Archive for 'rantypants'

What Stace had to say on Sunday, September 26th, 2010
Saturday Night Rant

Because I feel like it, that’s why.

I went to get my hair cut today (yes, I just bitched about this on Twitter. So? I have something else to rant about too, so if you’ve already read this–oh, your time is soooo valuable, you can’t read a little rant more than once–feel free to skip.

Last week hubs and I were doing a bit of online browsing at Daddy O’s, which we do quite often and have done for years and years now, almost since it opened. And we came across pictures of this model and her adorable hair, which we both really liked, and thought would be really cute on me. So I’ve been thinking about it all week, and hubs printed out the pictures so I could look at them, and I decided, yeah, today I’m going to get do it. Because yes, it’s shorter than what I have now, but it isn’t, like, microshort or anything. I wore my hair a lot like it fifteen years or so ago, and it never took long to grow out.

Problem, of course, is that I don’t know where in this area to go. The last place I got a professional cut closed, and even if it hadn’t I wouldn’t have gone back there, because it was too expensive and the girl really didn’t listen to me or do what I wanted, which just sucked.

I drove past a few places, but they were all, like, “Day Spa/Salon”s, which means they’re going to be outrageously expensive too. Finally I found an open place, walked in, and was greeted by this incredibly dour, frumpy little woman with that burgundy-auburn dyed hair, do you know the color I mean? Seriously, she looked like Rosa Klebb. Without the cheer.

I already had that sort of nervous icky feeling in my stomach, because I wasn’t sure I wanted to let Mama Steelboot there near me with scissors. But I showed her my pictures anyway, figuring who knows, maybe she’s an excellent stylist who just has bad person taste, right?

Her thick eyebrows rose up to her weirdly side-swept bangs. “You want to go this short?”

I don’t think the cut is that short, actually, and that’s what I said. She sort of looks at my hair again, raises her eyebrows further, and says, “Well, it’s shorter than what you have now.”

Um, yeah…that’s why they call it a hair cut. Also, duh, I can see that it’s shorter than what I have now; I even brought pictures to reference, and am perfectly capable of understanding the concept of varying lengths. Also, fuck you, lady.

She took my name, and went to start sweeping up, and I stood there wondering why I was even contemplating letting this woman who obviously didn’t get me or what I wanted, and who I suspected might deliberately sabotage my hair just for pleasure, at all near me, so I didn’t. I told her I wanted to think about it more, and ran.

Why is it so damn hard to find a decent stylist? One who will actually listen to what you want, and give it to you? I just don’t get it. This is why I cut my own hair. I just don’t feel confident I can do that cut myself, because of all the layers in the back.

Anyway. This leads me to another rant, which was brought on by a humorous discussion on Absolute Write, and I’m basically going to repeat what I said. (Hmm. Maybe I should have called this post “Recycled Rants.”

The discussion was about celebrities eating during interviews, and how just once it would be cool to see someone polish off a cheeseburger or something. I commented that only very thin actresses get to do that, in the guise of A) proving they’re not anorexic; B) proving they just naturally have the metabolism of gazelles, hee, and it’s just natural on them. Both of which are bullshit, and piss me off.

What pisses me off even more, along those same lines–and this is a blast from the past–is a scene in the Charlie’s Angels movie. Drew Barrymore, who produced it or whatever it was she did, insisted that there be a scene in it where the Angels sat down and ate burgers and fries, to convey the massage to girls women should eat and that they shouldn’t starve themselves to be thin or some crap like that. Except it’s bullshit, and Drew knows it.

If you want to be thin, you cannot sit down and tuck into plates of cheeseburgers and fries every day. You just can’t. Once a week, sure, especially if you’re fairly careful the rest of the time. But the idea that thin women gorge themselves at every opportunity is, IMO, just as damaging to young women as telling them not to eat.

It’s yet another unrealistic ideal for them to live up to. Not only are they supposed to be size 2s, they’re supposed to be able to eat half a cow and STILL be a size 2. For the record, I am a size 2 (actually, the jeans I’m wearing at the moment are a Juniors size 1, but they’re a bit tight). I worked hard to get to this size. I work hard to stay this size. That means I don’t get to eat burgers and fries every day. I don’t get to eat half a chocolate cream pie in the evening; in fact, I rarely eat anything for dessert except a bar of taffy (I like taffy, especially strawberry taffy. It’s not as good as Drumsticks–a taffy lolly I used to get in England–but I digress). When I’m hungry during the day I have a few pretzel sticks or something, or I don’t have anything at all.

In 2007, see, my weight hit 143 lbs. Yes, I know, for some women that looks great, but let me repeat that I’m barely 5’2, and very small-boned. I looked very round. Very round indeed. My features were distorted. I looked miserable, and I was miserable, and I got tired of wearing baggy t-shirts and having only one pair of jeans that fit me. So I started counting calories and making better choices, and by the time I was done in mid-2008, I’d lost 40 lbs.

Do I eat? Of course I eat. You have to eat to live. Do I get to eat whatever I want, whenever I want? No. I don’t. Neither do 99% of slim women, frankly. That’s a fact. It’s bad enough all the pressure on women to be thin, to be beautiful, to be perfect, to be sexy but not slutty, all that other stuff, without also adding the pressure that they should be able to have that perfect thin body without any effort, and that if they can’t stay thin while eating their weight in french fries there’s something wrong with them.

Not to mention, why, in determining that it’s necessary to show women eating–which is in itself kind of an insulting little thing to do, really–why choose burgers and fries? Why not a steak and baked potato? Why not some pasta? Why deliberately choose something extra fattening, that will make young women feel especially inadequate? If you want to set an example, why not have them sitting down to a really healthy meal? (Note: I honestly don’t think anything is wrong with burgers and fries as a meal, I don’t. I love them. I eat them probably once a week or once every couple of weeks, and my homemade burgers are delicious if I say so myself. But while I don’t think they’re the health disaster so many people do, I also don’t think they’re as good for you as fresh vegetables or leaner meats or whatever else, and I don’t see why, if you’re consciously setting out to set an example for young women, you wouldn’t want to set an example that shows them how to truly eat right).

We need to stop pretending that normal people are just naturally thin, and that no effort is required to maintain it. We need to stop pretending that our weight is something we have no control over, frankly, because that damages everyone (IMO). We need to stop sending the message, deliberately or not, that you are somehow inadequate if you can’t eat a plate of lard every day and not gain a pound. Oh, and you should be able to get up and run a marathon after, too.

Those super-skinny actresses are super-skinny, and they wolf down those burgers in interviews, because they probably haven’t eaten more than dry salad for a week preparing for that splurge. Being thin takes work. And you know what? It doesn’t look good on everyone, either. Certainly being super-skinny doesn’t. I always remember how pretty Laura Flynn-Boyle used to look before she became just leathery skin stretched over old bones.

If I had a different figure, I’d happily gain some weight. I would. I’m not a very curvy woman. I’m fairly straight-up-and-down; I don’t have a large bust, I don’t have a cushy, callipygian bottom. I am slight, petite in a word, and because of that every extra pound shows, and the only way I can feel comfortable and look good in my clothes is to be quite thin. If I was curvy, busty? Then I’d be happy to be curvy and busty, and I wouldn’t worry so much.

I don’t mean this post as The Personal History Of Stacia’s Weight, or as some kind of justification for my own appearance or anything else. All I mean it as is an attempt to be realistic, and to say something realistic to people. Yes, you can control your own weight, except in very rare cases. But yes, you do pay a price for that, and the price is food. Once you hit your goal weight you can relax a bit, sure, but you can never completely let yourself go (not to mention that after the first month or so your stomach shrinks and you just can’t eat as much anyway). Getting and staying thin is, for most of us, something we have to work at, not something that we can just tra-la-la through life not worrying about at all.

So why do we insist on lying to our young women about that? Why do we insist on making them believe that not only do they have to be thin, they have to be effortlessly thin? Yeah, I get the desire to keep them from becoming anorexic, but I believe that whether we’re honest or not about what it takes to maintain a certain weight, anorexia will still happen. I think it’s more dangerous to tell them there’s no connection between what they eat and their weight, personally, but that may be just me.

And yeah, all of this may be just me. But it’s my rant, too. I just think we put enough pressure on young women without adding another in the idea that they should be eating like hogs at every opportunity while still staying very thin and gorgeous and perfect. It’s time we were honest with young women, and everyone else, about how difficult it is to hold to those artificial and often harmful standards.

Or maybe we could just give up those ridiculous standards anyway? I know, I know, too much to hope for. Sigh.

I’m out of rant energy now.

What Stace had to say on Friday, September 10th, 2010
Everybody’s Gotta Right to be Right

Oh, before I start, there’s a new interview with me up at Paperback Dolls, done on the Saturday night during Dragoncon. It’s pretty decent, I think, though I could have sworn it went on longer than that. Maybe it was just because the interviewer was really fun to talk to. It was my first ever face-to-face, talk-into-a-recorder interview, too!

So I do wish I’d been more comfortable/experienced with that. And, you know, that I didn’t sound so silly and like I wasn’t actually answering the questions posed. Sigh. But still, it’s fun, and Caitlin came to hang out with us partway through so she’s in there too, which is of course awesome except all of our little asides and stuff aren’t in there, heh. Anyway. Go read it if you like.

I’ve also done another interview, with Julie at Yummy Man and Kick Ass Chicks, which was, again, lots of fun. That’s going to be posted at some point tomorrow, Saturday the 11th. (Which, has everyone forgotten what that day is? I don’t think we should have a national day of mourning forever, but I do think it’s sad and upsetting that I’m not even seeing mention of it anywhere.)

Anyway. A few months ago I had a discussion with a few friends about this subject, and now it’s come up again. Will someone please tell me when everyone decided that they had to be right all the time, that they never had to take blame for or accept responsibility for their mistakes or the effects their words and/or actions have on others, and that apologizing in any way is a terrible, weak, dumb thing to do?

As I think I’ve said before, we all–every single one of us–has at one time or another hurt another person. We said something we didn’t mean. Or we meant it when we said it but regretted saying it after. Or it was a flip, throw-away comment, made as a joke, that inadvertently really hurt or upset someone else. Or made them angry. Or whatever. Maybe we were having an off day. Maybe they were simply someone who doesn’t and never will understand us, and so the ability to connect and follow meanings just isn’t there.

We’ve all done it. All of us. We’re human, and that’s what humans do. Show me a person who has never in their lives hurt another person and I’ll show you a person who’s spent their entire lives in one room, or who has simply never spoken to anyone, although even then, what if someone tried to speak to them, and they didn’t reply? Wouldn’t that be hurtful? I think so.

But when did it become such a horrible, evil thing to do to just say you’re sorry? When did we decide we would rather argue and argue and argue, instead of just saying, “I’m sorry,” and letting the matter drop?

My friends and I were discussing a few of the biggest internet kerfuffles of the last year/year and a half or so, and how big they got, and how painful they were for so many people, and how in pretty much every case, the whole thing could have been avoided had one person, early on, just said, “You know, I’m not sure I understand why you’re upset, but it’s enough for me to know you are upset, so I really want to apologize because I certainly didn’t want to hurt you or make you angry.”

Apologizing is not giving in. Apologizing is not admitting you’re wrong. You don’t have to believe you’re wrong to apologize. It’s simply the right thing to do. The polite, civilized thing to do. And in a society which is supposed to be polite and civilized, I notice a disturbing number of people lately who don’t care who they hurt, who don’t care how many people they drag through the mud or rip apart, who don’t care how much filth spills over onto other people who had the misfortune of being in the same area. It’s all worth it if they get to prove they’re right. They are unequivocally, absolutely, totally right, and all the people who don’t see that are obviously morons with no soul, and if Person A just explains him- or herself enough times, or offers enough justifications, then Person B will of course realize how wrong they’ve been, bow meekly, and walk away, leaving Person A victorious.

Except life doesn’t work that way, and people don’t work that way, and all that will happen is everyone will get angrier and angrier and angrier, and friendships and reputations will be ruined and psyches scarred, just because everyone had to be right.

Why is it so damn hard to just say, “I’m sorry?” To just be graceful, and admit that although you meant no offense, obviously whatever you said or did had an unintended consequence? Why are people so reluctant to do that, why are they so determined to sacrifice the feelings of anyone and everyone else just so they can be right? Why are they so determined to convince themselves and the other people involved that they were wrong to be offended, or to take the comment that way? That it’s all their fault for being oversensitive, or babyish, or for expecting special treatment? People will rely on the worst self-serving pop-psychology bullshit to justify their own nastiness and insensitivity, because apparently just acknowledging and respecting the feelings of another human being is just way beyond their skill level, or what they’re prepared to do.

I don’t get it. It pisses me off. Grow up, you fucking morons. Just apologize, the way an adult does. Only a child needs to insist on being right all the time, and in resorting to this “blame the victim for their obviously skewed worldview” crap so they can avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. And you know, if you’re like that, and you seriously need so bad to be right all the time and to believe that you personally exist in this ethereal bubble of spiritual, social, and mental perfection that no mere mortal can possibly understand, then go fuck yourself, because you’re an asshole.

Yes, there are some people who deliberately set out to hurt or offend others. But most people don’t. I get that. Most of us get that. And like I said above, we’ve all done it. I can totally understand the “I really don’t understand what I did to upset you,” feeling. I’ve been there. I can totally understand the “That’s really not what I meant, and I find it pretty impossible to even understand how you misunderstood me so thoroughly, or why you assumed the worst like that.” I’ve been there too. I understand how it hurts to be misunderstood like that, because again, been there. I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of hurt feelings and offense. And it’s not pleasant. It’s not fun. Nobody likes to be hurt, and honestly, no decent person likes to think they’ve hurt someone else.

But sometimes we just have to suck it up, you know? If I make a joke about trees, and someone’s cousin married a tree and they then take offense, I need to apologize. By doing so I’m not admitting what I said was wrong. I’m not admitting defeat. I’m not admitting that I am an anti-tree hatist of the most evil proportion. I’m just saying that I didn’t mean to hurt or offend them. How is that wrong? How is that a lie? How is that insincere? Why is that so hard for people?

And even if I think both the person and their cousin are completely nut-rot crazy, I apologize. Yes, because again, I hurt or offended them, and that’s not a good thing to do. But also because perhaps someone offended by something like that is a bit unstable or is simply having a really bad, painful day, and by apologizing I can make them feel better. Maybe someone offended by that is the type who’ll stick around arguing for hours and hours, who’ll start spamming the blog or sending crazy emails, and I can head all of that trouble off at the pass just by saying I’m sorry. (That’s another thing too, about the Need To Be Right: why do you spend so much time and energy arguing with someone online? Why not just shrug and walk away? Stop replying to comments about it, stop engaging in discussions about it. It’s very simple. Let it go.)

By arguing and arguing, and needing so badly to be right, I prove not only what an insecure, needy little twat I am, but that I truly have no manners, that I truly am a selfish boor. Who wants to hang out with that kind of person?

There comes a point in every argument where the best thing to do is simply to give up. I believe that when you’re hurt someone, it’s your duty to apologize right away. But if that’s not what the argument is about, or if it’s past that point or whatever, there is still a sense of class and grace in being the one to walk away. It doesn’t make you look weak; just the opposite, in fact. Being willing to apologize, being willing to say that although you can’t agree, you don’t want to argue anymore, makes you look braver, stronger. It makes you the bigger person. I admire someone who can gracefully apologize and walk away. I do not admire someone who will resort to anything, any argument no matter how low, any justification no matter how crappy, any defense no matter how far-fetched and desperate, to prove themselves right. And especially, to lay the blame on the other person.

You know what? An argument–whether in real life or, especially, online–isn’t a fucking trial to save you from a murder rap. You’re not trying to escape a death sentence. It’s just not that damned important; it shouldn’t be, certainly. It shouldn’t be so important that your entire self-worth and self-image hinge on you being deemed THE VICTOR in this particular throwdown. It’s just a disagreement. You apologize and move on. And you know, if you’re so offended by the other person taking offense, maybe all of the bullshit you’re trying to ascribe to them apply to you as well, hmm?

It’s never pleasant to be told something you said or did was taken badly and upset someone. Nobody likes to feel like the villain. And certainly, when there are issues like racism or sexism involved, that can be really upsetting. But the way to prove that you’re not isn’t by arguing and yelling and claiming anyone who saw that in your statement is obviously a moron and way oversensitive. The way to prove you’re not is just to apologize. “Oh, man, it didn’t even occur to me that someone would read my comment that way. I’m so, so sorry it made you feel like that!”

It’s very easy. It’s part of being a member of society, whether that’s an online one or a Real Life one. And it’s part of being a decent person, frankly.

You don’t need to be right. You do need to behave like a human being. Just fucking apologize. Or soon you’ll have no one to apologize to, because no one will be speaking to you–except, perhaps, a couple of other sycophantic tools, but how long do you think that will last, when you’re all so rude, unpleasant, and convinced of your own superiority?

You hurt someone, you own your words. Whatever. Just do it. Grow the hell up.

What Stace had to say on Saturday, August 14th, 2010
Why I Post Reviews

About twenty minutes ago I found a link on Twitter to a review of the entire Downside series. This review, by Danielle at Alpha Reader.

Only the link didn’t go to Alpha Reader. It went to one of those content-collecting sites, a book focused one. That site has a Twitter account and when they “collect” a review, they tweet it, which is how I found it. Now that I’m thinkig of it I realize I’ve seen them post a duplicate of another review before, but as the review was for a site with many reviewers I thought the reviewer herself owned the “collecting” site (obviously I didn’t realize it was one of those sites) and was simply reposting her own review.

Of course I retweeted the link, thinking it was original. Immediately another reader informed me of the situation, which shocked me and made me feel ill. I deleted my tweet and reposted it with the correct link, giving credit to the actual writer of the post. By name, which the “collecting” site didn’t do; they had “Source: Alpha Reader” in the bottom left corner in a very pale gray font, which wasn’t easy to see.

That pissed me the hell off.

Here’s the thing. I’ve seen it mentioned a couple of times that writers should not acknowledge any reviews at all, be they positive or negative. And I think that’s bullshit. Why in the hell would I not give someone credit for their work? Why would I ignore it, when they’ve said wonderful things about my work, and took the time to write it all down and post it for anyone to see? When they are recommending my books to their friends? Why in the hell would I not at least give them a nod, let them know I did see it and appreciate it?

Not to mention, a lot of these reviews are incredibly well-written. These are reviewers with talent. Thoughtful, intelligent people who really pay attention to what they’re reading, who analyze it. Reviewers who really truly understand the books and what they’re trying to say, who really truly understand the characters. That’s a big deal. That’s a connection with people, a connection you cannot buy. It’s an amazing thing; it’s the best thing about being a writer, it’s the reason why most of us become writers. We want to share something, say something. When you discover that someone heard that and understood it and appreciated it, that something that means so much to you also means so much to them, that’s a big deal.

As far as I’m concerned, someone who reads my books, enjoys them, and takes time out of their day to write a review–especially a thoughtful, detailed one like Danielle’s or like any of the dozens of other fantastic reviews the Downside books have gotten–deserves credit for that. We all like web hits, right? So isn’t it a good thing to do to link to them, to encourage people to check out their blogs? Isn’t it a good thing for those who read my blog to maybe find a new reader blog they’ll enjoy? Maybe they’ll meet someone whose taste is like theirs; maybe they’ll make a new book-friend. Why the hell shouldn’t I do that? Why the hell should I ignore the hard work of someone who has acknowledged mine so kindly?

The “Terrible Fever” Goodreads group has over fifty members now (yes, I realize that hardly makes me a big name or anything, but I think it’s cool). How many of those readers knew each other before they joined up? I haven’t been reading the posts there because I don’t believe that’s my place–reviews are one thing, but discussions on forums among readers are another–but I’m willing to bet that not all of them did. That some of them met each other through that group. Isn’t that cool? Would that have happened if I hadn’t linked to the group here, or retweeted it? It’s very possible, sure, but it’s not definite.

I don’t read the Goodreads group; I don’t think it’s my place to do so. That’s a forum for readers, and they’re having their own discussions, and that’s not my business. I feel like if I popped in and started talking it might stultify the conversation, make them all self-conscious and uncomfortable. That’s the last thing I want to do. And frankly, yeah, I know there are few places that are reader-only anymore, and that it can be frustrating to have writers always popping in to comment. Yes, it’s disappointing and depressing; I am a reader, after all. I’ve been a reader all my life. But it feels sometimes like even if I’m trying to comment as a reader, I’m still not seen as one, and you know, that’s just the way it is, and it’s the price I pay for getting to do this job that I love more than anything.

Here’s the thing. I can’t email reviewers. I can’t contact them and tell them how glad I am that they caught this or understood that, or why the thing that disappointed them happened, or what the implications of the thing they’re curious about will be down the road. I can’t do that. I’ve learned that no matter how diplomatic you try to be, no matter how good your intentions are, no matter how happy you are or how interesting you think such a discussion is–no matter how much you think it would be fucking awesome to have a conversation like that with a writer whose work you read and had thoughts about–some people will always see it as an invasion, as writers butting in and trying to tell them what to do.

But what I can do is link to them. Acknowledge them from a distance. Say in my post that I loved this one or that one, that I found this line or that line particularly well-written and that I appreciated the effort that was put into it. Just as my novels are art to me, so those reviews may well be art to those reviewers, and they’ve put it out there hoping people will see it and understand it and connect with it.

Those reviews, those reviewers, those readers, are what make this whole thing worthwhile. They’re the ones who make all of the blood and sweat and tears, all of the emotional nakedness and pain, every bit of yourself that you put into your work, matter. I think they deserve to be acknowledged for that, and told that they matter. And I’m going to keep doing it.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
Boy Books and Girl Books?

(This is a long one, guys, so get comfortable.)

I’m sure you’re probably getting sick of seeing my reviews, but I do have another quick one to share. From WickedlilPixie at Writings of a Wicked Book Addict:

Unholy Ghosts is the first book in Stacia Kane’s Downside Series & it was phenomenal! It is one of the most grittiest, in your face Urban Fantasies I’ve ever read & I loved it…If you read one new Urban Fantasy series, make it Unholy Ghosts.

So something I’ve been thinking about for a while, as you guys know, is what urban fantasy truly is as a genre, and where it’s going, and how my books fit into it. (Remember the The Books Are Out There post?

And of course we’re now exactly one week away from the official release date of UNHOLY GHOSTS. And I’m wondering how people will respond to it, whether they’ll love it or hate it, whether the darkness will be too much for them, whether they’ll accept a drug addict as a heroine, all of those things that I worried and wondered about even as I wrote it.

But here’s the thing. I feel like urban fantasy has, as a genre, been somehow relegated to the “Girl” section. It’s been dismissed as “Girl books.” And many guys really do seem to think this way. I’ve seen a lot of them in various places referring to UF as “just paranormal romance with a little more action,” or “hot girl in leather solves mystery, sleeps with paranormal creatures.”

And honestly? I think to some extent that’s true. No, hear me out. Other worlds and paranormal creatures do tend to be a big part of urban fantasy. The heroines often have sex (mine certainly do) and it’s often with paranormal creatures (Megan sleeps with a demon, for example, but in Chess’s world the only paranormal creatures are ghosts, and they don’t really make good bed partners, what with the trying to kill you and all).
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What Stace had to say on Monday, April 12th, 2010
KFC: The Microcosm

So earlier today I happened to see something online about the KFC “Double Down” sandwich, which made me immediately think of the Luther Burger, although the version I’d always heard of the Luther Burger involved two jelly donuts used as buns, not grilled glazed donuts, but whatever. The point is, the Double Down sort of resembles the Luther Burger, in that it is disgustingly fatty and is probably delicious if you like that sort of thing; it’s bacon and cheese between two fried chicken fillets.

Anyway, while I have no desire to try to Double Down, reading about it did sort of make me want to have KFC for dinner, simply because why not, it’s been months and months. Hubs opted for Arby’s instead, which was right nearby; he went through the drive-thru there after dropping me off at the KFC to order for me and the kiddies.

Aaanyway. I guess we got there right after the dinner rush or something, because I had to wait a while after I ordered. No problem, I don’t mind. So I got the drinks (remember when you weren’t expected to fill your own cups at the soda dispensers? And how nice that was? I mean, I know fast food is cheap, but really, if I’m expected to work for my food it should be even cheaper. Sorry if that’s whiney; I’ve worked in fast food and I know how shitty it is, but seriously. It’s just weird to be handed an empty cup. Like I’m being told to get it my damn self if I want a damn drink so bad.)

So I get the drinks and stand at the counter, watching the two or three KFC employees racing around trying to fill orders. There was one guy who ordered before me, and then a Boy Scout troop leader who I guess also ordered before me but had wandered off to do something else. He appeared at the counter beside me, in his little Boy Scout outfit, complete with stupid just-below-the-knee shorts. Seriously, men? Stop wearing those fucking things, you look ridiculous in them. It does not, as you may imagine, provide you with some sort of Devil-May-Care insouciance. It makes you look like some creepy serial killer whose Mommy raised him as a girl. Plus, they make you look short and fat. ALL of you. Those things would make Ryan Reynolds look short and fat, and we all know Ryan Reynolds is built like a god or something. A God of sexy-body-ness:

Note the long pants

Note the long pants

You are a grown man. Wear pants.
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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?


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).


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 Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
Rules of the Blog

So a number of things have happened in the past few weeks/days that have got me thinking about this blog (No, relax. This is NOT a “I’m not blogging anymore” post). One, my decision to let the set schedule go. I’ve actually enjoyed blogging more lately, and if you notice, I’m still doing about two posts a week. The difference for me is I can now blog when something strikes me, and not hold back until it’s Blog Day or whatever. So I kind of feel rejuvenated as a blogger, if that makes any sense. I’m having fun with it again, and that feels great. So I thought this would be a good time to kind of renew my thoughts on the blog, and what its purpose is, and what I think about it.

I’ve seen a few times online in the last month or two people–people who should fucking know better, IMO–running contests where one of the ways to enter the contest is to post about the contest on blogs or message boards. In other words, don’t just promote the contest on your own blog or Twitter feed, but post about it on various message boards or in comments on other people’s blogs.

This is spam. It is spam, spam, spam. It is tacky and it is rude, and just as a general FYI–although I know none of you would ever do such a thing–it will not be tolerated here. I can ban IPs from this site, and I will do it.

Here’s the thing. This is MY blog. It’s MY website. And while I follow certain rules–which I’ll get to in a minute–the fact remains that at its most basic level, this site and blog are here to promote me and my books. Along with, of course, the books of anyone I mention in posts or invite to come do a guest post here. To “walk” into my blog and start dropping your own promo is the height of rudeness, akin to walking into my home and starting to redecorate without being asked. I don’t care what it’s for. Don’t do it. It’s rude to me and it’s rude to you guys, the readers of this blog, who do not deserve to be treated like rubes or fish in a barrel, just waiting to be led around by the nose.

As of this writing the blog gets anywhere from 200-600 hits a day, every day. On days when I post the numbers go up; no-post days, of course, have lower numbers (and some posts got much, much higher numbers, but those are obvious anomalies). And I’m aware that’s nowhere near the kinds of hits really popular blogs, really popular names, get. But they’re still MY numbers; you’re MY readers, and I’ve worked hard over the years to attract you and entertain you and get to know you a bit, even, and let you get to know me, and you and that work mean a lot to me.

If you have something to promote–be it a book or a charity–email me about it. There’s a good chance that I’ll invite you to guest post about it, or I’ll mention it. And if I don’t, it’s probably because I don’t think my readers would be that interested in it, frankly. And you know what? That’s up to me. because, again, MY BLOG. MY READERS. I owe them–I owe you guys–the respect of not being treated like some nameless, faceless gaggle of wallets.

Which brings me to the other thing. A long time ago now I did a post about why I don’t blog about politics, and the gist of it was, because I respect you all and think you’re capable of making your own decisions without my input. This is still true. But, as I believe I said in a follow-up post at some point, which I’m too lazy to hunt around for–there’s another reason, too.
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What Stace had to say on Thursday, February 4th, 2010
Those gross tv chefs

So a discussion began last night, on a forum of which I am a member, about the rinsing of raw meats before cooking, specifically poultry. Some rinse, some don’t. Another member commented that apparently the FDA recommends against rinsing. You know why?

Because the water can splash and land on other things, thus spreading bacteria.

I had to laugh. I love the idea, first of all, that the FDA is recommending against a basic sanitary routine because the people doing it are apparently not capable of cleaning up after themselves. Seriously.

But it got me thinking about one of my biggest, hugest pet peeves ever, which I’m going to share with you.

See, I am anal about raw poultry and/or pork. Seriously. I treat that shit like it’s nitroglycerine. Nitroglycerine which also carries the Ebola virus. And is armed with razor blades.

Here’s what I do:
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What Stace had to say on Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
It’s YOUR damn story

I could have sworn that I’ve blogged about this before, but I just did a search and nothing turned up, so I guess I haven’t. Or maybe I’m searching wrong. Anyway. (No, I did sort of discuss this before, in this 2007 post, but not with the same focus, so I don’t feel as though I’m repeating myself.)

Here’s the thing. Writing involves making up stories. Perhaps you’re a plotter, one of those bizarre creatures who knows exactly what’s going to happen in the story before you open a shiny new Document and follows your path as tidily as a ballerina with months of rehearsal. (In which case I seriously envy you, despite my snottiness. It’s fond, admiring snottiness, I promise.)

Or maybe you’re a pantser like me, and start with a character or two and a premise, and toss them into the document and see what happens. Maybe like me you have a few vague ideas of where the story will go; I tend to have some sort of idea of what the climactic battle will be like, and maybe a scene or two sort of lurking in the back of my mind waiting to be used.

But either way, you need to make up the story. It’s down to YOU; it’s your responsibility. Quite frankly, a fiction writer who cannot make up a story is not a fiction writer. If writing fiction is what you want to do, you need to learn and absorb the skill of Making Shit Up. Period.

Which is why it drives me insane when I see writers–or those who want to be or claim to be writers–asking people what they should do with their story. Should the hero and heroine get together now? Should the villain do this or that? How old should the characters be? Should the villain die at the end? Should the father be the bad guy?

Then there are the secondary questions, what I refer to as the “unfamiliar” questions. I call them that because the questioner is seemingly unfamiliar with either the genre in which they are writing, or with books in general. (They could also be called the “Is it okay” questions, since they tend to start that way. These are questions like, “Is it okay if the hero cusses? Is it okay if the heroine isn’t a virgin? Is it okay if the heroine kills the bad guy? Is it okay if the hero gets drunk? Is it okay if the hero has a kid?” etc. etc.

I’d say the latter annoy me more, but honestly, they both annoy me equally.

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  • What Stace had to say on Thursday, November 12th, 2009
    Yes, Virginia, you need an agent

    For those of you who haven’t yet heard, yesterday Galleycat published a rather ridiculous opinion piece about how agents are unnecessary and they don’t do anything and they’re just evil old vultures and blah blah blah. The same crap we’ve heard before, in other words, although I find it fascinating that this piece was written by someone who last year–obviously unaware that I already had an agent and two book deals–offered to query agents on my behalf for the low, low price of $500.00, and yes I still have that email exchange saved. He’s perfectly entitled to run such a business and I’m not calling him a scammer, but it’s interesting, isn’t it?

    Agent Miriam Goderich rebutted it here very nicely. So, I’m sure, have others, but I’m about to add my voice to the chorus simply because that’s the way I roll, baby.

    Do you need an agent?

    Yes. Yes, you fucking do.


    Okay, sure. If you’re planning on having a career in epublishing, you probably do not need an agent. If you’re planning to self-publish, you do not need an agent. There’s nothing wrong with either of those things. I started out in epublishing, without an agent, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I’m glad I did it and am grateful to Ellora’s Cave for treating me so well and enabling me to make some decent cash. Working with them was a pleasure for me.

    But–no offense–I wanted more than that. I wanted books on shelves. I wanted advances. I wanted a bigger career. I wanted to move out of genre romance/erotic romance; not because I didn’t enjoy it or don’t enjoy it (writing and reading), but because the more of it I wrote the more a little voice inside me told me it was simply not quite the right fit for my voice or the kinds of stories I wanted to tell.

    To accomplish those things (aside from moving away from writing romance, which of course is a huge genre in all forms of publishing: ebook, mass market paperback, trade paperback, hardcover, audio, whatever) I needed an agent.

    Here’s what fascinates me (and infuriates me) about the original Galleycat article (aside from the fact that its author apparently also runs a website devoted to helping writers self-publish; again, legal, but certainly interesting). It’s this paragraph here:

    One published author who asks to be unnamed disagrees, “What do you need an agent for anymore, really? Why? To negotiate a meager advance? You can’t get them on the phone anyway. You’re stuck promoting the book yourself because publishers don’t put any marketing dollars into your book unless you’re John Grisham. I don’t see the whole point when I can hire an attorney to negotiate my publishing contract for a flat fee or just upload the book to Kindle myself.”

    Let’s take a look at these points, shall we?
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