Archive for July, 2010

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What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 29th, 2010
Some quick things and a Guest Post!

So, yes, unfortunately I was all stressed out earlier this week and it made me sick and I’m only just sort of moving around again. Well, I started moving around again yesterday but today I actually feel up to spending most of my time in a vertical position, which is, you know, pretty exciting.

Anyway. Yes, CITY OF GHOSTS was released, and I feel all bereft and weird that my summer release odyssey is complete and there are No More Worlds To Conquer and all of that. At least not until I get books 4 and 5 written, which I shall be starting next month!

But let me quickly point out for those of you who haven’t seen that we’ve done some updates to the site here, including some Deleted Scenes from UNHOLY MAGIC. Check the Fun Stuff page for more, well, fun stuff, an the Media page for interviews and guest blog posts on all sorts of different aspects of the Downside books and characters.

I’ll be back Tuesday with a much longer and more in-depth regular post–tomorrow morning I’m heading to Orlando to crash RWA for a day or two–and in the meantime, my friend David Bridger has just had a book release with Liquid Silver, and here’s here to do a little guest post for me and be all mushy and romantic and stuff. No, seriously, I make fun, because I’m immature, but it really is a lovely post, and David is a lovely man, so enjoy.

Thanks for inviting me, Stace. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be here with you today.

Since Beauty and the Bastard was released last week, I’ve been thinking about love a lot. Romantic love and other kinds of love, in life and in art.

I realised long ago that everything I write has love in it, and that came as no big surprise because I’ve always been a romantic. I’m someone who sees the romance storyline in action movies like The Terminator and Batman Begins. Yes, Stace, and Die Hard. [Hee! –SK]

Many paranormal romance and urban fantasy stories deal with love in its early stages, when everything is shiny new and heartstopping. And that’s great. I enjoy reading and writing that sort of love, especially when the world is exploding into some grim nightmare around the lovers and they have to deal with all that shit as well as coming to terms with their feelings for each other. It’s magical.

I’m on Team Terrible, by the way, but no spoilers please. Unholy Magic is still on my bedside table, waiting for this blog tour to end, and my pre-ordered City of Ghosts will arrive any time now, so you can bet my nose will be buried in them as soon as my feet touch the ground next week. Because Chess and Terrible? They’re exactly what I’m talking about here. (I hope. ? )

But the kind of love my thoughts have been dwelling on recently is an older love. One that’s had its share of good times and bad, yet still holds together. Maybe one that’s walked through hell and come out the other side, and still holds together.

My wife and I share a love like that.

We’d been married for nine years when our world slid into one of those grim nightmares, that are so great to read and write but not so great to live in. Up until then, we’d been through the normal variety of experiences and we were doing okay. We had three lovely daughters and each of us was enjoying a good career. Then I came home a bit war-damaged and everything changed.

I was paralysed at first, and we had no way of knowing if I’d ever move again. I did, but it was two years before that happened and several more years of wheelchairs and sticks until I got back on my own two feet again. It was very painful and very scary. And that was just for me.

She left her career to look after me. No quibble. No second thoughts. Just dropped it and came home to become a full-time carer. What neither of us knew about back then, is how full-time carers often become non-people as far as the rest of the world is concerned. So it wasn’t only me existing in a quiet cocoon while my old life sailed on without me. The same thing happened to her, too.

That part of our lives lasted about ten years, and it wasn’t fun. But she stuck with it. She’d be the first to tell you she isn’t a natural nurse, and that I’m certainly not a natural patient, but she stuck with me. And when we came out the other side, our love had been forged in fire. We’d been close before, but now we were a single unit.

Oh, I’m not going to pretend that we share some kind of hive mind. We’re two independent people and our ideas often differ. Sometimes loudly. But we’re strong together.

Which is why life became hell when she got sick last year. She was very ill for fifteen months. Still hasn’t recovered fully yet, but she’s on the mend now and it’s going to be okay. This time last year, though, we thought we were losing her.

I have never been so desolated, as the way I was when I considered what life would be like without her. At the time, she didn’t even know things were so bad. For the worst four months she was morphined up to the eyeballs and didn’t really know what was going on. But I knew, and I thought I was losing her.

It just hit me again now, remembering it.

You know where I’m going with this, don’t you? Our love, already strong and flexible and sharp, has been forged in the fire again. Twice-tempered steel has nothing on us.

That’s the kind of love I’ve been contemplating recently, and it’s that kind of love I want to write about soon.

What Stace had to say on Friday, July 23rd, 2010
Reviews & new CoG excerpt!

Four days and counting, my goodness. It’s almost here! And yes, as promised, I have another excerpt for you. Just a couple of quick things first (or probably last, since I bet you’ll go straight to the excerpt and then come back. That’s probably what I would do anyway, just like reading the last page when I get about 1/3 of the way through the book).

First, don’t forget tomorrow’s #UFChat on Twitter, which I’ll be answering questions in. You can get a bit more information on it here, if you like. It starts at 6 pm EST (3 PST) and I really hope you all come and say hi! Well, really, I hope anyone comes to say hi. This is the sort of event that gives me nightmares imagining it will just be me sitting there and no one else showing up. Seriously.

Next, there’s a new interview with me at The Literary Project. It’s not really about the books, it’s more about writing and career and personal stuff, and a bit about the difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. So worth checking out if any of that interests you.

A review or two! Murder by the Book bookseller John does a joint review of UM and CoG here:

I can’t say enough about how wonderful this whole series [is]. The plotting over the three book arc is top-notch. Once I finished City of Ghosts I felt like the three books together told a bigger story. That doesn’t happen often with books in a series.

And Book Chick City gives CoG a 10/10 review(!!) and says:

Unholy Ghosts and Unholy Magic stayed with me long after I read them and it was no different with City of Ghosts. There’s so many layers from the complex characters to the awesome world building of Downside. It’s full of witchy magic, action and romance, I literally couldn’t put this book down until I had read the very last word. I could go on and on about these books, they are just so brilliant! If you haven’t started this series, you MUST!

And last but not least, don’t forget the big-ass Name a Character Contest! I’m really excited by the number of entries I’ve gotten so far, and I hope to get plenty more, too! And I’m really hoping word spreads and more people give the books a try, too.

But anyway! On to the excerpt!! This is from Chapter Thirty.

And again, it is a bit spoilery. I tried to find one that wasn’t, and this one isn’t terribly so, but do be warned. Click at your own risk!

Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
…and still more stuff!

Well! Last night (or actually early this morning) I sent Frauke at Croco Designs, the lady who designed this fabulous site and still does the more complicated updates for me (which is most of them, frankly), a very very long list of updates. Included in those are a bunch of interview links, and bunch of guest blog links (mostly about different aspects of the Downside books), some new sidebar links, the Downside playlists with buy links, and a bunch of other stuff. I also sent her a separate file with four or five deleted scenes from UNHOLY MAGIC, with commentary explaining why they were deleted. I don’t actually have any deleted scenes for UNHOLY GHOSTS, to be honest, but there are a few for CITY OF GHOSTS as well, and those will go up a couple of weeks after that book’s release. Which is Tuesday! Ack!

(One thing about the deleted scenes that I think will be really fun: I wrote a scene for UM that ended up getting cut. But I really really liked the scene, so I rewrote a little bit of it–the intro part, basically–and stuck it in CITY OF GHOSTS. But as I edited CoG, I decided the scene still didn’t work as written, so I rewrote it again, extensively this time. So there will be a few versions of that scene, and you’ll be able to compare them all, if you’re the type of person who enjoys stuff like that.)

So look for all of that soon. I’m really excited about it.

Another thing I’m quite excited about is the fact that my blog series “Be a Sex-writing Strumpet,” with which I know some of you are familiar, is now available on Kindle! So you can buy a paperback from Lulu, or an ebook from Lulu, or a Kindle version from Amazon. And of course, as always, the series is free here on the blog; just click the “be a sex-writing strumpet” tag in the sidebar.

I offer the series as an actual book because I had a lot of requests to do so, and I charge for it in those formats because people convinced me to do so by saying they wanted to pay me something for it, but you absolutely do not have to buy the book to read and enjoy the series. You don’t and you never will have to. I wrote it as a blog series, and it will remain a blog series. The book formats are just there to make it easier for people if they like, and so they don’t have to keep clicking all over my blog if they want to read it. I still get website hits for that series almost every day, which just stuns me; if you type “be a se” into google the second auto-finish term it offers is “be a sex-writing strumpet.” It’s just insane, it really is. I never imagined when I wrote it that people would enjoy it so much and find it so useful, and that’s amazingly gratifying. Also, having it on Amazon offers people a chance to write a review for it, which would be fantastic; it’d be really cool to see some feedback on it after all this time! And of course you could all review all of my books if you want, heh.

Also exciting to me is the Name a Character Contest! I’m thrilled at how enthusiastic you all are! Thank you so much! I did want to let you know that I am checking the #cityofghosts tag on Twitter regularly, and keeping track of the entries there, as well as the emails and blog post links I’m getting. If at any time you want to double-check the number of entries you have, feel free to email either the Downside Army email address or me, or use the contact form here on the site (which of course also comes to me). Make sure you include your Twitter name, if you have one, or whatever other information I might need to identify you.

Tomorrow evening sometime I plan to post a new snippety excerpt from CITY OF GHOSTS, so be on the lookout for that!

I know I say this a lot, and you guys are probably tired of hearing it, but I really honestly am amazed by how enthusiastic the response has been to the series. I never expected it, I really didn’t, and it’s absolutely amazing. I can’t thank you all enough.

So let’s see, what else? I’m going to be popping down to the RWA convention in Orlando next week for a couple of days. I know, I know, it’s RWA, but I’m not actually registering/paying for the convention, I’m just hanging out in the bar, really. I’d decided–and basically committed to–doing so when it was supposed to be in Nashville, which is only like two hours away. Of course, tragic floods intervened, and now it’s in Orlando which is considerably farther, but like I said, I’d already committed. And it’s not a bad drive. I like driving by myself. I mean, I like to drive, period, but I especially like driving by myself. I can turn the music up loud and sing along, I can flip through the radio stations all I want, stop or don’t stop as I please…whee! I’m almost more excited about the drive than the con itself, much like I was when I drove to Massachusetts to see Caitlin before we went to RT. Of course, I was excited about the convention, but that really was an awfully fun drive.

Anyway, I think this post is unfortunately a bit dull. Too much news and stuff to keep track of. I’ll try to be more fun again shortly. For now my head is so full of nervousness (over CoG’s release; what if you all hate it? What if nobody buys it?), projects I’m working on (loosely mentally plotting the 4th Downside book, and lots of stuff for the new WIP/series I’m working on), netbooks (hee, I am totally getting one asap!), our trip to Florida to see my BFF next month–we’ll be there for my birthday–and of course the usual family things. So forgive me, please. I’ll be more interesting next time. Anything you want me to blog about? Feel free to ask!

Oh! And speaking of questions, I wanted to let everyone know that this Saturday the 24th at three pm, I’ll be participating in Twitter’s first #UFChat! You can find a bit more info about it here. Either way, come and hang out, follow the hash tag, and please ask any questions you want, as many as you want! I’m hoping it’s going to be a lot of fun (and, you know, that people actually participate).

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
All Kinds of Stuff

One week to the release of CITY OF GHOSTS, and I’m doing a big contest, so stay tuned for details!

Let’s clear some other things out of the way first. I have some really exciting news! We’ve sold Polish rights to the Megan Chase series to Amber Publishing, the same company putting out the Polish Downside books! Foreign translations are just the coolest thing, so I’m really thrilled about this!

And speaking of the Downside books, we have a couple of new UNHOLY MAGIC reviews!

Vampire Book Club gives it five stars and says:

With increased intensity, Kane delivers an action-packed, dark urban fantasy novel that will leave you reeling for days after finishing it. (We actually pre-ordered the third novel, City of Ghosts, the day after completion of Unholy Magic because we don’t want to waste even a day not knowing what will happen with Chess, her job, the love-triangle and the others within Downside.)

Smokin’ Hot Books also gives it five stars (to both books in one review, actually):

Unholy Ghosts and Unholy Magic are two of the best books I’ve read of 2010 and 2009. I’m not going to lie, the second book will tear your heart out, you may even find yourself emotionally ‘stress eating’ but so worth it. I promise! This series has grit, angst, violence, and pulls you in with each page – if you haven’t read this series, get thee to a bookstore post haste!

Vampire Book Club also has an interview with me, and a giveaway contest for both UNHOLY GHOSTS and UNHOLY MAGIC. So if you haven’t yet read them, there’s your chance!

There’s another interview with me, conducted by Daniela, a very sweet German blogger I chanced upon one day (she was blogging about GEISTERFLUT, the German edition of UNHOLY GHOSTS which will be released in Feb 2011, and I said hello, and it went on from there). Anyway, she asked me some kind of neat questions, and you can find it here. The interview is first in English, then in German; hee, look at my perfect German! And don’t you love that German cover? I can’t wait to see what they do with the other two! Obviously, the bangs aren’t there, ha, but who cares when it’s that pretty and atmospheric?

Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Saturday, July 17th, 2010
CITY OF GHOSTS playlist and excerpt

I can’t believe we’re only ten days away from the release of CITY OF GHOSTS, the third Downside book and the last one releasing this summer; it’ll probably be a year or so before the fourth one comes out, but of course we’ll see. The last month or two has absolutely flown by for me. I think I’ve been busier than I’ve ever been in my life, but it’s been absolutely amazing too, and I can’t thank each and every one of you enough.

Anyway, in anticipation of that release, I’m posting the playlist for CITY OF GHOSTS, and a new excerpt!

2. BORN TO LOSE–Johnny Thunders
3. ONE TRACK MIND–Johnny Thunders
5. GLORIA–Them*
6. BORN WITH A TAIL–Supersuckers
8. GODDAMN BOTTLE–The Lazy Cowgirls
9. GO MOTHERFUCKER GO–Nashville Pussy

*This song was actually cut from the book at the last minute, when I’d already set up the playlist. Also, the list should include BLANK GENERATION by Richard Hell, which would go in between the two Thunders songs and Fear.

You can purchase the list through iTunes here, if you’re so inclined. Remember, I don’t get anything when you buy the lists; the bands do, which is great. I just set them up in case people are interested, and would like to hear/have the songs mentioned in the books.

And here’s a new excerpt! As always, this is from the pre-copyedited version of the manuscript, so may differ slightly from the final version. If you haven’t read UNHOLY GHOSTS or especially if you haven’t finished UNHOLY MAGIC, this will be spoilery, so read at your own risk! Also, if you haven’t yet dowloaded the three-chapter sample of the book and would like to, you can do so on the CITY OF GHOSTS page here on the site.

So, this is from Chapter Eight.
Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Friday, July 16th, 2010
Wrap-ups and reviews

I have a few final thoughts on my little art and compromise series, but first I have a couple of new reviews for UNHOLY MAGIC I’d like to share.

Book Chick City calls it “one of the best books [she’s] ever read,” and says:

For me, Unholy Magic has the precise combination and balance of everything I love about the urban fantasy genre: action, romance, complex but likeable characters and world building. I adored this book so much from beginning to end – just perfect.

Smexy Books says:

Kane has written one of the most dark and disturbing Urban Fantasy’s I have read in a long time. This story drug me in, striped me bare, then rebuilt me page by page till the end. Enticing and addicting from page one…

5 out of 5 from The Fiction Vixen: In trying to come up with an adjective to describe the over all tone and feel of this story, I came up short. Gritty seems weak in reference to this book and just does not cover it. I had a brief twitter conversation about the Downside series and I eventually came up with this: Unholy Magic spits on gritty and calls its mother names. Yes, this book is that bad ass! Stacia Kane has written an amazing, spine tingling novel in Unholy Magic, taking me by surprise by surpassing even the brilliance of its predecessor Unholy Ghosts.

Last but certainly not least, we have Barnes & Noble’s Paul Goat Allen on the B&N Explorations blog, a man who’s been reading and reviewing fantasy for twenty years or so:

The bottom line is this – never before in paranormal fantasy have I read a series that features the combination of grand scale world building, labyrinthine storyline, superb character development, and social relevance. Stacia Kane’s Downside saga is taking paranormal fantasy to another level right before our eyes…

I challenge anyone who has never read a paranormal fantasy before to read this series – I’ll guarantee you that you never look at paranormal fantasy the same way again.

So, um, all of those are really nice to get.

But they do kind of have something to do with my art posts, honestly they do. Because yesterday the first post, But is it Art?was linked to on io9. Which was also pretty cool.

But I found the comments over there really interesting, in that so many of them seemed to automatically assume that you must compromise in order to get published, that it was necessary. That if you want to be published you have to expect you’ll be told to change things.

That hasn’t been my experience at all, frankly. While UNHOLY GHOSTS isn’t everything I’d envisioned it being when I started writing it, that’s my failure; I wasn’t asked to tone anything down or change anything fundamental about the story, characters, or world. Not one thing. Not in any of the Downside books, in fact. Not in any of the Demons books, either. Hell, DEMON INSIDE has a ritual cannibalism scene involving the hero of the series. Nobody asked me to take that out or tone it down or change it. Nobody has asked me to change or tone down anything I’ve written, frankly, with the sole exception of–as I’ve mentioned before–the incestuous rape scene in DEMON’S TRIAD, and that was perfectly understandable and perfectly okay with Anna and I; we’d inadvertently made it a bit sexier than it should have been and so needed to tone it down. That wasn’t a compromise. We weren’t asked to remove the rape, which was female-on-male. We were just asked not to make it titillating, and like I said, we were happy to do so.

That is honestly the only time in my entire career that I can think of where I was asked to change something in one of my books, and that’s not really a change at all. I’ve never had to give up on anything truly important to me. I honestly don’t know anyone who has.

Yes, saying that does sort of negate the whole point of the first post. And I think it’s important to remember that DEMON’S TRIAD was an X-rated ebook, sold with a warning; that scene very well may not have flown in NY, especially NY genre romance. UNHOLY GHOSTS and the Downside books are urban fantasies, which also give me a bit more leeway. As I said on Tuesday, if you want to write a cannibal love story (in mine, it was ritualistic and involved non-humans, remember) you may have problems. There are a lot of difficult subjects that you may indeed need to wait to write, until you have a bigger name or more solid standing.

But I also believe it comes down to the writing. I’d never sold to NY when I signed with my agent for UNHOLY GHOSTS, and the series was my first NY sale. I had no standing in the industry (not that I think I do now; I’m still nobody, really). But my agent and several editors felt my writing was strong enough, my story, characters, and worldbuilding compelling enough, that they didn’t care about the slightly difficult subject.

Which brings us full circle. Getting published isn’t about compromising. getting published is about writing. It’s about characters and story. Focus on those, and on being true to them and to yourself, and on giving your work that emotional depth and making it as strong as you possibly can. That’s how you get published, not by giving in or giving up or whatever.

Tomorrow I’m going to post the CITY OF GHOSTS playlist, I think, and a weekend SNeak Peek. I’m also thinking of a contest of some kind, to name a character in the fourth Downside book? Trying to think of a fun way to have people enter; I’m thinking of doing a Twitter contest using the #cityofghosts hashtag HarperVoyager already came up with. Thoughts? Anybody interested?

What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 15th, 2010
What are we afraid of?

On Tuesday we discussed whether or not writing was art, and how much of ourselves writers should put into their work. And it kind of struck me, as the discussion ran along similar lines at Romance Divas, as I was writing the post, and as I was preparing this one, that if we’re going to accept books as art and writers as artists…are writers the only artists who are regularly expected to completely distance themselves from their art? To act as if it has nothing to do with them?

I think this perhaps happens a bit more in genre fiction. I do believe there’s a sense that literary fiction is more artistic, that it’s deeper and more expressive or whatever. I think literary fiction writers are allowed to “get away with” stuff genre fiction writers could never even attempt.

But why is that? Is it because we think genre fiction is easier to write? Anyone who’s tried to write it can tell you it’s not. Is it because we think since the stories have certain general tropes that they’re not as original, or again, that they’re easy to write? Maybe. Maybe there is a sense out there that genre fiction isn’t art because we’re just putting a bunch of elements together in the same way as everyone else does, and that it doesn’t require any real depth from the writer. Which, as we discussed a bit on Tuesday, I think is frankly bullshit. In order to create a fully fleshed-out character you have to do some digging. In order to create a real and complex world you need to do that. If you want to make your story mean anything to readers, elicit any emotion in readers, you need to elicit that emotion in yourself, which means digging deep and–again–being honest. You can’t hide or lie to readers in your work.

But I do think there’s a weird kind of pressure on genre fiction writers to not let on that they see themselves or think of themselves as artists. There’s a definite pressure to act like their art means nothing to them, like it’s an entity completely separate from them.

Think of it this way. If a painter has a gallery show, and a critic ravages his work, does anyone frown and kick up a fuss if the artist gets upset about it? Does anyone remind him that reviews don’t exist to make him feel better, but to inform art lovers whether or not his work is worth their time? Not as far as I know. People expect the artist to be upset about terrible reviews. They expect him to be temperamental; hell, we all know what the phrase “artistic temperament” means, don’t we?

Now, I am NOT, absolutely NOT, implying in any way that reviewers don’t have the right to say whatever they want about books, or that reviews aren’t for readers and not writers–they absolutely are–or that writers should be allowed to freak out all over the internet and threaten people or name crack whore characters after people who gave them bad reviews or whatever. No, no, no, I’m not saying that at all, not one bit; you all know how I feel about that. This post isn’t about reviewers or reviews, except insomuch as they can be another example of what I feel is the expectation that genre fiction writers not consider themselves artists, not think or talk about themselves as artists, and not act as though their art is important to them. Like caring about your work has become synonymous somehow with freak-out rants and threats, instead of just…caring about your work. I’m not implying in any way that this sort of pressure comes solely from reviewers or readers, either; it comes from other writers just as much if not more.

Let’s take the “book as baby” cliche. Now, I am 100% in favor of the “Your book is NOT your baby,” reply to that one. I’ve had two babies. I’ve written over a dozen novels. I can tell you they’re entirely different.

And yes, you should be able to distance yourself from your work to some extent. Your work isn’t you. People are going to have differing opinions about your work; some may love it, some may hate it. Just like some people like you and some people hate you, and we try to learn from an early age that a lot of peoples’ opinions just don’t matter, that the only people whose opinions we should care about are our families and close friends, our bosses, whatever. You know what I mean.

But at the same time, as we discussed a bit on Tuesday, when you write you do put a lot of yourself into the work. And a lot of people will decide from that work that they can judge or define you as a person; that they somehow know you because they’ve read your books. And as I said, maybe they do. I don’t know what people think of me after reading my books, or what sort of person they think I am, or what clues to that they’ve found in my work. And this sort of judgment has always taken place, and still takes place, everywhere from the largest newspaper in the country to the smallest review blog. People always want to analyze the writer through his or her work, and they always want to analyze the work by connecting it to what they know of the writer. That’s normal; it’s just the way it goes. But again, that seems to be the case for literary fiction and not genre fiction.

I don’t believe genre fiction is any less artistic than literary fiction. I don’t believe genre fiction writers put any less of themselves into their work or expose themselves any less, at least not good genre fiction writers. I’m tired of fantasy or science fiction or romance being treated like they’re not “real” books. But I also wonder, at what point does that become, not a self-fulfilling prophecy, but one which we ourselves contribute to?

See, every time we as genre fiction writers huff indignantly that our work isn’t that special to us, that it’s not our baby, that it’s not ourselves, maybe we contribute to the idea that genre fiction isn’t art and shouldn’t be treated/considered as such. Maybe we contribute to the idea that we haven’t put anything of ourselves into the work, that we haven’t actually written anything of depth or truth.

It comes into the “professionalism” argument as well. We’re all so worried about being professional, about being easy to work with and seeing our work as a commodity and ourselves as commodities and all of that…have we become so focused on publishing as a business that we’ve forgotten about the magic of it? About the art? Have we tried so hard to be seen as professionals, not as silly women writing silly things or whatever, that we’ve stripped away some of the joy, and turned art into drudgery? We don’t want to say our work matters to us because that’s not a professional attitude; but you tell me in what other profession people are expected not to care about their work? Why can’t we be professional and still deeply invested in what we do?

It seems sometimes as if that attitude, the “Oh, my work is just what I do for a living, it doesn’t really mean that much to me, I’m totally cool, yo,” attitude, is expected of us. And I’m not sure why. Is it because we do see the occasional stunning online meltdown, with ranting and name-calling and “Wicca curses” and the ever-popular “I’d like to see you write a book, mean girl!” and we all want to distance ourselves from that as much as possible? Maybe. Is it because in some ways genre fiction feels more like a popularity contest than literary fiction, by which I mean we’re expected to network with our readers and interact with them; we’re expected to be accessible and friendly and open, in a way I don’t think litfic writers are? (I could be totally wrong about that, it’s just the impression I get and something I’ve noticed). Litfic writers get on Oprah; genre fiction writers get on Twitter.

I love interacting with readers, I honestly do. I don’t mind the expectation that I promote and Tweet and blog and all of that other stuff, because I enjoy doing all of that. But again, I wonder if the desire to be liked by readers, the desire to be popular, to not offend them, to make them want to support us, has made us deny our art? Has made us put it down or act like it’s nothing special or important in order to seem like just one of the gals, as it were? If we say our work is important, or imply that we’ve done something special that only we can do (by which I mean expressing our own individual truth and telling our own individual story, not writing in general; certainly neither I nor any of my friends are the only people who can write) then we’re not implying to our readers that we think we’re better than them. We’re equalizing with them. We’re being careful not to let a hint of ego or arrogance leak into the air around us, because if they think we’re an asshole they might not buy our books. Hell, even just talking about what our goals were or what we hoped to accomplish with our books can be seen as pretentious or entitled or whatever else.

And I do think that’s part of it as well. Sometimes it feels as thought the denial of genre fiction as art is really writers being told to get the hell over themselves, they only wrote a fantasy novel, you know?

I admit part of that is true. As proud as I am of the Downside books and as much of myself as I put into them, I don’t think they’re WAR AND PEACE. I know they’re not.

But they are art. They are my art. They are an expression of something deep inside me and the way I see the world. That’s what art is; the expression of something to elicit an emotional reaction, remember?

I’m happy to distance myself from that art when necessary; I don’t show up screaming on review blogs if someone didn’t love my work. I don’t reply to Amazon reviews or whatever. That’s not my place. I will freely admit that my books are not my babies, and I will let them go, and let people interpret them as they may. All of that is fine, and expected, and right.

But what I will not do any longer is pretend that my books aren’t part of me, and that they don’t matter, and that they aren’t art. Because they are.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
but is it art?

This is something I’ve been thinking of for a while, and have wanted to post about for a while, too. It’s probably the first post of a few, and I warn you, I may ramble a bit.

A few weeks ago over on the Romance Divas forum a discussion was started about honesty in your writing, and what that means. It moved on into discussions of art and connection to your work as art, which I’m also going to discuss. So basically we’re going to have a big mishmash of Stacia’s Deep Thoughts about writing, which will hopefully be fun for everyone, but of course we’ll see, won’t we?

Anyway. The initial question, posted by the lovely and talented Kate Pearce, was whether or not we, as writers, compromise ourselves–change what we want to write–in order to sell the work or make it “acceptable” to a particular audience; do we stop ourselves from writing things readers might react badly to. Keeping in mind we’re discussing genre fiction, and genre fiction has certain conventions and reader expectations. All of which are, of course, perfectly fine; readers are entitled to expect the book they pick up will be what the cover and bookstore shelving or whatever promises them it will be.

But at what point do we stop writing what we want to write in order to be successful? At what point do we suffer for refusing to do so?

The thing is, your writing should excite you. Not ‘excite” as discussed in the Strumpet series, lol (although sometimes it should, depending on what you’re writing), but excite as in fire you up intellectually and creatively. I firmly believe that if what you’re writing doesn’t do that, the reader will sense it. The writing will be flat. The story will seem cliche. And frankly, a flat, cliche story stands very little chance of selling (yes, there are exceptions, but in general, and especially when it comes to first-time authors or those just beginning careers). This post isn’t about writing techniques, though. It’s about the deeper aspects of writing, the emotional stuff, the stuff we couch in skill.
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What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Wow, this is late in the day to be posting.

Seriously, guys, I cannot recall ever being this busy in my life. I mean, in normal everyday life, not, like, the weeks before my children were born when suddenly the entire house needed to be scrubbed and redecorated, or the weeks before my wedding when the entire house needed to be scrubbed and redecorated and I had a houseful of guests and I needed to get manicures and hairdos and fittings and all of that stuff, or when we move. This is just my daily task-list growing longer and longer. (Oh, and before I forget, did you all see the UNHOLY MAGIC playlist on iTunes? You know I don’t get paid or anything when you purchase it, but the artists do; I just put them together in case anyone was curious about the music in the books and would like to hear it. This way you don’t have to hunt around and not know which songs are mentioned or whatever.)

I just finished a short story for an anthology; it’s a Downside story but because I didn’t want to give spoilers, and am well aware that most readers have never heard of me or my books, I wrote it from an outsider’s point of view, which was fun. You know what the most fun part of it was, though, which is really weird? Getting to actually describe Chess head to foot. You know, it’s hard to find ways to describe characters when you write from their POV; you don’t want to use hoary old tricks like them looking at themselves in the mirror, and really, just about any other sort of trick to describe your characters feel hoary.

MC: Oh, Friend #1, I hate my hair.

Friend #1: Nonsense. I wish I had long blond curls like yours.

Do you know what I mean? I don’t describe my characters too closely, I don’t think of them in terms of what actor they look like and would never describe them that way. I like to leave that up to you guys to fill in, really. Which makes me think of a fun contest! Which I may mention at the end of this post.

Anyway. So it was really fun to write a short where, because the MC of that story doesn’t know these people, he can actually take in the details of their appearances. They’re still not really facially described, but there’s a much more complete description, down to things like what Chess’s bag actually looks like. (I’ll share that one; it’s faded army-green canvas.) The story is tentatively titled Rick the Brave, but I’m still trying to come up with something better.

Now I have two other projects on my plate, one of which is another short for something else, and one of which is a new series-starter WIP which I’m extremely excited about. I’m not super far into it yet, but what I have I’m very happy with, which is a great feeling. It’s tentatively called Stone and Steam, but that will probably change.

I also have a to-do list which includes five interviews, which I really need to get to. And, I’ve got a couple of dozen emails and forum messages in my inbox from readers, relating to the Downside books, which I swear I will answer, my days have just been disappearing from me lately. But I do get those emails, I do read them, and I do appreciate them immensely. Nothing in this world is as amazing as getting an email from a reader who loved your work. (Well, okay. Sorry readers, but there are a few better moments, I have to admit. Holding your baby for the first time is pretty fucking amazing. But outside of stuff like that, reader email tops the list.)

BUT. That does bring me to a question most of the emails have been asking, and a ton of people on Twitter have been asking, as well as here on the blog. And I really wasn’t able to answer the question, although I’ve known the answer for, oh, three weeks or so now. Ready?

YES. There WILL be more Downside books!!

I don’t have any more details I can share as to number or dates or anything, although I think I can pretty safely say, considering it’s now July, that we’re talking about next year. We’re still working a lot of details out. But I’m extremely pleased and excited, and I hope you guys are too. Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Monday, July 5th, 2010
Day before release day

Something *very* exciting happened on Saturday! I got up and popped on over to check my email–like I do–and had a message from a friend of mine in England, asking if I was aware that UNHOLY GHOSTS was in the Times. Uh…no. What times? The Times, as in the London Times? The real Times of London, not, like, the Sempford Peverell Times or the Clovery-Buttington Times or something.

No. It was the real Times, in London, the real national newspaper TIMES. They had a pullout section for summer reading, and UNHOLY GHOSTS was one of the six books their reviewer chose as their Summer Fantasy Picks!

So as you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about that.

Second, we have a couple of reviews for UNHOLY MAGIC, which, yes, will be released tomorrow*. From Abigail at ALL THINGS URBAN FANTASY:

Like any drug, the first taste gets your attention but its the second taste that gets you hooked. I though the first Downside Ghosts book, Unholy Ghosts, was an impressive debut, but UNHOLY MAGIC is even better. I am well and truly addicted to this dark, seductive urban fantasy series.

From Wicked Lil Pixie, FIVE stars:

Unholy Magic is book two in the Downside Ghosts series & without a doubt my favorite new series of 2010…I tried real hard to read Unholy Magic slowly, because the wait for City of Ghosts may be too much for me. I think I’m already going into withdrawals. Stacia Kane does not disappoint & crafts one of the most original new series of [the year].

*I’ve heard quite a few reports that the book is already on shelves, and have heard from quite a few readers who have already bought & finished the book. So it’s worth checking at your local bookstore today, if you don’t want to wait. As I’ve said in the past, I don’t care when you buy it as long as you do!

Also, yes, I will be excerpting the first three chapters of CITY OF GHOSTS, which will be out July 27 in the US (I believe the UK/AU release date is August 5[?]) here on the site, and will probably post those chapters next week, along with various excerpts here on the blog throughout the next few weeks.

And of course, since we have a release coming, we have an excerpt today. This is from Chapter Fifteen, as Chess investigates her latest Debunking case at the home of Roger Pyle, a television actor, and his wife Kym (I’ve truncated this excerpt a bit; the sequence is longer in the actual book):

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