Archive for July, 2011



What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011
Self-exposure II

(This is a continuation of yesterday’s post, for those who haven’t seen it.)

So anyway. Yes. I’ve seen lots of people being very nasty about Amy Winehouse.

But here’s what today’s focus is. I’ve also seen so many comments about the music and the lyrics, and the fact that Amy kept fighting, kept putting herself out there. How much it mattered to people, how much seeing their feelings mirrored mattered to them and how much it helped them when they were feeling down. And it made me start thinking about what art is, how it can touch people, and what the responsibility of the artist is, if any.

Obviously in this I can only speak for myself. I certainly can’t call myself a great artist; I do the best I can yes, and I work as hard as I can to put something of myself, something as important and meaningful as I can, into my work. I try to make it matter; certainly it matters to me. Regular readers may recall (alliteration is fun!) that I blogged about this whole genre-fiction/personal-investment-in-art thing before, here and here.

You guys may also recall that several months ago I decided to stop writing about writing/publishing–to step back on the blog in general, really–after something I meant as a general piece of take-it-or-leave-it advice, a small part of a much bigger cautionary tale about the realities of the internet and being published in a world where the internet exists and you’re expected to use it, was taken so much more strongly, so much more intensely, than I intended, and I became the center of something of a kerfuffle for writing what so many of the people who disapproved of what I wrote also said and have said: Be careful what you say online, because the internet is public and whatever you say can and will be misinterpreted, talked about, picked on, and dissected, and you personally will be harshly judged and criticized for it.

Anyway. The response I got shocked me; I was attacked on blogs and websites, I was attacked on Twitter, I was attacked in email. My words were mischaracterized to the point of being unrecognizable. I was made fun of and called names. A piece of advice I gave specifically to aspiring writers was taken as applying to readers and reader-reviewers, which especially shocked me since I’ve always been very vocally supportive (to the point where it’s cost me friendships) of the rights of readers to say whatever they like about whatever book(s) they read, and had tried in my post to make very clear that I wasn’t speaking about them and I certainly wasn’t saying anyone didn’t have the right to say whatever they wanted about a book.

Long story short (too late) I was stunned and hurt, and frankly, I’ve been stunned and hurt by the internet a few too many times in the last year or so; not by comments about my books but by comments about me personally. It’s frankly terrifying to find people you don’t know, who don’t know you, making fun of you on Twitter and inviting tons of other people who you also don’t know and who don’t know you to join in. It’s awful to get nasty comments and emails not about what you said or wrote, but about what they were told you said or wrote. It’s awful to ask a few innocent (you think) questions of someone, and find people calling you names and talking about what a huge bitch you are and how everyone hates you because of it. It’s not fun to make a general comment somewhere, something that would have passed without comment a year or two before, but for which you are suddenly accused of massive ego and arrogance. It’s upsetting. It’s painful. I’m just one person, one who fucks up on occasion, one who’s acted on impulse and later regretted it, one who’s made mistakes, one whose words can be misinterpreted no matter how clearly I and hundreds of others think they’re phrased. One who isn’t perfect just like none of us are perfect.

It just wasn’t worth it, to keep being attacked like that. It made me rethink a lot of things; it made me decide to take a step back, because I was tired of feeling like there was a big target on my back and people were just waiting for me to say something else they could pick on and attack me over (note: I doubt they actually were, but it felt that way). I was tired of being made to feel bad about myself, of seeing people discuss how I was a bitch, an asshole, an idiot, an unprofessional cunt with a terrible reputation (no one I actually work with or have ever worked with or who even knows anyone I work with or have worked with said this, by the way; I have to admit the source on that one made me roll my eyes). To be perfectly honest, I’ve had a difficult time writing anything this last year or so, and part of me wonders if that isn’t because subconsciously I’m tanking myself so I don’t have to go through all of that again.

But seeing all of the comments from people, from other women, this weekend about how much it meant to them to see another woman putting herself out there, being herself no matter what kinds of shit she got for it, about how that inspired them and gave them strength…that’s made me rethink things a bit.

Certainly I’m not a big star. I don’t have one-eighth the following or audience Amy Winehouse had. Not one-tenth of one-eighth. I’m pretty much nobody (which frankly makes the overblown responses to me doubly confusing; I see bigger sellers–bigger names with bigger followings–than me say all kinds of things that go basically unnoticed, it seems. I certainly see male writers saying whatever they like and not being slammed all over the internet for it). I still don’t understand why anyone really gives a shit what I have to say, why anyone needs to pass it on and gossip about it. If you disagree with me that’s fine, but why the attacks? Why not just shrug and go about your business? Why am I so important to you–why is anyone so important to you–that you need to make a huge issue out of it? I’m not Glenn Beck making disgusting comments comparing the murdered children in Norway to Hitler Youth and I’m not anyone with any real influence in policy-making or decision-making in any organization or industry; I’m just a writer talking about my experience(s), or asking a few questions, or making a comment about something, while freely admitting they may not be the same as the experiences of others, explaining the reasoning behind the questions, and acknowledging that others may have different opinions, and nothing I say is that big a deal.

But maybe I don’t have to be some sort of huge name to still make a difference. I started doing things like posting at Absolute Write’s Bewares forum (years ago now) because I wanted to help aspiring writers avoid some of the traps I’ve seen others fall into, and avoid the traps I myself fell into early in my career. I’ve tried to take a stand on certain issues, and step into certain issues, because I always figured, you know, I’d rather they attack me than someone else. If Puny Epublisher A is going to start making their ridiculous “blackball” threats, I’d rather they make them at me (to whom their threats mean absolutely nothing) than someone just starting out who doesn’t actually understand how ludicrous those threats are, or who might be genuinely hurt or scared. And I still feel that way, even after seeing those comments about me, even after seeing my name dragged through the mud by someone with a personal vendetta because I dared to ask a couple of questions. Yeah, I’ve gotten some nasty emails in the past year or so. I’ve also gotten hundreds of wonderful emails from readers who love my books, to whom my books mean something. I’ve gotten dozens of wonderful emails from other writers who I helped.

So here’s what this enormous long post is actually about, if anyone is still reading. I’m thinking I need to put my money back where my mouth is, and quit trying to protect myself. I’m thinking that if I expect or want my work to mean anything to anyone I need to put myself out there, and keep doing it; I need to be myself and keep making it mean something. I’m thinking that maybe if more of us do that we can build our own little world, we can create something strong and good, and we can bring a little more happiness and acceptance along with us. A little more understanding and forgiveness.

The thing is, I see this blog as a way to communicate with my readers–those who’ve read my books and came here to learn more about them, and maybe a bit more about me, if they want. I think my books, especially the Downside books, have a lot of me in them already, really; if you’ve read them you probably already know something about me, you probably already know me to some extent. I think if you like the books chances are you’ll like me; I think if you don’t like them chances are you probably won’t, and if you disapprove of them you probably disapprove of me, too.

But everything I write here is addressed to my readers, really. Maybe that’s the wrong way to look at it; maybe I should be worrying about those people who stumble across the blog and see something about me or the books for the first time. It probably is the wrong way to look at it, to assume that the people reading your blog are already familiar with your work. Certainly thinking of my blog as a place where I communicate with people who are already aware of my work has gotten me into trouble before.

So what do I owe those readers–what do I owe you, when it comes to the blog, and what do you want to see? What do you think the purpose of a writer’s blog is, and what do you expect from it?

What Stace had to say on Monday, July 25th, 2011
Self-exposure

Amy Winehouse died.

I’m sure you all know that. I’m sure this is only one of thousands of posts about her and her death that will be posted today, that have already been posted. But I want to say something about it; I need to say something about it, so I’m going to.

Amy’s music wasn’t the type I normally listen to, but I honestly loved Back to Black. I loved the sixties-esque, bluesy feel of it. I thought her lyrics were stunning and gritty and dark and beautiful, and her voice incredible. And today–all weekend–I’ve watched other people–other women–talk about those lyrics especially, how it felt to them like Amy really opened herself up, really exposed something of herself and how much that mattered to them, and why it mattered to them. They talk about dark times in their lives when those lyrics and that music helped them and spoke to them and made them feel not so alone. They talk about what a tragedy this is, how much they wanted another album, how deeply they identified with the troubled soul laid bare for them in song.

I’m also seeing other people–mostly men; some women, yes, but more men–talk about how they’re not surprised, how Amy deserved to die, how she was a junkie slag, how we’re all stupid if we didn’t expect this and stupid for caring to begin with. Oh, and of course there’s a healthy dose of “Kids died in Norway so how dare you people care about this when something actually important has just happened,” as if people can’t care about both, or as if no one is allowed to mourn the loss of someone who touched their lives because another tragedy with a bigger body count has taken place elsewhere. Like if your grandparent died on 9/11 you shouldn’t have cared or something. Along with that comes quite a bit of “Those kids in Norway didn’t deserve to die and Amy did” or “those kids in Norway had futures and Amy pissed hers away.”

(This post isn’t about the tragedy in Norway, and for the record I am horrified and saddened and deeply troubled by it.)

I find a number of things troubling here, and am kind of struggling to articulate all of my thoughts and feelings on it. I’m troubled at the loss of someone with talent. I’m troubled at the loss of someone who was clearly in a lot of pain. I’m troubled by the callousness of so many of the responses (just, as it must be said, I am by the callous responses many people make anytime any kind of death is reported in the news).

I find myself thinking back to when Kurt Cobain died. I personally never cared for Kurt Cobain or his music; in fact I strongly disliked both. But I remember well the way his addiction was handled in the press, and I remember that the response to it was one of sadness and concern, the response to his death one of shock and mourning. I remember how the public discourse seemed so much to be about worry and support. And now I remember the response to Amy’s addiction was scorn and disgust, and the response to her death–not everywhere, it must be said–seems to be more of the same, with a healthy dollop of “she deserved it.” I don’t remember people calling Cobain an ugly whore because of his addictions, or discussing how if he touched them they’d want to bathe with bleach, or wondering why anyone in their right minds would want to be anywhere near him. I don’t recall, when River Phoenix died, people saying he deserved it. So why the vitriol against Amy Winehouse? Is it easier to dismiss and shame her because Ladies Don’t Do Such Things? Why is it okay for talented men to be fucked up, but talented women aren’t allowed? Why are men with addiction problems forgiven and hoped for, but women are condemned?

For every person discussing what a vile person Charlie Sheen is and has become, there are many willing to pay huge amounts of money to see him ramble. And that’s now, after the shit around him finally reached an un-ignorable level. Let’s not forget that Charlie’s had addiction issues for years; let’s not forget how many women have accused him of domestic violence. How much shit did we hear about him when those incidents happened? It was a quick news story that then disappeared, and when his name came up we didn’t hear much about it. If it was mentioned it was in a cheery “Those problems were totally overblown and are behind him now” sort of way. He was called a “partier” and a “lothario.” Now how many times in the last couple of years did you see an article about Amy that didn’t focus on her addiction problems or mention the violence in her relationship with her husband in a snide and condescending manner? How many comments to those articles didn’t focus–in Charlie’s case–on how much the commenter hoped his troubles really were behind him, and how many of the comments in Amy’s case weren’t about how ugly and skanky she was? How many times was Amy’s behavior chuckled about as if it was just normal and fine, how many times was she fondly called a “party girl?”

Googling things like “Amy Winhouse slut,” “Amy Winehouse slag,” and “Amy Winehouse disgusting” brings up millions and millions of hits all about–yes–how Amy was a slut, a slag, and disgusting. “Amy Winehouse disgusting” brought up over nine million hits, largely Facebook groups, blogs, videos, websites, whatever, devoted to how disgusting Amy is. “Charlie Sheen disgusting” brings up two million, and even on the first page you can see the difference; they’re calling his behavior disgusting, not him, or they’re quoting Denise Richards. I realize doing a few Google searches is hardly a scientific study, but I do think it’s telling.

Sure, there’s a difference. Charlie’s fame didn’t come from singing about/talking about drugs and alcohol. I know that, and I know that’s part of the response I’ll get about this post. I guess the implication there is that–my old favorite–Amy shouldn’t have mentioned it if she didn’t want to be judged, and Amy asked for it when she sang about things that had meaning for her. Of course that can’t really be argued with; every artist knows that creating art for public consumption means opening oneself up to public criticism. That’s the name of the game, and of course everyone has a right to their own reactions to things and to express those reactions. My comments or concerns aren’t about that so much as the fact that we seem to be much gentler and more forgiving when it’s a man whose problems we’re discussing rather than a woman. (It’s not just publicly either; when I asked about this online I had a girl who’d entered AA at a young age remark on how different were the reactions she got from the reactions the men she knew in recovery got. They were tortured and cool; she was a dirty slut.)

(We can say the same thing about Britney Spears, actually, a young woman who had a public breakdown while we all watched. When Britney was a sexy virgin everyone loved her; the minute she gained a few pounds and showed evidence of stress people started stoning her in the public square. Part of this is simply the way of the world these days. As I said Friday, it feels like our culture has devolved to the point where other people aren’t seen or treated as human anymore, but merely artificial constructs created for our entertainment, and we delight in going online to say whatever clever little cruelty we’ve invented in our vicious little heads, then sitting back smiling at our own pithy disregard for other people’s feelings. After all, we’re perfect, aren’t we, so obviously anyone dealing with problems we don’t ourselves deal with or not living their lives the exact same way we do are inferior in some way, and thus deserving of our scorn. I digress.)

This is getting very long, so I’m going to hold off on the second part and post it tomorrow. It’s about my own feelings about blogging and putting things out there, and all of that. So for now…that’s all.

What Stace had to say on Friday, July 22nd, 2011
Of sales, skepticism, and scams

So.

Last night I saw a link–I’m not going to repost it here, the poor girl has been through enough–to the blog of a writer who had just self-published her novel. The link was to a new post, in which the writer announced–with palpable and understandable excitement–that Jodi Reamer of Writers House (that’s a big-name agent at a big-name agency, for those of you unfamiliar) had seen her book, emailed her to offer representation, and gotten her a deal with (if memory serves) HarperTeen. A big deal, a six-figure type deal.

Obviously people were thrilled for her, in the way so many of us are thrilled for another person–happy for them, perhaps tinged with a bit of envy, because we’re all only human and at heart most humans are, frankly, selfish, evil little beings. Socialization and morals and ethics and all of that teaches us how to deal with those selfish, evil little thoughts, but they’re still there.

Anyway. A few people were not as thrilled; they were skeptical. I admit to being in this camp. I’ve seen publishing deals happen at lightspeed–I know a few people whose agents submitted their work in the morning and had offers by the afternoon–and of course agents can offer to represent at lightspeed as well (my agent offered two days after my initial contact with him, and I’ve known people who’ve gotten offers on the same day). It does happen, sure, but to get an agent and a large deal all in a day or so is extremely unusual. To be able to announce that deal so quickly is even more–well, no, it’s not even unusual. It is, frankly, unheard of. Generally deals aren’t announced until contracts are signed, or at least until the contract stage has been reached (meaning, the fine points are agreed to and we’re just waiting for the paperwork). Lots of us wait until our deals are announced in Publisher’s Marketplace; not because we have to, but because it’s fun to be able to post the little blurb they print in there. It makes it feel real. (In fact, my agent rarely reports to PM, and did so for me because I asked him to, batting my eyelashes and all of that while I did. Okay, no, I didn’t bat my eyelashes, but I did ask, because I wanted that announcement; I wanted to see it confirmed somewhere, because so many people read PM and it’s exciting.)

But this isn’t about deals being posted or anything. It’s about the fact that apparently the expressed skepticism of some people alerted the writer that maybe she should just double-check everything. So she called Writers House.

And discovered that an extremely cruel joke had just been played on her. And not just her, either:

From today’s Publisher’s Lunch:

Writers House has learned that a series of fake emails claiming to be from WH agent Jodi Reamer have been circulating to self-published authors this week. “These emails, which contain a number of false statements, have not in fact come from Jodi Reamer and should thus be disregarded.” One easy “tell”: they advise that any e-mail from a non-Writers House address “expressing interest in representation is counterfeit.”

I cannot even begin to express how absolutely horrified I am on this poor girl’s behalf (and on behalf of the others to whom this happened); I can’t even imagine how it must feel to think you’ve accomplished something like that and to discover that no, you were simply a victim, something to be exploited for someone else’s sick enjoyment. That you were treated as if you’re not even human, less than nothing, not a person with feelings but some sort of computer construct to be toyed with. Who the hell would do something like that? What the fuck is wrong with people? Do they like to kick puppies, too, and maybe wander up to random children and tell them they’re useless, stupid little shits who’ll never amount to anything in the world? What kind of person gets their jollies from doing this sort of thing?

When did we forget that those other people, the ones on the other side of the computer, are in fact people, real people with feelings, and not Sims?

A while ago I did a post on bullies. It feels like things have gotten worse since then. No one is content to just let someone else have their own opinion anymore, and I’m sorry, but the fact that they posted that opinion on the internet does not mean it’s okay to gang up on them and call them names. You want to disagree with their opinion, fine. I personally don’t always see the point in making a big deal about disagreeing with it–I tend to just think “Huh. I don’t agree with that” and move on, unless it’s factual misinformation, in which case I still strive to be polite and respectful–but if you feel they need to hear your point, go ahead.

But there’s a difference between “I disagree with your opinion” and “Dude, you’re a fucking idiot.” There’s a difference between “This is incorrect” and “Dude, you’re a fucking idiot.” And why the hell do you care what they think, anyway? Why is it so important to you to lurk on people’s Twitter feeds and make fun of them in your own? Why do you need to send hoax emails to people just because they have dreams and are trying to accomplish something? Is that really fun? Do you even care that a human being is on the other end of that, a human being you’re being purposefully cruel to just because you can?

Yes, sure, people shouldn’t put things out there if they don’t want others to react. Yes, people should expect disagreement and not get all butthurt because someone does disagree. Yes, we’re adults and need to take responsibility for what we put out there.

But other people’s lives are not a fucking game. Just because someone doesn’t think or feel the way you think or feel doesn’t mean it’s okay to call all of your friends to gang up on them and giggle in public. Just because that person exists doesn’t mean you have the right to stomp all over them. Does it make you feel good about yourself to reduce another person to tears, to make them the butt of your jokes? Have you proved that you’re cool, because you can take an offhand remark they made and turn it into a huge debacle, or misinterpret something they said and spread that misinterpretation around, encouraging others to pile on as well, or play a prank on them and make them think their dreams have come true? Is it really that much fun to treat other people like shit? How the fuck do you people sleep at night?

I’m sick of it, is all. I’m sick of this internet culture that makes people think that other people are simply toys for their amusement, and that it’s okay to jump all over them and keep jumping, that it’s fun to do so. I’m sick of the idea that because it’s a group of people doing it, it’s okay to join in. I’m sick of the idea that it’s open season on anyone and everyone, and that if they wanted to have feelings they should have thought of that before they logged on to the internet. I’m sick of the idea that this kind of shit is cool, and I’m sick of the way people are dehumanized, and I’m sick of the internet culture that reminds me so strongly of Christians thrown to the lions.

Next time you go to comment on something, just think for one second. Is it really necessary to share my opinion here? How much does this really matter, in the big picture? Does this person really deserve my scorn? How would I feel, if someone said this to me? Am I sure I’m interpreting their point correctly?

I’m not saying you can’t have opinions or make them public. I’m not saying you should never respond. I’m not saying you can’t gossip with your friends in email or whatever else. I’m certainly not saying you shouldn’t speak up when someone is being unjust, or that you shouldn’t alert people to that injustice and/or warn others away from it, or stick up for those who can’t stick up for themselves; I absolutely believe you should.

I’m just saying, don’t forget, that other person is a person, too. Being cruel to them, picking their words apart when they didn’t mean to offend, playing tricks on them, laughing and kicking them when they’re down, publicly encouraging others to go and pick and laugh too? It doesn’t make you cool. It makes you a fucking asshole, and I’m sick of seeing it, and I’m sick of watching people be bullied online and then told they deserved it for daring to put themselves out there.

Just saw a link to this:

Another ETA: I want to make it very clear that my post is NOT referring to any other posts written about this specific situation. Indeed, it’s not about any one blog, blog post, or specific incident; or rather, I’m very angry and upset about this situation and on behalf of this writer but when I speak of internet culture etc. etc. I’m speaking in generalities, and absolutely NOT referring to or accusing anyone of anything over this particular situation (except the actual hoaxers, of course).

Just wanted to mention that, because I know a couple of other posts have been written about this. I read those after I wrote my post, and am not at all reacting or responding to them here.

What Stace had to say on Friday, July 15th, 2011
Here we go!

*drumroll* Downside book 5 is officially titled:

CHASING MAGIC

I’m really, really excited about it; I think it’s a great title, and I’m quite pleased with the book in general, and yay etc. etc.

Also, as I promised on Monday, Stellar Four has posted a big huge excerpt of the opening chapter of SACRIFICIAL MAGIC up on their site, as both a cool thing to do for their first-ever Urban Fantasy Week and as a thank-you to all of you; the winner of my Downside T-shirt in the L.A. Banks auction was one of the ladies from St4, and she wouldn’t have had to cough up anywhere near as much cash as she did if not for all of you amazing, generous, and awesome people. The excerpt will go up at around 11am PST, which is still a while away and I didn’t want to wait to do my blog post for today. So you can check back here–I’ll update the post when the excerpt goes up–or you can check back there directly.

Last night I got my first look at the cover art for SACRIFICIAL MAGIC. It made me very, very happy. I can’t wait to show it to you! Which I will do as soon as I can. It’s getting a few little tweaks here and there at the moment, so fingers crossed it’ll only be a few more weeks.

A small but interesting discussion has been taking place over whether or not authors should rate their own books at Goodreads/LibraryThing/B&N/Amazon/wherever else. I’m actually surprised the subject is still coming up; I thought it was rather obvious that rating one’s own books makes one look like a tool? (Yes, I know, I wasn’t going to discuss this stuff anymore, but this isn’t really a long discussion and there seems to be a consensus anyway. Of course, we’ll see how long it takes for “Stacia Kane says you’ll never ever get published if you rate your own books on Goodreads” to pop up.)

Rating one’s own books is one of those things you see recommended/mentioned a lot on the message boards of vanity presses, along with the usual other useless stuff like having your friends and family review and rate your books so it looks like lots of people love them. Or trading reviews with other authors from the same press, and having your book’s name in your reviewer handle/sig/whatever to attract attention to you and your books, too. The problem with all of these ideas is that readers aren’t stupid. A 5-star review from the book’s author is a red flag. That red flag gets even bigger when you add a few other reviews from people in the same geographic area (and/or with the same last name as the author), especially when those reviews tend to be rather shallow, like “This book is wonderful. I couldn’t put it down. What a beautiful story!” and nothing else. Like I said, I think readers are smarter than that.

It just looks bad, rating your own books. It’s tacky. It looks desperate. I’ve never seen an author I respect or admire do it; I’ve seen one or two I have the exact opposite feelings for do it. Anyone who tells you it’s a good idea is someone whose judgment should be questioned, thoroughly and comprehensively.

What Stace had to say on Monday, July 11th, 2011
News!

Ah, it’s a fine bright Monday morning, just the type of day to announce some exciting news.

First, I’m going to be in French! Well, not me personally, of course. Megan Chase. French publisher J’ai Lu has bought translation/publication rights to PERSONAL DEMONS, DEMON INSIDE, and DEMON POSSESSED! I don’t have any news on release dates or anything, of course, as I’ve only just signed the contracts, but I’m still extremely excited. Yet another step on my road to Global Domination.

Also, I can now dream of entering a French bookshop and having the clerks know who I am and invite me to an impromptu party in my honor, which I will totally schedule for the night the hubs has important plans, too, thus blowing him off, but then at the last minute I can blow off my French readers without bothering to even pick up a phone or anything. And maybe later I can find the restaurant my party was at and there will be copies of PERSONAL DEMONS (or whatever they’ll call it in French) lying around with wine stains all over them. Ahh, what a glorious fantasy.

Aaaand…Remember HOME, the short story I wrote for THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE? I pulled it from the anthology back in March. And when I did I promised the story would definitely see publication somewhere, even if it was just here on my website.

Well. It won’t be. I’m very pleased to let everyone know that HOME will be published as an estory original on the Heroes and Heartbreakers website run by Tor/Macmillan. I of course don’t have a release date or anything like that yet, but I’ll definitely keep you all updated.

Heroes and Heartbreakers is a really cool site, for those of you who haven’t checked it out before. It’s mainly a romance site, and it’s got a great, active community and lots of cool stuff. I love their take on genre fiction, actually, and they’ve been extremely kind and enthusiastic about the Downside books in particular, so I’m even more excited to be working with them.

I believe I mentioned before that HOME is definitely a romance story, which was a bit weird since it’s a Downside story. I like it quite a bit, of course, but it felt odd writing a story where everyone was basically happy in the end. That’s a pretty rare occurrence for these characters, heh, so I hope everyone enjoys it. You’ll be able to read it free if you’ve registered on the site, and/or it will be available at all the major ebook retailers etc. if you’re not. But you really should register, since it’s a cool site.

So, more info on that as we go along. But HOME has found a home (ha! See what I did there?) and I’m really glad.

Speaking of Downside stuff to read online…you may remember a while ago where I mentioned some friends of mine have set up a girl-geek-focused website called Stellar Four? It’s a really, really awesome site, and they do some great stories.

Anyway. This week they’re doing an Urban Fantasy Week, and they’ll be giving away a copy of my dear friend Stacey Jay’s DEAD ON THE DELTA, although of course you’ve all already bought it, right?

As part of their UF week, I’m going to be posting a new, never-before-seen excerpt from SACRIFICIAL MAGIC on Thursday or Friday (most likely Thursday). So you’ll definitely want to go check that out. Read the excerpt, browse the site, laugh at the awesome posts, leave comments, and enter the giveaway (I just might be persuaded to give something away myself, if enough people comment and all).

Tomorrow we’re heading out to visit some friends etc. in the Southwest, and then to the house where we’re renting for a bit in north Wales. So I may not be around as much this week (I know, again) but hopefully by the end of the week we’ll have all our internets and all set up, and things will calm down. Plus, I’ll be able to post pictures of north Wales, which is gorgeous.

Oh! And yesterday we went to the Willian Village Fair, and saw Morris dancers. It was quite something. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to view the video, but here’s the link just in case. (Warning: the sound starts right away, and it’s loud accordion/drum/bells/etc.)

I think that’s it for today! Oh, but don’t forget the L.A. Banks auction! Two days left to bid on the custom Downside shirt and mp3, and we’re at $51.50, which is totally exciting for me since I was afraid I’d only bring in a few bucks. So thank you all SO MUCH for bidding!! I am thrilled to see that my item is so far one of the biggest earners in the auction, and it’s all down to how fantastic and generous you all are. (And if you haven’t bid yet, well, you have two days to go.)

What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 7th, 2011
L.A. BANKS AUCTION OPEN!

And you can bid to win a custom T-shirt from the Downside Market and a Downside playlist (your choice).

What is the custom t-shirt? Well. It can be whatever you’d like it to be. Have a favorite quote from the books you want on a shirt? Let me know, and I’ll get it on there. Want your name on the back? I can do that. Want it to say “Terrible loves only me?” I can do that, too. Want to do your own design and have it added to the Market itself? Let’s talk! I will contact the winning bidder after the auction closes to discuss ideas or thoughts; of course, if you just want to pick an already-existing design you’re welcome to do that, too.

L.A. Banks needs our help. And since everyone knows my readers are the best readers in all of readerdom, I really hope to see you all bidding! Not just on my items (although of course I’d love to see them do well so I don’t feel like a huge loser), but on all of the other amazing stuff that’s listed. Look at this auction, it’s huge!

Yesterday we sent out the new Downside Army email, with an excerpt from my story in the upcoming HOME IMPROVEMENT: UNDEAD EDITION anthology. If you didn’t get your email and you have signed up here on the site, let me know. (Also, please double-check the email address you sign up with!) I mentioned in the email that this is the first new Downside material to be released since CITY OF GHOSTS’s release date almost a year ago (in fact, today is the one-year anniversary of UNHOLY MAGIC’s release, now that I think of it). Which, technically, it is. THE BRAVE TALE OF MADDIE CARVER isn’t really a Downside story; although Elder Griffin is in it briefly, since it’s actually a story about the beginning of Haunted Week there was no Downside at that time. (There’s a bit of the history of the place and how it became what it is in SACRIFICIAL MAGIC, actually.)

So technically MADDIE CARVER isn’t a Downside story. And of course the story doesn’t have Chess or Terrible or Lex or anyone in it, since they were babies or toddlers at the time (aaw). RICK THE BRAVE (the antho story), on the other hand, does.

So that’s it for today. Please go bid on items to help L.A. Banks, and if you’re a DA member but didn’t get your email, let me know.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
Less than a month!

I just realized that there’s less than a month to go until the (August 2nd) release of HOME IMPROVEMENT: UNDEAD EDITION, the latest Charlaine Harris/Toni L.P. Kelner-edited urban fantasy anthology, and the one featuring–ta da!–a brand new Downside story, called RICK THE BRAVE!

I’m very excited about the story (which is a little different, and hopefully you’ll all get as much of a kick out of reading it as I did writing it), and of course *very* excited about the anthology (already getting great reviews), which features much, much bigger-and-better-than-me writers like Charlaine and Toni, Patricia Briggs, Heather Graham, Melissa Marr…you know, people of whom readers in general have actually heard. I *may* go ahead and send a snippet of it out to the Downside Army later.

Speaking of which, there are over 500 members now! I know it’s not a patch on what other, way more successful writers have, but I’m proud of it. And I’m hoping to get some activity going on in there soon, as we gear up for the release of SACRIFICIAL MAGIC, among other things (she says mysteriously).

It’s a bit weird for me, though, the whole “street team” concept. We were discussing it on a forum I’m a member of the other day, and I thought, you know, it’s hard for me to ask or even suggest that the DA members do anything to promote the books; not to mention, what do I ask them to do? Granted, by signing up they indicated a willingness to do things, and granted, there’s no obligation to do things in order to be a member, but…I think especially given some of the issues that have been had online in the last few years with writers expecting readers to do things for them, it feels bizarre for me to ask for any sort of promo help or anything like that. But I’m trying to come up with something, because there are a few things coming along the pike that it would be great if word could be spread about (she says mysteriously again). So if anyone has any ideas, feel free to share. I have a few of my own, as well, so we’ll see.

Also…on a completely different subject…quite a few people yesterday saw my tweet mentioning that my father-in-law has died. I really, really appreciate the replies and the expressions of sympathy. It’s an odd situation, really, because without going into detail we’ve been estranged from the man for a few years now; my husband did get to speak to him back at Christmas, and we’d hoped the relationship could be rebuilt, but it wasn’t something the FIL was particularly interested in. He was often a difficult man to deal with, and a stubborn one, and he’d gotten involved with a person who would much prefer my husband and I not be around and did everything she could to make that happen. Sadly, it worked.

All of this is my roundabout way of saying we’d actually dealt with this loss several years ago, so while this is a shock, and a sad one, we’re okay. It’s another reminder, though, that life is short; too short to let petty differences get in the way of things. I know the hubs feels much better knowing that at Xmas he reached out and tried to mend things; it doesn’t make him feel less rejected, or less sad about how difficult their relationship always was, but it does mean he can take comfort in knowing that he was able to tell his dad he loved him that one last time, that he proved himself to be the bigger man by making the gesture.

So thanks to those of you who saw the tweet and said something, and to the few people who emailed me, and thanks to those of you who’ve read this little exercise in navel-gazing, but please don’t feel you need to leave a comment here or anything like that. Perhaps it’s presumptuous of me but I’m going to take your sympathy as a given (since you’re all such awesome people) and just issue a blanket thank-you, and don’t worry about commenting on it; not because I don’t care or don’t want to hear it but because I’d rather we discuss and think about more cheerful things, like new Downside stories and fun activities and being kind to people we love (and to those we don’t love, too, for that matter). How does that sound?