Archive for July, 2007

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What Stace had to say on Monday, July 30th, 2007
Stuff!

First, the most important thing. I have added an Amber Alert ticker to my sidebar. Mine is the US code; there is one for Canada as well.

I urge all of you to click on the button, or the link above, and add it too, and make a donation if you can.

Second, Anna J. and I got the cover for our January EC release, Demon’s Triad. Check it out:

It’s a pretty hot cover, no? Except I hate the chick’s tacky earrings and necklace. The tank top isn’t great either. But all in all, I think it’s awesome. Very sexy, very reflective of the mood of the book. (Yes, this is the one we think will be X rated.)

AND, the latest issue of JERR (Just Erotic Romance Reviews) came out, and Blood Will Tell got a 5-STAR review!

“Explosive, orgasmic, riveting are just a few adjectives that describe Blood Will Tell by December Quinn. Ms. Quinn has taken an age-old tale, thrown in modern day lust and action, and has written a story with enough drama and sex to keep you rooted to your spot until the last word is read…Bravo for a story well written.”

Until the next issue comes out, the entire review is available only through the JERR Yahoo Group, but once it’s been moved to the archives I’ll post a link to read the whole thing (or you can join and read it there!)

So color me VERY happy, five stars from JERR makes me feel pretty good indeed!

Not much else going on here. I’m about to start Chapter Five of The Demon Inside (my PD sequel)–I’ve added a little ticker/counter thingie to the sidebar as well. Remember what I said about avoiding work? Just wait, soon I’ll be baking again.)

And we have now gone two entire days without rain.

What Stace had to say on Friday, July 27th, 2007
Okay, ask those questions!

I have a final line-up for my August publishing series!

The following ladies have generously and graciously agreed to answer your questions:

Raelene Gorlinsky, Publisher, Ellora’s Cave

Tina Burns, Acquisitions Director, Liquid Silver Books

Treva Harte, Co-owner and Editor-in-Chief, Loose-Id

Angela James, Executive Editor, Samhain Publishing

Y’all, I am so excited about this, and totally honored they’ve consented to give their time to my readers, so let’s think of some really good questions!

Leave yours in the comments. As I said before, I’d like to avoid if possible questions like “What are you looking for”. But anything about publishing, the publishing process, their feelings on legitimate publishers and what a writer should look for, what they feel sets their company apart, or anything else you can think of, PLEASE don’t be shy!

I’ll be picking seven questions or so, compiling them on Monday, and sending them along, so don’t miss out on your chance! And check back here every Friday starting next week, for their answers.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 25th, 2007
The Extra Bits

So my total word count as far as words written for the new demon book is about 12,000.

The total word count that’s actually still in the manuscript? 5,000.

I’ve never stop/started and cut as much as this in the beginning, but since the rest of the book is much better planned than it usually is (I’m a pantser, so I usually have good beginnings planned and then the story peters out into the ether) I figure it will even out in the end.

And the good news is, some of the stuff I’ve cut isn’t bad. I think some of it is simply later in the book.

So it’s all going into my “Rewriteable” file. I keep one of these for every book I do. In some it’s only a scene or two long. In others (like this one) it’s pages and pages.

Personal Demons‘s rewrite file is about 23,000 words, all told. Quite a few entire scenes, and some snippets of conversation I cut because it didn’t move the story forward but I liked the lines so much I figured I’d hang on to them in case they became useful later.

Some of it is, in fact. I have a scene planned for the new book set in a place I used in the first book but cut. So all that description I wrote will be put to use, which is nice.

I also plan to put a lot of it on the Stacia Kane website once it’s up and running. Bonus content for readers, like on a DVD, along with a few original scenes just for fun–stuff that would hold back the story in a book but would give little bits of backstory or just scenes I think people might enjoy.

What do you guys think? Would you want to read deleted scenes from a book?

How much do you cut from your books, and do you keep it?

What Stace had to say on Monday, July 23rd, 2007
Rainy days and Mondays…

We have officially had over two months of rain here. There’s been one or two isolated days with no rain (I think) but aside from that, just rain. Which is actually okay by me, as it hasn’t been hot.

I have been fairly absent from the blogosphere since Friday. First I had to go get my Potter book, of course. Then stay up half the night reading it. Then finish it Saturday. Then absorb, etc. Frankly, my head has been so full of Potter lately I’m amazed I’ve gotten anything done.

But I have! I started my fifth Chapter One on the demons sequel, and it’s finally, I think, acceptable. Better than acceptable, even, I hope. I’m almost done with Chapter Two as well, so yay me! So that’s where I’ve been. Reading/thinking about Harry, or working.

Did anyone else read Harry?

The first reviews for Blood Will Tell are starting to trickle in. Two Lips Reviews (No, I didn’t pay for a review, and they’ve discontinued that policy–I think they honestly believed they were doing something nice) gave the book Five Kisses and said:

December Quinn has written a story with sizzling hot sex, explosive action and a riveting plot. Ms Quinn makes her hero sexy and confident, and her heroine strong and independent. This book has just the right mix and you never know what is going to happen next. You don’t want to miss Blood Will Tell; get your copy today.

(Entire review here).

Mrs. Giggles gave the book a 78; she wasn’t crazy about the story itself but liked the characters well enough, so that makes me happy. At least she didn’t think they were morons! That one is here.

ALSO–I have exciting news!

My series on publishers is about to take a really cool turn–I have several interviews lined up for August!
On Friday I’m going to open a post for questions, so start thinking. What about publishing would you like to ask:

Raelene Gorlinsky, Publisher, Ellora’s Cave

Tina Burns, Acquisitions Director, Liquid Silver Books

Treva Harte, Co-owner and Editor-in-Chief, Loose-Id

Angela James, Executive Editor, Samhain Publishing

These are all fabulous, extremely well-informed ladies, and they’re going to be here to help YOU, so please, do start thinking. Here’s your chance!

(Note: if possible, I’d like to keep the questions publishing-related, rather than “What are you looking for”. You can find that information in several places already, and I’m sure they’ve heard it a lot. But please, anything you have about publishing, about how they view the industry, their take on the atmosphere these days, things they are most proud of with their companies, that sort of thing.)

What Stace had to say on Friday, July 20th, 2007
Find the right publisher (Part Five)

So, after a short break last week, we are back!

This is just a shorter post, a general round-up of a few things I’m not sure I touched on. But keep checking back on Fridays, if you’ve been following the series, as I have some things planned for August that I’m very excited about, and I may need your help too!

So we’ve talked about how to examine and evaluate publisher websites, how to research a publisher, and whether or not it’s a good idea in general to submit to a brand-new publisher. The issue of RWA recognition has of course been eliminated, so there’s no need to discuss it further, but I thought of a few more things to keep an eye out for, as they are possible/probable Red Flags:

Calls for Submissions are something to watch; does the publisher keep changing its lines? I don’t mean deciding to do a special summer series or set of anthologies, I mean are they asking for new things every month? Are they suddenly starting an erotic line, an inspirational line, a manga-inspired line, a gothic line, an anything-we-hear-might-possibly-sell line? Are they starting them seemingly on top of each other?

There’s nothing wrong with a publisher branching out, and I’m certainly not implying that starting a new line is in itself a red flag, because it emphatically is NOT.

But a publisher suddenly totally overhauling their requirements or asking for three or four new kinds of books at once sends a dangerous message if you know how to read it: that the publisher isn’t sure what’s selling, that their own current releases aren’t selling, and that they’re desperate to try and find anything, any way to catch on with readers.

Another thing to watch is, if you are an RWA member (or belong to a similar writer’s group) the First Sales column. How many books is the publisher acquiring? If you read the column every month you’ll see most publishers only have one or two sales reported; that’s because not only do they have limited slots, but they have many authors in their stable already. Epublishers can be expected to buy more new authors than NY pubs, but still, does the amount seem excessive? Do the books sound good and original to you, after your own study? Do they sound similar at all (not always important, but something to keep in mind just to see if there’s any rhyme or reason to their acquisitions)? Too similar?

A publisher who every month purchases twenty or more new books might be biting off more than it can chew. Allow your other research to guide you here, but remember, even Ellora’s Cave (which to my knowledge releases more books every month than the other epubs) releases roughly thirty-two books in a month (if my math is correct), and they never have such a large number of new sales reported.

Why? For one thing, because their authors tend to stick around. A publisher in constant need of new blood is a publisher whose old blood is rapidly bleeding away. (Okay, enough with the bad blood analogy.) If those authors are sending their work elsewhere, there’s a reason, and it probably isn’t a good one.

For another, because they aren’t accepting almost everything, hoping it will catch on. Because they aren’t blindly trying to grow in size and so are forcing more and more books out there which may not be as good. (I didn’t say they weren’t as good, just that it seems excessive to me and a lot of people I know.)

It’s not enough to be big; you have to stay big, grow steadily, and not take risks with your authors’ work.

How many members does their Yahoo group have, or rather, how many more members does their reader loop have than their Business loop? Not everybody joins a reader loop, of course, which is why this is here in the tag-ends of stuff to be aware of rather than the big important stuff we covered earlier. It’s just something to keep in mind.

Have you read interviews with any of the editorial staff or seen them in forums? Do they seem to know what they’re doing? Do they make sense? Do they talk about books and reading with passion? Does what they say about the industry gibe with what you’ve heard elsewhere? Do they answer questions politely, or do they behave like children? (I saw not too long ago on a forum a publisher reacting to basic questions about its business with name-calling and finger-pointing; you can bet I’d never let my work or the work of anyone I know get within ten feet of them.)

Can anyone else think of something I’ve missed?

Be sure to check next week, we’ll be covering some other stuff too, but I believe this concludes this particular series. :-)

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 18th, 2007
Let’s start at the very beginning…

A very good place to start.

Unfortunately, you can’t start a book with “Do re mi.” You have to start it with something that makes sense and is exciting and grabs the reader and has action and drama and pathos and wit…blah blah blah.

I have started my fourth version of the Personal Demons sequel. I hesitate to mention its new title lest I discover, as I did with the last one, that someone else has taken it. (Google might help there, I’ll give that a go.)

Anyway.

I lked the first three versions. I liked all of them. I thought that was where the story started, but it turns out I was wrong.

I hate starting new books. Nothing is scarier than writing those first lines–at least, not when the pressure is on.

Usually I just go ahead and start. Anywhere near the beginning is fine, because sooner or later, usually within that first chapter somewhere (although occasionally it’s been as late as the third), the actual start of the book will reveal itself. “That’s your goddamn opening!” a voice will say, and I’ll see that it’s right.

But lately, the last couple of books…the opening has been fraught with worry and doubt. Is this the right place? What if I’m wrong? Isn’t this all just crap anyway, total gibberish?

They say you should start where the action is, and they’re right. But in my head I always carry this too far:
I could start with the car chase…but then there’s so much backstory…and that leads into a sex scene, and I don’t want to start with that, and besides, the car chase just illustrates a point, I could handle the point with a line of dialogue, couldn’t I, but if I do that I don’t need the scene on the roof, and really the climax of the story is the big action, so…

And eventually I picture my entire book being this one line:

Some bad stuff happened, but they won in the end.
The End.

But I think I’ve finally cracked it now. The new opening has a hint of mystery, some humor, a little sexiness, some anxiety, and a healthy dollop of anticipation and “What’s going on”-ness without being so overbearing with it that a reader might give up.

Of course, having said that, I’ll probably re-read the new opening tonight and decide it sucks, and it will go in the bin (when I say ” go in the bin” I in fact mean “stay unopened in the tomb of my hard drive”) with the others.

What do you like to see in an opening, especially a sequel? What’s the hardest part for you to write?

What Stace had to say on Monday, July 16th, 2007
A Quickie Update

Today is the hubs’ birthday, so I’m just popping in quickly with a few little updates.

1. The RWA is beginning its backpedal, as fast as its expensively shod little feet can carry it. They’re forming a Task Force to learn more about epublishing. Better late then never? Yes, but it shouldn’t have been late at all. If you’re going to set rules regarding an industry, you should educate yourself first.

2. The Eighth Wand, my novel for Ellora’s Cave’s Torrid Tarot series, will be released October 17, 2007. Yay! I’m nervous about this one–yeah, I’m nervous about all of them, but this one makes me different because it is different from my usual stuff. My two main characters are much, much more serious people than most of my H/hs–less joking, more angst. As I’ve said before, I was dealing with some feelings of isolation and unhappiness when I was writing it, so although it pokes some fun at a few archetypes (pagan “fluffy bunnies”*, take cover), overall it’s not a particularly funny book. I still really like it, though, I think it’s one of the more emotional and romantic stories I’ve written. Anyway, October 17!

3. The hubs is currently playing Grand Theft Auto 3, one of his birthday gifts. It’s…interesting. :-) The funny thing is at first he kept driving on the wrong side of the road.

*There’s a few good definitions/articles about “fluffy bunnies” here and especially here.

What Stace had to say on Friday, July 13th, 2007
We Interrupt this Program

I planned to do a final “Choosing a Publisher” post today–on other warning signs that a publisher is losing its hold–followed by some exciting news for the rest of the summer Fridays. But I feel the need to post about this new RWA debacle, so I hope you’ll all tune in next Friday for the Publisher post.

My regular readers know that for some time I’ve been vocal about the need for RWA to get much stricter about what publishers it deems “Recognized” or “Approved” or whatever. (here) for example). So it was with quite a bit of trepidation that I saw on Wednesday evening that RWA did just what I thought they should do…

Except, NOT.

On the surface, I agree with the changes. These are the new standards:

“After much research, member input, discussion and deliberation, the Board has determined that the blanket application of “Publisher Recognition” to allocate RWA’s resources is not serving its members, many of whom mistakenly perceive that RWA is placing a “stamp of approval” on these publishers. Therefore, the Board has examined its programs and services, item by item.

By substituting the word Eligible for Recognized, and limiting the scope of the term Eligible Publisher so that it deals solely with RWA’s allocation of its programs and resources, primarily at our national Conference, the term and concept of “Recognized Publisher” no longer factors into PAN and PRO eligibility, the RITA and Golden Heart contests, RWR content, and many other sections of our Policies and Procedures Manual.

Commencing with RWA’s 2008 National Conference, for official publisher participation, a romance publisher must verify to RWA that it: (1) is not a Subsidy Publisher or Vanity Publisher; (2) has been releasing romance novels via national distribution for no fewer than three years, with no fewer than two full-length romance novels or novel-length romance anthologies published in each of three consecutive years; (3) provides per book advances of at least $1,000 for all books; and (4) pays all authors participating in an anthology an advance of at least $500.

A Subsidy Publisher or Vanity Publisher means any publisher that publishes books in which the author participates in the cost of production or distribution in any manner, including publisher assessment of a fee or other costs for editing and/or distribution. This definition includes publishers who withhold or seek full or partial payment or reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties, including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs; publishers whose authors exclusively promote and/or sell their own books; publishers whose primary means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site; publishers whose list is comprised of 50% or more of its books written by authors who are principals in the publishing company; and publishers whose business model and methods of publishing are primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and associates.”

The business of the advances has angered and upset quite a few epublished members. Since most epublishers don’t pay advances (and the one who does, Samhain, pays, I believe, $100 or so), this new standard automatically excludes all epublishers. While this doesn’t please me entirely, I’m really okay with it. RWA should be making sure the publishers it allows to solicit authors at its convention are able to provide a decent amount of money to authors. This is a step in the right direction.

Personally, I think an epublisher should be able to prove average earnings of over $1000 or $2000 per book, and thus still be eligible. It’s all about the money, or at least it should be.

So this is good. I like that they’re trying to provide for their members.

The problem, the shameful problem, somes in their definition of Subsidy/Vanity publisher. Did anyone catch it? It’s this line here:

publishers whose primary means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site;

Which basically means, every epublisher.

This apparently caused quite a stir at the general meeting yesterday, as well it should have. To imply that epublishing automatically means vanity publishing is frankly disgusting.

We all know there are epublishers out there who will seemingly accept just about anything. We’ve all read epublished books that are essentially crap: poorly written, poorly edited, dull, ungrammatical, etc. But that certainly doesn’t mean all epublishers accept anything, and RWA does writers a disservice by both implying they do, and failing to distinguish between the good and the bad. They should be helping their members do that, not ignoring those questions.

When this fact was brought before the board, they claimed to be shocked. Shocked! They enlisted a publishing attorney to help them draft this definition of vanity publishing–an attorney whose name they have not given, and who is apparently a total moron–and they never, ever intended to imply epubs like EC, Samhain, and Loose-id–publisher who were Recognized by them until this convention–were vanity publishers.

But they have not as yet changed the wording. This is highly disturbing.

Whatever the current board says, in an attempt to cover up their shameful ignorance and lack of research into the most basic facts about epublishing, the fact remains that this definition as written equates all epublishers with vanity presses. This board will be up for re-election in a couple of months; who’s to say the next board won’t choose to rule by the language and not the intent?

The board claims they meant the definition to mean publishers whose only form of distribution is their own websites, and not Fictionwise or Ingrams or any other form of distro.

But the correct wording for that–which one would certainly expect a group of published authors to know–would be “publishers whose exclusive means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site;”, not “publishers whose primary means of offering books for sale is through a publisher-generated Web site;”.

The fact that none of them caught this is cause for real concern. That one reason alone is more than enough to vote against every member of this board when they come up for re-election soon, and it’s exactly what we should do. That they claim to represent us and be the face of all of us with regards to the romance industry, and yet apparently can not adequately use or understand written language or do any amount of basic research to benefit their membership is grossly incompetent.

We all know they’re trying to prevent another Triskelion-style blowup, and that is admirable. But hiring the Keystone Kops to protect the President is a bad idea, and keeping any member of this failure of a board in office would be irresponsible for any member of the RWA to do. Today they’re ignorant of how epublishing works; who knows what new issue they’ll be incapable of dealing with next?

This new rule also does NOT address in any way how they will treat epublishers when it comes to the problem of e-piracy. Will the RWA aid epublishers in their efforts to prevent it?

I am quite upset that Ellora’s Cave has lost its status with RWA. I am quite upset that Samhain and Loose-id, after finally winning Recognition only a few months ago, ahve now been demoted (apparently, the RWA hasn’t officially said yay or nay but these new rules leave little doubt of their intent.) I am quite upset that the RWA isn’t taking changes in the industry into account.

Of course there’s more; the board managed to claim the reason they haven’t added an erotic category to the RITA is because nobody could give them a definition of erotic romance, which is probably one of the silliest excuses I’ve ever heard (we could give them one, and next year they’ll try and tell us their dog ate it).

I’ve done a lot of thinking over the last couple of days about whether I want to keep my RWA membership. I don’t know for sure. As I’ve said repeatedly, RWA does pretty much nothing for me; in my eyes it’s basically a useless organization full of silly women who spend most of their time behaving like they’re back in high school. The much-vaunted PAN (Published Author’s Network) doesn’t, to my knowledge, offer much for its members either, although I’m hoping that now it’s harder to get into they’ll expand it and make it worth a damn.

For the moment I’m staying in; my membership isn’t up until October anyway. Beyond that, we’ll see.

But please, if you are a member, and you’re reading this, join me in voting against every member of this board. They failed at the very basic tenets of their job, which is to understand the industry and the authors they’re supposed to represent, and they do not deserve to keep their offices.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
It’s OUT!!!

Wheeee!!!

Blood Will Tell is available on the EC site! Buy it here!

*jumping up and down*

My book is out! My book is out!

Did I mention my CONTEST?

I’ve put (among other things) a small reference to “The Breakfast Club” in this book. It’s actually more of an allusion, but let’s not quibble.

Find the reference. Email it to me (you don’t have to give the page number or scene, just quote the line or paraphrase it for me, whatever you like.) Do this before August 11 and be entered to win a $20 Amazon gift certificate!

I’m so excited! (Can you tell?)

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

…Looks like I too have now been struck by the Blogger-won’t-let-you-title-your-post ghost.

Just a quickie here, my post is up over at Bam’s blog, so go check it out and get yourself another chance to win Blood Will Tell!



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