Archive for August, 2016
What Stace had to say on Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
Well, it’s here–release day for MADE FOR SIN!
How the time has flown!
I really hope you’re all enjoying it!
Nervous Nell Justice over at One Book Two Book certainly did! She gave it four stars and said:
I loved this book, ok? I’m just getting that out there for all the world to see. The cover guy? Nope, he does not even come close to E.L. Speare, the anithero, and his appearance in my head.
(Note: I only quote reviews here if the review’s author has drawn my attention to them in some way; I don’t go looking for them, and don’t read them otherwise. I’m sure there are more reviews out there if you guys want to check, and I encourage you to do so! As I said last week, this book is something of a departure, so I’m sure there are lots of different opinions on it, which is one of the most fun things about books, isn’t it?)
Barnes & Noble
…it’s also available at iTunes (iBooks?) and anywhere ebooks are sold.
Really looking forward to introducing you to some new and different characters!
What Stace had to say on Thursday, August 25th, 2016
Today is the 25th of August, and I have no fucking idea where this month went! Wasn’t it my birthday, like, yesterday? And didn’t the kids just get out of school a week or two ago? (Actually, here, they did just get out of school in the third week of July, but still.) This summer has flown by, and here we are, only five days before the release date of MADE FOR SIN!
Speaking of which…I believe I mentioned that the book received a STARRED review at Night owl Reviews? Reviewer BookGirl gives it 4.5 out of 5 and states:
This is a must read for fans of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.
I’ve been asked if this book is the start of a new series or a stand-alone, and the answer is that I don’t know. When I was asked if I’d like to do the book, it was presented to me as something that could go either way, and I honestly wasn’t sure as I was writing it how it would end. Then the ending appeared (as they do) and ideas for future stories with these characters trotted along behind it. I’d certainly enjoy writing those future stories, because they’re pretty fun and exciting, but I imagine it’s really going to depend on sales and whether or not you lovely people are interested in reading them. Either way, it was fun to write! I haven’t really gotten to do something that’s (intended to have) a more noir-detective-novel feel than a UF or romance feel before, so I definitely enjoyed playing with that kind of sensibility and trying something a little different. (It was/is a little scary, too, but that’s how it goes, really.)
Would you like to see a bit more of that, by way of an excerpt? Of course you would! Here you go:
“So who knows what you’re looking for? Who shot at you?” she asked, leaning against his desk. Like it was her fucking house or something.
“I don’t know,” he replied, aware that he sounded irritated, and not caring. “Who knows what you were doing there? Maybe they were shooting at you.”
“What makes you think—”
“Oh, fuck this.” Having her stand over him as if he were a kid was really getting on his nerves. She was getting on his nerves, like an itch he couldn’t scratch. Maybe that was why he didn’t feel tired anymore. “I’m not playing these little word games you seem to enjoy so much, okay? I’m not that kind of guy. I—”
“Yes.” Her arms were folded across her chest, her legs crossed at the ankle; her voice dripped with meaning. “I know what kind of guy you are, Speare.”
“Then you know I don’t like to waste my time.” She really knew how to make it sting, didn’t she? Damn. “Cards on the table. There are a lot of reasons somebody might take a shot at me, just like I figure there’s a lot of reasons they might take a shot at you. But it probably happened tonight because somebody doesn’t want us talking, which means no matter what we do now, we’re both targets. And the sooner we find the people responsible, the better. Right?”
“I—wait, were you hit?”
He glanced at his arm, his short sleeve and the bare skin below it soaked with blood. The bullet had grazed the back of his biceps, so he couldn’t see the actual spot very well, but he could feel it well enough. That would stop soon, though. One of the few benefits of the beast in his head was that he healed fast—not Wolverine fast, but faster than normal people. “Oh. Yeah. Don’t worry about it, it barely—”
She ignored him and lifted the bloody fabric away from the wound. Maybe Felix was right about how good she was at her work; he barely felt the touch, and he was actually watching it happen. “It looks torn.”
“It only scratched me.” He glanced at it—at what he could see of it—and saw it did indeed look torn rather than scraped. What kind of bullet had done that? Had it been a bullet? “A flesh wound.”
“We should clean it up, though.”
“I can do it.”
“I doubt you can even see it. Come on, quit being a baby and let me clean it up for you.”
Shit. He didn’t want her to do it. He didn’t want her to touch him, not when the pressure in his head was higher than it should have been already. Especially not when he was getting a good look at her in a well-lit room and realizing that her eyes were even deeper and brighter than he’d thought, that her hair was the color of bloody copper and sparks of flame were buried in it like secrets, that his eyes kept wandering up and down her slim figure and watching it move.
“Besides,” she said, “for all we know, those bullets were coated with something unpleasant. The kinds of people we both deal with have access to all sorts of things.”
She had a point there, he had to admit. It had happened before—not to him, or anyone he knew well, but it had happened. And that wound really didn’t look like it had been made by an ordinary bullet.
Damn it. He’d just have to focus on what a pain in the ass she was, instead of on that fragrance that clung to her skin. “Fine.”
“Your place is nice,” she remarked, as he led her down the hall to the bathroom where he kept his first-aid kit. “You have a cleaning woman?”
He pulled out the kit and set it on the counter; his eyes narrowed. “Why? Because a guy like me can’t clean his own house?”
She ignored his glare. “Most men who live alone don’t keep their places this neat, that’s all.”
“Yeah, well, I do.” Of course he did, having grown up in Va-va-voom Vera’s house, with piles of skimpy clothing and magazines and makeup everywhere. His mother was not a housekeeper, in any sense. When he was a kid it had been a special occasion if she’d used the oven to heat a frozen meal instead of sticking it in the microwave. “And that’s not a compliment, you know, saying I’m not as much of a slob as most men. That’d be like me saying you seem pretty smart for a girl.”
“Do I? How sweet of you to say.” Those red lips of hers curved into a smile that was maybe a bit too satisfied, as she poured antiseptic on a cotton pad. “Of course, I imagine you don’t pay much attention to women’s brains in general, so it might be hard for you to judge, but I’ll still say thank you. Take your shirt off.”
He hesitated. Only for a second before he caught himself, but it was long enough; she noticed it. Thankfully he got the thing off before she could make some snotty comment about it, and from the change in the quality of her silence he knew she wasn’t going to. Not when she saw the scars, the marks. The evidence of the kind of life he’d been forced to live was all over his body: places where the talons he couldn’t always control had sliced at him, places where his skin had torn again and again when the beast took over. Places where he’d paid the price for whatever sins he’d committed to keep that from happening, too, where he’d taken a beating or hurt himself escaping.
And, of course, the count. The tidy little lines, one for each person he’d killed and one for every ten mortal sins, tattooed across his chest, each one a ticket to hell all on its own. Three hundred and thirty-two black lines, in slightly uneven rows like a crooked picket fence, etched into his skin over nine years, starting with the upper left side.
That mark—the upper left—had been the first. The first time he’d killed a man. That was the day he realized that all those sins mattered, that he wasn’t a kid anymore and that beast or no beast, he was making choices—choices he’d one day have to answer for. He’d bought a tattoo gun and spent an afternoon learning how to use it, and ever since then he’d been keeping the count, emblazoning his skin with a physical reminder of what his life truly was.
The slightly awkward pause lasted just a second or two longer than it might have normally before Ardeth spoke. “It doesn’t look that bad.”
His chest? Oh, no, right. The wound. “I told you it wasn’t.”
The last word turned into a hiss of pain as she rammed the antiseptic-covered cloth into his injured arm. Maybe “rammed” was the wrong word, but she definitely pressed it against him harder than she needed to. Harder than anyone would even think they needed to. The thing in his head roared. It could feel the pain, too. More than that, it could smell her and feel the heat coming off her skin just as well as he could, and it was hungry and it wanted things he didn’t want to give it. Maybe not feeling tired anymore wasn’t such a good thing.
“Oh,” she said, her tone as artificially sugary as a diet soda. “Sorry, did that hurt?”
He gritted his teeth, trying to keep his own voice smooth and calm. “It’s fine.”
“I can stop for a minute, if you want.” She’d sat on the edge of the tub beside him, angled so she could get a closer look at his arm. The position meant both of her knees pressed against his thigh.
Worse, she’d decided to rest her left arm on his back, her bent elbow on his shoulder and her breath warm and soft against his side. Shit. The beast didn’t care what kind of person she was, whether or not he trusted her or what the ramifications might be if he even thought about making a move—a move she would probably reject, which would make the whole situation even worse. The beast didn’t give a damn what he wanted. It wanted what it wanted, and it wanted to be fed or to bust out and go feed itself—and it was more gluttonous than Henry VIII at a pie-eating contest. It wanted her. He clenched his fists. She’d be done soon, and once she was done he could get her out of his house and go do what he needed to do. “It’s fine. You almost done? I’ve got shit to do.”
“You don’t have to be so rude,” she said, reaching over to grab the ointment and gauze. Her hair swung down off her shoulder, the only color in the whole room blazing at him. “I’m trying to help.”
“I didn’t ask for your help.”
“Yes, you did, actually. That’s why I’m here to begin with.” Her fingers, her palm, slid over his arm, smearing ointment over the wound in smooth, light strokes. Goddamn it.
It wasn’t her. It was nothing to do with her, personally. If he hadn’t been so busy all day, if he’d had time to do what he had to do earlier, the beast would hardly have noticed her and he wouldn’t be sitting there trying not to sweat.
Her next words didn’t help. “And you said out there that we’re in this together. I think you’re right. Whether I help you or not, they’re going to think I am. Whether you told me anything or not, they’re going to think you did. That means neither of us is safe until we find the people who shot at us, so we might as well pool our resources, right? Maybe together we can figure this out faster than we would alone—in my case I doubt it, but I’m okay with helping you out.”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” he managed. It was hard enough paying attention to what she was saying, without trying to think of a clever reply, too. His vision was starting to go red; just a little around the edges, and it would ease when the pain did, but it was still not good.
“I never do.” She finished wrapping the gauze around his arm and tore off a strip of tape with her teeth. “I never have to. There’s plenty of people to do that for me.”
“Lot of drunks in this town,” he said.
Tuesday’s the big day!
What Stace had to say on Monday, August 15th, 2016
Just a quick one today–I’m leaving in an hour or two to go see Suicide Squad with the Hubs. (Our girls are spending the week at their grandmother’s, so we’re trying to take advantage. By which I mean, “Trying desperately to distract ourselves from the empty house.” It’s pretty pitiful, really; we did this two summers ago, and we were all like, “Yeeeah, we’ll be alone in the house!” And by the second day all we did was mope and miss our babies and whine about how we were ALL ALONE in the house.) I’m not particularly eager to see SS, because I am NOT a fan of the Hot-Topic-Joker-and-Harley thing that appears to be going on there, but we’ve heard it’s pretty good despite that, so…
But! There’s some fun stuff going on out there.
First, I am over at Harlequin Junkies today, doing an interview about MADE FOR SIN! There’s an excerpt and a giveaway, and you should go check it out!
Second, there’s a new REVIEW for MADE FOR SIN! FOUR STARS from Unconventional Book Reviews:
“Characters that kept me on my toes, a tight plot and a good storyline entertained me and had me hooked from start to finish. …If you’re a fan of dark and gritty stories with extremely flawed characters who have to truly fight to be ‘good’, you should definitely pickup Made for Sin…”
And last…an important note about quite a different subject.
Do you know how to tell if someone is blackout drunk?
We tend to think of someone who is so drunk that they have “blacked out”–that is, are unaware of what they’re doing and saying, and will have no memory of it the next day–as being sloppy, slurring, off-balance, etc. But that is not the case. Someone can be blackout drunk while still seeming perfectly coherent and in control of themselves.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you why this is important; with all the attention in recent years on issues of consent to sexual activity, and whether or not alcohol can impede proper consent, it’s vital that we not only protect ourselves but that we learn how to protect and look out for our friends.
Did you know, though, that there is an extremely easy way to test and see if your friend–or your prospective partner–is blackout drunk? As in, so drunk that they will not remember giving consent the next day? So drunk that they don’t know what they’re doing?
I urge everyone to read this; in fact, don’t just read it. Take it to heart. Remember it. Use it.
If someone is blackout drunk, they are not making memories. At all. Ask your friend to remember three simple (but unrelated) words; for example, “Fish,” “oven,” and “stone.” Have them repeat the words back to you. Can they do it?
Now ask them again five minutes later (this is vital). Do they remember at least two of the three words? Do they remember the initial test at all?
If they do not…do not let them out of your sight. Take them home immediately, and take care of them. Do NOT believe them if they say they’re fine. What’s happening is their brain is literally not registering what they’re doing; their brain is not making memories, and that is incredibly dangerous. (And it means they cannot give consent.) If you have met someone, male or female, and it seems the two of you may want to go somewhere private–give them this test before you go. If they do not remember, STOP. Have a witness as you take them home safely (or return them to their friends).
I came across this information the other night while reading a story about a potential rape victim, and frankly, I think it’s one of the most important pieces of information I’ve read in a while. Please remember it, and use it. It may save a friend of yours from a lifetime of trouble and regret.
You can find a brief factsheet on this information here. The information comes from THE ALCOHOL BLACKOUT by Donal F. Sweeney, Ph.D. Bookmark the page, and pass it along.
Stay safe, guys.
BTW, this isn’t just useful for single people who attend a lot of parties or clubs. It can be useful anywhere, anytime; many offices or workplaces have parties with drinking, too. Remember, a person who is blackout drunk may not appear drunk at all! They may not even have had many drinks, for that matter. You cannot assume. You may annoy your friend by testing their memory, but I’d rather be annoyed than any of the other possible consequences–I personally have never experienced a blackout, but I know people who have, and I remember well their fear and confusion the following day.
What Stace had to say on Monday, August 8th, 2016
Oh, I have many, many things to blog about, or rather, I have many ideas for things to blog about, one of which is my hair–which is why it’s merely an idea instead of a plan; do you guys want to read a blog post about my hair and the hair extensions I got for my birthday? They’re nano ring extensions: tiny little rings that you pull your hair through, insert the metal tip of the extension, and then clamp shut with pliers. I have pictures and all, but I don’t know if the topic would actually be of much interest. This isn’t a beauty blog, after all, although I am always happy to discuss hair/make-up/etc. Anyway.
This is a nano ring:
See? It’s tiny. The Queen is wearing it like a big hoop earring here.
I also have some thoughts on, well, other topics. Topics of a political nature, sort of. See, it’s not that I want to blog about politics per se; I don’t, and never really have. You guys may remember my reasons. I still think those are valid reasons, and the Hubs and I were just having a conversation about this yesterday in which we discussed the main reason (as we see it) which I do plan to blog about. But there are some peripheral sort-of-political topics that have been troubling me deeply; they’re really more social/sociological in nature, but again, I don’t want to bore you with my political/sociological/whateverical blatherings. (As my friend Ben Weasel said, “Politics are fucking boooring.”) Everybody and their brother is talking about politics these days, what with the latest round of Douche vs. Turd Sandwich getting in high gear and all. (In fact, it’s more like X-Treme Douche vs. X-Treme Turd Sandwich Cage Match Scum-a-Thon this time around. How I long for 2008, when I could honestly say, “They both seem like good guys and I bet either of them will do a decent job.”)
But today I’m going to talk about something completely different. I’m going to talk about the epically, epically stupid thing I did.
I wear contact lenses. I wear contact lenses because my vision is so poor that I get free eye exams. Without corrective lenses, I am legally blind–and in fact, if my vision gets much worse I’ll have to have contacts specially made, because I am about half a degree away from the “We don’t make ’em that strong” category. (My other option would be to wear the strongest possible lenses plus reading glasses. Ugh!) But for now, I can still wear contacts, and I wear the extended-wear ones and have for a looong long time.
So a couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to take the lenses out and change them (I wear disposables), so I did. And the next day I grabbed the box of lenses (they come in these little plastic packets, which are packed inside a box) and took one out and put it in my right eye–or so I thought, but when I blinked my vision was still all blurry. Had I dropped the lens? What happened to it? Had it dissolved in my eye or something? I pictured myself as the Opening Scene Girl in some awful horror/sci-fi B-movie, They’re Coming For Your Eyes! or something like that. The lens dissolves, the camera pans to my feet, and a few seconds later you see the bottle of lens solution fall to the floor in slo-mo, followed by the sound of my bloodcurdling scream and maybe a few drops of blood. Cue opening credits and Moog synthesizer (or maybe something like Danzig’s “Blood and Tears,” hee).
Several minutes of myopic hunting around didn’t turn up any lenses, and Hubs was going to be home any minute and dinner was already late so I didn’t have time to go feeling around every inch of the kitchen floor to look for the thing–it wasn’t like I was going to put it in after it had been on the floor, anyway; I regularly steam-clean the tile with my steam mop, but still. I also regularly stand there in my bare feet and drop/drip food on the floor as I cook. So I took another lens out of the package, popped it in, and ahhh–clear vision! Time to shrug and move on, right?
Except the same thing happened with the left eye. This time, though, Hubs had arrived as I prepped to put the thing in (you know, if you didn’t know the “thing” here referred to a contact lens, that sentence could take on a whole new dramatic implication), and the kids wandered into the kitchen, and so I was not only distracted but in no mood to go hunting around for the “lost” lens. I put another one in and got on with dinner, figuring, eh, weird, and I’ll go to the eye doc asap to ask him about it, but no biggie. I was/am pretty sure it’s impossible to see properly if you’re doubling your vision correction, so I wasn’t going to worry about it.
Fast-forward to Wednesday night. My eyes have been a little dry and irritable, and Hubs and I watched a sad movie so I got a little teary, which for some reason always makes my contacts impossible to see through afterward. I usually take them out, give them a rinse, and put them back in, but it won’t hurt my eyes to go sans lenses for the night.
I take out the right lens and put it in its case. It magically becomes–yep–two lenses! (Just wait; I promise it gets even stupider.) Two lenses. I’ve been wearing two lenses in my right eye this whole time. How the hell I managed it is beyond me, but I managed just the same. The thing I can’t figure out is why the double-lens didn’t blur my vision, but hey, maybe I’m wrong about that. It’s certainly possible, given that I’m the dumbass who actually considered the possibility that my contact lens somehow dissolved in either thin air or somewhere in the process of application, so…
I brace myself and remove the lens from my left eye. This time, though, there’s only one lens. Yay, sigh of relief. (Remember, I wasn’t sure about the left eye; the lens could have fallen off my finger, and I didn’t really spend much time hunting thanks to my magically-disappearing-lens-theory.)
Now, if you’ve ever worn contact lenses you know that when you first put your glasses on after wearing contacts, everything looks really weird and tiny and it can be nauseating for a little while. (If you haven’t ever worn contact lenses and didn’t know that, well, now you do.) So I stumbled my way through the bizarrely teeny world on my suddenly-miles-away miniature feet, grabbing things with my munchkin hands for balance, and sat down to focus on my laptop until the queasy ickiness passed.
But my glasses didn’t seem to be doing their job properly. I could see through them, nothing was outrageously blurry, but things were blurry enough to make me wonder. Maybe I was just tired, I thought, so after working for about an hour I went to bed–I don’t have the same vision weirdness when I put on my glasses after getting up (in fact, often when I’m going to take out the lenses I do it late at night and go straight to bed without even putting the glasses on at all–I just feel my way upstairs through a blurry house).
Trust me, guys. It gets even stupider.
I’m sure it won’t surprise you to hear that things were not better in the morning. Something wasn’t right. My left eye seemed blurry and weak when my glasses were on, but when I took them off, my left immediately became dominant. What was going on?
Now, before you laugh too hard at me, remember that I’d taken my lenses out and two had come out of my right eye, but only one from my left–but my vision in my left had definitely deteriorated when the lens came out, which, if I were wearing two contacts, both of which had equal vision-correcting ability, shouldn’t have happened, right? If you need a -9.5, which I do, and you have a -9.5 in your eye, your vision would be perfect/corrected. That’s pretty basic. So if my vision is not corrected, it stands to reason that I don’t have a contact lens in that eye.
So I’m getting worried. I talk to Hubs about stopping in at the eye doc the next day, and hopefully he’ll have time to take a look or help me out. Shit, were my years of lens abuse catching up to me? I have never been good about taking out my lenses every two weeks like you’re supposed to; in fact, I’ve been horrible at it, like, wearing my lenses for an obscene amount of time. I rarely remember to deep-clean my lenses or use an enzymactic cleanser (meaning, before I started wearing disposables–are enzymactic cleansers still a thing?). For months a long time ago I wore a lens with visible protein deposits, a lens cloudy with age, because I was poor and lazy and twenty-one years old so couldn’t be bothered spending money on vision correction when there was beer to be bought instead. Was it finally catching up to me? My eye doc–a hunky Aussie whom I adore–informed me at my last exam that my eyes were in excellent shape even though I had no right for them to be (yes, he literally said this, because he is awesome and hilarious), and that if he hadn’t watched me take those lenses out he wouldn’t have believed that I wore them based on the pristine condition of my eyes. (The lesson here, of course, is that if you’re irresponsible with your contacts, your eyes will be healthy and strong.) I’d been so proud, and now this.
(And you know, I’m joking, but the idea of losing my eyesight is genuinely terrifying, as I’m sure it is for many of you. I was pretty sure nothing was seriously wrong, because “vision has improved” isn’t usually a symptom that something is seriously wrong with one’s vision, and my vision in my left eye definitely seemed better, but still. It was a little scary.)
Then it occurred to me that I’d just taken those lenses out of the one box and put them in. Was my script still the same in both eyes? Maybe it wasn’t. I couldn’t remember for sure. And my vision has actually improved a tad since the appointment before my last, going from a -9.75 to a -9.5 (my current script); the only benefit to getting a little older is that many people start to become a bit farsighted, and when you’re severely nearsighted that’s a good thing. So maybe my left eye hadn’t required as strong a prescription to begin with, and maybe I’d accidentally put in a lens too strong for it, and that was why I was having this fairly-minor-but-still-unsettling issue.
That needed to be checked out! So back into the house I hop (I’d been outside having a cig–smoking is also Good For Your Eyeballs), to check the prescription strength on the boxes. This was it, I was sure of it. I opened the cabinet, yanked out the box–it’s the cabinet where we keep all the medicine and first-aid stuff, so a bunch of band-aids and aspirin and shit tumbled out onto the countertop, which is always fun–and took a look at the prescription strength written on the end of the box.
-3.75? Now, I couldn’t remember if my left eye had improved, or if it had, how much it had improved by, but I was pretty damn sure that it hadn’t suddenly become better by over half. I haven’t been a -3.75 since childhood, I mean, my eleven-year-old Faerie is a…oh, for fuck’s sake.
I’d been wearing my daughter’s contact lenses.
THAT was why doubling the lenses gave me fairly acceptable vision.
Even better, Faerie’s contacts are Daily Wear. I’d had them in for a week and a half.
See, back in April or thereabouts, Faerie asked for contacts, as she’s been doing for some time. I talked to Hunky Eye Doc and he agreed to try it despite her only being eleven, given my extensive experience with contact-wearing and my agreement to monitor her closely; while we both–well, and all of you, now–know that I am not always as on-the-ball (no pun intended) as I should be with my own lenses, being lazy with my precious Faerie’s beautiful big brown eyes was NOT going to happen. (Both of my girls have their father’s big gorgeous brown eyes, which is lovely, though I do admit wishing at least one of them had blue eyes like mine. It was a possibility, since hubs’s father had blue eyes, but it didn’t happen.)
So he gave her a set of trial pairs, and she tried them out, but quickly decided–all on her own–that she was not ready for the responsibility yet, and that she would rather just stick with glasses for a while longer. We were all very proud of her for making that decision, which was difficult for her. And the end result is that we had several pairs of these -3.75 Daily Wear disposable lenses floating around the house, and her mother, in a fit of blinding (pun intended) stupidity, mistook them for her own lenses and then invented bizarre theories about dissolving silicone to cover for her own moronic lapse.
I am now wearing my own contacts again, of course, and Hubs and the girls will probably use this failure to think as teasing fodder for years, but it’s only what I deserve. Seriously, guys, I wore my daughter’s contact lenses, how stupid is that? Sheesh.
Other news: Still no proper treatment for my carpal tunnel, but I am pushing through and working very hard. I will have some news for you soon, and a new excerpt of MADE FOR SIN (and the first review for it has come in–it’s a Reviewer Top Pick at Night Owl Reviews! More on that in my next post) and some excerpts of other stuff, including, if you’re good, a glimpse at Downside 6.
If you want to cheer me up by telling me about something monumentally stupid you’ve done in comments, that would be great (remember, I DO allow anonymous comments) but not necessary.