Archive for the 'things that make me sick' Category

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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 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, July 25th, 2012
The Internet is a War That Must Be Won

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!

Well! I apologize that it took me so long to get today’s post up. I’ve had to talk my children–yes, Auntie also has children–down from the ledge after I mentioned “reader bloggers” to them. I cannot tell you what a mistake it is to even let young children know such beings exist in the world. In fact, my children, after they came out from under the bed, asked me if they could draw a picture of these “reader bloggers” as a way of working through their terror. I think I should share that image with you, so that you understand this is not a joke. Reader bloggers are out there, and they are hideous:

My seven-year-old sobbed as she drew this.

Reader bloggers are a special kind of evil, you see. Not only do they insist on sharing their opinions of books with other readers, they actually seem to think they have no responsibility to authors in doing so, even though–again, as we all know–due to the nature of readersheep, a single poor review from a book blogger will destroy a book’s publishing chances forever, whereas a positive one automatically rockets that book right to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. This is documented fact, you guys. Auntie wouldn’t lie to you. EVERY book ANY review blogger out there likes is a shoo-in to hit every list there is, and most likely made into a movie, and every single book ANY review blogger does not like automatically goes nowhere and does nothing. Thus ending that author’s career forever.

And yet these “bloggers” still refuse to accept that it is their job to only give good reviews, and that we Published Authors are better than them in every way. I mean, come on. We may be self-published, or published with some tiny micropress run out of a feed store by intellectually challenged fools who cannot properly use punctuation, or published with a small respectable epress, or commercially published; it doesn’t matter. Once a book is out there we are automatically on a par, in both talent and the level of recognition we deserve, with Pulitzer Prize winners. Somebody out there wanted to read your book. That means you are royalty.

And royalty must behave like royalty. This is where our Advanced Promo Tips begin.

First, remember that just like the headline says, the internet is a war. One you can–and should, and will!–win. Nothing in the world is more important than this victory. You MUST NEVER GIVE UP. Second, remember that just by participating, you ARE winning, because–and for some reason readersheep never understand this, but that’s only what we’d expect, isn’t it? Like we can expect the likes of them to “understand” things–every single click on your blog or Goodreads account, or reply to you, or mention of your name, equals ONE SOLD BOOK! Maybe even a dozen! Or a hundred! The readersheep, you see, cannot stop themselves from buying every book whose title they hear, unless of course they hear about it through a single bad review in which case forget it, your career is over.

You see:

This is the 100% truth and everyone knows it

“Okay, Auntie Specialsnowflake,” I hear you saying, “This is all well and good, and you of course are a genius, but when do we get to the nitty-gritty? Tell me how to defeat the readersheep, win the internets, and become famous!”

Okay. I will. First we’ll discuss the Importance of Replying to Reviews, and the proper way to do it.

First, as I mentioned yesterday, of course you should reply to your reviews. All of them. Every single one. Readersheep have to know you’re watching them. This will intimidate them and Make Them Do Your Bidding, which is the whole point of writing a book in the first place. You must get them to change their reviews, or at the very least let them know that you are on to them. They don’t fool you; how could they, when they are so dumb and you are so smart?

So, again much like those Conquistadors in my last post, you may at first encounter resistance to your superiority and an unwillingness to see the light. Don’t worry. The Conquistadors had smallpox, and you too have a strong arsenal of weapons:

1. Your comment itself. Yesterday I mentioned a little bit about what you should say, but let’s get into specifics, shall we? I personally think the best tack to take is the “You’re MEAN!” method. This consists of, well, telling the reader how mean she is. She will definitely see the error of her filthy, filthy ways, especially if you point out any of the following:

*Her review made you cry

*You have a family to support and she has just snatched food from the mouths of your starving children by publicly saying what she didn’t like about your book

*You have health problems and she has just exacerbated them. You will probably have a stroke or something and die and it will be all her fault. It’s good if you mention what a struggle life is for you and what a personal triumph it is for you just to type words on a page because of the constant pain you suffer from living in a van next to the nuclear power plant, and how your only comfort is the soft glow of your cat at night as you lay your head on the burlap sack you are forced to use as a pillow.

*She obviously doesn’t understand what it’s like to be an author, because, of course, she doesn’t. Readersheep understand nothing of what life is like for Artists and Other Sensitive And Special People; they have all the empathy and imagination of a dentist’s drill. She doesn’t realize how important your book is to you. It’s beneficial here to discuss how your characters talk to you, how they are more real than anything else in the world, how you can’t help writing because those people in your head claw and scratch to get out and if you don’t write you’ll wind up covered in blood in an alley somewhere from being attacked by them because you have zero control over anything you do, think, or feel. If they realize your characters are real people to you, they will feel even worse about being so cruel and cavalier in their petty judgment. They will realize that not only are YOUR feelings hurt, but YOUR CHARACTERS’s feelings are hurt.

*As a subsuggestion, it’s always good to use the phrase “the book of my heart.” Once readers see that it is not a book being reviewed, but YOUR VERY SOUL AND THE REASON YOU EXIST ON THIS EARTH, they will back down. (At least they better, but that’s for tomorrow’s post.)

*She is obviously jealous because she isn’t published. I promise you it’s true. ALL READERS WANT TO BE WRITERS, AND ALL READERS HATE YOU. This is axiomatic. They see us authors, floating on clouds of Writerly Success, and the tumult of wicked jealous sickness that festers inside them simply cannot handle it. They explode, and what flies out of them is like the filth in Pandora’s box. This is the only way they can get revenge on us for achieving successes they themselves will never have. It doesn’t matter how well-educated or successful or fulfilled they are in whatever they do, the simple truth is that because they have no written a book their souls are shriveled and black with rage and pain, they cry into their pillows every night, and they know, deep in their hearts, that they are Failures.

So don’t feel bad about anything you say to them. Contrary to the lies those lying liars tell, their reviews are NOT just ways to share their opinions with other readers. They are letters written directly to you (remember, everything is about you), and the text of that letter—if you look beneath the superficial blah-blah-blah of their stupid uninformed opinions—is always:

AUTHOR I HATE YOU FOR BEING SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME.

Don’t be afraid to call them on it. It’s for their own good.

*It is a good idea to make sure you let typos and punctuation errors slip into your comments. This will prove that you are Just Like Them, and also that you are emotionally attached to what you’re saying–everyone knows that emotions and good writing are mutually exclusive and, indeed, that spelling correctly etc. only makes you look like a snob. One or two Readersheep may point out your errors to you. That’s a good thing, because it gives you a chance to say once again how mean they are and how they’re making it personal and that you’re only writing a comment, not a book. That underscores the contempt you have for book blogs in a subtle way, one that will be much appreciated by all.

2. Your author friends. I’m sure you know a couple of people who like you. Well, of course you do! And I bet not only are they authors too, but they are also interested in Making Themselves Rich and Famous! So they will want to help you. You must contact them immediately, and share with them the incredibly shocking and important fact that Someone Has Said Something You Don’t Like On The Internet. This will inspire them all to come along and comment, and here are some helpful tips for those comments:

*It is often good to have at least one or two of these people pretend not to know you and claim they are Just Another Readersheep, but one who–of course–loved your book. Readersheep are like zombies, you see; they are easily fooled. A few shambling steps, a blank expression, and a dull moan or two is all one needs to con them into thinking someone is one of their herd.

I asked my kids to draw a picture of "readers." This is what they did.

(Readersheep also attack in gangs–worldwide gangs very carefully organized with military precision, which is odd given their innate stupidity, but ours is not to reason why, right?–but we’ll get to that.)

Your Readersheep Decoy friend should claim not to understand why the other Readersheep are being so MEAN, or how they could not love your book, which is of course the greatest book ever written and only dumbass readersheep wouldn’t see that. It is good if they say things like, “What did Author ever do to YOU?” or “I’ve been reading this blog for years but this is GOING TOO FAR!” or, conversely, “I just found this blog and I WILL NEVER BE BACK AGAIN.” The last two are especially good because readersheep are constantly terrified that someone out there might not read their blogs, so this is bound to make them rethink their evil ways.

*Another possibility is to go ahead and have a few people admit they know you. “You don’t understand how awesome My Friend Author is and how much she deserves better” always works to make the Readersheep see that, indeed, they are not taking The Author’s feelings into account, and how very wrong that is.

Both of the above should feel free, as we discussed previously, to call the readersheep names. Names like bitch, whore, and cunt always impress the Readersheep. (It’s a good idea to keep one or two friends in reserve; they can disavow this behavior with a “Author would never tell people to say things like that!” This will make it appear as though you are indeed a good person and a great writer, but have so many fans you’ve attracted crazies. Everyone knows only famous authors have crazy fans. The Readersheep will be highly impressed by this, even if they pretend not to be.

3. Sockpuppets. Sockpuppets are EXTREMELY important. They are a valuable tool in your professional arsenal. What is a sockpuppet? A sockpuppet is…well, it’s just another highly legitimate way for you to put those dipshit readers in their places! It’s a way for you to interact with the Readersheep from behind the sweet, sweet veil of anonymity. Don’t worry; they will never see through this, ever.

What you do is create a brand-new account on whatever site it is, disavow any relationship to yourself, and post away! It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s highly effective. Any of the methods outlined above will work for you and your sockpuppet accounts–and believe you me, you can never have too many sockpuppet accounts.

4. Your own blog/Twitter feed/Facebook account. Of course. Where else would you go to indignantly point out to the world how badly you’re being treated? Your blog, Twitter, and Facebook pages are your very own little worlds, where you are the Queen. This is where you can speak directly to readers–and it has the added benefit of being not only All About You, but of giving you access to up-to-the-moment details about how many people are reading what you say–which as we all know is just another way of saying “How many people are rushing to buy your books with EVERY PASSING SECOND.” Because they totally are.

Once you get to your own blog…well, the sky’s the limit! This is what Auntie will cover tomorrow, and it’s where you start making The Big Money! Just one more day and fame, wealth, and accolades will be yours!

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. Auntie already has a question or two in the queue, so keep ’em coming!

*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.

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 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 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 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 Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
Freedom of Speech

So. Yesterday I ranted a bit, and I’m going to do it some more now. As with yesterday’s post, I’m not entirely sure where this is going to go. As with yesterday’s post, this is my attempt to get some things straight in my head and to explore this subject, so I may be a bit harsh; I may say things as part of playing Devil’s Advocate; I may go off on little tangents (probably will, because let’s face it, that’s what I tend to do).

First, a couple of things I forgot or didn’t get to say yesterday. First, authors? Don’t review your own books, either on Amazon or Goodreads or anywhere else. Don’t rate them on Goodreads, even if your “review” says something like, “Well, I wrote it so obviously I think it’s good!” Like that’s funny or charming or something (hint: it’s not).

I was going to say that reviewing/rating your own books under your own name just makes you look like a tool, rather than being actually sleazy, but then I realized that your rating shows up as part of the book’s overall rating; I can think of a couple of books (all by the same author, what a shock) who have pretty decent overall ratings on Goodreads, but then when you look at them you realize that’s only because the author and his/her (not giving you clues as to who it is) “agent” and/or editor have all given the book five stars, whereas the two readers who rated/reviewed it gave it two or three. So, sorry, reviewing/rating your books under your own name is sleazy. Having your agent or editor review/rate them is also sleazy, and honestly, I’m not aware of any editors with major houses or the big epubs who do so (there could be some, but I’m not aware of them).

I do have my own books on my Goodreads and LibraryThing “shelves.” I didn’t intend to do so, but both sites said specifically that I should. So I do. I’m not entirely comfortable with it, but it does seem to be standard and expected. I rarely visit Goodreads, to be honest (more on that in a bit) and as I’ve said before, I *never* visit/read posts in the “Terrible Fever” Goodreads group or the Downside Shelfari group. Those are reader spaces, for you guys to discuss the books; they’re not for me and I actually think it would be creepy for me to lurk over them watching you all. And might make you feel uncomfortable or inhibited. So I stay away. I believe that’s the right thing to do.

I don’t think I have to say that reviewing your own books under a sockpuppet account makes you scum just like pressuring/begging your friends and family to do so does. Anytime you’re lying to readers, anytime you’re attempting to jerryrig your reviews or rankings, you’re doing something unethical. And, you’ll probably be caught, and that will be bad. Really bad.
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What Stace had to say on Monday, January 9th, 2012
Something in the water?

Oh, man. I hardly know where to start.

I’ve been thinking about this post for about a week now, and still don’t know what exactly I’m going to say. I’m just trying to make sense of some things, basically. So forgive me if this is a tad rambly.

The thing is, I’ve been involved in the online writing/reading community since 2005 now. And in that time things have gotten–in my view, at least–more and more antagonistic and upsetting. I wonder why. This post–this series of posts planned for this week–is my attempt to figure it out, I guess. To express my thoughts and see what yours are, and perhaps to offer a potential solution. And in order to do that I’m going to be very honest, and perhaps harsh in some places, but I’m trying to express my full thought process here. So we’ll see how it goes.

In the past nine days or so the internet–at least the writer/reader part of it–seems to have gone kablooey. Specifically, the writer part of it, in that we’ve had a rash of writers deciding it’s their place to tell readers A) How to review books; B) What is and is not okay to say or think; C) Why their opinion is totally wrong; and D) whatever other ridiculous shit they come up with.

I’m aware of five separate incidents, the latest being a self-published author who, in response to a reasoned but negative review, took it upon himself to leave 40 comments–yes, forty–on the blog quoting the fawning letters he’d received about the book from family and friends. And then many more comments insisting that what he did was totally professional and reasonable and why is the reviewer in question so full of hate, yo? And that’s nothing compared to the others, the writers ranting on their blogs and leaving nasty or argumentative comments on Goodreads and blah blah blah.

Guys…cut it out. Just, seriously, cut it out.

Readers have the right to say whatever the fuck they want about a book. Period. They have that right. If they hate the book because the MC says the word “delicious” and the reader believes it’s the Devil’s word and only evil people use it, they can shout from the rooftops “This book is shit and don’t read it” if they want. If they want to write a review entirely about how much they hate the cover, they can if they want. If they want to make their review all about how their dog Foot Foot especially loved to pee on that particular book, they can.

Why?

Because, and I’ve said this before, reviews are for readers. Because they purchased the book (or it was sent to them specifically hoping they would express an opinion) and so can say whatever they want about it. If you buy a shirt that falls apart in the wash, do you keep your mouth shut about it because you don’t want to hurt the manufacturer’s feelings?

Authors, reviews are not for you. They are not for you. Authors, reviews are not for you.
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What Stace had to say on Monday, August 29th, 2011
So…yeah. This sucks.

I really, really hate to say this but…on Friday I emailed the organizers of Dragon*con to cancel my appearance.

We had some scheduling issues here that made it look like I wasn’t going to be able to go, but I was hope hope hoping, so I didn’t say anything or cancel. Then that stupid hurricane happened and flights were being canceled left right and center. I was supposed to fly standby and it was very clear to me–thanks to the airline rep I spoke to–that I had the proverbial snowball’s chance at making it at any point in the next week, really, much less Sun-Mon-Tues (my original plan), because of all the storm-stranded people who took precedence.

And at some point you start to wonder if the universe isn’t trying to tell you something, really.

So I don’t get to go. And I’m really just…I’m so sorry, and I’m so sad. Dragon*con is the highlight of my year, seriously, and I feel completely sick about this.

Fingers crossed for next year. I’m just…I can’t apologize enough, and I’m just devastated about this.



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