Archive for 'very bad things'



What Stace had to say on Monday, June 9th, 2014
Updates, upgrades, and bad things

I’ve been neglecting you, and I’m sorry. I really am. Things have not been great here and I’ve fallen into some lazy habits and been working on a number of other things, and blogging (all social media, really) has fallen by the wayside. I feel awful about neglecting you all like that. But this will be a looong post, and I have something planned for the next week or two here that should be really, really fun, so…

First. Downside 6. You’ve been asking and I’ve been somewhat evasive. There’s been some behind-the-scenes stuff going on with it that I wasn’t/am not really at liberty to discuss. What I can say, with absolute certainty, is that there WILL be a number 6, that I am indeed working on it, that I’m quite excited about it and think it’s going to be great, and that as soon as I have some bits to put up here for you all I will. Look for them in the next month or two (the excerpts, I mean). I have #7 in the late planning stages, too.

I am also hard at work on the second Terrible novella (which will cover the events of UM and CoG), and a new short which will round out the collection of shorts that I’m hoping to get put together by the end of June. (To that end, btw, I have a question: has anyone had any experience with Jutoh? It’s an ebook formatting program. I’d like to try it, but $40 is rather a lot to spend for me, especially on something I’m not sure will work.) My plan–as I think I’ve stated before–is to take the already-published shorts to which I now have rights (that would be RICK THE BRAVE and HOME) then add KEEPING IT CLOSE and another new one.

Then there’s the New Stuff: a stand-alone contemp paranormal romance; a new UF series; and a new UF-type series which I’m going to do in serial form, which I’m really excited about and think will be a ton of fun. Oh, and a different thing I’ve had going for a while, which I am almost done editing.

All of this is being done on the Toshiba Satellite I bought back at the end of March, after being essentially computer-less for over a month. Astute readers may notice that I am now using a Windows machine rather than a Mac. Here’s why (and settle in, because this is long):

On the 15th of February, I–like a dumbass–knocked my Macbook off the kitchen table. Well, technically I didn’t knock it off, I just rested it precariously on something else that was on the table, and it fell to the floor. The hard, linoleum-covered-cement floor. Sigh. Aside from the cracked case and loose screen bezel, I ended up with what’s known as “the gray screen of death,” which basically means “your computer is fucked.”

So we made an appointment at the nearest Apple store, which is about an hour and a half away. They couldn’t fix it because they no longer fix 2007 machines, which is what mine was/is. They didn’t even open it up or anything. The Genius suggested a new hard drive, but gave us nothing in writing to say what kind, and I couldn’t call Apple customer service without paying for the call, which was quite frustrating. I asked about that online and got an email from someone in Apple’s Executive Relations; I’ll call her Lydia. Lydia was happy–sort of–to find out what kind of hard drive I’d need and where I could get one, but Lydia was not remotely interested in anything else, like the casing or screen or any other internal parts, or in telling me what to do should the new hard drive not fix the problem. Lydia also confirmed for me several times that the computer–which she could see on my account–was too old for Apple to fix, and that it was “not possible” for them to do that. Well, okay. I did suspect its age might be a problem, after all. She said she’d research the hard drive thing and get back to me; I said fine.

That’s where it all goes to hell.

We have home contents insurance. Very good home contents insurance, it turns out. The Hubs called them and discovered that, thanks to the awesomeness of them and their policy, they would replace the Macbook with a brand new one if it can’t be repaired to like-new condition. Not like-before-the-accident-my-dumbassery-caused; like brand-new. It doesn’t matter that I accidentally broke it; it’s a no-fault policy. Keep in mind, this is the reason people buy insurance: so that when they fuck up like morons and accidentally destroy valuable items, or a blameless accident happens and a valuable item is destroyed, said item can be replaced without financial hardship. That is the purpose of insurance. That is its entire reason for existence. It is why we all have it, right?

So I, giddy as a wee child at Christmas, contacted Lydia and told her that my insurance would replace the Macbook. She interrupted me and said, in the sort of tone she might use if I’d just informed her that I was mailing her a sack of roaches as a present, “YOUR insurance?”

Well, yeah, I said, and quickly explained the whole no-fault-like-new thing and how all I’d need from her was confirmation that the Macbook in question belonged to me, and–

She interrupted me (again; she interrupted me a lot, from the very beginning) to tell me she was not going to do that. When I asked why, she told me it was because of the Data Protection Act. I’m no expert on the Act, but I’m pretty sure that me personally requesting information Apple has on my account is in fact a request that the Data Protection Act legally requires Apple to fulfill. And even if it is not, I was giving my express permission for Apple to share this data with me–for me to pass to my insurer–to confirm my ownership. I honestly can see no reason why Apple couldn’t do this, as it gives away zero confidential information about Apple as a company, and certainly it does not give out any personal information about anyone but myself, and even then it’s hardly the sort of information spies pass around in manila folders; it’s “Macbook serial number WXXXXXXX was registered to Stacia Kane in [month/year].” I have grocery store receipts with more confidential information than that.

So I was beginning to get a very sinking feeling. For whatever reason, Lydia didn’t seem at all pleased and delighted that I could get my Macbook replaced at no cost to me–and at no cost to Apple, either. Win-win, right? But if anything she sounded quite annoyed, rather suspicious, and generally as if she was tired of me wasting her time with my nonsense. “You’ll have to prove ownership yourself,” she told me.

Well, whatever. I could just screen-shot my Apple account, I figured, with the computer listed right there. So I moved on, and told her that what I really needed was written confirmation from Apple that the computer could not be fixed by them. There was a pause, and then she said something about needing to research that and she’d call me the next day. Now I really had a sinking feeling. But hey, she was probably just being cautious or needed to check with a supervisor or something. I told her I’d send her an email with exactly what I needed, so she would have it there in writing, and we terminated the call.

I wrote and sent her the email. It reiterated my request for Apple to confirm the registration of that Macbook to my Apple account/confirm my date of purchase. (I note that in my understanding, putting this request was in writing meant that under the terms of the Data Protection Act it constituted a formal, legal SAR request that this information be provided to me.) I mentioned the Act and stated that I hereby gave permission for her to share that bit of information. But I reiterated that the proof of ownership was not the main part of my request. What I needed was for Apple to simply confirm in writing what they’d already told me more than once: that they could not repair the damage to my Macbook.

It wasn’t about the hard drive alone; our policy covers the entire machine, every curve of plastic, every part, every tiny screw, everything. If any part of it cannot be repaired or replaced to like-new condition, the entire machine qualifies for a brand-new replacement. I explained this to Lydia in the email, because I thought having it in writing might be helpful for her (I also offered to send her pictures of the damage if she wanted to confirm it all herself). I assured her–because she sounded so doubtful and suspicious on the phone–that this was a perfectly straightforward and legitimate insurance claim (I repeated the “no-fault” terms of the policy again as well, in hopes of reassuring her, although I didn’t particularly enjoy feeling like I needed to reassure her that I was not committing fraud) and that we were not asking for her to make any false statements or anything of that nature at all, simply to confirm in writing exactly what she’d already confirmed verbally more than once. No more, no less. I even wrote out a very brief statement for her–which didn’t specify the damage or anything, just that they no longer have the parts or ability to repair 2007 Macbooks–which she could just copy and paste, and pointed out that she could see herself that it was a true and accurate account of what both she and the Genius had told us (which it was). I told her I’d be happy to give her the email address or fax number or whatever of our insurer, if she felt more comfortable sending it directly to them (again, I didn’t like feeling as if I was trying to convince someone that I wasn’t committing fraud, but I was trying my best to be understanding).

And I sent it off, confident that I would soon have a reply from her with the information. Again, why would she not give it to me? Apple had indeed stated more than once that my Macbook could not be repaired, and what company refuses to provide confirmation that an item can or cannot be replaced? What company would refuse to provide a statement of same for a customer’s insurance claim–a claim which has absolutely nothing to do with said company beyond confirming the damage to the item, and does not hold them liable for anything or require them to do anything other than sit back and wait to accept payment for the new item? I could walk into any PC World store with a Windows machine in a similar state, and their service department would write such a statement for me without blinking; surely some random PC World didn’t provide better customer service than Apple. That wasn’t possible.

But it turns out it was. Lydia called me the next day to inform me that no, Apple would absolutely not confirm that my Macbook is registered to me, because of something about the Data Protection Act which I frankly could not follow since she was speaking at a breakneck speed, so couldn’t refute, but oh well. I said, “Okay, so–” and she once again interrupted me to say that Apple also would not confirm that they could not repair my Macbook.

I asked her why, since she’d been able to state that to me several times over the phone and the Genius had stated it in person, she could not put it in writing? Because it’s not Apple’s policy, apparently. It’s not Apple’s policy to provide a written record of their verbal repair estimations or evaluations? It’s not Apple’s policy to back up what they’ve said? It’s not Apple’s policy to help their customers?

Thinking that perhaps she was hinting, or could assist me in another version of my request, I asked her if I could get such a statement from an Apple Genius if I made the trek back to the Apple store. That was up to the individual Genius, she said; they had no obligation to provide any sort of statement or evaluation of damage or estimate. I could try my luck, basically. She made no offer to contact the nearest Apple store and explain my situation or request that they provide assistance to me.

At this point I was fuming. Apple would not repair my Macbook–they flat-out refused–but also would not state that they won’t repair it so I can get a new one from my insurance, because POLICY. What kind of service is that?

I said that what she was basically telling me, then, was that Apple did not care to keep me as a customer or to sell me a new Macbook. She said no, she wouldn’t say that. I said that actually, yes, that was exactly what she was saying, because what this all boiled down to was Apple’s policy being “If you want a new Macbook, you can pay for it yourself; only peons and Poors need insurance.”

I was in tears at that point. I absolutely could not believe that the company I had so much faith in was so coldly refusing to help me in any way, when all I was asking was for them to confirm their verbal statements in writing. That is not, I don’t think, an unreasonable request. It’s one other manufacturers, retailers, and service providers fulfill every minute of every day. I asked why she could not just send me a quick email confirming what she’d told me and she said she could not do that because she is PHONE support (I thought Executive Relations was supposed to be above phone support, with abilities and powers beyond what they have?). I asked who I needed to speak to, then, who were the representatives or people who could write things down (which was honestly one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever had to say to a Customer Service rep), and she said nobody would be able to do this for me. Apparently no one at Apple is allowed to email anything to anyone or write anything at all down, ever. She told me she could send me the link to the page on the Apple site where it says they no longer make parts for or service the 2007 Macbook. I informed her that I can find a link myself, and that if a webpage was likely to be enough to satisfy my insurer I wouldn’t have asked her for a written statement to begin with. And also, that meant that while Apple will happily state publicly and openly online that they wouldn’t fix my Macbook, they absolutely would not take the five seconds to write that down separately for me.

So I asked to speak to someone else; she refused. I told her I wanted to speak to her supervisor or someone above her; she told me no one was above her and that this was “Apple’s final statement,” and this was the end of the matter. So Apple’s final statement, then, was “Sucks to be you!”

I called Apple’s main service line again the next day, thinking that perhaps Lydia just didn’t understand or was misinformed. I was told that once a situation goes to Executive Relations no one else can touch it, and any issues I might have with my Executive Relations rep would be given to her again. So if I had a complaint about Lydia, I’d have to take it up with Lydia. Seems like the way things should work, right? Who better to deal with my complaint about Lydia than Lydia? She’d been so helpful already. What exactly was she going to do for me, aside from talk over and interrupt and make me feel like she’s thinking about all of the better and more important things she could be doing with her time, instead of listening to some spoiled American whine about how her computer is quite literally her livelihood, as if that’s Lydia’s problem or something?

So Lydia called me again, because of course my phone call was instantly reported to her, much in the manner of how a grade-school snitch reports another kid sticking out his tongue at them. She was very displeased with me at that point, which made sense because I wasn’t exactly thrilled with her. I asked again if there was any way to get the four fucking sentences I needed written down, if a Genius could do it, an Apple store manager, an Apple-licensed repair shop. She told me–very hotly–that NO ONE, absolutely no one at any Apple-affiliated place anywhere, would EVER write that down for me. NO ONE EVER.

So I asked her, then, if there was anything else Apple was willing to do for me, to show me that they actually gave a shit about my business and wanted me to spend my money on a new Macbook. Anything at all. Now, I didn’t start the whole mess expecting to be offered anything; I started it knowing that the damage to my laptop was all my fault and that the laptop was old, and all I was hoping for was an estimate for repairs. But it seemed to me (and still does) that when a company is refusing a customer request as simple and basic as “Write down what you told me, please,” and they know that said refusal is causing that customer serious difficulty, and they know the customer is very seriously considering giving up on their company altogether (I told Lydia several times that this was really making me rethink dealing with the company at all), I’d think they’d consider some way of making up for the loss. Certainly in the 6+ years or so I spent working as a customer service rep (mostly in banking, for one of the world’s largest credit card banks), that was standard practice. You can’t help them, they’re upset, you try to do something to make them happy. It’s pretty basic. I did stuff like that every day, as did all of my co-workers.

I literally begged her to give me a reason, any reason, why I should buy a new Macbook instead of a Windows machine. Any reason at all; was there honestly nothing she could do for me? Ten percent off AppleCare, a fucking $5 iTunes credit? I hear stories all the time about Apple going above and beyond, and there I was just asking for some confirmation that my business matters. No, she said. There is nothing Apple will do for me (I believe her exact words, said in a tone of surprised disdain, were, “We’re not going to do anything for you,” actually). She wouldn’t even say the words, “Your business matters; you are important to Apple,” when I asked her she could even tell me that.

The next week, the hubs went back to the Apple store. The manager was happy to give him a work estimate/order thingie that said “We cannot repair this Macbook.” Shockingly, this happened even though Lydia had informed me with such confidence that NO ONE EVER ANYWHERE at Apple would EVER do this for me.

And about a week after that we got a check from our insurance company, and I decided that given how very, very little of a fuck Apple gave about its customers and how it was willing to do absolutely nothing–beyond feeding me misinformation and making an already upsetting and difficult process even harder–to help me, and how if I ever had another problem with a new Macbook the odds were extremely high that Apple would once again tell me to go fuck myself, I was not going to buy a new Macbook. Especially not since I would have had to provide the deductible myself, and money is so extremely tight for us. I was not about to struggle to scrounge up that cash on something when if there was ever a problem I’d be left in the lurch, especially since there was no way we could scrape together enough to pay for AppleCare, too.

So I used it to get a Toshiba Satellite, and pay for data recovery/installation (from the Mac’s hard drive) and warranty and data back-up, and for Word. (Which we had trouble installing; funnily enough, the Microsoft rep we called was friendly and awesome and spent a good half-hour with us getting it all set up.)

It’s okay. It’s not a bad computer. It’s not like the little Mac I loved. It’s less convenient and I still loathe several things about Windows machines in general. I’m not crazy about Windows 8. I set it to open directly to the background screen instead of that awful Windows 8 menu thingy with all the blocks.

I lost all of my cool installed fonts and all of the cool fonts that came with Word for Mac. I lost all of my bookmarked sites, going back almost five years–tons of research and recipes. I lost a bunch of music. I lost a few programs I used all the time and I lost several capabilities I liked a lot, and I don’t like Chrome for Windows as much as I liked Chrome for Mac, which was awesome. None of that is good; it’s very depressing, in fact. But at least I didn’t lose any documents or any pictures of my little ones, which was/is what really matters–along with knowing that if I have a problem I won’t have a customer service rep who seems to think I’m trying to defraud everyone tell me that’s just too damn bad.

So there you go. That’s part of the reason, at least, why I’m behind on things. And I know I have several other things to tell you about, but this is very long already so I will end it there.

Again, though…I’ll be back again in the next few days, and I have something that will hopefully provide us all some fun and amusement coming up this week or next. Something from the vault, to show you all.

I miss you all terribly, and hope you forgive me for being so absent.

What Stace had to say on Friday, July 19th, 2013
Us Weekly Thinks Abuse is “Romantic.”

Yeah, some of you may have seen this already on my Facebook or Tumblr. I’m reposting it here because A) I’m still pissed and B) I’ve added a little bit to it. And C) I’m still really pissed.

I also note that since posting it on Facebook I’ve heard privately from a couple of men who were abused in previous relationships saying how hard it was to get out of it and how people acted like it was no big deal or they were just pussies, which is another reason I’m reposting it here.

Earlier I was reading headlines and happened to see one about some celebrity’s “Extreme,” “Passionate” Relationship. I normally don’t give much of a shit about celebrities, as you all know, but eh, I was bored.

Turns out, this actress (Emma Roberts, who it seems is Julia Roberts’s niece) got into a fight with her boyfriend, and in the course of that fight bloodied his nose and left several bite marks on him. The police were called and she was arrested.

And according to US Weekly, this is just soooo indicative of a really passionate relationship in which the two people are “crazy in love,” and she is “very dramatic” so it’s totes fine that she bloodied and bit her boyfriend. See, it’s cool, guys, because SHE ONLY DOES IT BECAUSE SHE LOVES HIM SO MUCH.

This is emphasized again in a later article. Here we see a brief interview with Ms. Roberts where she says, “I can’t say I’m never going to mess up, but if I do, I’ll definitely be sorry.” Of course! Lots of abusers feel that way. See, it’s cool, because SHE WAS REALLY SORRY AFTERWARD.

THIS paragraph has to be read in its entirety to be believed:

“In fact, Roberts is something of a romantic. Musing about love in her Nylon interview, she said she still believes in “happily ever after,” despite what she’s seen and experienced. “I’ve been with people in the past who lie about what they’re doing or whom they’re with, and you always find out about it…I’ve grown up in a business where we’re taught to think that relationships don’t last, and that people are supposed to be married a bunch of times. But I come from the school of getting married once,” she said. “Every relationship should be important. Everyone kind of rolls their eyes at me, but I still believe in the romantic movie outcome.””

She believes in the romantic movie outcome…as long as he doesn’t give her any lip, I guess. Once again, abuse is awesome because IT’S ONLY BECAUSE SHE IS SO PASSIONATE AND ROMANTIC. HE JUST MAKES HER CRAZY BECAUSE OF ALL THE PASSIONATE LOVE AND SHE CAN’T HELP IT.

(Note the “I’ve been with people who lie about what they’re doing or who they’re with and you always find out about it,” line, which sounds to me like BITCHES BE LYIN AND DESERVE A SLAP/I LIKE TO STALK PEOPLE, but I could be wrong there. I do know, though, that an abusive person–sorry, a “dramatic, passionate,” person who becomes “crazy” in love and is so “romantic”–who feels the need to tell you how their past relationships were all with “liars,” is perhaps not to be entirely trusted on that. And really…they lie about what they’re doing? You know, I know there are times when lies like that are harmful and I’m not saying you should never know what your SO is doing or that you should lie to them either, but…maybe they lied because it’s none of your business and you’re being creepily possessive and insisting they tell you where they are every minute. Or maybe they’re lying because if they tell the truth you’ll get angry and, you know, break their noses and bite them hard enough to leave marks. Just a thought.)

Now, yes, some of these things are quotes from Roberts or “sources close to her,” which means they’re going to be ridiculous crap designed to make her look good.

But US did not have to print those quotes, unchallenged. US did not have to follow up the first article with the one that says, flat-out, in exposition, “In fact, Roberts is something of a romantic.” They did not have to print those quotes in such an approving tone, with a wink and a nudge, like it’s just really sweet or we should all be awed by this great great passion taking place before our very eyes.

The timing of these articles, btw, is NOT a coincidence. That second article was posted the day after the first. Us Weekly deliberately chose to publish the article after Ms. Roberts beat and bit her boyfriend badly enough that she was arrested. They deliberately chose to smile about how “romantic” she is, and encourage others to do the same, the day after news of her abuse got out. They deliberately chose to downplay her abuse and encourage us all to just see it as a passionate girl who overreacted a little, isn’t that sweet, ah, impetuous youth.

BTW, I don’t care if the abuse is girl-on-boy or boy-on-girl, though I know I’m not the only one who thought that were the situation reversed, no way would US be writing glowing articles about how Evan is just “dramatic” and “passionate,” and “something of a romantic,” and how they’re just “crazy in love.” Can you imagine the outrage that would (rightly) follow such a thing? (For that matter, can you imagine being Evan Peters, or one of his friends or family members, seeing his bloodied face and then watching a national magazine smile about how “passionate” his abuser is and how she’s really just a romantic?) But abuse is no less wrong when it’s the man being abused.

When US Weekly chose to print these articles with their sympathetic, approving, even slightly envious-sounding depictions of an abusive relationship in which blood was spilled and skin was broken, here’s the message they reinforced to every impressionable young girl or boy out there, to every abused person, and to every abuser:

1. If s/he didn’t love you so much, this wouldn’t happen. The abuse is proof of that love.

2. It’s because s/he just feels things so much more deeply than other people. The abuse is proof of his/her sensitivity and passionate nature.

3. It’s because your love is so much greater and more dramatic and deep than other people’s. The abuse is proof of the grand scale of your love and devotion.

4. You know how passionate and/or dramatic and/or deeply emotional your partner is, so why are you BAITING him/her like that and making him/her mad when you know how s/he gets?

5. It’s okay that s/he hit you because s/he is really sorry afterward.

6. It’s okay to be an abuser and physically hurt your partner, because US Weekly will still just smile and run articles about you full of glowing comments from people who condone your abuse, which means really you’re not that bad and probably everybody does it.

7. The fact that articles like that run proves that you aren’t really being abused and what’s happening to you isn’t really wrong, you’re just being oversensitive. Can’t you see that the rest of the world acknowledges how it’s proof of love and you being meant for each other?

8. Celebrities are abusive and it’s cool, so why don’t you go ahead and be abusive, too? All the hotties are doing it!

Aren’t those great messages to send? Do we need to send yet another “Abuse is proof of love” message? Do we really want to just wink and nod at abuse because a woman committed it?

Fuck you, US Weekly. You make me sick.

What Stace had to say on Monday, January 9th, 2012
Something in the water?

Oh, man. I hardly know where to start.

I’ve been thinking about this post for about a week now, and still don’t know what exactly I’m going to say. I’m just trying to make sense of some things, basically. So forgive me if this is a tad rambly.

The thing is, I’ve been involved in the online writing/reading community since 2005 now. And in that time things have gotten–in my view, at least–more and more antagonistic and upsetting. I wonder why. This post–this series of posts planned for this week–is my attempt to figure it out, I guess. To express my thoughts and see what yours are, and perhaps to offer a potential solution. And in order to do that I’m going to be very honest, and perhaps harsh in some places, but I’m trying to express my full thought process here. So we’ll see how it goes.

In the past nine days or so the internet–at least the writer/reader part of it–seems to have gone kablooey. Specifically, the writer part of it, in that we’ve had a rash of writers deciding it’s their place to tell readers A) How to review books; B) What is and is not okay to say or think; C) Why their opinion is totally wrong; and D) whatever other ridiculous shit they come up with.

I’m aware of five separate incidents, the latest being a self-published author who, in response to a reasoned but negative review, took it upon himself to leave 40 comments–yes, forty–on the blog quoting the fawning letters he’d received about the book from family and friends. And then many more comments insisting that what he did was totally professional and reasonable and why is the reviewer in question so full of hate, yo? And that’s nothing compared to the others, the writers ranting on their blogs and leaving nasty or argumentative comments on Goodreads and blah blah blah.

Guys…cut it out. Just, seriously, cut it out.

Readers have the right to say whatever the fuck they want about a book. Period. They have that right. If they hate the book because the MC says the word “delicious” and the reader believes it’s the Devil’s word and only evil people use it, they can shout from the rooftops “This book is shit and don’t read it” if they want. If they want to write a review entirely about how much they hate the cover, they can if they want. If they want to make their review all about how their dog Foot Foot especially loved to pee on that particular book, they can.

Why?

Because, and I’ve said this before, reviews are for readers. Because they purchased the book (or it was sent to them specifically hoping they would express an opinion) and so can say whatever they want about it. If you buy a shirt that falls apart in the wash, do you keep your mouth shut about it because you don’t want to hurt the manufacturer’s feelings?

Authors, reviews are not for you. They are not for you. Authors, reviews are not for you.
Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
Well…that sucked

or

What Happened When My Intestine Exploded

First, of course, I have to say a huge enormous Thank You!!! to all of you. Your emails and comments, your cards and letters and packages, were just incredible; you have no idea how much they meant to me and how much I appreciated them. Really, thank you so much. I haven’t replied individually yet–I’m still trying to get back on my feet a bit, and I came back to over a thousand emails–but I will. In the meantime, please accept my enormous gratitude. It was and is really incredible to see how many people actually care.

So, what happened? I’ll tell you what happened. This story gets a bit icky, guys, just as a word of warning.

I woke up in the wee hours of the morning on Tuesday, October 26th, with the most incredible pain in my abdomen. It felt–to be rather crude, sorry–like the worst gas ever, moving all around my abdomen, not localized in one place. Just this horrible stabbing pain. It was hard to walk, it hurt so bad. It was hard to lift things, it hurt so bad. It was hard to drive, it hurt so bad. I drove to the pharmacy to buy some sort of gas-relieving medication, and the woman there seemed to think something was terribly wrong with me, I thought from the way I appeared in obvious pain but I was told later that I was so dehydrated I looked like a skeleton.

Anyway. Wednesday I was supposed to drive to the Southwest to look for a new home near Mr. K’s work. But I was still in horrible pain, so I canceled. This worried Mr. K so much that he left work and drove the several hours back here, insisting that I go to the hospital. I didn’t think it was that necessary but I was starting to worry a bit, yeah, so I finally agreed.

We reached the ER (or A&E as they call it here) at Lister Hospital at around 3 pm. They saw me right away. They palpated my abdomen which hurt a ton, even after giving me oral morphine. They put me in a gown and sent me to be X-Rayed–at this point it was probably about 5, given the time to wait for the X-Ray and talking to the docs etc. etc. We waited for the X-Rays to come back and the blood tests (and man, my veins are hard to find anyway, when I’m dehydrated it’s almost impossible, so that was NOT pleasant and would only get worse).

That’s when the fun happened. All of the sudden I was taken into this other room, and greeted by about seven surgeons, who informed me that my X-Ray had shown air under my diaphragm, which indicated a hole in my intestine. An ulcer which had eaten all the way through, to be more exact. Apparently this is very serious and can be fatal thanks to dehydration and peritonitis and such–who knew?–and I’d already delayed longer than I should have, so the surgeons bumped their other surgeries so I could be the very first one in when the OR opened at 7 pm. The head surgeon said, “This is major surgery, so whatever else happens, you are going to be one very sick young lady for the next two weeks at least.” Yay me!

So into the OR I went. I remember being told I’d probably feel a little dizzy, and the next thing I remember is seeing Mr. K. telling me it was all over and I was fine, and then I was in this special intensive post-op care unit. I spent five days there, mostly sleeping and pressing the little button that would give me more morphine. I had a gnarly row of staples down the middle of my stomach and tubes poking out of me everywhere: my nose, my stomach, a catheter (of course), and a bunch of IVs and lines in my neck and hands/wrists. They were also coming to take blood just about every day. LOTS of needle sticks.

I was in the special post-op ward for five days. It was generally nice and quiet, except for the night we had a woman in there moaning constantly and asking the nurses–in the middle of the night, mind–why they wanted to kill her. Oh, and there was the older gentleman who was very angry a lot of the time; when the phone rang he’d become enraged and shout that they shouldn’t answer it, or if they did to “Tell them I’m not here! Tell them I’m still in hospital!” To which the nurses would ask if he knew where he was, that he was in fact still in hospital, and that they had to answer the phone because it was the hospital’s phone.

But anyway. On the fifth day they moved me into another post-surgery ward, where we weren’t monitored quite as closely. Because the ward was full of men I actually got a private room, since I am not a man and rules say a lone woman can’t be put in a ward full of men. That was nice, the private room, but let me clarify something for my American friends, since those I spoke to on the phone were utterly shocked by this (and to be fair, so was I, a bit). I had a private room, yes. I did not have a private bathroom; I used a commode (basically an adult potty seat the nurses would wheel in) or, once I was able to walk, the public bathroom in the hall which all the patients and visitors used. (Yes, very sanitary, I know.) I did not have a TV in my room, or a phone. I was not permitted to plug in my computer or cellphone, so I wasn’t able to use the internet at all or really get any work done–not that I was up to working, but still. Stephen had to charge stuff for me at home and bring it in, and the hospital didn’t want me to keep valuables in my room anyway, so generally he’d bring my laptop and a DVD and we’d watch it until they made him leave. All I did for most of the time was sleep, stare into space, or look at magazines, since I didn’t feel up to getting involved in a book (which should tell you how bad I felt).

So. On Wednesday 2nd November, one week after the initial surgery, I woke up around 2 am and noticed my stomach felt a bit wet. It felt wet because it was wet, with blood. Read the rest of this entry »

What Stace had to say on Friday, May 13th, 2011
It’s the Suede/Denim Secret Police

(You get bonus points if you can name the song the title came from.)

So, lately I’ve been putting the TV on in the daytime, while the girls are in school. And is it just me, or is every goddamn show on these days either about cupcakes or makeovers? Seriously. All these “fashion makeover” shows, whose soul purpose seems–to me at least–to be to rip the fucking soul out of people and force them to conform no matter what.

What the fuck, man?

You have “What Not to Wear” on TLC–an update of the British version with Trinny and Susannah which I actually enjoyed to some degree–with some horrible bitch who’s using my name (although to be fair, I think she had it first *cough cough*), who seems to think people don’t even have a right to wear comfortable underwear much less anything else, and has some sort of vendetta against women over the age of thirty wherein we’re all required to dress like librarians. Jesu forfend we, you know, have a personality and express it through clothing, or *gasp* be comfortable instead of prancing around to pick our kids up at exclusive private schools wearing tasteful calf-length skirts and sweaters in dull shades of pink.

You know what? I turned thirty a few years ago. Never mind how many. Less than ten, okay, and that’s what’s important, not that it matters if it was more either because fuck you, clothing Nazi. The second a woman crosses that “thirty” line is not the very moment she must give up showing her legs forever, or the moment she has to stop wearing stuff she likes and retreat into some kind of fucking Ralph Lauren lethargy full of neutral colors, nude lipstick, and one-inch heels.

Except “What Not to Wear” isn’t the only bullshit You-must-conform-to-our-snooty-corporate-standards show on TV. There’s also this crappy “How Do I Look?” thing, which is basically exactly the same: Random Subject had personal style, TV Presenters do their best to stamp it out at any cost. It’s almost like a Goodfellas-style situation: You prefer a certain color? Fuck you, pay me. You like to wear T-shirts? Fuck you, pay me. You live a very casual life, huh? Fuck you, pay me. Like Paulie is controlling the clothing for every woman in the world, except Paulie in this instance is a prudish matron who hates everyone and strongly desires a homogenous society full of country-club look-alikes. We’re all supposed to look like we belong in the Pottery Barn catalog and generally be dressy all the time, and there is absolutely zero thought given to what our lives are, what kinds of people we are, who we are in general. It seems to be especially fun for these dickwads to pick on lower-income women and stay-home moms, too, which says a lot.

It’s slut-shaming on a grand scale, and the slut is any woman who dresses for comfort rather than style, any woman who expresses any form of personal taste rather than buying and wearing whatever she’s told to wear like a good little lemming, any woman who rejects “fashion” and wears what she likes or sees clothing as a way to express herself. Such women are not to be tolerated, the whores, and they must be shown up as evil on national–international–television and made to see how dirty and wrong they are, and how all of the “normal” people should point and laugh and look down their noses.

You know what? Fuck you, What Not to Wear. Fuck you, How Do I Look. I don’t give a fuck what you think. I will continue to wear the things I like to wear. I will continue to wear my skirts above the knee because you know what, skirts below the knee don’t look so good on me and I have nice legs despite being that horrible over-30 age (which of course would normally mean I should retire quietly into the Neutrals-and-Earthtones-convent with skirts that hit my ankles and capri pants and tops that button to the neck and deep, deep regret for my whorish tattoos). I’ll keep wearing black almost exclusively because that’s what I like, and I don’t give a fuck if you don’t like it because who the hell are you? Just because you’re boring doesn’t mean I have to be, and just because you spend all your time studying issues of Vogue doesn’t mean I have to. I will have my own personal style, and I will look the way I want, and I will teach my daughters that they should wear the clothes they like, what makes them happy, what makes them feel good about themselves.

Because you know what? Who they are matters more than what they wear, just like who I am matters more than what I wear. And who I am is someone you can’t fathom in your narrow-minded existence. Who I am is someone you’ll never understand, given how you judge people according to one narrow set of standards, how you think the only worth of people lies in their bank accounts and their conformity to a false ideal.

I won’t conform. I won’t be what you want me to be. I’ll wear what I want, and I don’t give a shit what you think about it. Go fuck yourself, fashionista; all we women are okay just the way we are, and we don’t need you.

What Stace had to say on Friday, March 4th, 2011
Don’t ever take sides against the family

Wow.

Last night I got a couple of pingbacks in my email, letting me know some of my posts had been linked to. I think you can guess which ones; the little series I did several weeks back about watching what you say online.

Turns out that little tempest-in-a-teapot has not in fact died, but has grown and changed and turned into something huge and sinister. Turns out there are people out there now–otherwise reasonable people, I assume–who are equating my words with threats that someone will never be published or will never find an agent, that authors can and will “blackball” someone for a negative review, or whatever. Turns out I have somehow inadvertently created a cabal (NOTE: This doesn’t mean I think it’s all down to me or anything, just that my post is being linked to by people who say it was/is a “key exchange” in starting the whole thing. Trust me, there may be things in this world I’d like credit for. Threatening to ruin people’s careers from behind the scenes like some sort of self-important literary Blofeld is not one of them). The YA Mafia. I’m not sure how that happened, given that I’m not published in YA, but my posts are being linked to as the ones that started it all. And hey, my agent has a YA proposal from me as I write this, which I’m extremely excited about because it has all sorts of dark bloody creepiness in it. Including Springheel Jacks (yes, Jacks, as in more than one. Whee!). I digress.

I’m extremely tempted to ignore all of this and just move on. The only reason I’m not doing it is because it apparently started with me, so I feel partly responsible for the discussions, and because people are spreading some pretty wild stories about what I said (no offense to that commenter, who seems a very nice, rational person. Hers was simply the first comment I saw to illustrate my point. It is far from the only comment of that sort out there, and most people don’t apologize when it’s pointed out that they’ve misinterpreted something like that. She did. I appreciate that. This isn’t about her at all. It is about the fact that this is all getting blown way out of proportion, and I don’t appreciate being lied about).

There is no “mafia.” No writer in the world can keep you from getting published if your work is good. Period.

So you might not get a blurb from someone. As I said repeatedly when this all started, so fucking what? That’s not going to ruin your career, or end it before it’s even begun. So when you do a panel with someone they might not invite you for a drink afterward. Again, oh well.

The statement was NEVER made, by me or anyone else I’m aware of, that writing a negative review of a book could mean you never get published or repped.

The statement was NEVER made by me or anyone else I’m aware of that I would ask my agent not to rep someone who gave me a bad review. I said I might be a little hurt. Sorry, I am a human being, with feelings, just like everyone else. My agent and I have a very close relationship. I might be a little hurt. I probably wouldn’t even mention this to him (and for the record, he told me that if the review was really nasty he’d assume the writer isn’t very professional and thus not be interested in them, but a calm “This is why it didn’t work for me” wouldn’t be a big deal if the work was wonderful). I certainly wouldn’t email or call him and say “So-and-so only gave me two stars. I never want to see you go near her/him ever.”

Nor would I do that with my editor, which is another claim being made. Would I care if she signed a writer who didn’t like my work? Not one damn bit, no. An editor-author relationship is different from an agent-author relationship, for one thing. And for another…

Geez, guys, it’s just a review. Who cares about it, really?

Yeah, I might not want to blurb you if you took the time to write a big old post about not liking my book. So what. As I said in my original post, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t help you with other things if you needed it. That certainly doesn’t mean I’d start calling people to put your name on the Secret Mafia Blackball List. It certainly doesn’t mean I’d go out of my way to damage your career.

The simple truth is–and I mean this in the nicest possible way–I don’t care about you. I don’t know you. You don’t mean anything to me, beyond being another human being with whom I share this planet. If you’re one of my readers you mean a little more to me, sure. I try to do whatever I can for my readers; I love them. I will and have gone out of my way for them, whether they blog or not. But if you’re not one of them, you’re probably not on my radar at all. If I see your negative review I’ll probably shrug. Again as I said in those posts, if I have to choose between blurbing you and blurbing a book by one of my readers, my reader gets the blurb (unless her books sucks, which of course it won’t, because my readers are so awesome it hurts). That’s assuming I even remember your name; I don’t write this shit down, and I have a horrible memory. I might google you, if I’m bored. I might not; I probably won’t.

Somehow it seems book bloggers in general got tied up in all of this, which I find extremely upsetting, and frankly confusing. I’m not really sure how much more outspoken I can be on the subject of book bloggers/readers having the right to say anything they damn well please about a book, short of buying a bullhorn and picketing genre conventions. I have never once failed to back the reader/reader-blogger when it comes to an author vs. situation, and yeah, it is personally upsetting to me to see that completely disregarded, to see no one even bothering to read the posts I linked to on that subject before declaring what my intentions and words were.

That’s too bad for me, though. Because–and here is where we go full circle–anything you say on the internet is public, and people are people and don’t always take things the way you want them to. Because, which was honestly the whole point of the first post in the series, once you become a writer and have work published you are no longer free to speak your mind as clearly and openly as you once were; or rather, you certainly are free to do so, but there are and will be consequences. I can point not only to this little kerfuffle, but to numerous others to illustrate this. The line “She put it out there on the internet, it’s public, she can say whatever she wants but she has to accept that people might not like it and will talk about it” has been repeated so many times by so many people it’s almost funny at this point.

Yes, it sucks. Yes, it’s frustrating and difficult sometimes. Tough. It’s part of the job.

What this all boils down to is that somehow, my attempt to pass on a bit of advice–the internet can be scary, it really can, and you never know what might set someone off so it’s best to just be very careful and not burn any bridges–has turned into ALL YOUR PUBLISHING CHANCES ARE BELONG TO ME.

There is no “Mafia.” No one has that much power. Quite frankly, nothing that happens on the internet is that damn important. All of those “Authors Behaving Badly” posts out there? Don’t really matter. Those authors are still publishing, and the vast majority of readers have no idea of the scandal du jour. Although it seems big, the number of readers who actually hang out in the online readerworld is minute.

And something else I learned is that for every person who sees what you say and thinks “Man, fuck that bitch”–whether it’s because of what you said or what they think you said or whatever–there’s someone else who thinks, “Man, that chick is awesome for speaking her mind.”

The lesson there? People are people, and we’re all different. Some of us may feel one way, some another.

But we’re still people. Yes, people can be incredibly scary sometimes. But most of us aren’t. We’re a pretty decent bunch, I think, we writers. We might get annoyed by something or upset when attacked or whatever; we have bad days just like everyone or anyone else. We have to be careful when we have those bad days, more careful than non-writers. We have to be careful especially if we’re women.

But I’m also careful when I go out alone at night. That doesn’t mean I’m afraid to do it at all. I’m just careful.

My post was intended as a bit of advice, and something interesting to discuss. I say down on the Sunday night and thought, “Oh, that’ll be a cool topic to discuss. I can do a little series on it, that’ll be fun. I like doing series.” It was not intended as some sort of rule. It was most certainly not a threat; it never occurred to me that anyone would think of it that way, because to assume someone is threatening you is to assume they have some power over you, and I have none. I’ve never claimed to have any.

But sheesh, guys, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Yes, the internet is forever, but you know what? Nothing is forever. Things are forgotten. People move on. People stop caring, if they ever did. No one is threatening you. No one is calling the Boss of Publishing–Don Paperback, or whatever–to tell him you sleep with the fishes. I’m not sure how exactly that belief came about, but it’s not true, and as Zoe Winters says here, “No one EVER Said That.” (Interestingly enough, that belief, the misunderstanding, was really the main point behind my saying “You can’t be both”–not that writers would ostracize you but that readers would misunderstand you/mistrust you. Sadly, it does happen. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it.)

What you say online may lose you a few readers. It might gain you a few. It might make Author A not inclined to blurb you. It might make Author B more inclined to do so. I don’t enjoy controversy so I avoid it. I think making enemies is pointless so I avoid it. (Frankly, I think writing negative reviews is generally a waste of my time, because I have no special attachment to reviewing and never have. You may feel differently, and that’s fine. But for me, I’d usually rather spend my time talking about books I loved.) What you say online might very well make you some enemies or thrust you into unwanted controversy. It may cross a few names of your list. Like I said, I don’t understand why someone would feel so strongly about being able to review, or why they would be upset at being told they have to be careful with what they say, since A) When you’re published you have to be even more careful, and B) Isn’t that sort of standard in the world? Don’t we always need to be careful what we say? Just like we don’t walk up to someone on the street and say “Wow! Your dress is really ugly!” so we are careful what we put out there publicly online, too.

But what your statements online won’t do is keep you from getting published if your work is good. (Hell, even if it isn’t; I know one specific example of this, who although the houses aren’t particularly well-regarded or established, they’re still putting out books with that writer’s name on them, and there are so many marks against that person it makes my head spin.) Unless you are a complete ranting harpie, if your work is good you will find people who want to work with you.

The writing is everything. The work is everything. Focus on that, and quit worrying about whether or not it’s okay to say you didn’t like a book. There is no “Mafia.” There is no “blacklist.” There are only people, and we’re all different. And most of all there are books, and those are what matter more than anything else.

Seriously. Don’t worry about this. Just write the best book you can.

Other posts on this topic:

Holly Black

Ally Carter

Justine Larbalestier

Amperstory

Janni Simner

Cleolinda Jones

Foz Meadows

Dia Reeves

An older but extremely trenchant post from Ilona Andrews

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.
Read the rest of this entry »