Archive for 'i am sad'

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What Stace had to say on Friday, June 18th, 2010
Oh, what a morning

It’s 1:50 pm (yes, I know that isn’t morning. So what?). I’ve been ready to go back to bed since ten.

Lousy sleep–it’s too damn hot to sleep–and lousy dreams. Then, as I’m wandering the internet this morning I find an article about the upcoming Toy Story 3 movie, which reminded me of Toy Story 2, which I hate and can’t watch.

“But, Stace,” you say, “how can you possibly hate such a sweet little kid’s movie?”

I’ll tell you why. Because it’s awful and sad and tragic. Sure, it’s fun for the first hour or so. Look at the toys, aren’t they funny, Barbie is an idiot slut, la la la. Then we meet Joan Cusack’s character, and then we hear her tale, and they sing that song about how life was beautiful when that fickle girl loved her, and we see that fickle girl abandon her by the side of the road and go off with some boy, because all women will eventually abandon everything for a man, and by that time I’m sobbing and on the beginning of a depressive shame spiral that will only end in a lot of vodka.

I can’t possibly be the only one who feels like this, can I? Who sees that and starts remembering all of my toys, the stuffed animals and horse statues and Weeble-Wobbles and stuff, now lying broken and abandoned in a ditch somewhere, alone and scared, at the mercy of the elements, sobbing and spending their entire eternal toy lives wondering what they did that was so wrong, and why I forsook them so coldly? And wishing desperately I would just appear and hold them one more time?

Seriously. I have enough shit on my conscience. I don’t need that, too.

After reading that article I literally cried for ten minutes. Why don’t you just play a recording of Helen Reddy’s “Candle on the Water,” to complete the childhood misery deluge? (See, I have this theory about “Candle on the Water.” I believe that while we as children thought it was a sweet song, and maybe kids today still do, you cannot play that song to any adult over the age of, oh, thirty, and expect them not to dissolve into tears. Seriously. We should look into this as a weapon. Whoever owns the Helen Reddy records owns the world.)

Did I mention the hideous, oppressive heat, and how it makes me half-convinced that the earth is just about to burst into flames? And saps every bit of energy out of me, and makes me slow-witted and sad? I hate the damn sun. I hate the damn heat. It makes me ill (literally; I’ve always been really sensitive to heat).

And then, something was crawling–well, I say crawling, but what it was in fact doing was racing–up my arm, and across my lapdesk. I–acting purely on my killer animal instincts–killed the thing with a spiral notebook. And guess what? It was a spider. It’s bad luck to kill a spider. Like I need more of that these days, right?

Sigh. So this day is not shaping up to be a great day, but let’s hope it improves. And it actually has a bit, because I popped over to Twitter to drown my sorrows and found a new review of UNHOLY GHOSTS, which, coupled with the one I got in my email this morning, makes me feel much cheerier.

From All Things Urban Fantasy, 4 out of 5 bats:

Any series that is described as “a cross between Ghostbusters and Escape From New York” is going to get my attention, big time. Of course that also means said series is going to have a lot to live up to. And in one of the wonderfully rare cases, UNHOLY GHOSTS does exactly that. It’s cool and twisted, just the way I like my urban fantasy.

From Book Chick City:

I’m so excited about this book – I LOVED it! I haven’t read an Urban Fantasy this good in quite a while…The writing is perfectly paced, I didn’t get bored once and everything slots together at the right time. The plot is just brilliant and had me engrossed until the very last page – I didn’t want to put this book down!

So let’s hope my slightly cheerier feeling lasts.

How about you? Looking forward to a good weekend, or a dull one? Does the heat make you feel oppressed and trapped beneath the weight of all the world’s misery too? Do you like Toy Story 2, and does “Candle on the Water” make you cry?

What Stace had to say on Friday, May 7th, 2010
It’s just upsetting

Some of you may have heard that the Waxman Agency, a legitimate, highly respected literary agency with an excellent reputation, has decided to open an epublishing imprint of its own. No, you didn’t read that incorrectly. It’s an agency deciding to set up a publishing arm.

This has, as you can imagine, sparked a bit of controversy in the literary world.

I’m going to blog about it, because I feel like I should. But I’m not entirely comfortable doing it, to be honest. I don’t like doing it. I am, to put it mildly, in a bit of an moral dilemma here, and I need to decide if my ethical standards are really that strong, and I’ve decided that they are. I’ve taken a stand on this situation in the past and would be a hypocrite not to do the same again; I’ve presented myself–and worked hard to make myself–someone who helps other writers and offers advice, and I would be a hypocrite not to speak out now.

Here’s the thing. Waxman is, as I said above, and excellent agency. I know a few people–one I consider a good friend–who are repped by Holly Root there. Holly is a fantastic agent. Her clients love her, and she does a great job for them. And up until yesterday I had no compunction at all recommending her to any of my friends who were looking for representation.

But I can’t do that anymore, and that makes me sad.
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What Stace had to say on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
On sales, promo, pressure and lists

I’m in a release day frame of mind lately, what with DEMON POSSESSED being released last week. See, it’s not just that that book was released, it’s also that it means UNHOLY GHOSTS will be out soon. Well, soonish, lol; three months.

And like any other writer with a book coming out, I’m thinking about promo. See, I want you to buy the book(s). I want you to get all of your friends to buy the book(s). I want to sell thousands and thousands and thousands of copies. I want to hit the NYT list, or the USA Today list, or the Publisher’s Weekly list, or Bookscan or whatever. Lists make writers happy, you see. And they make publishers happy, and everybody’s happy. Happiness is good.

And of course, I would hope that you guys, my lovely readers, would want to help me sell books or hit lists or whatever. Because we have something of a symbiotic relationship, you know, you and me. I write books, and you buy them, and when you buy them you encourage me to write more of them, and it’s all very cheering and makes me feel warm and happy inside to think that I’ve given you something you enjoy (I honestly love giving presents; I’m one of those weird people at holidays who gets more excited about the things I’m giving than what I might get).

But here’s the thing. While I would hope that you would want to help, I don’t expect you to. I’m surprised and thrilled and grateful whenever you do, but I don’t expect it. At all. Ever. And I certainly wouldn’t presume to INSIST you do, or berate you for not doing so. Or imply that you’re stupid for not purchasing my books in the exact fashion that I would prefer you to do so.

Sadly, it seems sometimes as if I–okay, I and several of my close friends–are alone in that feeling, that instinctive cringing when we see readers being treated like nothing more than open wallets whose sole purpose is to drive said writer to greater glory.

Do I want to hit a list? Of course, although I would never presume to think I have a real shot at it. Do I think it would be great if readers everywhere held off on buying my books until the day of release? Well, sure, I guess so, but see the aforementioned “I would never presume to think I have a shot at a list anyway so what does it matter,” answer. (Yeah, I know, that wasn’t the full answer, but it’s what I meant.)

Are there things readers can do to help a favorite author hit a list? Yeah, but not as many as you think, really. Sure, waiting until release day–or the day before, since books release on Tuesdays and sales are counted for the entire week, so buying on Monday is okay–helps. That’s a good thing to do, if you’re interested, but really that’s about it. It’s certainly all I would ever think to ask.

See…I work for YOU. I mean, yes, I work for myself, but I DO the work for you. You are my audience. You are not my slaves. You do not exist in order to feed my ego or allow me to add a shiny “List” pin to my vest. It’s not for me to tell you where you’re allowed to buy my books or in what format. I’m just amazed and grateful that you buy them at all.

I’ll be perfectly honest here. There are times when it feels as if the world of readers and the world of writers are at war. Readers want certain things; they have a right to want those things as consumers. But writers/publishers want certain things as well, and we have a right to want those things as content creators and producers. And don’t even get me started on copyright violations/piracy, and some of the justifications for those. Again, to be honest? There are times when I see discussions of it, or come across my books on filesharing sites, and have the sick, deep feeling that I should just give the hell up. I can never “win”–by which I mean earn a decent living consistently, when I’m being stolen from.

And it’s not just the financial theft, it’s the feeling that someone has literally reached into my mind and taken something from me without permission. It feels like I got drunk and told a deep secret to someone I thought was a friend, and that so-called friend turned around and told the world, and they’re all laughing at me. Or like a when a guy you really like sleeps with you and then never calls you again, you know? It makes me feel worthless, and frustrated, and lonely and sad. Sure piracy bothers me because of the money, sure, but really?

Piracy just hurts. It hurts to think someone is using you for entertainment but doesn’t think you deserve any compensation for that. It hurts to think you’re seen as less than human; as some sort of machine which exists for the gratification of others but is not permitted any gratification of its own. It hurts to feel that someone thinks they’re entitled to the fruits of your labor–the expression of the truth as you see it and the worlds and people you created and love–without paying for them. It doesn’t feel like a royalty payment was stolen from you. It feels like a tiny part of your soul was stolen from you.

That shit hurts.

And I imagine it hurts readers, too, when they’re made to feel–from being yelled at, lectured, or treated like they’re stupid–that they exist solely to provide the writer with titles and accolades. That just buying and reading and enjoying and talking about a book isn’t enough, that they now must buy it at certain times, in certain places, in certain formats, at certain phases of the moon, or whatever. Just as writers are not simply typewriters churning out words, readers are not simply notches on that big bestseller belt. They are people.

I’m not really sure where I’m going with this. Just that I think it’s wrong.

Do I want to sell a lot of books? Hell, yes!

But I don’t want to just sell a lot of books. I want to entertain a lot of people. I want to give them something. That’s what this is about, not numbers or lists. It’s about books and writing and reading and the way when we read a book we love we feel connected to that book, and those characters, and that author. And when we discover another fan of those books we have a connection with that person, and books created that connection, and it wouldn’t exist without writers, readers, and publishers.

So do I want to hit a list? Of course. Have I thought of various promotional things to do, fun things, that may help facilitate that? Sure.

Do I want to hit a list at the expense of readers, by berating them or nagging them, by treating them like my minions or like they fucking owe me that goddamn list, so they better get off their fat asses and do what I say?

No.

That’s not worth it to me. I don’t want it that way. It wouldn’t mean anything that way.

I may never hit a list. But I will always be grateful that people have bought my books, and read them and loved them and took the time to tell me. Yes, this is a business, and I want to succeed in it and make money. But not at the expense of readers, and not at the expense of my own soul.

So that’s it. Just some things I’m thinking of, and will continue to think of as we get closer to the summer and the release of the Downside books (finished copyedits on CITY OF GHOSTS last week, and am quite pleased, btw).

So…thanks.

ETA: Moira Rogers, who writes awesome books, has also done a post on this topic, and I highly recommend you check it out too. My response to it? Ditto.

What Stace had to say on Monday, November 23rd, 2009
Harlequin Horizons is not a self-publisher

So Friday night my friend Jackie Kessler and I were invited to discuss the Harlequin Horizons situation on a podcast TV show. We readily agreed. I can’t speak for Jackie’s motives absolutely but knowing her as I do I assume they were the same as mine: to let people know that HWHo was a Bad Deal, that it is misleading, that it serves only to pour money into HQ’s coffers on the backs of aspiring writers.

Joining us were two other commercially published writers, Simon Wood and Paul Clayton, as well as the host and two other self-published writers.

I was excited to have the discussion. I enjoyed it immensely. I felt it was a lovely, civil, and fun conversation, respectful all around, and that we all managed to agree that vanity publishing along the lines of the HQHo model–whereby authors are charged exorbitant amounts of money and fed empty promises in exchange was something writers, whether they are commercially published or self-published, should not countenance or participate in.

Let me make something very clear, because I’m seeing confusion on this issue that frankly astounds me. The HQHo model is NOT a self-publishing model.

I have, as I’ve said here before and as I said on the show Friday night, absolutely nothing against self-publishing. There are some excellent self-published books out there. There are a lot of writers who feel that this is the way they want to go, and is the wave of the future. And that’s fine.

But let’s analyze the differences between what the self-published authors are doing, and what HQHo wants its customers to do. I’m going to use my Strumpet series as an example, because as I’ve said here before, I do have tentative plans to self-publish the thing one of these days.

Were I to do that, I would go to Lulu.com. I would upload the document into their system, choose a format (or more than one; ebook and paperback, for example), and set a price; probably either at cost or maybe a dollar over it. I could remove the file at any time. I would be using my rights as the copyright holder myself. I would be buying an ISBN for it (if I chose to) myself, and would own that ISBN. I would design a cover, if I wanted. I could advertise the book as much or as little as I liked; surely I’d link to it on my blog and site, and when I get emails about it (as I still do) I’d direct those readers to the Lulu page. I’d be solely responsible for the marketing and advertising. I could, for example, choose to pay Kirkus Discoveries a couple of hundred dollars to review it.

For this I would pay nothing. If and when people chose to buy the book, Lulu would earn the cost of producing that copy and I would make whatever amount was paid by the reader over that production cost.

In short: I pay nothing, I control everything, and I keep all the profits. That is self-publishing. (It’s a tad more complicated than that, yes, but I’m trying to strip it down to its essence for the sake of clarity.)

Now, what if I wanted to print the series through HQHo?

First I’d pay anywhere from $600-upwards of $2000 just to get HQHo to agree to print the book. I would sign an agreement with them whereby I agreed to give them that money and at the very least, the rights to publish it. I’d pay more for them to design a cover. More for them to assign it an ISBN, which I would not own. More for them to list the book. More for them to send it to review sites–several hundred dollars over the cost of the review itself, in fact. Heck, if I wanted to, I could pay $20,000 for them to produce a “Hollywood book trailer”–a service other companies will perform for less than 1/4 that cost, and that I could do for free.

If and when a copy of the book sells, I would get 50% of the net monies received; that is, half of the money after whatever expenses HQHo claims, which makes no sense since I have paid all those expenses up front.

Here’s what I don’t understand. All of the self-published authors I’ve ever met are passionate about self-publishing and the benefits they feel they get from it. They want to have complete control over their work. They want to make the largest amount of money they can for that work. That is absolutely their right.

So why, then, are self-published authors not condemning this vanity business model? Why are they not discussing that writers don’t need to pay thousands of dollars to a big corporation like Author Solutions in order to self-publish, that it can be done on their own, and that by doing it on their own they get to keep control and keep all the profits?

I thought, in the discussion we had Friday night, that we were all in agreement that vanity publishing in this fashion was wrong, and that it mislead authors. I thought we were all in agreement that while self-publishing can be beneficial in some circumstances, and there is nothing inherently wrong with self-publishing (save the difficulties in distribution, etc.) vanity publishing simply cost too much and provided too little benefit. I thought we’d had a friendly and respectful conversation.

Apparently I was wrong. Turns out, Jackie, Simon, Paul, and myself are simply scared that self-published books will put us out of business, in addition to being elitists.

I don’t quote or link to that post in order to pick fights. I quote and link to it to demonstrate how incredibly disappointed I am, and how I feel I was lied to and misled.

At this time, my long comment in response to Mr. Cochran’s post has still not been approved. In it I expressed my disappointment, and how had I known the purpose of the show was to debate the validity of self-publishing I would have altered my comments accordingly. I feel as though I was bait-and-switched; i.e. told I was discussing one thing, when really the discussion was about something else, and that I was deliberately misled so that certain conclusions could be drawn from my comments.

Certainly I’m hurt on a personal level that my feelings on the topic of HQHo and its vanity press model, and my sincere desire to help writers, are taken as proof that I’m selfish, greedy, and jealous, and just want to keep those more talented than myself down.

I’m sorry, but I don’t believe at all that NY publishing is so out of touch with real people that they are incapable of choosing books people like to read. The mere presence of NYT bestsellers and literary phenomenons like Twilight belie that statement. Sure, Twilight may not be your cup of tea; you may think it’s a lousy book. But you cannot deny that a NY editor read it, thought, “Readers will like this,” and was correct in that assessment.

Just because YOU don’t like it, doesn’t mean other readers won’t. Publishing is a BUSINESS. That business is SELLING BOOKS TO READERS. Just because YOU do not like those readers’ tastes, doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to have them or that publishers aren’t entitled to cater to them.

Do great books get passed over every day because of the bottom line? Sure. Does that mean everything that does get published is watered-down same-same crap? No, any more than all self-published books are crap. No, I don’t believe self-publishing is best for everyone; remember, the average self-published book only sells 75 copies or so. But for some it can absolutely work, and I’ve never denied that.

And none of this changes the fact that I would expect someone who has self-published, who has learned about self-publishing and is an advocate of it, to see that HQHo is NOT self-publishing, and to be just as concerned about educating new writers about the difference and how they can truly self-publish and not pay through the nose, as those of us who are commercially published. I would have expected that self-published authors and self-publishing advocates would be just as vocal as we’ve been in trying to educate writers, and not use this as an opportunity to play “You NY writers are hacks running scared from us.”

But I guess that’s just my selfishness talking.

What Stace had to say on Monday, September 28th, 2009
Some stuff that’s happening

First, not only did Charlaine Harris give me such a great blurb for UNHOLY GHOSTS, she talked it up on her blog the other day:

“I was fortunate enough to get an ARC of Stacia Kane’s forthcoming Unholy Ghosts after I met her at DragonCon. Unfortunately, this novel won’t be out until May. You should put it on your calendars NOW. The world-building is unexpected and complex, the characters are alive, and the protagonist Chess is a treasure. I have a very hard time reading a book with an alcoholic or drug-addicted hero, and in fact I almost closed the book after the first chapter. I’m so glad I didn’t. The characters are complex and indelible, the plot is fascinating, and I can hardly wait for another book, months before this one will be out.”

Second, I got word this morning that Karen Marie Moning, awesome NYT Bestseller that she is, also read and loved all three books in the Dowside series, and said:

“Expect the unexpected. Kane delivers dark, sexy urban fantasy at its finest. I couldn’t put it down!”

Which is totally cool. And was a great way to start my day.

Which is the other thing I want to talk about.
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