Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Calling all MEN!!!

So...this won't come as a surprise to any regular readers, but I think facial hair on men is pretty sexy. Remember Macho Week? I particularly like muttonchops. And big, droopy mustaches. No, seriously.

So the hubs--who is an on-again, off-again facial hair guy, which is just peachy with me--has been trying for some time to interest the guys he works with in growing mustaches together, or doing some fun facial hair thing.

And he forwarded this to me this morning, and I got all excited.


It's a month-long mustache-growing event, for men's health charities, and I think it's AWESOME. Seriously, there's breast cancer and cervical cancer and uterine cancer awareness EVERYWHERE, but very little attention is paid to specific men-only cancers like prostate or testicular cancer.

Movember is an international event; each country has its own charity sponsors (they're listed on each country's page there.)

So guys...here's your chance! Grow that Fu Manchu or droopy handlebar! Grow those muttonchops! Grow the "Santa" or the "Anton LaVey"! It's fun! It's awesome! It's for charity!

Go sign up at the Movember website, seriously. Get your offices involved, or your manfriends.

And please, send me pictures. I'll post them on the blog if you want--that could be fun, huh? And I'll give something away. We'll do, say, a Movember contes, and we'll put up pics of your facial hair, and vote or I'll pick a winner, and the winner gets an ARC or my entire ebook collection or something spiffy like that. What do you say?

Are you macho enough, my beloved manfriends?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Week at the League!!

Oooh, we've got a fun week planned!

We have Halloween stories and anecdotes from writers, editors, and agents. We have Halloween recipes (and Samhain recipes). We have funny stories, and scary stories. We have pictures and videos. We have, in short, everything we need to make this week awesome...except YOU, so head on over, and keep checking back! There will be new content all the time!

Because remember, anything can happen on Halloween...

(Does anyone else remember that movie? Geez it was awful, wasn't it? And that video makes me laugh my ass off every time. So cheesey they should serve it on toast.)

ALSO...to celebrate Halloween, Juno Books is giving away a FREE EBOOK! And it's seriously kick-ass:

Five frightening classic tales--all written by women--that should send a shiver or two down your spine. FIVE CLASSIC GHOST STORIES: A HALLOWEEN TREAT FROM JUNO BOOKS includes "Let Loose" by Mary Cholmondeley (1890), "The Striding-Place" by Gertrude Atherton (1896), "The Lost Ghost" by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (1903), "Kerfol" by Edith Wharton (1916) and "Spunk" by Zora Neale Hurston (1925).

You can download it directly right here: this is it. But before that or after it, pay a visit to the Juno site and wander around a little!

I am quite excited about Halloween. Did I mention my goth zombie costume? I will take pictures, of course. The costume is made for someone shorter than me, it seems--quite odd, considering I'm barely 5'3--so the waist hits me in a weird place and makes me look stumpy, but it's a Halloween costume, so who cares? I'm just going to sit home that night and hand out candy anyway, while hubs takes the girls trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. I'm looking forward to it. I love trick-or-treaters.

And there was something else I was going to say, something quite interesting, too, but my children are making SO MUCH DAMNED NOISE I CAN'T HEAR MYSELF THINK. So I've forgotten it. Damn.

If I remember I'll come add it in. Meanwhile, head over to the League for some fun!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh and incidentally...

(Head over to my lj to read how my daughter's school screwed me this morning, if you're interested.)

I saw this headline this morning and, of course (as an always-a-St.-Louisan-in-my-heart), immediately clicked on the story:

HIV scare puts MO school in uncertain territory. And much to my chagrin, saw that's it's Normandy high school.

I didn't go to Normandy (I lived in West County), but I knew Normandy. Everyone knew Normandy. I was particularly drawn by this line in the story: A competing school's football team initially balked at playing Normandy's 8-0 team.

Um...hell yeah, they balked. But the HIV thing? An excuse. Nobody wanted to play Normandy, because they knew they'd get their asses handed to them (see that 8-0 record?) Normandy consistently ranked in the top echelon of Varsity football teams nationwide; and their marching band is fucking legendery (among band geeks, at least, lol.)

You know how the stands usually empty at half-time? At Normandy they filled up, so everyone could watch their marching band tear that fucking field up. They were AWESOME. Amazing to watch, especially their legendary drum line, which at the time was coached by an awesome guy whose name I believe was Terry, and who stepped in to help out my own high school's drum line at one point, because he was kickass.

I was in my marching band for two years (color guard; groan, I know.) And Normandy was the band to beat. We went to competitions knowing we had no chance of beating Normandy, but just thrilled that we would get the chance to watch Normandy. (We usually came in second, if memory serves; our band director was one of the biggest assholes who ever walked the earth--I loathed him with a passion, he was a total cocksucker--but he was a damn good band director, and is I believe directing a college band now.)

So this is really, really sad. I have nothing but fond memories of Normandy and the awe in which they were held by other schools across the midwest. This sort of story would be a tragedy anyway, but I'm really saddened by this, and hope everything turns out okay.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Valuable life advice

I had occasion this morning to give a very good friend a bit of advice for an uncomfortable situation. It's a piece of advice I've given before, and one which I might have stated here before as well.

It is valuable in every situation in life. There is, I believe, not a single circumstance in this world which this advice cannot help with, whether it's problems with friends, or getting ahead at work, or family issues, or...well, anything at all.

The advice is as follows. In every situation in life, no matter what fear or worry or problem you find yourself faced with, before acting you must ask yourself: What would Michael Corleone do?

And dude, if you don't know, because you haven't seen the movie or read the book (which is good, though not as good as the movies), you need to go watch it right now. Seriously. You cannot be a fully grown adult having not seen the Godfather Parts I and II (there is a third, but I have cast it thoroughly from my memory). Much like you cannot be a truly educated American if you have not read Gone With the Wind. We actually showed the sd both Godfather films while she was here for the summer, figuring fourteen was a good age to first be introduced to the movies. While she didn't quite get all of it, especially the second--the appearance of Pentangeli's brother at the Senate hearings confused her a bit, and we had to explain why it was a threat and not merely a nice visit from a relative, and the bit with the Senator and the dead hooker required some explanation as well--we felt confident that we had given her her first steps toward an strong adult education and a system of behavior which would see her well throughout her life (in addition to continuing our commitment to showing her some fucking awesome movies, as the usual fare in her house seems to be reality-show garbage. I will never forget showing her Die Hard for the first time Christmas before last; the kid's mouth literally hung open for half the movie. YES!)

Now, I'm not advocating we deal with life's little troubles and interferences the way, say, Michael dealt with Solozzo and McClusky, or Hyman Roth. Wholesale assassination is clearly wrong. And yes, there are some situations where we might do better to study Vito Corleone, who tempered his toughness with a bit more kindness.

But let's see. Casting aside the whole bloody-violence bit, let's see what we can learn from both Corleones:

1. Never take sides with anyone against the family. "Family" in this instance can be, say, close friends, as we don't all have close families. (This is an adjunct to several valuable pieces of advice given in Goodfellas, the most pertinent and valuable of which--it deserves to be embroidered on a sampler, seriously--is "Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.")

2. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

3. Never let anyone outside the family know what you're thinking. (This comes from Vito; and is truly valuable. Think of what happened to Vito because Sonny spoke up at their meeting with Solozzo!)

4. Your home and your family are sacred responsibilities.

5. Friendship is valuable; doing favors for others is a good thing. Always stick by your friends, and make their enemies your enemies.

6. Generosity is important, and will be rewarded. Whether this is generosity to yourself or to others, if you are capable of being charitable and helping those less fortunate, you should do so (puzzled at this one? Don't be. Remember, Vito got his start by being a helpful and unassuming.) This leads to the next one, which is:

7. Never threaten. Don't get angry, don't get emotional, and don't threaten. If they won't be reasonable, it's a waste of everyone's time to try and reason; just give it up. (The obvious corrollary to this is "Then have them killed and take what you want", but as I said, we're not going that far here. I absolutely do not advocate such behavior! But of course, if you wish to commit some small act of non-lethal revenge, that's for you and your conscience to work out on your own. I don't advocate it; it's rarely worth it, and you end up feeling like you behaved childishly, and thinking of yourself in a bad light.)

8. Loyalty is key. Treat people well, and they will treat you well in return; and if they don't, ignore them. Never go behind a friend's back. Always, always, stand up for your friends--Enzo the baker wasn't family, but he sure as hell knew how to pay back what he owed.

9. It's not personal, it's business. It's not personal, it's business!

10. Life means responsibility; live up to yours. (A man isn't a man if he doesn't take care of his family; that again comes from Vito, but Michael clearly agrees.)

11. Again, this relates to number 10. You need to take care of yourself. Nobody is going to do it for you, nobody. ACT. Don't sit around waiting for someone else to fix your problems; fix them yourself. Think coolly and calmly of what you need, and how to best get them. Then do it. Don't wait for permission, don't wait for the stars to align. You do the best you can, and you take the bull by the horns, and that is that.

I am fully convinced these rules will stand anyone in good stead for life. Let's take, for example, publishing. #11 comes first; you work hard and write the best ms you can, and you go about the process of finding an agent or publisher by doing things the way they should be done, and keeping your own counsel. Don't publish rejection letters or your thoughts on them; see numbers 3 and 9, especially. When you sell your ms, keep the details (aside from the public ones) to yourself. Don't get involved in online dramas. Don't freak out when presented with edits. Don't be mean or rude; let other people get all emotional and freak out and whine and throw fits. You are a professional, and an adult. Turn things in on time. Do what you say you're going to do.

Can you think of any I've missed? How do they relate to your life?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Agents: It's not about being nice

I had intended to blog today about agents, and what to look for, but Victoria Strauss beat me to it, for the most part. So go read her post, and come on back. I'll wait.

The thing is, several times of late around the wide internets I've seen this subject come up, and I see comments about making sure you "click" with the agent, and making sure they're enthusiastic, and talking perhaps about where they see your career going. All of which is good advice, yes--for when you've got offers on the table.

But when deciding whom to query, you have no idea if you click with the agent or not. You may read their blog, if they have one, and decide you like them from that, which is fine.

The fact is, when sending queries there is only one matter of any importance. It's not their personality; it's not their blog; it's not that you met them at a conference and they were really fun and nice.

It's their sales, and only their sales*. What have they sold? Have those sales been to any of the big houses? An agent whose sales are only to small houses which don't require an agent suggests the agent in question doesn't have the necessary contacts at the major houses. An agent with no sales at all, also likely does not have the contacts*. An agent who's been in business for over a year without any sales likely does not have the contacts. These agents will not help your career; they will hinder it. An agent without any sales* doesn't know what's selling; they haven't yet picked a salesable manuscript (which is an agent's chief job; it's how they earn a living). Their submissions could very well be ignored by editors. If an editor does happen to take a look, and does happen to make an offer, this agent is very unlikely to be able to negotiate the best possible contract for you.

It doesn't matter if the agent is enthusiastic. It doesn't matter if they're nice. It doesn't matter if, in offering to represent you, they buy you a pony and some chocolates too. Because unless a pony and some chocolate is all you desire out of your career, chances are you'll never get further.

It doesn't matter if the agent is listed on Publisher's Marketplace; it doesn't matter if they attend conferences; it doesn't matter if they represent a friend of yours and that friend says the agent is just the nicest, happiest agent in the whole wide world. All that matters at the query stage is what they've sold.

If they don't have any sales*, they don't get your query. It's just that simple. Yes, publishing is a slow business, but that doesn't mean you can afford to waste a couple of years while your submissions go nowhere thanks to your ineffective agent.

If they don't have a website (and not all agents do; my own excellent agent doesn't have a site and isn't listed on PM; he rarely reports his sales [mine was reported because I asked him to; gotta love a man who tries to keep the ladies happy]; his internet presence, in short, in practically nonexistent) then Google is your friend. The sites Victoria listed are pretty good; I used both Agentquery.com and Litmatch.net, and followed up every agent who interested me with searches in the Bewares & Background Check forum on Absolute Write and extensive Googling before I decided whether or not to query them.

Meeting an agent at a conference is no guarantee. It depends on the conference; an agent taking pitch meetings at RWA Nationals, for example, has been vetted (I believe, anyway, that they have to be RWA-recognized in order to take appts. there); an agent who just shows up at RWA as a guest has NOT been vetted.

Seeing an agent keep a blog is no guarantee; I can think offhand of two agencies with blogs, whose sales records are either unimpressive or nonexistent (no, I don't recall their names, I just picture the sites in my head.)

A website is no guarantee; again, I can think of a few I've seen where they list "sales", but when I looked the titles up on Amazon (which is also your friend when it comes to agent-hunting) the books were either PA books or other vanity press books.

Quite frankly, just as there is little excuse in this day and age to give your book to a vanity-press scam like PublishAmerica, there is little excuse to query an agent you know nothing about, and no excuse in the world to sign with an agent with no sales*. This is pretty common-sense stuff here, really.

Just like an agent wouldn't sign YOU based on your pretty smile or charming personality if you'd never written a book, you shouldn't query an agent who's never sold one. Period. Remember when we talked about publishers and guinea pigs? It's the same thing.

You are not in this business to be somebody's practice round*. You are not in this business to help out new agents or give them a chance. You are not in this business to be a learning experience. You are in it to write books and make money from them.

Should you like your agent? Of course! Should you be comfortable with your agent? Of course. But all of that is to be determined later. When you start querying, the first and only thing that matters is what books they've sold. They represent your favorite writer, who's got four books on the shelves? Go for it. They represent your favorite writers who is a NYT Bestseller with dozens of books on the shelves? Go for it.

They represent some authors you know online, who are really great people and talented and say how much they love their agent, but none of them has a deal, and when you check the agent's website there are no sales listed? Nope, sorry. Throw back the little fish.

Mercenary? Perhaps. But trust me. You might feel bad deciding not to query that agent, but you'll feel a lot worse two years down the road, when five manuscripts have made the rounds and been rejected (and are therefore "dead" for all intents and purposes) and neither you nor any of your friends have actually sold any books.

And that's what I have to say on that subject.

I am forming a rather troubling addiction to a particular candy. They're called "Drumsticks"; they're a sort of raspberry-and-milk flavored taffy on a stick. I'm not sure why I like them so much, but I do, and I'm getting to a point where the day isn't complete without one. And it's not like an adult dessert (I baked a honey-and-chocolate cake on Saturday; not bad). This is taffy on a stick we're talking about. There is nothing more childlike than candy on a stick, seriously. Or any food on a stick, really, with the exception of kebabs which I dislike (the meat is always tough, and they always use red peppers which regular readers know I am violently allergic to). But even with kebabs you take the stick out.

So I'm doubly looking forward to Halloween, because the candy assortment we buy comes with many, many Drumsticks. Ahhh.

Also tried on my Halloween costume yesterday and put up our Halloween decorations, which was fun. Unfortunately the waist of the costume is a little high, which makes me look a bit stumpy, but so what. It's a sort of zombie dress with sheer sleeves and sheer panels on the stomach, on which bones are printed. I guess it's supposed to give them impression that my flesh is rotting away?

I will of course post pictures when I have some.

*NOTE: A new agent with an established agency is the exception to this. If Agent X is suddenly taking queries at Writer's House, or Fine Print, or Trident, or Dystel, or whatever established agency, chances are they not only used to be an assistant and thus have some contacts and experience, but one of the pros will be helping them. New agents at established agencies are an EXCELLENT bet for queries.

Friday, October 17, 2008

If you haven't seen these...just for fun

These are some damn funny--and classy--speeches. I may never get the debate format I want (both candidates sitting in a room trying to convince the other their way is the right way, with 1/2 hour or so devoted to each topic, with no moderator, which I think would be awesome), but this is fun:

McCain (watch his first, because it leads into Obama's):



Thursday, October 16, 2008

...and the angels wept

Madonna and Guy are divorcing.

It's just so sad. They seemed so perfect for each other; two human beings of great pretention, marginal talent, and superior marketing skills. Two self-absorbed rich people who found each other in a world of self-absorbed rich people. Sigh. It brings a tear to my eye, to think a marriage so clearly based in strike-while-the-iron-is-hot publicity and the ephemeral promise of a certain lazy one-note filmmaker's lazy one-note films love has come to an end.

No, honestly. I do loathe Madonna, and I do think Guy Richie is a talentless one-note filmmaker who only succeeded on Tarantino's coattails. But they did stick it out well beyond the absolute catastrophe that was Swept Away, so I give them credit for trying.

It does kind of make me wonder, though. Is it really even a marriage when you spend less than half a year together? And how bad do things need to get before you split up a marriage when you only see each other for photo ops? I think even if I were in a bad marriage I'd be able to stay in it for the sake of my kids if I never had to see the man involved for more than ten minutes. Really. Kind of like how for centuries widowhood was one of the best stages in a woman's life*? They could do what they liked, but they weren't sluts because they'd been married; they got to live only and solely for themselves.

I have no desire to be a widow, of course. But I do admit there have been times over the last eight years when I've thought rather enviously of women in polygamous marriages. I know that's not something we're supposed to say, but it's true. Think how nice it would be if, say, you have yet another stupid fucking stomach flu, and there's another wife around to feed and dress the children and take them to school (luckily--or not so luckily--Princess has been sick too, so I haven't had to cart her to and from school, but Faerie still has her nursery school three mornings a week.) Or you had insomnia and didn't sleep, and another wife lets you stay in bed while she handles that stuff.

Or if I have a lot of work to do, I could hand over the dinner responsibilities to another wife while I hole up somewhere with the computer. Another wife can keep the hubs busy (when you've been married for eight years I think expediency can sometimes override jealousy) so I can keep working.

It's not a perfect system, of course (and I don't think I need to tell anyone here how far my tongue is in my cheek.) But seriously, I can't be the only woman in the world who's ever thought this? That it would be quite nice to have a couple of other women around to help with the housework and the kids? To roll eyes with when the hubs is grumpy? Like, I'd tell the hubs to look for a wife who likes doing crafty things with the kids, because I'm not good at that (I have really no visual artistic abilities at all; my stuff looks nice enough but there's no real spark, I can never make it look the way it does in my head). And in exchange I'll teach them all to cook. And there could be an outdoorsy wife, who takes them hiking and to the playground and stuff, while I stay home and smoke and drink bourbon. It sounds frankly ideal, I have to say (and I've only seen Big Love once, sigh; is it even still on? They don't show it here.)

Of course, this assumes I get to be First Wife, as with the feudal Chinese. No Third or Fourth Wife positions for me, no way. I want to be Numero Uno, not the drudge.

But really, am I totally strange in thinking, just occasionally, that this might actually be a really good system? That it might actually save some couples from divorcing, even, if there's less fighting over who clears the table and does the dishes and takes the kids to violin lessons and all that stuff? And everyone gets more sleep.


*Note: When I say this I'm thinking of women throughout history who made loveless marriages simply to be married; I'm not at all implying this was the case for everyone.

In other news: First, I keep forgetting, like a dumbass, to mention this, but did you all see my good friend Caitlin's awesome announcement? I was lucky enough to beta-read the first three chapters of WITCH NUMBERS, and I have to tell you guys, it was fucking awesome. So awesome that this announcement did not surprise me one little bit. You will NOT want to miss these books when they come out, trust me.

Also, Accustomed to his Fangs got its first review! My beloved Mrs. Giggles gave the book an 85:

Accustomed To His Fangs is a most amusing vampire romance with a plot that is different from most of the vampire romances out there...The story here is actually a predictable one, but Ms Quinn manages to make it a most entertaining story nonetheless. Ms Quinn manages to poke a few sly fun at the expense of the more familiar submissive heroines of this kind of stories by having Becky deliberately not wanting to do what those heroines would have done without a second thought...Accustomed To His Fangs on the whole is a cute and most entertaining fresh twist on the whole vampire romance thing.

Read the full review here

Also, we have some new reviews for a couple of older titles! Bitten by Books has been working its way through my entire catalog, it seems, and they have some lovely things to say:

About Blood Will Tell:

...this is a well-written story by Quinn. She definitely knows how to tell a darned good story. 3.5 tombstones from the cranky Southern Belle.

About Day of the Dead:

Day of the Dead is an interesting story, a classic template with a few nice twists and an pleasant ending. Quinn spins a good yarn about vampires, revenge and love.

And last but not least, Personal Demons:

Personal Demons is fast-paced, well written, and downright scary in places. The action doesn’t let up, although it does slow down enough at times so you can catch your breath, and the love scenes between Greyson and Megan are hot enough to steam up your glasses.

So there you go! It's Thursday, and I finally don't feel like I'm going to throw up at any second!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bio and other fun

Isn't that cute? It's a little icon thingie I made on one of those website where you can do that sort of thing. They didn't have any hair options that are really like mine, but this is okay.

I have a new bio, which I sent to my Del Rey edtor last week. It is:

Stacia Kane has been a phone psychic, a customer service representative, a bartender, and a movie theatre usher. Writing is more fun than all of them combined.
She currently lives with her husband and their two little girls. She wears a lot of black, still makes great cocktails, likes to play music loud in the car, and thinks Die Hard is one of the greatest movies ever made. She believes in dragons and the divine right of kings, and is a fervent Ricardian.
Visit her online at www.Staciakane.com.

My editor really liked it, so hopefully that's a good sign that it doesn't make me sound like a loon. I do hate writing bios; I try to write serious ones and end up sounding like a pretentious git, so I try to funny it up and sound like some sort of escapee from Arkham ("Stacia Kane spends her nights in a bunny suit, stealing candy from children and plotting the destruction of do-gooders," that sort of thing).

The bio also apparently started a debate in the DR offices about Richard III, which is awesome. (One political point I will make at every turn is the innocence of Richard III. "Because truth should be more powerful than lies...and truth is important.")

Anyway. What else. Oh, I just got to explain to my almost-four-year-old what a panty liner is, that was fun (sorry, is that TMI?)

We bought Halloween costumes this weekend. Hubs tried to drum up some interest in doing some sort of Halloween activity at his work, but that did not go over well. Apparently Halloween is "not Christian" and is therefore inappropriate. Yes, really.

The checkout girl at Woolworths mentioned this to us as well, that it's hard to get anyone interested in Halloween for that reason (it's seen as "un-Christian" and therefore wrong to celebrate. Yes, really), and she found it confusing because she thought America was a fairly religious country, but we seem to love Halloween, how does that work? So hubs and I basically explained to her that while you do occasionally hear of some religious group or lone pastor who thinks Halloween is evil, most Americans simply see Halloween as an amusing and light-hearted holiday that hurts no one, and the schools and a lot of churches and workplaces enter into the fun of it, and only sourpusses and the supremely unimaginative do things like hold candlelight vigils to pray for the souls of those poor unfortunates who are led by Satan into committing the great sin of dressing up like Superman or Princess Leia and asking strangers to put mini Snickers bars into their pillowcases or plastic pumpkin carriers or whatever they're using (when I was a kid we used pillowcases, as they are much bigger. In trick-or-treating, as with so many things, size matters.)

In this pro-Halloween, anti-stupidity stance I have no worries about offending potential readers; frankly, if you think Halloween is evil, you're probably not really the target audience for my books about sexy demons and drug-addicted atheistic witches anyway, right?

Objecting to the celebration of Halloween for religious reasons makes about as much sense as objecting to evergreen trees with lights on them for religious reasons; we're talking about trappings, not beliefs. Halloween costumes are fun; trick-or-treating is fun. Trees with lights in them are pretty. Get over it. (Yes, for some of us Oct. 31st is a holiday with deeper meaning, but that doesn't mean that's all the holiday means or should mean to anyone, and it certainly doesn't mean no one should be allowed to have any fun that night.)

Anyway. I'd intended to do this "as me anything" meme thing, but maybe I'll save that until Thursday, as my little Halloween story developed a life of its own here. So on Thursday I will invite you to ask me anything, no matter how scandalous or shocking. Be prepared. Heh heh.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Oh! I'm in Lady Jaided

Remember I mentioned a while back that Lady Jaided, the Ellora's Cave emagazine, would be running my "cunt" article? They did! It's here, slightly edited to aim it more toward readers than writers, and there's a cute little picture of Shakespeare in there as well.

I'm quite excited about that, actually. It's my first published non-fiction piece. So go check it out!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ah, the romantic time we had...

So. Today we're veering way off course.

The hubs and I were talking this morning about this year's office Christmas party, which will not be at the hotel where it's been for the last few years, but at a different one near Bath. It's a beautiful old building, but we discovered something interesting about it.

On its website, when you click on "Rooms & rates", it brings up a picture of a gorgeous room, with a four-poster bed and a couch and a high vaulted ceiling. And the description says something about the variety of available rooms, from four-poster to suites to doubles to singles." Or whatever the exact wording is.

But guess what? That beautiful room in the picture? It's the only one. There is only ONE four-poster bed in the entire hotel.

Our feeling was that this is a bit of a bait-and-switch. Were there more pictures of all the rooms, it wouldn't be, but this is akin to a hotel offering a picture of its oenthouse suite and implying all the rooms look like this (trust me, it may not sound like a b-and-s as I've described it, but it really does seem so on the site.)

It reminded us of a "romantic" weekend we had once, in Key West.

We decided to stay at a hotel two block off Duvall Street, called the Chelsea House. (I should point out, in the interests of fairness, that the place seems to have changed ownership and management since our disastrous visit.) The website we saw made it sound like a dream; four-poster bed, en-suite bath with tub, balcony, loft with two additional beds, full concierge service. Since what we really wanted was what most couple who haven't been together for all that long wanted (which would be a luxurious bed we could spend a lot of time in; what, we're all adults here) this place seemed ideal. We pictured trying out all those beds; we pictured ourselves taking full advantage of that concierge service to order food in; we pictured cocktails on the balcony while wearing bathrobes. You know, that sort of thing.

So we booked it. And paid, if memory serves, something like $200 per night. Which was worth it to us; we both worked, we had no kids, we lived fairly frugally, so why not splurge?


Our room was the size of a postage stamp. Yes, we had a queen-sized bed, and yes there were posters. No bathtub, though; instead we had a shower with black mold between the tiles, that was barely big enough for me to move around in, much less the 6'2 hubs.

We couldn't find the loft, either, until we looked straight up and noticed a hole in the ceiling. The "loft" wasn't a loft; it was an attic. An un-air-conditioned attic.

With two unmade beds in it.

By "unmade" I don't mean they were stripped bare; I mean the pillows were dented, the sheets pushed back, as if people had just rolled out of them and left. So we called the desk to report our beds hadn't been made. The manager--I think--did come up, and he did bring us a bottle of champagne. But his face fell in disgust when he realized what beds we were talking about. Turned out that, according to him, they don't make those beds unless someone specifically requests that they do. Since we were just two people, he assumed we wouldn't be using them.

Apparently it was silly of us to expect that ALL the beds in our room be made, or to expect that paying for a loft with two additional beds meant we were in fact entitled to sleep in that loft with its two extra beds.

We sighed, but since it was late and we were hungry and not inclined to make fusses, we simply asked him to close the trapdoor then, so at least we wouldn't have to stare at the gaping hole in the ceiling. This he said he would do, and left.

We decided to check out our balcony. Here again we were thwarted. It was a balcony only in the very strictest sense; it was about a foot and a half wide, and somehow they'd managed to stuff a broken mini-fridge and two plastic lawnchairs onto it.

But, the bed was comfy, and as I said, we weren't inclined to make much of a fuss. We wanted to hang out together; we wanted to sleep late and snuggle. So the balcony wasn't great, so what? Ugh. I look back and want to strangle us.

I was not fond of Key West. Neither of us were. But we did take pictures by the sign pointing to Cuba (90 miles away!) We walked on the beach. We saw Hemingway's house but didn't go in, can't recall why. We had breakfast at an absolutely charming French cafe.

So the second night we decided to stay in. We'd been walking all day. My feet hurt (I had a pair of new sandles, adorable, but sadly gave me blisters) and we were feeling lazy.

So we called the desk to ask about the concierge service. You'd think we were asking to bring a pig into our room. There was no concierge service; there was no room service. They did have a booklet of menus for local area restaurants, most of whom delivered. We could come down to the lobby and get it if we wanted.

So we did. And called the restaurants, one by one, only to discover none of them delivered.

We ended up heading to the steakhouse across the street. The food was okay; we tried deep-fried alligator and found it tasty (if a bit fatty.) The best part was the waitress; she actually listened sympathetically to our tale of hotel woe, and in exchange we left her, if memory serves, a $45 tip on a $55 dollar check. She was the only person in Key West who actually was nice to us and seemed to care that we'd wasted a lot of money on a crap room in a crap hotel run by one of the Aryan Youth.

The best part of all was, when we started to complain to the mgr on check-out, he interrupted us and snapped "How about I just give you your money back."

And then charged my credit card as normal.

So not only did we pay an outrageous amount of money for a crap room, and not only were we not even allowed to voice our complaints, we paid for it (thanks to some stupid policy on the part of my credit card bank at the time, by the time we got the bill it was too late to dispute the charge.)

And that is my tale of holiday woe.

Tell me yours!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Me, You, and Politics

So. As you all know, it's an election year. And lots of people have opinions. Including me.

But I'm not going to tell you today what those opinions are. In fact, I'm about to tell you exactly why I'm not going to tell you what my opinions are. (The Smart Bitches did a great post about this the other day, and that's what's inspired me to rant to you all.)

See, here's the thing. How you vote? It's none of my goddamn business. Just like how I vote is none of your goddamn business. No offense meant; I have great friendships with some of you, and I have only fond thoughts for all of you. But my vote is private. That's one of the hallmarks of our system; nobody has the right to know how you voted.

And going along with that is another, deeper truth about me. Not only is your vote none of my business, but quite frankly--and I mean this in the spirit of deepest friendship--I don't give a fuck how you vote. (You, the individual--obviously the outcome of elections is of some importance to me, but perhaps not as much as you might think.) For that matter, I honestly don't give a fuck if you vote. Do it or don't; I'm not bothered either way.

I don't care. No, really. I don't. I don't care what you think about Obama or McCain. I don't care what you think about Joe Biden or Sarah Palin. I know what I think of these people, sure. And guess what? My opinion is the only opinion I care about!

And it's not just you, whose political opinions means nothing to me. It's any actor or actress. It's any other writer. It is, in fact, anyone other than the candidates themselves. Their opinions I care about. Anyone else? No, not really. When I want Matt Damon or Cameron Diaz or Bruce Willis or Tom Selleck's advice about who to vote for, I will call them up and ask them. Until then? I don't care.

More than not caring, I am actually offended that they feel the need to educate me. Do they think I'm stupid? That I am incapable of making voting decisions without their expert help? Gee, I was going to start writing letters to the President urging him to just nuke all the other countries in the world, until Susan Sarandon told me that would be a bad thing. I sure am glad she stopped me from making that mistake, ho-ho-ho! I do NOT like being told what to do. I do NOT like being told how to think. I certainly do not need advice on what to do and how to think from people whose major accomplishment in life is they're very good at playing make-believe.

That's not a dig at actors; I'm well aware that I earn my money by also playing a sort of make-believe. But guess what? I acknowledge that freely, and because of that, I would never in my life have the arrogance to tell you I know more about how you should vote than you do. What am I, fucking Underdog? Here I come to save the daaay! You were about to make a terrible voting mistake, dumbass, let ME tell you the right thing for you! That's bullshit. Who the fuck am I to tell you how to vote? Who the fuck is Martin Sheen to tell me how to vote? (For the record, I actually have quite a bit of respect for Martin Sheen--he certainly puts his money where his mouth is, and has done some things I admire [in addition to some things I think are batshit crazy]. He was just an example.) Does Martin Sheen live my life? Does Martin Sheen have my problems? No, he doesn't, so his advice is useless to me and I don't care to hear it.

I've seen this attitude mentioned in other places as being a sort of censorship. That it's like saying actors/whomever don't have the right to talk about politics. The logical leap there astounds me. How do we get from "I don't care about your opinion" to "You don't have the right to an opinion"? Because it seems to me the two are very clearly separate. Everyone is free to discuss politics to whatever extent they desire; I consider it boorish and rude, generally (and there are exceptions) but they have a right to think and say what they want. Just as I have the right to extend my middle finger and tell them I don't care. Their opinions bore me. I am not interested in them. Just because they have a right to an opinion, and a right to express it, does not mean I'm obligated in any way, shape, or form to listen to and care about that opinion. I don't. (In fact, I grow increasingly weary of political sidcussion by and from anyone; when did that sort of joking become okay? Why, within five minutes of meeting someone, are they talking about politics? Even off-the-cuff jokes. When did that become appropriate? It's akin to meeting someone and within five minutes saying, "So, the other night my husband was taking me doggie-style, and..." No, seriously. For me, it is. Don't assume I think the way you do, and don't assume I want to hear what you think about the issues. I don't. I'm asking you where you got those shoes or if you'll bring a dish to the school fete; that's not an invitation to your thoughts on the President, or oil companies, or gay marriage, or any other issue you can think of. Honest, it's not. See the above, where I tell you I on't care, and you are a boor who obviously has nothing of interest to say and so much start spewing platitudes at me. Way to have a personality.)

But here's the thing. As I said in the comments thread of that SB post, if I wanted to know about acting, I would be very interested in the input of Matt Damon or Susan Sarandon (although Cameron Diaz would still be useless in that arena, frankly.) I would be front-and-center there. And it's not because I think their jobs are simply to entertain us and shut up, like they're some sorts of puppets who should go back in their boxes when they're not filming.

It's because their political opinions are no better informed than mine, no more important or interesting or special than mine, whereas their opinions on acting are considerably better informed than mine (or yours). Acting is their business, and I would be interested in their thoughts on it. Should a bill come up in the legislature that impacts their profession, I would wonder what their thoughts might be. Other than that? I am no more interested in their thoughts on my vote than I would be about how my mailman believes I should raise my children. Someone else telling me how to vote offends me, plain and simple. I don't want to be told what to do, remember?

I don't want to be treated as if, or spoken about as if, I am some gibbering goon, either, if my opinion on a particular topic happens not to coincide with someone else's. I would like the respect I try to give everyone else, which is A)Not to go blaring my politics everywhere, as if people will be interested; and B)To assume that if they disagree with me on any particular topic, they have their own reasons, and those reasons are sound. They are not evil, they are not stupid. They are simply human beings whose experiences and beliefs do not coincide completely with mine--as no one else's in this world's do--and because of that, they see things differently than I do.

I find it incredibly depressing that, in an election in which all four candidates appear to be keeping things on a delightfully polite and even keel, the level of dscourse among the citizenry seems unable to move above playground taunting. "Republicans are mean dirty-butts who are racist and sexist and homophobic and hate everyone!" "Democrats are wimpy dirty-butts who want to steal our money and our free speech, and bend over and let Al-Quada fuck us in the ass!" "Nyah!" "Nyah!" Are we fucking adults or what? Isn't it just possible that Republicans are NOT all racist and sexist and homophobic, but instead simply disbelieve in, I don't know, quotas and infantilizing an entire segment of society or teaching them they will never have a chance to get ahead, or are uncomfortable with allowing certain things they feel are morally wrong (but still believe everyone is human and deserves respect for that) and think parents should raise their own children? Isn't it possible that Democrats are NOT trying to steal our money, but are in fact trying to make sure everyone is fed and clothed and taken care of because the US is a rich nation of plenty and it's shameful that we have hungry children and homeless people, and trying to make the world a better place where people don't feel like shit for being different or lose their rights for arbitrary reasons, and would like to try diplomacy first? Aren't those things just fucking possible? (Throwing out the crazies at the very ends of both spectrums, okay; if you think all Republicans are secret KKK sympathizers who murder gay people for fun and/or all Democrats are crazy Castro-loving Commies who want to turn all children gay I can't help you).

When did we get so fucking vicious? When did we stop seeing people who disagree with us as good people who simply disagree with us, and start seeing them as slavering man-beasts who wanted to kill us all? When did we stop seeing them as humans, as people, as people we might be able to find some common ground with? When did we close our minds? When did that shit become funny? When did it become funny to imply people with different beliefs and ideas are worthless and stupid? When did that become accepted thinking?

I apologize for this post, I really do. It bothers me to do it. Quite frankly, I avoid politics not necessarily because I'm afraid of losing readers (I might gain as many as I would lose; who knows?) but because I do not want the buying of my books to become a political act.

My blog is part of my job. My job is to entertain. That's all. I take that job very seriously; I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'm quite proud of it, in fact. I don't mean my job is to be completely inoffensive or simply to do goofy dances for all of you; but my job is to entertain you. It is not to undertake the broadening of your political minds; quite frankly, I'd rather believe you're here because you are intelligent, and thus capable of making your own decisions.

I would normally no sooner blog about politics here than I would invite you all to a party in my home and then subject you to an hour-long Amway sales presentation. I believe it's rude. I believe that by using my blog (and whatever recognition or whatever I've acheived through it and/or through my books) to presume to educate you on the Big Issues, I am performing some sort of bait-and-switch with you. I am failing to give you the respect you deserve as adults, as readers, as citizens.

If living in the UK for almost three years has taught me anything--and I mean absolutely no disrespect here to England or the English, of whom I am fond--it has taught me that in my opinion the United States is the greatest country in the world, filled with what I firmly believe are, despite their foibles, great and amazing people. Intelligent people. Welcoming people. Kind people. The kind of people who stop to help each other when someone falls down, who cheer each others's triumphs and hug each other when we fail. The kind of people who pitch in and help their elderly neighbors put up shutters when a hurricane is coming and share electricity when it's over (as we used to do on our street in FL). The kind of people who still believe anything is possible, despite the best efforts of some to make us all as cynical and miserable as they are. I believe that. I believe in that dream. Hell, look at me; I have a GED, no college, and major publishing houses are paying me money for books I wrote. I dreamed, and I worked hard, and I acheived something, and nobody sneers at me or thinks I'm overstepping myself, that it's wrong to want to acheive more, to be more.

And quite frankly, I think that's all you need to know about my political views.

I debated turning comments off. I'm leaving them on, though, because I trust you.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Oops! It's release day!

Doh! I forgot today was the first, which means Accustomed to His Fangs is now available at Ellora's Cave!

I had so much fun writing this one; I think I spoofed every vampire cliche I could think of, and invented a few new ones. I really think this is the funniest book I've written (but of course still hot and sexy etc.) So go check it out!

When image consultant Rebecca meets Sebastian, a vampire from a small Eastern European country, her first thought is how much better he'd look without that mullet. Her second thought is that no matter how silly his hairdo is, he's incredibly hot — the perfect one-night stand.

And he is perfect, in more ways than one. Not only do they share the most amazing sex she's ever had, Sebastian is rich and needs some serious help with his lame, old-fashioned image. It's the perfect job for Becky, and she's so confident she can make Sebastian cool she bets her ex-husband a weekend of hot sex that Sebastian will charm the snootiest social lions at the next charity ball.

But Sebastian wants to be more than just a client. He wants Becky to be his, forever, and he'll do anything to win her. Getting into her bed was easy. Getting into her heart is the biggest challenge he's ever faced.


“What is that?”

“Pizza,” she said, handing him a paper plate on which rested an oozy, delightfully cheesy slice of pepperoni. “Have some.”

Sebastian looked doubtfully at the plate, and Becky bit back the urge to laugh. You’d think she was trying to give him a chunk of arsenic to munch on from his expression. “It does not look right.”

“How do you know? You’ve never seen it before. Now watch me.” She picked up her own slice with both hands and took a bite, tugging at the strands of melted cheese that stretched between her mouth and the pizza until they snapped. She chewed and grinned at him, then swallowed and reached for her salad.

“Look. You do not even like it.”

“Are you kidding? I love it. It’s just too fattening to eat.”

“Then why do I need to eat it?”

She sighed. “Because you have to eat it in public, just like I do. I eat a few slices, and then have nothing but diet tea the rest of the day. People have to see you eat it, or they’ll think you have to work to stay thin.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s supposed to be effortless. You don’t want people to think you care so much about your appearance.”

“But you do.”

“Of course I do, and so does everyone else. But we pretend we don’t.” Why was this so hard to understand? Everyone knew nobody would love you if you weren’t attractive. Becky had learned this the hard way in life. But nobody wanted to love someone who looked like they needed love, so it was bad form to look like you worked too hard on being attractive, which meant working too hard on being loved. It was as simple as two plus two. Did they not do math in Robitsvia?


“Just eat the pizza.”

He glanced around the table, lifting his paper towel napkin and the pizza box itself. “You want me to eat this with my hands?”

“No, Sebastian, I want you to rub it all over your chest and absorb the nutrients that way. Of course I want you to eat it with your hands. That’s how pizza is eaten. Weren’t you watching me?”

“I thought you were making a joke. Peasants eat with their hands. Rotagosja—”

“Yes, I know. You are a member of an ancient and noble bloodline, and you’re not a peasant, and you don’t do things the way we do here and we’re all barbarians,” she said, rolling her eyes. She’d heard this a lot over the last two days. “But you are here, in America, and this is the twenty-first century, and if you want to fit in at all you’ll do what I say, right? After all, I don’t have to help you. I could just send you back to your office and let you surf the internet for a Russian mail-order bride.”

“I would never marry Russian woman,” he snapped. His eyes blazed. Clearly this was a sore spot. “Never. After what they did to my country—”

“Okay, okay, sorry. A mail-order bride of some other nationality, okay? Just eat the pizza.”

Tentatively, he picked up a slice, then dropped it. “It is oily.”

She folded her arms across her chest and stared at him.

“It smells like burnt feet.”

Becky didn’t move.

Finally, Sebastian sighed and picked up the pizza again, holding it like it was a particularly disgusting insect. He took a careful bite.


Sebastian shrugged. “It is…okay.” Becky noticed he took another bite awfully quickly. The entire piece was gone in minutes, and he reached for another.

“Only one more,” Becky warned. “Remember, fattening.”

“Why do you buy a whole pizza if you do not eat it?”

“Because they won’t sell you just a couple of pieces. You have to buy the whole thing.”

“I do not understand buying food,” he said. “Why do you not cook the food here?” Raising his eyebrows, he added, “I have seen people using the ovens on television. I know you could cook food here.”

“So I lied about that,” Becky said. “I don’t like to cook, that’s why I don’t cook food here.”

“It is better to waste money on food you will not eat?”


He shook his head, eyeing the pizza hungrily. “So much waste in modern times. I was taught to use everything. No waste. You kill a pig, you eat the pig. The head, the feet, the—”

“Ugh. Can we not talk about eating pig’s heads? Besides, don’t you drink blood?”

“There is no waste in that.”

“Yes, but it’s kind of weird, isn’t it?”

Sebastian sat up straighter in his seat. “I cannot help being what I am. I do not kill, I do not harm. But once every eight days or so I must taste of the life-force of another, I must submit to the dark cravings that—”

Becky started laughing. Sebastian looked wounded. “It is not funny,” he said.

“Yes it is. You sound like a bad dime novel. So you have to drink a little blood every once in a while, so what? I crave chocolate once a month too. Doesn’t mean I have to be all melodramatic about it, does it?”