Archive for August, 2009

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What Stace had to say on Monday, August 31st, 2009
News & info

Yeah, I know. I suck.

We still have Good crits to do and a few things I want to discuss about working with critique partners or whatever. But I’m putting the series on hold for the next week or so because I am slammed; with Dragon*Con this weekend my house will be full of people and I have a ton to do here in preparation.

So, right now I have a little news and info to share.

First, I will be liveblogging Dragon*Con for Del Rey’s Suvudu blog!! I’ll do a quick check-in post there Thursday evening and then will update as often as possible throughout the con. Come check it out–I’m a bit nervous about it, so…I’d love to see some familiar names in comments.

Second, according to the HarperVoyager (UK) site, UNHOLY GHOSTS will be released there on March 1st, 2010!

So…come hang with me at Suvudu, and I’ll see you back here ASAP. I have some crits, I have some rants, I have some stuff to talk about.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, August 27th, 2009
On Critiques 11: Bad Crit 10

Oooh! Your responses to our last Bad Crit were awesome. Why? Because you didn’t always agree with the ones I agreed with, but you generally seemed to have reasons for it. This is what’s most important; it’s about knowing for yourself what to go with and what not to.

For me, several of the “Show don’t tell”s were gratuitous. We need to know dinner was served, for example, but it really wouldn’t add much to the story to have a full description of it. It would have been fine to add another sentence or two, but not necessary. The fact is, the writer has to choose what really needs showing and what can just be told; most things need to be shown, but there are times when exposition works just fine. As another example, the “It was meant to disturb her. It worked,” was, to me, an excellent line; I thought it worked very well.

The serious lines were the ones about removing extraneous phrases, like “she thought resentfully” or “understood and” or the first time I mentioned commas. Also the one about spitting out the wine after she’d swallowed it.

So, this last Bad Crit is kind of a cheat. I debated whether or not to do this but thought, well, I’m going to do good crits of all of them anyway, and this really does need to be shown. It’s the worst kind of critique, in my opinion. So here’s the last one (I think I got everyone’s submission. If you sent one in and it hasn’t been up, please email me).
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What Stace had to say on Monday, August 24th, 2009
On Critiques 10: Bad Crit 4

On Friday I told you there were two good comments buried in the drivel. I lied. There were actually a few, and all of you guessed at least two. I would have accepted any of the following:

1.“he’s already smiling”
2. “You need to show us how pretty he is, don’t just tell us.”
3. “I’d consider mentioning these back when you describe her clothes, to add to the tension.”
4. “Are there two stakes or four?”

What’s important about this is learning to determine which comments are useful, and realizing that even in the midst of a terrible critique there may be one or two comments which actually will help. This is why you should step away from a critique that seems useless or lousy. Chances are it is, sure. Some people simply will not get you or what you’re doing. But some people may not understand what they’e supposed to be doing or how to do it, or may simply be unable to put their personal feelings aside, or have strange and rigid “this is the way we write our books” ideas about things. (I recently found a link to an article which insisted every scene in a book should be 750 words long. No more, no less. I believe this is the silliest “writing rule” I have ever heard.)

So, we’re doing the same exercise today, but this time I won’t tell you how many comments are good. List all you think work.

We’re starting “good crits” tomorrow, time allowing, and I have one more Bad Crit to do, too. I also planted a little clue in the beginning of this one, to remember this is a fragment and not an opening, and adjust your opinions of the comments accordingly.
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What Stace had to say on Friday, August 21st, 2009
On Critiques 9: Bad Crit 3

Once again, sorry I was so inattentive this week. Thanks for hanging in there.

Standard disclaimer: This is a Bad Crit, designed to show how NOT to critique. It is strictly a learning exercise and does not reflect my actual feelings on the piece being critiqued. Please do not take any comments in the following seriously.

Okay. In today’s Bad Crit I’m doing something sneaky. I’m slipping two GOOD comments in there. See if you can find them:

You gotta have the right bait when trolling for vampire. What does this mean? You shouldn’t start a book with something that doesn’t mean anything.

I wore all black leather: corset and pants stuffed into lace up knee boots. That sounds uncomfortable. You should mention her being uncomfortable. Otherwise it doesn’t feel REAL. My makeup was all Gothy, with dark smoky eyes and glossy blood red lips. I felt like a hooker clown on steroids. I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror — a tiger among sheep, hunting undead wolves. Are there zombie wolves in this?

“Mmmm.” I rolled my last three M&Ms in my mouth, savoring that chocolately flavor. But have they melted? And why is she eating M&Ms anyway? Is she a candy addict? You should tell us that. Then the chocolate soured in my mouth as I spotted Valerie St. Clair. Valerie owned the club, among others, and was a notorious fang whore. “Valerie St. Clair” sounds like a porn name. Are you making fun of the reader? She was also President of the Vampire Defamation League in Dallas, and a first class vampire enabler. Unfortunately, she knew my by sight as a vampire hunter, though not my name. I think a woman who owns a bunch of bars and moonlights in porn would have found out her name by now. She has connections.

My heart began pounding. Why? Is she nervous or scared? Don’t make me guess these things. How about “My heart started pounding from fear.”? Valerie employed vamps and werewolves. Zombie werewolves? If she spotted me, I was toast. The vamps could mesmerize me, and force me to betray my friends. If she’s that weak-minded she shouldn’t be doing this job.

I stopped and glanced left. Ten feet over stood a tall, dark man. Well, that really narrows it down. He wore a blue shirt and black leather pants. Dane was the unofficial leader of Dallas’ small cabal of vampire hunters. Valerie was to my right, across the crowded dance floor.

Dane indicated a man, and nodded. How did he indicate? Did he point? Mime? Dhampirs had a knack for picking vampires out of a crowd. More out of curiosity than anything, I checked out the vampire.

He was a tall, man dressed in an red silk shirt. I noticed his smile looked predatory as he danced with two bleach blonde Goths. The girls watched his face with open-mouth awe. They looked entranced to me, but he looked pretty enough to mesmerize some women without vamp powers. You need to show us how pretty he is, don’t just tell us.

Past him was an open alcove. A place built into the club for vampires to take their prey. Don’t people notice them carting dead bodies out of the alcove? Also, where are the zombie wolves? We could take him out so fast, so easy. Valerie was still across the club, and slowly moving away from us. I nodded at Dane, and got the whole thing started.

The club was dark and tightly packed. The music was loud and rather disturbing. Little Goths and Gothettes frantically danced to it. I smiled and pretended to enjoy it as I slipped through the crowd towards the vamp. But more disturbing than the music was the vampire pheromones in the air, and they grew thicker as I closed on the vamp. Vampire pheromones? That is such a cliche.

Vampire pheromones were the most potent aphrodisiac known. I could defend against their hypnotic eyes, but not against pheromones. I haven’t mastered the fine art of not breathing yet. I bet a zombie werewolve would have had that down pat by now. So my libido reared its ugly head.

I stepped up behind the vampire and spoke into his ear. “They’re pretty, but I think you need a real woman.” How tall is he?

The vamp turned to regard me. I hid the fact I averted my eyes by looking the two Goth girls up and down. Up close, they looked mid-teens. How? What were they wearing? Way too young to be in the Black Rose, much less cavorting with the undead. The fact they didn’t protest my poaching attempt proved he mesmerized them.

The vamp was still trying to catch my eyes, so I turned my head and flipped my long, black hair back. Back where? My exposed throat drew his interest. His dark eyes locked on it as he licked his lips.

“Give me what I want, and you’ll get all you want, and more,” I said. What does she want? I don’t get what she’s implying here.

“I am Yves Picard.” His accent was French, thick and sexy as Hell. Is Hell really sexy? He took my hand and bent to kiss it. “What is your name, pretty lady?”

As he kissed my knuckles oh so lightly, I looked over and above him to find Dane and another of our group. Gabe stood next to the closest alcove, watching me with a playful smirk. So is Gabe another member of the group? The bastard was enjoying himself too much at my expense. Why is she in a group with bastards? They should be all good friends. The alcove’s curtains were open, so I nodded before returning my attention to Yves.

I must always tell the truth when speaking to a vampire. They can tell when mortals lie. Every time. How can they tell?

“My name is Sable. Sable Hart. Another porn name Pleased to meet you, Yves.”

Feeling safe, I looked him full in the face. Why does she feel safe? Most of the time vampires don’t bother enthralling their victims, if the victim was eager. Eagerness filled me, and I was aroused by the vamp pheromones. How? Explain her arousal. I sucked in a deep breath, filling my lungs with pheromones so my revulsion didn’t rear its ugly head. Why is she revolted?

Yves was aroused, too. He pumped pheromones out in his excitement. I felt my belly erupt with butterflies and my nipples stiffen and tingle. My mind went straight to thoughts of wild and wicked things I wanted to do with him. When our eyes met, he thrust his power into me. Heh heh heh I gasped and tensed, and then he released me.

Yves smiled, exposing his fangs. He seems awfully dumb to just agree to wander off with her. “A woman indeed. Shall we find a more private place to…speak?”

I nodded, and pointed at the empty alcove. I didn’t trust my voice yet.

He smiled he’s already smiling and placed his hand at the small of my back, and ushered me towards it. Dane I just realized his name is Dane, like a Great Dane. Is he the zombie werewolf? Is this clever foreshadowing? and Gabe were speaking near the alcove as we passed. I saw no indication they even noticed us.

I turned to face the vampire as he pulled the curtains closed. My partners couldn’t just charge in. I had to distract the vampire until they slipped in stealthily, and dispatched him. But Yves had other ideas.

The vamp pressed up close, grabbed my hair and yanked my head to one side. All I could see were his long, white fangs.

“Hey. Why so fast? We have this little thing here in Texas called foreplay. You should try it.”

“I feed, then we play.” He’s awfully demanding. She should walk right out of there.

Dane and Gabe couldn’t see what was happening. Immortals aren’t exactly pressed for time. Just my luck I seduced the hungriest vampire in Dallas. Is she sure about that?

With no choice, I dug up under my stiff, thick leather corset with both hands. Sucking in my belly for more room, I got hold of the two pieces of wood. The corset was thick enough to hide the four wooden stakes are there two or four? I’m confused underneath, each eight inches long, flat and thin. I’d consider mentioning these back when you describe her clothes, to add to the tension. I yanked out the stakes, startling Yves. He pushed away and looked down even as I thrust one up under his breastbone.

I missed the heart, of course.

“Ugh!” Yves reached for me. “Die!”

I kicked up and around, catching his reaching arm and blocking it aside. My kick caught his arm solidly enough to turn him aside. Girls can’t kick that hard Thrusting the other stake into my right hand, I spun around and drove it into his back and right through his heart. Girls aren’t that strong either That did the trick.

Yves dropped to his knees, and pitched face first to the floor. Dane, then Gabe, came in at that time. Some help they are, yeesh. I expected more from a zombie werewolf.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Um…can you come back tomorrow?

Seriously, y’all, I am so sorry about this. But my day has gotten so far away from me I don’t know if I’ll be able to get it back. We have some meetings and stuff at Princess’s school and I have to go to them, and I have literally hardly sat down all day.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten some cool news about Dragon*Con, which I will share as soon as I have more details.

Really, I apologize. But I promise I’ll be here bright and early tomorrow, and we’re going to start the good crits next week, and you guys are EXCELLENT at identifying what’s wrong with the Bad Crits. It’s actually really fun to give such awful advice. :-)

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
Important News

Yes, I forgot to blog yesterday. I’m sorry! We will resume the series on Thursday but I have some really exciting news I wanted to share right away.

Some of you know that we’d originally hoped for the Downside books to be released consecutively; that is, one per month for three straight months. Scheduling issues prevented it, however, and eventually forced the reschedule of UNHOLY MAGIC as well. Pretty par for the course as far as publishing goes, really; schedules often change.

Well. I received word this morning that thanks to some clever switching and moving by the fantastic people at Del Rey, we are now able to release the first three Downside books as we’d always wanted; three consecutive releases! This is really, really exciting for me; such releases are always exciting, I think, and I’m really thrilled to get one and have such a big deal made over my books.

However. There is a *slight* downside (heh heh) to this for you guys, and for me as well. The three consecutive slots which were available are in summer 2010.

I know this is disappointing for those of you who were really excited and eager to get your hands on UNHOLY GHOSTS, and I’m really sorry about that. But…UNHOLY MAGIC was slated for June 2010, and CITY OF GHOSTS for November 2010, so while this means you have to wait for the first book, it also means you won’t have to wait nearly as long for the second and third!

So I hope you guys are excited about that, and as excited as I am to have the Big Summer Releases. :-)

I don’t have any information yet on how this effects the UK releases from Harper Voyager, but I will let you know as soon as I do.

And I have some other exciting news about the books, but I think that will wait until next week.


What Stace had to say on Friday, August 14th, 2009
The C Word

This article originally appeared, in a slightly different form, over at Emily Veinglory’s EREC blog. Then last summer it was published in the September issue of Lady Jaided, the Ellora’s Cave online magazine. But it occurred to me this evening that I’m quite proud of this little piece, and it should be on my site. So here it is.
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What Stace had to say on Thursday, August 13th, 2009
On Critiques 8: Bad crit 2

A couple of quick things before we start:

1. HUGE thanks to everyone who delurked Tuesday, or just left me birthday wishes. I am slowly replying to every comment, but it’s taking a little time. Please be assured I WILL reply. I don’t always reply to every comment here–I used to, but I just don’t have time anymore–but the birthday/delurking comments are different.

2. HUGE thanks to those who replied to Monday’s bad crit! Yes, your answers were overwhelmingly correct. That crit nitpicked; it gave awful advice (Have the MC look into a mirror? Yeesh!); it tried to rewrite the story, it was generally awful.

So let’s do another one! Hee!

Again, the general disclaimer: Thise crit in NO WAY reflects my feelings on the piece. It is meant for entertainment value ONLY and is not a serious crit; it’s a learning exercise. (Today I’m trying a different Bad Crit tack, btw.) That’s all. And let’s please thank the brave submitter for agreeing to let me viciously rip what I hope are funny holes in their work.
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What Stace had to say on Tuesday, August 11th, 2009
It’s that time of year again

…it’s my birthday. Which means it’s time for my annual Birthday Wish Delurking post.

It’s very simply. Because it’s my birthday, what I would really like is for those of you who don’t usually comment to comment today. Just say hi. Tell me how you found me, or why you keep reading. Tell me something about yourself. Tell me anything at all. I know I have a lot more people who read than who comment, so I’d love to know something about you.

So…please do!


What Stace had to say on Monday, August 10th, 2009
On Critiques 7; Bad Crit #1

Okay. Before I post the bad crit I just want to say again that this is deliberately obtuse, insulting, and useless, okay? The comments below IN NO WAY reflect my actual feelings about this piece, which is quite good. But my goal here is to use these as an exercise; you can leave in the comments what specifically is wrong with each critique comment. And yes, my goal is also to make this amusing. But in the main it’s a learning exercise. So please keep that in mind, and thank this brave author and those whose works are yet to come for volunteering to let me be ridiculously rude about their work.
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