Archive for November, 2010

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
Bah Humbug

Thanksgiving. I know it’s fashionable to hate Thanksgiving, but I actually don’t. I like cooking, especially the kind of big elaborate meal that I don’t bother with most of the time. I particularly enjoy any sort of dessert made with pumpkin, so the holidays are right up my alley; last weekend I made a pumpkin pie and a pumpkin bread pudding with toffee sauce, which was seriously amazing.

And usually it’s just me, the hubs, and the girls for Thanksgiving, which is nice. We eat–I don’t actually like turkey, but I’ll eat it on Thanksgiving–and we watch our two annual Thanksgiving movies, JAWS and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. The last few years we’ve also watched the Saturday Night Live Christmas special.

And I admit, one of the most enjoyable things about Thanksgiving–about the holidays in general, really–is that no one thinks it’s odd if you start drinking at noon, and you can spend the entire day in a tipsy haze, which is most pleasant.

This year we won’t be doing a big dinner, for a number of reasons, chief among them we just don’t have the space to cook all that food. But you know, that’s okay too. One of my favorite Thanksgivings was the year Princess was a baby; she was about three months old, and neither of us felt up to a big celebration. So we had our typical Christmas Eve meal, which is cold cuts and cheeses and crackers and bread, maybe some scalloped potatoes or cocktail meatballs for something hot. I spent the day reading Stephen King’s INSOMNIA and eating corned beef on Ritz crackers, drinking Riesling and sherry (something about this particular holiday lends itself to girly drinks). It was a lovely day.

This year I’ll be working. We’re well over 100k on the fourth Downside book, and the end is in sight, finally. As I said on Twitter yesterday, I think my first draft will end up around 125-130k, and I know I’ll be cutting at least 15 out of that. CITY OF GHOSTS was 110k, so this one will probably end up right around there, maybe a bit longer. I am fairly pleased with it, I am, and wrote a scene I absolutely love the other day, in addition to, I think, one of my favorite lines I’ve ever written, and one of my favorite lines of dialogue I’ve ever written (which came, surprisingly, from Lex, but then he’s surprised me a few times in this one). So I’m chugging along, and I’m nervous about whether you’ll all like it but I’m feeling fairly confident that at the very least you’ll enjoy one particular scene.

Anyway. This is the time, because it’s a Thanksgiving post, when we’re supposed to share what makes us thankful and all that shit. But that’s so cliched, isn’t it? And really, we all say the same thing whether we mean it or not: our families, our health, blah blah blah. Those are all good things to be thankful for, sure, but really, it’s not very personal.

I do have something to be thankful for this year. I have books on the shelves, and I have readers who actually liked them and took the time to let me know, and that’s amazing. You guys have truly made this year one of the best in my entire life, despite the fact that some genuinely lousy things happened to go along with that, sigh, but that’s life. Anyone who expects to have good things happen without paying for them somehow is, well, they’re not living my life, that’s for damn sure.

Still, let’s not tempt fate. Rather than share what we’re thankful for this year, let’s talk about what we’re not thankful for; what we hate about the upcoming holidays, what irritates and annoys us. As always anonymous comments are welcome, if you’re afraid the friend you want to complain about will read where you say you want to smack her if she invites you “shopping” one more time and spends the whole afternoon in one store trying on things for herself.

One thing, though. Let’s keep it light-hearted and apolitical, okay? This is supposed to be fun.

Here’s mine:

1. I hate the insane crowds everywhere. I can’t even go get groceries without fighting my way through gaggles of people standing around staring at displays of green cookies.

2. I hate the fucking spam emails. I get enough email without getting constant offers from every online store I’ve ever shopped at, and every “customer loyalty” points group I’ve ever joined is offering me quadruple points if I will just please give them some money, any money, they don’t care how much, just please give them something and they will shower me with points like some kind of festive points raincloud.

3. I hate the pressure to do family things. Sorry, but I do. All those people around me all the time make me itch.

4. As I mentioned above, I don’t like turkey. I cook and eat it because it’s traditional, and I am obviously such a very traditional sort of girl that I can’t help it. No, seriously, I’m not, but in Thanksgiving dinner I am. It’s the only holiday meal I do according to popular consensus; like I said, our Christmas Eve meal is cold meats, cheese, etc. before we open presents, and Christmas day the last few years I’ve done beef bourgoignonne (or however the hell that’s spelled, I’m too lazy to go check). I do a Yule dinner, roast pork and vegetables, which is also traditional to large degree, but still. Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving, and everyone wants turkey, especially my husband and the Princess who like turkey and never get it because I do the cooking, so too bad for them.

5. I hate the preachy “heart-warming” homilies and shit we’re all supposed to smile and tear up over. Sorry, but suddenly acting like a human being from mid-November to January 1st doesn’t excuse the fact that you’re a completely heartless piece of shit the rest of the year.

How are those? What are yours? Specific ones, general ones? Go ahead and let it out. Let’s screw those holidays together!

What Stace had to say on Friday, November 19th, 2010
Copyrights and stuff

I’m supposed to blog about copyright today, because I promised my wonderful friend Jane from How Publishing Really Works that I would. Of course, I ended up oversleeping (even for me; hey, I was up writing until five this morning) and getting sidetracked by a million different things, so it’s perhaps too late now for my post to do any good, but here it is anyway.

(This reminds me; I don’t suppose any of you out there reading this happen to be car salesmen in South Florida? Anything like that? BFF Cori needs to buy a new car, and I’d love to be able to send her to someone trustworthy, by which I mean one of my readers since of course nobody rocks harder than my readers. So if you’re in a position to help, contact me through the site, and maybe you’ll get special signed books or Seekrit Inside Info or something too.)

So. Copyright. This is one of those topics that’s so big and so important I almost don’t even know where to start. The simple fact is, copyright is what enables me to do what I do. Copyright is the reason I’m sitting here with my laptop–my laptop that copyright bought (used, because it’s a Mac and they’re fricking expensive new, but still). Copyright is the reason there are Downside stories; it’s the reason they exist, the reason those characters and that world exist.

I’ve touched on the subject of piracy before, notably in my post about trusting readers and not treating them like shit. And honestly, I don’t know that I can really say it any differently or any more clearly than I did then; piracy is a financial bite, and don’t let anyone tell you any different. Yes, I was lucky, and I got offers for more Downside books. I know quite a few people whose series aren’t continuing because of low sales, but funnily enough, free copies of their books have been downloaded thousands of times. It’s all well and good for huge bestsellers to be blase about piracy; the rest of us need every sale to keep our careers going, and it frankly makes me angry to see them being cavalier like that instead of thinking back to the beginnings of their careers, or thinking how much of a difference their voice could make to those who are struggling.

But this isn’t about piracy, either. I know what all of the excuses are, the “They wouldn’t have bought it anyway,” as if that makes it okay for them to steal, or the “it actually increases sales,” or whatever. I don’t care. Yes, that’s right. I don’t actually care. To me it’s very simple: those stories and characters belong to me. You’re using them without paying (or going through a legal channel like a library or borrowing from a friend or whatever). Therefore you are stealing from me. Period.

See, at its base, that’s what copyright is. Copyright is a way to mark ownership of something intangible. Ideas can’t be copyrighted, no, but a written story can be. A film can be. A drawing can be. Copyright enables artists to live off of their skills.

I can’t draw to save my life, seriously. It’s not a talent I have. I’m lucky if I manage to make my stick figures look human. Most people I know aren’t great artists. I think people who are deserve some sort of recognition for that; they deserve our appreciation, our recognition. Visual artists beautify our world, quite simply. Every time you see a logo, a design, a pattern; every painting or drawing, every piece of public sculpture, you are seeing something made possible by copyright, and you are seeing something that adds something special to our society, something that reflects who and what we are.

Seriously, think for a minute about a world with no visual art. All buildings are just plain flat squares. Billboards are just black words on white backgrounds, all in Times New Roman or something. There are no textiles in this world; there’s very little color. No attempt has been made to make anything look attractive or inviting.

Yeah, I know, I’m stretching the point. But still. Think about how depressing that world would be, and as you do, think about how much artists add to our lives every single day. Not a day goes by that art doesn’t enrich our lives and our world.

And all those people ask in return is credit for the work they do, for the efforts they make. Just like you expect credit for the work you do; and really, with some exceptions, is your work really any less ephemeral? I know lots of people who would kill to have your job; does that mean I can decide you should be willing to do it for free, and withhold payment from you?

But I believe this is a slippery slope. I believe copyright is something fundamental, that it is in large part what makes our society work, what makes our world work. Yes, there are flaws, of course; I would never even try to imply our society and/or world is perfect, or even that it works particularly well. But copyright is part of the good stuff; it’s one of the positive forces, one of the better elements.

Why? For all of the reasons above. Copyright gives artists time to create and hone their skills. I’m sorry, but contrary to popular belief not everyone can draw, not everyone can write, not everyone can sculpt. I might have the brains to be a surgeon if I applied myself and studied hard, but my hands are simply not steady enough and my vision is terrible. That vision keeps me from being a commercial pilot as well. My height keeps me from being a model or a professional basketball player (yeah, I know, it’s not just my height that keeps me from being a model, but let’s focus on the point, shall we?).

I believe that if we continue to allow our copyright laws to be stepped on, if we continue to act as if they don’t matter, and we continue to buy into this bullshit copyright-is-evil line that’s just an excuse to benefit from other peoples’ work without lifting a finger, we will eventually find there’s nothing left worth stealing. There would be no impetus to create it, frankly.

Because a world without copyright, a world which doesn’t enforce copyright, is a world which doesn’t value art, and doesn’t value artists. Far from commoditizing art, copyright protects art from becoming just a commodity. Copyright recognizes that art is special, that it deserves its own set of protections and rules; that because of the way it enriches our society and changes lives it should be and is separate from other things, and gets special treatment. Copyright recognizes that society has a special responsibility to protect its art, and that society in general benefits from it in immeasurable ways.

A world which doesn’t value art, which doesn’t value artists, which believes copyright is ridiculous, is a world where people are seen as soulless, where individuality doesn’t matter. These people claiming to be rogue rebels, bravely thumbing their noses at copyright laws because art should be for everyone, are in fact trying to stamp on art, devalue it; they are in fact refusing to accept that anyone has anything special inside them, something that’s theirs and their alone, and that there’s any value in expressing that. They’re insisting that everyone is exactly the same, basically, and that there’s no difference between a Renoir and my stick figures. It’s not democratization and it’s not sticking it to The Man. It’s claiming that there’s nothing special or unique or worthwhile in the human soul, it’s claiming that people are worth nothing, and only tangible items have real value.

You’re not being a rebel because you devalue ideas and the expression of them. You’re not being a rebel because you deny artists the chance to make a living. You’re certainly not being a rebel because your response to their need to make a living is to tell them to get a real job, which is exactly what you’re doing when you say things like “You should be willing to do it for free.” Wow, maybe next you’ll tell them to turn down that music and get a decent haircut, huh? You crazy maverick.

Do you honestly think it’s rebellious to treat only things you can hold or taste as if they’re worth anything? Do you honestly think you’re somehow smashing the state by refusing to support artistic expression, by acting as though you’re entitled to the sweat of others’ brows and the fruits of their labor without giving anything in exchange? Do you really believe you’re somehow scoring one for the little guy by devaluing humanity to the point where not only are the souls, thoughts, ideas, and expressions of others are worthless, but where there isn’t even any legal protection in place for those souls, thoughts, ideas, and expressions? Yes, wow, how very subversive of you, treating art as worthless and acting as if other people exist solely to entertain you.

If you want to pirate, go ahead. If you want to steal, go ahead. If you want to devalue art, act as if the world owes you whatever you want, treat other people like commodities, you go ahead.

But don’t fucking pretend it has anything to do with freedom or rebellion, because it doesn’t. It has to do with your own selfishness and sense of entitlement, and in that you’re no different from any of those corporate heads you claim to be so disgusted by. You’re not hurting them. You’re hurting people just like you, and you don’t care as long as you get to fiddle while Rome burns. Good for you.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, November 18th, 2010
Up to my Neck

In work work work, oh yes. I plan to have Downside 4 finished by the beginning of next week, hopefully sooner. I’d actually expected to have it done already, but a plot twist came out of nowhere and necessitated some more words and some changes. This is a really twisty one, which is fun; I’m hoping everyone thinks it’s fun, at least. BFF Cori is enjoying it, so I’m trying to reassure myself with that, because she wouldn’t like it if it was awful.

I got an email this morning letting me know that A GLIMPSE OF DARKNESS, the story-in-the-round from the Suvudu blog (me, Lara Adrian, Harry Connolly, Kelly Meding, Lucy Snyder) is up for Kindle pre-order on Amazon now.

Which reminds me, BE A SEX-WRITING STRUMPET has been out on Kindle for a while now and still has zero reviews, even though it’s been selling. Won’t someone please give it a little love? *whine whine*

And one other little link, to an interview with me done by Apex Magazine. The interview is here. I was given the questions a couple of months ago, and was frankly rather stunned by that first one, but after some discussion, myself, my editor, and my publicist decided it must have just been badly worded, because the interviewer seemed so nice and friendly, and had been quite enthusiastic about the series when speaking to my publicist. Fool me once, shame on me; I’ve certainly learned my lesson in that. I’ve never before had an experience like that, where I take considerable time away from my writing to do what I think is a nice thing, and have it turned on me so roundly; I haven’t been set up like that, and I don’t care to have it happen again.

This isn’t about the review, of course; you all know how strongly I feel everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and to the expression of that opinion. I’m not remotely bothered by hers. I am, however, bothered by the fact that I was blindsided like that, and that I answered those questions with a view towards helping someone out, being nice to them, and giving them the benefit of the doubt, only to find out that there was an agenda there. This has happened to me once before, you may remember; I did a podcast interview with several other people (including my friend Jackie Kessler; this is also how I met Simon Wood, who is a really cool guy) about the Harlequin Horizons thing, and found out after it aired that the host’s questions weren’t as innocent as they seemed, and that he turned around and reamed Jackie, Simon, and I because we were “elitists.”

But again. A lesson learned is a lesson learned. Next time I get an interview that starts with a question that makes me feel slapped, I’ll cancel the interview instead of assuming the interviewer didn’t mean to be so harsh; clearly she did mean to be just that harsh, and clearly there is a degree of amusement there in being that way to my face and making it appear as if I don’t understand what’s happening.

The only reason I’m mentioning this at all is because I often get interview requests through the site, and I try to accommodate them; in fact, I’ve never turned down an interview request, or a guest blog request, I don’t think. Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to be so open with them anymore, especially if I don’t know you.

So from now on, if you want an interview with me, please submit your questions along with the request, and let me know what if anything will be appearing along side it (a review, a discussion, whatever). If you have submitted such a request in the last couple of months and haven’t yet gotten a reply, please re-submit. I’m trying to catch up on emails but with the book in the final stretch I’ve barely had time for anything else; I’ve been doing around 5k per day, plus edits etc.

The good news is I’m pretty pleased with how it’s shaping up, and I’m hoping you all will be too, since your opinions are the important ones.

And here’s a snippet! A snippet which will hopefully make you smile, in which Chess and Terrible are about to do some nocturnal investigating for her latest case. Remember it’s just a tiny snippet!:

Her car rattled and bumped its way over every little rock and patch of uneven ground, banging Terrible’s head on the ceiling once. “Shoulda brung my car.”

“No we shouldn’t have, and you know why we didn’t.”

He sighed. Heavily. “’Stoo small.”

“Every car is too small for you.” Her smile this time was genuine.

“Mine ain’t.”

Instead of answering, she slid the car up to the door and shoved it into Park. “Come on.”

What Stace had to say on Saturday, November 13th, 2010

We all know I’m pretty tech-stupid. We also know I bought a netbook a while ago. We may also know that I’ve been having problems with Safari (which I use on my Mac) for months and months; it freezes whenever someone even says the word “Flash” in its presence, for example. Or it’ll halt and stick when people have animations in their sig lines on forums. Stuff like that. But of course being tech-stupid–in addition to being someone with a semi-pathological hatred and fear of change–the idea of switching to a new browser made me Very Nervous.

Anyway. Last night I took a little break from working to mess around online. I’ve been using the netbook to write lately; I bought a portable hard drive to use for memory for it (it’s gotten lousy reviews, I see. Personally it works great for me, but again, all I’m using it for is extra memory for the netbook). I find the keyboard on that easier to work on; the keys aren’t as stiff as on the Mac so it’s less painful on my fingers. And–although this may change now–it wasn’t as easy to browse online on the netbook, which meant I focused more on work.

So I decided to do something bold, and download Google Chrome instead of continuing to use IE on the netbook. Yes, it was a crazy move, but I’m just wild that way. I also uninstalled Norton antivirus, because I’m sick to death of being constantly interrupted by it, and installed the Microsoft Malware/Virus tool thingie instead. If I could figure out how to uninstall IE and Netflix I would, because I like uninstalling things and making room.

Anyway. I played with Google Chrome for several hours last night, discussed it a bit on Twitter and io9, and today I decided I like it so much I wanted it on the Mac. So I’m not using it exclusively on the Mac and the netbook, and I’ve installed some nifty extensions (that I had no idea what they were until a Twitter pal and then my io9 pals told me about them and where to go) that make me all happy. It really is MUCH faster than Safari or IE were, and it’s pretty (you can customize the background & colors and stuff) and fun. So I’m recommending it, at least for now, assuming it doesn’t fall apart on me in the weeks to come. It imported all of my bookmarks and saves all of my passwords and does all kinds of nifty things. So I’m happy.

And, I’m about to get back to work. This is a pretty dull little post, I know, but what the heck. I’m in the final stretch of Downside 4–it’s never taken me this long to write a novel before, but hopefully it’ll end up worth it–and can’t really think of much else. All hell is breaking loose, and we have death threats and decayed bodies and nasty witchcraft and ghosts and bloodshed and the requisite personal intrigue and all of that. (And yes, I have used the name of my Name-A-Character-Contest winner.) So I’m at the point now where I’m having tons of fun and I’m about to have a LOT more. Heh heh heh.

And I’ll hopefully have a title to share soon as well; I just sent my editor a big long list of possibilities.

I’ve got a couple of longer ranty posts to go up, but those will have to wait until after the book is finished.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
Some News!

This is just a short one–I’ve had quite a crazy couple of days, not really very good ones, to be honest–but I did want to announce this because I’m so excited about it! And I think it might make you guys happy.

I’m sure you guys are all familiar with the UF anthologies Charlaine Harris and Toni Kelner have done in the past, like DEATH’S EXCELLENT VACATION and MANY BLOODY RETURNS. And if you’re not you should be, because they’re hugely fun, and Charlaine and Toni are wonderful writers and very cool ladies; it’s an honor just to know them a little bit.

But it’s an especial, especially, special honor to say that there will be a new Downside story in their next anthology, HOME IMPROVEMENT: UNDEAD EDITION, which will be released August 2, 2011 (at least so Amazon says; I just knew it was August).

I was invited to submit back in April, I think, and submitted in July, but of course I didn’t want to say anything and jinx it. So I can finally say something today, and there it is. A new Downside story for everyone!

It’s a fun little story, I think. I did something a bit different with it; I didn’t want to give spoilers, since I knew the fourth book wouldn’t be out yet, but I didn’t want to do something set in the past or anything either, so…well, you’ll just have to see. But I’m quite pleased with it, which is especially exciting since I have kind of a hard time writing shorts, and I’m just really thrilled about the whole thing.

Which comes in quite handy today, to be honest. I’ve had a pretty lousy couple of days; yesterday was especially bad, at least until I woke up this morning and got more horrible news. The news isn’t directly related to me, it’s just dealing with people I know, but it isn’t good and it isn’t fun, and I may talk more about that another time.

But for now I want to focus on the good stuff. There’s going to be a new Downside story next summer, and it’s not a story in continuity, meaning if you don’t read it you won’t miss anything important series-wise, nor will you be completely lost if you haven’t read the series, at least I hope not (I had a few people read it who hadn’t read the books and they all understood it, so that’s good). I just think it’s fun and kind of exciting, and I had a good time writing it, and I’m very pleased it’s going to be out there and available, especially in such great company.

Yay, such fun to have something positive to post!

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What Stace had to say on Monday, November 1st, 2010
Glasses and Girls

Since I ended up having to miss World Fantasy this weekend thanks to a sick little Faerie, sigh, I figured I’d at least try to get something done. Which I did, thankfull. between Friday night and last night I managed 12,000 words. Still not where I need to be, but catching up slowly. And they’re words I’m pretty pleased with, which is incredibly rare.

Also on Friday I was so annoyed at missing the show that I tweeted some lines from Downside 4 (which I have a nice big list of possible titles for now, but of course my editor is out of town). Anyway. The ladies at Vampire Book Club have collected those and posted them here, so if you missed them and you want to go take a look you can. Keep in mind those are first-draft sentences; I wouldn’t have tweeted them if I thought they sucked, but I’m bothered by the repetition of “voice” in one of them, and they all might be tweaked at some point.

In addition to my 12k words, I decided to take out my contacts and give my eyes a little break. Glasses time! And of course, because I haven’t posted pics of me actually wearing them (I had them on in the wigs pictures, but that didn’t count), and because I knew you guys would want to see, here’s me in my glasses:

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