What Stace had to say on Tuesday, August 30th, 2016
Release day!

Well, it’s here–release day for MADE FOR SIN!

Made for Sin_Kane

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?)

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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
Ack!

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
Over at Harlequin Junkie, Review–and an important note

Hellooo, all!

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?

There is.

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
I Am Stupid

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.

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.

-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.

Good lord.

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.

Sigh.

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.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, April 21st, 2016
MADE FOR SIN sneak peek!

As promised yesterday, here is a sneaky peeky (it is so hard to type “sneak peek” without typing “sneak peak,” it really is, but the whole “peak/peek” thing really fills me with pique) at my upcoming novel MADE FOR SIN!

Made for Sin_Kane

A lot of bad hands get dealt in Vegas, but E. L. Speare may be holding one of the worst: He’s cursed with the need to commit sins, and if he misses his daily quota, there’s hell to pay—literally. Fortunately, his hometown affords him plenty of chances to behave badly.

But Speare’s newest case really has him going out on a limb. The right-hand man of a notorious crime boss has been found dead in a Dumpster—minus his right hand, not to mention the rest of his arm. What catches Speare’s attention, however, is that the missing appendage was severed clean by a demon-sword, a frighteningly powerful tool of the underworld.

Speare’s out of his element, so he turns to a specialist: Ardeth Coyle, master thief, dealer in occult artifacts, and bona fide temptress. Ardeth’s hotter than a Las Vegas sidewalk on the Fourth of July, but she’s one sin Speare has to resist.

The dismembered corpses are piling up, unimaginable evil lurks in the shadows, and if this odd couple hopes to beat the odds, Speare needs to keep his hands off Ardeth, and his head in the game.

Excerpt under the cut…

Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016
On Superman

So I’ve been planning this post for a few weeks now, which is why it’s maybe a little out-of-date. Or, not maybe out of date, it IS out of date, but I’ve been working hard and being sick–I’m still sick, bleh, with one of those colds where the symptoms aren’t too bad but you just generally feel like you haven’t slept in weeks and you’re about to die. Seriously, I feel like utter crap. I don’t think I had a single cold for like two years and now this is the second one this year (I was horribly sick over New Year’s). I keep going to bed early and getting a good nine or ten hours of sleep–highly unusual for me–and then feeling exhausted like half an hour after I get up. It sucks. It’s doing nothing for my productivity. All I feel up to doing is staring at the TV but I have too much to do, like, three entire people depend on me for dinner every night and shit like that, so I can’t just stare at anything, I have to wash dishes and cook food and drive children to school.

And it’s depressing. I don’t think there’s much more depressing–in an otherwise fairly healthy day-to-day life, I mean, obviously there are illnesses way more depressing in general–than having a cold. It just makes you think of how shitty everything is and how shitty you are, doesn’t it? Like, you sit on the couch in a stupor and suddenly want to cry because, I dunno, you’re hungry or something. It’s the worst. I hate it. I never used to mind it so much, but now I just hate it. Bleh.

I am going to be back tomorrow, too, though, to post an excerpt from MADE FOR SIN and the cover, which I know a lot of people have already seen.

Oh, and our car died last week. Our old piece-of-shit was on its last legs anyway, but now it has given up the ghost and will run no more. So we’re looking for a new cheap car, which wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t feel like crap and hate everything at the moment.

Anyway. Here’s the thing I was going to post a couple of weeks ago, before I got this stupid awful fucking cold (I have not had the cold for weeks, I was just really busy, and then I got the cold).

I saw a reference the other day to a comment made about the Superman movie, Man of Steel. If you recall, that’s the one where it’s made clear to us that a world with superheroes in it is a hellish place where entire cities are destroyed and millions of lives are lost just because some guy with special abilities shows up on our planet. I mean, really. Isn’t one of the points of superheroes supposed to be how hopeful they’re supposed to be, and how one person can make a difference and we’re all supposed to be inspired and such? Is it really fun to believe that no, the worst thing you could ever want would be to live in a place where an invincible superhero also lives, because that’s just a place where mass death is ready to happen at any second? What the shit is that, right? “Oh, I’m moving as far away from Metropolis as possible, because you’re totally gonna die if you live anywhere near that magical super-strong guy who can fly and loves to help people. Near Superman is the worst place to be.”

Anyway. You may also recall that Superman kills a guy in that movie. Superman. He kills a guy. It caused rather a bit of controversy when it came out, and here’s what the film’s director, Zack Snyder, had to say about it recently:

“I was surprised with the fervency of the defense of the concept of Superman,” said Snyder. “I feel like they were taking it personally that I was trying to grow up their character.” Snyder also recalled being told that his film had more collateral damage than any other movie in recent memory, which was a claim that surprised him.

“I went, really? And I said, well, what about [‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’]?” said Snyder. “In ‘Star Wars’ they destroy five planets with billions of people on them. That’s gotta be one of the highest death toll movies in history, the new ‘Star Wars’ movie, if you just do the math.”

“‘Grow up’ their character.”

“I was trying to grow up their character,” he says.

In other words, turning Superman into this grumpy guy who kills people is “growing up” the character.

Aside from the general pissiness of that statement, like people who didn’t like seeing Superman kill somebody are just childish little whinybabies, or how dare people love a character so much that it means something to them personally, there’s another problem with it. That he thinks making Superman kill is “growing up” the character is a fundamental lack of understanding of what “growing up” is, along with who Superman is, what he stands for, and why.

The point isn’t that Superman doesn’t kill because he’s a big wussy or a child; the point is that Superman doesn’t kill because he’s fucking *Superman.* He doesn’t HAVE to kill.

Humanity, people–we have to kill, sometimes. Because sometimes it’s the only way we can handle or deal with or solve a serious problem. Sometimes we have to go to war, for example, because every attempt to not go to war has failed and we simply have no other choice unless we want to live in slavery or let millions of other people die or whatever. Life is complicated for humans.

Superman is not human. Superman can always find another way. And that’s a GOOD thing.

That’s something grown-up, mature people–even those of us who understand that, to put it bluntly, sometimes rabid dogs need to be put down for the good of society and the world–ASPIRE to. All grown-up people aspire to a world and a society where there is no more need for killing. It’s only children (mentally) who think killing is cool and no big deal. (I’m not talking about action heroes of a different stripe from Superman here, because that’s not what Snyder was talking about. Believe me, I like movies and [obviously] books where the bad guys die. I don’t have a problem with heroes in general who kill bad guys…but I also recognize that in real life that’s not always the ideal way to handle things, and that what we enjoy in entertainment isn’t necessarily the arbiter of what’s right in real life.)

Yes, Superman is also fictional, but it’s different. Superman is a fictional character we’re supposed to admire and look up to and want to be like, the embodiment of our ideals.

Superman doesn’t kill because when Superman doesn’t kill, it gives the rest of us hope that one day we can live in a world without killing.

Superman doesn’t kill because when Superman doesn’t kill, it makes it okay for our other action heroes to kill.

Superman doesn’t kill because he’s better than us.

The day Superman kills is the day we admit there’s no hope that problems will ever be solved any other way.

That doesn’t strike me as something to aspire to, and it doesn’t strike me as something it’s childish to object to.

So, tune in tomorrow for MADE FOR SIN stuff! Hopefully I’ll be feeling a little better then, though I doubt it.

(And guys, I am working on Downside 6, okay? I will announce news about it as soon as I have some.)

What Stace had to say on Thursday, January 21st, 2016
RIP, My Favorite Misanthrope

Florence King has died.

I am heartbroken.

I was nineteen or twenty when I picked up a copy of CONFESSIONS OF A FAILED SOUTHERN LADY. And I fell in love with it. I recommended it to practically everyone I met; I read and re-read it dozens of times. How could you not fall in love with an author who says, “No matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street,” as proof that she is still the lady her grandmother wanted her to be? How can you not fall in love with an author who makes you laugh so hard, for so long, and keeps doing it on almost every page? You can’t, or at least I couldn’t, and I was desperate for more.

I was lucky there. Plenty more existed. Over the years I’ve read (almost) all of it, and loved all of it, to the point that for a while I actually subscribed to the National Review just to get her column, “The Misanthrope’s Corner.”

It wasn’t just the humor, or the wit, or the incredibly sharp eye she turned on everything, that made me love her work so much, or keep reading even when I disagreed with her. Florence King’s writing jumped off the page; everything she wrote was elegant, concise, with an edge that could cut glass. This is the woman who, in a review of some turgid literary novel, referred to a long, dull analytical conversation between strangers passing in the night as a “zipless Weltschmerz.” This is the woman who cancels an eye appointment with an optometrist whose receptionist doesn’t know how to spell “King” because, as she says: “If his receptionist couldn’t spell King, what was the optician who hired her like? I wouldn’t trust these baby bloodshots to just anybody, to paraphrase Lynda Carter, so instead of rescheduling the appointment I canceled it.” The woman who referred to a religious gathering as “the Promise Keepers Washington writhe-in.” This is the woman who once wrote a reviewer a letter chastising his positive review of her book because the review was poorly written (Miss King [she was never “Ms.”] reviewed numerous books professionally herself, and all of those reviews were delightful to read).

It’s that last one that speaks the most to what she meant to me, though. Florence King was the first writer I ever read who talked about writing. Who analyzed other writers she admired (an essay on Edna Buchanan was one of my favorites) and what was so admirable about them. She talked about punctuation–I can’t recall her exact words about comma usage here, but she said something about how she liked to use as few as possible so the sentence would just slide down the reader’s throat in one smooth gulp; it’s an analogy I think of constantly while working. She talked about word choice (“Fear of getting mad is so widespread that nobody says mad any more. The word is angry: somehow it sounds less mad than mad,” isn’t the best example, but it’s one I can link to)
and language in general. She talked about passivity in language and weasel-words and phrasing which obfuscates the point. She talked about paring sentences down, getting to the meat, and eliminating all of the side dishes. She talked about words in harmony with each other and the importance of an “ear.” She wrote a long article about GONE WITH THE WIND, wherein–among other things–she discussed some of the literary rules broken by Ms. Mitchell, and how it didn’t matter; it was from her I learned that any character in a story must have a purpose for being there, and that characters without purpose shouldn’t be created (Mitchell broke this rule, specifically in one very subtle way: the strong implication that Rhett Butler had a son with Belle Watling. The child is brought up two or three times, without ever being called Rhett’s son despite the obvious truth that he is, but the potential plot issues which could be caused by such a character are never addressed. Perhaps it’s because only the reader sees all of the comments about him, which means that one character [Melanie] only knows that Belle has a son who lives elsewhere, and another [Scarlett] only knows that Rhett has a young male ward in New Orleans; this put the reader in the fun position of knowing personal secrets that the characters do not, but still doesn’t make any difference to the story itself.)

None of these were part of a specific writing lesson. They were just observations she made while skewering culture or people (or complaining about fact-checkers and copyeditors, which she did hilariously more than once), but they made me think, really think, about how things are written or said. They made me think about how to express what I meant in the best, clearest way. They made me think about how to think, how to draw connections between one thing and another, and point them out. They led not only by explanation but by example.

It wasn’t just writing, though. Miss King had a love of, and a knack with, historical anecdotes and stories. If you do not follow any other links in this post, follow this one, an absolutely fascinating analysis of the Lizzie Borden case (who else could refer to the Borden case as a “zany tragedy?”). It was from Miss King that I learned the gruesome details of Edward II’s death (they shoved a red-hot poker up his ass) and the best story about the importance of punctuation ever told: Edward was imprisoned, and his queen and her lover wanted him dead. Of course, they needed to communicate said desire in writing, but could not actually order it in writing, since regicide is a pretty serious crime. Their compromise was genius. They sent a letter which read, exactly like this, “Kill Edward not to fear is good.”

Place the comma after “Edward,” and see what you have. Now remove it, and put it after “not.” Isabella and her dastardly lover knew what they were doing. That’s plausible deniability if ever I saw it, and it’s the kind of story that makes those of us who love words and language shake our heads in admiration.

The National Review has archived some of her columns–that’s where the links in this post came from, as otherwise it’s hard to find her work online–but that archive isn’t really representative of her entire body of work (which is not really political), IMO, and although the columns contain her trademark wit and style, none of them are her best work, either. That came in her books, from CONFESSIONS to THE FLORENCE KING READER and beyond–the latter contains a chapter from the bodice-ripper she wrote in the 70s (when the term “bodice-ripper” actually fit) under the pen name Laura Buchanan; her description of writing it while drinking glass after glass of bourbon, culminating in her passing out in a closet, is hilarious. If anyone is looking for a place to start as far as reading King, I’d say either of those two titles is the place to go.

And I urge you to do so. I can honestly say that Florence King is part of the reason I became a writer. She made me realize it was possible. She taught me what to do and what to look for. I didn’t always agree with her, but I always loved reading her take on things. She was an inspiration to me, and I cried when I learned that she had died.

RIP, Miss King, and thank you.

***A few other tidbits:

YES, Downside 6 is happening, and I am working on it. Carpal tunnel has been limiting my work-time/word-count a bit, but I’m doing better.

I caught some horrible plague-sickness at Christmas and it took me a couple of weeks to get better. The Brits refer to this sort of cold as a “lurgy,” (with a hard G) and that describes it pretty well.

For Christmas, I bought myself an InStyler–supercheap on Ebay. I like it. It works pretty well. It takes a bit of time to do my hair, but the results are good, and it’s much easier than rolling my damp hair in Velcro curlers and sitting around in them for hours, which is what I’ve been doing.

The Hubs and I are still obsessed with the game Far Cry 3, which he’s been playing on the Playstation 3 since we bought the thing back in the summer(?) According to the game, 115 hours have been spent playing it. Mostly he plays and I watch; we allow ourselves like an hour of this several times a week (I’m not watching him play when I’m supposed to be working, I promise!). If you’re not familiar with video games or don’t know which one to try or whatever, I highly, highly recommend it. (Far Cry 4, which he has also played all the way through, is good, too, but I prefer 3; the scenery is prettier. I was Very Excited when I saw they were using the Himalayas as a setting for 4, but there’s actually very little time spent in the mountains, which was/is disappointing.)

I think that’s about it.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
Big Sale! Etc.

Hey guys!

Random House has put UNHOLY GHOSTS (ebook format) on sale for 99 cents! The sale ends on Friday, so snap up your copy now, wherever it is that you buy your ebooks.

I am hard, hard at work here, putting the finishing touches on MADE FOR SIN (which I really hope you guys are going to like), editing another new project, and of course working on Downside 6 and the next Terrible-POV book, all of which I’m hoping to be able to give you guys some news on soon.

Everything else (meaning, things that aren’t writing) is kind of falling by the wayside, sigh, but the hubs and I have been really enjoying watching Fargo (we finally sat down to Season One and loved it, and are enjoying S2 almost as much so far) and a couple of other shows–I’ve kind of cooled on The Walking Dead so far this season, but that will change when Jeffrey Dean Morgan shows up, obviously.

Meanwhile, sigh. A friend of ours had a relative who had a pregnant cocker spaniel, and we were really thinking of getting a puppy for the girls for Christmas. Unfortunately, they want waaaaay more money for one than we can afford to spend or are interested in spending (in US dollars it’d be about $800), so we’re a bit disappointed there. When did puppies become so expensive? I remember when you used to see ads for free-to-a-good-home in the paper all the time, but not anymore, at least not here. I know that’s a good thing, of course, because it means spay/neuter rates are up, it’s just odd how much things have changed.

I’ve never really gotten a puppy before–our last dog came from the pound, and that’s usually my first port of call, so to speak. But listen, guys. My girls have never had a pet (aside from their beta fish, Gary, a few years ago, who sadly only lived a few months). They’re both a little scared of dogs (they love them, don’t get me wrong, but they’re not entirely comfortable around them at the moment), so we’d like to get them a baby that they won’t be frightened of or nervous about, that they can be comfortable with and then, of course, keep being comfortable with as it grows. Puppies seem to be incredibly rare at local shelters etc.; we’ve never seen one available, and we’ve been checking their websites on and off for a few years. So we’re thinking we may have to put the puppy plan on hold for a bit, sadly. Of course, since we’d planned this as quite the showstopper gift…again, sigh. Not the end of the world, but still disappointing.

Also disappointing is the fact that this is all the time I have; back to work with me!

What Stace had to say on Thursday, October 1st, 2015
Newsy News-Made For Sin

Well!

I’m going to assume that most (if not all) of you are aware of Penguin Random House’s digital publishing program/imprints, which were introduced a few years ago now?

Well (again). A few months ago, my editor there asked if I might be interested in writing one, and I thought it sounded like fun. A few more conversations and some paperwork ensued, and now I have a new book coming out! Which I really hope you’ll like. It’s called MADE FOR SIN, and rather than going on and on about it, I’m just going to give you the “About” from the Penguin Random House website:

Karen Marie Moning raves that Stacia Kane “delivers dark, sexy urban fantasy at its finest.” Now Kane introduces her most addictive antihero yet: a Las Vegas PI who makes his own luck—and embodies everything that’s oh-so-right with Sin City.

A lot of bad hands get dealt in Vegas, but E. L. Speare may be holding one of the worst: He’s cursed with the need to commit sins, and if he misses his daily quota, there’s hell to pay—literally. Fortunately, his hometown affords him plenty of chances to behave badly.

But Speare’s newest case really has him going out on a limb. The right-hand man of a notorious crime boss has been found dead in a Dumpster—minus his right hand, not to mention the rest of his arm. What catches Speare’s attention, however, is that the missing appendage was severed clean by a demon-sword, a frighteningly powerful tool of the underworld.

Speare’s out of his element, so he turns to a specialist: Ardeth Coyle, master thief, dealer in occult artifacts, and bona fide temptress. Ardeth’s hotter than a Las Vegas sidewalk on the Fourth of July, but she’s one sin Speare has to resist.

The dismembered corpses are piling up, unimaginable evil lurks in the shadows, and if this odd couple hopes to beat the odds, Speare needs to keep his hands off Ardeth, and his head in the game.

They’ve scheduled the release for February of next year, and hopefully soon I’ll have cover art to show you–and I’ll post an excerpt then, too.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with this one, so I hope it will be as much fun for you guys!

What Stace had to say on Monday, September 21st, 2015
Feeling Lucky

When I was in eighth grade, I went on a class trip to Washington, D.C. (which was amazing, btw; I love D.C.). We did all the things people do there: we hung around outside the White House (we didn’t go in, I don’t remember why), we saw the U.S. Mint, we visited the FBI building and saw the 10 Most Wanted list, we wandered around the Smithsonian and saw the Hope diamond, and we went to see the giant pandas at the National Zoo–that was Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, not the current pair. (Also, click here if you want to see something adorable and wonderful and amazing. It will open in a new tab, which you can then keep open all day to check on periodically and feel whatever stress you’re dealing with evaporate. You’re welcome.)

Anyway. When we made our National Zoo visit, the panda exhibit/habitat was being renovated or something–my memory is fuzzy as to what actually was going on, maybe they’d just had a baby?–so the pandas were in a big glass box. And they weren’t doing much. I got bored fairly quickly, and decided to go back to the bus (we were all in a big tour bus) and hang out in there.

Sitting across from me was a girl from my school I didn’t know very well, named Vanessa. She was reading, with the sort of intense focus one only sees when someone is reading a book that has utterly captivated them, a thick paperback. Its cover was black, and across it stretched an image of a gold necklace with a ruby heart in the center. Above and below the necklace were the author and title:

This is the cover I saw.

This is the cover I saw.


Jackie Collins, and LUCKY.

I’d heard of Jackie Collins before, but had never really seen one of her books. I’d never read one; in fact, I’d never heard of anyone my age reading one. At that time, although I was (of course) an avid and voracious reader who read YA and adult fiction, I’d never ventured into the world of adult potboiler/bestsellers. So I asked Vanessa about it, and she told me how good it was and even let me borrow it while she went to look at the pandas herself.

I started reading. And I couldn’t–didn’t want to–stop.

For the rest of the trip, Vanessa and I would race to see who could get back to the bus first to read LUCKY, and the first thing I did when we got home was insist my mom take me to the bookstore so I could buy my own copy. I’d never read anything like it in my life: beautiful rich people having copious sex, saying “fuck” every other word, being criminals, killing people, using sex as currency or as a weapon, flying in private jets, cheating on each other, betraying each other, backstabbing each other, spending millions of dollars on jewelry and cocaine, taking cruises on private yachts with their husband’s mistress and then fucking some guy who turned out to be the husband of their stepdaughter and former teenage best friend while at port. Teenage girls ran away to the South of France, where they got drunk and gave blow jobs to sleazy wannabe film directors. Other teenage girls got scammed by bad actors and kidnapped by sleazy mobsters. Actual gay and lesbian sex was described. Everybody murdered everybody else while building hotels and there was family drama and daddy issues and gay porn and strippers and dead lovers and riots and crime everywhere. I was thirteen, you guys. This was the most incredible book I had ever read in my life.

Vanessa and I became friends, and she told me all about the first Santangelo book, CHANCES, which I of course immediately grabbed a copy of. I remember my mom taking me to the library to check out more Jackie Collins novels, and her having to give her permission to the librarian so I could do so (would that still happen today?). HOLLYWOOD WIVES, HOLLYWOOD HUSBANDS, THE STUD, THE BITCH, THE WORLD IS FULL OF MARRIED MEN, LOVERS AND GAMBLERS…whatever I could get my hands on, I read, though none of them captured me the way the Santangelo books did.

Now, I fully understand the…shall we say, limitations…of Jackie Collins’s books, literary-speaking (I know that’s wrong, but it sounds funny). I just don’t give a damn, because my goodness, they’re fun as hell, aren’t they? Ridiculous and silly and over-the-top, crazy, dirty, trashy fun. I still love them. I will always love them (and I’m still planning a project that will hopefully have all of the same trashy, over-the-top fun). The novels of Jackie Collins helped show me what was possible in a book, just as much as the novels of Stephen King or Richard Matheson or Edgar Allan Poe, or Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters (whose books I devoured at age twelve and still adore), or Herman Wouk, or Nathaniel Hawthorne, or Charles Dickens, or Orwell or Tolkein or Harper Lee or any number of other writers with incredible stories did. I never realized you could write books like Jackie Collins wrote; I’d never been exposed to anything like them before. I’d certainly never realized that they were something girls my age could read–while I’d read plenty of books written for adults, her books seemed like books for ADULTS, if you know what I mean, far beyond the comprehension or enjoyment of someone my age. (A few years before that, I’d found a book in one of the cabinets in our basement called THE CHOIRBOYS, by Joseph Wambaugh [some of you are probably chuckling right about now]. The cover copy described it as “shocking,” so I thought I’d give it a read. I think I gave up after three or four pages, having become simultaneously bored, confused, and terrified–I vividly remember something about a dead person with dog poo in his or her mouth, and deciding that was not the kind of “shocking” or “adult” I’d been looking for and furthermore who would want to read that?) (Apparently it is a very good book; I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it or reading it, of course, just that at twelve or thirteen it seemed horrifying.)

I’m starting to ramble and digress, so I’ll get to the point of all this.

Jackie Collins died on Saturday. I’m sad about it, although I admit I haven’t read one of her books in some time–actually, the last one I read was LADY BOSS, when it came out in paperback, so yeah, it’s been a while. That doesn’t change the fact that they were a huge influence on me, and that I will be forever grateful that I met Vanessa on that long-ago trip and she introduced the barely-a-teenager me to this incredible, sparkling adult world, where sex and wealth dripped off the pages to infect me with possibilities. Her books were about giants; larger-than-life, slightly insane, sometimes unlikable, oversexed, wealthy giants who made up for what they lacked in gravity and humanity by being flashy and tough. I remember trying a few other potboiler-y books, looking for something that would give me that “Jackie” rush, and being sadly unable to find any. (I think my favorite out of those others was Sidney Sheldon’s MASTER OF THE GAME, although there wasn’t enough crazy sex in it for me. Harold Robbins left me cold, though I imagine I might enjoy his books more now. Danielle Steele was too tragic and sentimental for me, though she enjoyed quite a period of vogue among the girls at my school during our freshman and sophomore years. I never could get into Judith Krantz or Rosamunde Pilcher.) No one could compare to Lucky Santangelo and the collection of mobsters, prostitutes, models, politicians, businessmen, actors, and idiots who peopled her world.

So thank you, Jackie Collins. Thank you for blowing my thirteen-year-old mind, and thank you for showing me that you could do anything, go anywhere, in a book. That there were no limits. You will be missed.