Archive for September, 2011



What Stace had to say on Monday, September 26th, 2011
The Lazy Reader

Okay. Maybe someone can explain this to me.

In the past few days I’ve seen two of these display-site/make-your-books-go-viral/readers-can’t-wait-to-read-your-unedited-unpublished-book sites. Slush sites; also known as YADS (Yet Another Display Site), because yeah, this is an idea that people have been trying and trying for years now, and which has never to my knowledge resulted in any sort of publishing deal for anyone.

Anyway. The two I’m thinking of offhand are PUBSLUSH (read more at AW and Writer Beware here and here) and the not-yet-unveiled ViralBestseller.com (link goes to the AW thread).

Here’s the basic idea behind these sites. The PUBSLUSH people or the “agents” at ViralBestseller will post your book on a website. According to them, what will then happen is that thousands of eager readers will flock to their site, desperate to find something new to read that hasn’t been touched by those horrible editors (ViralBestseller refers to “unedited glory” and reading “the author’s original intensions[sic],” which frankly to me displays a deep misunderstanding of the editing process, but whatever) or professional publishers or, well, anyone who can determine whether or not the work in question is actually readable. Readers, they claim, are desperate to wade through thousands of manuscripts looking for one that they might like. In the case of PUBSLUSH, their plan is for readers to actually pledge money to preorder the book, based on a ten-page sample, and when a certain amount of supporters/cash is reached the book will be published.

Now…okay. Maybe the problem here is me (I am the “lazy reader” referred to in the title of the post). I fully admit that may be the case. I certainly think of myself as a dedicated and avid reader; I don’t have as much time to read now as I used to, seeing as how I spend so much time writing them these days, but I certainly still read and buy books and read some more. I read a lot. Probably not as much as any of you, but certainly as much as I can. I’m always looking for book recommendations. Those of you who’ve reviewed my books favorably in the past may be surprised to know that based on that (by which I mean your obviously excellent taste in literature), I visit your sites to see what else you’re reading that you like, and check those books out at the bookstore. I write down titles; I look to see who you’re talking about (I also grit my teeth because, you know, talking about other books means you’re not talking about mine, but still). (That is of course a joke.) (Mostly.)

But I look at sites like these and I think, man…I just don’t want to have to work that hard, you know?

I have a big enough TBR list; I have books by my friends whose writing I love that I don’t manage to get to fast enough for me. I have recommendations I’ve found on your sites, if you review. I have research reading to do; my nonfiction library is ever-growing. I have books I saw at the bookstore that I bought just cuz they looked cool that I haven’t gotten to read yet. That adds up to a lot of books.

So when I’m thinking of looking for something new to read (if I’m not just picking something from my TBR)…I dunno, I just never think to myself, “You know what I’d like to do? I’d like to spend several hours hunting through digital slushpiles to see if maybe there’s something in there I might want to read on my laptop.” In the case of PUBSLUSH, that would be “I’d like to spend several hours looking through ten-page samples in hopes of pledging to pay $25 to maybe get the whole thing in a few months’ time.”

All of the YADS play on–most of them have little screeds written to the effect of–the idea that commercial publishing as it is is “broken” and isn’t serving readers. I disagree with this; sure, not every book is to my taste, but in general I find there’s plenty of variety out there to keep me happy and interested. And the idea that publishers have no idea what readers want puzzles me, too, frankly. You and I might think TWILIGHT isn’t very good (or we may love it; I’m not saying anything one way or the other) but the fact remains that an agent and an editor read it and thought “This book will appeal to lots of readers,” and they were right, and that happens every day. Yes, bad books get published. I can certainly think of a few. But good ones do, too, every day.

But to get back to the main point…am I just lazy? Is this something readers actually want to do? Do you find yourself hunting around odd websites looking for something that might be interesting to read? Do you look at sites like those?

Or do you, like me, and like–I believe–the majority of readers, still prefer to find and read books from bookstores, from reviews on trusted sites, from friends who’ve read them? Books that you can be fairly certain are at least up to a certain standard of readability?

I’m genuinely curious. Because like I said, I just don’t want to work that hard to find something to read, and I just don’t have that kind of time.

BTW…I now have a Tumblr. So if you’re on Tumblr, let me know! I have plans for something fun on Tumblr soon, which I’m working on at the moment, so…there’ll be more on that later.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, September 21st, 2011
SACRIFICIAL MAGIC cover!

Just in time to celebrate the exclusive excerpt of Chapter Two over on Dark Faerie Tales (part of the Summer Supernatural Smackdown event; comment there and you could win all three Downside books!), I get to finally how you the cover of SACRIFICIAL MAGIC!

I’m so, so happy with it! It’s a new look, a new model (and she’s just gorgeous), and I couldn’t be happier.

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What Stace had to say on Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
The Check-in

Sigh. This has happened to me a lot lately, so forgive me if I rant for a minute.

Anyone can email me. I love it when readers email me, frankly; it makes everything worthwhile and more. There’s a contact form here on the site that you can use, if you want. Or ask; I give my email address all the time, all over the place. It’s staciakane AT gmail. Go ahead. I love to hear from you. I am currently way behind on answering reader emails, yes, and for that I am horrendously sorry. But that doesn’t mean the emails themselves don’t fill me with squealy delight. They do.

Here’s what does NOT fill me with squealy delight: Emails from people who clearly have no idea who I am. Don’t get me wrong; I hardly think I’m a household name. Of course I’m not.

But at least a couple of times a week I get emails asking me if I’m interested in “developing an app,” “sponsoring a product,” “participating in” some sort of promotion or activity or whatever, or–these are my favorites–offering me their services for a guest post on the blog. See, they’re Real Professional Writers(ZOMG!1!!!), and presumably my blog is in great need of some Real Professional Writing and could really benefit from their personal flair and expertise and stuff. And in exchange, all this Real Professional Writer asks is that I link back to them/their site!

Sorry, but this is insulting. I myself happen to be a Real Professional Writer, one with more credits and experience than you, Ms. Give-me-your-blog-audience-to-publicize-myself. You’d know that if you’d bothered at all to even look at the blog you’re proposing to visit. And you, Mr. App Developer? Why exactly should I pay you to develop an “app” based on…what?

I get them on Goodreads, too; a new “friend” will send me, immediately upon my approving their request, an email with links to and info about their self-published books (sorry, but I haven’t had a single commercially published author do this) and a request that I review it. They never mention my own books; they never give any indication that they even know me as anything more than just another name on a list. Again, I don’t expect people to just know my name but I do expect them to at least, you know, look at my Goodreads page–the one they had to click on to send me the request to begin with? Their books often don’t fit into any of the types of books I’ve ever rated at Goodreads and don’t fit into UF either; it’s a form email they send to every person they can, the way spammers do (and that’s what they are, spammers). I generally reply and ask what about me specifically makes them think I’m the audience for their book, and they never respond (shocking, I know).

You contacted me. Yes, I know I’m just one email address out of many you’re spamming/just one Goodreads account out of many you’re spamming. I don’t care. Don’t contact me if you don’t have any idea what you can actually offer me. Don’t contact me if you have no idea who I am and can’t even be bothered to spend two minutes scanning my website. It’s not like information about me and/or my work is secret; I have a whole website devoted to it.

Don’t contact me if you do not have an answer to the question, “Okay, and why are you contacting me, specifically?” Because I’m going to ask. And if you don’t have an answer, we’re not doing business. Of any kind. (I will report you for spam, too. Goodreads is a place where readers can talk about books; that’s what it exists for. Those readers don’t want or deserve your contempt, and “contempt” is exactly what it is when you treat them like potential sales rather than individuals, and when you look at them and see only what they can do for you, and behave as though they have some obligation to do that. Like your desire for self-promotion is more important then their time/privacy/right to go about their business without being solicited by you. You don’t care about their actual interests or tastes, you don’t care about their likes or dislikes, you only care about getting them to buy your book. You may not realize it’s contemptuous, but it is.)

I love having my pals over here for guest posts. I’m happy to offer people guest spots if I think it’s something my readers would be interested in, and I don’t mind requests from people asking if I’d be willing to let them do a guest posts. It’s fine. Please feel free to ask. But I somehow don’t think my readers are that interested in Random Nonfic Writer’s Random Blog Posts. And I get pissed as hell when Random Writer treats me like some kind of idiot who’ll be so sparkly-diamond-eyes thrilled to have a Real Writer offer to do a guest post for me that I won’t even consider the truth of the matter, which is that they’re trying to use the years of hard work I’ve put in to build my own audience to give themselves a jump without any effort.

Having someone here on my blog to write a guest post is in essence me endorsing that person and/or their book. It’s me saying to my readers, “Hey guys, so-and-so is a pal and a good writer, and you might enjoy this.” I don’t generally do that for strangers (unless of course I was blown away by their book). No, my blog doesn’t get thousands of hits a day, but it’s a fairly solid audience; we hit the mid-four digits every week, at least (did I mention before about the weird dichotomy there? When I used to get maybe 100 hits a day, a lot more people commented. Now there are way more hits but hardly any comments. Just seems odd).

So, there you go. My little semi-rant about spam and self-promotion.

Anyway. On to other things.

Last night I got a look at the revised SACRIFICIAL MAGIC cover, and I’m really, really pleased. I’ll be showing that one off ASAP; the chick on it actually looks like she could be Chess! And it has a new sort of feel that I just…I really dig it, it’s a cool cover. Can’t wait to show it to you guys, so let’s hope I get the OK fast.

I also have the final playlist for the book, which I won’t be posting for a while yet–probably not until January or so–but I do have it all set up. Incidentally, although there was an extended exclusive excerpt of Chapter One up on Stellar Four, and although there will be an extended exclusive excerpt from Chapter Two up on Dark Faerie Tales for the Supernatural Smackdown event, I won’t be posting Chapter One in its entirety on the site until the end of February, and the first three chapters will go live the day of the book’s release.

And, there’s a new interview with me up at Novels on the Run, so go check it out!

What Stace had to say on Friday, September 16th, 2011
Your Cervix and You

So it seems there’s a whole bunch of debate about the HPV vaccine and whether or not girls should be given it–why aren’t we talking about it being given to men, btw? Or are we, and I simply missed it? Because those women aren’t catching HPV from each other, generally.

Anyway. This post isn’t actually about the HPV vaccine. It’s kind of not even about HPV, although it is a bit. See, here’s what happened.

Apparently a writer named Ayelet Waldman had HPV, and was a bit upset by the finger-pointing etc. she felt was happening in the course of the vaccine debate, and so mentioned on Twitter that she’d had HPV. And the internet went crazy with people telling her, basically, that she was a dirty old whore or whatever for daring to speak of such things. See, HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, which means that even though Waldman got it from her husband–and thus the people involved were those married people who are apparently permitted to have sex–it’s still a horrible and shameful thing to have. The responses Waldman got to her tweet were pretty shocking; people were disgusted that she dared to mention such a thing. They called her names. They were very upset that they happened to be eating when she mentioned the word “cervix.” How dare she discuss her personal health! How dare she confess to having a disease that huge percentages of people have!

It’s dirty and shameful, you see, because she’s talking about a disease she got because of her having a vagina, and because she occasionally lets a man put his penis into it. The whore! I bet she wasn’t even concentrating solely on the idea of making babies while she let him do his filthy business to her. Imagine, a married woman confessing to having sex! I may never recover from my disgust.

In reaction to that, the Village Voice has declared today “Talk About Your Experience With HPV Day.”

So I’m using it to jump on my own little bandwagon here.

See, I have no experience with HPV. But I still had precancerous cells on my cervix fifteen years or so ago, and because of that, having a pap smear saved my life.

HPV is becoming more and more well-known, and that’s a good thing. There’s a vaccine, and regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about whether or not young women should be automatically given that vaccine, I think we can all agree that having a vaccine is a good thing.

But I feel like in all of the discussion about HPV and how it can and often does lead to cervical cancer, it’s not mentioned very often that yes, HPV is a cause. But it’s not the only cause. Every woman who ever had cervical cancer (or precancer) did not and does not have HPV. I tested negative several times, but still had that colposcopy and LEEP biopsy, and I know I’m not the only one.

Cervical cancer doesn’t only strike women who are sexually active. Anyone, any woman, can get cervical cancer. Virgins can get it. Nuns can get it. People who’ve never left their homes in their lives can get it. Having cervical cancer does NOT automatically equal HPV; while HPV is a sexually transmitted disease, cervical cancer is NOT.

I don’t want that to be forgotten, because I think when we fail to clarify that, when we fail to mention and remind people that HPV is not the only cause, we encourage women who aren’t sexually active, or who’ve only had one partner and both were virgins, or whatever else, to skip getting their pap smears. (BTW: A dear friend of mine who happens to be a lesbian has asked me to point out that yes, this means lesbians do indeed need to get annual pap smears. Apparently she once met an actual gynecologist who was confused about this.)

That’s a mistake. Pap smears save lives. If you are a female over the age of sixteen or so, you need to get one. Period. Doesn’t matter if you’re having sex or plan to; get a pap smear anyway. Yes, it’s kind of uncomfortable, but it’s a fleeting discomfort. It doesn’t really hurt. And yes, maybe it’s a bit difficult if you’re the modest type, but suck it up. You don’t have anything your doctor hasn’t seen before, and this can save your life. It’s important. Just do it.

HPV is nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s very common. But HPV is also not the only cause of cervical cancer, so the fact that you do not have HPV is not a guarantee that you don’t have cervical cancer.

If you haven’t had a pap smear done in the last year, call and make an appointment now.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, September 8th, 2011
ENTANGLED Anthology is available!

Some of you may already have heard of the ENTANGLED anthology; eleven short stories (well, ten shorts and a novella) by Allison Brennan, Misty Evans, Jennifer Estep, Edie Ramer, Nancy Haddock, Dale Mayer, Cynthia Eden, Michelle Miles, Lori Brighton, Liz Kreger, and Michelle Diener, with all profits going to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Oh, and a Foreword by, well, me.

Here’s a little Q&A Misty Evans sent me:

Q: Tell us about Entangled.

A: Entangled includes ten suspense-filled paranormal stories from authors Lori Brighton, Michelle Diener, Cynthia Eden, Jennifer Estep, Misty Evans, Nancy Haddock, Liz Kreger, Dale Mayer, Michelle Miles, and Edie Ramer, plus a brand new Seven Deadly Sins novella by Allison Brennan. Stacia Kane contributed the foreword and the book’s formatting and cover art were also donated to the project by Lori Devoti and Laura Morrigan. All proceeds from the sale of Entangled will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).

Q: Are the stories connected?

A: The anthology has a Halloween theme, so the stories all have Halloween elements in them.

Q: Are they all one genre?

A: All the stories paranormal, but some are heavier on suspense, while others have more romance. We even have a young adult story by Jennifer Estep that’s related to her Mythos Academy series.

Q: How did you all come up with the decision to do this book? Who initiated it and how did you all get together?

A: Edie Ramer and Misty Evans wanted to do a collaboration together, and over three or four emails earlier this year, they decided to do a paranormal anthology of short stories and have the proceeds go to breast cancer. They invited authors whose books they read and enjoyed and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

Q: Tell us more about the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

A: BCRF-funded research has helped save lives and improved the quality of care and rate of survival for tens of thousands of breast cancer patients in the past decade. Their research has revealed that the “cure” is a mosaic made up of as many approaches to diagnosing, treating, preventing and surviving as there are different types of breast cancer. The anthology is also a mosaic made up of many stories donated for this worthwhile cause.

Q: Is there a time limit on purchasing Entangled so the proceeds go to the BCRF?

A: Entangled will available for at least a year and all proceeds will go to BCRF, no matter when it’s purchased. After a year, if it’s still selling well, we’ll keep it available, and again, all proceeds will go to BCRF.

Q: How much will the ebook cost?

A: Entangled will be discounted to $2.99 during September and October in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. After that the price will go up to $3.99. For stories of this caliber, it’s a fantastic deal at either price.

Q: Can people donate to the cause even if they can’t or don’t want to purchase Entangled?

A: Absolutely. Go to http://www.bcrfcure.org to make a donation in your name, or in the name of someone you know who’s been touched by breast cancer.

The book’s Goodreads page is here, with buylinks etc., and in addition to the other reviews there’s a nice thorough one here at Coffee Table Reviews.

I’ve never written a Foreword before, and it was a huge honor for me to be invited to do so, especially for such an important cause. So I really, really hope you guys all decide to buy the book!

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
My little Writing Rules pt. 2 (This one goes up to 11!)

So yesterday, if you missed it, I posted a bit of a rant about how disappointed I am with Dr. Who (link will open in new window) these days, particularly with the writing, which seems to have traded emotional depth, story, characterization, continuity, real suspense, and pacing for cheap manufactured twists and self-aware “cleverness.” I feel like this has been going on since the first episode of Matt Smith/Stephen Moffat’s run, and it makes me unhappy.

(In the links to that post someone posted a link to a similar discussion on their blog, here–also in a new window. It’s definitely worth a read, and don’t skip the comments; there’s some good stuff there, in particular “Mary”‘s comment at 10:25.)

Anyway, using Dr. Who as a jump-off point, I’m posting my little writing rules, the things that I keep in mind when writing and the things I, well, think make a book good. (There’s a whole big disclaimer on this in the original post, so I’m not going to repeat it here. I will repeat, though, that just because I’m disappointed with the writing, and feel that it’s in general bad writing, doesn’t mean I think the Who writers are bad writers. They’re not. I’m not sure why the writing has gone off the rails so badly, but I don’t think it’s their fault; I think they’re doing the best they can with what they’re told to do.)

So here we go, with the rest of my rules.
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What Stace had to say on Monday, September 5th, 2011
My little writing rules

I just got finished–well, okay, I finished a few hours ago–watching the latest episode of Dr. Who (it’s Saturday night as I type this; the episode to which I’m referring is called “Night Terrors.” NOTE: There are spoilers in this post, so if you are a big Who fan and haven’t seen that episode yet, you may want to skip this until you have. Also, due to length I’ve split this post in two. It’s still long, though. Look for part 2 tomorrow).

Okay. Anyway. I have not been a fan of the Matt Smith/Steven Moffat run. Sorry, but I haven’t. At all. Moffat wrote a couple of the best episodes of the Tennant run, yes, like “Blink.” But I’m having some real problems with the writing in Series 5 and now 6, and here’s what they are.

The thing is, everyone has a different view on what is good writing vs. what is not. I’m aware of that. These are my opinions. I’m a writer; these are my little “rules” for writing what I consider to be good books. You may not think I’m a good writer and so don’t like my rules; you may think I’m a bad writer who doesn’t follow my own rules. I do think I follow them, but again, it’s all a matter of perception and taste and all of that, so…the point is, this is the stuff I work on and keep in mind. Some of my pet peeves. Things I consider lazy. But just how I also think beginning sentences with participial phrases is an evil thing and hate it with a passion, my feelings and opinions may not match yours (you’re wrong, though, at least when it comes to using participial phrases to start sentences).

I also want to make it clear that I’m not saying the Who writers are untalented. They obviously are talented. They obviously are good writers. But they’re being–I believe–forced into lazy habits, and bad writing is the result.

So. Many of these came up in tonight’s episode. I will tell you about them now.
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