Archive for May, 2012



What Stace had to say on Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
On Sacrifice

First…OMH, y’all, FINDING MAGIC is going to be on sale in like five days. Holy crap! And CHASING MAGIC in less than a month.

(BTW, for those curious…yes, that is basically Chess’s natural hair color; maybe not quite that blond, but definitely a lighter color. She’s naturally quite pale.)

Anyway. It just occurred to me this morning how close we are to release for that, so…eep!

But it’s not what I’m discussing. This is something I’ve thought about for a while, off and on, and I think will be interesting. It’s not meant to be advocating anything, At ALL. Especially not human or other mammalian sacrifice; for the record, let me state clearly that I DO NOT CONDONE OR ADVOCATE HUMAN SACRIFICE OR SACRIFICE OF OTHER LIVING BEINGS. PLEASE DO NOT SACRIFICE HUMANS OR OTHER LIVING BEINGS. EXCEPT MAYBE FLIES AND COCKROACHES. BUT EVEN THEN I DO NOT CONDONE OR ADVOCATE RITUAL SACRIFICE. I just thought it might be an interesting topic, and maybe an interesting discussion. Maybe something to think about as we write and/or as we read. It’s a “generic” topic, in that it’s not really inspired by any particular event (at least not in the writing world). It is, I admit, a *tad* inspired by someone I saw on a totally nothing-to-do-with-writing-or-books-at-all website. This person was claiming, with breathtaking…uh, well, ignorance…that “Ancient Wiccans” used to be PROUD when their child was chosen to be the “spring sacrifice,” killed, and its body stuffed into a tree trunk.

No, I am not joking.

But we’ll leave aside the idea of “Ancient Wiccans,” because frankly that’s not a subject I want to get into. We won’t even really get into the idea of babies stuffed in tree trunks, which is just immensely disturbing.

What we will talk about is sacrifice, because I’ve heard and seen far too many things about this, for years, where the idea of “sacrifice” is taken incorrectly. IMO. (But I’m right.) (And note that this doesn’t relate to the type of sacrifice that is literally just about death, as in several books I’ve written and many, many others other people have written. Those were not religious sacrifices.)

The thing is, a sacrifice is supposed to be–should be–a sacrifice. This is why although I love the original film THE WICKER MAN–and I do–the “sacrifice” depicted doesn’t count. It’s not a sacrifice. The residents of Summer Isle deserve to have their crops die, because they may be obeying the letter of the law but they are certainly not obeying the spirit.

Why, you say? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Because a sacrifice is supposed to be a sacrifice. It’s supposed to be giving up something of value to you, to your community. It’s supposed to be causing yourself pain and suffering to prove your loyalty or worthiness or love/adoration for your deity, to acknowledge their godhood. A sacrifice is supposed to be you giving something up.

The residents of Summer Island did NOT sacrifice anything. They gave nothing up. A sacrifice is supposed to be personal, not a good reason to grab a stranger, murder him, and walk away whistling without a second thought. A sacrifice is supposed to be one of your own, one of your community. When you sacrifice a human being (and again I am NOT advocating such in any way, shape, or form), you’re proving your love for your God is higher than any human love. You’re giving up not just a person you love but another hand in the fields, or another pair of eyes to watch the children. (You’re also confirming your belief that this life is less important than the next, and that the sacrificed soul will live in eternity with the God and all of that etc.)

If you believe such things, God didn’t ask Abraham to sacrifice some guy off the street. He asked Abraham to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, and he did that because a sacrifice is supposed to be a sacrifice. (That he stopped Abraham before the knife came down doesn’t change that proof, although I frankly wonder how comfortable family dinners could have been after that.) For that matter, if you believe such things, God sacrificed His son Jesus to prove His love for humanity. He didn’t do it because he thought it would be a hoot. He didn’t grab somebody at random or just strike Jesus with lightning while Jesus walked down the street minding his own business. He didn’t do that because that is not a sacrifice. He sacrificed his son, and he did it (or had it done) in a very big public way, because THAT is a sacrifice, and THAT proves/proved (again, if you believe such things) his love for/devotion to humanity. That sacrifice was a covenant.

And not only is a sacrifice supposed to be personal, a sacrifice is supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to hurt. If you stand around beaming while your baby is taken from your arms and stuffed into a tree, you haven’t just made a sacrifice (and you’re a really cold bitch, frankly. Like, so cold I shudder thinking of you). You’ve just handed over something that means nothing to you, is what you’ve done. Because if it meant something to you you wouldn’t be grinning with pride; if it was truly a sacrifice you wouldn’t be happy. Or even calm and resigned. You might be understanding. You might be dully accepting. You might, if you’re very devout, be sort of pleased, in a, I-still-feel-sick way, that you’ve had a chance to prove your devotion. But you’re not going to feel good and happy, brush off your hands, and say, “Awesome! That’s done. Let’s go have some pie.”

What devotion does it prove, to hand over something you didn’t give a damn about to begin with? What is the point of sacrifice if after it’s done you shrug and go about your business?

The idea that understanding why a sacrifice needs to be made means it’s okay or right or normal to feel nothing about the sacrifice is ridiculous. The idea that, for example, there’s any way a woman could sacrifice her baby and feel nothing but pride and/or satisfaction is ridiculous. Animals–even cats, who are often called “bad mothers”–don’t just hand over their defenseless babies to predators with nary a qualm.

Anyone remember ROSEMARY’S BABY? Wherein Rosemary was drugged and raped–and thus impregnated–by Satan, in order to birth the half-devil child who would bring about the apocalypse? Anybody remember how Rosemary discovered this plan, and went into the nursery with a knife to kill the abomination, but then she saw him, and biological instinct or whatever kicked in and she thought, “Well, he’s half me. Half human. Maybe I can raise him right, and teach him. Maybe he doesn’t have to be evil.”

Guys, that baby had a tail and horns, if memory serves. But his MOTHER couldn’t bring herself to kill him. His mother wanted to try to save him. I’m not going to say you’re a terrible mother if you do actually kill the horned, spike-tailed baby that you know for an indisputable fact is born directly of Satan, but I will say that if you can do it without even blinking an eye or feeling the slightest qualm, I wonder about you a whole, whole lot.

And if you can do it without blinking an eye or feeling the slightest qualm–even a purely selfish one, as in, “I wasted nine months being pregnant and I have nothing to show for it”–then you have not made a sacrifice.

It is a myth that people stood around grinning when it was their turn to be or make a sacrifice. No, they didn’t. If they did it wasn’t a sacrifice, it was just murder.

Sacrifice is supposed to hurt. It is supposed to elicit an emotional reaction. It is supposed to be painful. It is supposed to be…a sacrifice.

If you’re writing, your characters need to have actual feelings about things. If you’re reading, you should expect characters to have actual feelings about things. “Sacrifice” does not mean “easy.” It should at least be a complex decision.

What Stace had to say on Monday, May 21st, 2012
“Customer Service”

Before I get into the rant, a few things to share…

1. SACRIFICIAL MAGIC has been released in the UK! (I am told there was/is a shipping delay in the Australia-bound books, for which I am very sorry.)

2. SACRIFICIAL MAGIC has been released in audiobook! (And I believe CHASING MAGIC’s audio release will be very close to if not the same as the actual ppb/ebook US release.) I’ve heard already from a few readers who are enjoying the hell out of the audiobook(s); while I personally find listening to them to be just too bizarre an experience, I’m thrilled that they exist and that you guys like them!

3. Some of you may have already heard this, but I have to share with you the monumentally humiliating thing I did on Saturday.

I was at the grocery store, and outside were a couple of gentlemen collecting funds for Lifeboat Rescue. Since I have kind of a thing about the Navy/sailors/boats/the sea, I of course plucked some coins out of my pocket and tossed them in the bucket. As the guy was peeling off a sticker for me (stickers are a big thing here when you donate money), I started to say, “I love the Navy!”

But it occurred to me, maybe they weren’t actually the Navy. I mean, is Lifeboat Rescue the Navy? Or is it the Coast Guard? Or are they a separate, private group? It wouldn’t do to say “I love the Navy” if/when they’re not actually Navy, would it. So I changed my intent mid-sentence, casting frantically about for the correct term.

And what I ended up saying, in a bright, cheery voice, with a big smile on my face, was “I LOVE SEAMEN!”

I could still hear both of them laughing as I got into my car.

I swear I am not making that up.

4. I am coming down with a cold. Echinacea tastes icky.

Okay, with all of that out of the way… (This is a rant. An angry one. It’s possible that later I may feel more kindly about this, but I doubt it. I want to make clear that while I am using a particular person here as an example, and while her opinion infuriates me, this is not meant to be a personal attack, and it is not my intent to be personally hurtful to her [although I believe many of her comments were and are personally hurtful to me and other writers who care about readers and what we do].)

A day or so ago I got a pingback on one of my posts about how authors should not respond to reader reviews, because reviews are not written for us. I of course followed the link, which clearly from its title disagreed with me. (ETA: And more pingbacks, months later! Because apparently some of us are so butthurt that people disagree with them that they’re still thinking about it months later after the rest of us have long forgotten the whole thing. Whatever.) (For the record, the “f-bomb” or variations thereof, is used exactly six times in this 3075-word post. I know, it’s horrible, isn’t it? It’s as if I don’t know any other words. I mean, how gross is it for a girl to use the f-word? Shouldn’t I be sitting quietly in a corner, deferring to other people, refusing to have or express opinions on anything, and giggling with my hand over my mouth–as a woman apparently should? Next thing you know I’ll be wanting to vote or drive a car by myself; give me an inch, you know, and I’ll use adult language like almost every other adult on the planet. The horrors!)

I am not linking back to the post myself, because frankly, I don’t wanna send traffic this person’s way. But don’t worry. I’ll explain it well enough.

This particular self-published author (and I point out that she’s self-published simply because not only does it make her outlook a bit different, perhaps, but because of the impossibility of a commercially published author following one of her more offensive “rules”) believes that not only is it not bad for authors to respond to negative reviews, but it’s actually–wait for it–“Good Customer Service” to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Monday, May 7th, 2012
FINDING MAGIC and a few other bits

I’m really excited about this, guys! A while ago I had an idea for an “origin story” for Chess, a little look into what life was like for her while she was in Church training. I mentioned it to my editor at Del Rey, and long story short, it’s called FINDING MAGIC, and the expected/planned release date for it is June 4. Less than a month away! It’s a novella, around 40k words, and I believe the price will be 99¢.

I don’t yet have cover art for it, but I have a blurb, and since the members of my Goodreads Q&A group asked for it, I have an excerpt for you, too!

Karen Marie Moning has called Stacia Kane’s Downside Ghosts series “dark, sexy urban fantasy at its finest.” Now, in this breathlessly suspenseful eBook novella, Kane has written a prequel to her thrilling series. Before Chess Putnam was a magic-wielding Churchwitch, she was a student in the Church of Real Truth—with a keen sensitivity to magic, a strong rebellious streak, and a penchant for self-destruction. And in Finding Magic, a grisly ghost murder becomes Chess’s baptism of fire.

When eighteen-year-old Chess Putnam is offered the chance to train with a special team of investigators known as the Black Squad, she feels torn. She’s never been a team player and hates how one male Inquisitor condescends to “the new kid.” But at her first bloody crime scene, she gets a taste for investigation—and is hooked on the high. Though the seasoned Inquisitors consider the series of ghost murders random events, Chess starts to detect a pattern. Is a psycho killer summoning ghosts from the City of Eternity and using them as murder weapons? As Chess gets closer to the dark truth, she puts herself in grave danger and risks losing everything she’s fought so hard for.

Includes a special preview of Stacia Kane’s upcoming urban fantasy thriller, Chasing Magic!

Note: I don’t yet know what from CHASING MAGIC is excerpted. But CM does have its first printed review!! Five Stars from The Book Evangelist:

With each and every novel Stacia Kane writes, my admiration and respect for her as an author increases. The Downside Ghosts books just keep getting better and better. … Chess is really forced to look at herself in Chasing Magic; she is forced to grow up and mature in ways I have been hoping for but dared not expect. I loved this book, and cannot imagine how I will get through the wait for the next one.

Also, this is really cool (for me, anyway). The Guardian (one of the biggest UK newspapers) did a review of HOME IMPROVEMENT: UNDEAD EDITION, in which they singled out my story RICK THE BRAVE as one of the two best in the volume (along with Patricia Briggs’s GRAY):

Far better are “Gray” by Patricia Briggs, a poignant vampire revenge drama; and Stacia Kane’s “Rick the Brave”, an original take on the ghost-hunting theme.

Anyway. Without further ado, here’s an excerpt from FINDING MAGIC! (As usual, this is from the pre-copyedited ms, so the final printed version may vary slightly): Read the rest of this entry »