Archive for 'my opinion for what it’s worth'



What Stace had to say on Thursday, November 3rd, 2016
Deals and Dealing

So it’s election time again.

No, no, wait! Don’t go! Remember, I don’t really talk politics on this blog, and this is not really a political post–or at least, it’s not the kind of political post that tells you why you’re a bad person (or a good person) if you plan on voting for Candidate A or Candidate B and how evil those assholes planning on voting for the other candidate are. Back in 2008 I wrote a post about why I don’t talk politics here, and…honestly, it was a little depressing to go back and read it, because things have only gotten worse. So, so much worse.

In 2008, I could honestly say that I believed both candidates were good people who would do a pretty good job. The same is not true this year, sadly. Both candidates suck. Both candidates suck so bad that it feels like the set-up to a joke. Years ago I posted the “Douche vs. Turd” South Park song here as a sort of nod-n-wink, just to illustrate, in a humorous fashion, my general feelings about many elections. This year, Douche vs. Turd is not a joke. It is basically the literal illustration of our two choices. Neither of these people deserve to be President. The fact that one of them will be kind of horrifies me and kind of makes me wonder when the punchline is coming and more than kind of makes me want to cry.

But you know what? (Or, “You know whats,” because I have a couple of points to make here.) First, the fact that both candidates are dishonest scum who see the Presidency as some kind of free cash machine, who’d go through your pockets, take everything you have, and then sell you for a quarter if they could and feel justified in doing so because they think you are stupid and disgusting, is kind of our fault–or rather, it’s the fault of the people who have worked so hard over the past, I dunno, fifteen years or so, to divide us and fill us with hate. It’s the fault of people who convince us that we are more different than we are similar and we should focus on the differences more than the similarities; that there are no common experiences; that anyone who disagrees with us is not only against us, but is actively evil and doesn’t deserve to live or speak; that we do not deserve to be proud in any way of any thing; and that society as a whole is just a sea of selfish, wicked morons. It’s the fault of people who go out of their way to insult, degrade, and silence others. Our two candidates are, basically, the result of an environment that convinces us not to see other viewpoints and relate to each other to reach common ground, but to see others as stereotypes rather than people, and set ourselves firmly against them–and convince ourselves that we’re morally in the right as we mercilessly attack and name-call. (And by the way, I have seen examples of all of those things on both sides of the aisle–all over the room, in fact–lest anyone think I’m singling out either side. Also, yes, guys, some people really are just dreadful people. Every place in the world has its share of just plain horrible shitbags; they’re the human equivalent of cockroaches. But there aren’t as many as some would have you believe, there really aren’t. Most people–the vast, vast majority!–are not festering piles of slime.)

But here’s the other thing, the other “you know what” that answers the first. I’m not worried.

Many of you are familiar with my Downside books, and the world they’re set in. Humanity was ravaged by a calamity in which bloodthirsty spirits rose from the grave; millions died. The world is run by a totalitarian atheistic “Church,” that demands obedience in exchange for safety from the dead. Religion, or faith in any sort of god or gods, is illegal. People are only allowed to believe in the Church, and in facts. Because there is no religion and one single world government–one viewpoint on how the world should run–there’s no war, and a lot of unpleasant social problems have disappeared, either because they were products of different belief systems or because there was simply not a large enough population, and people were shaken and traumatized enough, to set that stuff aside and pull together.

Lots of people have mentioned that “atheism” thing, either as something they disliked or something they liked. A few people have asked how it came about. But no one has asked me what it means to me.

The world in these books is, in some ways–some might say more than “some”–better than ours, for the reasons listed above. There are some great, positive things in there.

But it also sucks. It’s awful. It’s full of fear and punishment–not overtly, not in a way that makes everyday life seem other than normal for most people, but it’s still there. People know exactly what will happen when they die: they’ll go to the cavernous underground City of Eternity. Which seems great, knowing what will happen, but at the same time means there’s no mystery, and without mystery there’s no hope. Without hope…well, that’s just despair. The world, even with all of its good points, is not perfect, because the world is made of people and people are not–can not–be perfect. We’re human; we have emotions and dreams and fears, and those mean we’re always feeling things for no good reason or imagining things that aren’t true or whatever.

The people in the Downside books know they’re not supposed to have faith in things. But they do, just the same. They know they’re not supposed to think certain things, or to want certain things, but they do, just the same. They know they’re not supposed to do certain things, but guess what? Yep. They still do it. They do it all the time. Even in Triumph City, right there under the nose of the Church government, the people of Downside commit every sort of crime imaginable; the Church can’t enforce what it doesn’t know about, and people are not robots. People cannot be programmed to do nothing but spit out the correct answers without any independent thought. The Church may control the law and the enforcement of the law, but it cannot, no matter how hard it tries, control the hearts and minds of people.

And people hope. We hope so hard and so much that we built skyscrapers and went to the moon. We hope so hard, so fucking hard, that every day we pledge to spend our lives together and we have children. We hope so much and so hard that we get out of bed, we say hi to a stranger, we apply for jobs and we start companies and we go meet the neighbors and we adopt pets and drive cars. Every single one of those acts comes with and from hope; everlasting, beautiful hope. We need that hope.

We want to connect with other people. We just forget that sometimes, when we’re angry and feeling ignored and belittled; we forget that not everything is personally directed at us. But when it comes down to it, when things go wrong, we reach out and we help and we listen, and we connect. That’s special and important, and it’s not something you find everywhere. I’m sorry, but it’s not.

This is why I’m not worried about what will happen on Tuesday, not really. Oh, sure, I spend time thinking of worst-case scenarios, but honestly? Our system is set up to avoid those worst-case scenarios. Our Founding Fathers created that system specifically to protect us when we go crazy and vote in a lemon. Presidents are not monarchs; they do not get to create laws out of whole cloth and demand they be enforced. Laws do not leap into being overnight and suddenly become enforced nationwide within hours. Everything takes time. And we have a voice, and we can talk to–talk to, not scream at–each other and make things better if we try.

I’m not saying it’s going to be a great four years. I don’t think it will (I mean, stranger things have happened, but still). But I do think we can get through them together. I hope–I very very much hope–that maybe this will be the thing that re-unites us. (And please don’t tell me “Well, if the Other Side would stop demonizing us–” because I don’t care. Be the bigger person. Everybody has at least one legitimate grievance–yes, they do!–and everybody could stand to extend a hand and try instead of deciding that the pain of others is somehow deserved. No, I don’t care if it is or not. No, I don’t care if yours is worse. Extend the hand anyway, and try to really listen and understand instead of just looking for things to get mad about, and maybe if you do you’ll get the same in return and look, there we’ll all be talking and understanding and buying each other a Coke.) Maybe this will remind us that we’re in this together, and that we can deal with whatever happens as long as we remember that. Maybe we can stop demonizing each other and start trying to accept each other instead, and recognizing that even points and people with which we disagree have value. Even points and people with which we disagree add something to the conversation.

Because if you have a world where those points aren’t allowed, you have a world where no one is free and no one can be trusted. That’s a world without hope. I don’t want to live in that world. I hope you don’t, either.

…This was supposed to be shorter, and more concise, and have a point, though (other than that one, which I’ve been thinking and wanting to say for a long time). The title of this post is “Deals and Dealing,” because it’s about, well, dealing–see above–and deals, which is this part here. Those Downside books I talked about? The first one, UNHOLY GHOSTS, is currently on super-sale in the US: only 99 cents in ebook format. Personally, I think there’s nothing I’d rather do this weekend than hunker down with a book and lose myself in some other world for a while, maybe a world where both of our major Presidential candidates do not make my skin crawl. (And by the way? Vote third party if you want to, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s a waste. Personally, I think maybe if enough people vote third party, then A] those third parties will be inspired to step up their damn game a bit and stop looking unprepared and/or silly; and B] maybe the Big Two will be inspired to realize they’re losing voters and will start trying to speak to us instead of just special-interest groups and corporations. Maybe it’s a pipe dream, but again, I hope, and I believe.) Maybe a world that reminds me that no matter how bad things get, there is still hope, and there are still people, beautiful, complicated, messed-up, confused, delightful people who try to be happy and try to help others and try to believe that after all, tomorrow is another day.

But, uh, don’t let that last part inspire you to read GONE WITH THE WIND this weekend. Read my book. It’s only 99 cents in ebook format.

And you can get it here:

Amazon

Google Play

Kobo

ARE

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

This 99-cent deal ends on Saturday the 5th, though, so don’t miss out.

…So that’s what I wanted to say, guys. I know some of you–a lot of you–are scared. I’m scared, too, because the unknown is always scary and getting a new President is always a little scary even if you like the person you’re voting for. But I’ve been listening to dire predictions–which are voiced as certainties–for several decades now, about how Candidate A will definitely start a nuclear war and Candidate B will definitely make abortion illegal, and our country will go to Hell in a fiery handbasket if Candidate A is elected and Candidate B will turn us into some kind of third-world prison camp and Candidate B will make being different illegal and Candidate A will literally take a shit on the Constitution. I’m not entirely joking, either; some of those are real things people said, on national television. I remember being terrified as a child because it seemed like everywhere I looked, people were telling me that Ronald Reagan would start a nuclear war. Funnily enough, though, he didn’t and we’re still here. In fact, I can’t think of a single dire “This will absolutely happen, you guys,” election-year predicertain (get it? Prediction made with the air of certainty) that I’ve ever heard that has come true, and I’ve heard a lot of them. I don’t buy them anymore. You shouldn’t, either, because what all those predictions fail to take into account–again–is that we’re people, and we’re generally good, creative, inventive, smart people who care. We are, and I refuse to apologize for this next statement, Americans, and we will unite, we will reach out to each other, we will find a way to make it work, and we will try to make things better, because that’s what we do. Always. Whoever ends up in office, that won’t change.

And that’s my personal predicertain, because I have faith in you.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
Meh

I had a really good idea for a title for this post, which is fairly inane in general, but I decided it’s too long to be an effective blog-post title. So I’m using it as a subhead:

Serial Killers Leave Me Cold

(Get it? Cold, because dead.)

Please do not interpret that as me thinking serial killers are funny. They’re not funny, at all. There are very few things less funny, actually, than a serial killer, even if said serial killer wears hilarious costumes and recites lines from Caddyshack while he kills you. Unless the serial killer is the Joker, in which case he might occasionally achieve a sort of amusing insouciance or crack a good one-liner. Freddy Krueger also often elicited a smile or two in the later films, when they decided having him be genuinely terrifying (as he was in the first movie) was getting boring and so turned him into some kind of badly-scarred pedophile Shecky Greene.

(And speaking of pedophiles–boy, this post is just all kinds of light-hearted, isn’t it?–there are new and more horrifying allegations about Jimmy Savile, the BBC celebrity that the British government allowed to molest and abuse hundreds of children for decades while they covered it all up and pretended there was something charming and heartwarming about a man who was literally one of the creepiest and most disgusting creatures who ever walked the planet. Seriously, look at this sicko [I’m only linking to a Google Image search result, because I don’t want pictures of that piece of shit on my blog; also, remember all my links open a new window]–but beware, the mere sight of him could cause you to both vomit and question the sanity of a large number of people. I mean, if a person ever existed who looked more like a twisted pedophile than Jimmy Savile, I don’t know who it was. Jimmy Savile looks like what would happen if Cruella DeVille got triple-teamed by the Child-Killer from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, an evil leprechaun, and Golem, and then the resulting excrescence vomited up all of the evil in its soul, and that vomit took a shit on everything good and happy and fun and loving in the world, and that shit was a cackling, hideous, tackily dressed Jimmy Savile. Seriously, Leatherface would be terrified to look at Jimmy Savile. Buffalo Bill would think Jimmy Savile was just too gross to hang out with. And every day it seems more and more is revealed about Jimmy and his hideous, disgusting cronies and how they loved to wander through children’s wards in hospitals randomly abusing patients and–God, it’s just too hideous to even discuss further.)

And it’s too hideous to discuss further because some crimes just are hideous.

I like true crime shows. I know it’s very fashionable to refer to them as “murder porn,” and there is definitely that aspect to some of them, but at the risk of sounding like some kind of murder porn snob, those aren’t the ones that interest me very much. In fact, I find them kind of offensive (more on that in a second, as it leads into my main point about serial killers). I like watching true crime shows–and reading true crime books, which I’ve done since I was a kid and saw Diane Downs and Ann Rule on Oprah (and by the way SMALL SACRIFICES is still an amazing and chilling book)–because the investigation fascinate me, the clues and the alibis and interviews and tactics and how it all comes together. I do enjoy it when the villain is especially dastardly and overconfident, because it’s fun to see a bad guy’s plots fail, but the crime itself isn’t generally the reason I read true crime. I read it for the plot, I guess you could say, not the gore.

Which may be why, as much as I will happily spend the day watching “48 Hours” (I looove 48 Hours, Dateline, and when they do special episodes of 20/20) or “True Crime with Aphrodite Jones” or “On the Case with Paula Zahn,” and even occasionally a “Nightmare Next Door” or “Snapped” or “Unusual Suspects,” I tend to shy away from the more lurid shows, which kind of seem more like a “Hyuk, look at how a bunch of trashy people got kilt!” or “Daaamn, girl, your murder is sexay!” than an actual serious “Look at how we catch criminals and how hard we work to keep the darkness at bay.” Perhaps that thought says more about me than anyone or anything else, but that doesn’t change the fact that for me the line can be rather thin between fascinatingly twisty and offensively lurid. And for me, the line is almost always crossed when it comes to shows about serial killers.

In a show about a serial killer the serial killer is the star, see; the victims are afterthoughts. Often the investigators are kind of afterthoughts, too. It’s all about the killer: his twisted psyche, his grisly crimes, his facade of normalcy (or not), his travels and burial grounds. And honestly, I don’t care. Most people do not become serial killers because they’re interesting guys to hang around with; they become serial killers because they’re just human shells wrapped around an empty, silent darkness, and honestly even that description makes them seem more interesting than I actually find them. (Especially Gary Ridgeway. For a while last year it seemed like every time I turned on the TV they were showing something about Gary Ridgeway or Gary Ridgeway’s wife or Gary Ridgeway’s truck or Gary Ridgeway’s ski pants or something, as though Gary Ridgeway was somehow the world’s most important person and his actions ought to be studied in as much depth as the Challenger explosion, when really Gary Ridgeway is dull as dirt. Tax forms are more interesting than Gary Ridgeway. Listening to a stranger tell you about their toenails is more interesting than Gary Ridgeway. I’m telling you, Gary Ridgeway = dull.)

But they’re all dull, really. Most serial killers–I’d venture so far as to say pretty much all of them, in fact–are not Hannibal Lecter, Dexter Morgan, or even Patrick Bateman. They’re not smooth and erudite or articulate about their emptiness, killing rude people or other serial killers and serving their bones to other rude people in complicated recipes more like art than food and playing complex, clever games with other killers or FBI behavioral analysts/professors. They tend to just clump around killing people–innocent people–and every time Discovery ID or the Investigation Channel or whatever does a big Serial Killer Week or some new serial killer specials, it makes me wonder if we’re learning how good our investigators are and memorializing the victims, or making further celebrities of some people who deserve no celebrity (that isn’t to say they deserve death or they do not deserve death or anything–I’m making zero statement on our justice system itself, okay?–but what I definitely think is that the reward for slaughtering innocent people should NOT be fame and groupies mailing you panties and cash, and that comes not from the justice system but from the media. Save the panties for Tom Jones and the cash for me, guys, and change the channel). This is true even if they already were celebrities, like Savile, and if the world has learned anything from Savile I hope it is that being a celebrity doesn’t make you a good person–or even one worthy of not being spat upon by leprous monkeys while having their balls shaved with a cheese-grater and then fed to them.

Shows about serial killers make me feel like a voyeur, really, and I don’t like that feeling.

Endnotes:

1. Sorry this is so late. I’ve been behind all week. I hate summer so much; I’m barely sleeping because the sun rises three hours after I go to bed, and while my sleepshades help with that they do nothing to shut up the fucking birds right outside our bedroom window.

2. Also, have I mentioned that it’s really hot here? And there’s no A/C? Yeah, it’s hot here. I can’t sleep when it’s hot. I hate the heat.

3. Work, work, working very hard!

4. I think that’s it, I’ll be back sooner than later, and I am still hoping/planning to show you all my First Book Ever.

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

Guys…what the fuck is going on?

Seriously. What the fuck is going on here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

And you should be fucking ashamed of yourself.

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

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

Even if we take that at face value…

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

You’re not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But here’s the other thing.

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

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

Because I kind of don’t.

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

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

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

YOU ARE NOT A GOOD GUY.

You are, in fact, the opposite of that.

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

I may well discuss this more later.

What Stace had to say on Monday, 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 Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
I’m Not a Reader

Disclaimer: Once again, this is just opinions/thinking on the page, YMMV, Devil’s Advocate, hoping for a dialogue, please don’t kill me, all that sort of thing.

Not too long ago I was involved in a discussion on an internet forum where I am a long-time member, in which I expressed an opinion about the writing process, basically. And someone responded to me to say, basically, that I obviously expected everyone to give my opinions more weight because of my publishing record, and that it seemed to this person that I expected everyone to listen to me not because I was right but because I thought being published meant I knew better than everyone else; this person felt that I was acting like my opinions were facts and relying on my credentials to make others think so too.

Now. For the record, I know some of you may have seen that discussion and I want to make it very, very clear that the person who said that is entitled to his/her opinions and feelings and that I am absolutely NOT trying to “bring the discussion here,” or berate or belittle them in any way. I’m not. Not one bit.

My reason for mentioning it here is because it so perfectly illustrates the point I want to make today and the discussion I want to have, which is that once you are published you are no longer “a reader;” not because you’ve stopped reading (hopefully), but because other people see you differently. Readers see you differently. Maybe not all of them, no; I certainly can’t speak for every reader in the world (or any of them, for that matter; they can speak for themselves, and who am I to decide I’m their champion or something?). But for many of them…you have become “an author.” A different sort of animal. 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 Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
My little Writing Rules pt. 2 (This one goes up to 11!)

So yesterday, if you missed it, I posted a bit of a rant about how disappointed I am with Dr. Who (link will open in new window) these days, particularly with the writing, which seems to have traded emotional depth, story, characterization, continuity, real suspense, and pacing for cheap manufactured twists and self-aware “cleverness.” I feel like this has been going on since the first episode of Matt Smith/Stephen Moffat’s run, and it makes me unhappy.

(In the links to that post someone posted a link to a similar discussion on their blog, here–also in a new window. It’s definitely worth a read, and don’t skip the comments; there’s some good stuff there, in particular “Mary”‘s comment at 10:25.)

Anyway, using Dr. Who as a jump-off point, I’m posting my little writing rules, the things that I keep in mind when writing and the things I, well, think make a book good. (There’s a whole big disclaimer on this in the original post, so I’m not going to repeat it here. I will repeat, though, that just because I’m disappointed with the writing, and feel that it’s in general bad writing, doesn’t mean I think the Who writers are bad writers. They’re not. I’m not sure why the writing has gone off the rails so badly, but I don’t think it’s their fault; I think they’re doing the best they can with what they’re told to do.)

So here we go, with the rest of my rules.
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What Stace had to say on Monday, September 5th, 2011
My little writing rules

I just got finished–well, okay, I finished a few hours ago–watching the latest episode of Dr. Who (it’s Saturday night as I type this; the episode to which I’m referring is called “Night Terrors.” NOTE: There are spoilers in this post, so if you are a big Who fan and haven’t seen that episode yet, you may want to skip this until you have. Also, due to length I’ve split this post in two. It’s still long, though. Look for part 2 tomorrow).

Okay. Anyway. I have not been a fan of the Matt Smith/Steven Moffat run. Sorry, but I haven’t. At all. Moffat wrote a couple of the best episodes of the Tennant run, yes, like “Blink.” But I’m having some real problems with the writing in Series 5 and now 6, and here’s what they are.

The thing is, everyone has a different view on what is good writing vs. what is not. I’m aware of that. These are my opinions. I’m a writer; these are my little “rules” for writing what I consider to be good books. You may not think I’m a good writer and so don’t like my rules; you may think I’m a bad writer who doesn’t follow my own rules. I do think I follow them, but again, it’s all a matter of perception and taste and all of that, so…the point is, this is the stuff I work on and keep in mind. Some of my pet peeves. Things I consider lazy. But just how I also think beginning sentences with participial phrases is an evil thing and hate it with a passion, my feelings and opinions may not match yours (you’re wrong, though, at least when it comes to using participial phrases to start sentences).

I also want to make it clear that I’m not saying the Who writers are untalented. They obviously are talented. They obviously are good writers. But they’re being–I believe–forced into lazy habits, and bad writing is the result.

So. Many of these came up in tonight’s episode. I will tell you about them now.
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What Stace had to say on Friday, July 22nd, 2011
Of sales, skepticism, and scams

So.

Last night I saw a link–I’m not going to repost it here, the poor girl has been through enough–to the blog of a writer who had just self-published her novel. The link was to a new post, in which the writer announced–with palpable and understandable excitement–that Jodi Reamer of Writers House (that’s a big-name agent at a big-name agency, for those of you unfamiliar) had seen her book, emailed her to offer representation, and gotten her a deal with (if memory serves) HarperTeen. A big deal, a six-figure type deal.

Obviously people were thrilled for her, in the way so many of us are thrilled for another person–happy for them, perhaps tinged with a bit of envy, because we’re all only human and at heart most humans are, frankly, selfish, evil little beings. Socialization and morals and ethics and all of that teaches us how to deal with those selfish, evil little thoughts, but they’re still there.

Anyway. A few people were not as thrilled; they were skeptical. I admit to being in this camp. I’ve seen publishing deals happen at lightspeed–I know a few people whose agents submitted their work in the morning and had offers by the afternoon–and of course agents can offer to represent at lightspeed as well (my agent offered two days after my initial contact with him, and I’ve known people who’ve gotten offers on the same day). It does happen, sure, but to get an agent and a large deal all in a day or so is extremely unusual. To be able to announce that deal so quickly is even more–well, no, it’s not even unusual. It is, frankly, unheard of. Generally deals aren’t announced until contracts are signed, or at least until the contract stage has been reached (meaning, the fine points are agreed to and we’re just waiting for the paperwork). Lots of us wait until our deals are announced in Publisher’s Marketplace; not because we have to, but because it’s fun to be able to post the little blurb they print in there. It makes it feel real. (In fact, my agent rarely reports to PM, and did so for me because I asked him to, batting my eyelashes and all of that while I did. Okay, no, I didn’t bat my eyelashes, but I did ask, because I wanted that announcement; I wanted to see it confirmed somewhere, because so many people read PM and it’s exciting.)

But this isn’t about deals being posted or anything. It’s about the fact that apparently the expressed skepticism of some people alerted the writer that maybe she should just double-check everything. So she called Writers House.

And discovered that an extremely cruel joke had just been played on her. And not just her, either:

From today’s Publisher’s Lunch:

Writers House has learned that a series of fake emails claiming to be from WH agent Jodi Reamer have been circulating to self-published authors this week. “These emails, which contain a number of false statements, have not in fact come from Jodi Reamer and should thus be disregarded.” One easy “tell”: they advise that any e-mail from a non-Writers House address “expressing interest in representation is counterfeit.”

I cannot even begin to express how absolutely horrified I am on this poor girl’s behalf (and on behalf of the others to whom this happened); I can’t even imagine how it must feel to think you’ve accomplished something like that and to discover that no, you were simply a victim, something to be exploited for someone else’s sick enjoyment. That you were treated as if you’re not even human, less than nothing, not a person with feelings but some sort of computer construct to be toyed with. Who the hell would do something like that? What the fuck is wrong with people? Do they like to kick puppies, too, and maybe wander up to random children and tell them they’re useless, stupid little shits who’ll never amount to anything in the world? What kind of person gets their jollies from doing this sort of thing?

When did we forget that those other people, the ones on the other side of the computer, are in fact people, real people with feelings, and not Sims?

A while ago I did a post on bullies. It feels like things have gotten worse since then. No one is content to just let someone else have their own opinion anymore, and I’m sorry, but the fact that they posted that opinion on the internet does not mean it’s okay to gang up on them and call them names. You want to disagree with their opinion, fine. I personally don’t always see the point in making a big deal about disagreeing with it–I tend to just think “Huh. I don’t agree with that” and move on, unless it’s factual misinformation, in which case I still strive to be polite and respectful–but if you feel they need to hear your point, go ahead.

But there’s a difference between “I disagree with your opinion” and “Dude, you’re a fucking idiot.” There’s a difference between “This is incorrect” and “Dude, you’re a fucking idiot.” And why the hell do you care what they think, anyway? Why is it so important to you to lurk on people’s Twitter feeds and make fun of them in your own? Why do you need to send hoax emails to people just because they have dreams and are trying to accomplish something? Is that really fun? Do you even care that a human being is on the other end of that, a human being you’re being purposefully cruel to just because you can?

Yes, sure, people shouldn’t put things out there if they don’t want others to react. Yes, people should expect disagreement and not get all butthurt because someone does disagree. Yes, we’re adults and need to take responsibility for what we put out there.

But other people’s lives are not a fucking game. Just because someone doesn’t think or feel the way you think or feel doesn’t mean it’s okay to call all of your friends to gang up on them and giggle in public. Just because that person exists doesn’t mean you have the right to stomp all over them. Does it make you feel good about yourself to reduce another person to tears, to make them the butt of your jokes? Have you proved that you’re cool, because you can take an offhand remark they made and turn it into a huge debacle, or misinterpret something they said and spread that misinterpretation around, encouraging others to pile on as well, or play a prank on them and make them think their dreams have come true? Is it really that much fun to treat other people like shit? How the fuck do you people sleep at night?

I’m sick of it, is all. I’m sick of this internet culture that makes people think that other people are simply toys for their amusement, and that it’s okay to jump all over them and keep jumping, that it’s fun to do so. I’m sick of the idea that because it’s a group of people doing it, it’s okay to join in. I’m sick of the idea that it’s open season on anyone and everyone, and that if they wanted to have feelings they should have thought of that before they logged on to the internet. I’m sick of the idea that this kind of shit is cool, and I’m sick of the way people are dehumanized, and I’m sick of the internet culture that reminds me so strongly of Christians thrown to the lions.

Next time you go to comment on something, just think for one second. Is it really necessary to share my opinion here? How much does this really matter, in the big picture? Does this person really deserve my scorn? How would I feel, if someone said this to me? Am I sure I’m interpreting their point correctly?

I’m not saying you can’t have opinions or make them public. I’m not saying you should never respond. I’m not saying you can’t gossip with your friends in email or whatever else. I’m certainly not saying you shouldn’t speak up when someone is being unjust, or that you shouldn’t alert people to that injustice and/or warn others away from it, or stick up for those who can’t stick up for themselves; I absolutely believe you should.

I’m just saying, don’t forget, that other person is a person, too. Being cruel to them, picking their words apart when they didn’t mean to offend, playing tricks on them, laughing and kicking them when they’re down, publicly encouraging others to go and pick and laugh too? It doesn’t make you cool. It makes you a fucking asshole, and I’m sick of seeing it, and I’m sick of watching people be bullied online and then told they deserved it for daring to put themselves out there.

Just saw a link to this:

Another ETA: I want to make it very clear that my post is NOT referring to any other posts written about this specific situation. Indeed, it’s not about any one blog, blog post, or specific incident; or rather, I’m very angry and upset about this situation and on behalf of this writer but when I speak of internet culture etc. etc. I’m speaking in generalities, and absolutely NOT referring to or accusing anyone of anything over this particular situation (except the actual hoaxers, of course).

Just wanted to mention that, because I know a couple of other posts have been written about this. I read those after I wrote my post, and am not at all reacting or responding to them here.