Shannon Stacey
The Websiteless Writer

My brochure for the New England Chapter’s annual conference came in the mail the other day. I can’t say enough about what a fabulous event this is every year. At about 200 people, it’s large enough to draw a good roster of agents, editors, authors, and speakers, yet small enough to be enjoyable and not at all overwhelming. The workshops are great–Debra Dixon, the Queen of GMC this year! Unfortunately, I probably won’t be going. My priority this year, whether or not I sell, is a website.

Since taking up blogging, I’ve been asked a few times if I have a website, or why I don’t have one.

I don’t, for two reasons. One, I’m very careful about how much money my husband puts into something that, so far, has seen no return. He’s very supportive of my writing, but he’s also been the sole financial supporter of the family for the last ten years. Two, I can’t think of enough to say about myself to fill a website.

I played around with the Geocities site that came with my Yahoo account for a while. No web design skills needed! Wooohooo! Well, it shows. I came to the conclusion, after looking around at some of the sites of my fellow aspiring writers and my own pathetic attempts with clipart cast-offs, that, like an agent, it’s better to have none than a crappy one.

I would never introduce a shabbily-dressed, illiterate guy and say, “This is Bob, my agent. He works for zero percent of my income, so I’ve chosen him to represent me and my writing.”

There are some fabulous websites out there from aspiring writers. They clearly represent dedicated, focused professionals. I’m sure if I were an editor, I’d be pleased to know that, along with the manuscript, comes an author well-versed in image and promotion–one willing to invest in her own career.

So one of my goals this year–one I can actually have some control over–is a professional website. Like editors and agents, I’ve got my wish list. We’ll see how it goes. For now I’ve got my blog and I’m content with that.

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Paging Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard

All this talk of career planning and resolutions and whatnot has all jumbled into one concept for me this month: Focus. I need to focus my energies in concrete directions.

And how the hell does this work when your Muse has Multiple Personality Disorder? Not well. I need to set up some kind of voice mail system for her in my head. For romantic comedy, press 1. For romantic suspense, press 2. For women’s fictiony stuff, press 3. For erotic werewolves, press…end, then dial somebody else. I just had a visual of the hero dragging his butt across the grass, and we’ll add that to the “Not This Writer” list, along with matchmakers reincarnated as vomitously-mischievous pets. I’ve tried to whip my Muse into shape before, only to have her cry “Ooooh, a bondage story,” and cash in some more frequent flyer miles on Tangent Air.

So I’m going to ignore her for a while to concentrate on the myriad of ideas I’m already working on:

1–A romantic suspense for SIM. I’m suffering from a severe lack of motivation where this story is concerned (mine, not the character’s). More on that later.
2–Romantic comedy for EC. (The one with the chafing hero)
3–Comedic futuristic novella and big, fat vampire series for EC. (More evidence of my Muse’s many personlities.)
4–Novella for Brava, affectionately (working) titled Crotch Rocket.
5–Futuristic time-travel series for Silhouette Bombshell. This is a project I’m pretty excited about…

But. (Of course there’s a but.) I’m excited about the series, but less excited about pouring too much blood and sweat into it yet. I was working on a Duets when the editor moved and then the line closed. Was pondering Flipside, but didn’t think it would work. And Flipside’s folding, anyway. Had a Harlequin Historical I was putzing with, then that line closed in North America. Or did it? Who knows? Temptation, where my orphaned Duets might have fit with a lot of revision, is leaving the country. And SIM has cut back to 4 books per month and is focusing on top-selling authors & themes. Not sure what that means, other than ‘No slot for Shannon.’ And yet, for some reason, I’m having trouble focusing my creative energies on H/S right now. *eye roll*

But I’ve decided those are the projects on the table right now. Anything else the Muse comes up with will be totally ignored. I won’t even let myself “just down a few notes…really, just a few.” To very badly paraphrase Stephen King: if it’s not a good enough idea for the muse to cough up later without written notes, it wasn’t a strong enough idea for a book.

Of course, the list is open to negotiation should one of those stick. *g*

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Alias Smith or Jones or…Roberts?

I’ve been following a Q&A with the fabulously talented Lucy Monroe on AskAnAuthorPro. (Open to those with RWA PRO status.)

First, if you’re not reading Lucy’s books, you seriously should be! The Real Deal was one of my favorite books of 2004. Second, if you qualify for PRO status and you just haven’t bothered with the paperwork or dismiss it as a rejection pin (grrrr–don’t get me started), you are really missing out.

So, anyway, Lucy Monroe is doing a Q&A this week on Career Planning. One thing that particularly caught my attention was her comments on pseudonyms. Basically, one spends months–or in most cases years–interacting on message boards, readers’ loops, writers’ loops as one’s self, then you get The Call, pick a pseudonym, and…start all over.

I’ve been roaming around online for about 3 1/2 years. As me. After reading those posts, I realized that she was right–if you’re going to use a pseudonym, start immediately. Don’t wait for The Call.

This led to a rousing discussion with the husband on names. Every single one we came up with sounded incredibly stupid (I wanted to keep the Shannon part). I don’t like my maiden name, my mother’s maiden name, or any other maiden names on my family tree. Every one he came up with made me sound like the star of a backroom porn movie. Every one I came up with started with B, until he laughed and said “You just want to sit at the same table as Jaci and Mel. Hmmmm….

Finally it boiled down to a discussion of WHY the pseudonym? Pros: Ummm…1–Eventually if I attracted a nut, he wouldn’t be able to find my house, unless he has even a passing knowledge of the internet. 2–There are always people who assume that I’m stupid and just don’t know Stacey is my first name. It’s not, thanks. Cons: 1–Starting all over with a new identity. 2–Legalese. 3–I like my name. 4–And I want MY name on MY book. 5–And all the other choices sounded really dumb.

After many yeah-buts and much eye-rolling, we came to the conclusion that neither of us sees a reason for me to use a pseudonym. It wasn’t really a conversation I was comfortable with because, here in Red Sox Nation, we are more than familiar with the curse of putting the cart before the horse, but Lucy’s comments made me realize that in career planning, that’s exactly what you have to do.

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Adventures In Dirty Words

Okay. Call me offensive, call me a disgrace to female kind. Tar me and feather me. Whip me, beat me…hold on…distracted there for a sec.

When it comes to names for the female anatomy, I prefer the C-word to the P-word. *gasp* (And I hope you know what I mean, cause I’m not saying them in public. Nope.)

But I’ve seen a lot of commentary about how much women prefer the P-word to the C-word, and I see the P-word most frequently. Perhaps because the C-word is used in such a derogatory manner non-sexually–really negative associations there. And it’s too dirty and shouldn’t be used in romantic fiction, and blah blah blah. But the P-word makes me giggle. Sorry, but it does. It’s a silly word. Maybe it comes from watching too many episodes of Are You Being Served?

Why are there no feminine, attractive names for…down there? *g* In my childhood we referred to it as the ya-ya. And that was before I’d ever heard of Rebecca Wells, so you can imagine my reaction to THAT title. My stepmother, for some reason, has my sisters refer to anything covered up by panties as “bunny.” Sure, and wouldn’t that go over well at EC? (And I don’t know why they have bunnies, so I can’t explain it. I only know that as soon as my son was born I made sure everybody was clear there were no bunnies in HIS pants) (Of course, their 32-year-old sister is here saying P-word and C-word, so maybe it’s hereditary. *eye roll*)

So, until something better comes along (and please don’t suggest that hideous Q word), I’ll use the P-word and the C-word. I found in this book, I had a tendency to use the former in her POV and the latter in his. *shrug*

For the record, I love ALL the guy-part names. I have no problem using those. ;)

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Time Mismanagement, Inc.

The husband says to me this morning “If you give up watching TV with me at night you’ll get an extra 2 or 3 hours.”

Now, I know my husband pretty well. I know what he really meant was “It’s okay if you write at night instead of sitting in the living room with me, staring at the TV and dissecting the shows during the commercials.” What he doesn’t get is that, after nearly eleven years, we’re barely clinging to our identity as a loving, married couple as it is. Co-parents, yes. Cohabitants, yes. Co-managers, yes. Husband and wife…getting fuzzy.

Sure, he’s in his recliner and I’m on the couch and we’re both engrossed in the idiot box, but I see this as our “deep breath” time. So he says, “watch the eight and nine o’clock shows, but write during the ten o’clock hour.”

My first thought: But CSI Miami! Without A Trace! I can’t do that!

His last words as he walked out the door to go to work: “Hey, if you wanna watch TV more than you want to be published, be my guest.”

(You CAN dent a steel door, FYI)

Well…I want to be published more than I want to be an unpaid, underappreciated home office manager, so who’s laughing now? HA!

Now I’m off to choke on my lesson for the day.

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