Archive for March, 2007

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What Stace had to say on Saturday, March 31st, 2007
The Office Depot Story

(First, sorry I wasn’t around yesterday at all. Hubs and I went to Bath, which was fantastic. Of course we didn’t have the camera with us, although he took some photos with his phone, which if I can get them on my computer I’ll post a few tomorrow.)

Inspired by Paca’s post about the evils of Verizon, I thought today might be a good day to post a chappy story. A story about why, given the choice, I will always, always shop at Office Depot (even though they treat their employees rather shittily, which I know because for a short time I worked there.)

About three and a half years ago now, I took the Princess to Office Depot. Or rather, I called Princess’s Godfather and asked him to take the both of us to Office Depot, because I needed to buy an office-y gift for one of Princess’s teachers.

I was basically looking at briefcases while Godfather kept an eye on Princess. At one point, he needed to get something out of his car and offered to take Princess with him. I said fine.

He wasn’t gone two minutes before a breathless Office Depot employee came up to me to ask if I’d had a little girl with me, and had I given permission for someone to take her out of the store? I said yes, explained who Godfather was, and thanked the girl for her concern.

A few minutes after that, Godfather and Princess came back in. Godfather had been held by store security, who refused to let him get into his car or even into the parking lot until they’d determined that I knew Godfather, and had allowed him to take my daughter out of the store.

I found the manager to thank him, and learned that it’s now part of training for Office Depot employees to note when children come into the store and who they come in with, and to keep an eye on them in the store. It’s store policy.

Maybe a lot of stores do this, I don’t know. And maybe Office Depot only started doing it to cover their own asses. I don’t really care. It’s enough for me that they do it, frankly, because I thought that was great. And I wrote a letter to their corporate office and told them so, too.

And that’s why given a choice, I will always shop there.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, March 28th, 2007
200!!!!

Wow…this snuck up on me!

This is my 200th post here. (Cue confetti.)

I had a whole different post planned for today, but I also had a post planned for 200, so we’re going with 200 and you’ll get my thoughts on the RITA tomorrow or Friday. Because we’re flexible here, man. We go with the flow.

So. 200 posts. Wow.

I started this blog so I could comment over at Miss Snark. I’d been reading her for some time already and was tired of posting anon. So I didn’t really intend you blog much here, but just like my fingers itch for a pen when I see a blank sheet of paper, I couldn’t have an empty blog. So I posted some pictures of Hurrican Wilma. And some random stuff. My friend Elle was my first commenter ever. (Of course, if you go back now, spammers have come along and left inane comments on almost all of my old entries. So one of these days I need to go clean those up.)

I’ve blogged about crazy delivery people, I’ve posted some movie reviews, and, well, a few few ranty rants.

But mostly I’ve just written about my thoughts, my work, and my life, and you all have been gracious enough to actually read it and comment on it. Which makes me feel unbelievably blessed.

So to mark my 200th post, I want to do two things: First, thank you all from the bottom of my shrivelled heart; and two, ask what your favorite post was? What do you remember the most fondly? What topics do you want to see more about? How did you find me?

Anything. Share a memory, share a thought, or just bask in the glow of my gratitude to you.

Thanks.

What Stace had to say on Monday, March 26th, 2007
Don’t judge me, especially not if you are me

Okay, okay. I couldn’t think of a good, clever title for this one. Sue me.

So in thinking further about the ego, and how we simultaneously think our writing stinks and that we are the best writers ever, master storytellers whose work deserves to rocket to the top of the bestseller lists, and how that mix seems to run more strongly to the latter the worse a writer one actually is (unless you’re a genius genius, which let’s face it, if you are a genius genius you probably keep your mouth shut about it most of the time too. Even Mozart didn’t run around screaming, “I’m a GENIUS!!!” through the streets of Vienna. He may have thought it, and expressed it privately, but I doubt that if the internet were available now he would be on message boards posting things like, “Los Angeles Philharmonic are TEH ASS, they sed NO 2 my opra te fuckerzzzzz111111111 They wuldnt no gud musc if it SHOT THEM wif my GAT” or something like that. Which is probably the lamest text speak ever, but give me a break. I hate texting, and when I am forced to do it I pride myself on still writing in actual, complete-sentence English.)

Anyway. So when do you know it’s time to give up, and feel good about that decision? How do you objectively look at a manuscript and think, “You know what? I’m just not feeling the love for you anymore. I think you’re good, but maybe just not good enough to keep flogging”?

I’m at this point with one of my ms. It’s a good book; objectively I know it is. But is it good enough–and do I care?

It’s made a few preliminary agent rounds. I think I sent out 16 queries all told. Got two partial requests, one full request, and one full request after a partial. One very nice personalized rejection to the query. Got no response at all to the others, but in all fairness they were e-queries sent to heavy, heavy hitters.

All rejections, although all but one were personalized. One asked for a second look if I decide to make suggested revisions.

But here’s the thing. I don’t know if I want to. I just don’t know if it’s worth the bother anymore.

Part of it is, I have a new idea I’m eager to start. The ms in question is now, in my head, Old News.

Part of it is, Old News is a pretty straightforward urban fantasy, and I’m starting to think either my work simply doesn’t fit into that market as it stands (I don’t write first-person “kick-ass” heroines and I’m really sick of reading them), or the market is simply starting to glut already. What’s one more urban fantasy series in today’s market? Yes, mine is clever and special. But does anybody even care anymore? Do I?

So Shiny New Idea stands before me, looking all…well…shiny, and Old News has the hang-dog look of a book I’ve lived with for too long. And I don’t know what to do. because I know it’s a good book, but I don’t know how much of my belief in it is ego, or should I have more ego about it and not give up after a couple of rejections? But it isn’t really the rejections that’s doing it, it’s my feeling that the rejections might mean something and I don’t know if I want to bother…

I don’t know. Sigh.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

I’m still waiting for a few links. Leave them in comments if your name is on the list below, please.

I had something else I was going to mention, and I’ve forgotten it. So I may come along later and pop it in.

What Stace had to say on Saturday, March 24th, 2007
Links?

I’m updating my links list tomorrow, so if you’re linking to me, or want to trade links, please leave your url in the comments! It will make it a lot easier for me when I go to update, not to have to fiddle about with Technorati.

By the way, as much as I try really hard to re-comment, and think it’s awful not to, I believe I have been remiss with a few of you, for which I am truly sorry. Also, if I’m linking to you it will make things much easier, because rather than having to hunt your blog down in the bookmarks (because I do bookmark you after you’ve commented a few times) it will be right there on my ever-lengthening sidebar.

So if you are: Scary Monster, Bernardl, Writtenwyrdd, Pacatrue, Serena Joy, Arin Rhys, Bunnygirl, or Tempest Knight (or anyone else who comments here and has a blog but I’ve somehow left out or forgotten in which case I am SO sorry), please leave me the link in comments. Especially if you have more than one blog.

Not much else to report. After re-reading Preacher I’ve moved on to reread Sandman. I looove Sandman. (And by the way…drooool.)

Not much of an update, I know. But I have a pretty good week planned, I think.

What Stace had to say on Friday, March 23rd, 2007
Some Truths, and some truths about lies

Okay, first, Robyn over at Snarkling Clean tagged me to write some Mothering Truths.

Please keep in mind that my kids are still both small. Also keep in mind that my Faery has been particularly needy this week.

1. You will wonder what you were thinking when you decided to have kids.

Oh, yes. I was free. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted. I could sleep as late as I liked on days off work. I was HOT. I was tiny and slim, with not a stretch mark on my body. Now? You don’t even want to know. I’m not fat, but I’m about five sizes away from those size 3s I used to wear.
I do love them, but there are days I would happily trade them both for a bottle of good gin (as I believe I said to my cp ages ago). Happily.

2. Children teach you that the world is terrible and unpredictable.

Sorry if this is a downer, but it’s true. Not only do the world’s fears suddenly seem so much more real–it’s no coincidence that large numbers of people start turning a lot more conservative after they have kids–but you realize, in a way you never did before, that you can’t do much about it. That you can’t have something just because you want it.

My oldest daughter has developmental delays. For a while they thought she was autistic, then not, then maybe Asperger’s, then not…we’re still having evaluations etc (the last one was just a month or so ago) and the latest verdict is that Princess is just very socially awkward, and needs some physical therapy because she has very loose ligaments. Which is great.
But my daughter is still the one the other kids don’t play with. She’s still the one who doesn’t know how to respond when people ask her questions a lot of the time. She’s still the one who will always be in the chorus because she won’t be able to handle a starring role in the school play. She’s still the one who’s developing nervous habits because she just doesn’t understand what people are asking her, and is trying to buy time. She doesn’t understand that when people tell her things, they’re not yelling or criticizing.
I didn’t take drugs or drink when I was pregnant. I took my prenatal vitamins. I ate healthy (and I ate a LOT, too.) Delays like this don’t run in my family or in my husband’s. There was no reason why this should have happened…but it did.

And it kills me. And I can’t do anything about it.

And also, I wanted boys, which leads me into my last truth:

3. Mothering can be really fricking disappointing and painful.

Your children yell sometimes. They do things you don’t want them to do. They break things. They scribble in your books. They refuse to eat food you paid for and cooked with love and hope in your motherly heart. They watch you button your jeans and say, “Mommy, why is your belly so big?” They watch a movie you loved at their age and tell you it’s lousy and only dummies would like it. They refuse to wear clothes you bought them, enjoy books you bought them, or answer you when you talk to them. You repeat yourself a million times a day. You cry all the time because they’ve destroyed something else, or because they’re so happy to see you they hug you and head-butt you in the process, or they’re trying to get comfortable on your lap and smack or kick you in the eye, or dig their elbows into your sternum, or use your breasts as steps to crawl onto your head. Or, as in one of my favorite memories, they wake you up from an early-morning doze on the couch by slamming you on the forehead with a hardcover book.

Maybe that isn’t the last one. My last one should be something sappy like “You wouldn’t trade them for anything” ut as I said before, that isn’t always true. So I’ll do this one instead:

4. You love them anyway. And you can’t wait for them to get older, so you can talk to them more, and teach them things, and hopefully send them out into the world as a couple of happy, healthy, well-adjusted members of society.

And some other news:

I blogged over at the Deliciously Naughty blog. It’s just a little bio thing and an excerpt from Prince of Death. So pop over if you haven’t had enough of me yet.

On Monday I’m going to do a continuation of Wednesday’s blog post, about ego and giving up.

And a truth about a lie:

Gawker reports that a settlement is imminent in the “Million Little Pieces” fraud suit.

I thought I blogged about the Frey thing when it all happened, but I guess I didn’t. Well. I think the story turning out to be a big old lie would have been a lot different if he hadn’t been insisting for so long that it was true, it was all true, and I’m one HARD motherfucker, me!

And so this is what happens.

Also, I did this book meme thing I got off Scary Monster’s blog (I think, or it might have been Paca) a while back. It’s up on the overflow blog.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, March 21st, 2007
I Hate Myself for Loving Me

“…there’s a hormone secreted into the bloodstream of most writers that makes them hate thier own work while they are doing it, or immediately after.”

–Francis Ford Coppola, “Letter to the Reader”, Zoetrope magazine.

That is so true.

End of post.

No, no, of course that isn’t the end of the post, because you all know I am far, far too long-winded to just throw a quote at you and run away. Although that would be funny, if you picture it literally. I run up, throw a slip of paper at you, and tear off. (Reminds me of the time my husband and I got into a water fight. I had control of the hose, so he ran around to the back yard. I waited, hose at the ready, but almost dropped it when he suddenly appeared, running at me with a look of maniacal glee on his face, holding a plastic grocery bag full of water. Which he flung at me. And which we both watched fall to the ground with a splat about three feet shy of me.

I tried to turn the hose on him but I was laughing too hard to squeeze the trigger thing on the sprayhead.)

Anyway. Do we writers hate our work?

I do. Actually, it’s a lot more complex than that. I love my ideas, absolutely adore them. That period where the story starts to gel in my mind is the most exciting time in the world.

Then I get started, and I love that first chapter or two, or even three or four if I’ve planned a lot of great stuff to open the story (which of course I should.) And I’m so, so sure this will be THE book.

Then I get to about chapter five and my enthusiasm wanes. I still love the book, but it’s starting to feel a little more like work. I’m just not doing the job the way I hoped. The story isn’t as strong as I hoped, it isn’t flowing as well, I’m having to make decisions, or my characters are deciding they don’t want to do what I planned for them to do. They glare at me with their obstinate little faces twisted in disdain while I beg them to argue, or go for a drive, or have a discussion they don’t feel ready to have. Sheesh, I think. My own characters hate me.

And it’s right around chapter 14 or so that I decide they should hate me. I hate me. I hate this stupid book. What was I thinking?

But somewhere, somehwere deep down I think, I was so sure! So I keep plugging, hating the idea, hating the book, hating myself for failing the idea that I know realize sucks, but not badly enough to deserve my terrible treatment of it.

And finally I finish the book, and I set it aside, convinced it’s the worst piece of trash ever written. I remain convinced for six weeks or a month, when I reread and decide it stinks, but maybe not as bad as I thought, and maybe with a little editing…

And then I start submitting it, all the while certain it stinks.

And if it goes somewhere, or if it doesn’t, I will re-read it six months later or nine months later (this seems to be about the right time) and decide it’s actually pretty good!

So here’s my question. Do we hate our books just because they’re ours? Is hating our work part of how we grow as writers?

See, I see people all the time (usually with the word “nitwit” posted above their letters to Miss Snark) who are convinced their work is stellar. Excellent. They are going to turn the literary world on its ear.

Their work is usually unintelligible.

But then, there are also literary geniuses, award winners, who harbor the same convictions. Their work does turn the literary world on its ear.

The rest of us plod along.

Do you need ego to be both truly great or truly terrible?

And since, let’s face it, no matter how uch I hate my work, some part of still thinks it’s good enough to be published, am I a big faker?

How is it possible to love and hate your work at the same time?

Discuss.

What Stace had to say on Monday, March 19th, 2007
Lazy

Yes, I’m being lazy today.

I’ve spent the whole day sitting on the couch reading Preacher. All of t–well, actually I’m taking a breather now, between volumes seven and eight, because I know it’s Monday and I need to blog. So that’s what I’m doing, but I admit I’m glancing repeatedly at the arm of the couch, where Volume 8 waits for me.

The thing about Preacher is, it’s an amazing story. It’s a hugely long story–I believe it ran 70 issues? Does anyone remember–I’m sure my husband would but he’s in transit and I don’t feel like calling him. I remember it was supposed to be 75 but seem to recall it fell a few short. And to be honest, there’s a whole section of the story in there I could have done without, where the MC becomes a sheriff, because it’s essentially dull and doesn’t move the story forward at all.

But in essence, Preacher is a hell of a read, based in large part on a compelling premise–man finds out God quit, goes on worldwide journey to confront him–and on the fact that the craziest shit in the world keeps happening. One insane, over-the-top character ends up in one insane, over-the-top situation after another, and you can’t wait to see what will happen next (another reason why the small-town sheriff bit disappointed me so).

I think it’s hard sometimes, when writing, to remember that you can make up any crazy shit you want. The story doesn’t have to follow the rules. People don’t have to be just like people you meet everyday, they can and should be larger-than-life–at least some of them. Coincidence can happen, it happens in real life often enough.

We know we have to keep increasing tension. Start the tension high, keep setting it higher. But we’re reminded so much about pacing and rules and showing not telling–important lessons, all, yes–that I think sometimes we forget that in a story, anything can happen. Today we pick on the deus ex machina, but to the Greeks, this was crazy! The Gods stepped into the real lives of man, woo-hoo! (And the Greeks lived much closer to their Gods, as well.)

I think it’s easy to become so scared of being seen as someone who’s making things up that we forget the reader wants to be amazed, the reader wants to be entertained. It’s called willing suspension of disbelief, and we should use that willingness as often as we can. We should always, always wonder what the craziest possible thing to happen could be–and then do it, and keep piling it on.

What story twists caught you out of the blue? What do you remember reading and thinking, “Wow!”

What Stace had to say on Friday, March 16th, 2007
Nothing to rant about?

Seriously?

But then again, we have noticed Fridays seem to be blah day, haven’t we?

I think part of the reason for the lack of ranty is the hormonalness (Okay, skip this part is you do not want to read about a woman-y issue relating to hormones)(see, once I open those TMI floodgates…But I swear, I promise and swear, I will never ever be one of those women who feels the need to blather on to all and sundry about the current state of her ladyparts. All I will say, just this once, is after having the Mirena coil put in I’ve noticed a dstinct and horrible upswing in the hormonal depressions. And that is all I will ever say on that subject.)

(You can start reading again now. And we will never speak of this again.)

Actually, it’s not really accurate to say I have nothing to rant about. I simply have nothing to rant about that any of you want to hear. Shall I delight and amuse you with tales of how I know springtime is coming because everything smells like poo? Because this area is so, so very rural, and the fields are being fertilized, the scent of manure hangs heavy over my town and its environs.

Seriously. I went to Princess’s school today to sell tickets to a school event (because I’m all PTA Queen and all, yo) and right after we got there, as we stood in the lobby, faery informed me she needed a diaper change. (Actually, she didn’t tell me, she told one of the other ladies, by way of greeting:

“Hello, Faery.”

“Hewo. Poop.”)

I couldn’t tell the difference between her diaper and the regular air. Which I just realized, may be a bit too TMI as well. Is there no escaping? Have I become one of those horrible people who tells you all about their internal workings within five minutes of meeting you?

Or I could tell you how people keep parking on the side of my house, where I always park, and it’s really pissing me off. And the other day I came home from the grocery store and someone had parked directly in my spot, in front of my garage, and as I pulled up behind them (oh yeah, right on their ass), the woman whose car it was appeared, and we shared the following exchange:

Her: Have I parked in the wrong place?

Me: Well, that is my spot.

Her: Do you want me to move?

About which I am still flabbergasted. Do I want her to move? No, I just told her it was my spot because I’m so proud of it.
I actually said something like, “Don’t bother” or something, and she then informed me she would only be there for ten minutes or so. I’m still not sure if she was suggesting I sit in my car and wait until she was ready to relinquish my spot, or if she wanted me to go inside and sit around in my coat and shoes until it was time for me to come out and move my car.

Which do you suppose?

And do you have any tales of minor irritations to share? (Okay, I call dibs on “Tales of Minor Irritations” as a title. For a book or a blog. I made it up, it’s mine! Mine!)

What Stace had to say on Friday, March 16th, 2007
An exciting announcement!

Together with Anna J. Evans, Sherrill Quinn, Kelly Maher, and Sierra DaFoe, I am now a proud member of the Deliciously Naughty Writers group!

Yes, we are so, so naughty. Deliciously so.

We’re doing all kinds of contests and stuff over at our Yahoo Group, if anyone would like to join, which of course you should. We’ve got an awesome new blog if you’d like to pop over there, which, again, of course you should. I blogged there today, as I will every Friday, in addition to blogging here. (This isn’t today’s official blog, btw. It’s just to post the announcement, since I didn’t get to do it yesterday, since I was busy doing stuff at Princess’s school all day.)

So go check out our website, and our blog, and our group, and I’ll be back in a little while!

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, March 14th, 2007
Toast! Toooooast!

My two-year-old Faery said this today, tears pouring down her little cheeks, as I stole a piece of toast from her untouched plate.

She wasn’t eating the toast, you see, the toast I lovingly made for her. Oh no. But she sure didn’t want the likes of me stealing it from her abandoned plate while she tried to open the closet door and get out the feather duster to play with.

In her defense, she’s getting a cold and is crazily emotional–just like I get before an illness. Yesterday Princess started crying because I wouldn’t let her go play next door (she hadn’t been invited) and Faery not only strted crying too, but looked accusingly at me, pointed at Princess, and said “Priness saad! Priness cryyyying!” As if I were unaware.

Anyway.

I mention all of this because I was going to eat the toast so it didn’t get cold. In my mind, the toast had an expiration date, a time beyond which it would be inedible. (And as a total aside: I saw a comedian not too long ago–I think a pretty famous one too–who did a bit about expiration dates, picturing a cowboy with a ten-gallon hat standing near the cows, labelling bottles as the cows were milked, and saying things like, “That’s your goddamn date!” Which tickled me.) In Faery’s mind, she had all day to eat that toast, and instead of performing a valuable act of rescue, Mommy was in fact stealing food right out of her precious little mouth.

That’s right. You wondered what kind of person would steal food from a baby? This kind!

But expiration dates are very clear in my head, I think. I’m always in such a panic that my time will pass, it will be over, that whatever new idea I have isn’t even worth a try because it’s passe.

Which is pretty silly, and a lot self-defeating, but there it is.

I also have some theories about being self-defeating which I may explore later, but let’s face it, you guys all adore me but don’t really care to hear all of my theories about my own self-hatred and how that fuels me as a writer and attention whore, do you? Because really, that’s like hearing somebody’s dreams. Interesting nce or twice, deadly dull if it becomes a habit. (With the exception of my husband, because that guy has some fucked-up dreams, baby.)

My point today is simply this: I have an idea, I’m desperate to get started, but I wonder at this point if it isn’t already too late. I feel myself pulled in another new direction as well, one that may end my original plans for where my career would go. I also have high, high hopes for something that would mark a change in my career, but one so exciting I could pee myself thinking of it. (And maybe just did…that’s the magic of blogging.)

And so I wonder if someone isn’t standing around, looking at my original plans, and saying, “That’s your goddamn date!”



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