Archive for April, 2007

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What Stace had to say on Sunday, April 29th, 2007
Blood Will Tell–July 11

Not only does Blood Will Tell have a gorgeous cover, it has a real, official release date!

***July 11, 2007***

And here’s a little excerpt from the very beginning:

The shadows moved.
Cecelia Barnes quickened her pace through the dark parking lot. There’s nothing there. It’s just your imagination.
But the night was closing in on her, airless and fetid like a tomb. Her car was only fifty feet or so away. It seemed an impossible distance.
Why had she let her assistant, Doug, go home? He’d left only half an hour ago. Her work could have waited. Hell, he could have waited.
Then she wouldn’t be alone now, her breath unnaturally loud in her ears and her heart beginning to pound.
Something clanked, metal against cement, to her left. She turned quickly, gasping, the South Florida heat searing her lungs, the sweat on her brow turning ice-cold.
The hubcap on the pavement still vibrated in the foggy steam of the night, as if someone had moved it to climb into the sewer…or out of it.
Running now, she shifted the keys in her hand until the point of her car key protruded from between her index and middle fingers. She’d taken a self-defense class the year before. A key could scratch out eyes, or puncture a windpipe.
Unfortunately, she had not learned how to use a key to attack when grabbed from behind and dragged backward. She tried to scream but was able only to emit a choked-sounding squawk. She writhed against the arms that held her, her hands clawing ineffectually at them, her feet battling to kick or make solid purchase on the pavement.
Three men stood in a loose circle around her, their eyes gleaming as they watched her struggle. Another scream disappeared from her throat when the man closest to her opened his mouth in a wide, open grin, and she saw his fangs.
Ohmygodthey’revampiresohholyshitthey’re FUCKING VAMPIRES—
There was a shout behind her. Cecelia tried to turn her head to see what was happening, but she was held fast. Her thin silk blouse tore as she tried to wriggle free.
Another shout, closer this time. The vampires looked up, tracking the source of the sound. Time slowed as the greedy expressions on their faces turned to fear. The arms holding her loosened, and as she fell to the hard pavement, just before her vision went black, she saw a man with a face like an angel’s leap forward to attack her captors.
* * * * *
That face was the first thing she saw when the world came back into focus.
“You’re the angel,” she said.
The man seated close to her raised an elegant eyebrow. “I know,” he replied. “But we must never speak of it again.”
This struck Cecelia as a rather un-angelic thing to say, and she frowned. “Am I dead?”
“Do you feel dead?”
She struggled to sit up, her elbows sinking into soft fabric. “Not really.”
“Well then.”
She frowned again. He might have the face of an angel—his dark hair framed perfect, strong features—but he was definitely not anything but a man.
“What happened? Where am I?”
“Clichés, clichés,” he said, waving a pale, long-fingered hand. “Is this where I tell you that you’re in heaven and the Kumbaya sing-along will start at any moment?”
“Excuse me, but fuck you,” she said. “I’m in a place I’ve never seen before. I’m pretty sure I was attacked. I don’t think it’s untoward to ask where I am. Or who you are, for that matter.”
“But you haven’t asked who I am,” he pointed out. His tone was reasonable and his voice mellifluous, with an accent that hinted vaguely of green fields and stone buildings.
“You’re English,” she said.
“Yes. Is that relevant?”
“I don’t know. Is it?”
“Only if you’d like to discuss the Queen.”
“I wouldn’t.”
“Well, I suppose it isn’t relevant then. Shall we move on?” She was fascinated by his face as he spoke. His skin was smooth and pale, his large dark eyes expressive. He was at once very, very handsome—she had not been wrong to think he looked like an angel—and very haughty.
He watched her expectantly, his eyes gleaming, like he was waiting for—what? More questions? An accusation? Maybe he was waiting for her to throw off her tattered top and beg him to leap on top of her. Which, she was slightly ashamed to admit, was an option she could consider. He really was devilishly handsome.
“So who are you? And what the hell am I doing here? Where are the police? Did you call them?”
He smiled. His teeth were very white, and his smile changed his face, drove the coldness away and made him look almost wholesome. Her breath caught.
“My name is Julian Mansfield,” he said. “And I saved your life.”
When she didn’t respond immediately, he asked, “What’s wrong? No sharp reply?”
But she couldn’t speak, not at first. It all came back to her, the horror of the dark still night, the vampiric faces in front of her, sharp teeth in cavernous mouths like ivory stalactites gleaming dully in the moonlight.
Not to mention that she’d never in her life met a man with such a flair for the dramatic. Something in the way he spoke made her itch to take him down a peg or two.
“Like yourself much, Mr. Mansfield?”
“As much as I like anyone,” he said. “And do call me Julian. Most women do, when they’re in my bed after I save their lives.”
“You do this a lot?”
“I don’t like to toot my own horn.”
“I seriously doubt that,” she said.
“Tsk tsk. We’ve only just met and you’re already so judgmental.”
Feeling that the whole conversation had somehow become absurd, Cecelia sat up completely. “No more jokes,” she said. “Who were they? How did you come to be there and how did you beat them? And, since you didn’t answer me before, where exactly am I?”
“You were attacked,” he said. “In the parking lot of the Butler Medical Research Center. I’m not sure who they were. I was walking by with some friends and I suppose we scared them off. And you’re at my house, as I mentioned, in my bed.”
“But they were—” She stopped. Were they vampires? Really? She’d never believed in such things. She was a scientist. Scientists don’t believe in vampires.
But she hadn’t imagined those teeth. She knew it.
Julian was watching her expectantly. “They were—?”
She shook her head. She certainly wasn’t about to tell this aristocratic, extremely good-looking man that she thought she’d seen vampires. He would laugh at her.
Then he would try to have her committed.

I had a “real” post planned, but I hope you guys will be okay with waiting for tomorrow, because I am waaay too excited today!

(There is and will be more excerpty goodness over at my new Yahoo group–the link is at the bottom of the sidebar to the right!)

What Stace had to say on Friday, April 27th, 2007
Some Friday Thoughts

I finished final edits on Blood Will Tell yesterday, and got a look at the cover. Color me waaay excited, I’m hoping to be able to post the cover and release date in the next week!

This was hands-down the most fun editing process ever. I love my new editor (I loved the old one, too–I never got to actually edit with her, sadly, but she was a cool chica.) I had great fun adding some hot new stuff to the book, too, and trimming a few other bits–editing, in other words. Duh.

So now, in addition to trying to finish another project–which I’ve been unable to touch this week because I have a two-year-old who refuses to be off my lap for more than twenty minutes a day (another reason why I haven’t been commenting on blogs as much–I’m reading, but typing with one hand is such a pain in the ass)–I’m thinking of what I plan to do with the other characters in the book.

One of the fun things about writing vampires is they live forever. So while I have at least two, and possibly three or more, books to do in the contemporary Miami setting, I have some historical stuff in mind as well, which I think is going to be a blast. I can’t wait to get going on all of it. (Although the one short project I had in mind won’t work anymore, as the concept behind the vampire changed.)

Anyway. I’m thinking of titles, and how I’d like to keep the word “Blood” in all of them. (This is the longest setup for a stupid obscure movie reference in the world, btw.) Blood on the Rocks, Blood and Fire, Blood and Smoke, Blood in the Afternoon, that sort of thing (I gave Anna J the best one, though, “Blood and Dust”. It’s hers to keep). And I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to do a vampire sea captain book, and call it Blood and Swash?

And if the hero looks like Rex Harrison, so much the better, because I dig Rex. In fact, I have a post planned for the coming week which involves him again. Wierd.

And I had another fun little thing I was going to discuss here but I don’t remember now. Oh, and I blogged over at Deliciously Naughty Writers today–this week’s topic was sexy movie/book lines, ones we wrote and ones we remember from others. So check it out, if you’re so inclined.

Anyway. So yes,

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, April 24th, 2007
What I Am Not, and Never Have Been

I am not now, and have never been, a “pre-published” writer. Or rather, I guess I was, in the sense that I had contracted work that had not yet been published, but I never called myself pre-published.

I hate the term, for a number of reasons.

Or maybe just one, now that I think of it. I hate it because of the silly, smiley, happy-dappy implication of it. The implication that of course you’ll be published one day, it just hasn’t happened yet! You’ll be published because you deserve to be, because everybody who writes a book deserves to be, because there’s no such thing as a good or bad book! All books are equally worthy and good!

Huh?

This attitude is crap.

People who have special skills deserve recognition for them. Are you really going to tell me that To Kill A Mockingbird or The Scarlet Letter or even Bag of Bones deserve to be placed on the same miserable, low level as the badly punctuated, cliched, and dull ramblings of some basement dweller with the intellectual capacity of a goat?

Words mean something. Their meanings are fluid, yes, but coy alterations of them for the sake of false self-esteem should be anathema to the writer. Does calling yourself “pre-published” really make you feel better? Isn’t it like telling yourself a lie? A writer’s job is to seek the truth, not hide behind cutesy phrases designed to justify themselves to the rest of the world.

Real “self-esteem” comes from accomplishing real things. It comes from doing the best we can. Not from pretending we’re all just as good as everyone else (at anything but its most base, equality-under-law level) or lowering standards or making up sweet little adjectives so we can smile and feel all snuggly. You can call yourself “pre-published” until the cows come home, but that doesn’t mean you are actually going to be published. Ever.

And it’s not even creative, for fuck’s sake. Pre-published? Is that like almost-employed? Pre-millionaire? Pre-married? (Actually, you could probably confuse strange men attempting to pick you up with that last one.)

But the worst thing about it is the idea that an unpublished writer has to justify themselves. That they have to slip the word “published” in there to make people respect what you’re doing. Fuck them! Who cares what they think? Why would you be ashamed that you’re still honing your craft? Do gymnasts call themselves “pre-Olympics? Pre-champion?”

Say it loud, I’m unpublished and I’m proud. And there are no guarantees in life.

Couple of things: I suspect the switch to the new blogger template thingie messed up something with my feed. Can anyone confirm or deny?

I have a Yahoo group, and it has an actual member! I finally gave in and started the darned Yahoo group, despite my general aversion to them. I can’t promise I’ll be posting there all the time, but I plan to, and I plan to do a monthly newsletter. So go sign up, if you want.

What Stace had to say on Monday, April 23rd, 2007
It Sucks Being Nearsighted

Oh yes it does.

My prescription (last time I got one), for those of you who are also nearsighted and so find such things as fascinating as new moms find baby weights and poop, was a -9.

But it’s been, oh, four years or so since I had an eye exam, and my eyes keep getting worse.

For the last few weeks I thought they were getting a lot worse, worryingly so, before I finally took out my contacts (I know in the world of responsible people, “extended wear” does not mean “wear without removing for months”. But that ain’t my world, friends) and realized why my vision was so cloudy all the time. Because the lenses were yucky and cloudy and smudgy. Pretty awful.

So now I’m on my last pair (actually not yet, I’m doing one of my repentant wear-glasses-for-a-week things), so I’m going to have to go get another exam soon, and since I’m not in Florida I can’t go to my best friend’s brother, who is a great optomotrist or opthalmologist or whichever it is who does my eye exams for free because I’m his sister’s best friend. (But if any of you are ever in the West Palm Beach area, and need an eye exam, email me and I’ll tell you where to go. In a nice way, not in the way implied by the phrase “I’ll tell you where to go.” Which sounds like the next sentence should be “To HELL!! MUAHAHAHA!”)

It’s especially fun being nearsighted when you’re married to someone with the Best Vision in the World, so good his eye doctors burst into tears, who likes to smugly remind you of that fact whenever the subject comes up. “I wouldn’t know, because my vision is actually too perfect for their silly instruments to measure. Ha ha!”

So. Still fiddling with the new site, still looking for comments if you have time. Is anyone else noticing slow loading? Also, V95, you see I have changed my icon. It’s me again, a pic of me holding the Faerie (I cropped her out but you can see her ear.)

And if anyone has an ideas how I can tell the sweet lady who designed and hosted my old site, who is a really good person and a friend, that I’m switching away from her, that would be great. I know what I’ll probably say, but suggestions are always helpful.

I may post more later.

What Stace had to say on Sunday, April 22nd, 2007
Feedback and stuff

So first thanks again to everyone who offered thoughts and suggestions re: the website. On Sam’s suggestion, I checked out Moonfruit.com and started playing around there last night.

So. This is my old site.

This is the one I’m playing around with. I’m going to add the “Books” page, with clickable images of all my covers, which send you to the book’s individual page with reviews and excerpts and buy links, which I couldn’t figure out how to do really well on the old site. It’s very, very easy to import images and put them wherever you want on the Moonfruit template.

The biggest problem with the new site is, I can’t import my rose tile background from the old one (I can’t import any graphic backgrounds to Moonfruit, as far as I can tell) and I can’t import the cool background from the site to my blog here (can’t get an html code for it.) Moonfruit does a blog but I like blogger (despite the &%@$! with Beta) and don’t want to switch.

So essentially, I need to either switch to a plain background on the site to match a new plain background here, or they have to not match. Which I don’t know how I feel about that.

Eventually I’ll be able to get a cool graphic logo to put on the top of the blog and site to unify them at least that much, but for the moment I can’t afford it. :-)

So. If anyone has a minute, could you check them out and tell me what you think?

Also, as you’ll see if you have a look at the “News” thing on the new site, I’m very happy to report another sale to EC! My crit partner/writing partner/most excellent buddy Anna J. Evans and I wrote a paranormal menage this winter called “Demon’s Triad”, and it will be the first in a series called “Dangerous Magic”. We are incredibly excited because the book ROCKS, seriously.

So that’s four sales to EC for me!

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, April 18th, 2007
Website Thoughts

Okay, so I’ve been thinking. (What a shock, I know.)

I’ve been thinking about my website. I really like the colors of the site. I like the rose-prtal background (as you can see, because I imported it here to my blog. Although the blog still doesn’t look as nice as I’d hope, which kind of creates a problem given the topic of this post.) Which is, I’d like to change my website.

See, when I originally planned the site, there were a lot of sites out there that looked a lot like it. Now the emphasis seems to be on graphic headers and having individual pages for each book, which I would love to have.

I think my site is a little difficult to navigate, and since I have three things already lined up to release this year (and I’m still waiting for news on a few other things, and the year is still young!), I do really need the site to be cleaned up. I’d like to redesign it.

But, as you can see from some of the more clumsy aspects of the blog, I’m not really a good webdesigner. Plus, as I sad on one of my cover art forms, as a visual artist I’m a pretty good writer. Visual flair is simply not something I’ve been endowed with, ever. I can recognize really cool shit, but I can’t come up with really cool shit as a rule. When I was younger, a friend of mine and I used to make playhouses in the dirt with sticks–well, we’d outline them, like making a floorplan. It was more fun than it sounds, I promise. hers were always really cool, and mine were always really dull. In an attempt to add flair, I’d create crazy long hallways or something, like a rabbit burrow. But it just looked kind of dumb. Anyway. I don’t stink at it now–I can dress myself and decorate a home, stuff like that–but really, I’m lacking the visual spark. perhaps because my vision is so bad. :-)

Plus, I really like the girl who designed my site, and she did just what I asked her to do. The problem is I don’t have the £ to pay for another redesign. I wanted to do it all myself.

It’s not just this site. I’m hoping to do some other work under a different name, and that name will need a site as well. (Fingers crossed.)

Does anyone have any suggestions? Any thoughts? A good, inexpensive program so I can design it all myself, maybe?

(Finished a project last night! I’ve written almost 30k words in the last week and a half, yay me!)

What Stace had to say on Monday, April 16th, 2007
Give ’em what they want

Should I?

Should any writer?

I’m starting edits on Blood Will Tell with my faboo editor, and so I’m also planning what other books I want to do with some of the secndary characters, or do I want to do books with secondary characters, and if so, what kinds of books?

I’d love to do a series. I almost always think of ways I can use the characters again, or do books with other characters in that world, or whatever. Because I think series are fun. As a reader I love them. I love to get to know a set of characters, to be familiar with their pasts and their possible futures. It adds another dimension of enjoyment to my reading experience.

But that’s what makes me wary.

My reading fun has been spoiled one too many times of late, with series that take a turn for the worse and just keep going down. I’ll leave out the obvious example (LKH who?) and head for Kay Scarpetta territory. The last three of four Scarpetta books have been…monstrous disappointments, putting it mildly.

And I know we’re all familiar with authors who, when fan reaction to their latest books is poor, tend to throw their “these are MY characters” card in the air and storm off in a huff.

Maybe because I’ve spent so many years now having at least peripheral dealings with the comics/fangirl/boy community, this attitude absolutely stuns me.

See, over there, the fans do have a say. Maybe they don’t cast the deciding vote, no. But their tastes are taken into account. Their likes and dislikes. Their reactions to particular storylines, even their reactions to and preferences in movie casting.

And nobody minds. Nobody complains that the fans don’t have a right to their opinions. Nobody gets sniffy about how the fans aren’t their bosses, so they should shut the hell up. (Okay, yeah, I can think of one person who may have skirted the edge of this attitude. But it’s nowhere near as common as you seem to find in the romance community these days.)

It’s taken for granted over in Comicland that the fans are gonna have opinons, and that as long as it doesnt actively hamper the writer’s creative flow, those opinions should be taken into account. It’s taken for granted that people build a strong emotional attachment to the characters.

That isn’t to say that unpopular things never happen (um, Captain America died!), or that writers take surveys of what story they should do next. But theycan and do pay attention to that feedback. They can and do explain when an unpopular action is taken, a large proportion of the time.

Yes, we can argue that the two industries are so very different. But Conan Doyle had to bring Holmes back from the dead, don’t forget. Fans have always had opinions, they’ve always had an influence, and I think they should.

No, they shouldn’t take over the writing. But isn’t it nice when they act like they care what the readers think?

How much influence do you think reader opinions should have?

What Stace had to say on Friday, April 13th, 2007
Quickie

I’ve blogged about Friday the 13th over at the Deliciously Naughty Writers blog, so go check that out, because it’s all about superstitions and stuff.

Remember when you were a kid, and Friday the 13th seemed like such a big deal? I miss that.

Anyway. I shall probably do another post later, and I have a rather interesting week planned for next week as well.

(BTW, I’ve had another thought about Vonnegut. It seems so many people are talking about how they read him in high school and how much it meant to them. I’ve even seen one or two comments about how they read him again later but his work was so much a part of that time it didn’t work.

I never read him in high school. Maybe that’s why he leaves me mostly cold? Admiring the skill and cleverness, but not really enjoying the stories or the sentiment behind them? Just a thought.)

What Stace had to say on Thursday, April 12th, 2007
I’m a Smartie with a Sore Tummy

I had intended to post something yesterday, but my body decided it would rather spend the day throwing up and huddling, shaking, on the couch. I still managed to pop around to some blogs and say hi, and get a little work done, but nothing like what I’d hoped.

I also talked to my Mommy. I miss my Mommy. I miss Gatorade. It isn’t until a time like this when you’re sick that you realize how much you miss home (not entirely true, as I’ve been missing home for a while now, but still). When you have a cold and can’t find NyQuil on the shelves, or Gatorade. When your baby needs Pediatlite and you look for the big bottles of bubblegum flavor she always liked and all you can get is packets of blackcurrant D’oralite powder to mix with water. Which is so not the same thing. (A good NyQuil equivalent is Night Nurse, though, so if you’re an American in the UK and don’t know about it, ask the pharmacist. They keep it behind the counter. Makes sense because OTC meds here stink.)

And the hubs had to go back to work yesterday, too. So my daughters basically watched me huddle all day. Princess was tremendously sweet and helpful. I guess it takes a crisis. And with hubs gone, no sitting in a darkened room watching X-Files either.

Good news! The wonderful Sonya Vaughn (who I keep forgetting to mention got herself a kick-ass agent last week) tagged me for a “Thinking Blogger Award”. How cool is that? I never win anything!

The award comes with two things: A nifty silver button that I’m supposed to link to my samrtiest post, so if someone can tell me how to do that I’d be much obliged; and two, an obligation to tag five more thinking bloggers. Ah, see, the prize has strings attached.

Okay…lessee.

First I’m going Little bird blue, who always has something thought-provoking to say or an interesting opinion to express.

I invariably find Michele Lee‘s posts worth a read or two. I’m especially looking forward to some of the things she has planned for this month.

Of course there’s my crit/writing partner Anna J. Evans, who I adore, and who, in between Thursday Thirteens and rants, posts sexy men pictures every Monday.

I’m also going to tag Serena Joy, because not only does she have a “This Day in History” widget that I envy, but her posts are always chock-full of interesting things.

Last but not least I’m going with Writtenwyrdd, who just returned from a long road trip (go check out the pictures!) and whose thoughts I invariably enjoy reading.

Ideally I would have tagged everyone on my list. I hate having to pick only a few, it makes me feel like a bad person. Or maybe I’m overmeotional from still feeling a little yech. I don’t know. Anyway.

Oh, and would everyone here think I was completely insane if I had these people design a castle for me?

I couldn’t afford to have it built yet…but maybe one day…

Oh, and Kurt Vonnegut died. I know as a writer I’m supposed to care, because it seems anyone with pretensions to be literary and cool is having paroxysms of grief (as they did when Hunter S. Thompson died) but honestly…I don’t, really. Aside from being sad that a human being has died. I didn’t like his books. Well written, I guess, and fast reads, but not my thing. So there. Yet again december admits her lack of intellectual capability. Some thinking blogger I am, huh?

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, April 10th, 2007
Whoops!

I have no idea where the last few days have gone.
Well, okay, I partly do. I had a cold. I spent two days on the couch with my hubby, watching an extended DVD marathon of The X-Files. Including the crazy inbred episode. Whee! Amazingly enough, I didn’t watch The X-Files when it was actually on. So these are pretty much all new to me. It’s okay, but not as spooky-good as Millenium. Now that was a show!

I’ve also made another sale! My new EC editor contracted my submission for the Torrid Tarot line (you may recall, the book Anna J and I sold to EC last year was also for this line). The card is the Eight of Wands and we’re waiting on title approval. I have to finish that one, it’s about halfway done and I think by the end of April I can get it completed.

Plus I dragged an old half-finished project that I loved but got stumped on out of the Word graveyard and have added 3k to it since yesterday. Hopefully I’ll have that one sent to EC by the end of the month, too.

So between the runny nose, the writing, and the Scully/Mulder thing, I’ve not been online hardly at all. And I will probably be scarce for the next week because I’m hoping to really push those projects through. I can’t get a combined 50k words done on them in a week, but I can get 20 to finish the one, so I have some breathing room on the other. If I focus.

I won’t be absent, oh no. I just may not be as chatty as I usually am.

I swear I’ll do at least one real post this week, though.



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