Archive for 'books'

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

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

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

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

This is the cover I saw.

This is the cover I saw.


Jackie Collins, and LUCKY.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 1st, 2015
I Aten’t Dead

Good lord! I cannot believe it’s been so long since I’ve updated here. And this is not going to be a long post (sorry), but I do have some nice long posts planned for the next few months.

I’ve been very busy–mostly working (I have given myself carpal tunnel, bleh) but also dealing with some family-related things; my MIL has been ill and there’s been some time-consuming things going on with the girls–nothing bad, just time-consuming.

I know that you’re all eager for news of the sixth Downside book (which I have tentatively titled UNHOLY LUCK), and I can say that it looks like a Feb 2016 release date is planned. So not long now! I’m also working on a new project, and of course I have the next Terrible-POV book, and a few other things which I can’t wait to tell you about (and will, as soon as they’re more than files on my hard drive).

I’m so sorry I’ve been neglecting the blog. See, I’m a bit of a procrastinator and a big Avoider Of Things. So I’ll post something, and for the next week or so I think, “Oh, I just posted.” Then the next few weeks are full of, “I don’t want to post some crappy little meh thing, I’ll wait til I have something valuable to post.” Then comes the “Oh, I’d love to blog about That and That and This, but I’ll write it at the weekend when I have some free time.” Then the weekend comes (and seriously, this isn’t like a one-time thing, this happens constantly) and I think, “Better to just write it and post it directly.”

Then I think of writing it, and realize it’s, like, Friday at 5:00, and think, “I’ll wait until next week, so I can post it early in the week as opposed to the very end.”

This goes on for a month or two, and then I start panicking. “It’s been So Long, so loong, since I posted, I’d better have something really big to say, or they’re gonna be so mad at me.”

Next comes, “I don’t want to come back to the blog with a big old rant about something, like I didn’t stop blogging for a while at all. I need to find a nice little thing to post, to dip my toe back in the water, so to speak.”

Oh, and there’s also the “I’d love to blog about X issue, but my blog isn’t that kind of blog.”

And the “I’ll post it on Facebook. Lots of people are on Facebook, right? So it’s an update from me but I didn’t have to go into my website, which makes me feel guilty and bad because it needs to be updated.”

All of this, btw, has a strong undercurrent of, “Damn it, Stace, nobody gives a shit about you scrubbing your floors or making window screens out of net curtains or the nest of blackbirds outside your bedroom window and how you bought a bird feeder/bath, and how stupidly enthralled you’ve been watching the birds while you wash dishes. They want news and they want book info, and you’re just going to piss them off if you tra-la-la onto here nattering on about whatever random crap pops into your head. Don’t waste your time blogging about other stuff; just get the fucking book(s) done. THEN you can blog again.”

There was also a period of “Shit, WordPress has issued like three updates, and I can’t even get into my site because I’m still running the old version, ack!”

Then we reach the big Avoidance phase, where I just pretend the blog doesn’t exist. This is where I was, until about a month ago, when I skipped back to the “I have stuff to say, just not enough time to say it,” and “They’ll want a big update,” and “I need to stick my toe in first before posting big long rants.”

So here is my toe. It is very sorry it’s been away, as is the rest of me (well, the rest of me is sorry that all of me has been away; it doesn’t really care about my toe).

And I DO have stuff planned. I have some thoughts about happy endings and moral superiority, and various other things, and I do want to prep some fun stuff that I’ve had planned for a while.

…assuming anyone wants to hear about it, of course.

I have missed you all, and am so grateful for your comments on Twitter and Facebook and all of the emails I’ve received.

What Stace had to say on Monday, September 26th, 2011
The Lazy Reader

Okay. Maybe someone can explain this to me.

In the past few days I’ve seen two of these display-site/make-your-books-go-viral/readers-can’t-wait-to-read-your-unedited-unpublished-book sites. Slush sites; also known as YADS (Yet Another Display Site), because yeah, this is an idea that people have been trying and trying for years now, and which has never to my knowledge resulted in any sort of publishing deal for anyone.

Anyway. The two I’m thinking of offhand are PUBSLUSH (read more at AW and Writer Beware here and here) and the not-yet-unveiled ViralBestseller.com (link goes to the AW thread).

Here’s the basic idea behind these sites. The PUBSLUSH people or the “agents” at ViralBestseller will post your book on a website. According to them, what will then happen is that thousands of eager readers will flock to their site, desperate to find something new to read that hasn’t been touched by those horrible editors (ViralBestseller refers to “unedited glory” and reading “the author’s original intensions[sic],” which frankly to me displays a deep misunderstanding of the editing process, but whatever) or professional publishers or, well, anyone who can determine whether or not the work in question is actually readable. Readers, they claim, are desperate to wade through thousands of manuscripts looking for one that they might like. In the case of PUBSLUSH, their plan is for readers to actually pledge money to preorder the book, based on a ten-page sample, and when a certain amount of supporters/cash is reached the book will be published.

Now…okay. Maybe the problem here is me (I am the “lazy reader” referred to in the title of the post). I fully admit that may be the case. I certainly think of myself as a dedicated and avid reader; I don’t have as much time to read now as I used to, seeing as how I spend so much time writing them these days, but I certainly still read and buy books and read some more. I read a lot. Probably not as much as any of you, but certainly as much as I can. I’m always looking for book recommendations. Those of you who’ve reviewed my books favorably in the past may be surprised to know that based on that (by which I mean your obviously excellent taste in literature), I visit your sites to see what else you’re reading that you like, and check those books out at the bookstore. I write down titles; I look to see who you’re talking about (I also grit my teeth because, you know, talking about other books means you’re not talking about mine, but still). (That is of course a joke.) (Mostly.)

But I look at sites like these and I think, man…I just don’t want to have to work that hard, you know?

I have a big enough TBR list; I have books by my friends whose writing I love that I don’t manage to get to fast enough for me. I have recommendations I’ve found on your sites, if you review. I have research reading to do; my nonfiction library is ever-growing. I have books I saw at the bookstore that I bought just cuz they looked cool that I haven’t gotten to read yet. That adds up to a lot of books.

So when I’m thinking of looking for something new to read (if I’m not just picking something from my TBR)…I dunno, I just never think to myself, “You know what I’d like to do? I’d like to spend several hours hunting through digital slushpiles to see if maybe there’s something in there I might want to read on my laptop.” In the case of PUBSLUSH, that would be “I’d like to spend several hours looking through ten-page samples in hopes of pledging to pay $25 to maybe get the whole thing in a few months’ time.”

All of the YADS play on–most of them have little screeds written to the effect of–the idea that commercial publishing as it is is “broken” and isn’t serving readers. I disagree with this; sure, not every book is to my taste, but in general I find there’s plenty of variety out there to keep me happy and interested. And the idea that publishers have no idea what readers want puzzles me, too, frankly. You and I might think TWILIGHT isn’t very good (or we may love it; I’m not saying anything one way or the other) but the fact remains that an agent and an editor read it and thought “This book will appeal to lots of readers,” and they were right, and that happens every day. Yes, bad books get published. I can certainly think of a few. But good ones do, too, every day.

But to get back to the main point…am I just lazy? Is this something readers actually want to do? Do you find yourself hunting around odd websites looking for something that might be interesting to read? Do you look at sites like those?

Or do you, like me, and like–I believe–the majority of readers, still prefer to find and read books from bookstores, from reviews on trusted sites, from friends who’ve read them? Books that you can be fairly certain are at least up to a certain standard of readability?

I’m genuinely curious. Because like I said, I just don’t want to work that hard to find something to read, and I just don’t have that kind of time.

BTW…I now have a Tumblr. So if you’re on Tumblr, let me know! I have plans for something fun on Tumblr soon, which I’m working on at the moment, so…there’ll be more on that later.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
How Babies are Made Part III: Delivery

Heh, see how neatly that little analogy comes together? I’m just so clever.

(Part one of this little series can be found here. Part two is here.)

When last we left little FOUR on its journey to the bookshelves, I was forcing myself to look at my stupid galleys, the Sales people were tallying the number of orders they managed to coerce and blackmail out of the poor bookstore buyers, my publicist was, well, probably dealing with far more important people than me. But she’s also probably getting together a list of review magazines/sites/blogs/whatevers to send ARCs to, if the publisher is doing ARCs, which they don’t always.

In dramatic time, it’s around June, or five months prior to release date.

16. Using the copyedited ms that was sent to me as a galley, the file is sent to the printer for ARCs if they’re being done. The timing on this bit is a tad sketchy, and really depends on how close we are to release date. But generally, if I’m not mistaken, ARCs are printed from that same ms that was sent to me, either with my corrections or before my corrections are added. They aren’t printed immediately, but they’re sent to enter a queue at the printer. This is why ARCs say “UNCORRECTED PROOF” in big letters, and it’s why you may get an ARC that is essentially pristine but another with more errors; some mss don’t get as many editing passes before it goes to ARC, because of the lead-time required.

17. I send my galleys back. I have now Officially Signed Off–so to speak–on the book. Nothing should be changed now that I have not approved.

Not that the galley process is done, oh no. My changes are input, and another galley is printed. That galley is reviewed in-house, for typos or errors that may have been missed the first umpteen times everyone looked at the ms. (By now we all hate my book, and wish it would just go away so we wouldn’t have to look at the damned thing ever again.) If there are any changes made, those are inputted again.

18. Cover art is finalized. This actually happened a while ago but I forgot to put it in. But it’s all done now. Sometimes, if the bookstores don’t seem too enthusiastic about a particular cover when the Sales teams visit them, a new one is quickly put together. That happens more often than you might think, but not as often as it might seem. (Hee.) Anyway. So you might have a new cover being finalized now, so it’s not totally out of place here.

19. ARCs are printed in August, and sent out shortly after to those reviewers etc. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a few; my agent will get a buttload (that’s about twenty, for books) of them as well to send to the foreign market to try to convince them how great I am and that they should totally buy foreign rights for my books or they’ll be sorry because who could resist such a bundle of fabulosity? Nobody, that’s who.

ARCs must be sent out at least three months in advance of the deadline dates for the November issues of whatever magazines or whatever the book is being sent to. At LEAST. If we want reviews in those magazines the month of release, we have to meet their deadlines.

20. Everything is sent off to the printers now. Whoo! That galley that dozens of people have looked at, and that all those people in the Production department lovingly entered and checked and checked and entered, and those nifty covers, are put together into a special file and sent off.

21. Books are printed. It’s probably, let’s say…the middle of October. Or rather, for a November 1st on-sale date, the printing will need to be finished by the middle of October. Why? Because now we have shipping & distribution, which is a whole big thing I only know a very little bit about. But I will share that little bit of knowledge with you, dearies.

22. All of those books are printed, boxed, and shipped to the distributer and/or warehouser. I used to be better able to explain the difference, but it’s not particularly important at the moment. All you need to know is, they divide the books into the amounts of boxes that go to, say, B&N, Borders, and Amazon. There are about fifty books in a box. For smaller indie stores or other online venues they may break up some of those boxes, so Murder by the Book in Houston might get twenty copies of FOUR and ten copies each of UG, UM, and CoG, because of course everyone wants to buy lots and lots of my books, right? Why would a bookstore stock any others?

23. Anyway. The books for B&N et al go to their big divisional warehouses, according to what sells in that area. Like, if UF sells big in the Northwest, the Northwest will get 5000 copies, whereas an area like the upper Midwest may only get 2000 because that genre doesn’t sell so much there. From those regional warehouses they get distributed and shipped to the individual stores.

24. It is now probably a week or so before release date. If all goes well, and according to the way it should, those boxes should sit in the storerooms of the individual stores until release day, when they are unboxed and placed lovingly on the shelves or towers or front tables by happy, smiling booksellers, all of whom love me and want to force their customers to buy my books even if said customer is a ten-year-old boy (hey, these are sales numbers we’re talking about. I’m ruthless).

What often happens is the poor, overworked booksellers, who just want to fill the shelves, or who have plans next Tuesday (books are released on Tuesdays, just like DVDs, unless they’re superspecial Event releases like Harry Potter books or something) and so want to get the hell out of that store that day, or whatever, will open boxes early and put the books on the shelves. It happens. And I still say that unless and until someone learns they lost out on hitting the NYT because fifty copies sold the week prior, it’s something writers should just suck up. Yes, it’s better when they wait. We all love it when they wait. It reminds us that there is order in the universe, and that sometimes that order is Good and Just, and makes us feel that sweet “all is right with the world,” sort of feeling as we tuck into our little beds at night.

But there is also Chaos in the world, and books getting shelved on Saturday because Melinda’s manager told her to stop standing around like that and just fucking do something are part of that Chaos. Yin and Yang, people, Yin and Yang.

25. Books are on the shelves! Oh, happy day! Now is the best part. All of you wonderful reader people can lie up outside the bookstore at eight a.m., wearing your Downside t-shirts and stuff (hey, this is my damn fantasy here so shut up), singing songs and drinking beer or whatever until the bookstore opens, the cops show up, an impromptu musical number breaks out, or all of the above, and you buy your copies of FOUR, which you then rush home to shower with love in a purely non-sexual sort of way (or maybe not; what you do in the privacy of your own home is your business, chickies). Meanwhile I sit at home, cowering, terrified that not only will there be no dance routines, there will be no sales at all, and at the end of the week my agent will call me to say not a single copy sold and there’s a cadre of angry bookstore managers about to rush the Del Rey offices and burn them down for wasting their valuable shelf space with my drivel.

And that is it. How a mss becomes a book. Isn’t that a sweet story?

I’m sure I messed up some timelines a bit and/or left some steps out. I’m not an actual employee at a publishing house, and some houses do things a bit differently. But this is based on my experience. my observations, and that of people I know, including a few very helpful answers/bits of info from Jessie at Random House. Thanks, Jessie.

Any questions?

What Stace had to say on Thursday, August 26th, 2010
How Babies are Made* Part II

*books. It’s just a joke.

(Part One of this little series can be found here.)

So, where last we left our manuscript, sweet little FOUR, it was making its dark and lonely descent into the hands of a copyeditor, where it was placed on the bottom of a stack of perhaps five or ten other manuscripts just like it, to be gone over with the dreaded green pencil, and it was early February at the very earliest (but more likely at least March).

While I’ve been piddling about with words, a few other things have been happening. Shauna will come up with a few thoughts or ideas about what she might like to see on my cover; what the concept is. She presents those to the cover people, and the Publisher in a big meeting that takes place three or four times a year (this is the way it’s done at Random House, anyway; it may be different at other houses). What sort of model, background, pose, etc? One person or two? That sort of thing. They decide on a concept, or maybe a couple, and the whole thing is sent on to a cover artist person.

That person finds and hires the necessary model(s) and takes numerous pictures in various poses and outfits. They show those to Shauna and/or someone else, but I do know for a fact Shauna sees the poses and selects the one she likes best. If the meeting took place immediately after FOUR was turned in, or right after the contracts were signed, it may be only January or so, but chances are it’s closer to March or April.

Then the cover artist starts, well, being artistic. They draw or digitally create backgrounds, or manipulate existing art or backgrounds. They do whatever else it is that artists do; I have no idea, frankly. All I know is, a cover generally takes at least a couple of months, and the cover art usually starts being discussed almost immediately. Yes, writers are asked for input, and yes, if it comes down to what we like vs. what Marketing likes, we’re going to lose. We’re asked for input, but “input” is all it is. And honestly, well, Marketing’s being doing this a lot longer than we have.

And really, they want us to be happy. No editor or publisher has ever cheered and high-fived when an authors bursts into tears at the sight of their cover. They want to please us. It’s just sometimes we can’t be pleased. And sometimes Marketing is totally right, and the cover we don’t particularly care for is a cover that readers seem to adore. That happens a lot.

So. Cover art may take anywhere from 2-6 months. Which means that cover art may come in for FOUR anywhere from January-March. Because the sales people are going to need a finished cover when they start soliciting orders, it will pretty much have to be in by May at the very, very latest, but April is a much better deadline.
Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
How Babies Are Made*

*by which I mean “books.”

No, books are not babies, but the title was too much fun to resist.

Okay, we’re going to discuss where books come from. See, sometimes when a mommy and a daddy love each other very–oh, I just slay myself, seriously. And I can see you laughing hysterically too, right? That rolling your eyes and checking your watch that you’re doing, that’s laughter, right? That’s what my parents always told me.

Anyway.

No, seriously, we are. Occasionally I do like to go all publishing wonk (I love publishing, I can’t help it) and write long detailed posts about things no one except other publishing wonks really care about. It’s my little way of driving people away, like all emotionally healthy people are known to do. But no, I do hope the wonk stuff is fun anyway, and that it might actually be interesting to other people.

So. How does a book go from manuscript to finished book, in stores, on shelves? (The process is different for epublishing; a lot of the steps are the same, but this post is specifically about printed books with NY houses [although printed books with small presses are made exactly the same and have the same steps, they just might possibly occur a little faster], and more specifically about mass market paperbacks. I imagine it’s the same, basically, for trade paperbacks and hardcovers, but mmps are what I have experience with.)

I’m going to use my books as an example, of course, and we’re going to start with the fourth Downside book, so we can really get an idea of time frames (UNHOLY GHOSTS, for example, was sold to Del Rey in June or July 2008, set for publication in October 2009, but of course was delayed so they could do the consecutive releases. So it’s not as good for demonstrative purposes).

FOUR–I have a tentative title, of course, but until I see if it actually fits the book and it’s all approved I don’t want to mention it, so we’ll call it FOUR here–is not yet written. I wrote about a page of it last night, that first page that’s so terrifying and awful and looks so lonely. But that’s it; it’s not even a thousand words yet. I have submitted a short synopsis of it to my editor(s), so they have a general idea what to expect, but that could change quite a bit. I don’t plan my books in advance; this makes for more work in editing but if I plan it ahead of time the book feels written and I lose enthusiasm. So all FOUR is at the moment is a paragraph or two of plot details, a single page of writing, and a few scenes in my head, only one of which I know where it goes (Chapter Two).

I have to finish FOUR and hand it over to Shauna, my editor at Del Rey (fabulous woman she is), by November 15th. Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Thursday, August 5th, 2010
What do you think?

I’ve had quite a few readers ask me about t-shirts, or Downside Army bumper stickers, or various items like those. So I’m considering doing it–I’d quite like to, actually, it’s something I’ve had in mind for some time.

But of course, what exactly to put on them? A DA sticker or keyring or something isn’t hard, but a t-shirt? I want something people would actually wear, you know–there’s no point otherwise–so a sort of generic book cover shirt is out. Obviously I’m not going to get something with my name emblazoned all over it in big letters or anything.

These were my thoughts:
Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 22nd, 2010
…and still more stuff!

Well! Last night (or actually early this morning) I sent Frauke at Croco Designs, the lady who designed this fabulous site and still does the more complicated updates for me (which is most of them, frankly), a very very long list of updates. Included in those are a bunch of interview links, and bunch of guest blog links (mostly about different aspects of the Downside books), some new sidebar links, the Downside playlists with buy links, and a bunch of other stuff. I also sent her a separate file with four or five deleted scenes from UNHOLY MAGIC, with commentary explaining why they were deleted. I don’t actually have any deleted scenes for UNHOLY GHOSTS, to be honest, but there are a few for CITY OF GHOSTS as well, and those will go up a couple of weeks after that book’s release. Which is Tuesday! Ack!

(One thing about the deleted scenes that I think will be really fun: I wrote a scene for UM that ended up getting cut. But I really really liked the scene, so I rewrote a little bit of it–the intro part, basically–and stuck it in CITY OF GHOSTS. But as I edited CoG, I decided the scene still didn’t work as written, so I rewrote it again, extensively this time. So there will be a few versions of that scene, and you’ll be able to compare them all, if you’re the type of person who enjoys stuff like that.)

So look for all of that soon. I’m really excited about it.

Another thing I’m quite excited about is the fact that my blog series “Be a Sex-writing Strumpet,” with which I know some of you are familiar, is now available on Kindle! So you can buy a paperback from Lulu, or an ebook from Lulu, or a Kindle version from Amazon. And of course, as always, the series is free here on the blog; just click the “be a sex-writing strumpet” tag in the sidebar.

I offer the series as an actual book because I had a lot of requests to do so, and I charge for it in those formats because people convinced me to do so by saying they wanted to pay me something for it, but you absolutely do not have to buy the book to read and enjoy the series. You don’t and you never will have to. I wrote it as a blog series, and it will remain a blog series. The book formats are just there to make it easier for people if they like, and so they don’t have to keep clicking all over my blog if they want to read it. I still get website hits for that series almost every day, which just stuns me; if you type “be a se” into google the second auto-finish term it offers is “be a sex-writing strumpet.” It’s just insane, it really is. I never imagined when I wrote it that people would enjoy it so much and find it so useful, and that’s amazingly gratifying. Also, having it on Amazon offers people a chance to write a review for it, which would be fantastic; it’d be really cool to see some feedback on it after all this time! And of course you could all review all of my books if you want, heh.

Also exciting to me is the Name a Character Contest! I’m thrilled at how enthusiastic you all are! Thank you so much! I did want to let you know that I am checking the #cityofghosts tag on Twitter regularly, and keeping track of the entries there, as well as the emails and blog post links I’m getting. If at any time you want to double-check the number of entries you have, feel free to email either the Downside Army email address or me, or use the contact form here on the site (which of course also comes to me). Make sure you include your Twitter name, if you have one, or whatever other information I might need to identify you.

Tomorrow evening sometime I plan to post a new snippety excerpt from CITY OF GHOSTS, so be on the lookout for that!

I know I say this a lot, and you guys are probably tired of hearing it, but I really honestly am amazed by how enthusiastic the response has been to the series. I never expected it, I really didn’t, and it’s absolutely amazing. I can’t thank you all enough.

So let’s see, what else? I’m going to be popping down to the RWA convention in Orlando next week for a couple of days. I know, I know, it’s RWA, but I’m not actually registering/paying for the convention, I’m just hanging out in the bar, really. I’d decided–and basically committed to–doing so when it was supposed to be in Nashville, which is only like two hours away. Of course, tragic floods intervened, and now it’s in Orlando which is considerably farther, but like I said, I’d already committed. And it’s not a bad drive. I like driving by myself. I mean, I like to drive, period, but I especially like driving by myself. I can turn the music up loud and sing along, I can flip through the radio stations all I want, stop or don’t stop as I please…whee! I’m almost more excited about the drive than the con itself, much like I was when I drove to Massachusetts to see Caitlin before we went to RT. Of course, I was excited about the convention, but that really was an awfully fun drive.

Anyway, I think this post is unfortunately a bit dull. Too much news and stuff to keep track of. I’ll try to be more fun again shortly. For now my head is so full of nervousness (over CoG’s release; what if you all hate it? What if nobody buys it?), projects I’m working on (loosely mentally plotting the 4th Downside book, and lots of stuff for the new WIP/series I’m working on), netbooks (hee, I am totally getting one asap!), our trip to Florida to see my BFF next month–we’ll be there for my birthday–and of course the usual family things. So forgive me, please. I’ll be more interesting next time. Anything you want me to blog about? Feel free to ask!

Oh! And speaking of questions, I wanted to let everyone know that this Saturday the 24th at three pm, I’ll be participating in Twitter’s first #UFChat! You can find a bit more info about it here. Either way, come and hang out, follow the hash tag, and please ask any questions you want, as many as you want! I’m hoping it’s going to be a lot of fun (and, you know, that people actually participate).

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
but is it art?

This is something I’ve been thinking of for a while, and have wanted to post about for a while, too. It’s probably the first post of a few, and I warn you, I may ramble a bit.

A few weeks ago over on the Romance Divas forum a discussion was started about honesty in your writing, and what that means. It moved on into discussions of art and connection to your work as art, which I’m also going to discuss. So basically we’re going to have a big mishmash of Stacia’s Deep Thoughts about writing, which will hopefully be fun for everyone, but of course we’ll see, won’t we?

Anyway. The initial question, posted by the lovely and talented Kate Pearce, was whether or not we, as writers, compromise ourselves–change what we want to write–in order to sell the work or make it “acceptable” to a particular audience; do we stop ourselves from writing things readers might react badly to. Keeping in mind we’re discussing genre fiction, and genre fiction has certain conventions and reader expectations. All of which are, of course, perfectly fine; readers are entitled to expect the book they pick up will be what the cover and bookstore shelving or whatever promises them it will be.

But at what point do we stop writing what we want to write in order to be successful? At what point do we suffer for refusing to do so?

The thing is, your writing should excite you. Not ‘excite” as discussed in the Strumpet series, lol (although sometimes it should, depending on what you’re writing), but excite as in fire you up intellectually and creatively. I firmly believe that if what you’re writing doesn’t do that, the reader will sense it. The writing will be flat. The story will seem cliche. And frankly, a flat, cliche story stands very little chance of selling (yes, there are exceptions, but in general, and especially when it comes to first-time authors or those just beginning careers). This post isn’t about writing techniques, though. It’s about the deeper aspects of writing, the emotional stuff, the stuff we couch in skill.
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What Stace had to say on Thursday, July 1st, 2010
Twilight and cynicism

No, really, hear me out here. This isn’t a “Twilight is great” or a “Twilight sucks” post. I’m not defending it, but I’m not raging against it either. I’ve just had a few thoughts abut it recently, and I thought they were interesting, and I thought my smart and wonderful blog readers might have some thoughts about my thoughts. So here we are.

I’ve read the Twilight books. Well, okay, I read the first three. The second, if memory serves, was the one I liked best out of those, but I simply could not force myself to get through the last one. I was dreadfully bored, so I skimmed it, and got the gist, and that was more than enough. And again, I didn’t hate them. I didn’t love them, by any stretch. I didn’t particularly like them. But I didn’t loathe them. I even thought–and it’s not an uncommon thought, I don’t think–that there were some good ideas buried in there, some really cool shit. And I admit as well that one scene in the first book, the one at the lake when Jacob tells Bella the legend of the vampires, was pretty nifty. I dug that scene.

But yes, I also see the problems. I see the essentially abusive relationship, the completely ridiculous parents, the ha-ha-semi-rape-is-okay bits, the oh-sure-it’s-totally-cool-for-adults-to-fall-in-love-with-infants bits, the female-sexual-desire-is-gross-and-must-be-suppressed bits, the creepy-religion-y stuff…you name it. I know it’s there.

Am I happy that teenage girls all over the world wish a man would stalk them, scare them, destroy their possessions in order to get them to obey, patronize them, treat them like morons? No. Of course not.

But here’s the thing. What exactly are the other relationship alternatives we as a society are offering teenage girls?

How many stories do we see about teen pregnancy rates going up? How many of the fathers of those babies stick around? How many women and girls do you know who’ve slept with a man who said he loved them or cared about them, and then dumped them shortly after they had sex? How many times does our society tell young women that for them to expect to be loved and taken care of by a man is ridiculous, a silly fairy-tale dream, and that they better get used to relying only on themselves because men won’t stick around? How many girls out there are led to believe that their only value is as a sex object? That being a sex object is the most important thing there is? How many of these girls have fathers in their homes? How many see men as people who drift in and out of your life, treating you sort of okay sometimes?

It’s not just about sex. I don’t mean to sound like I’m on some chastity crusade. But what I do think is that girls today are being raised to believe that they shouldn’t expect respect, love, responsibility, or anything else from men. That being cheated on is just the way it goes. That the only way to get and keep a boyfriend is to not mind when he treats you badly, to give him things, to not act like you really care that much, to place no expectations on him.

I realize I’m exaggerating a bit. I realize there are still plenty of decent people out there. I realize that things can be just as tough for teenage boys.

But my point is, our society seems to be moving further and further away from the idea that love is a valuable and good thing, that people belong together, that girls have the right to expect to be treated with respect and kindness, and that boys have the right to expect the same.

And that, my friends, is one reason I believe the Twilight books are so popular. Yes, Edward is a controlling jerk. But Edward isn’t embarrassed to care (he even says the L word!), and he doesn’t leave Bella at home alone while he goes out with his friends picking up girls. He doesn’t refer to her as his “bitch.” Once he admits he cares, he is committed. Twilight offers girls a view of a relationship that, if it’s not a great alternative, at least seems more secure than a casual hook-up. It’s a world where girls don’t have to be embarrassed to want a solid relationship, with a man who will care for and about them, and wants to make a serious commitment to them. It’s a world where, for all that the sexual attitudes in the book are troublesome to say the least, Bella’s sexuality and willingness to sexually perform is the least important aspect of the relationship.

And in this world it’s okay, even right, if the desire to love and be loved is the most important thing in your life. That desire isn’t pooh-poohed or put down in those books. It’s not treated as frivolity. It’s not spoken about or represented as if it’s a shameful thing to want to be loved or to be in love, and that any girl who thinks about relationships and romance instead of college and their investment portfolios are obviously ridiculous, irresponsible creatures.

Twilight offers a skewed view of relationship, yes. Twilight does not contain what I would say is a truly healthy relationship.

But Twilight is about a relationship, and Twilight takes that relationship seriously and treats it as an important thing, a worthwhile thing, a thing of respect. Something fulfilling. Twilight doesn’t put down young girls for wanting a boyfriend, or for wanting that more than anything else. It doesn’t make them feel as if they’re not good enough if they don’t know what they want to be when they grow up, or aren’t spending their every waking minute working hard and collecting references for college applications.

I don’t think this is the only reason; it’s just the only one I can fathom, to be honest. And I’m not saying any of this is a good thing, or that I approve. And I’m not saying Twilight doesn’t deserve the criticism it’s gotten; it absolutely does.

But I also think that in relentlessly attacking Twilight, we’re once again attacking these girls, too. We’re telling them, once again, that they’re stupid and silly for believing in love and for wanting it. They’re ridiculous for wanting a man to truly love them and to see something special in them. We’re telling them that the desires of their heart and soul are unimportant, and foolish, and that if they aren’t focusing their entire selves on future earning power and getting ahead they’re wasting everyone’s time.

And to be honest, I don’t know which of those messages is worse.



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