Archive for 'the dull details of my dull life'



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Stace had to say on Thursday, September 11th, 2014
A little bit, and more

Well, what a month it’s been. My oldest daughter had a birthday, I had a birthday. The children spent a week with their grandmother, and I–who was convinced this would be the greatest week I’d had in years–actually spent a large chunk of that time moping and wishing they were home. How pitiful is that? I was ashamed of myself. Almost as ashamed as I was when, the night Mr. Hubs delivered them to his mother, I actually was afraid to go to bed by myself, although in fairness I have to say that this is a big, old house, which makes lots of bizarre creaks and pings and noises in the night. Almost as ashamed as I was when I realized, at about nine o’clock that night, that with no husband or kids in the house I could watch whatever I wanted on TV and there I was watching Goodfellas on DVD for the millionth time. Not that there’s anything wrong with Goodfellas, of course–it’s one of my favorite movies, as evinced by my having seen it like a million times–but I can watch Goodfellas anytime I want when the kids are in bed or at school or whatever, whereas bad TV about plastic surgery disasters or documentaries about murders or whatever else only air at specific times and I usually never even find out they’re on.

Also, I was sick last weekend. Stomach bug or something, I don’t know, but it was awful.

What else? Hubs and I have been watching Twin Peaks and this Venezuelan soap opera called Eva Luna, which is dubbed in English. The dubbing is…interesting, I’ll just put it that way. But it’s fun. I wish my Spanish was better, because the telenovelas always look like the coolest things ever.

Anyway. Enough about dull things like me. I meant to post this last Friday (but again, sick, bleh) so here it is today: a little sneak peek from the newest short which will be part of the collection I’m hoping like hell to have out this month. (As usual, this isn’t copyedited so may change slightly when published.)

The Perfect Plate was a sort of overdressed greasy spoon, squeezed in between a dry cleaner and a dollar store in a bland-looking strip mall a few blocks away from Church headquarters. The food there pretty much sucked, but that didn’t matter. It wasn’t like Chess was going to eat anyway.

What mattered was that the place wasn’t in Downside, which made it a place she could meet Beulah for lunch without people noticing them together. Word that Bump’s Churchwitch was hanging out with the sister of his rival, Lex, would travel pretty fast; word that Terrible’s girlfriend was hanging out with Lex’s sister would travel even faster. Nobody would be happy about that.

It was a good thing she’d spent her entire life keeping secrets. Otherwise she might wonder if she was ever going to be able to just be honest with other people. Other people besides Terrible, at least.

Speaking of secrets…she dug her pillbox out of her bag, grabbed three Cepts from it, and choked them down dry before she got out of the car and made her way through the heavy, steamy heat toward the restaurant.

Ice-cold air blasted her the second she opened the door, instantly chilling the sweat on her skin. It took her eyes a second to adjust to the dim interior—well, dim compared to the sunlight outside, so bright it felt like an assault—to see Blue already there, lounging at one of the little tables in that elegantly lazy way she shared with Lex. Her white sleeveless top exposed bare golden-skinned shoulders; her hair was up in a perfect messy twist, and her black cigarette pants probably cost more than Chess’s base monthly salary.

She smiled when Chess sat down. “You’re late.”

“It’s only five past.”

“Five minutes late is still late.”

“Well, you’re still a bitch,” Chess said, “so I guess we’re even.”

“True.” Blue straightened in her chair and picked up the menu. “Are you eating? Am I actually going to see you consume food?”

Chess shook her head, just as the waitress arrived and they went through the whole dull just-a-Coke-no-really-just-a-Coke routine and Blue ordered one of those rich-girl salads that were mostly green Styrofoam and cost fifteen dollars.

“Busy at work?” Blue asked, when the waitress finally wandered off.

“No.” Damn, that came out kind of flat and cold, didn’t it? “It’s just, August is a really slow month. It’s been a really slow summer.”

Blue’s slightly raised eyebrows showed that she’d caught the lame repetitions of ‘really,’ and knew what they were hiding. “And I guess it doesn’t help that you’re not the most popular girl in the place these days.”

“I guess it doesn’t.” That was an understatement. Ever since Elder Griffin found out about the psychopomp hawk she’d killed and the illegal sigil she’d carved on Terrible’s chest to save his life, he’d been, well, less than enthusiastic about her.

To be fair, at least she was still alive. Both of those crimes were executable offenses, and if Elder Griffin had turned her in for them she wouldn’t have been sitting there whining to Blue. She wouldn’t even have been in the City of Eternity, the enormous cavern beneath the earth where the spirits of the dead wandered in endless silence. She’d be in the spirit prisons, her soul forced into solidity by electric current and tortured by fire and light and iron and whatever else the Church could think of to torture it with—and they were awfully inventive.

It was worth losing some income to stay alive and out of the City. It was worth losing every penny she had to keep Terrible alive; hell, if she had been busted and sent to spirit prison, that would have been worth it, too.

But it wasn’t the loss of income that depressed her. It was the loss of Elder Griffin himself. He’d been…he’d been her friend. More than her friend. He’d cared about her, helped her. Stood behind her. That had mattered more than she’d ever realized until the day it was gone, and it still made her chest feel hollow when she let herself think about it.

Which she didn’t want to do, any more than she wanted to talk about it for even one more second. “No big deal. How’s your thing, did you look at that place yesterday?”

A totally-not-fooled expression played over Blue’s face, but thankfully she let it drop before Chess could finish bracing herself. “I think it’s going to work, yeah. There’s enough space for all the girls to practice, and it’s not far from the school.” She hesitated. “The owner’s son asked me out.”

“Oh? What’s wrong with him?”

“I’m sure I’ll find out. Or, you know, Lex will, and he’ll tell me.”

The waitress arrived with their drinks. Good. Not only was Chess thirsty, but hearing Lex’s name, so casually, made her feel sick. It was as if a greenish lens of nausea had suddenly slid over everything. Not unusual, for thinking about him to make her feel…well, bad, but it was unusual for her to feel it so strongly.

The waitress—her name, according to the plastic tag on her white short-sleeved button-down, was Emma—didn’t look too hot, either. Or rather, she looked exactly too hot, as if she’d taken their orders and then zipped into a rubber suit and gone for a jog. Her dark hair was damp, her face flushed.

But she smiled to acknowledge their thanks, and seemed sprightly enough as she trotted off back toward the kitchen. Maybe she’d just been making out with the cook or something. Not Chess’s business, certainly, but at least it got her mind off Lex for a second and eased some of the queasy feeling. The Coke helped, too.

What really helped was the fact that her pills started to kick in, sending enough warm peace through her body that she didn’t blink when Blue asked, “Are you ever going to talk to him?”

Unfortunately, not blinking didn’t mean she didn’t still feel the hit, or that she had any idea what to say. “I don’t know.”

“It was just business. And he did warn you. He asked for your help and you said no, what was he supposed to do?”

Like what Lex had done to Terrible—trying to hire him, and then when Terrible refused, trying to have him killed—was the only reason she was pissed. It was the main reason, yes, but not the only reason at all. But then, Blue probably didn’t know about the rest of it, about Lex’s little “Too bad it ain’t in you to make that mean shit,” speech or how he’d almost destroyed everything for her just to prove he could. Somehow she doubted he’d told Blue about that, and she certainly wasn’t going to.

“Not what he did,” she said. “Kind of anything other than what he did, actually.”

Blue ignored that. “Look, I was pissed at him, too. I don’t blame you. But I know he feels bad about it.”

“I’m sure he spends hours crying from shame. Is this why you wanted to hang out today?”

“No. We just haven’t talked about it and I thought I’d—”

A blast of heat on Chess’s right side so hot it lifted her hair from her shoulder; screams erupted in the room, and Chess started moving. Fuck, what was that, had someone set off a bomb or—what the hell?

The waitress was on fire.

No, that wasn’t accurate. The waitress wasn’t on fire. The waitress was fire, a column of fire about a foot and a half in diameter that reached from the floor to the ceiling. Her unmoving black shape was barely visible through a wall of blue-orange, one arm extended like she’d been reaching for something.

It’ll be out as soon as I can get it out! It is coming along, so like I said I’m *very* hopeful for a release before the month ends. I’m hoping for the next Terrible novella to be out by the end of October, and a bunch of other stuff in the months to follow, too (including some all-new non-Downside stuff I’ve been working on), so I hope you’re as excited as I am.

What Stace had to say on Monday, June 16th, 2014
Hiding

I’m hiding from the internet today.

See, last night all you lucky people in the US got to watch the GAME OF THRONES finale. Whereas the hubs and I–and everyone else in England–have to wait until 9 pm tonight. A WHOLE DAY LATER IT IS KILLING ME BLAAAH.

*******SPOILERS! SPOILERS UP TO THE PENULTIMATE EP OF SEASON 4!! HIGHLIGHT TO SEE SPOILERS!*******

What happens to Tyrion? Will Arya find Sansa? Does that psychopathic bastard Ramsey move his sadistic ass into the ruins of Winterfell to rebuild it and, I dunno, have a place where he can grin his evil grin while he drinks blood and tortures infants and conducts medical experiments that would shock Josef Mengele? What’s Stannis going to do? What about Sir Jorah–I love Sir Jorah and I’m so sad, even though really he did ruin everything and it’s his fault I don’t get to look at Khal Drogo anymore.

Some of the anticipation is gone now that Joffrey is dead and all; I mean, I was thrilled to see him die but it felt sort of anticlimactic. Mainly because I suspect most of us–or, okay, maybe just me–would only have been happy if the show had done a one-hour “Joffrey dies the hideous death he deserves” special, in which we saw clips of all of his worst acts–okay, it’d need to be, like, a four-hour miniseries event–and the people he’d wronged each got to come up, call him names, and slap him, and then stab him somewhere painful but non-deadly, like the Death of a Thousand You’re-A-Hideous-Shitbird Cuts, until finally Sansa and the ghost of Ned Stark finish him off by ass-fucking him with Ned’s sword Ice. And also, I’m disappointed that we found out so quickly who killed Joffrey, because Hubs and I were having a lot of fun imagining it like a game of GOT Clue: was it Sansa in the Observatory with the Poison Wine? Tyrion in the Tower of the Hand with the Valyrian Sword? Cersei in the Red Keep with the Crazy Malevolent Mother-Obsession? Margaery in the Garden with some sort of Magical Ingestible Torture Device? It was fun, but sadly, we now know Emma Peele did it, along with Littlefinger, who is just as sinister as the Red Death when the clock strikes twelve.

Feel free to comment on any of the above, but for the love of all that’s holy please don’t spoil me for the finale!! Because seriously, I will be very upset and will probably put you in a book suffering some sort of very undignified and stupid death. “We have a new case, Chess…there’s a woman who reported a ghost but then we found her dead. Apparently she was masturbating with a carrot and it broke, so she sent a mouse up there to eat it, and it died so she sat on the toilet to try to douche with bleach to clean it out but it hurt, so she stood up and tripped and drowned with her head in the bleach-filled toilet and a dead bleach-soaked mouse and a half-eaten carrot inside her ladybusiness there. Her name was _____ ____, and everyone hated her guts because she couldn’t keep her spoiling mouth shut. So I say we don’t need to investigate her ghost, because she got what she deserved for being stupid and horrible and spoiling GAME OF THRONES.”

Um…sorry, guys, that got sort of needlessly graphic and horrible, huh.

Anyway. I know there are spoilers out there, and so I must hide.

Not because I’m afraid of, say, being randomly attacked by a spoiler as I mind my own business walking down the internet street. No, I’m reasonably certain that most spoilers–not all, of course–mark themselves clearly as such, as they are respectable spoilers and do not wish to be mistaken for hints, previews, or mere theories. They’re proud to be spoilers and want the world to know it. Yes, there’s always that moron or dickhead who enjoys spoiling things for others, or dismisses complaints with, “It was on LAST NIGHT, man, if you haven’t seen it by now, that’s your fault,” but in general I’m not too afraid that I’ll be accosted by a spoiler while innocently researching the death penalty in Victorian England or reading humorous anecdotes on notalwaysright.com.

I just don’t trust myself. Right now I’m practically sweating, because I know there are spoilers out there and that I could find them. Easily. Five minutes from now I could know everything that happens; it’s the digital equivalent of knowing exactly where your parents hide the Christmas presents.

But you know, one year I found those presents, and realized that it really did ruin the run-up to the actual holiday and the holiday itself. It just wasn’t as much fun knowing exactly what was coming. Same with spoilers. (Plus, the hubs hates it when I know what’s coming and he doesn’t.) At least, not when I actually care what happens. I no longer particularly care what happens on MAD MEN, frex–watching Don Draper have a meltdown and turn into an insignificant sadsack, living in roach-infested filth and failing at everything he attempts, is not really what I signed up for when I got on board the MAD MEN train however many years ago (and don’t even get me started on splitting the final season in two, seriously. Because that story moves so fast it needs to give us time to breathe? uh-huh).

I watch MAD MEN to watch Don be clever and drink and get laid a lot while being impossibly smooth in nice suits. I don’t care if the point of the whole show is how men like that are secretly miserable or how that image is a miserable facade just like America in the early 60s or how the majority of men lead lives of quiet desperation in their gray flannel suits. That’s not a show I want to watch. I want Don to be awesome, and Roger to be awesome, and Peggy to not turn into a shrew right out of the pages of a 1950s True Confessions magazine (“I had it all, but I cried every night because without a husband it’s all meaningless, which is why I became a barfly and lost all my teeth and then had a hissybabyfit in the office because my secretary got flowers”), and Stan to be hilarious, and Joan to appear in every scene being cutting and gorgeous. (I can’t complain about what they did with Pete in the S7 episodes I watched, because he’s pretty much how he’s always been, only with louder pants.) That is why I watch.

To replace MAD MEN, we started watching HANNIBAL. I said on Twitter that if you’re not watching HANNIBAL, you are missing the fuck out, and that is entirely 100% true. More than that, even. It’s more true than even the craziest stereotypical football coach would feel comfortable expressing in a percentage (“That truth is giving 469%–oh, dammit, now I just sound like a moron, don’t I.”) so s/he would just go back to shouting “WIN! WIN! WIN!” (Remember, we’re discussing stereotypes here. Please do not get angry at me if you know and love a football coach, or are personally a football coach.) Seriously, you guys, HANNIBAL is SO GOOD. SO FUCKING GOOD. I thought it wouldn’t be good–it sounded sort of dumb and pointless to me–but I was wrong. It’s amazing. It’s so good that after the first couple of episodes I completely stopped noticing that Hugh Dancy’s earlobes are kind of hobbit-like.

But of course, it’s on summer hiatus. As GAME OF THRONES will be after tonight, and I honestly do not know what we’re going to do here–at least, what we’re going to do until JUSTIFIED’s fifth season comes out on DVD and we scrape together some money to buy it and have it shipped to us. But that’ll last us, like, a week and a half if we’re lucky. (Because JUSTIFIED? Also AWESOME, and you should watch it so we can all talk about it and trade little references like, “It was in your glass,” and dissolve into happy drooling sighs over Raylan and Boyd.

And we have some episodes of THE BLACKLIST still to watch, which is also a very good show and we like it a lot, although let’s be honest, compared to GAME OF THRONES it might as well be The Teletubbies. We have a couple of seasons of THE SOPRANOS that we never finished watching (I know, I know) and–shocking as I’m sure this will be–we have never actually seen THE WIRE, although we’ve both really wanted to.

So there will be things for me to watch on warm evenings as I sit on the couch and apply lotion to every exposed bit of skin I possess. (I realized last night that I do this every summer. It’s like I’m anointing myself for some sort of ritual, or I’m about to be placed on a very hot grill. You guys know I’m never far from a bottle of lotion anyway, because I’m constantly washing my hands, but in summer it gets sort of weirdly obsessive and at any given moment I’m contorting myself oddly on the couch rubbing coconut oil into my elbows, or something. I also put it in my hair. I’m like some sort of grooming machine.) I will somehow manage to be entertained throughout the summer, aside from the time I spend working, which will be plenty.

But what I’m watching won’t be new episodes of GAME OF THRONES, which is the saddest thing…well, the saddest thing I’ve said in this paragraph, because the stuff about the lotion is pretty pitiful, really.

What Stace had to say on Monday, December 2nd, 2013
Goodness!

Oh, do I feel guilty. I cannot believe I’ve been away for so long. I’m so sorry, guys!

I’m fine. I’ve been fine (I had a cold recently, but aside from that). I’ve just been tremendously busy: new Downside stuff, three new other projects, some non-work things…a whole bunch of stuff. Plus a couple of Internet Vacations, and more than a couple of research holes I fell down.

A few snapshot moments from my Lost Weekend:

Lou Reed died. I remember buying my first Velvet Underground album when I was seventeen (a compilation album, to be honest). Actually it was a cassette tape, which I played until it broke. Then I spliced it with Scotch tape and played it some more. It was a pretty miserable period in my life, for a number of reasons, and that album–I branched out at some point and picked up the individual albums–did a lot for me. I’m not really a huge fan of Reed’s solo work (with a few exceptions), but for twenty+ years now VU has been on my homemade mix tapes (remember those?) and then my iPod. I was actually surprised by how intense my reaction to this news was. It’s hard to express what that music meant to me and still does mean to me, and I frankly sound like a pretentious dork when I try to explain or quantify it. Suffice it to say I was pretty upset.

The other day we showed the girls JAWS for the first time. I so, so wish we’d had our phones out to video their response at the Big Jumpscare; you know the one I mean, when Hooper is underwater looking at the remains of Ben Gardner’s boat. They practically leapt out of their skins. Stephen and I, like all good parents, laughed very hard, which prompted an outraged “Why are you laughing at us?” from Princess. (Answer: because it’s HILARIOUS.)

We’ve been watching Justified, which is awesome. We’ve been watching The Sopranos, which is also awesome and I’m kind of ashamed to say I didn’t watch when it came out–not out of lack of interest, just lack of time. We’ve been watching A Young Doctor’s Notebook, which is very awesome, and I highly recommend it. We’ve been watching The Blacklist, which IMO is one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. And of course we’ve been watching Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, which would be a lot better without isn’t-she-great-look-how-adorable-she-is-don’t-you-love-her-no-seriously-you-must-love-her-it’s-clear-we-expect-you-to-love-her-damnit Skye.

Also saw the new Thor movie, which we enjoyed quite a bit.

I’ve perfected my bread recipe.

My Faerie’s school choir, of which she is a member, participated in a performance of Noye’s Fludde at Exeter Cathedral in October. I’ve never been a fan of the Noah’s Ark story; I get that the whole animals-two-by-two thing is supposed to be charming (or something) and little kids like that and there are lots of kiddie toys featuring the ark and the animals, but I always found it pretty disturbing, to be frank. But of course, this particular show, while still having the creep factor, also had the world’s most adorable duck marching onto the ark in her pink jammies, which made a huge difference in my enjoyment levels.

I’ve been forced to “upgrade” my iPhone’s OS to that new one that sucks. My favorite part of it, aside from it being ugly, and the YouTube app which is practically unusable, and the loss of Google Maps, is the fact that my audiobooks no longer have chapter listings. That makes it lots of fun to try to hunt for a particular scene or bit of information, especially when driving or cooking with stuff all over my hands. Why just hit a chapter number and go right to it when I can attempt to scroll around a five-hour block to find it? It’s like an adventure, right there on my phone. Whee!

So you can see it’s been pretty busy here, aside from the new projects and general other life things happening.

Even then, though… I had something planned, which I didn’t finish in time. So I’ve come up with a compromise, sort of, which I hope you guys will like.

See, it’s been my plan for a while to compile the two existing previously published Downside shorts (HOME, available from Heroes & Heartbreakers, and RICK THE BRAVE from the HOME IMPROVEMENT: UNDEAD EDITION anthology) which I now have the right to re-release on my own, add a new previously unreleased short, and release the three stories as an ebook for the holidays–actually, I’d hoped for a November release. I have the new short, but I totally didn’t get it done soon enough to do all the formatting and cover-art-commissioning and all of that stuff.

This makes me feel Bad.

I think I’ve come up with a solution. A hopefully-fun solution, which will also be a bit of an experiment, so we’ll see how it goes.

Here’s my plan (I am open to and interested in feedback; contact me privately if you wish, using the Contact form here on the site):

I’m going to post this story here, on the blog, starting later this week. And I’m going to set up a Paypal button where, if you feel the story is worth paying for, you can pay whatever you wish to pay for it. But the story is here anyway; I’ll be honest and say I hope you will, but there’s no obligation. And then, after the new year (probably) I’ll get it all formatted and everything, with a cover and all that fancy stuff (I’m hoping pay-what-you-want will at least cover some of the costs there, but if not oh well), and offer it for download here on the site (in all the regular ebook formats).

Then, since I have another short, I’ll package it, plus HOME and RICK THE BRAVE, plus the new unpublished short, all together, and that one will go up on the retail outlets and such and all for a low price (or, if pay-what-you-want is a success, maybe I’ll do that the same way. We’ll see).

I’m also hoping/planning to have the second Terrible POV novella up by late spring. Sales of WRONG WAYS DOWN surpassed my expectations, which was/is pretty awesome, and thank you all so much for that! So since you all seem to enjoy reading from his POV, and since you all seem to want to read his side of the story of UNHOLY MAGIC and CITY OF GHOSTS, that will be the next Terrible story. (Also, I do have the winner[s] in the WRONG WAYS DOWN contest, and will be announcing them next week when the short story wraps up. I honestly thought I had posted those.)

Speaking of retail outlets, btw, Amazon has pulled DEMON’S TRIAD, the X-rated novel I co-wrote with Anna J. Evans for Ellora’s Cave back in 2009, because of the extreme content. They offered us the chance to edit out that content, and we have refused–to do so would have required some story changes we feel would hurt the book, frankly, in a number of ways. So if you’re looking for DEMON’S TRIAD, try EC’s site or whatever other retailers you buy your books from.

So…to sum up:

I’ve been busy but that’s no excuse, and I’m sorry for my absence;

There’ll be a new Downside short here this week & next week that I hope you’ll enjoy and think is worth something;

I have missed you all;

I’ve got a lot of new stuff coming out in the next few months.

What Stace had to say on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013
Guest Post: Emily Winslow

Hey all!

I hope you had a great new year. Personally, I’m hoping 2013 will be a lot better than 2012, which sucked for a number of reasons. Thirteen is an exceedingly good number, though, so fingers crossed.

I’ll have a post in the next week or so with some more details/info about the Terrible novella (which just might finally have a title!); it’ll be an FAQ-style thing, so if you have any questions please do leave them in comments or use the Contact form to ask away. (I’ve already had quite a few questions about it, so I figure this will be the best way to answer them all.)

But today I have something a little different! Emily Winslow is a pal of mine from Absolute Write, and I think her book sounds awesome, so I asked her if she wanted to share an excerpt here today (it was supposed to be for yesterday, but yesterday went a bit haywire for me. My oven was condemned last week–no, seriously, I didn’t know that could happen either. But it’s a very old oven [like thirty years, I think] and the gas man came to look at it and decided we shouldn’t use it any more. So our wonderful landlord has gotten us a new oven, which will be delivered Friday [it is sad how excited I am about this]. The problem is, our old oven is smaller than what seems to have become the standard size for ovens these days, so we had a choice: buy an oven the same size as the current one for like £800, or take three inches off our countertop and buy a slightly bigger oven for a lesser price. Our landlord and I both felt the latter was the best option. So yesterday I had a bunch of work to do in the kitchen, both clearing and cleaning/tidying, and making a meal for Stephen’s co-worker who brought his big impressive power saw over to perform a countertop circumcision. Of course, the worst/hardest work is yet to come, because our old oven has its own backsplash thingy, whereas the new one does not, which means I’ll have like thirty years of grime to scrub off the tiles behind it once it’s gone, not to mention I will then need to paint those tiles to match the rest of them, and all that stuff. Not looking forward to that, particularly, or to what I am certain will be a shockingly filthy floor beneath, but oh well. I get a new oven. And the bottoms of my pots will hopefully no longer be crusted with soot after each use, requiring a complicated cleaning system involving toothbrushes and scrubby sponges just to keep them from staining my shelves. I have digressed quite a bit).

Point is, I spent all day yesterday Doing House Things, so I apologize to Emily for not posting this then. The good news, though, is that here it is now, and I hope you all enjoy it!


In the office, Lucy was talking with the new girl, who brought a newspaper in with her every day. Sometimes she spread it out on the table and it would overlap some of my envelopes. I don’t like to touch newsprint. On this one, the greasy ink made a generic picture of the river Nene in flood, near Peterborough. The words said a body had surfaced in the water there.

Lucy called the new girl Enid, which is how I learned her name. She said, “Enid, that’s disgusting!”

“That’s what water does. They have no idea who she was or how long she’s been there, really. Less than a year. More than a month. There were some hairs left to say she was fair. . . .”

I couldn’t see my notebook. The paper was opened wide, not even folded once. My notebook had to be under there. I looked for its outline, but the page about the dead person lay lightly. It curved. Anything could be under there. Or nothing. The other side, the rest of the news, lay thick and flat.

“Hi, Mathilde,” Enid said. “We’ll all have to be more careful. Someone doesn’t like girls with fair hair.”

I have fair hair. Enid’s hair is shit brown.

“She’s joking,” Lucy said. “Seriously, Enid. There’s nothing about any other victims.”

Enid shrugged. “Just haven’t found them yet.”

“Mattie, are you looking for this?” Lucy took my notebook off the seat next to her. She held it by its binding, which left the pages to flap.

I couldn’t speak. I willed her to put it down. Instead, she stood and walked around the table, holding it out. I didn’t move. “I’ll just put it in your bag,” she said. The bag had slid down to my elbow. It hung open there. The letter poked out the top.

I swung at her with the bag and took the notebook with my other hand. “Jesus Christ,” she said, jumping back. No one was in the way. I got out.

From THE START OF EVERYTHING by Emily Winslow, a novel of psychological suspense, which launches in the US from Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, today (yesterday). In hardcover, ebook and audio. The UK edition will launch in June.

“[Winslow is] brilliant at portraying the ragged fragments of these lives. What emerges isn’t a single killer with motive and means, but a tangle of stories crossing and colliding, stray intersections of incidents and accidents, misunderstandings, and misreadings, all thanks to the myopia of individual perspectives and the self-centeredness of individual desires.”
– The Washington Post

“Outstanding… A literary mystery, there are multiple viewpoints, the use of present tense and jumps in time. This dark thriller will bring chills and heavy atmosphere up to the shocking end.”
– Romantic Times, 4.5 stars out of 5

“Winslow’s second novel is compulsively readable with a final twist; a treat especially for fans of Minette Walters and Ruth Rendell.”
– Booklist

Website: http://www.emilywinslow.com
Blog: http://emilywinslow.wordpress.com
Twitter: @emilycwinslow

What Stace had to say on Friday, August 3rd, 2012
The Best Garlic Breadsticks Ever

I promise.

So, there’s a certain “Italian” chain restaurant in the US. I bet you know the one. I actually tended bar at one for a time, even, and although it wasn’t a great place to work for it wasn’t as bad as some. Opinions on their food are somewhat divided, but I admit I have a special fondness for it, for a number of reasons, and I’m not ashamed, either.

But. One thing I haven’t seen anyone disagree on is the deliciousness of their garlic breadsticks. Because seriously, those are some awesome breadsticks.

The other night I was making pasta. Just a very quick pasta, with some homemade bolognese I made and froze a few weeks ago. And I had a craving for some garlic bread to go with it. Lovely, soft, buttery garlic bread. (Some of you may know that I recently figured out–finally!–how to make yeast work, with the result that I’ve been a bread-making fool for the last two months. Sandwich breads, focaccia, dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls…yum yum yum. Anyway.)

I Googled the recipe for this particular restaurant’s breadsticks. And found a couple that looked likely. To my surprise, none of them used actual bread flour; they used regular AP flour. They were pretty basic, bread-wise: flour, yeast, water, salt, melted butter, and a little sugar. And the comments left on those recipes were pretty good.

But I started thinking. Hmm. They don’t use bread flour, and they’re supposed to be Italian, and I *bet* the restaurant uses something a bit spiffier than just plain old AP flour. Well, Italian 00 flour works great in focaccia bread, and in pastas. And 00 flour makes breads softer; something to do with protein levels and fineness of the milling, I don’t know all the science exactly, but I do know that 00 flour can generally be used in a lot of recipes where AP flour is, only it’s a bit softer. Since soft is exactly what these breadsticks are supposed to be, and since I had 00 flour (of course; I currently have about eight different types of flour in my pantry), I figured, why not?

Next I looked at the liquid. All just water, really? I’ve done some breads with all water, some with water & milk, and some with sour cream. The dairy ones are softer. So again, I thought, okay, let’s replace some of the water with milk. And while we’re at it, let’s add a little honey, because not long ago I made some dinner rolls with honey and milk and the hubs pronounced them “So good, you could actually sell these.” They really were good.

I don’t knead for long. Dan Lepard, in his SHORT & SWEET, makes a good case for a brief knead, and I’ve had great results with his method (oh look! That link goes to the HarperCollins UK site! Look what else is there–CHASING MAGIC, which was released yesterday!). So I basically knead just long enough to bring the dough together, then give it another short knead ten minutes or so later, and then another before I shape the dough. Normally I do two other ten-minute-interval short kneads, but again, I was going for very soft here.

So. This is the dough I made. I bought a kitchen scale a few months back, an inexpensive little digital one, so these are measured in grams. Also, I use ml for the liquids, because that’s the easiest way for me to get the temperature right, as you’ll see.

500g Italian 00 flour
10g fine salt (I used regular Morton’s iodized salt, but you could use sea salt or whatever)

whisk those together in a large bowl.

In a measuring cup mix:

1 Tbsp honey
100 ml boiling water
200 ml cold whole milk (not 2% or skim, I used whole, which I usually have to bake with)
(This will give you liquid that’s the perfect temperature for yeast; 100 ml boiling to 200 ml cold. It really works. You don’t even have to take its temperature. 300ml is about 1 cup, so you could do 1/3 cup boiling to 2/3 cold. But my measuring cup has both so it’s just as easy to use ml. You could of course mix it all and microwave it to the right temp., but I don’t have a microwave. I do have an electric kettle.)

Add to that:

2 Tbsp sugar
5g dried yeast.

You can use dried active or quick rise or whatever kind, it doesn’t matter. You don’t *have* to bloom the yeast if you’re using any kind but regular dried, but I tend to anyway just to make sure it’s alive. Give it a stir and let it sit for a couple of minutes while you melt:

2 Tbsp butter.

Let the butter cool for a minute or two, until you can stick your finger in it without it burning, and add it to the liquid/yeast mixture.

Dump the liquids and yeast into the flour/salt, mix it until it forms a dough, and knead it for a minute or two until it comes together and is fairly smooth. Then put it back into the bowl–some recipes say to oil it, and you can do that, but I don’t always bother; I’ve never had a problem with the dough sticking to the bowl, frankly–cover it with plastic, and let it sit somewhere to rise.

Two things about the rise: One, all the fat in this dough means it will rise slowly. It’s because the fat does something to impede the yeast a bit. So while a less-fatty dough may double in size in an hour, this one will take maybe 1 1/2 or even 2 hours.

Two, here’s what I do to make a nice warm place for the yeast to rise. You can try a few things, actually. If your oven is on you can set the bowl on top of it, but this could get too warm. Some people recommend turning the oven on its lowest setting for ten minutes, then turning it off, opening the door a bit, and setting the bowl inside.

Here’s what I usually do, and I do the same after the dough is shaped. I set the bowl on top of the toaster and flip down the levers to turn the heating elements on. I let it sit about ten-fifteen seconds then turn the toaster off. This sends a bit of warmth rising to the bowl, but not too much, and the warmth lingers. And, as I check the bottom of the bowl during the rise, if the bowl feels too cool I can repeat it quickly and easily. No messing about with oven dials and worrying it’s too hot or heating too slow or moving oven racks about or how-far-should-I-leave-the-door-open. I just flip the toaster on for a few seconds. Easy-peasy.

I rise my dough in a really cheap see-through plastic bowl. I’ve used my nice melamine bowls, but I like these better because they’re see-through, which not only makes it easier to watch the dough rising, but also because I am always convinced I’ve done something wrong and the dough won’t rise, and with the clear bowl I can lift it up and look at the bottom. See, as the yeast starts to work little bubbles form in the bottom, little pockmarks. They start at the edges and move inward. So I can make sure the yeast is working before I actually really notice the dough rising, by looking for the pockmarks in the bottom.

Anyway. It took about 2 hours, I think, for the dough to double in size. I kneaded it a bit, shaped it into hot-dog-bun-like rolls–mine were a little too big, I only made six of them. I think next time I’ll go for ten equal pieces. Anyway. Shape them into the rolls, set them on a piece of parchment on a baking sheet, and then back onto the toaster for another forty-five minutes or so until they’ve doubled in size again.

When you set the shaped bread onto the toaster, turn the oven on to 400F.

Stick the risen rolls into the oven and set the timer for seven minutes. Now in a small saucepan over the lowest possible heat, melt about 1/2 cup of unsalted butter with 2 tsp of garlic powder. The recipe I had called for 2 tsp of salt, also, but it turned out a bit too salty, I think, so next time I’ll cut the salt to 1 1/2 tsp. Anyway, mix the garlic powder and salt into the butter and stir and stir. Don’t let it boil or color.

And yes, you can probably use real garlic. I can hear some of you gasping at the garlic powder. But honestly, I’d be worried about real garlic coloring or cooking in the butter. I’d be worried that the flavor isn’t intense enough or is too intense, or rather, that you’d have to use so much garlic to make the flavor right that it would feel like you spend half an hour mincing garlic. But you could, sure. I use real garlic for my other garlic butters and breads. But I was happy enough with this one.

When the timer goes off pull the bread from the oven and baste well with the butter. Give it a nice coat. Then stick it back in the oven for a further seven minutes (rotate it as you put it back).

The bread should be done after that (unlike other breads, because of the melted butter and the extra softness, the sticks won’t sound hollow if you tap the bottom). Take it out and baste with the rest of the butter. Baste it well and baste it thick. I didn’t use all the butter but I used most of it, probably about 4/5 of it. It’s gorgeous, with the shiny wet butter and little bits of garlic powder.

Look at that garlic butter

Eat while still warm, if you can even wait for it to cool down enough to be called “warm.” I swear this bread is SO SOFT. SO delicious. So squishy and buttery-garlic-y and lovely. I was one happy little breadmaker. I barely even wanted my pasta bolognese. I just wanted garlic breadsticks.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, January 5th, 2012
Updates etc.

I’m here!

I do apologize for not updating for so long; I am fine and feeling great, I’ve just been extremely busy finishing edits on CHASING MAGIC, working on edits of the short Downside story HOME (which will be published on Tor’s Heroes and Heartbreakers website), and working on a new project, in addition to the whole holiday thing.

Which was awesome. I cooked a lot. I made chicken stock from the carcass of our Yule roasted chicken. I made our now-traditional beef bourguingnon for Christmas day. I made a lasagna bolognese from scratch–long-simmered bolognese sauce and bechamel sauce–for New Year’s Day that was so gorgeous I wish I’d taken photos. I made a couple of batches of fudge crinkle cookies; I made Snickerdoodles; I made molasses spice cookies, some with white chocolate glaze and some with orange-flavored white chocolate glaze; I made pumpkin spice cookies with a vanilla-cinnamon frosting.

And we went out, a LOT, to do all of the shopping which had fallen by the wayside because of my recovery and the fact that hubs had to take a lot of unpaid time off work when I was in the hospital.

But it was a lovely holiday overall, a more fun and relaxing one than I’ve had in a while.

Oh! And, I played Dungeons & Dragons for the very first time! See, when I was a kid my big brother was a huge D&D head, but of course he never let me play with him and his friends. And I had the occasional boyfriend who played but generally when I’d go to their games they spent four hours creating characters, at which point I was bored.

But the hubs and I have a dear friend who used to play it with hubs when they were kids and he–the friend–still loves to play (he’s a Dungeon Master, which means, for those unfamiliar, that he “runs” the game), so he and his wife (also a dear friend of course) came over for spanakopita and adventure. He’d even created some characters for us in advance, which was so sweet of him. I was Lola Dragonslut, a warrior with semi-low intelligence but great charisma, and we explored a bunch of tunnels where there was supposed to be treasure. We didn’t finish the game, but we had a blast. Tons of fun; I’m looking forward to playing again.

Also, I got lots of pretty new nail polish for Christmas, so I’m hoping to start the fingernail posts again! This week my nails are peach with sparkles.

And…this morning I had an endoscopy done, a follow-up from the whole surgery thing. I’d warned them about my horrible gag reflex, and they’d promised to sedate me since the whole idea freaked me out. The upshot of all of this was that I don’t remember a thing from “You’ll start to feel drowsy in twenty seconds or so” to “Time to wake up!” But according to the nurse I talked the whole time, although they couldn’t understand a word (she said this with a bit of a giggle, which worries me. Could they really not understand me, or was I saying horribly dirty and rude things?). And according to the “Findings and Actions” sheet I was given, the intubation was “poorly tolerated” and they had to do it a second time, so there’s that gag reflex.

The bad news is the ulcer isn’t completely healed, so it’s back on ulcer meds for Stacia for another ten weeks, and another endoscopy when that ten weeks is over. Which sucks.

But again, the good news is I feel just fine and am back in the saddle. Well, it’s good news for me, and hopefully you think so, too.

There have been quite a few rant-worthy things happening lately, and I may blog about them soon. For the moment suffice to say that readers and reviewers have every right to express their opinions about books without authors responding in comments to tell them how wrong they are. (This also goes back to my posts about how once you’re published you can no longer use the “but I’m a reader, and I’m commenting as a reader” line, but again, something to possibly be blogged about later.)

So for now I’ll just say I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and I’m hoping 2012 is a great year for all of us!

What Stace had to say on Monday, January 10th, 2011
All the News

I turned in Book 4 last night, at about one in the morning (I would have kept it until this morning, but we’re having this storm here and there were some predictions that the power could go out etc., so I didn’t want to take a chance). I’ve suggested a title that my editor seems to like, and my agent seems to like, although I can tell he’s not super enthusiastic about it, so we’ll see.

Final word count–this is after my edit, there’s still at least one more edit to come after my editor gets a look at it–is 122,920 words. That’s about 13k more than CITY OF GHOSTS, and that’s pre-epigrams (I add those in editing).

I’ve done a re-read of it and while I’m never happy with them–I feel this one is particularly dull–even I have to admit that at least the writing is good, which pleases me. So we’ll see what happens from here.

As I’d predicted/intended, it’s much more Lex’s book than anyone else’s. But don’t worry, Terrible fans, he’s still in there, and the next book will be extremely Terrible-heavy.

Anyway, there we go. I have a short to write which is due February 1st for a different antho–and I’m going to do a non-Downside story for this one–so I’ll be working on that, and at some point in the next week or two I’ll start Book 5. Which also does not have a title yet.

Neither of them have a release date. I promise, as soon as I have one I will tell you!

Later tonight I think I’m going to have the hubs take some pictures for an updated author photo, which is kind of scary. I hate the way I photograph, to be honest. And my current photo is, I believe, the best picture ever taken of me. So that’s going to be hard to top. Of course, if I don’t get one I like as much I’ll just keep that one, but we’ll see. It snowed here last night–the “winter storm,”–so I’ll have a snow-covered tree in the background, which will be pretty cool, I think.

I’ve had a lot of questions lately about the Downside Market. I’m working as hard/fast as I can to get all the designs transferred to Spreadshirt, and to come up with some fun new ones. Now that the book is turned in I’ll hopefully be able to get it up and running soon, maybe not with all of the designs in place–a few of them are too small for Spreadshirt’s qualifications, and I’m waiting for resized versions–but with enough, and in enough color choices etc. So again, if you have any suggestions or ideas for something you’d like to see on a shirt, don’t hesitate to say something!

So later I may very well be posting some pictures, and later in the week I’ll be doing some more relevant posts again, but for now that’s it.

What Stace had to say on Monday, December 20th, 2010
Let Me Show You My Updates

First, lookie! The German version of UNHOLY MAGIC, which will be published by Egmont Lyx in July 2011, has a cover! And a new title. SEELENZORN, which as far as I can tell means either Angry Souls or Soul’s Anger or something like that. (Also, Egmont is calling the books the “Ghostbusters series,” which is awesome and yet very scary in a trademark-infringement sort of way. So, um, I’m not the one calling it that, okay, Sharp Hawk-Eyed Lawyers? Totally not me.) Anyway, here it is:

Sigh, no bangs. But it's still cool.

There’s a blog, a review-and-interview-and-everything-books blog, called Floor to Ceiling books, and Magemanda, the lovely lady who runs it, has posted her Best Of… list for 2010. Guess who’s on it? Me! Well, me, for “Breakthrough Novelist,” which she says is in part because of YOU, and the fantastic little community you guys have made! So thank you all so much. Also–and I know this part will interest you far more–Chess and Terrible won for “Best Kiss.” Nice, huh? She doesn’t say which book it’s for, though, so I’ll ask you guys. What was the best kiss?

And I know you’re all dying to hear how my Twitter odyssey ended. It hasn’t. I did look into Destroy Twitter, which I liked the look of quite a bit–I loved that you could customize it and pick different themes. Unfortunately, not only is the info/FAQ/etc on the site really sparse, to the point where I had no idea what the thing would even DO unless I downloaded it and actually started running it, it was also a download program. Which makes me think it’s a opens-in-its-own-window thing, which as we know, I don’t want.

So it’s down to Hootsuite and Seesmic. I’m actually liking both of them. I’ve hooked up my Facebook page to Seesmic, so I’ve actually gotten a few FB updates in yesterday and today, which is nice. I don’t know if I’ll make Seesmic my only program, though. I do like it. The more I use it the more I like it.

The problem is, the more I use Hootsuite the more I like it, too. They both have things I really like and things I don’t like as much; the bad part is those things complement each other. Like I don’t like Hootsuite’s DM thing, because it doesn’t automatically show me the ones I send. But I like Hootsuite’s photo uploader much better. Plus Hootsuite has that cute little owl. But Seesmic’s FAQ etc. is more comprehensive. Seesmic allows me to quote part of someone’s tweet, and–I LOVE this–when you go to someone’s profile it tells you if they’re following you as well as whether you’re following them. So it’ll say, “This user and you follow each other,” or whatever, which I’ve always thought Twitter should do. But Hootsuite has some cool Google Chrome extensions available, whereas Seesmic has none. I love that neither of them force me to look at people they think I’d be interested in following. I detest that.

So I don’t know. For the moment I’m keeping them both open in separate tabs and switching back and forth between them, basically.

Also, an update on the Downside Market. I’m basically waiting to get bigger versions of the original designs, because some of them look really small on the shirts etc., and we don’t want that. I’m also going to get white ones to go on black or dark-colored shirts. I’m trying to make as many color options available as possible.

And I’m doing a few more with text, because that’s a bit cheaper, so again, lots of color options. I’m trying to get maybe a few Downspeech phrases in there, just some sort of fun stuff. And some of the really basic shirts are very inexpensive, which makes me happy. I’m also expanding the UF stuff a bit, more pro-genre/genre-related shirts.

And of course, if anyone out there wants to do some designs, please send them in! And if your design goes into the store I’ll send you a shirt. You can find the specifications right here, if you’re interested.

Oh, and I’m ripping out and rewriting like 40k words on Downside 4. More explosions! More violence! More dying! I’m hoping it’ll be a really good time when it’s done.

I think that’s all the updates I have for the moment.

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
Bah Humbug

Thanksgiving. I know it’s fashionable to hate Thanksgiving, but I actually don’t. I like cooking, especially the kind of big elaborate meal that I don’t bother with most of the time. I particularly enjoy any sort of dessert made with pumpkin, so the holidays are right up my alley; last weekend I made a pumpkin pie and a pumpkin bread pudding with toffee sauce, which was seriously amazing.

And usually it’s just me, the hubs, and the girls for Thanksgiving, which is nice. We eat–I don’t actually like turkey, but I’ll eat it on Thanksgiving–and we watch our two annual Thanksgiving movies, JAWS and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. The last few years we’ve also watched the Saturday Night Live Christmas special.

And I admit, one of the most enjoyable things about Thanksgiving–about the holidays in general, really–is that no one thinks it’s odd if you start drinking at noon, and you can spend the entire day in a tipsy haze, which is most pleasant.

This year we won’t be doing a big dinner, for a number of reasons, chief among them we just don’t have the space to cook all that food. But you know, that’s okay too. One of my favorite Thanksgivings was the year Princess was a baby; she was about three months old, and neither of us felt up to a big celebration. So we had our typical Christmas Eve meal, which is cold cuts and cheeses and crackers and bread, maybe some scalloped potatoes or cocktail meatballs for something hot. I spent the day reading Stephen King’s INSOMNIA and eating corned beef on Ritz crackers, drinking Riesling and sherry (something about this particular holiday lends itself to girly drinks). It was a lovely day.

This year I’ll be working. We’re well over 100k on the fourth Downside book, and the end is in sight, finally. As I said on Twitter yesterday, I think my first draft will end up around 125-130k, and I know I’ll be cutting at least 15 out of that. CITY OF GHOSTS was 110k, so this one will probably end up right around there, maybe a bit longer. I am fairly pleased with it, I am, and wrote a scene I absolutely love the other day, in addition to, I think, one of my favorite lines I’ve ever written, and one of my favorite lines of dialogue I’ve ever written (which came, surprisingly, from Lex, but then he’s surprised me a few times in this one). So I’m chugging along, and I’m nervous about whether you’ll all like it but I’m feeling fairly confident that at the very least you’ll enjoy one particular scene.

Anyway. This is the time, because it’s a Thanksgiving post, when we’re supposed to share what makes us thankful and all that shit. But that’s so cliched, isn’t it? And really, we all say the same thing whether we mean it or not: our families, our health, blah blah blah. Those are all good things to be thankful for, sure, but really, it’s not very personal.

I do have something to be thankful for this year. I have books on the shelves, and I have readers who actually liked them and took the time to let me know, and that’s amazing. You guys have truly made this year one of the best in my entire life, despite the fact that some genuinely lousy things happened to go along with that, sigh, but that’s life. Anyone who expects to have good things happen without paying for them somehow is, well, they’re not living my life, that’s for damn sure.

Still, let’s not tempt fate. Rather than share what we’re thankful for this year, let’s talk about what we’re not thankful for; what we hate about the upcoming holidays, what irritates and annoys us. As always anonymous comments are welcome, if you’re afraid the friend you want to complain about will read where you say you want to smack her if she invites you “shopping” one more time and spends the whole afternoon in one store trying on things for herself.

One thing, though. Let’s keep it light-hearted and apolitical, okay? This is supposed to be fun.

Here’s mine:

1. I hate the insane crowds everywhere. I can’t even go get groceries without fighting my way through gaggles of people standing around staring at displays of green cookies.

2. I hate the fucking spam emails. I get enough email without getting constant offers from every online store I’ve ever shopped at, and every “customer loyalty” points group I’ve ever joined is offering me quadruple points if I will just please give them some money, any money, they don’t care how much, just please give them something and they will shower me with points like some kind of festive points raincloud.

3. I hate the pressure to do family things. Sorry, but I do. All those people around me all the time make me itch.

4. As I mentioned above, I don’t like turkey. I cook and eat it because it’s traditional, and I am obviously such a very traditional sort of girl that I can’t help it. No, seriously, I’m not, but in Thanksgiving dinner I am. It’s the only holiday meal I do according to popular consensus; like I said, our Christmas Eve meal is cold meats, cheese, etc. before we open presents, and Christmas day the last few years I’ve done beef bourgoignonne (or however the hell that’s spelled, I’m too lazy to go check). I do a Yule dinner, roast pork and vegetables, which is also traditional to large degree, but still. Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving, and everyone wants turkey, especially my husband and the Princess who like turkey and never get it because I do the cooking, so too bad for them.

5. I hate the preachy “heart-warming” homilies and shit we’re all supposed to smile and tear up over. Sorry, but suddenly acting like a human being from mid-November to January 1st doesn’t excuse the fact that you’re a completely heartless piece of shit the rest of the year.

How are those? What are yours? Specific ones, general ones? Go ahead and let it out. Let’s screw those holidays together!