Archive for August, 2010

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What Stace had to say on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
How Babies are Made Part III: Delivery

Heh, see how neatly that little analogy comes together? I’m just so clever.

(Part one of this little series can be found here. Part two is here.)

When last we left little FOUR on its journey to the bookshelves, I was forcing myself to look at my stupid galleys, the Sales people were tallying the number of orders they managed to coerce and blackmail out of the poor bookstore buyers, my publicist was, well, probably dealing with far more important people than me. But she’s also probably getting together a list of review magazines/sites/blogs/whatevers to send ARCs to, if the publisher is doing ARCs, which they don’t always.

In dramatic time, it’s around June, or five months prior to release date.

16. Using the copyedited ms that was sent to me as a galley, the file is sent to the printer for ARCs if they’re being done. The timing on this bit is a tad sketchy, and really depends on how close we are to release date. But generally, if I’m not mistaken, ARCs are printed from that same ms that was sent to me, either with my corrections or before my corrections are added. They aren’t printed immediately, but they’re sent to enter a queue at the printer. This is why ARCs say “UNCORRECTED PROOF” in big letters, and it’s why you may get an ARC that is essentially pristine but another with more errors; some mss don’t get as many editing passes before it goes to ARC, because of the lead-time required.

17. I send my galleys back. I have now Officially Signed Off–so to speak–on the book. Nothing should be changed now that I have not approved.

Not that the galley process is done, oh no. My changes are input, and another galley is printed. That galley is reviewed in-house, for typos or errors that may have been missed the first umpteen times everyone looked at the ms. (By now we all hate my book, and wish it would just go away so we wouldn’t have to look at the damned thing ever again.) If there are any changes made, those are inputted again.

18. Cover art is finalized. This actually happened a while ago but I forgot to put it in. But it’s all done now. Sometimes, if the bookstores don’t seem too enthusiastic about a particular cover when the Sales teams visit them, a new one is quickly put together. That happens more often than you might think, but not as often as it might seem. (Hee.) Anyway. So you might have a new cover being finalized now, so it’s not totally out of place here.

19. ARCs are printed in August, and sent out shortly after to those reviewers etc. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a few; my agent will get a buttload (that’s about twenty, for books) of them as well to send to the foreign market to try to convince them how great I am and that they should totally buy foreign rights for my books or they’ll be sorry because who could resist such a bundle of fabulosity? Nobody, that’s who.

ARCs must be sent out at least three months in advance of the deadline dates for the November issues of whatever magazines or whatever the book is being sent to. At LEAST. If we want reviews in those magazines the month of release, we have to meet their deadlines.

20. Everything is sent off to the printers now. Whoo! That galley that dozens of people have looked at, and that all those people in the Production department lovingly entered and checked and checked and entered, and those nifty covers, are put together into a special file and sent off.

21. Books are printed. It’s probably, let’s say…the middle of October. Or rather, for a November 1st on-sale date, the printing will need to be finished by the middle of October. Why? Because now we have shipping & distribution, which is a whole big thing I only know a very little bit about. But I will share that little bit of knowledge with you, dearies.

22. All of those books are printed, boxed, and shipped to the distributer and/or warehouser. I used to be better able to explain the difference, but it’s not particularly important at the moment. All you need to know is, they divide the books into the amounts of boxes that go to, say, B&N, Borders, and Amazon. There are about fifty books in a box. For smaller indie stores or other online venues they may break up some of those boxes, so Murder by the Book in Houston might get twenty copies of FOUR and ten copies each of UG, UM, and CoG, because of course everyone wants to buy lots and lots of my books, right? Why would a bookstore stock any others?

23. Anyway. The books for B&N et al go to their big divisional warehouses, according to what sells in that area. Like, if UF sells big in the Northwest, the Northwest will get 5000 copies, whereas an area like the upper Midwest may only get 2000 because that genre doesn’t sell so much there. From those regional warehouses they get distributed and shipped to the individual stores.

24. It is now probably a week or so before release date. If all goes well, and according to the way it should, those boxes should sit in the storerooms of the individual stores until release day, when they are unboxed and placed lovingly on the shelves or towers or front tables by happy, smiling booksellers, all of whom love me and want to force their customers to buy my books even if said customer is a ten-year-old boy (hey, these are sales numbers we’re talking about. I’m ruthless).

What often happens is the poor, overworked booksellers, who just want to fill the shelves, or who have plans next Tuesday (books are released on Tuesdays, just like DVDs, unless they’re superspecial Event releases like Harry Potter books or something) and so want to get the hell out of that store that day, or whatever, will open boxes early and put the books on the shelves. It happens. And I still say that unless and until someone learns they lost out on hitting the NYT because fifty copies sold the week prior, it’s something writers should just suck up. Yes, it’s better when they wait. We all love it when they wait. It reminds us that there is order in the universe, and that sometimes that order is Good and Just, and makes us feel that sweet “all is right with the world,” sort of feeling as we tuck into our little beds at night.

But there is also Chaos in the world, and books getting shelved on Saturday because Melinda’s manager told her to stop standing around like that and just fucking do something are part of that Chaos. Yin and Yang, people, Yin and Yang.

25. Books are on the shelves! Oh, happy day! Now is the best part. All of you wonderful reader people can lie up outside the bookstore at eight a.m., wearing your Downside t-shirts and stuff (hey, this is my damn fantasy here so shut up), singing songs and drinking beer or whatever until the bookstore opens, the cops show up, an impromptu musical number breaks out, or all of the above, and you buy your copies of FOUR, which you then rush home to shower with love in a purely non-sexual sort of way (or maybe not; what you do in the privacy of your own home is your business, chickies). Meanwhile I sit at home, cowering, terrified that not only will there be no dance routines, there will be no sales at all, and at the end of the week my agent will call me to say not a single copy sold and there’s a cadre of angry bookstore managers about to rush the Del Rey offices and burn them down for wasting their valuable shelf space with my drivel.

And that is it. How a mss becomes a book. Isn’t that a sweet story?

I’m sure I messed up some timelines a bit and/or left some steps out. I’m not an actual employee at a publishing house, and some houses do things a bit differently. But this is based on my experience. my observations, and that of people I know, including a few very helpful answers/bits of info from Jessie at Random House. Thanks, Jessie.

Any questions?

What Stace had to say on Thursday, August 26th, 2010
How Babies are Made* Part II

*books. It’s just a joke.

(Part One of this little series can be found here.)

So, where last we left our manuscript, sweet little FOUR, it was making its dark and lonely descent into the hands of a copyeditor, where it was placed on the bottom of a stack of perhaps five or ten other manuscripts just like it, to be gone over with the dreaded green pencil, and it was early February at the very earliest (but more likely at least March).

While I’ve been piddling about with words, a few other things have been happening. Shauna will come up with a few thoughts or ideas about what she might like to see on my cover; what the concept is. She presents those to the cover people, and the Publisher in a big meeting that takes place three or four times a year (this is the way it’s done at Random House, anyway; it may be different at other houses). What sort of model, background, pose, etc? One person or two? That sort of thing. They decide on a concept, or maybe a couple, and the whole thing is sent on to a cover artist person.

That person finds and hires the necessary model(s) and takes numerous pictures in various poses and outfits. They show those to Shauna and/or someone else, but I do know for a fact Shauna sees the poses and selects the one she likes best. If the meeting took place immediately after FOUR was turned in, or right after the contracts were signed, it may be only January or so, but chances are it’s closer to March or April.

Then the cover artist starts, well, being artistic. They draw or digitally create backgrounds, or manipulate existing art or backgrounds. They do whatever else it is that artists do; I have no idea, frankly. All I know is, a cover generally takes at least a couple of months, and the cover art usually starts being discussed almost immediately. Yes, writers are asked for input, and yes, if it comes down to what we like vs. what Marketing likes, we’re going to lose. We’re asked for input, but “input” is all it is. And honestly, well, Marketing’s being doing this a lot longer than we have.

And really, they want us to be happy. No editor or publisher has ever cheered and high-fived when an authors bursts into tears at the sight of their cover. They want to please us. It’s just sometimes we can’t be pleased. And sometimes Marketing is totally right, and the cover we don’t particularly care for is a cover that readers seem to adore. That happens a lot.

So. Cover art may take anywhere from 2-6 months. Which means that cover art may come in for FOUR anywhere from January-March. Because the sales people are going to need a finished cover when they start soliciting orders, it will pretty much have to be in by May at the very, very latest, but April is a much better deadline.
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What Stace had to say on Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
All the Craziness and stuff

Here is my panel schedule for Dragon*Con 2010:

Title: Surprise! You’re Dead
Description: Death, ghosts, and the afterlife in fantasy fiction.
Time: Fri 08:30 pm (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: Love Rots
Description: Zombies in erotica and romance.
Time: Sat 10:00 pm (Length: 1 Hour)

Title: Out of the Coffin
Description: Open vs. hidden worlds in supernatural fiction.
Time: Sun 05:30 pm (Length: 1 Hour)

I know, I know, what a wild schedule, right? Sigh. Anyway. Since that schedule leaves my days completely free, and since there is nothing I hate more than wandering around a con feeling superfluous, I was thinking–well, I was thinking of it before too–of perhaps planning some kind of meet-up in one of the bars, maybe Saturday afternoon? Or any day, really. So if anyone is going to the con and wants to do that, let me know.

Also. I have, as you know, been putting a lot of thought into the t-shirts lately, which I’m happy to do and am really enjoying. But here’s my problem, and it’s one of choice, basically.

If I order the shirts and resell them, I can keep the cost down to about $12 or so. But, ordering them myself and reselling them means that I have to pay for all of the shirts up front, so I can really only afford to do one design, one style, one color. No babydolls, no color except black, no long-sleeve t-shirts, and only one design. Like the Chuck’s shirt would be the only one available for a while, until I make enough money off of them that I can afford to order some with a different design. But it will still be only one color one style of shirt. So a better price, but not much selection at all.

On the other hand, if I go with someplace like Zazzle, the shirts would be more expensive (Zazzle is cheaper than Cafe Press, but it’s still in the $18+ range) but I’d be able to upload three or four different designs to choose from, and of course you could pick what style of shirt you want, and what color. So if you don’t want to wear black you could get a blue one or a red one or whatever. If you want long sleeves you can get them. That sort of thing. The idea of being able to offer some variety really appeals, but I honestly feel weird about the shirts costing so much. That just seems like an outrageous price to me, even though everyone keeps telling me it isn’t. The object of this is to have fun, after all, and I don’t want to price the fun out of everyone’s budget, because that’s not fun at all.

My husband and I were thinking this morning that we could also do some limited edition runs on occasion. Those would come directly from us, but would be, well, limited, and once they were gone they’d be gone. So you’d have the basic designs on Zazzle but then some extra stuff a few times a year or whatever.

Am I overthinking this? I know I probably am. My husband says I am. And I’m sure most of you wish I’d shut up and just do something already instead of whining and asking questions all the damn time. But I just want to make sure everyone gets what they want, and at a price they can afford.

So if you do have any thoughts, feel free to share them, either here or through email or on Twitter or whatever. And I promise I’ll make a decision and stop my incessant flip-flopping and questions very soon. And if you’re going to Dragon*Con and would like to come to a meet-up, let me know that too, and what day and time might work best for you.

I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 2 of How Babies Are Made.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
How Babies Are Made*

*by which I mean “books.”

No, books are not babies, but the title was too much fun to resist.

Okay, we’re going to discuss where books come from. See, sometimes when a mommy and a daddy love each other very–oh, I just slay myself, seriously. And I can see you laughing hysterically too, right? That rolling your eyes and checking your watch that you’re doing, that’s laughter, right? That’s what my parents always told me.


No, seriously, we are. Occasionally I do like to go all publishing wonk (I love publishing, I can’t help it) and write long detailed posts about things no one except other publishing wonks really care about. It’s my little way of driving people away, like all emotionally healthy people are known to do. But no, I do hope the wonk stuff is fun anyway, and that it might actually be interesting to other people.

So. How does a book go from manuscript to finished book, in stores, on shelves? (The process is different for epublishing; a lot of the steps are the same, but this post is specifically about printed books with NY houses [although printed books with small presses are made exactly the same and have the same steps, they just might possibly occur a little faster], and more specifically about mass market paperbacks. I imagine it’s the same, basically, for trade paperbacks and hardcovers, but mmps are what I have experience with.)

I’m going to use my books as an example, of course, and we’re going to start with the fourth Downside book, so we can really get an idea of time frames (UNHOLY GHOSTS, for example, was sold to Del Rey in June or July 2008, set for publication in October 2009, but of course was delayed so they could do the consecutive releases. So it’s not as good for demonstrative purposes).

FOUR–I have a tentative title, of course, but until I see if it actually fits the book and it’s all approved I don’t want to mention it, so we’ll call it FOUR here–is not yet written. I wrote about a page of it last night, that first page that’s so terrifying and awful and looks so lonely. But that’s it; it’s not even a thousand words yet. I have submitted a short synopsis of it to my editor(s), so they have a general idea what to expect, but that could change quite a bit. I don’t plan my books in advance; this makes for more work in editing but if I plan it ahead of time the book feels written and I lose enthusiasm. So all FOUR is at the moment is a paragraph or two of plot details, a single page of writing, and a few scenes in my head, only one of which I know where it goes (Chapter Two).

I have to finish FOUR and hand it over to Shauna, my editor at Del Rey (fabulous woman she is), by November 15th. Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Monday, August 23rd, 2010
News of a Random Nature

I am extremely excited to let everyone know that we have a t-shirt design! Anilu Magloire, who is also doing some totally kick-ass wallpapers to download here, which will be up with my next set of updates very soon, has done a really cool Chuck’s logo, which will be the first shirt. I’m so excited! I should be able to sell the shirts for $12 or so and make enough money off the initial batch to buy more, assuming all or most of them sell (obviously if they don’t I wouldn’t bother buying more anyway).

I plan to buy 50 to start with, 10 each of Sm, Med, Large, XL and XXL. I figure that kind of covers all the bases at first, right? And of course, again if those sell and we do a second run, we can start doing different styles as well. The “My other boyfriend is Terrible” shirt is still definitely planned, and another awesome reader is working on some different designs too; I don’t want to give anything away but they are also seriously kick-ass. So if all goes well we’ll end up with four or five different designs to choose from, and I think at first they’ll all be white printing on black shirts. And of course, again, if they’re successful we’ll start looking at doing other things as well, like mousepads or tote bags or whatever. But that’s all in the future. For now I’m just thrilled at the Chuck’s logo, it’s so cool!

I’m also excited about this new website Pocket has set up. It’s called Pocket After Dark, and it’s a huge site devoted to all sorts of UF and paranormal books and discussions, which is really cool. Of course, since Pocket put out the second and third Demons books, I’m a Pocket author, so I’m all registered and set up there, and am really looking forward to exploring the site a bit more; there’s so much stuff there it’s impossible to read/see it all in one go. It just started a couple of weeks ago, I think, and already has over two thousand members. They plan to do giveaways and live chats and all sorts of cool stuff, too. So if you’re interested in discussing UF with other UF readers, give it a try! (You do NOT have to just discuss Pocket books, btw; they want it to be a general UF place, where authors and readers can just hang out and have fun and chat, which I think is seriously awesome.) So I hope to see you all there!

I took my Mac into the Apple store today to get it fixed; I’d been having this really weird cursor problem where for no reason the computer would decide to highlight blocks of text, or move them, or the clickbar (I don’t know what it’s called) would get stuck, or just a whole bunch of stuff like that, which was incredibly frustrating and annoying. (Several times it deleted whole paragraphs of text, for example.) Anyway, turns out the battery was bulging for some reason, and that was putting pressure on the bar, and that’s why. So now it’s all fixed, but it’s weird to hit the clickbar now, because it actually clicks, whereas before it didn’t really move.

Today was also my Faerie’s first day of kindergarten. I cried after we left her classroom. I know, it’s such a cliche thing to do, but I couldn’t help it. She’s my youngest, my baby, and now she’s getting so big and it’s not fair! And to underscore the point, she lost her second tooth about an hour after she got home (did I tell you she lost her first on my birthday? She did. How’s that for a “You are totally getting older, Stacia,” message?)

So. Tomorrow I’m going to post the first of two “Why it takes so damn long to publish a book right” posts. Wednesday I will probably put up my Dragoncon schedule, since it just occurred to me that I haven’t done that yet. Thursday I’ll do the second Publishing post, and then we’ll see where we are, because I still have those editing posts planned.

So there you go. Shirts, websites, kindergarten, and teeth. It’s been a heck of a day!

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

Okay, yes, I know this is so, so late. I was out of town and forgot to take my notebook with all the entry counts in it, and then we were doing this that and the other things, and it took a while to get everything organized, and then we–well, my husband–picked the winner last night but it was too late to post it here.

Here’s what we (again, my husband) did. I gave him the list of all of the entries–and some of you guys had thirty or forty of them!–and he entered them into a spreadsheet, which he then had shuffle randomly and picked the first name off the top. So, not a slips-of-paper-in-a-hat thing, but still totally random.

Anyway, the name at the top was…

CHELSEA, from Vampire Book Club!!

So Chelsea, send me an email, and we’ll talk.

For everyone else, I can’t thank you enough for playing along!

I am going to be starting the fourth book this week–I’d planned to start it today, actually, but see the aforementioned this-and-that-in-the-way, so I’m hoping to start by Friday. In the meantime, I’m working on a publishing wonk post for here.

I thought it might be fun, and maybe even interesting for some of you, to find out exactly what goes into producing a book; what the publisher actually does, and why it takes so damn long. Why it’s necessary for it to take so long. This is going to be part of the short series on editing I plan. And part of that is going to be sharing with you some actual copyedited pages from UNHOLY MAGIC and CITY OF GHOSTS (I don’t have the copyedited mss for UNHOLY GHOSTS), and some pre-edited scenes and bits of information about all three books.

So, I’m starting on that, hoping to get the first one up tomorrow, and in the meantime, yes, we have a winner!

What Stace had to say on Saturday, August 14th, 2010
Why I Post Reviews

About twenty minutes ago I found a link on Twitter to a review of the entire Downside series. This review, by Danielle at Alpha Reader.

Only the link didn’t go to Alpha Reader. It went to one of those content-collecting sites, a book focused one. That site has a Twitter account and when they “collect” a review, they tweet it, which is how I found it. Now that I’m thinkig of it I realize I’ve seen them post a duplicate of another review before, but as the review was for a site with many reviewers I thought the reviewer herself owned the “collecting” site (obviously I didn’t realize it was one of those sites) and was simply reposting her own review.

Of course I retweeted the link, thinking it was original. Immediately another reader informed me of the situation, which shocked me and made me feel ill. I deleted my tweet and reposted it with the correct link, giving credit to the actual writer of the post. By name, which the “collecting” site didn’t do; they had “Source: Alpha Reader” in the bottom left corner in a very pale gray font, which wasn’t easy to see.

That pissed me the hell off.

Here’s the thing. I’ve seen it mentioned a couple of times that writers should not acknowledge any reviews at all, be they positive or negative. And I think that’s bullshit. Why in the hell would I not give someone credit for their work? Why would I ignore it, when they’ve said wonderful things about my work, and took the time to write it all down and post it for anyone to see? When they are recommending my books to their friends? Why in the hell would I not at least give them a nod, let them know I did see it and appreciate it?

Not to mention, a lot of these reviews are incredibly well-written. These are reviewers with talent. Thoughtful, intelligent people who really pay attention to what they’re reading, who analyze it. Reviewers who really truly understand the books and what they’re trying to say, who really truly understand the characters. That’s a big deal. That’s a connection with people, a connection you cannot buy. It’s an amazing thing; it’s the best thing about being a writer, it’s the reason why most of us become writers. We want to share something, say something. When you discover that someone heard that and understood it and appreciated it, that something that means so much to you also means so much to them, that’s a big deal.

As far as I’m concerned, someone who reads my books, enjoys them, and takes time out of their day to write a review–especially a thoughtful, detailed one like Danielle’s or like any of the dozens of other fantastic reviews the Downside books have gotten–deserves credit for that. We all like web hits, right? So isn’t it a good thing to do to link to them, to encourage people to check out their blogs? Isn’t it a good thing for those who read my blog to maybe find a new reader blog they’ll enjoy? Maybe they’ll meet someone whose taste is like theirs; maybe they’ll make a new book-friend. Why the hell shouldn’t I do that? Why the hell should I ignore the hard work of someone who has acknowledged mine so kindly?

The “Terrible Fever” Goodreads group has over fifty members now (yes, I realize that hardly makes me a big name or anything, but I think it’s cool). How many of those readers knew each other before they joined up? I haven’t been reading the posts there because I don’t believe that’s my place–reviews are one thing, but discussions on forums among readers are another–but I’m willing to bet that not all of them did. That some of them met each other through that group. Isn’t that cool? Would that have happened if I hadn’t linked to the group here, or retweeted it? It’s very possible, sure, but it’s not definite.

I don’t read the Goodreads group; I don’t think it’s my place to do so. That’s a forum for readers, and they’re having their own discussions, and that’s not my business. I feel like if I popped in and started talking it might stultify the conversation, make them all self-conscious and uncomfortable. That’s the last thing I want to do. And frankly, yeah, I know there are few places that are reader-only anymore, and that it can be frustrating to have writers always popping in to comment. Yes, it’s disappointing and depressing; I am a reader, after all. I’ve been a reader all my life. But it feels sometimes like even if I’m trying to comment as a reader, I’m still not seen as one, and you know, that’s just the way it is, and it’s the price I pay for getting to do this job that I love more than anything.

Here’s the thing. I can’t email reviewers. I can’t contact them and tell them how glad I am that they caught this or understood that, or why the thing that disappointed them happened, or what the implications of the thing they’re curious about will be down the road. I can’t do that. I’ve learned that no matter how diplomatic you try to be, no matter how good your intentions are, no matter how happy you are or how interesting you think such a discussion is–no matter how much you think it would be fucking awesome to have a conversation like that with a writer whose work you read and had thoughts about–some people will always see it as an invasion, as writers butting in and trying to tell them what to do.

But what I can do is link to them. Acknowledge them from a distance. Say in my post that I loved this one or that one, that I found this line or that line particularly well-written and that I appreciated the effort that was put into it. Just as my novels are art to me, so those reviews may well be art to those reviewers, and they’ve put it out there hoping people will see it and understand it and connect with it.

Those reviews, those reviewers, those readers, are what make this whole thing worthwhile. They’re the ones who make all of the blood and sweat and tears, all of the emotional nakedness and pain, every bit of yourself that you put into your work, matter. I think they deserve to be acknowledged for that, and told that they matter. And I’m going to keep doing it.

What Stace had to say on Friday, August 13th, 2010
Some Stuff

First, yes, I do totally intend to reply to all comments and questions, both here and on Livejournal, from Wednesday’s big De-lurk. And again, I can’t thank you all enough! So many happy birthday wishes, so many great comments and questions. It was fantastic, as are all of you. I have to admit, though, next year I may do the De-lurk day on a day near my birthday but not actually on it; that was a lot to keep up with, between here, Facebook, and Twitter. Not that I’m complaining, at all; it was wonderful. But I may change it a bit next year so I can give everyone the attention I should.

We’re back home now, sigh. Being in Miami is always kind of bittersweet; fun but not fun. It’s always great to see Cori and her family. It’s always fun to drive around and know exactly where you are, and five or six different ways to get somewhere, and all of that. But at the same time it’s sad to see how much has changed. It’s sad to drive by places that were once important to you, and now they’re not. It’s sad to remember people you once knew that you don’t anymore, or even just the person you used to be, how young you were and how different. So yeah, Miami is kind of bittersweet. And I’m sad I didn’t get to see my brother either; the days flew by so fast and we were so busy, when I finally had a chance to call it was too late. But we’re hoping to go back in a couple of months.

But! We did go to the Mai-Kai for tiki drinks and dinner; it’s one of my absolute favorite places. And, to make things even more exciting, I wore a new dress. A new dress that isn’t even black.

Now, granted, I did buy two of the exact same dress (from Express; I don’t care that it’s a mall store, I almost always find something I love there that looks decent on me, and it’s one of the few stores that usually has my size in stock), and one of them is a very dark charcoal gray, which is just gorgeous. I absolutely adore this dress. But I decided the light color–it’s sort of a creamy pale peachy color–looked more tropical. And I had these shoes which look weird in the picture but are actually a gorgeous shade of blue, and have big flowers done in sequins on the outside.

So, enough prattling, I have questions to answer! And I’ll be announcing the Name a Character Contest winner on Monday! Here are a couple of pictures: first is me and the hubs, and second is me and the BFF, Cori. The one of Cori and me isn’t the most flattering picture ever taken of me (the flash totally washes me out and makes my eye makeup look kind of creepy), but what the hell, right? I said I’d share some pictures, and so I will. Plus, it’s proof that Cori actually exists! I’ve talked about her on the blog for years–we’ve been best friends for almost eleven years now–and UNHOLY GHOSTS is dedicated to her, because she’s my super beta reader and totally encouraged me to finish writing that book and sat on the phone brainstorming with me for hours, but this is the first chance I’ve had to share a picture of her or of us together. And I actually really like the one of me & hubs, which is a very rare thing, as I generally hate the way I photograph.

Also, yes, that is my husband sitting right behind us at the bar.
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What Stace had to say on Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
It’s that time again!

As I think most of you know–I am stunned by the number of birthday messages I’ve gotten on Twitter and Facebook, I can’t thank you all enough!–today is my birthday. My Faerie, who is five, has decided I’m twenty-seven today, and I have told her she’s exactly right. So I’m sticking to that.

Anyway. Every year on my birthday I ask for those who lurk but never comment to just say hello. Of course you’re not obligated to in any way, but it’s fun for me to see who’s out there aside from the group who comments (not that I don’t adore them too). I just get a kick out of it, basically. And it’s even more fun if you leave a little message saying why you read here, or what types of posts you enjoy the most, or whatever–stuff I can use to make sure I’m giving you guys the types of posts you like to read. Remember, my job here on the blog is to entertain you, and make it something you enjoy reading. Yes, it’s mine, and I rant and stuff at times too, but in general, if I’m ranting I want it to be about things that interest you in some way.

And this year I thought we’d make it more fun–although I don’t actually think anyone is going to take me up on it, since you usually don’t–if you want to leave me a question in the comments, or whatever, and I’ll answer it as best as I can.

Again, you’re not obligated to comment, of course. Not at all. If you do comment you’re not obligated to tell me why you read here, or what types of posts you like the best, or what your favorite post was, or anything of that nature. You’re not obligated to ask a question in any way. But if you wanted to, that would be cool, and I would enjoy it.

So if you like, and if you feel comfortable, and if you want to, it would be great to hear from those of you I don’t usually hear from, in addition to those I do.

And just in case any of you lurkers are people who’ve emailed me, or if any of you who’ve emailed me stop by, I WILL reply, I’ve just not had a chance yet.

Also, again, huge apologies, I forgot to bring my notebook with the entry counts for the Name a Character Contest, so I’ll be announcing the winner on Monday, and I’m so sorry! Duh, I could have sworn I packed it.

So de-lurk away, if you like! And thanks again, everyone!

What Stace had to say on Monday, August 9th, 2010
Just a quick one

I am in Miami at the moment, staying at my best friend Cori’s house, and we’re doing all sorts of fun chatty things and going out for drinks and everything. So this is just going to be a quick little update, and I’m doing it today instead of tomorrow because I’ll be out pretty much all day tomorrow, and I do want to come back and check in for my birthday on Wednesday.

So, first thing I wanted to let you know is, a group of awesome readers have set up a Goodreads group for fans of the Downside books! The group is called “I Gots Terrible Fever,” and you can join it here.

Second, after I get back home I am going to be compiling my doc of deleted scenes from CITY OF GHOSTS, so look for those to go up on the site within the next couple of weeks. I’m also considering putting in some trivia, like the way Chess’s last name came from the Salem Witch Trials, or whatever. I think that might be kinda fun, and I want to give you guys as much information as you might want; I like websites to be really informative and full of different kinds of things, don’t you?

And I am still considering what we’ll do as far as t-shirts and stuff, but we definitely are going to do something. So please keep those ideas coming!

And, we have some new reviews for CITY OF GHOSTS!

Abigail at All Things Urban Fantasy gave it what she calls an “uber-rare” five out of five!:

After devouring the first two Downside Ghost books in all their addictive, screwed up goodness, I had crazy, impossibly high hopes for CITY OF GHOSTS. And Stacia Kane didn’t disappoint in this action packed, scary cool, emotionally naked urban fantasy that I can still feel racing through my veins.

Niki Bruce, who reviews for several major newspapers and publications in Australia, did a joint review of UNHOLY MAGIC and CITY OF GHOSTS (with a link to her review of UNHOLY GHOSTS, which I hadn’t seen, and is great!) says, among other things:

Chess is the perfect anti-heroine; the antidote to the soppy, love obsessed teens dominating the urban fantasy genre at the moment. There’s not a vampire or werewolf in sight – thank god – and the gritty truth of Chess’ life adds depth to what could be dismissed as “just another fantasy novel”.
There are more books in the Downside Ghosts series to come; I can’t wait.

The book got five out of five stars from SupernaturalSnark, who says:

This series is addicting, and I’m as sure to enter withdrawal waiting for the next book as Chess would be without her drug of choice.

And I know there are more, but those are all I could bring immediately to mind, and I have to go hang out with Cori now.

Oh, and when I come back on Wednesday…as you know, I normally do a De-lurk day for my birthday. This year I think we’ll do a bit of that, but I thought it might also be fun–although it probably won’t work, because I’ve asked it before and not gotten the kind of response I’d hoped for–if you guys, any of you, whether lurkers or people who regularly comment/participate, have any questions you want to leave in the comments, I’d be happy to answer them!

Also, I am STUPID and left my notebook with the counts for everyone’s Name a Character Contest entries at home. We’re going home on Thursday, so I will endeavor to announce the winner(s) on Monday; I’m so sorry, everyone! I thought I’d remembered to grab it! Sigh.

And that’s it for the day.

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