-home Mom I’ve been dealing with this kind of crap for a few years now. It’s all well and good for women to have choices, as long as they make the choices NOW wants them to make, or whatever.

I’m not anti-feminist. I’m just very tired of the hypocrisy.

Perhaps part of this rant comes from having just read the exrable I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson. Anybody remember the big stir this book made a couple of years ago? And there’s all these reviews on Amazon from women saying how much they identify with the protagonist, Kate, and how much like her they are. Gods, I really hope not. Kate is an awful person. She whines about not being treated equally at work while simultaneously complaining that the men she works with are not sensitive to her needs, carrying on an internet affair with one of her firm’s biggest clients, spending hours every day emailing her friends, skipping work to get her hair done, and wearing see-through tops. She spends the whole book moaning about missing her kids and being a bad mother. Fair enough, since she clearly cannot stand being in the same room with them and honestly, the reader can’t figure out why on earth this woman actually had children at all. Every character aside from Kate is a cardboard cut-out person, and Kate is so loathesome and self-obsessed we wish we knew less about her.

Is this the woman all women are supposed to identify with? Is this horrible, selfish, whiny creature supposed to repesent modern woman?

I hope not. Kate’s the kind of woman who would get in another woman’s face about preferring to be called “Miss”.

All of my heroines are called “Miss” by the way. You know why? Because all of my heroes, roguish as they may be, are gentlemen.

What Stace had to say on Monday, September 11th, 2006
Bits & Bobs

I know my last few posts seem to have been just a collection of links and whines, but I swear after this one I’ll be back on track. I haven’t been replying to many people’s posts, either. Sorry. My time has been disappearing in chunks that are not justified by the meager amounts of work I’ve managed to get done. My WIP only just crossed 30k and it’s been like three and a half weeks since I started it. At least. Sad.

The third installment of my free Indulge story, Private Secretary, is up on the blog. It’s here. This is a SEX-FREE excerpt, no need to worry about reading at work! I hope you enjoy it, and thanks to everyone who’s commented on it so far.

I’m trying to write a good bio for EC. I have no idea what to say. I hate bios. I always feel like I’m being either too self-inportant or too flippant. Plus I’ve already used my best lines in bios elsewhere, so I’m fresh out of quirk for this.

Suggestions?

What Stace had to say on Friday, September 8th, 2006
EXCERPT-Y GOODNESS

I’ve added two small excerpts from The Black Dragon to the website. You can find them here. The first was posted some time ago on Elektra’s Crapometer, the second–which you need to click “Read More” to get–hasn’t been posted anywhere before (it’s from Chapter Three). I may go in and change them next month–they’re each only one scene long, so I have plenty from the first three chapters to whet your appetites.

I’ve also made a little addendum to the cover post, so please check it out.

I’m setting up promo stuff for the book. I really, really loathe the process. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I quite enjoy doing the promo itself. I have two interviews set up (one at Fallen Angel Reviews for November, plus two chats there–23 September and 2 December, and the other interview, also in November, at the Historical Romance Club) and I’m very excited about doing them all. I’m booking ads at Smart Bitches, Historical Romance, FAR, and The Romance Studio and most of those sites should be doing reviews as well. So I’m way excited about the months of November and December. I’m excited about January when the Prince of Death ads and stuff come out, too (the FAR interview, chats, and ads will cover both books, and the Romance Studio stuff will deal with both as well. Historical Romance is obviously just for The Black Dragon. I’m also placing an ad (along with other Triskelion authors) for The Black Dragon in the Romantic Times magazine, which I’m really excited about–if they give it a good review (please dogs) that’s a real feather in my little peaked cap.

But I hate booking all the stuff. I never know what to say. “Hi, here I am. Please like me!” It’s harder too because I use a pseudonym (you guys didn’t think my real name was this cool, did you?) So I send all of this through my decemberquinn email, but some of the sites want my real name, so I never know how to sign my emails when I respond. Plus I have to send all Paypal stuff through my husba’ds Paypal account (because they won’t let you hook up more than one email addy to a bank account) so I’m forever having to send extra emails to explain why they think they don’t have my payment.

I always feel sort of silly and vaguely ashamed, begging to be allowed to feature my work. Maybe I still don’t believe this whole writing thing is actually working. Maybe I think people are going to think, “Oh, man, why does she keep pushing that terrible book on us?” I have no idea. I have confidence in my work but not in myself, I guess? I think as my work gets more and more notice and I make more sales (not that I’m burning up those bestseller lists by any stretch, mind, but I know I have at least one or two actual fans out there, which is a huge deal for me) I’m aware that there’s more to lose. Kind of pitiful, if you think about it, but true just the same. Nobody wants to be a one-hit or -book wonder.

Or I’m just unfamiliar with the process, which is entirely possible. I have a tendency to get snappish and wierd when I don’t know what I’m doing. Luckily this is all done by email so I can get snappish and wierd in private. :-)

What promo works for you? What doesn’t work? Do you read reviews or pay attention to ads you see? What about an ad or interview makes you think, “I want to read that book?”

And the hubs and I have just had a five-minute conversation about how weak the English Blue’s Clues host is compared to the mighty Steve. How sad is that? A real, genuine, engrossing conversation about it.

So I think I’m done for the moment.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, September 6th, 2006
Cover

This is the cover Triskelion designed for The Black Dragon. I really like the medieval font they used for the title.

By the way, a comment elsewhere made me realize I need to stress something. Despite the nakedness on the cover, this is NOT an erotic romance. Yes, there are several fully consummated love scenes, and they are explicit (although not as linguistically graphic), but this is not erotic in the way some of my other work is-i.e. sex in every chapter. I hope that doesn’t stop you from reading it, though! *grin*



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