What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
Be Rich and Famous! The Internet Way

NOTE: For the next few days I am turning my blog over to my dear friend Auntie Specialsnowflake,* who will teach new authors everything they need to know about Promoting Their Books, Making Themselves Famous, and WINNING THE INTERNETS.** I urge you all to follow these tips to the letter. I think we’ve all seen recently how well this works. Fame and money will soon be yours!

Okay, guys. We all know it’s hard to get attention out there. And we especially all know just how…well, how goddamned unfair that is, right? After all, you are special. You deserve far, far more than you’ve been getting.

Well, this is your lucky day! Because Auntie Specialsnowflake is here to help you make piles and piles of internet money, and rocket yourself to International Fame! And it will be SO EASY!

First, let’s establish a basic or two. A couple of things you need to know; The Players, as it were:

1. YOU. You wrote a book. Maybe you decided to hop on the Amazonmoneywagon and self-publish, because everyone knows if you do that you’ll be a millionaire overnight. Maybe you went the commercial route. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is:

You wrote a book, and that means you deserve huge money and fame and proves you are automatically superior to all those lesser beings who either did not write books or did not write good books (i.e. they did not write YOUR book). It especially makes you far superior to those pesky beings called “readers,” but we’ll get to them in a minute. For now, this is all you need to keep in mind:

Do not forget this

2. Now. What is it you deserve, because you wrote a book? Why, fame, fortune, adoration…just the basic things, of course. Certainly you deserve NOTHING BUT PRAISE. Which leads us to…well, The Adversary. We’ll call them readers:

Readers: Vicious, cowardly, stupid beasties. You must beat them at all costs.

I can hear you already. “But Auntie Specialsnowflake! Aren’t readers, you know, the people who give me money for my work and stuff?”

Yes. Yes, they are. That doesn’t mean you have to be nice to them, stupe. In fact, it’s best not to. Here’s why:

A. Readers are not smart, ever. They learn nothing by doing that reading thing. Certainly they are not as smart as you. Hey, I don’t see them writing books, the losers.

B. Readers cannot be trusted to recognize your talent. They can’t be trusted to always love your work and praise you. This horrifying situation must be remedied.

C. Readers–I can hardly bring myself to type this, even–cannot be trusted to keep their mouths shut when they do not like your book. They seem to think that reading your book gives them the right to say whatever they like about it, even if–man, this is hard!–even if it is not praise. The nerve of them, I know. Please sit down for a minute to get over the shock. Just breathe.

D. They compound all of these errors by thinking that just being able to read makes all of this okay, even though they have not written books of their own, and therefore cannot understand the fragile and special bond between a writer and his or her Book Baby, or all the hard work that went into that book, or how much it matters to us, or how much Mom or Dad (or, of course, Auntie Specialsnowflake) loves it. How the hell do they know what good writing is? Really. I ask you. Idiots. I bet they think they’re capable of judging whether or not a meal is well-cooked even if they are not professional chefs, or whether a car runs even when they are not mechanics, or whether an airplane flight is enjoyable even when they are not pilots, or whether an item of clothing provided adequate cover even though they are not seamstresses. Everybody’s a fucking expert these days, you know? Sheesh. I’m telling you, they are a scourge.

D. Worst of all, readers seem to not realize that their job is solely to love and promote your book–and by extension YOU. It’s like they think they’re totally separate people from us writers, like they don’t have some sort of obligation to us because we wrote a book. They actually don’t think they owe us anything at all, if you can believe that arrogance. They actually think, even, that we shouldn’t tell them what to do or treat them like we expect the deference we so richly deserve. It’s like they’re just walking egos thinking we should let them have opinions of their own or let them talk to each other about our books without us butting in or whatever. I’d as soon let my dog eat at the dinner table, I tell you that.

Luckily, there are things you can do. There are ways to get around these cockroaches-in-human-suits called “readers.” It’s not even hard. Why? Because, like I said, readers are stupid. They actually write their opinions down, on the internet, which is like an open invitation for you to respond. Why, you’re really doing them a favor with some of these things, because otherwise they might go thinking they can make their own decisions about what to read, and we can’t have that nonsense.

Anyway. Now we have the basics. Let’s get started.

The most important thing to remember is that everyone in the world sees everything on the internet every minute of every day. This is key to our promotional strategy and will make you very rich a whole lot faster. You must keep a careful eye on every single mention of your name and make sure that you control that situation totally. For example, let’s say some dumbass has the nerve to think your heroine was stupid. Now, you could just think, “Oh, too bad,” and move on. You could think “I wish I’d written her smarter,” and move on. You could think, “Well, huh, she seems smart enough to me, so oh well, I guess my book just wasn’t right for that person,” and move on.

ALL OF THESE ARE WRONG. If the above is your instinct, you are Not Ready To Be A Real Writer.

The correct response, as everyone knows, is to gently but firmly step in, tell the reader first of all that you see her review, and that she has been remiss in her duty to you by actually forgetting that she is not the person who matters in this little transaction. You are. Explain to her not only why she is wrong about your heroine, but that she was wrong to say such mean things about your book, because who does she think she is? Remind her that her opinions only matter insomuch as how they relate to you and your feelings. She should be happy you’ve done this, as it will make her see how much you care.

“But Auntie,” you say, “That’s fine for some reviews. But what if the reviewer actually, like, made a joke in her review? What if she used one of those four-letter-words that polite ladies do not use ever? What if she said more than one bad thing about the book? What if she was actually morally and intellectually bankrupt enough to hate my book? What do I do?”

Well, of course, not every bit of advice is fit for every situation. Sometimes you must be stricter with those morons. It’s perfectly okay to call them names if they hurt your feelings–after all, our teachers on the playground told us not to do that, but we learned that calling the other girl a poopypants meaniehead made us feel better, didn’t we? And if it was good enough for our five-year-old selves, it’s good enough for us now.

Remember, readers are stupid. They’re like sheep. If one reader in the world likes a book, every single other one will, and vice versa. Readers know this, which is why they never ever disagree about whether or not they like a particular book. If they see one single bad review, or even a lukewarm review, they will run en masse to buy something else. Because, being sheep, they are 100% incapable of making their own decisions based on their own tastes. They don’t even know their own tastes! Look at me, talking about “readers” and “tastes” in the same sentence. Ha ha!

This is why you must control every word said about you everywhere. When a reader posts a review somewhere, it’s like an insect flying into a spider’s web; it sends little vibrations through the whole entire internet and within thirty seconds every reader in the whole world has read that review and decided they love or hate you based on it.

But you know what else will make them love you? Standing up for yourself. Aggressively. Now we’re getting into the advanced promotional techniques, so I warn you: some of this may seem a little strange. But bear with me. You’ll be glad you did when you’re sleeping on mattresses stuffed with money, just like Don Draper. Because really…

THIS IS THE INTERNET. YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY GO WRONG BY MAKING A SPECTACLE OF YOURSELF.

Trust me.

So. Your mission is to get that dumb little bitch to change her review, right? You can’t have the readersheep seeing that your heroine is stupid. I mean, this is your livelihood! Don’t they understand it’s their obligation to make sure you earn money through writing? Jeez, you’d think they had their own families to take care of or something, or their own lives to live. Selfish, selfish, selfish, that’s all they are.

How do you do that?

There are a number of ways.

We’ve already covered responding yourself. This is a good and right thing to do. Not just because it will show that moronic reader who really matters, but because it will draw attention to you. Remember, attention is the name of the game! The more people see you, the more people who will immediately rush out to buy your book.

But what if you did, and the reader is too stupid to be grateful that you have turned your Glorious Author’s Eye onto her, and allowed her to bask in its gentle Sodium Glow of Truth. Trust me, she’s posting her review just to get your attention. Readers are attention whores, see. They pretend they’re just trying to talk about books, but really, they are desperately trying to steal your own Internet Fame. (There is only so much internet to go around.) Do not fall for their claims that this is just their opinion (we know that’s not true, due to them being a hivemind) and especially do not fall for their claims that they have a right to their own opinions. They do NOT.

See, in addition to their sheeplike, easily led “brains” (I know, it makes me giggle too), readers are sometimes incapable of accepting your superiority over them. Much like South and Native Americans who failed to immediately bow down to the Conquistadors, so readers will try to pretend that you are not better than they are, and will resist your attempts to correct this problem. This is because of their own silly insecurities, their tendency toward attention whoring, their sluggish pea-like minds, their lack of morals, their denial of responsibility, and their sick, sad need to put other people down just for achieving something they could not themselves achieve. I repeat: if readers were so damn smart they’d write their own books. AmIright? Of course I am! I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Tomorrow we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of the battle. Don’t forget to come back, and learn everything you need to know about vanquishing those idiots who buy books and crushing both their free will and, hopefully, their personal lives. It’s nothing less than they deserve.

YOU WILL BE A HERO

ANOTHER NOTE: Auntie Specialsnowflake is happy to answer questions and give advice on any sort of publishing subject. Just use the contact form on the website here. I’ll pass your questions along and post answers as we go or in a separate post or whatever, depending.

*Do I really have to explain that this is satire? Please tell me I don’t.
**This does not work. Ever. This is for entertainment purposes only.

Special thanks to the adorable and talented and awesome Carolyn Crane for inspiring me to create my own drawings to illustrate this post rather than hunting for some online and potentially violating copyrights.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
But, there is cake

I have more to say about online drama etc., but I’m not going to say it today. Instead I’m going to talk about cake. Okay?

Yesterday was Mr. Kane’s birthday. And not just any birthday. His fortieth birthday (*cough* I remind you he is older than me *cough*). So, you know, that’s a Big Deal Birthday. And I wanted to do some Big Deal Stuff for it. We got him a BluRay player (well, to be fair, it was kind of for all of us) and a few other things, too.

But I wanted to do something special for the cake. First, I wanted to make a cake; well, I pretty much had to, because cakes you buy here are invariably gross and covered in fondant icing or whatever other roll-out paste icing they sell, and it tastes like shit and eating it is like trying to gnaw on the skin that develops on top of custard. After it’s been sitting out overnight. Seriously. It’s pretty much all you can find. SO gross.

So I had to make a cake, which is fine; I like making cakes. And–since we’re in Special Birthday time–I wanted to do a Special Cake, instead of just a regular vanilla cake or chocolate cake or whatever. I was going to do a pina colada cake, but since Mr. K knows I hate both pineapple and coconut he said I should make something I would like, too. So I thought and I thought, and I thought and I thought. And I thought, we miss Florida a whole bunch. And Mr. K is a Florida boy, having been born there. And this is the anniversary of that Florida birth.

And so I thought, “What about key lime cake? What if I could make it taste like key lime pie, even?”

Well. Here’s the fucked-up thing. Go try Googling “key lime cake.” Here, I’ll do it for you. Now, just look at those results. Do you know what 99.9% of them are? Boxed lemon cake mix, mixed with a box of lime Jell-O. Lemon cake mix and lime Jell-O. I ask you. Do you want to serve that to someone for a Special Birthday? Even if I could get lime Jell-O here, I wouldn’t touch that. That’s like telling someone they should eat more fruit and handing them a bag of Fun Dip. There are occasional mentions of this being great-grandma’s superspecial key lime cake recipe or a special secret old family recipe, which, you know, that’s fine if you’re a Yankee, I guess. I also found a few that were just white cakes with lime curd or key lime frosting, which wasn’t what I wanted (one that was a sort of graham-cracker cake with key lime filling & frosting intrigued me, but again, no such thing as a graham cracker here. I do want to give that one a try one of these days, though).

Anyway. Not only did the lack of recipes hurt me, the two I did manage to find called for–of course–key lime zest and key lime juice. Well. I dare you to find a key lime anywhere in England. I dare you. You won’t. And contrary to what some people would have you believe, there IS a difference in flavor and you CAN taste it.

So here I am trying to make key lime cake that tastes like key lime pie, without key limes, in England. I spent a couple of days studying the two recipes I found, and recipes for other types of cakes, and websites about the science of cakes, etc. etc.

Another complication, but a minor one: I don’t like zest, because I am very sensitive to little bits of stuff in my food. I do have lime oil, though, which I bought at Selfridge’s last month (it came in a little gift pack with lemon oil and orange oil, and I used the lemon oil last week to make the most awesome lemon bundt cake ever).

Remember, I wanted the cake to taste not just like key lime, but like key lime PIE. I wanted that particular creaminess, that sort of soft-sharp flavor that you only get with key lime pie.

All I can say about the result is that after Mr. K took a bite, he said, “It’s key lime pie!”

So here’s what I did.

In a large bowl I sifted together:

3 Cups AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
a slightly rounded 1/2 tsp salt

and set it aside to wait.

In another bowl, my largest bowl, I creamed:

2 Cups granulated sugar
1 Cup unsalted butter

and then added 4 large eggs one at a time (I beat each egg slightly in a measuring cup before adding)

To that wet mix I added (and mixed):

2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp lime oil
1/8 Cup lemon juice (this is to add tartness to the lime to simulate the flavor of key limes. If you have access to real key limes and want to use them, use 1 1/2 Tbsp of zest and 1/4 cup of juice)

In a measuring cup I stirred together:

1 Cup buttermilk
1/8 cup sweetened condensed milk

And added the flour and the buttermilk mixtures to the sugar/butter/egg mixture alternately, starting and ending with the flour.

Now. Everyone knows that real key lime pies without coloring are a sort of pale yellow-green shade of ivory, barely a color at all. I wanted to duplicate that (all the recipes I saw added food coloring to make it really green), but my batter wasn’t quite right. So I had some green paste food coloring. I touched it with my fingertip and swiped said fingertip against the beater of my electric mixer, then, well, used the mixer. It added the very faintest greenish hue to the batter. Score!

This was enough batter to make four 8″ cakes. I only used three for the layers. You know the pan-prep drill, I assume: butter it, lay down some parchment. Or use a non-stick spray or whatever combination you like (no Pam here either). These ended up taking about 28 minutes to bake at 325F, but my oven is slow and rather wonky–it’s like thirty years old, and actually has open flames at the back–so you might want to experiment.

Now, the frosting. The batter was pretty key-lime-pie-y, but I knew the frosting needed to make up for some of the lost creaminess and tanginess and “coolness.” The recipes I found called for a regular cream cheese frosting, and I like cream cheese frosting, but I also had that can of sweetened condensed milk open, and I had whipping cream in the fridge…

This is sort of a cream cheese frosting. If you’ve ever made that, or buttercream, you know it’s not really an exact science; you sort of play with it until it’s the consistency etc. you want. Also, I had no idea how much I would need so ended up making a ton. But here’s basically what I did:

creamed about 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter with 2-3 Tbsp of cream cheese (full fat)

Added a cup or so of icing sugar (it’s what they have here; not quite the same texture as powdered/confectioner’s sugar, at least so it seems to me, but I could be wrong) in 1/3 cup batches, beating well

Did that again. Somewhere in the middle of that second cup I added a Tbsp or so of sweetened condensed milk

Yummy, but not enough. So I added more sugar. Then a splash of whipping cream. Then a dab more cream cheese when it seemed that flavor was being lost. Then more sugar and another Tbsp or so of sweetened condensed milk.

All told I used about 1/3 of a can of sweetened condensed milk, about 2 Tbsp of whipping cream (basically half-and-half), about 2 Tbsp of 2% milk, about 4 Tbsp of cream cheese, and probably 6-8 cups of sugar. But oh man, this is a yummy frosting, and it absolutely MADE the cake; it added the right creamy tanginess to make it definitely taste like key lime pie.

The cake was lovely. Not dry. Not heavy. I do think next time I’ll increase the lemon juice to 1/4 cup instead of 1/8. I’m also quite curious about what would happen if I cut down the sugar a bit and subbed sweetened condensed milk for some of the buttermilk; we’ll see. I’d originally thought of subbing cream cheese for some of the butter, but was worried about that giving the cake a too-thick pound-cake-type texture; I may try that at some point, though, too.

But all in all I was quite pleased, and Mr. K. loved it and that’s what matters.

The cake (keep in mind, I am not a professional cake decorator. At all. I fail at cake decorating):

So there you go. Isn’t it nice to just think about cake for a few minutes?

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
I don’t need you to avenge me, thanks

Guys…what the fuck is going on?

Seriously. What the fuck is going on here?

I honestly don’t even know where to begin, or what to say. I find myself growing more and more disturbed by things I’m seeing lately, on an almost daily basis. Like, to the point where I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps writers and readers simply should not interact with each other at all. Like, to the point where I’m considering withdrawing from the online world more than I already have (which, I’m sure none of you have noticed because you have full and busy lives, but is a bit).

It seems like almost every day we have yet another bag-of-douche acting like a fucking…I don’t even know what a good analogy is. Like a fucking vindictive shithead, vomiting their poo all over the internet and delighting in making other people feel bad. They claim this is justified, that they are Taking A Stand.

Guys…at the risk of Godwinning, reviewers are not Hitler. They’re not Mussolini. They’re not Pol Pot. I’m not aware of a single reviewer who has actually, say, kidnapped an author and tortured them in the basement, no matter how offensive they may have found that particular author’s book. I’m not aware of a single reviewer who has committed mass human rights offenses, or has engaged in some sort of cover-up, or has stolen money from people, or whatever other actions that might constitute, you know, actual activities a serious and definite stand should be taken against. For that matter, I’m not aware of a single book that has bombed spectacularly because some people got upset about it on Goodreads. The books that (appear to have) started this whole mess? Hardly failures.

I’ve been hanging around the online reading/writing community for seven years now (“Lane, I’ve been going to this school for seven years now. I’m no dummy.”). In that time I’ve seen quite a few authors behaving abominably. I’m only aware of one whose behavior was execrable AND whose books were not successful, but in that case, actually, I think the lack of sales has more to do with the fact that her books were utter shit (and even then, there were several poor misguided souls out there who liked them. Which is their right. I just personally thought the books were garbage).

So let’s get this straight, and let’s say it in boldface so there is no mistaking it:

You are not Taking A Brave Stand when you “out” people on the internet, no matter how rude or nasty you may think that person has been. You are not Exposing Their Crimes At Great Risk To Yourself. You are not a Miraculous Crusader For The Rights Of Others. You are not Karen Silkwood. You’re not even Woodward & Bernstein. You’re just an asshole with no perspective, to be honest.

And you should be fucking ashamed of yourself.

I’m ashamed of you. I’m ashamed to share internet space with you. You make me sick to my stomach.

Ever hear the phrase “Two wrongs don’t make a right?” Why don’t you think for a minute about what that means? Even IF–for the sake of argument–even IF we take your thesis as a given: That there is a segment of people online who secretly hate certain authors and delight in ripping them to shreds, and who get off on the sense of power they get from insulting and hurting and misrepresenting authors who they know can’t fight back, and who honestly believe they have the power to hurt the careers of those authors…

Even if we take that at face value…

How exactly is outing those reviewers on the internet HELPING anyone? How are you making yourself look like anything but a miserable, bullying piece of shit? How are you doing anything but making the tension in reader-writer relations–a tension with which I admit to being increasingly uncomfortable with every new kerfuffle–WORSE?

You’re not.

And you’re a fucking hypocrite. Outing people from behind the veil of anonymity. Yelling at people for daring to express opinions while behaving as if every word you type is precious and golden. Deciding it’s your place to attack people you deem “bullies.” (By the way, I’m also not talking about the difference between bullying and what you seem to think is bullying, and how offensive that is, and how I’m tired of seeing people hide behind the buzzword-of-the-day to justify their own complete lack of human decency.)

Honestly, I’m not just angry and sick about this. I am both of those things, intensely. I’m furious. I’m horrified.

But I’m also disheartened. I’m so tired of it all, you guys. I’m just so fucking tired of it all.

You know what? I’ve been on the receiving end of internet rage. I’ve had things I said misrepresented. I’ve gotten hate email–more than once. I’ve found people saying the most vile and hurtful things about me, lying about me. It wasn’t nice. It wasn’t fun. It didn’t feel good. It still doesn’t. I’ve seen it happen to others, too. And I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

I’m sick of the goddamn internet feeding frenzy. I’m sick of feeling like we’re all trapped on the island from LORD OF THE FLIES.

But you know what? If it’s anyone’s responsibility to put a stop to that shit, it’s MINE. I am the product creator. I am the merchant. I am the content originator. In other words, I am the one with the responsibility to guard my public image, to guard my art, to guard my integrity, and to watch how I represent myself. You could even say–and hell, for the sake of argument I will, even though it sounds egotistical and I really don’t think of it this way–that I have a responsibility to set an example.

I cannot control the behavior of others. I CAN control my own behavior.

Here’s the thing. Have I seen situations where I feel statements or actions of writers have been taken out of context, or overreacted over? You bet your ass I have. Has it upset me? Hell, yes, it has. Has it happened to me, where something said in one spirit was taken in a completely different one? Regular readers know it has (and I won’t even discuss in this post the sexism of that situation, or of this one, though I may do that soon. Suffice to say at the moment that I’m sick and tired of the attempts made to keep women and their opinions in line while no such offense is taken when men say the same things, or of women being yelled at for their “tone” and “attitude” whereas no one does the same at men. Ever visited a heavily male site like Aintitcool? Why don’t you go take a look at the vitriol there, and say something about it? Oh, I know. Because you’re too busy being an asshole about women who dared to step off the very narrow path of behavior you deem appropriate).

But here’s the other thing.

If writers never went crazy and unloaded on readers, if they never did things like try to out them or get their little friends to vote down their reviews or report them to try to get them deleted…if writers never sent nasty emails to reviewers or threatened to name AIDS-infected prostitutes after them (because that is so totally hilarious, yo) or tried to get them banned from websites…if writers never sent emails out to their cronies asking them to write positive reviews of their books or leave comments on less-than-positive reviews on retail sites or blogs…if writers never took to the internet to bitch and moan about those stupid readers who dared to not like their books and what morons they are and how they don’t deserve to live…in other words, if the idea of a writer cheating, gaming the system, and generally acting like an entitled little shit had never occurred to anyone? If all writers behaved with integrity? If no writer had ever behaved as though readers are nothing more than their personal publicity service with some kind of duty to help them promote their work? If no writer had ever behaved as if readers have no right to express an opinion?

Well, gee…if no writers had ever behaved like that, do you think readers would be so anxious? Do you think they would interpret any sort of comment by a writer on or about a review (and keep in mind I disapprove of writers commenting on reviews at all, this is just a general question) as an attack or attempt to intimidate? Do you think all this shit would have started in the first place?

Because I kind of don’t.

The fact is, the burden is on us. No, I didn’t start writing with the intent of being a Public Figure. Yes, I do find it upsetting that writers have to be so careful what we say, not just about reviews but about anything and everything else. But hey, that’s part of the job. And it’s easy to forget that it’s not just writers. It’s not an outgrowth of “celebrity.” It’s an outgrowth of having your thoughts and opinions exposed to a large group of people. Sooner or later somebody’s going to take offense. If you say something to enough people that will happen. That’s just the way it goes. I find it upsetting no matter who it happens to; I wish and wish that we could all remember those people on the other “side” of the computer screen are people, with thoughts and feelings. Maybe they’re having a bad day. Maybe they’re lonely or sad. Maybe they’re just not thinking about everything they say with the gravity Lincoln afforded the Gettysburg Address. People make mistakes. People mess up. People forget their audience, or fail to phrase something exactly, or whatever else. I hate that people are so eager to leap onto others like a pack of wild dogs. I hate that we seem to think the internet means it’s okay to say anything to anyone, about anyone, with no consequences. But you know what? People get carried away, too.

It’s easy to look at the current climate and talk about how ugly it is. And it is. Not all of it, but a segment of it. I know I’m not the only one growing increasingly disgusted by it, increasingly uncomfortable with it, increasingly angry and upset. I know I’m not the only one who’s been seriously reconsidering my participation online. I know I’m not the only one who finds the tendency toward outright glee when someone makes a mistake, the way everyone jumps in to laugh and point, to be highly disturbing.

But the answer is not to jump in and out-disgusting the people you feel are disgusting. The answer is not to forget your responsibilities to other people. The answer is not to create a website so full of vile slime and attacks, a website that deliberately tries to disrupt lives and could potentially incite violence–a website that outs mothers with children in their homes and encourages people to harass them (think about that again for a second: MOTHERS WITH CHILDREN IN THEIR HOMES)–that it turns the stomach and then pat yourself on your smug fucking back like you’ve just Scored One For The Good Guys.

YOU ARE NOT A GOOD GUY.

You are, in fact, the opposite of that.

I’m sorry this is so disjointed, and confused. I’m sorry it doesn’t make my point as clearly as I would like. I’m just too sick and sad and angry and upset and whatever else over this. It is horrifying. HORRIFYING.

I may well discuss this more later.

What Stace had to say on Monday, June 25th, 2012
CHASING MAGIC is released tomorrow!

*Eep*

I hope you guys are excited! I have to tell you, this release has sneaked up on me like nobody’s business. Wasn’t yesterday the middle of May? How did we reach the end of June already?

And, in case you’re not or in case you’re on the fence…some reviews!:

5 Butterflies from Books to Brighten Your Mood:

Chasing Magic is just perfect. Just as good as every other book in the series, just as dark, just as violent, just as twisted but beautiful and lyrical at the same time.

5 Stars from Miss Vain’s Paranormal Fantasy:

I say this every time so I’ll just say it again, this is my most favorite book in the series. I was on an emotional roller coaster for most of this book, and that’s how I prefer my favorite reads. … There’s a reason why this is my most favorite urban fantasy series out there, and it’s because the exceedingly great world building and my adoration for her characters Chess & Terrible that Stacia Kane has captivated me with.

4.5 Stars from Yummy Men & Kick-Ass Chicks:

This installment starts you off high and just keeps you going. It’s not heart gripping the entire time but even when Chess and Terrible aren’t running for their lives, you are still fully involved in the story and the investigation behind it. Stacia did a great job with the pacing in this book. And the ending…I think fans of the series will be quite pleased. All in all, Stacia does a superb job with this installment.

B+ from Smexybooks:

The ending is an explosive culmination of events that leaves you reeling and exhausted. Chasing Magic only reinforces that Kane’s Downside series continues to be one of my top urban fantasy series picks.

Christine at Tynga’s Reviews says:

It is not a big secret that I might be the biggest fan of this series. This gem of urban fantasy hides its raw beauty under a huge layer of blood and violence. I wish I had the right words to praise it the way it deserves, but everything that comes to mind doesn’t seem adequate. Chasing Magic pulls you in with the very first chapter, puts you through a whole spectrum of emotions and spits you out wanting even more. The characters, the world, the writing – all is highly addictive awesomeness.

5 Loveys from Larissa’s Bookish Life:

…Chasing Magic is full of nail botting and intriguing action that will not let you stop reading for a second. I love how Stacia Kane is able to balance both sides of the series and deliver not only an action-packed novel, but a heart wrenching one as well.

Caitie at The Readventurer says:

I know I’m not the only one who starts to get that feeling of dread as a series I love gets longer and longer. There’s a part of me that’s always just waiting for the installment that jumps the shark. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before. And the first four books in this series have all been so good! The stakes are even higher. Well, never fear! As your advanced warning system, I’m here to happily wave the olly-olly-oxen-free flag and assure you that this one is everything that we’ve come to expect from Stacia Kane and more.

5 Stars from Underworld Love Addiction:

I love each book in this series more than the last one. Stacia Kane has outdone herself as usual with Chasing Magic.

5 Stars from Addicted2Heroines:

Chasing Magic, the fifth installment of Stacia Kane’s innovative and dark Downside Ghosts series is, in my opinion, the best book of the series to date. … This is one of, if not the best, urban fantasy series out there right now. It would be a shame for you to miss this epic story.

There are more, but I think it’s time to move on. The point is, please buy the book. People seem to be enjoying it. :smile:

Let’s see, what else is happening?

I’ve gotten a few emails from readers asking about buying HOME and FINDING MAGIC outside of the US. I plan to blog about this in more detail later, but as far as FINDING MAGIC goes, we’re working on it and I promise I’ll pass on whatever news I get as soon as I get it. HOME is out of my control; the lovely folks at Macmillan have rights to distribute in English worldwide, so it’s up to them where they want to do so.

I’m painting my kitchen. I will post pictures; I hope to have it finished in the next couple of days!

…I could swear I had something bigger to discuss, but I cannot for the life of me recall it, so it’ll have to wait. Meanwhile, again, CHASING MAGIC’s US release is tomorrow, and I would love it if people would buy a copy!

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012
FINDING MAGIC Contest winner(s)!

Since I got so many entries, I decided to go ahead and pick two winners:

@thelisa (Twitter name)

and

Midnightblooms (Goodreads/Twitter name)

So, ladies, contact me asap with your mailing addresses so I can get those out to you! Thanks to everyone who entered!

What Stace had to say on Friday, June 8th, 2012
FINDING MAGIC contest! (and other things)

I meant to do this Monday or Tuesday. But man, those days got away from me. This whole week has just disappeared, seriously.

And…it ended up being a good thing, because look what came yesterday!

My US author copies of CHASING MAGIC!!

So, what better thing to do than give one away, especially since we’re still several weeks away from release? Which means you could have a copy before then??

I’m not really giving a lot of thought to rules for this one, guys. I’m going to count just about anything/everything. Tweet about FINDING MAGIC. Blog about it. Mention it on Facebook or Goodreads; add it to your shelf or whatever. Review it. Talk about it. Buy it (of course). I’m not bothered. I’ll count just about anything. If you Tweet, use #findingmagic as a tag. If you do other stuff, email the link to Downsidearmy AT gmail DOT com.

Contest ends MONDAY at midnight (which will then be Tuesday). I’ll announce the winner Tuesday. And if you win, you’ll want to send me your mailing address quickly, because remember I am in the UK and while I’m willing to pay for faster shipping, no offense, but I’m not paying £50 to FedEx overnight or whatever. :) So if you want it before release we need to move quickly!!

Let’s get the word out on FINDING MAGIC!!

Other things:

Remember my “Customer Service” post? A lovely reader/reviewer named Naomi Blackburn, who does a series of posts called “Authors Gone Wild” at Terri Giuliano Long’s blog, has also discussed the situation. Naomi has a Marketing/business background, which makes her take especially interesting. I definitely recommend the post, and not just because she says such kind things about me in it.

Elsewhere, the discussion has come up again about editorial services and should authors pay editors (to “polish” their work) before they submit to publishers and all of that. And again, self-editing is a skill you need to have. Really. You should be able to do it. I would never recommend that someone pay an editor before submitting to a publisher.

But. If you’re being rejected repeatedly and don’t know why, it *might* not be a bad idea. It’s not necessary but it *might* be worthwhile. And if you’re self-publishing? It could very well be very worthwhile; in fact it’s an awfully good idea.

The problem is in finding an editor, because you want someone who really knows what they’re doing. You want someone with experience who actually knows what they’re talking about. Which is why I can feel pretty confident in saying that if you decide you’d like to hire an independent editor–and remember, anyone who tells you that you MUST do so before submitting to an agent or publisher doesn’t know the first thing about what they’re talking about–I know of one who will be worth your money, and that person is Debra Doyle, Ph.D. Debra is multi-published in NY (along with her husband James D. Macdonald). She’s been teaching writing at Viable Paradise for twenty-something years. She’s worth your time and money.

Let’s see, what else? I have/had a few other things to discuss, but I think those are going to be longer posts.

So how about some reviews?! So all of you thinking of entering the FINDING MAGIC contest will know what you’re getting?

CHASING MAGIC’s first reviews are IN:

5/5 from Underworld Love Addiction:

I love each book in this series more than the last one. Stacia Kane has outdone herself as usual with Chasing Magic… If you haven’t started this series yet, get on it! If you like dark, edgy, urban fantasy with a side of tortured romance this is the series for you. Stacia Kane has an incredible ability to convey fantasy in such a way that I have a vivid mental image of everything in Downside including the characters in a way that many authors strive to accomplish I’m sure.

5/5 from Addicted2Heroines (warning: BIG SPOILERS IN REVIEW):

Chasing Magic, the fifth installment of Stacia Kane’s innovative and dark Downside Ghosts series is, in my opinion, the best book of the series to date…. This is one of, if not the best, urban fantasy series out there right now. It would be a shame for you to miss this epic story.

5/5 from Little Read Riding Hood:

There was so much in this book … so much love, so much self-realization, so much OMG, so much character development from characters I would have considered fully developed … I really can’t find fault with this book. At all.

And if you have read any of my reviews, there is always something that bothers me about a book. Not always something that makes me rate it lower, but something.

Nothing is perfect.

Except this. Chasing Magic easily gets 5 stars from me.

Aaaaand, to see what you’re buying:

VampireBookClub says 5/5:

Kane manages to help fans of the Downside series understand Chess a bit more by giving us this vulnerable view into her youth.

So…get on out there and enter! (Um, no pun intended.)

What Stace had to say on Friday, June 1st, 2012
The Dating Game

Imagine this scenario.

You meet a guy. Let’s say he’s a friend of a friend. And you like him. He’s attractive, he’s smart, he’s funny. Everything about this guy seems tailor-made for a long and happy and loving relationship with you. You’re pretty into this guy, and after an afternoon of chatting, you’re even more into him.

And of course you assume he’s into you, in return. Why wouldn’t he be? You too are attractive–if you say so yourself. You’re smart and funny–if you say so yourself. You’re charming and witty, you like a lot of the music and movies and TV shows he likes. So it only makes sense that the two of you should start dating immediately, and go on to fifty fun-filled years of happy love-filled home- and baby-making. Right?

So maybe you–a little shy–start hunting around to see him if he’s interested. Like, just to see what he thinks of you, and if he found you as delightful as he must have–why wouldn’t he, right, because you are indeed delightful!–and as delightful as you found him, then maybe he’ll call you, or you’ll call him, and there you’ll be picking china patterns. Maybe you look around online to see if he’s mentioned you. Maybe you see he did.

Except…He didn’t find you charming at all. Not even attractive. He thought you were obtuse and annoying. he thought you talked too much and had nothing to say, so his mind kept drifting during your conversation. He found the way you spoke irritating. You’re blonde and he likes brunettes, or vice versa. You’re very slim and he likes women with a little meat on their bones or vice versa. He hates women who say “Totally.” He hates all accountants on general principle so just talking to you was like pulling teeth for him. He basically thinks you suck.

Or maybe he doesn’t think you suck, he just thought you were kind of meh. He didn’t feel a spark. He wasn’t really attracted to you. he thought you were okay, and your conversation was an okay way to spend an hour or so, but he’s not interested in continuing it. The chemistry just isn’t there.

So what do you do, when you discover this guy had the nerve to not fall in love with you? Perfect, amazing, deep, smart, incredible, touching, delightful you?

If you’re an adult, you shrug and move on. Maybe it stings a little. Maybe it stings for an hour or two, even, or a day or two. Maybe you’re a little hurt and confused. But you know there’s nothing you can do to change his mind, and you know that hey, okay, that guy didn’t like you enough to want to fill you with his tiny babies, but you know there are other guys out there that will, it’s not like you’ve never ever had a boyfriend ever. In fact, you’ve met a few other guys recently who really liked you and called you and wanted to buy you dinner. So this is obviously just that guy’s personal taste, right?

Now, if you’re NOT an adult, but some sort of ridiculous child, maybe you call the guy up to tell him you’re really offended that he didn’t like you. Maybe you tell him that he’s obviously not smart enough to understand the Wonder Of You. You call him an idiot. You tell him that if he was a better person he would want to date you. You tell him that he obviously has some sort of grudge, that you bet he’s been conspiring with someone else to make you feel bad, and what does he know anyway? He’s not a woman, so how can he know what’s really good about women?

If you’re REALLY a ridiculous child, you start spreading gossip about him. You tell everyone you know that Brett McSingleguy is a total dickhead, that he’s sexist and stupid, that he thinks he’s so great. Maybe you start following him around and telling women he meets that he’s scum. Maybe you start leaving nasty notes on his Facebook page, or sending emails to his boss accusing him of all manner of things. Maybe you start stalking him. Maybe when he calls the cops on you, you get even angrier.

In other words, maybe you are a fucking psycho. Maybe you should grow the fuck up. Maybe you should get a fucking life. Maybe you should leave this poor man, whose only crime was to not like you, alone.

Anyone see the parallels there?

Now tell me. How many people out there would really see one guy not liking you as a reason to start stalking him and smearing him and denigrating him like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction? I’m guessing not that many.

So why is it so much fucking harder when it’s your book the guy just doesn’t like that much?

He’s one goddamn guy. Get over it. You’re not going to change his mind by arguing with him, and you’re not going to make any friends by going all Crazy-Bitch on him.

He doesn’t like you. Just grow the fuck up and get over it. If that one guy’s opinion is that fucking important to you that you have to fixate on it, perhaps you are in need of professional help.

Do I see that it can be a bit harder when the guy in question has lots of people who listen to his opinions? Sure. But do you really think all of his friends are sheep who just blindly follow whatever he says? “Oh. Kevin said that girl is dumb. I think she’s pretty and seems nice, but I’ll never even speak to her after he said that. I don’t think for myself, tra-la-la!”

Jesus Christ, guys. Seriously. If you can’t handle reviews, don’t read them. Actually, if you can’t handle reviews to the point where you have hissybaby fits and actually–I cannot believe I have to type this as an actual thing that happened–out a reviewer’s personal information on the internet, to the point where you become sort sort of crusader on the world’s most maladjusted and silly crusade, then I seriously think you probably lack the emotional depth, maturity, and wisdom necessary to write a book that anyone would actually want to read. Both because you are a fucking psycho, and because I cannot believe your actual work is any good, because creating good writing is about accepting criticism, admitting to ourselves where our books’ flaws are, and working to fix them. Over and over. Because creating good books is about recognizing that not every human being on this planet is the same. Humanity is not a hivemind. Readers are not a hivemind. Some people like some things, and some people like other things. That’s part of being real people and not cardboard cutouts. If you don’t understand that different people think and feel differently about different things, what the fuck kinds of books are you writing? Seriously.

And seriously, stalking people is never a good idea. It will not and does not win you sympathy. No one, on hearing that you got so angry that that one guy wouldn’t go out with you you started stalking him, is going to think that clearly you’re in the right here. NO ONE. (At least no one decent. But really, if Mark David Chapman or Buck Thurman would be on your side in the argument, maybe you should rethink your position.)

Nobody owes you a date. Nobody owes you a good review. Grow up.

(NOTE: Comments are temporarily disabled on this entry due to spammers. If you have a comment you want to leave, use the comment form to let me know.)

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

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

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

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

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

No, I am not joking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I swear I am not making that up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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