Archive for January, 2009



What Stace had to say on Thursday, January 29th, 2009
A novel in three acts: Act One

So, first, sorry. I didn’t post on Monday. It was a Bad Day. I’ve been having a lot of those lately, but Monday was particularly Bad and I honestly just couldn’t get my head around anything well enough to blog. So, sorry about that.

Seriously, is this month over yet? It’s been AWFUL. One of the worst months I’ve ever had; I feel bruised all over from the beating it’s given me. Part of it might be the Mercury retrograde; part of it might just be that it’s January and the weather is a neverending stream of miserable (and has been for two years.) Whatever it is, I just want to go crawl under the covers and hide.

But of course I cannot. :-) I have kids to raise and a novel, a short story, and a proposal to write. So, no hiding for me. And actually, although it’s been a slow month, the novel is coming along and so is the proposal (haven’t started the short yet) so I feel good about that; I’m 25k or so into the third Downside book, which I’m calling CITY OF GHOSTS for now (although I’m not sure how unique that is, so we’ll see if I get to keep it. It might end up being something like UNDERGROUND GHOSTS or maybe GHOSTS UNBOUND. Don’t know. Reminder to self: Google “City of ghosts” and see what you get.) Shame, really, as it’s the perfect title for what I think is going to be a kickass book; I’m actually extremely pleased with it so far, which is nice. I have a couple more clues to drop in this first third and my subplots are simmering along nicely.

See, here’s what I do. I separate the novel, in my head, into three parts; assuming a 90k book, which of course it won’t be exactly–the final version of UNHOLY GHOSTS is about 98k; UNHOLY MAGIC before edits is about 101k. So we’ll see. Anyway.

It occurred to me that this particular way of structuring a book might interest some of you, so here’s what I’m going to do. This Thursday and the next two I’m going to outline my basic method; feel free to ask questions at the end of each post and I’ll answer them the following Thursday, and we’ll do a little summary at the end.

So. Why would you want to do this? Why would you want to structure your books this way? What is the benefit of it?

I can only answer what the benefit is for me, and how it helps me organize my thoughts and work, and the ways in which I feel it’s improved my writing. Honestly I think most of you probably do this anyway, either consciously or unconsciously.

I’m not an outliner or planner. I start my books with a couple of characters and a problem which needs solving. Occasionally I’ll have a couple of ideas for Big Scenes in my head, but that’s really it. An idea excites me and I start writing, period. If you are an outliner or planner, this may not be necessary for you or, again, you probably already do this. And as with any other writing advice I give, this is my way and only mine; it’s not in any way a “You must do it this way” or “This is the best way”. But I mentioned my little structure elsewhere and a few people really liked it, so I thought why not share it a little more widely.

Also keep in mind that if your projected word counts are shorter, you will of course need shorter thirds, and especially remember this is not set in stone. Every book is different. Every book will have its own needs. You do not have to do this the way I do in order to write well, not at all, not remotely.

So. Here is what this does for me:

**It improves pacing. Separating the book into three 30k chunks, and knowing basically what purpose each chunk has to serve, gives me a structure on which to hang my wild imaginings (hee). Also, because of the way each “Act” is set up, it draws the reader into the story at a predictable pace and keeps the flow of information steady.

**It gives me a much stronger first draft. You pantsers know exactly what I’m talking about here. By the time our book is finished we have so many clues we need to go back and add, so many changes that need to be made, it’s like rewriting the book. But keeping the structure in mind makes it easier for me to fit in anything I might need; I know where the additional info needs to go or from where it needs to be removed.

**It means I’m not cramming to fit things in at the end, or left with too many loose ends.

**It eliminates the problem of the “sagging middle”. I believe the sagging middle is a pacing/information problem; sagging middles occur when too much information is given in the beginning of a story. By structuring my books this way I make sure there’s plenty of action throughout.

Assuming a book is 90k words, by the end of the first third–or 30k–I need to have all my basic information in place:

*Who the major players are. The bad guy needs to be introduced here, even if–as is usually the case–the reader is unaware that s/he is the bad guy. Hell, I’m not usually aware at this point who the bad guy is, especially given how much I enjoy my red herrings. So I usually set up two or three likely suspects here. I can always edit later to strengthen or remove the connections, once I figure out who the Baddie really is. We also need, of course, the main characters.

*The basic plot. What is the mystery or problem we’re solving? A lot of people will tell you this should be in the first chapter, and they’re not wrong. The sooner the better. But I’m also a fan of the Indiana Jones opening, whereby the first chapter is an intro to character and action that clears up events which occurred before the book’s opening. So I feel that as long as we introduce the issue in those first three chapters, we’re good.

*At least one subplot, hopefully two. They don’t have to be delved too deeply into in the first 10k or so, but by the end of 30k they should be (and we’re going to go into the structure of each act itself as well). But the basic stage needs to be set early, in this first act. For example, in PERSONAL DEMONS, Megan’s interview with Brian. We also met our Ultimate Baddie in those first chapters and added our little subplot with the vision of the Yezer’s house on the astral plane. And of course we met our romantic lead as well and (hopefully) had a nice little attraction/irritation vibe going fairly quickly, at least by the end of that 30k.

ALL THE BASIC CLUES NEED TO BE IN PLACE BY THE END OF THE FIRST ACT.

This doesn’t mean at all that by the end of the first act the mystery would be solvable. Oh, no. Not at all. But everything that comes later has to build on what’s already in those first 30k words. No deus ex machinas for us; we need to lay our groundwork.

For example, let’s say we’re writing a murder mystery. It can be set in any world, from “normal” to total fantasy.

For example, let’s say we’re writing a murder mystery. It can be set in any world, from “normal” to total fantasy.

So, in the first 10-15k words we want to introduce:

Our main character
Sidekicks, if any
The mystery itself
The bad guys
The world we’re in
Our basic clues

Is the murderer out for revenge? Then we might want to mention, in that first section, how many people loved (or hated) the victim. Out for money? Then we mention how rich (or poor) the victim was. We might introduce some physical clues here; the bloody knife or gun, say. Or there may be no obvious cause of death, and we introduce the cause at the very end of this act (we may even wait until the second act, but if that’s the case we should have a lot of other stuff going on.)

And in the second 15k or so we want to start exploring the word, pick up a few additional clues, and get to our first Major Complication (beyond the basic plot-laying one).

Every act ends with action and deepening conflict.

Well, technically, every sentence, ever scene, every page, needs to deepen conflict, of course. But for the sake of our structure we’re going to focus on Major Conflict.

To go back to our murder mystery, let’s say our MC is Jennifer, a private detective. The subject of one of jennifer’s investigations turns up dead, and she decides to work with the police–or behind their backs, perhaps–to solve the crime for whatever reason.

It’s a pretty basic plot and one I think we’re all fairly familiar with.

So our first act is the dead body, the introduction of Jennifer and her frenemies on the force, the world, whatever. And we pick up info here and there, and perhaps we learn that Jennifer is debating whether to put her grandmother in a home, and Jennifer’s just broken up with a lover, and Jennifer needs a new car, or whatever.

We’ll probably have some excitement in those chapters, and some uncoverings. But it’s right around the end of that first act that things go from bad to worse. Jennifer is attacked at her home. Or a witness is found dead. Or she’s kidnapped. Or the police tell her in a very shady way to get the heck out of their investigation.

Whatever the plot is, the end of the first act is where you generally put:

*A major action scene
*A major complication

Preferably at the same time. That first 30k has to encourage the reader to keep going; you want the end of that act to be an “Oh crap” moment, you know what I mean? I tend to think of those, and of those major action scenes, as “beats”, and each act should end with or right around a beat.

This isn’t to say at all that you shouldn’t be having those moments as you go, because of course you should. But the end of that first act is where everything rolls on its side; it’s where the MC finds him or herself in jeopardy somehow or where someone else is put in jeopardy (like, for example, the kidnapping of Catherine Martin in Thomas Harris’s Silence of the Lambs, to pull an example out of my–ahem–hat. The abduction, in fact, occurs on page 104 of my copy [I just went upstairs and grabbed it], which is 352 pages long, and is especially masterful there as just a few pages before Harris showed us the autopsy of a Buffalo Bill victim. Thus at the end of that book’s “first act” we have a graphic representation of how different this killer is; we have a significant clue in the throat larvae; and we have the abduction–so we know exactly what is waiting for that girl.)

The end of the first act is where the stakes jump higher. It’s not just an investigation anymore; this time it’s personal, if you know what I mean. Something Bad Has Happened. It’s going to happen again, unless we stop it. There’s often–again, as in Silence–a time factor introduced here too. Either way, this is where everything that’s come so far raises to a fever pitch, and the reader is (hopefully!) left breathlessly anticipating the second act, where everything gets deeper and more complicated.

Remember, none of this is set in stone. All stories are different. It’s just a guideline.

So. Any questions? What do you think; is this a structure you use? Do you keep these things in mind as you work?

What Stace had to say on Thursday, January 22nd, 2009
Late and Light

Yeah, I know. I don’t know where my day has gone, but I’ve spent a good portion of it kicking ass on the third Downside book, so I’m feeling pretty good about it.

I have a couple of really exciting things to say today that do NOT involve me, though!

FIRST, my pal Stacey Jay, who write kick-ass, hilarious paranormal YA, has her first release today and OMGYOUMUSTBUYIT. YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME was listed by Publisher’s Weekly as a “Spring Galley to Grab” for 2008; Kidliterate Reviews called it “”…a cross between Stephenie Meyer and Joss Whedon…..high school angst with more than a dash of otherworldly danger.”

Megan Berry’s social life is so dead. Literally.

Fifteen-year-old Megan is a Zombie Settler by birth, which means she’s part-time shrink to a bunch of dead people with a whole lot of issues.

And things are about to get even worse. Someone at school is using black magic to turn average, angsty Undead into flesh-eating Zombies and it’s up to Megan to stop the zombie apocalypse…

Now…Stacey is awesome, and is one of my incredible crit partners. So I got to read this one waaaay back in the beginning; I got to beg for more when it was done, and I’ve realy read the sequel, UNDEAD MUCH, which is even scarier, funnier, and awesomer (I’m making it a word!) than the first one, which is already chock-full of scary, funny awesomeness.

And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you all that while it’s all well and good to buy the book from Amazon, it’s even better to head out to the bookstore near you and buy it there. Stimulate the economy and save our bookstores, okay? Because we need them, bad.

Run, don’t walk. I promise you, you will enjoy the book.

And after you grab that one, I have another one! An adult one. An awesome, awesome, totally kickass urban fantasy; STREET MAGIC, the first book in Caitlin Kittredge’s upcoming “Black London” series.

Again, I was lucky enough to read this one in ms format, and I am seriously jonesing for it to come out in print. Seriously. WANT. It is, I believe, the best UF I’ve read, and I mean no disrespect to any of my beloved UF-writing pals. Just that this book has something I hadn’t, and haven’t seen yet, and I seriously loved it.

And you can too! Because although STREET MAGIC won’t be released for a while yet–June 2, sigh; I’ll be back in the US before I get to hold that gorgeous cover in my hands–if you are a book blogger or a commercially published author, you can get yourself a digital pre-ARC ARC! How’s that for cool?

From Caitlin’s blog:

Here’s some excellent news for book bloggers and authors who blog:

St. Martin’s Press, who publishes both of my adult series at the moment, is offering a sneak peek of /Street Magic/, Book 1 of the Black London series, to the blogging community as a way to say thank you for their continued support of my work.

All I ask in return is a little bit of blogging action about the novel.

Here’s the flap copy:

/Her name is Pete Caldecott. She was just sixteen when she met Jack Winter, a gorgeous, larger-than-life mage who thrilled her with his witchcraft. Then a spirit Jack summoned killed him before Pete’s eyes–or so she thought. Now a detective, Pete is investigating the kidnapping of a young girl from the streets of London…a case that brings her face to face with Jack./

/Strung out on heroin, Jack is a shadow of his former self. But he’s able to tell Pete exactly where Bridget’s kidnappers are hiding: in the supernatural shadow-world of the fae. Pete follows Jack into the fae underworld, where she hopes to discover the truth about what happened to Bridget..and what happened to Jack on that dark day so long ago…/

If you’re a book blogger or a commercially published author who blogs, and you’re interested in reading an electronic, advance galley of /Street Magic/ (ARC’s won’t be printed for another couple of months), please leave a comment with a link to your blog and an email address where the galley can be sent.

NOTE: You need to leave a comment at Caitlin’s blog, on this post here.

Seriously, you guys, I am not kidding. I loved STREET MAGIC. Passionately. And I loved YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME. Passionately. Go to the bookstore. Buy UNDEAD. Hell, place a pre-order at the desk for STREET MAGIC as well, so that on release day you can trot on down and get a copy; trust me, after reading the digital ARC you will totally want one.

And that’s basically it. I had more to say today, but my bloggy thoughts have all been erased by the fact that, in addition to having her school uniform sweatshirt (it’s the uniform here; a sweatshirt with the school color and the school crest on it) STOLEN while she was in PE last week–they make the kids change into PE clothes and leave their own clothes in the classroom (don’t get me started on that alone), today she was not allowed to participate in PE at all. Why? BECAUSE DURING THE WEEK, WHILE SHE’S BEEN HOME SICK, SOMEONE HAS STOLEN HER PE KIT AS WELL.

AND, her PE kit, because of the freezing weather, contained two of MY long-sleeved undershirts. So, two of my own tops, which I wear fairly often, AND her special frigging gym shoes, AND a pair of socks, AND her new warm-up pants, were stolen. While the teaching assistants there–who, I have been informed, should not be expected to do a good or responsible job because “they don’t get paid much”–apparently were not paying any attention at all.

So, I am ready to scream and hit people and things, basically.

But you should still go buy YOU ARE SO UNDEAD TO ME! And contact Caitlin! And pre-order STREET MAGIC! AT THE BOOKSTORE!!! Because it’s important, and you’ll be glad you did.

And it just might help to alleciate some of my rage, if you do.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
A little Bonus Post

I know! It’s Wednesday! This is a Bonus Post!

Okay, well, let me get this out of the way first. Remember last week when I told y’all about the arrangement between Juno and Pocket regarding my book(s)?

Well…I wasn’t entirely honest. Or rather, I was, but I was only telling you what you had already been told; the Amazon listing and S&S page were there, in public, for anyone in the world to see, and judging by the number of emails I received before I made the announcement, a hell of a lot of the world had already seen it.

But NOW I can tell you the best part, which is…it’s not just me. Juno Books has in effect become an imprint of Pocket Books. This is the press release:


POCKET BOOKS IN CO-PUBLISHING AGREEMENT WITH JUNO BOOKS
TO PUBLISH CONTEMPORARY FANTASY FICTION

New York, New York (January 19, 2009) – Louise Burke, Executive Vice President and Publisher of Pocket Books, has announced a new co-publishing agreement with Juno Books, best known for contemporary fantasy novels that emphasize strong female protagonists in richly imagined contexts. Juno will become an imprint of Pocket Books, publishing one title per month with the first release, AMAZON INK by Lori Devoti, slated for June 2009.
Juno Books began its publishing program in Fall 2006 and quickly became noted in the fantasy fiction genre for such breakout successes as Carole Nelson Douglas and Stacia Kane and garnering critical acclaim for many of their titles.
“Pocket Books and Juno Books are a great fit,” said Louise Burke. “We’ve seen great growth in this category, are delighted to now have a dedicated line, and look forward to helping to cultivate a wider audience for Juno’s terrific roster of authors.”

Juno Books Editor Paula Guran said: “I’m tremendously excited about the opportunity to help take Juno to the next level through our association with Pocket Books. Both Juno and fantasy readers in general will gain immensely by sales and marketing reach of Pocket Books and Simon & Schuster, while still getting the best of our editorial sensibility.”

Pocket Books Senior Editor Jennifer Heddle will work in concert with Juno Books Editor Paula Guran.

So. My Demons books and all Juno books will now be released by Pocket.

Does this make me a Pocket author? Well. Honestly? Not as far as I’m concerned. I signed my deal with Juno; it somehow feels to me as though to run around calling myself a Pocket author is a little grandiose; distasteful. I didn’t make a deal with Pocket, I made a deal with Juno. While I am of course absolutely thrilled by this news, and thrilled to be working with Pocket and to have the opportunity, hopefully, to work more with Pocket in future, until I’m offered a contract that says “Simon & Schuster” at the top I’m not going to behave as though I personally dealt with Pocket since the beginning. Nor do I claim that I “write for” Pocket; to date I haven’t actually written anything for Pocket. I’ve written two books for Juno, which Pocket has acquired (not sure what the sitch is for PD but I’m saying “two”; that’s not an announcement of any kind). To me to run around saying I “write for” Pocket implies that they have offered me contracts themselves, on new work, and that they have asked for more, and that is not yet the case. Juno acquired me, and that’s that. So we’ll see what happens, and I’d absolutely love to be able in future to say I am in fact a Pocket author. But my own hatred of pretentiousness forbids it at the moment.

Anyway. I actually started this post because I was going to talk a little about the inauguration and how it’s great that we’re all so proud again but we should be proud every day simply by virtue of being good people, but I’ve decided it’s too political–even though it’s actually not at all political, it could be read as being political–and deep and it’s not something I want to get into. So, you’ll have to make do with this.

And I’ll be back tomorrow. :-)

What Stace had to say on Monday, January 19th, 2009
Cookbooks. And a recipe. And a few other things.

Yes, it’s a recipe! I know, I haven’t posted one of these in quite a while; I’m actually considering putting a page on my new website for them all, or would that be lame? What do you think?

Anyway. Most of the recipes I’ve posted have been my own inventions. This one isn’t. It’s taken from Nigella Lawson’s “How to Eat”, which is one of my absolute favorite cookbooks in the world ever. Certainly out of all the cookbooks I own, this one is my favorite that was written after about 1980.

Okay, I started to put this little rant in parentheses but decided it was too long to be parenthetical. I buy most of my cookbooks from used bookstores, or especially from antique/antiquarian bookstores, for one simple reason. Good recipes.

The thing is, most modern cookbooks aren’t written for people who enjoy cooking or who cook on a regular basis. They’re just not. They’re written–so it seems to me–for people who enjoy reading and eating more than cooking; for those who enjoy “food porn”; for those who cook once a week, an elaborate Saturday or Sunday lunch or brunch.

I like those books, I do. I own a few and love to look through them. But they are not practical at all. I am a stay-home Mom, as you guys know. I cook dinner for four people at least five nights a week (usually six, but we do have the occasional Leftovers Night, or fish & chips craving, or whatever, so I’m saying five even though it’s usually six or seven). When you cook dinner for four people, six nights a week, you do not have the time to spend on these ten-step recipes every night. Nor do you have the money for some of the ingredients in those books. Nor, especially, is there a snowball’s chance in Hell that your four- and seven-year-old daughters are going to even consider eating anything served on a bed of crispy-fried frissee lettuce, with capers, and bearnaise sauce, and whatever else. Seriously. I love those cookbooks. But I cannot actually cook from them; I do not have the money or the equipment or time, and I need to cook food that my children will actually eat.

Older cookbooks were written for housewives who had to cook for their families and their picky children. The recipes in them are less expensive. They use more common ingredients; no hunting around for passionfruit or beef marrow. No dirtying dozens of pots and pans. And that’s what I need.

I also feel that modern cookbooks are waaaay too full of salads and desserts. You know, I know how to make a salad, and I rarely make or eat dessert. I don’t need those recipes, I need main courses. Actual food. Not thirty different salads that are really all the same; it’s a freaking salad, you know?

And that’s one reason I love Nigella’s book. I love her, frankly. I love how the book reads more like a novel than a cookbook. (Funnily enough the few negative Amazon reviews are from people who don’t like this; they just want recipes and pictures.) It’s like a little wander through someone’s culinary life, and it’s a lot of fun. And while I admit some of the recipes don’t appeal to me, some of them do, and are delicious (although I do wish she would stop putting chiles in everything as I cannot take spicy food with my delicate stomach.)

Anyway. This is for gooey chocolate puddings. And they are fantastic. I made them New Year’s Eve. This is the kind of recipe I love because it looks really complex and sophisticated when you serve it; it’s like a little chocolate cake still all melty in the center. And I could never figure out how that works, and now I know.

Preheat oven to 400F; turn it on at least half an hour before you want to cook the puddings so it will be nice and evenly hot.

4 1/2 oz high quality chocolate, chopped. (4 1/2 oz is 125g; see what measurement the chocolate bar uses. I’d make sure the chocolate is at least 70% cocoa solids. Also, I used “Mayan dark” chocolate, with spices, do you know the kind I mean? It has a little cinnamon and stuff. It was really good, but plain choc would be fine.)

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter (I only had salted and it was fine, so I wouldn’t worry about that too much)

3 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

In a saucepan (or double-boiler, if you’re fancy) melt the butter and chocolate together slowly, stirring fairly often.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour until just blended. It will be this weird sort of translucent yellowy goo. Slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture; set aside.

Butter four 1-cup ramekins (I used my special heart-shaped Le Creuset Xmas gift remekins! Oh joy! I felt *very* grown-up and special) and flour them. Pour the misture into the ramekins–mine were filled just over halfway–and set them on a baking sheet, in the middle of the oven, for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are firm and cracking slightly and the edges are set. I’d actually give them maybe a minute more; oven temps vary a little so keep an eye on them.

Serve immediately, with cream. I’m not usually a fan of simply pouring cream over things–I used single cream, which is like half-and-half I think, but you could use whipping cream too. It doesn’t need to be whipped (though you can, I didn’t), just pour some of it over after you’ve taken the first couple of bites.

The thing is, these are *very* gooey and *very* hot inside, and *very* chocolatey. So the cream is cool, and actually does provide a little relief from the strong chocolate flavor, so it adds a nice contrast. So I would definitely have the cream. I liked it much better with than without, and so did the hubs. Loooovely.

A few more things:

Friday night I was hanging out on Twitter, wishing AW was up (I’ve heard it’s back now but haven’t had time to go check yet), and I got into a fun little chat with Colleen Lindsay, who is probably one of the most–if not the most–successful new agents to, um, start agenting, in the past few years. She’s with Fine Print, an excellent agency, and is the living embodiment of my “A new agent at an established agency is a good bet” dictum. Anyway. I thought Colleen was a nice, friendly sort, until she practically throttled me and pushed my face in a muddy puddle until I agreed to allow her to set up a Facebook page for me. I gave in.

So now I have a Facebook page. Which some of you already know because I Friended you. If I didn’t friend you, it’s because I did not know you were there, so please don’t hesitate to friend me if you want.

I’m actually really enjoying Facebook so far. Much more adult than MySpace, which you all know I loathe. We’ll see if it becomes a major timesuck; so far I’ve been doing okay.

A terrifying thing happened Saturday night. No, really. Hubs went to his Mum’s on Friday to discuss some things with her. He came back Saturday; I picked him up at the train station at 7 pm. It was dark. It was pouring down rain. It was horrendously windy.

Unlike pretty much every other town in England, our train station is miles away. You have to take a separate highway to get to and from it. It’s a four-lane highway, two lanes on each side, with a metal dividing rail between, and it is a very hilly, very wind-y road with lots of twists and turns. No lights, of course. That would make it safer and we can’t have that.

So. We are headed Westbound, in the left-hand lane (which is the outside lane here, remember.) Toodly-doo, along we go, chatting, when we turn a corner, go about half a mile, and a car passes us going Eastbound.

Eastbound. In the Westbound lane. On a dark and windy night, on a twisty narrow road.

(Another fun feature of this road, as with so many roads in the Southwest, is there are no exits for miles. You get on, and you are not getting off for a while.)

So of course we take a second or two to wonder if we actually saw what we think we did. Another second or so to freak out because we could have all just been in a head-on collision at 70 mph. And we dial 999 to report it. We would have liked to have turned around and followed along with them (on the correct side of the road) blaring our horn or something to try and warn people, but again, it is impossible to exit or turn around anywhere on these roads. And that probably would not have been particularly safe either.

One really cool thing they do here is, if you call to report a crime or incident or whatever, they are legally required to update you on it. Which is a tremendous violation of privacy, but is still really cool. We arrived home, still freaking out, and waited.

Fifteen minutes later the phone rang. It was the police. There had been a massive car accident.

Luckily, she said no one was killed or even injured very seriously. And she said thanks to us they already had police etc. on the road, on the way, when the call came in. So we were at least able to help.

The driver was apparently very elderly.

Just awful. Very scary. And I believe it is entirely possible that had there been street lights the accident could have been prevented. Seriously, getting onto the highway here at night is like being in a submarine plunging into black water; the lights stop at the top of the exit ramps, and you’re on your own. It’s incredibly dangerous.

But the important thing is no one was killed.

See? I told you it was terrifying.

But on a brighter note…there’s an Inauguration tomorrow! I love Inaguration Day. I always watch them–I always love to watch them. I don’t care who’s being inagurated, I just watch and take pride in the whole system. That we elect a President. That we swear that President in with great ceremony and pride. That we are solemn and joyful at the same time. It’s fantastic. It makes me proud, and it usually makes me cry a little, and I just love it and I’m very excited. So who’s going to be watching with me? (Assuming I get to watch of course; I don’t know if CNN or Fox will be covering it, and those are the only news we have access to that might show the whole thing. So fingers crossed. I haven’t missed watching an Inauguration in…oh, gosh…since Reagan’s first, so this is a Big Deal to me.)

What Stace had to say on Thursday, January 15th, 2009
Oops, I forgot to title it

Wowee. LOTS of ground to cover today!

First of all. If you are a follower of Urban Fantasy Land (and if you aren’t, why the hell not, because those girls are awesome; they love the genre, and they’re fun and well-informed, and they’re doing Reader’s Choice Awards at the moment and you could win stuff) you already have some inkling of this, as they broke the news a couple of days ago. If you are a member of my Yahoo newsgroup you already know this, as I sent out a message yesterday (see? There are some benefits to belonging to the group!)

I can’t tell you everything. I honestly don’t know everything. What I do know is that DEMON INSIDE and any future books in the Megan Chase series will be distributed through Pocket Books (S&S) as part of a new arrangement with Juno Books.

So. DEMON INSIDE is up on Amazon! And I have my very own Author Page on the new Simon & Schuster website, which is here.

Both pages give the new release date as JULY 29, 2009. Mark your calendars! Place your pre-orders now! Riot and dance in the streets (you know you want to)!

But seriously. Here’s what this hopefully means for you. It hopefully means that DI will have a much “harder” release date; there will be more copies on the shelves, on the release date and after. It will likely be easier to get and find. (And I certainly hope you think that’s a good thing.)

What it means for me? I honestly don’t know yet. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

But wait! There’s more!

Again, if you’re a member of the Yahoo group you know this already, but yesterday I got the official word that I will be a Guest at Dragon*Con, September 4-7, Atlanta GA. (It is very weird to see my name on that list, especially right above Susan Kearney’s, as she is a USA Today bestseller and I am just…well, me.) So, I will be signing books, participating in panel discussions, and generally jibber jabbering away at Dragon*Con! I am totally excited; D*C is awesome. Check out the rest of the site and see:

Dragon*Con is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the US.

…and I’m going to be part of it! Holy crap!! I’m already thinking of fun promo activities and stuff; a scavenger hunt, perhaps? Miss Caitlin Kittredge and I have some Nefarious Plans in the works as well…muahahahaha!

Now, this last bit of news hasn’t been announced to the Yahoo loop, as I thought two big announcements were quite enough for one day. BUT, this is really, very exciting.

My Ellora’s Cave novel Demon’s Triad, co-written with the excellent Anna J. Evans, will be a print book, available for signing at the Romantic Times convention in April!!

Those of you who were here when the book had its ebook release last year will recall, this is our supersuperdirty X-rated book; the one almost too dark and wild for Ellora’s Cave. I repeat that here not just because I’m kind of proud of that in a sick sort of way, but to warn you. The blurb says “This book is not for the faint of heart” and that is NOT a warning to take lightly. At least one reviewer was apparently not shown the blurb, which also explains that the book contains female/female sexual activity, male/male sexual activity, and non-gratuitous scenes of rape and incest, and gave the book a terrible review for it; who can blame her, really? If you’re expecting a sweet romance, well, you will get that; it *is* a romance and one Anna and I were very proud of. But it is also a dark, violent, and graphic book, so if you’re not interested in that or if it’s simply not what you expected–especially considering most of my EC work leans toward snarky and humorous–you will want to give this one a wide berth, okay?

But I’m extremely excited and proud that it will see print, and I am extremely happy to say that Anna J. Evans, my darling co-writer, will also be at Romantic Times, so this is your chance to have the book signed by BOTH of us.

So. That was the fun stuff. Now we have a couple of serious things to talk about.

This week marks one year since the Cassie Edwards plagiarism scandal broke, on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books website. You guys know I love the Bitches; they’re clever, they’re funny, and they are always interesting, in addition to being–I think–two really lovely, kind, and caring people. I think it can be easy, when dealing with review sites, to tar them all with some sort of “Snarky reviews=Mean Girls” brush, and I think that’s wrong. If you read the Bitches’ site regularly, if you pay attention to the discussions there, you can see the deep respect that shines through even the snarkiest comment (though I don’t think their reviews are particularly snarky anyway, personally); respect for themselves, respect for readers, and especially respect for writers. (The fact that they are both writers themselves may contibute to this; they have their own book coming out in April, a non-fiction book about romance novels, and I imagine it will be a must-have for anyone who likes or loathes romance.)

Anyway. A year ago one of the Bitches loaned a friend a few Cassie Edwards novels. The friend did not enjoy the novels, but more to the point, the friend noticed some distinct differences in the authorial voice at certain points in the text. The friend was, I believe, ill at the time or recuperating from a broken bone, and so, having time on her hands, she decided to Google a few of the oddest passages.

And discovered that they were stolen.

They were not Cassie Edwards’ original work. They were entire passages lifted verbatim from research articles; from old novels (one of which was a Pulitzer Prize winner); from magazine articles and websites.

In short, Cassie Edwards was a plagiarist, and the Bitches posted the evidence of her CRIME, of her BREACH OF MORALS AND ETHICS AND HONOR, on their website.

And all hell broke loose. (The post I linked to above is tagged “Cassie Edwards”; clock the tag to view the whole saga. Astounding. I was especially interested to see a statement, purportedly from Edwards, which claimed that “…all romance authors who use research for historicals have to use reference books to do this.” Um…yeah, I used a lot of reference books and materials in writing Black Dragon, my Cerridwen Press medieval. But funnily enough, I didn’t realize I was supposed to lift entire passages verbatim; I actually went through the trouble of incorporating my research in (what I hope was) a smooth manner, and, you know, writing it myself in my own words, rather than simply copy-and-pasting it into dialogue and figuring my readers wouldn’t know the difference. Silly me. I guess I was absent from Writer School the day they told me that, contrary to what I’d been taught my whole life, that was okay).

But this is the thing. This really isn’t about Cassie Edwards. It’s not. I’ve never read one of the woman’s books; I don’t know her or anything about her.

What I do know, and what this is about, is that plagiarism is wrong. It is a moral and ethical absolute: PLAGIARISM IS WRONG. YOU DO NOT STEAL THE WORK OF OTHERS AND TAKE CREDIT FOR IT.

And here’s what I don’t understand. The Bitches broke this story. They alerted the world that this egregious wrong was taking place. In doing so they drew attention to the actual writers of the stolen work, people whose words were earning money for Ms. Edwards, while they struggled. People who’d put years of effort into the work she so carelessly, irresponsibly, and coldly stole from them for her own gain.

In alerting us they made publishers and readers more aware of plagiarism; what it is, and what the consequences are. Not just to the thief, but to all of us. When our words–our self-expression, the contents of our minds and hearts, the basis of our very selves, the tools of our souls–are stolen, it is a vicious and terrible crime. It is the raping of the mind. It tells us, on the most basic level possible, that we are nothing but grist for the plagiarist’s mill, nothing but a series of sentences for the plagiarist to steal.

Who among us has never had this happen? There’s a reason why “copycat” is such a vivid playground epithet; the copycat is not original. The copycat is stealing your ideas and pretending they’re his or her own. Who among us has never had anyone copy us? Has never had a co-worker take credit for one of our ideas? Or a boss? Has never told a joke or come up with a witty comeback, and heard someone else use it later, pretending it’s their own? Who has not felt that impotent rage when it happens? The feeling that nothing is sacred, not your thoughts or words or self?

Plagiarism is disgusting. It is foul. It is wrong. It is a behavior that should not be tolerated, by anyone, for any purpose.

And yet…the Bitches are being threatened for it. As though they’ve done something wrong.

When someone breaks into your home and steals from you, and you catch them in the act, do you deserve to be blamed for their subsequent imprisonment? How about if you catch someone stealing from your neighbor’s home; are you then to blame? What if you witness a murder or rape? Or any crime? Are you obligated to keep silent? Or are you obligated to tell, because the basis of our society is respect for ourselves, other people, and the law, and every incidence of turning a blind eye, of excusing such crimes, of pretending it doesn’t matter, is in and of itself a crime, a show of incredible disrespect which takes us one step further away from civilization and toward an unfeeling, inhuman anarchy?

There are people actually sending threatening notes to the Smart Bitches–especially regarding their appearance at the Romantic Times convention–for doing what was and is RIGHT; for standing up for the abused, the stolen from, the ignored and the ill-treated. For standing up for the basic human right of all of us to own our own words, thoughts and feelings, and not have them ripped from us by someone else looking to benefit financially from the sweat of our brows and the fruit of our souls.

This is disgusting. It is wrong. It lessens the humanity and fairness and integrity of our society as a whole, and of the community of readers and writers.

Thank you, Smart Bitches, for standing up for writers; for treating what we do as something individual and valuable, and for recognizing our right to our own intellectual property.

I had more but I think that’s long enough for one day, huh?

What Stace had to say on Monday, January 12th, 2009
Ladies, do you match?

So, first, a HUGE thank-you to everyone who commented on my “Author Photo” entry. I admit I am totally shocked by your picks; I thought #4 was by far the worst of the bunch, that it made me look moon-faced and elderly. #3 was my favorite by far, followed by 2, then 1, then 4–which I really didn’t like that much at all. So, quite a surprise, indeed. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do; I keep thinking if we do one more round of photos I might hit The One.

But I will say that after years of hating the way I photographed I was very surprised by how nicely most of the pictures we took came out. And that made me feel pretty good.

Something else that’s been making me feel pretty good lately is my expanding collection of matching bra-and-panty sets. (Yeah, I’m talking about my underwear, so? We’re all adults here.)

Soo, for years I haven’t really owned anything remotely like a matching set. Well, I have, I just never really wore them together. I have a couple of velvet bras the hubs bought me when we were engaged; they came with matching velvet boy-shorts, which were adorable but tended to be too warm under clothes (in South Florida, remember) and also tended to slip cown or bunch unattractively. I also bought myself a few sets, but the panties always seem to get worn out so much faster than the bras, in large part because while panties are washed after one wearing, bras aren’t. (Again, c’mon. I can’t be the only woman in the world who’ll wear the same bra for several days. If I’m doing something where I’m sweaty of course I change it immediately, but for day-to-day use…I dunno, am I disgusting for this? It’s just bras aren’t cheap and I don’t have that many.)

Anyway. Yes, I don’t have many bras. So there’s this new store in Barnstaple called La Senza, and they have really nice, inexpensive stuff. So because I’m low on bras I bought a couple. And because they were half-price and the panties were too, I’ve ended up buying several sets over the last couple of months. With the result that I know own like six matching bra-and-panty sets.

And it’s pretty neat, I have to say. It’s kind of fun to have matching stuff. It makes me feel like a grown-up. And they’re so pretty! I bought this one, for example, which isn’t usually my style but is just so cute. Or this one. And several more that aren’t on the website; a pinstripe set (I love pinstripes); a bright baby blue set, a red satin set with black tulle over it, a red set with black stripes…and all so inexpensive!!

So while I’m not always matching (I still have some older bras I love, that don’t have matching panties) these days I seem to match more often than not. And so I’m wondering. Ladies, do you match? Was I weird for not matching before? Am I weird for matching now? Men, what do you think? I’ve heard that men could care less, is that true?

A few other things:

Urban Fantasy Land is having a “Best of 2008” poll, with some neat categories, so go on over and vote. I am actually nominated, which is cool as hell, in the “Best Demons/Zombies” category, but as I’m in the running against Mark Henry, Richelle Mead and Jackie Kessler, in addition to Justine Musk (my new Twitter friend, which just about stunned me out of my shoes), Jenna Black, and Kat Richardson, I haven’t the proverbial snowball’s chance. But you know, it really is an honor just to be nominated, so I’m content. Anyway, go on over and vote!! Link to the poll! Let’s get some numbers over there!

And when I say “Go over and vote” I mean vote for whomever. Do not vote for me unless you really are crazy enough to think I deserve to win more than those other great writers. As has been mentioned all over the internet in the last few weeks, the Preditors & Editors poll has begun, and while (again) it is very exciting to see my name in it–although I don’t know if I am this year, I haven’t looked, but I know someone nominated me last year and I actually ended up ranking fairly high–it really doesn’t mean anything at all save who has the most buddies with the most dummy email accounts. I love P&E; I think Dave does great work there.

But the poll…ugh. No offense, but you cannot tell me that award is fair, or that the winners always make sense. I hate polls like that, which are nothing more than popularity contests or seeing who can best game the system. When the top tens are consistenly filled with books, publishers, and authors of whom no one has ever heard, something isn’t right.

Also. Our buddy Psynde has a new pet, a really cool fighting fish whom she has named Terrible, after one of my Unholy Ghosts characters (I let Psynde have a sneaky peeky at the ms). “Stunned” does not begin to describe my reaction, no shit. This is probably the most exciting thing that’s happened to me in my entire career; someone actually liked one of my characters so much they named a pet after him. That shit just doesn’t happen to me.

Anyway, stop on over to Psynde’s blog to take a look at Terrible in all his fishy glory and say hi to Psynde, and let’s keep our fingers crossed that my horrendous luck with fish (every time I try to have one it dies within a few hours) doesn’t extend to Terrible.

And I think that’s it for today.

What Stace had to say on Friday, January 9th, 2009
If you have a few minutes, come help me choose a picture

So apparently I need another one of those Author Photo thingies for my books and my website and all that stuff.

I’ve posted a few options over on the livejournal; want to come help me decide? I have a definite favorite but I thought I’d open it up to other opinions.

Come on over and ogle me! And comment!

You can use Open Id or just comment as anon and tell me who you are, if you want.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, January 8th, 2009
The coming year

Well.

So here we are, all in our places with bright shiny faces, ready for 2009, right? RIGHT! And 2009 is going to be a great year, really really really. I can feel it in my bones. No more whining about the Year That Ate My Happiness; we’re all about the 09, now.

And what a way to start the year, because I have several announcements to make, and a bit about my schedule–which includes (gasp) appearances!

So. Here’s an announcement, first of all; a pretty big one. The hubs and I have booked our tickets, and are moving back to the US in April. There are a number of reasons for this, which I won’t go into, but suffice it to say we’re very excited about going home. England is a beautiful place, and I will always be grateful that we–especially the girls–had the opportunity to live in another country, but we’ve been here for just over three years and it’s time to go home.

However. This does mean that for essentially the entire month of April I am going to be unreachable. My BlackBerry contract runs out in March; I had really hoped to extend it another couple of months so I can still get my emails, but I can’t guarantee it.

The good news about this, though, is that in April I *will* be at the Romantic Times convention in Orlando, and should be signing some books.

So. My schedule for the year is basically as follows (don’t worry, I’ll update throughout the year as well):

Jan-March. Regular schedule; I have to finish the third Downside book (which I hope to do by the end of Feb) and obviously we’ll have some moving things to keep us busy, but I will keep everyone informed as we go along.

April: Moving. We’ll be spending a few days in NYC, which I am incredibly excited about (I’ve never been there) as I already have plans to tour the Del Rey offices and have dinner and drinks with my fantastic editor, to meet up with my agent, all those fun things. Whee! And then we head down to Miami to visit our friends and family down there; we can’t wait to see them all again.

Then I’m attending the RT convention in Orlando, April 22-26. As of now I’m not doing any panels or “official” events save the booksigning on Saturday the 25th. BUT, on Thursday morning, from 10:30 to 11:30, Team Seattle (of which I have been informed I am a “satellite” member, which tickles me to no end and makes me feel all warm and gooey and loved), including me and a few other technically non-Seattlites, are doing a Club RT event, with fun and a seriously kickass prize, so you will NOT want to miss that; come hang out and talk with us!

May: Traveling; hopfully visiting friends and family in TX.

Summer: Hopefully buying and settling into new house in time for girls to start school with everyone else. If anyone knows any realtors in or around the Alpharetta/Marietta/Cummings area north of Atlanta GA, please let me know. We aren’t sure we’ll be in the market for a house but we’re hopeful. :-)

September: Dragon*Con! I will definitely be there; I have no idea as yet what if anything I will officially be doing there, but I will definitely be there, and it would be great to see any of you there too!

October-December: Don’t know.

I am also currently in the process of building a new website, and I’m really excited about it. It’s a long slow process, ugh; writing website content is horrible, really. All this stuff all about me and my books. It’s weird. I always feel like I’m coming off as a lunatic.

It does mean, too, that I am going to be doing some new FAQs. So if you have any questions you’d like to see answered there, go ahead and ask them. I’m willing to pretend they’re “Frequently asked” if you are; it will be our little secret. :-) And of course I’m trying to come up with other stuff, bits and pieces that might interest people about the books, that sort of thing. I also plan to have a couple of pages on the business of publishing and maybe a bit about writing as well; we’ll see. And one thing I’m very excited about and I think will be way cool, but it’s not ready to be discussed yet.

I’m building the website for now at staciakane.net (no, there’s nothing up yet.) Once it’s been launched I’ll be directing the staciakane.com domain name there, so either address will get you to the same site.

The December Quinn site will not change, and I haven’t yet decided if I’ll link to it. Probably not, though.

I’m also considering building a blog into the actual site, but I’m not sure. Copying-and-pasting my posts from here to livejournal (or vice versa occasionally) isn’t a big deal, but I don’t know that I can keep up with comments posted in three separate places. Not sure what to do there, really. I may end up letting Blogger go dark. Again, that’s up in the air at the moment, and I’m open to any thoughts.

We’re making some changes at the League of Reluctant Adults, as well! More on that later but it will of course be a hoot, whatever we do.

Um…I think that’s it for announcements for today. I will post the Big News as soon as I can, and I’m hoping to have release dates for the Chess Putnam books starting with Unholy Ghosts within the next few months. Which is to say, I hope the release dates are scheduled and I can announce them soon, not that the books will actually be released in the next few months. But that would be fun, wouldn’t it? Sigh.

I believe that is it for the moment. Like I said I’ll keep everything updated as we go along.

What Stace had to say on Monday, January 5th, 2009
2008: Boy, am I glad that’s over

***This is NOT my big news’n’announcement post, although there is an announcement IN this post. That post will probably–hopefully–be Thursday, so stay tuned.***

Yes, I’m a little late on this. Everyone else did their year-in-review posts last week. But you know, I’ve never been one to keep up with the Joneses.

2008 sucked.

Oh, sure. By all outward appearances, and by some measures, 2008 was awesome. Seriously awesome. Personal Demons was released, and the critical and reader reaction to it totally blew me away with its warmth and enthusiasm. Seriously, y’all, if no other good things had happened for me professionally in 2008, that would have made it one of the best years of my life, period.

But that wasn’t all that happened for me professionally in ’08. In March I signed with Mr. Kickass Agent. In July we got the first offer for Unholy Ghosts, and an extremely minor–but very exciting–bidding war of sorts began. NOT an auction, I’m not claiming that by any stretch, but we did have more than one editor in the game and that was intensely gratifying, even if it did leave me feeling lousy when I ended up not getting to work with some people with whom I would have seriously enjoyed working.

And then there’s another good professional thing that I can’t talk about yet, but am really looking forward to being able to discuss. (No, I haven’t sold a new series or anything, keep your shirts on. Or, well, don’t; I can’t see you, so you wear whatever you like.)

So on that level, 2008 was The Year That Could; it rocked.

And a few other great things happened in ’08. I got to spend a week or so with Caitlin Kittredge, which was undoubtedly a serious High Point for the year. Caitlin is so awesome and lovely and wonderful, and it was a delight to have her as a guest.

This is the year–sort of–that I lost 35 pounds. I say “sort of” because technically ten of those were lost in 2007, but the fact remains that 2008 was and is the year that I hit my ultimate goal weight of 108 pounds (I’m only 5’2, remember, and very small-boned and petite) and I have remained there for four months now, and I am quite proud of myself in addition to being thrilled at all the clothes that fit and flatter me again.

But for everything else? Man, 2008 blew.

I cannot remember the last time I was able to go outside without at least a cardigan. While it didn’t rain for nine solid weeks this summer the way it did in 07, it was still far from sunny. This is the year I really, fully realized that I have no friends in this part of the world. This is the year my friends and family in the States needed me and I couldn’t be there for them.

This is the year my husband and I spent the entire summer fighting like cats and dogs, only with more foul language. This is the year the raise he was supposed to get–the raise which his bosses promised would be “significant”–ended up being barely visible thanks to company-wide mandate. However insignificant it was, it was enough to kick us into a new tax bracket (so to speak), resulting in the monthly loss of an additional 20% of our income. 2008 was the year we ate a lot of soup; it was the year we couldn’t buy new books or warmer clothes. It was the year we couldn’t afford to take hubs’ suits to the drycleaner often enough. 2008 was the year every one of life’s little annoyances felt like heavy weights around my neck and drained the energy out of me; it was the year I found myself reduced to tears by a snippy Tesco clerk because I just couldn’t take one more isolating incident, one more reminder that I was in a world whose rules I just couldn’t grasp.

2008 was the year our couch broke and we couldn’t afford a new one; I am writing this sitting on a stack of catalogs placed strategically beneath the cushion, in order to replace the broken springs. It was the year I realized there was no way I would ever please my mother-in-law, that she is determined to see me and everything I do in the most negative light possible, and that goes for everyone else I know in the area; 2008 was the year they essentially stopped speaking to me altogether.

In other words–and to stop the self-pity-party that is already well underway–aside from work, 2008 was miserable and scary and unhappy, and I am glad to see the rear end of it.

BUT!!

2009 is already gearing up to be great; I can feel it in my much-less-padded bones. So no more of this. I am looking ahead, and I am seeing some fricking amazing things coming, some of which I will tell you about very soon.

Meanwhile, here is my announcement, such as it is.

I have been the lucky recipient, over the last few months, of many emails and blog comments regarding the release date of the second Megan Chase book, DEMON INSIDE. (I say “lucky” and mean it; it’s amazing to me that people actually care! Thank you, each and every one of you, from the bottom of my heart.)

As some or most or all or none of you know, DEMON INSIDE was originally scheduled to be a Jan 2009 release. And as you may have noticed, it is not.

I am not yet at liberty to discuss the reasons behind the delay; hopefully all will be revealed very soon. What I can say is that the delay has nothing to do with me or the book; it is certainly not due to problems at or with Juno Books. There are business reasons behind it, but I promise they are good and positive ones, and I wouldn’t lie to you, would I?

As soon as I am able to discuss it, I will, I swear.

As soon as I have a solid release date, I will tell you, I swear. You’ll be the first to know.

Right now I’m hearing late summer 09, but that could very well change, so please stay tuned.

In the meantime I apologize very sincerely to each and every one of you for the delay. Please be assured that if there was any way to avoid it, we would have done so. I hate things being late and delayed, especially books, and I’m really sorry. I just hope that you’ll be pleased–um, or at least care a little–when you hear the reasons behind it, and that you’ll forgive me, and that you’ll still be willing to read DEMON INSIDE when it does appear on the shelves.

And of course, that you’ll enjoy it when it does.

And that’s it. Stay tuned; no matter what I’m allowed to say by Thursday, there will definitely be some announcements made which will hopefully interest you.

Meanwhile, I’m going to raise a glass and breathe easily, and hope that 2009 holds better things, and that the small professional success I found in 2008 was not a fluke. :-)

Thank you all for spending the year with me. Here’s to all of us!

What Stace had to say on Friday, January 2nd, 2009
A few bits before I “officially” return

Yes, I know. You’re all waiting with bated breath, right? Ha.

Okay. First, yes, I am messing about with the template. I attempted to download the new CSS template I’m using for my shiny! new! website!, but Blogger kept insisting something was wrong with that code. Nothing was wrong with the code; I’ve run it through three different programs to make sure. The problem, I guess, is that it’s a webpage code and not a blogpage code. I dunno. Anyway, it blows, because I love my shiny! new! website! template. (Above is a sneak preview of the header.)

Anyway. Feedback is appreciated. I can already see the sidebar fonts are too light; I will fix them over the weekend.

Second.

I hope the person in question doesn’t mind me posting this, but a friend said something to me earlier–and I said something in return–that I felt the need to repeat here publicly.

In a nutshell, my friend is getting ready to begin the query process. I sent her a list of names of fantasy agents I esteem–Jim McCarthy, Rachel Vater, Miriam Kriss, Kim Whalen at Trident, Katie Menick at Howard Morhaim, to name a few–to add to her list.

Of course, at the top of the list I put my own agent. :-)

My friend thanked me for the suggestions but mentioned she probably wouldn’t query my agent because she didn’t think she had a chance at interesting an agent with such a prestigious agency (Look, this is what SHE said, okay. I’m not trying to brag or anything here, I’m really not, so I hope I don’t sound like one of these people who’s constantly running around talking about their agent and how their agent is the greatest agent who ever lived and how other writers would kill, yes, kill, to be repped by my agent because my agent gets a billion queries a minute and is clearly The Most Important Person In Publishing and the business would stop dead if this person were ever to leave it because they are so, so, so important and amazing and thus by extension so am I. So please don’t think I’m doing that.)(Although I do obviously think my agent is pretty fucking cool.)

Anyway.

She told me she didn’t have a chance with him, because she didn’t have any prior publication credits and she’s not writing in a “hot” subgenre, and this is what I said in return:

Don’t be ridiculous. Prior credits have nothing to do with it and you should know that. Chris signed {another cool writer} and I don’t think {writer} has any prior credits. I know my prior credits didn’t matter one bit to him.

Query him. Query him, unless you just don’t think you’re good enough to get a really good agent; in which case, why query anybody at all? Believe me, if I’m good enough for him–me, of all people–so is anybody else.

What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll waste under a minute cutting and pasting a query letter? You’ll get a polite rejection? Oooh, scary. :rolleyes

Yes, I’m being deliberately harsh here in an attempt to show you that you’re being silly. Query EVERYONE who can give you proper representation. EVERYONE. So they say no, so what? Chris isn’t some sort of beast; he’s not going to come to your house and throw poop at you if your query isn’t for him, or send out an email to every other agent in NY making fun of you for having the effrontery to think *he* might be interested in your work.

Either you believe you’re publishable or you don’t. (Yes, I use boldface a lot; so? You got a problem with that?) And if you do, you query everyone. Period.

Hugs, dear. I’m trusting that you know I’m really not trying to be a bitch here; I just don’t want you to limit yourself like that. Where would I be right now if I hadn’t decided to go ahead and query him? Maybe I’d be repped by somebody else, sure; I had five or six other fulls out when he offered. But you know, maybe not. Who knows?

Just send the fucking query. At worst you’ll get a form rejection. At best you’ll get a great agent.

And that goes for you too, readers. Don’t give me that shit about how The Big Guys aren’t going to be interested in you. Either you’re ready or you’re not. Either you think your work is publishable or you don’t. Why limit yourself at the query stage? If they say no, they say no; big damn deal. What if Bigtime Agent is the one, and you never find out because you’re too chicken?

There are LOTS of great agents out there. Try them all.

Thus ends your new year inspiration for the day.