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?

12 comments to “Wrap-ups and reviews”

  1. Synde
    Comment
    1
    · July 16th, 2010 at 11:58 am · Link

    Omg would LOVE a name a character contest!!!
    Also awesome reviews and congrats on theI09 linkage!!



    • Moonsanity (Brenda)
      Comment
      1.1
      · July 16th, 2010 at 1:04 pm · Link

      That would be cool on the contest, that is. The reviews and being featured on i09 is neat too. :mrgreen:



  2. Lura
    Comment
    2
    · July 16th, 2010 at 1:35 pm · Link

    Congrats on the wonderful reviews!

    I have got to get these books… ^_^



  3. Allie
    Comment
    3
    · July 16th, 2010 at 2:06 pm · Link

    LOL! What happened to the last contest???

    You totally earned the wonderful reviews – I’m so glad the books are getting the recognition they deserve.

    p.s. can’t wait for the sneak peek! Literally :mrgreen:



    • Stace
      Comment
      3.1
      · July 16th, 2010 at 4:42 pm · Link

      DOH!! Thanks for reminding me, sheesh! I feel awful, I’m sorry!



      • Allie
        Comment
        3.1.1
        · July 16th, 2010 at 6:13 pm · Link

        LOL, wasn’t a criticism – I follow your tweets – your life is INSANELY busy at the moment 😉



  4. BernardL
    Comment
    4
    · July 16th, 2010 at 2:40 pm · Link

    Paul Goat Allen describes your series perfectly and his words need a repeat: 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.

    Oh Yeah!



    • Cameron
      Comment
      4.1
      · July 16th, 2010 at 5:48 pm · Link

      Congrats to these reviewers for recognizing exceptional stories when they see them! 😈

      This goes back to your previous post, but for me, this is the thing about negative reviews or even critical comments in positive reviews that’s often the hardest to swallow. It’s when they’re right. It’s when they’re telling you something you already know and can’t do anything about.

      Every book is in some sense a failure, because it can never completely live up to your vision. You know it going in, you know it when you submit the final manuscript, and you really know it when a reviewer points it out. It’s salt on the wound.

      The irrational hatefests are comparatively easy to ignore.



  5. Cameron
    Comment
    5
    · July 16th, 2010 at 5:50 pm · Link

    I botched that spectacularly! This was the sentence I attempted to quote:

    “While UNHOLY GHOSTS isn’t everything I’d envisioned it being when I started writing it, that’s my failure…”

    😳



  6. Michele Lee
    Comment
    6
    · July 16th, 2010 at 8:36 pm · Link

    In the io9 comments you can clearly see the kind of snobbery SF/F fans and successful authors encounter. But then, you shouldn’t sweat it Stacia because certain kinds of people flock to io9 and others see it for the ad selling-buzz generator it is.

    I too, have had my worked edited, every time I’ve been published, actually, and not once has anyone made more that spelling or grammar changes. I’ve not had to compromise my writing.

    The thing is, there’s writing for yourself and writing for an audience, and yeah, if you’re writing for an audience you do have to cater to them in some small ways. I get so tired of the “sell out” accusations thrown at successful writers. And it’s usually by people who are writing shallow knock offs. To write for yourself the story has to mean something to you. To write for an audience it has to communicate something to the audience. If the audience “doesn’t get it” You HAVE to wonder if you’ve communicated it clearly. It’s no different than if you were talking to someone and they didn’t understand.

    I’ve dealt with a few writers who refused to “write by other people’s standards of publishable”. And at least one book was not terrible, but the main storyline was a love story between a passive, sweet woman and a jerk who was taking advantage of her. I pointed out early on that this would be a problem (a hero with no redeeming qualities) and the author told me she wants to write “normal” and “anti-hero” characters. That’s all fine and good, but to engage the audience the anti-hero needs to be either really charming despite being evil (like Lestat) or potentially redeemable, or misunderstood. She refused to consider these things and adamantly refused to “write inside a box”.

    Most people who know they have a nontraditional or hard to market book don’t go around throwing the excuse they refuse to sacrifice their art or anything similar. They just say they have an odd book…Look at Ilona Andrews’ second series (On the Edge and Bayou Moon) and I yeah, I had problems selling Rot because it’s 1) a novella and 2) zombies but not undead apocalypse zombies, but I still sold it and it’s done well.

    Now I’m trying to sell a paranormal biohorror, which I know will also be difficult. You don’t find the two together, equally, often. Usually either it’s and UF with implied biohorror, or biohorror that hints at paranormal. But I know it’s publishable quality as far as storytelling and such goes.

    So I guess it comes down to how people use it, as a debate, an issue to talk about or as an excuse.



  7. Shiloh Walker
    Comment
    7
    · July 17th, 2010 at 10:15 am · Link

    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.

    Oh for crying out loud. O.o

    I haven’t once been asked to change anything other than plot holes, grammatical errors and that sort of thing in my published books.

    I do have one book that’s on submission with an epress and there were some changes they wanted made that I didn’t want to make-we discussed it, and I hope we’ve reached a mutual agreement. If not, I’ll take the book elsewhere.

    But getting published doesn’t require compromise.

    Getting published, first and foremost, requires a compelling story. There’s definitely more to it-getting it in front of the right editor at the right time, etc etc etc, but if the story isn’t compelling…?



  8. tori aka ggs_closet
    Comment
    8
    · July 17th, 2010 at 9:14 pm · Link

    A naming the character contest would be fab!!
    Wonderful reviews; but you deserve them all. :)



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