What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
Update! Giveaway!

Okay, my bad. It appears that there won’t be pre-order capability for WRONG WAYS DOWN because, well, the systems don’t allow it. By which I mean Amazon etc. aren’t set up to allow pre-order capability on self-published books. That’s the info we’re getting, at least–if anyone knows anything different, do let me know.

So, no pre-orders, and my apologies. As you all know I’m quite new with all this self-publishing stuff, so…hopefully next time (if there is one) it’ll be smoother. I feel really bad about this, guys.

However. This does NOT affect the August 6th release date, with which there shouldn’t be any problems. That has indeed been confirmed in the system(s), so everything is ready to go there. It just means the convenience of pre-ordering isn’t there, which does suck.

How about a giveaway instead? Comment on this post. Here, on the blog (NOT on the Goodreads “copy” of it or any of the various feeds; the link back to here should be on them, but just in case, it’s here.) And, let’s see…say in your comment…well, anything about the books, or the characters. If you have any questions you want answered or there’s anything you think would be an interesting blog post about the WWD, anything you want to know about, let me know in your comment.

You can get additional entries by tweeting about the book on Twitter (#wrongwaysdown OR #terriblefever), and/or by Sharing it and/or commenting on Facebook.

I’ll give away a couple of ebook copies (I don’t have ppb to give away, sorry). I’ll pick random numbers and announce the winners; winners will have 24 hours to contact me to tell me what format they want. If you don’t contact me within that time, you forfeit, sorry, and I pick someone else.

Contest will end tomorrow at noon EDT (it is currently about five til, so that’s basically twenty-four hours).

This is an international contest. And hopefully it’ll be fun.

What Stace had to say on Friday, July 19th, 2013
Us Weekly Thinks Abuse is “Romantic.”

Yeah, some of you may have seen this already on my Facebook or Tumblr. I’m reposting it here because A) I’m still pissed and B) I’ve added a little bit to it. And C) I’m still really pissed.

I also note that since posting it on Facebook I’ve heard privately from a couple of men who were abused in previous relationships saying how hard it was to get out of it and how people acted like it was no big deal or they were just pussies, which is another reason I’m reposting it here.

Earlier I was reading headlines and happened to see one about some celebrity’s “Extreme,” “Passionate” Relationship. I normally don’t give much of a shit about celebrities, as you all know, but eh, I was bored.

Turns out, this actress (Emma Roberts, who it seems is Julia Roberts’s niece) got into a fight with her boyfriend, and in the course of that fight bloodied his nose and left several bite marks on him. The police were called and she was arrested.

And according to US Weekly, this is just soooo indicative of a really passionate relationship in which the two people are “crazy in love,” and she is “very dramatic” so it’s totes fine that she bloodied and bit her boyfriend. See, it’s cool, guys, because SHE ONLY DOES IT BECAUSE SHE LOVES HIM SO MUCH.

This is emphasized again in a later article. Here we see a brief interview with Ms. Roberts where she says, “I can’t say I’m never going to mess up, but if I do, I’ll definitely be sorry.” Of course! Lots of abusers feel that way. See, it’s cool, because SHE WAS REALLY SORRY AFTERWARD.

THIS paragraph has to be read in its entirety to be believed:

“In fact, Roberts is something of a romantic. Musing about love in her Nylon interview, she said she still believes in “happily ever after,” despite what she’s seen and experienced. “I’ve been with people in the past who lie about what they’re doing or whom they’re with, and you always find out about it…I’ve grown up in a business where we’re taught to think that relationships don’t last, and that people are supposed to be married a bunch of times. But I come from the school of getting married once,” she said. “Every relationship should be important. Everyone kind of rolls their eyes at me, but I still believe in the romantic movie outcome.””

She believes in the romantic movie outcome…as long as he doesn’t give her any lip, I guess. Once again, abuse is awesome because IT’S ONLY BECAUSE SHE IS SO PASSIONATE AND ROMANTIC. HE JUST MAKES HER CRAZY BECAUSE OF ALL THE PASSIONATE LOVE AND SHE CAN’T HELP IT.

(Note the “I’ve been with people who lie about what they’re doing or who they’re with and you always find out about it,” line, which sounds to me like BITCHES BE LYIN AND DESERVE A SLAP/I LIKE TO STALK PEOPLE, but I could be wrong there. I do know, though, that an abusive person–sorry, a “dramatic, passionate,” person who becomes “crazy” in love and is so “romantic”–who feels the need to tell you how their past relationships were all with “liars,” is perhaps not to be entirely trusted on that. And really…they lie about what they’re doing? You know, I know there are times when lies like that are harmful and I’m not saying you should never know what your SO is doing or that you should lie to them either, but…maybe they lied because it’s none of your business and you’re being creepily possessive and insisting they tell you where they are every minute. Or maybe they’re lying because if they tell the truth you’ll get angry and, you know, break their noses and bite them hard enough to leave marks. Just a thought.)

Now, yes, some of these things are quotes from Roberts or “sources close to her,” which means they’re going to be ridiculous crap designed to make her look good.

But US did not have to print those quotes, unchallenged. US did not have to follow up the first article with the one that says, flat-out, in exposition, “In fact, Roberts is something of a romantic.” They did not have to print those quotes in such an approving tone, with a wink and a nudge, like it’s just really sweet or we should all be awed by this great great passion taking place before our very eyes.

The timing of these articles, btw, is NOT a coincidence. That second article was posted the day after the first. Us Weekly deliberately chose to publish the article after Ms. Roberts beat and bit her boyfriend badly enough that she was arrested. They deliberately chose to smile about how “romantic” she is, and encourage others to do the same, the day after news of her abuse got out. They deliberately chose to downplay her abuse and encourage us all to just see it as a passionate girl who overreacted a little, isn’t that sweet, ah, impetuous youth.

BTW, I don’t care if the abuse is girl-on-boy or boy-on-girl, though I know I’m not the only one who thought that were the situation reversed, no way would US be writing glowing articles about how Evan is just “dramatic” and “passionate,” and “something of a romantic,” and how they’re just “crazy in love.” Can you imagine the outrage that would (rightly) follow such a thing? (For that matter, can you imagine being Evan Peters, or one of his friends or family members, seeing his bloodied face and then watching a national magazine smile about how “passionate” his abuser is and how she’s really just a romantic?) But abuse is no less wrong when it’s the man being abused.

When US Weekly chose to print these articles with their sympathetic, approving, even slightly envious-sounding depictions of an abusive relationship in which blood was spilled and skin was broken, here’s the message they reinforced to every impressionable young girl or boy out there, to every abused person, and to every abuser:

1. If s/he didn’t love you so much, this wouldn’t happen. The abuse is proof of that love.

2. It’s because s/he just feels things so much more deeply than other people. The abuse is proof of his/her sensitivity and passionate nature.

3. It’s because your love is so much greater and more dramatic and deep than other people’s. The abuse is proof of the grand scale of your love and devotion.

4. You know how passionate and/or dramatic and/or deeply emotional your partner is, so why are you BAITING him/her like that and making him/her mad when you know how s/he gets?

5. It’s okay that s/he hit you because s/he is really sorry afterward.

6. It’s okay to be an abuser and physically hurt your partner, because US Weekly will still just smile and run articles about you full of glowing comments from people who condone your abuse, which means really you’re not that bad and probably everybody does it.

7. The fact that articles like that run proves that you aren’t really being abused and what’s happening to you isn’t really wrong, you’re just being oversensitive. Can’t you see that the rest of the world acknowledges how it’s proof of love and you being meant for each other?

8. Celebrities are abusive and it’s cool, so why don’t you go ahead and be abusive, too? All the hotties are doing it!

Aren’t those great messages to send? Do we need to send yet another “Abuse is proof of love” message? Do we really want to just wink and nod at abuse because a woman committed it?

Fuck you, US Weekly. You make me sick.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013
WRONG WAYS DOWN release date (and a new short)!

We have a release date! And unless I’m mistaken, WWD should be available for pre-order on Your Favorite Ebook Retailer Site in the next week (it may take a little longer for the print version to be available; I hope it doesn’t, but it’s a possibility).

So mark your calenders, folks, for

AUGUST 6th!

YES, I will be doing a contest and pre-orders will be part of that, so look for details in the next day or two; basically the rules will be what they always have been, though, where talking about the book/pre-ordering the book gets you entries, and the prize on this one is that the winner gets a character named after them in the next story. I’ll be announcing the specific details soon, but entries WILL be retroactive, so to speak, so if you’ve been gabbing about WWD already you’ll have to be sure to let me know (not yet, though, okay? After I get everything set up).

But that’s not all!

I mentioned last week that I’ve sold a new short to Heroes & Heartbreakers, and now I can give you guys some details about that story, which is called CLOSE TO YOU and will be released on October 8th. Heroes & Heartbreakers is doing a special holiday program this year–well, here, you can read a bit more about it on the H&H site.

Like I said last week, I had a special bit of fun with this, because as you know (Bob), there is no Christmas (or any other religious holidays) in the Downside Universe. So finding a way to fit a winter holiday into a Downside story was especially cool, because not only did I get to play with the way the world has changed a bit, but I got to go a little more into what Chess’s specific reactions to and feelings about that are. It’s fun to write a holiday like Christmas from the perspective of a complete outsider, someone who’s never actually seen a “real” Christmas tree or experienced the holiday at all, not even really in movies or TV shows.

Plus, I got to make some slightly creepy points about love, I think, which is always nice. Not to mention how fun it is to work with the lovely H&H/Macmillan folks.

The blurb:


The Holidays Are Hell

Churchwitch Chess Putnam has seen, and banished, her share of ghosts, but not of the Christmas Past variety—the holiday has been illegal since the Church of Real Truth defeated the undead and took control of the world in 1997.

Yet when she and her boyfriend, Terrible, make a trip to an abandoned auto junkyard, they find more than the rusted auto parts and spare tires they’d bargained for. They also run across a creepy Miss Havisham-type hell-bent on reuniting with her long-dead husband just in time for Christmas—even if it means taking Chess and Terrible down with her into the City of Eternity…

If Chess and Terrible don’t manage to keep these ghosts in the past, they won’t have a future…

So…lots of stuff coming up!

What Stace had to say on Monday, July 8th, 2013
Things and such

No, I still don’t have a release date for WRONG WAYS DOWN, but I am hoping to have one very soon, so stay tuned. (Also, I’ve gotten lots of questions about the release date for Downside 6. I’m working on it, guys, I swear. I can’t confirm any dates but again, hopefully I’ll be able to soon, and I swear I will announce all this stuff as soon as I possibly can.)

But I do have a few things to share today!

First, I’m very excited to say I’ve sold a new Downside short to Heroes & Heartbreakers. I can’t give a lot of detail on this one, except to say we’re back in Chessie’s head, and H&H will be doing a cover/blurb reveal and all that good stuff in the next month or so. But–and this’ll make more sense, I think, when the details are announced–this one was a TON of fun to write, because I got to play with something I don’t usually get to use or even mention in the books at all. And when you can reference Dickens and Faulkner (I can’t wait to see if anybody catches the Faulkner bit) in a short, it’s always extra nifty. I had a few nerdy giggles writing this one, basically, and I can’t wait for you guys to see it. I believe it’ll be released in the fall sometime.

And as I mentioned above, WRONG WAYS DOWN things are coming along and such (new except–well, mini-excerpt–below).

Which brings me to…well, something, anyway.

I’m planning on doing another contest for WRONG WAYS DOWN, and I’m thinking because the “Name a Character” contest for SACRIFICIAL MAGIC was such a blast to do, and everyone seemed to enjoy it so much, I’ll do another of those. Especially since this will be Name a Character in the next Terrible novella…well, I can probably say with confidence that some of you will *really* want to be in this one.

But something occurred to me about the last contest as I was writing the Acknowledgments for WWD and passing them along. And you know, this is probably really dorky of me, and it probably doesn’t matter, but my stupid little sense of Do Right is pretty much making me say something, because…well, because I try to be honest and up-front with you guys, and honest and up-front in general. It’s important to me. And I just want to clarify something. It’s not a big deal–I’m pretty sure I’m making it a much bigger deal than it is–but still. You know me.

You may remember that Chelsea Mueller from Vampire Book Club won the SACRIFICIAL character contest (which was held for the release of CITY OF GHOSTS back in 2010). The thing is, in the intervening time since SACRIFICIAL’s release, Chelsea and I have become pretty close friends; we email pretty regularly and she beta-read WWD (and hence is in the Acknowledgments). Again, not a big deal, but because she won my contest and because I’m planning to do another one, I do kind of feel the need to just clarify that we really didn’t know each other when the contest happened, and really didn’t know each other as I wrote SM. In other words, I don’t just pick my friends to win my contests, honest. Her name happened to come out of the hat, so to speak (actually, the number of one of her entries was randomly picked by my child, if memory serves), and a year or so later we happened to get to chatting about something and there you go.

Like I said, I know this is rather dorky, and probably nobody cares but me and Chelsea (who, BTW, no longer personally reviews my work on her blog, also in the interests of objectivity and such), but it is important to me that I be open with you all and just make sure everybody knows that there was no contest hanky-panky happening. I worry about things like that.

So! On to the new mini-cerpt!

“Terrible, is you listening to me?” Amy set her hand on his chest. “You ain’t sayin much, you ain’t.”

“Aye, sorry.” Shit, what had she been saying? “Just got a lot on, aye? Some shit happening, is all.”

Her bright pink mouth twisted down. “Oughta just cancel with me, aye, iffen you ain’t gonna pay attention. Wanting chatter with you.”

“Sorry,” he said again. “You was sayin on you work, aye? What happen?”

“Two dudes coming on, telling me be a ghost around. Say a ghost kill Bump’s man on the other night. Be true? It a ghost?”

Her brown eyes were wide; she looked scared, and he hated that his first thought was to be annoyed instead of wanting to make her feel better like he should. With effort he kept his voice casual. “Naw, ain’t true. Don’t know where them dumb fuckin rumors starting, but ain’t true. Ain’t a ghost.”

Amy worked at a secondhand store up Sixtieth, old furniture and appliances and whatany. Fuck. Now she got people just coming in offen the streets, chattering on ghosts?

“Then why they—”

He shrugged. “Somebody tryin stir shit up, is all.”

Amy glanced around. “Slobag?”

“Maybe.” Probably. But until he were certain he ain’t wanted to say, and he were trying real fucking hard not to get mad thinking of it. Why the fuck all this shit starting up now? “Don’t need to be worryin on it, aye? No ghost.”

She nodded, but he could see the question starting behind her eyes, could see her wondering did he wish it were a ghost so’s he could call Chess, or was he saying weren’t a ghost causen he were already working with Chess.

He cut that off with, “Want me getting you a beer?”

“Aye.” She leaned back on the seat and folded her pale arms over her chest in a way that let him know she caught on that he were trying to change the subject. She wore a skimpy little pink dress, with thin straps and a short skirt. How she ain’t froze in that outside he didn’t know, but he couldn’t deny he ain’t minded at all when she looked mostly undressed.

Which kinda made him feel worse, causen they’d hang out there an hour or so, and then they’d go back to his and get that dress off her, and despite the fact that they never made any promises or aught like that—and he weren’t the only dude she saw, neither—he couldn’t help thinking he weren’t really treating her right. No. He didn’t think it. He knew it. And he knew why, which was worse.

So, there you go.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
WRONG WAYS DOWN Cover!

Here it is!

I am so excited about this.

This cover is a commissioned painting by artist Alessandra Kelley. (Sometime soon I’m planning to have Alessandra here to discuss the process and how the image went from concept to final cover). Seriously, guys, she drew this. And painted it. By hand. From scratch, as it were. Isn’t that amazing?

The font is called “Dirty Ego” and was designed by Eduardo Recife at Misprinted Type.

Now that this is all done, I’m hoping to have a release date to announce SOON.

And yes, I’m including another excerpt!

It’s all after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
Who Takes the Chance?

Quite a few years ago I did a blog series about choosing a publisher, specifically an epublisher: what to look for, what to be wary of, that sort of thing. It’s a topic I’ve revisited now and again, though not recently (thanks to my long moratorium on discussing writing-related subjects).

But you know…I just, I’m tried of seeing something. I’ve been tired of seeing it for, oh, eight years or so now, and I grow more tired of seeing it every day, and it pisses me off, so I’m going to talk about it anyway, because there seems to be a new wave of it out there.

I am sick to fucking death of seeing bad publishers, or writers associated with them, justify their lousy treatment of writers and their unprofessionalism and their crappy business decisions and their lack of ability to perform a publisher’s number one job (which is to SELL BOOKS TO READERS) with the following phrase:

“We/they took a chance on you, so you should be grateful!”

You guys, publishers do not “take chances” on your work, at least, not in the way these people imply they do. Sure, every book is a chance they take. In the most basic sense I must concede that publishing is about taking chances, and your book could lose money.

But those publishers who stand to lose money? They’re buying the rights to publish your book because they’re pretty sure it will actually make them money*, and they’re basing that decision on quite a bit of experience and knowledge and work**. They’re buying your book because in their professional opinions it is well-written enough and interesting enough to appeal to a large audience of readers, and they want to sell it to those readers. It’s “taking a chance,” yes, but not in the sense these snippy little writer-nannies seem to mean it, whereby the author who’s getting fucked over is apparently supposed to spread wider and beg for more because hey, somebody agreed to publish their book! That means they have license to treat the author any way they want and make whatever shitty business decisions they want and the author should just shut the hell up, right?

(*They SHOULD be buying the rights because they think it will make them money, anyway; and **They SHOULD have quite a bit of experience and knowledge and work before they start acquiring books. More on that in a bit.)

The thing is, when you tell another writer that they should be grateful somebody took a chance on their book, you might as well scratch out “book” and insert “piece of shit.” Isn’t that what you’re really implying? That they should be glad somebody actually agreed to publish that crap they wrote? That it’s not really a good book or anything, so they’ve been done a huge favor and beggers can’t be choosers? That they don’t really deserve a decent, professional publisher, so they should be glad somebody agreed to “give them a chance?”

Quite frankly, if the book isn’t good enough, then doesn’t that almost by definition mean that a publisher who “takes a chance on it” isn’t a very good publisher? Because they’re publishing books that, well, aren’t good enough to be published? (It’s like a big “chicken or the egg” loop, isn’t it?) There’s no benefit to anyone in “taking a chance” in publishing a lousy book; it doesn’t benefit the writer, it doesn’t benefit the publisher, and it certainly doesn’t benefit the people the industry exists to serve: those people we call “readers,” who spend their hard-earned money on those books.

Either you think your publisher publishes good and worthy books (like yours, right?) and therefore should be providing the authors of those books with all of the benefits professional publishers provide, or you think your publisher tends to publish crappy books (except yours, I guess?) which deserve only the bare bones and everyone should just be glad they got a “chance.”

Except–and here’s the big thing–throwing a book out into the ether without promotion or decent cover art or good editing is NOT giving it a chance. It’s sort of stacking the deck against it, actually, and ensuring that most people either won’t have the “chance” to hear about it, won’t look beyond the cover, won’t look beyond the excerpt, or won’t find it to be of high enough quality to “take a chance” on other books from that publisher or by that author. Or, of course, they’ll see a review that mentions poor cover art and/or editing, and write both publisher and author off in their minds.

Being a writer means you make, and take, your OWN chances. You’re taking a chance every time you open a new Word doc and start writing. You’re taking a chance every time you submit. You’re the one who controls the quality of your book and what happens in it–don’t forget, editors are not supposed to change your book, just make suggestions. It’s your name on the cover, and what’s inside should be 100% yours. Publishers do not–should not–be the ones deigning to give your book a “chance,” the way you may agree to a date with that guy who doesn’t really appeal but seems nice enough, or the way you might give someone who’s been rude and nasty to you one more chance to make it up to you, or whatever other serious power imbalances and ambivalence are inherently implied in the phrase “give it a chance.” A publisher shouldn’t be publishing your book reluctantly. They should be snatching it up. A publisher who buys your book is not–should not be–doing you a fucking favor.

You know what you owe the people who publish your book? You owe them the text of that book, turned in on time, edited on time. That’s it. That is ALL.

Now, in the standard nature of the professional author-publisher relationship, it also behooves you to do things like not scream and yell at editors, and not turn to the internet to scream about your publisher because you found out X got a higher advance, and generally not make yourself horrendously unpleasant to work with. It behooves you to work with your editor, whose sole interest is and should be making your book the best it can possibly be. It may also behoove you–it’s not a requirement, usually, but it’s often nice–to do things like have a website or make appearances or do guest blogs or interviews or whatever at the publisher’s request, in order to help make you and your book more visible in hopes of selling more copies.

Nowhere on that list, or on any of the similar things I left off the list because of length considerations, are things like, “It’s necessary to let your editor call you an idiot and imply that you’re lucky she agreed to take on that piece of shit you think is a book,” or “You can’t forget to let various publishing staffers call you names,” or “You must sit quietly while a pack of illiterates overshare about their ladyparts in emails to you,” or “It’s important to remember that paying you is something we do out of the kindness of our hearts,” or “Never think you deserve things like distribution or for our website to work properly or for us not to behave like twats online.” Nowhere on that list are things like “Of course, by submitting your work you agree that only entitled jerks expect to be able to negotiate contracts,” or “If you think you have a right to an opinion about your work, you’re dead wrong,” or really any variation of “Be grateful we published your talentless ass, loser.”

Here’s the thing. As I said, yeah, it’s sort of true that any publisher who offers you a contract is “taking a chance,” on you. But the thing to remember is that A) You are also taking a chance, on them, and believe me, there are plenty of stories out there–a really sadly large number of stories–of authors for whom that chance didn’t work out; and B) Everything is a “chance,” if you want to look at it that way.

For example. Are you married? If you are, that means your spouse “took a chance” on you. Does that mean, in turn, that you are required to allow him/her to be abusive? That you get no say in the finances, or where you live, or how you spend your evenings? Does that mean every argument is your fault, or that s/he is entitled to cheat on you and you should shut up, sit down, and be grateful? (Yeah, I know that last one with the cheating is stretching the analogy a little. Tough.)

It doesn’t. Because the “chance” isn’t all on one side in your marriage, and it isn’t all on one side with your publisher. If your spouse tells you it is, s/he is abusive and you need to get the fuck out. Same with your publisher.

You were offered a contract–you should have been offered a contract–because your publisher thinks your work is good enough to sell. Your publisher thinks that not only will the publisher make money, but you will, too. That’s how partnership works, see, and really, to a large extent publishing is a partnership.

All that editing and cover design and stuff that amateurish publishers keep insisting they provided free of charge so you should be grateful? Yeah. Books get cover art because cover art attracts readers: you know, paying customers. Books gets editing because publishers who want repeat business don’t expect to get it by selling a substandard product–at least, publishers with half a damn brain don’t.

Another example: Say you walk into a restaurant, and the food is bad. Next time you’re considering where to eat, is that place going to be at the top of your list? Unless you’re a culinary masochist, I’m guessing no. Personally, I go to look at the websites of new publishers and look at the excerpts, and if I see more than one full of grammar/spelling/punctuation errors or clunky writing? Not only do I not buy those books, I don’t look at the others, and I write that publisher off in my head. Sure, I might check again one day, but the odds are against it. I’m sorry for the good writers (and, sadly, good writers sign with bad publishers every day, and I in no way mean to imply anything different) who are caught up with that substandard house, but my time is limited and there are too many good books out there for me to spend hours hunting through published slush piles to try to find the one or two good books in there. I’m sorry about that; sorry for the writers watching their good books sink in a heap of not-so-good ones, and sorry for me because I miss out on a story I might have loved.

I’m digressing. My point is: Quit telling writers they should be grateful that publishers “took a chance” on them and provided them–however expertly or ineptly–with the things that are the fucking job of a goddamn publisher, like editing and cover art, and provided it in the way that a publisher is supposed to, which is without charge. Oh, good, they’ve done the bare-bones minimum, so writers are supposed to be tearfully grateful for the crumbs from their table. Whoopee.

You guys, let me be blunt. You are better than that. You deserve more than that. You deserve a publisher who will provide you with the things a publisher is supposed to provide, professionally executed, and in a professional fashion. You do not need to be “grateful” that someone published you; a real, professional house is just as grateful that they are getting the opportunity to work with you. An editor doesn’t wake up one morning, grab any old manuscript from the slush pile, and decide to send a contract because, gee, they just feel like giving somebody a chance that morning (at least, a good editor doesn’t). You didn’t win some sort of lottery. You worked hard and made your book the best it can possibly be, and if a publisher contracts that book it should be because they think they can make money on it and want to work with you, not because they’re granting favors and your name was in the hat.

I repeat: They are not doing you a favor.

And if they say they are or imply they are…they’re wrong, and you deserve better.

I may discuss this more tomorrow.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Brought to you by the letter D

…as in “Dork.”

Yesterday I was at the grocery store. Because–I know it’s shocking–I had to get some groceries. In fact, I have to do this pretty much every day. It’s these children of mine, you see. They (and those pesky childcare laws) insist I feed them. Were it not for them, I would happily live on nothing but energy drinks, cigarettes, whiskey, and shame, but you know, when we have kids we give up some of life’s little pleasures.

Anyway. One of the other things I had to buy at the grocery store was toilet paper (those kids again!).

For some time now we’ve been buying this one particular kind of toilet paper. It’s kind of tacky, actually; it’s patterned. Brightly patterned. Some of the rolls have stars–which are my favorite, but they’re very hard to find–and polka dots, and then there are some weird patterns like oddly colored owls or flowery things. Apparently their new design is hearts, which really holds very little appeal for me.

Hearts = not my thing.

Anyway, we needed toilet paper. And I, as I do, was standing on the edge of the bottom shelf (they always put these on the top shelf, and I am not tall), balancing precariously and gripping the top shelf with my left hand while with my right I shifted around all the packages of toilet paper to find the one with more than one polka-dot roll, or to see if I could find a star roll. And of course when I found a package with TWO polka-dot rolls, I set that on the lower shelf–saving it, you see–while I continued shuffling through all the packages to find just the right one.

Imagine this, if you will. A grown woman clinging to the top shelf in the grocery store, risking breaking her fucking neck just to get the package with the most rolls of polka-dot toilet paper inside. People look at me oddly when I do this, and I can’t say I blame them.

So then, this evening, I was explaining this to the hubs. And, as he laughed and laughed at me, I managed to explain to him just why I not only do this, but why when opening the package and taking the rolls out, I save the polka-dot ones for last (I used to save the stars for last but they don’t make them anymore I guess):

“The polka dots are the most festive.”

The most festive.

Yes, indeedy. Because when it comes to toilet paper, what matters is that it be festive. Also, multicolored polka dots are attractive on toilet paper because they are festive. And we save those for last, because we want to anticipate the party. Or something.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who does ridiculous things like this, for ridiculous reasons like that. I’d love to know there are other people who, for another example, don’t like putting spoons next to spoons in the silverware drawer or rack because “that’s just weird.” C’mon, spill.

I have a bit more news and such, too, stuff I left out the other day. First, WRONG WAYS DOWN is about 55,000 words–so it’s really a shorter novel rather than a novella, but it’s not really as complex as a novel so I’m still calling it a novella. That should come to about 215-225 pages, roughly, but I won’t know for sure for a few weeks at least because of the whole formatting-can’t-start-yet thing. The price will be $3.99 for the ebook and I’m not entirely certain yet for the paperback.

As for the cover…I cannot wait for you guys to see it. I love it and it’s not even finished yet.

I have a few other little things in the pipeline, which I’ll announce when I have more details. So stay tuned!

What Stace had to say on Monday, May 20th, 2013
WRONG WAYS DOWN news!

I finally have some news to announce!

I have to apologize for the delay here; there was a bit of an issue regarding cover art, basically, which set everything back by almost two months–since formatting can’t start until the cover art is done, we’ve all been in pretty much a holding pattern. I could have bought a stock photo myself and added some text to it, sure, but I wanted something better than that. More special than that. (I’m not saying covers like that can’t be good, at all. Of course they can. I’m simply saying that I personally lack the artistic talent and photo-manipulation skill to do it. I mean, I thought my little cover for BE A SEX-WRITING STRUMPET was pretty cute, but not only do I want something more…custom, shall we say, for this, there’s a good chance that I’m one of the only ones who thought so.) Add in the extra time for repeated editing passes, and copyediting by a professional, and now cover art which is being illustrated and painted by a professional artist, then then proper formatting (not just a text dump), and hopefully that explains some of the delay. It’s important to me that this be indistinguishable from the other books in the series, and that takes time. (Again, it’s not my intention at all to imply that if somebody manages to do all this faster it means lesser quality.)

But. I DO have something to share! I’ve been meaning to post the back cover copy for a while, and figured now was the perfect time, since I should hopefully have cover art to show in the next couple of weeks. And once that’s done, there should be a release date announcement not long after. (Future projects won’t take so long, I swear; I’m learning as I go here, and now I know a lot more about how to do all of this. Like, for example, don’t wait until the book is actually done to settle on a title and begin the cover art process. Heh.)

So. Here’s the back cover copy for WRONG WAYS DOWN, and then a new excerpt (remember, WWD is set in the time between UNHOLY GHOSTS and UNHOLY MAGIC; actually it takes place over the week surrounding New Year’s Eve, to be more specific).

It’s a thin line between right and wrong. It’s an even thinner one between wrong and dead…

Terrible has always been on the wrong side of the law, living up to the only name anyone ever gave him. As the chief enforcer for Downside’s most powerful criminal, it’s his job to collect debts and protection money by any means necessary. And he’s very good at his job.

But part of that job is also to keep Bump’s various employees safe. So when a street dealer is found dead and a prostitute is brutally attacked, Terrible immediately starts using his fists to hunt down the ones responsible.

He’s determined to find and destroy them. They’re determined to use his desire for the woman he secretly loves to break him.

EXCERPT:

He ain’t minded the cold, or the dark, but it did make shit harder. Finding people on the street weren’t as easy, and not as many people out there who might try starting shit with him he could finish. And fuck how he wanted to finish something just then, when Bump’s anger still made him tight inside. And fuck, wasn’t he glad he got the chance; third name on he list were home.

He flexed his fingers, stretching them, before curling them into a fist and slamming them into Sharp-Eye Ben’s face again. Ain’t should have felt good doing it, but it did.

And it helped him forget all the other shit. Helped him forget how he’d failed protecting the girls and how maybe he weren’t smart enough to find the dude attacked Sue. Helped him forget how his daughter ain’t even knew she was his, that she thought some other dude was her dad and he couldn’t ever, ever say the truth. Helped him forget how he looked, how fucking pitiful he was when it came to Chess, how he weren’t good enough to even be her friend, weren’t good enough for much at all.

Except this. This was the one thing he did better than anybody else, leastaways better’n anybody else he’d ever met. He’d never lost a fight. And when he was doing it, using his fists, his whole body…he felt right. Like his body did the thinking he mind couldn’t seem to get, and when he was fighting he thought faster than anybody else. If fists were brains he was the smartest dude in the city, and he couldn’t help how that made him feel good.

“Two weeks is up, Ben,” he said, letting his fist hang cocked in the air so Ben could see it. “Ain’t seein any lashers in my hand.”

“Sorry,” Ben gasped. Kinda hard to make out the words, what with he mouth all puffy and bloody, but Terrible had a lot of experience with that. “Tried, I done, I tried, but I ain’t got it yet. Just another week’s all I need, another week—”

Terrible hit him again. “Don’t got another week.”

He dropped Ben—he’d been holding him up by the hair—and turned away as Ben crumpled to the floor. Ben were a speed-banger; his place looked like a banger’s place, almost empty, and cold in the merciless light from the unshaded overheads.

But Ben were a cutpurse, too, which meant he might have something hidden away. Some last valuable thing, pass on to somebody who’d buy he a bag with it, since Ben couldn’t buy from any of Bump’s until he’d paid up. Also meant he knew other thieves, more’n Terrible did.

“Gonna have me the money soon,” Ben whined behind him. Terrible hoisted the end of the cheap-ass couch to look underneath it. Nothing but dust and bloody tissues. “Met—met me a dame, says she give me it, she do. Just ain’t knowing you be here on the today. Can have it on morrow, I can, have it for you then I’m swearing, just…”

Terrible ignored him. No food in the kitchen cabinets—no surprise there—cepting some dusty hard candies loose on a shelf. Nothing in the fridge but cheap beer. He opened the drawers, the freezer, looked under the sink. Dead bugs and rat droppings. Why anybody live that way when they had the choice? Terrible’d had enough filth around when he were a kid, sleeping on the street, staying with any lonely drunk or junkie offered him a bed or some food. Now he had he own place, he ain’t ever wanted to sleep with rats or roaches again.

Ben was still on the floor, ain’t moved at all. Blood dripped out his nose onto the thin dirty carpet. Terrible stepped over him to look in the bathroom and bedroom. Better chances on finding aught in there.

Couple loaded needles. He didn’t touch those. Didn’t really wanna touch shit in that bathroom, actually, or in that apartment. Chess carried gloves, just like she carried baby wipes. He wished she were with him. She’d help him search, help—no, he didn’t wish it. He hated her seeing him work, leastaways like that. It were different when he was protecting her or helping her, but…he hated her seeing him work.

Not causen he were embarrassed by what he did. More like he were embarrassed causen of how he felt about what he did, and it were just more evidence that he was a dumb fucking savage or aught like that, not the kinda man a dame like her even should talk to.

He’d found two gold watches tucked up under the mattress, obviously stolen, before Ben spoke again. “Please…hear you had you a robbery on the other night, I hear. Maybe I can get some knowledge on it for you.”

So Ben only knew about Sue, not Slick. Or was pretending he only knew on Sue, but Terrible guessed he honestly ain’t. Shit like that weren’t Ben’s style; he didn’t think Ben had any at all to do with the attacks, only that Ben might be an ear to the ground and Ben would be happy as hell to pass on whatany knowledge he got.

Ben musta seen him thinking. “Please. Terrible, maybe I find somethin out, maybe I give you what I find, maybe that be a help? Them watches—that one be my daddy’s, it were, my daddy’s watch.”

“Aye?” Damn it, why’d Ben have to fuck up a good deal with such a dumbass lie? He checked the back of the watch face, read the monogram there. “This one? What it say on the back, then?”

Ben hesitated. He’d managed to stand up; Terrible strode over to him and knocked him back down. Fuck, he were pissed enough already, and he’d just started feeling a little better, and now there Ben was pissing him off again. He’d learned a long time ago that when he got mad while he was beating on people, it ain’t ended so good. But now he was. “Don’t fuckin lie to me, Ben. Gets me mad, people lie to me. You want me fuckin mad?”

Ben shook his head, wiping at his mouth with shaking hands. “Nay, sorry, sorry, only I—weren’t thinkin, I weren’t, sorry.”

Should he hit him again? He wanted to. Ben was lying, and—aye, an that’s why he had to. Let people get away with shit, and they’d try getting away with it again. They’d think he was an easy touch, that he ain’t could figure out that they was lying. He hit Ben again. “Think better. Said you could get me some knowledge on that robbery?”

“Can—can try, I can. Bettin I can, I find somebody knows aught they can give me, I bet.”

Terrible pretended to consider it, then nodded. “Aye, right then. On morrow, dig? On morrow I come back. You better fuckin be here, an you better fuckin have the knowledge. And Bump’s money.”

Ben’s mouth fell open—as much as it could. “Thought I give you the knowledge, you take them watches, I ain’t got owes no more—”

Terrible shook his head. “Still got owes. Have em on morrow, and the knowledge. Or I come find you. And then I be mad. Dig?”

Ben nodded.

Terrible reached out and patted Ben’s shoulder, harder than he had to. “On morrow, then.”

He pocketed the watches and left, not looking back.

What Stace had to say on Monday, March 11th, 2013
We Love Hearing From You

Very longtime readers may recognize this story, but I originally posted it six or seven years ago, and it’s relevant, so I’m telling it again.

Back in 2002 I attended my first Dragon*Con (which was awesome). Coincidentally, I’d just finished writing my Very First Novel, a totally abysmal medieval romance. (Seriously, I wish I still had the printed mss to scan some of it to show you. While I still believe it had a couple of quite good scenes, for the most part it was pretty bad: overdramatic characters, contrived plot points, an Evil Ex Lover making silly threats, a Big Misunderstanding…I honestly barely remember the plot at this point, but trust me, it was lame.)

Anyway. There I was at Dragon*Con, and I happened to notice a panel on women writing, so I hopped on over to see it. It was held in a tiny room in the basement, and there were maybe fifteen people there, which was quite sad as the panelists included Betty Ballantine and a writer I hadn’t heard of named Sherrilyn Kenyon.

It turned out, though, that Sherrilyn Kenyon also wrote under the name Kinley MacGregor, and I’d just finished reading Kinley MacGregor’s BORN IN SIN, as part of my research-based orgy of romance reading. And in fact, BORN IN SIN had been one of my favorites of the romances I’d picked up. So once I realized Sherrilyn and Kinley were one and the same, I was quite excited.

Excited enough, in fact, to make a total idiot out of myself after the panel.

I went bopping up to Sherrilyn, all full of vim and eager puppy-dog dorkiness, and gushed at her that I, too, was a writer! I’d just finished my first romance and I was hoping to get it published! Thankfully I did manage to slip in there that I’d loved BORN IN SIN–although I did also say that I’d had no idea who Sherrilyn Kenyon was when I came to the panel and I was so excited to learn she was also Kinley MacGregor and was that information public, which, FFS, moron–but for the most part, I said the sort of things that make me shrink in embarrassment even now, over ten years later. I asked, stammering and blushing, if she thought I should get an agent, as if I could head for the phone book and hire one just like ordering a pizza (I may even have asked who her agent was; I have honestly blocked much of what I said from my memory). I believe I bragged about doing research and said how much I love the medieval period. And then, in a denouement so fucking ridiculous it makes me cringe, I said, “Maybe one day we’ll have the same publisher!”

Like we were going to play on the Avon softball team or something. Like we’d be Publisher Pals and spend our nights having giggly slumber parties and telling secrets. Like my very first mss ever was obviously just as good as any of her books, and of course I could just walk into a publishing contract simply by virtue of having completed a novel (which was, btw, over 114k words of facile plot contrivances and exclamation points. I didn’t even know not to capitalize the pronoun dialogue tag after dialogue ended in one of those exclamation points, so the book was full of shit like: ‘”Unhand me!” She shouted.’).

Sherrilyn was kindness itself. She gave absolutely no indication that she found my questions ridiculous or my lack of publishing knowledge silly and/or naive. She answered my questions nicely and wished me luck, and left me feeling that, well, maybe I’d been a bit nervous, but it was okay. She left me feeling positive and encouraged.

Now, at this point, I had joined the RWA. I’d done a bit of research on publishing; I knew better than to ask some of those questions. But I asked them anyway. Why? Because I was nervous. Because I was intimidated–I’d never met a real-life author before. Because I wanted to seem like I knew what I was talking about. Because I wanted to show her I was serious. And–this is important–because having read and really enjoyed her book, I felt there was some sort of connection between us. She had spoken to me in that book, and I had responded, and that meant something to me; it mattered to me.

I have never, ever forgotten that day. Yes, sometimes it’s a hauntingly humiliating memory, but I still haven’t forgotten it. I was just some red-faced idiot, and instead of responding with contempt, Sherrilyn Kenyon treated me with gentleness and respect.

But it’s not just her politeness that I remember. I remember the things I said, and WHY. All those reasons I listed above: being nervous, being intimidated, wanting to seem like I knew what I was talking about, feeling like there was a connection between us, like maybe we could be friends; like maybe on some level, insignificant as it was, we were friends. I felt like I knew Sherrilyn, a little bit; she had come into my home and entertained me for a while.

Quite recently there was a blog post written by an author wherein she complained about an email sent to her by a reader, which she felt was rude because it referred to her work as “her stuff” (as in “I bought all your stuff”) and said something like “Why aren’t you writing faster!? Get to work!” She rewrote the reader’s email to be more acceptable to her and went on to instruct readers on what questions not to ask authors, Because Rude, or Because Stupid, or something. She complained about being asked questions when the answers are on her website.

I’m not posting about this to pick on that author, which is one reason why I’m not linking to the discussion(s) about it or giving her name (and I have altered some of the quotes slightly, too). We all have bad days; we all make jokes that don’t come off, or get bad advice, or whatever, and she is human just as the rest of us are. As I’ve said before, internet pile-ons have gone way past the point of amusing for me and into nauseating territory, and that’s one big reason why I have cut back on my internet presence so sharply. This isn’t about her, really–although I admit I find it tremendously difficult to think of how awful that poor reader must feel, being held up as an object of scorn like that for the hideous crime of loving a writer’s work so much that she bought all of it and emailed the writer to tell her so, and asked eagerly when she can further support said writer by buying even more of her work, and I found the post pretty horrific–except that she’s sparked several discussions that break my heart.

Those discussions are from readers saying they’re going to think twice before contacting authors whose work they love, because they’re afraid they too will be publicly humiliated in such a rude and painful fashion if they say the wrong thing.

Guys…please don’t be afraid of that.

My story above is about Sherrilyn Kenyon, but I am absolutely certain that you could insert the name of almost any author on the planet and they would have responded with just as much grace. The fact is, hearing from people who love our books is one of the best things about this job. I can only speak for myself and a few of my friends, but I/we don’t seek out reviews. I/we don’t visit the Amazon pages for my books; I don’t Google them (or myself, unless I’m looking for something specific, like a guest blog post I’ve done somewhere or something); I don’t visit their Goodreads pages or my Goodreads Author page, in general. As I’ve said before, if someone directly sends me a link to a review, I will usually click and read it, because A) that’s a specific invitation for me to do so, which means B) it’s probably a positive review, and I like to retweet those or quote them here as a way of thanking the reviewer/giving them credit for the review without barging into their space.

Emails from readers are the most amazing things in the world. They are. I’ve gotten emails that have brought tears to my eyes. I’ve gotten emails that made me laugh. I’ve gotten emails that made me feel like I was floating for hours, all because someone out there took the time to hunt down my contact info and actually tell me, personally, how much they loved my work and that it meant something to them, really meant something. Without wishing to sound as though I’m making a dirty joke, something I wrote touched them, and they touched me back. Isn’t that what writing and reading are all about? A connection with someone else? Isn’t that why we do what we do, whether we’re writing or reading or reviewing–to feel something, to connect with something, to reach out to something? To share something?

Sure, I’ve gotten some rude emails, too. I’ve gotten a few so offensive and outright threatening that I contacted their IPs. I’ve gotten emails that called me names, that called my characters names, that accused me of all manner of nonsense. They’re not fun. But being asked eagerly when the next book is coming, and can’t I write faster, is not rude. It’s charming, and it’s sweet, and while we all know that intent is not magical, the fact remains that in those cases, when the intent is obviously to flatter, it’s rather silly to take offense. This isn’t a male co-worker telling you how hot you look today and then going, “But I meant it as a compliment! You’re sexy!” It’s someone expressing delight in our work, and that’s not an insult. Especially when if we stopped and thought about it we might realize that behind that email is someone trying to make a connection with us, someone perhaps a bit nervous, perhaps a bit intimidated, someone to whom we mean something and our work means something, and maybe because of that meaning they feel like they know us a little bit. Someone who, aside from everything else, is probably not a professional writer, and is writing private correspondence, and so perhaps cannot be expected to phrase everything in a way that perfectly suits and flatters and pleases us.

I never expect that anyone will be intimidated or nervous when speaking to or emailing me; I mean, who the fuck am I? Nobody of any importance. But I’m also aware that contacting anyone you don’t know personally can be intimidating or can make one nervous. I’m also aware that there are indeed people out there–I’ve met them, and more importantly I’ve been one and occasionally still am–who are nervous or intimidated meeting a writer whose work they love. I’d be willing to bet that when Sherrilyn Kenyon headed for that panel that day, she didn’t expect anyone to be nervous or intimidated at the thought of meeting her, and yet there I was with my face beet-red and my hands shaking as I wagged my Newbie Writer tail in desperate, eager neediness, so excited to be talking to a Real Writer that I pretty much ran down a checklist of silly questions and statements.

I have been horrendously lax in replying to my emails. I’m ashamed of it. I’m so far behind I don’t even know how far behind I am, and that’s inexcusable. But that also doesn’t change the fact that I read and am grateful for every one of those emails. And every writer I know feels the same.

So please, guys, don’t stop writing to us. It matters–you matter. Don’t think the fact that one writer was having a bad day or is rude or ungracious or pretentious or mean means we all sit around rubbing our hands just waiting to pick on you for misphrasing something or misspelling something or simply saying something in a way that doesn’t meet someone’s idea of how to correctly speak to An Author. Most of us don’t expect perfection and we don’t expect you to bow and scrape. We love you just as you are, and are interested in whatever you have to say, and are happy to answer what questions we can, when we can. When you email us we’re grateful, not insulted or offended or angry or upset. Hearing from readers is one of the best things that can happen to us, and if that stopped it would be heartbreaking.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, February 14th, 2013
Novella News

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day. I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day much, and this one is already sort of sucky. So I’m going to cheer myself up now, by giving some news on the Terrible novella and posting an excerpt and all of that fun stuff.

First, a little FAQ:

What is the novella called?

Ha! I finally have an answer for this! The title is WRONG WAYS DOWN.

How long is it?

I’m still editing it, but my estimate is that the final version will be around 55,000 words. So it’s actually more of a short novel than a novella, but oh well.

Is it in continuity?

Yes. It takes place in the time period between UNHOLY GHOSTS and UNHOLY MAGIC; the last scene is set about two weeks before the start of UM.

What’s it about?

It’s a little mystery, basically. There’s magic and hookers and untrustworthy people and Decisions To Be Made and Temptations To Be Dealt With and, of course, plenty of violence.

It’s not about Terrible and Chess, per se. Chess is certainly in it (I finally got to write an event between them that I mentioned very briefly in CITY OF GHOSTS), and there’s certainly time spent on how he sees and thinks of her, but they’re not really working together in this one. It’s HIS story.

I’d like/I’m planning to write UM and CoG from his POV, combined as one story, but that’s going to depend at least in part on how this one does, and whether you guys like it enough to want more.

Will we find out more of Terrible’s past?

A bit more, yes. Including more details on how he came to work for Bump.

When will it be released?

I don’t have a release date yet, sorry. I’d hoped to have it released around today, but I’ve had sick kids and all kinds of other craziness happening, which has cut into my work time. I am almost finished editing, though, and have a copyeditor lined up and all of that, so I’m hoping to have at least a close estimate soon.

And for those who follow me on Twitter… Yes, Terrible makes himself a sandwich at some point. Hee.

So…on to the excerpt! It’s a scene with Chess in it, because it’s Valentine’s Day. (Plus, come on, I know what you guys want to see.)

(This is pre-copyedits; final version may vary slightly.)

Read the rest of this entry »