Notes from a Drama Queen

Mrs. Grouchy Pants

Monday, November 07, 2011

In honor of the late, exceedingly grumpy Andy Rooney, I'm going to give in to my inner bitch. She's well-hidden, is Bad Krissie, partly because I had a raging virago of a mother (when she was in her prime) and I hate hate hate anger, in general but in particular directed at me. Nice matters. Kindness matters. I'm gonna really regret doing this.

But fuck it.

Usually when I'm attacked (and trust me, I have been, mostly without reason) I go into mega-polite mode. A NYT author, in fact, possibly my favorite living writer, once lit into me with no provocation in a three screen email. My reply was brief and courteous - her accusations came from her own paranoia and nothing I had done, so I couldn't very well defend myself. Another writer I'd known quite intimately suddenly flipped and sent a public, screaming email to me. My response was just a shocked, "Jesus," and not a "what the fuck is wrong with you, woman?" which is what she deserved. I got publicly skewered by an anonymous agent blogger three weeks in a row, setting off a firestorm (which is clearly why she milked it for three weeks) and instead of responding I let Crusie go after her.

The few times I've let go and actually snapped at someone they've come back with both barrels blazing, and I'm down like a stone. I don't know how to fight, my skin is too thin, I don't want to hurt people.

But in honor of Andy Rooney, here's a one-time foray into bitchiness, and I'm going to flatly ignore any counter-attacks (or treat them with exquisite, brief politeness).

1. I am so fucking sick of the word "trope" that I'm ready to vomit. It got pulled out of the stinking reservoir of academe-speech, and everyone who wants to sound intelligent talking about romance novels uses it, and if I read it one more time I will scream. (Mind you, I come from an academic family so I've got some baggage there). Stop using that word! You can dredge up something more egregious, like enthuse. Misuse all the words you want. Just give a trope a break.

2. I'm tired of male writers swaggering around on the internet praising each other over their perspicacity in publishing via the internet, their condescension in referring to "legacy" publishers, their constant whipping it out and measuring it attitude. It has nothing to do with their talent, only their own delusions of importance. Mind you, I have my own delusions of grandeur, but at least I don't shove it down everyone's throat in my efforts to become poster-boys of the electronic revolution.

3. Everyone loves Janet Reid, an agent who is entertaining on panels and writes a snarky, witty blog. At least this time she's brave enough to sign her fucking name. Enough said. Let's hope she doesn't meet me in a dark alley with my posse of roving android assassins.

4. Social networking. I keep trying to understand tweeting but it's like trigonometry -- it just doesn't compute in my poor little brain. I adore technology, love the internet, enjoy FB and even like blogging when I'm not feeling pressured. But almost all the time I'd rather write. If I didn't feel like I had to do all these things then maybe I'd enjoy them more. But in the end, I'd rather be writing.

5. I'm tired of failure. Of publishers promising one thing and delivering another, or sometimes, nothing at all. I'm sick of going to conferences and meeting so many people who tell me they'd never read my books but they'll have to try (after 37 years of being published). I'm sick of hearing that my books are too dark and full of angst. Grow a pair. I'm sick of thinking each new opportunity is going to make everything all right and then discover I was wrong. Happiness is lowered expectations. I think I need to wipe mine out completely.

On the other hand, 6. I'm tired of whining about how publishers have mis-published me and let me down and screwed me over and blah blah blah. Enough, already. Time for me to grow a pair.

7. I hate hate hate the IRS. They're nice, polite, my own person agent, Chris, is unfailingly helpful. I hate them.

8. I am so sick of being fat. And not pretty. At 63 I should be over it. But American women always wanted to be fairy princesses, and I guess when I'm in my 90's, like my mother, I'll still be feeling sorry for myself over it. There, I said it.

9. I'm secretly pissed that I had to change my name after 35 years as a published writer. The subtext of that is that Anne Stuart's work has been for naught, I'm a failure, time to reinvent myself because all that work didn't matter. And I haven't had a contract as Anne Stuart for more than a year. Mind you, I haven't tried, so I shouldn't complain. But it's as if all the work that I poured my heart and soul into over the years doesn't matter.

10. I'm tired of being what I think everyone wants me to be. I'm tired of trying. Damn, I'm tired.

Tomorrow I'll be in a much better mood. After all, my books have touched many people. I'm in a business with writers like Laura Kinsale, Judith Ivory, Jennifer Crusie, Lani Diane Rich. I come from the tradition of Jane Austen, Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer. And there are fabulous writers writing today, like Joanna Bourne (BLACK HAWK is wonderful!), Elizabeth Hoyt (SCANDALOUS DESIRES might be the best book of the year), Eloisa James, Jeaniene Frost, Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Kelley Armstrong, Lisa Kleypas, Teresa Medeiros, Meredith Duran, and so many others ). I belong in that fellowship, and it's a wonderful thing.

But today I'll feel grouchy and weepy until I actually start writing. And then, assuming the words come, everything will brighten, and I won't give a damn. I'll be a fairy princess, and a goddess.

At least, until someone uses the word trope.

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33 Comments:

Blogger Nan said...

I met you at RWA conference in Detroit in 1984--no reason at all for to remember that except that I was exceedingly gushy over how much I loved Anne Stuart's work. You were then and are now an inspiration. Your books are a big reason I began writing romance and a reason I continue to work hard at it.

You're entitled to as much grumpy as you want to dish out--don't apologize and never explain yourself. Hang in there, as Lani would say, "You are a great writer" and nothing ever changes that. Thanks for your work!

12:11 PM  
Blogger Kama said...

Bless your heart, honey. Sometimes, a good grumpy post is just worth it to help us get through another day. I should take a note from your page. Like you I hate confrontation and anger. I don't handle it well and tend to kind of melt into a puddle of quivering jelly inside until the whole thing is all over and I can slink back into my corner to think evil thoughts, shed a few tears, and imagine what I could have and should have said - the good, spiteful, cut you down to your mean little toes kind of responses never come to me in moments of panic. But occasionally, I grow a back bone and lose my shit. It's not pretty. But maybe writing about it all first, before I explode into a trillion pieces of anger, spite, and just plain mean in a not so inside voice might do some damage control to the public and make my kids stop calling me psycho-mom when that back bone suddenly appears, lol.

For what it's worth: this girl had to go and look up the word trope. I think you are an amazing writer whose characters I fall in love with more each time I read the story again. Beauty is as beauty does. I always imagine the thin, pretty princesses in this world wear wigs under their tiaras to cover their bald spots and they have to wear long skirts to hide the warts on their dried up wrinkly thighs.

Chin up, sweetie. Be yourself. I may not know you personally, but as a fan of your work, I know your books and your characters. I imagine you as a funny, witty person who would be a great friend. I hope your day goes better. 8)

12:44 PM  
Blogger Beth T Irwin said...

Sweetheart, you do what you have to do and we, your loyal readers, will help you hide the bodies.

WTF is wrong with your name? I hunt for it regularly on line and in bookstores because I adore your men. I hesitate to call them heroes, but I want one, whatever label you want to use. Oh boy, do I ever want one! A warped, deviant, over-sexed, can't-leave-him-alone, damaged but redeemable Sebastian of my very own. Yes, please!

Ignore the boy writers. They're simply disappointed they can't be you.

Hang in there, get back to your writing and don't worry about the rest. If the bean counters aren't smart enough to slap down a contract soonest, we'll figure a way around them. And hell hath no creativity like a bunch of pissed-off women who are determined to help a sister out.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Vivian Davis said...

Commiserations on all the crappy things you've been dealing with. I love your books. I first started with Black Ice, was blown away, and I've been hooked ever since, buying all the new ones and collecting the older ones when I find them (I just started Into the Fire last night). Hang in there. We love you!
Signed,
A Loyal Fan

1:45 PM  
Blogger Anne Stuart said...

Smooch!

2:24 PM  
Blogger Jessa Slade said...

What? You ARE a fairy princess! You taught me I could be that just by wearing a boa. I have boa -- a shiny white with sparkles thing -- because of you!

Also, I love your dark heroes. I can't remember if it was Nightfall or To Love a Dark Lord that I found first. Maybe you can just take out your grumps on an IRS hero ;)

3:15 PM  
Blogger Sharon Sala said...

I have loved/admired you for years and am stunned that you would be the target of anyone's ire. You are, without doubt, one of the sweetest, funniest people I know who writes the best tortured heroes ever!!! Screw the naysayers, sister girl. Oh. And FYI... Me. You. the IRS. I'm so there and hate is not a strong enough term for what they make me feel.

A long time ago my grandmother told me that what you give out in the universe comes back to you two-fold. I've lived long enough now to know that's not just a wives tale. That's the truth.

Don't think about those bitchy comments and virulent attacks. Think about what's coming down the pike for the people putting it out and keep on truckin'.

I love you, Krissie. I consider you a friend. Sending you a big warm hug.

Sharon

3:31 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

You are my favorite author.
That may not mean much as I'm not that important in the general scheme of things, but it means a great deal to me.

Rant all you want. Free country, Sr. Chrissy.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Robena Grant said...

You know what, it's fine to have a Mrs. Grumpy Pants day. You deserve it. You've worked hard, and you've produced some amazing books.

But about happiness...no such thing...forget happiness. Go for inner contentment. You have that because you know you're amazing and have the books to prove it. You can be warmed by that no matter what the hell happens externally.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Cathy Leming said...

I'm going straight to Amazon and buying as many of your books that I can.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Athena Grayson said...

I love you whether you are Anne Stuart, or change your name to Grumpy McClownyPants. I've never pictured you as a fairy princess, though. When I met you at a local convention several years ago, I was struck with the sure knowledge that if we'd been in a medieval setting, you would have been the sorceress that held the strings of the puppet king, and the only woman the local clergy would have genuinely feared.

You defy boundaries. It's not easy to be limitless.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Xe said...

Anne, I love you. I love you to pieces for writing this, for being honest, for saying what every other author is likely thinking.

I love you for writing a book that challenged me as an artist, that became my first successful audiobook simply because I could connect with your characters. I opened my mouth and they popped out - because you wrote them with such humor and irreverence and, yes, I'll say ANGST.

And let the record show that I ADORE angst. Any book that doesn't have it is the poorer for it. What is life without emotional content, distress, and ultimate resolution? Damn boring, that's what.

Peace,
Xe

8:42 PM  
Blogger Xe said...

Anne, I love you. I love you to pieces for writing this, for being honest, for saying what every other author is likely thinking.

I love you for writing a book that challenged me as an artist, that became my first successful audiobook simply because I could connect with your characters. I opened my mouth and they popped out - because you wrote them with such humor and irreverence and, yes, I'll say ANGST.

And let the record show that I ADORE angst. Any book that doesn't have it is the poorer for it. What is life without emotional content, distress, and ultimate resolution? Damn boring, that's what.

Peace,
Xe

8:42 PM  
Blogger Sylvia Allen Fisher said...

Anne,
You. Kick. Ass. You have for a long time, no one can take that away from you, and plain-speaking is just about the most attractive trait a woman can have.
The first book I read of yours was Lazarus Rising (not your personal fave, I know) when I was a teenager. I loved it because it was a romance with really imperfect people and there was something about Katharine going into that seedy-ass laundromat that was tantalizing and brave. When I read the teaser for Night of the Phantom, I lost my mind because I've always had a weakness for gothics. I remember I had to wait forever for someone to drive me to the nearest town with a Waldenbooks (damn backwoods Indiana) so I could buy and devour it, terrified it would somehow disappoint. It didn't, not at all. Ethan could have been painted as ridiculous and whiny, or too perfectly misunderstood to be believed, but again he was flawed. I dig flaws, which is why I totally agree with you about Ms. Hoyt.

I know others have mentioned being inspired by you, but lemme add fuel to that...NEVER UNDERESTIMATE your influence. That's what's so cool about your body of work. You're still banging out fantastic stuff, reaching new readers. Every time I think I haven't seen you for awhile, there you go again, releasing a fresh series. How many others can be in the business so long and still claim relevance? The bitchiness keeps you real, and I laughed out loud at this post. I write and the process makes me wanna bang my head against my shiny laptop at times, but your honesty made me want to send you a virtual fan hug. 'Cause you're made of awesome.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Punya said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:51 AM  
Blogger Punya said...

Oh, there's always time to go 'whatevvvah!' on people who don't even deserve your attentions. Or, you could go grumpy! Lolz I respect you more for speaking your mind Ms. Stuart. Loved the fucking post! :D

3:52 AM  
Blogger Musicteacher09 said...

I read my first Anne Stuart book in 1978--Cameron's Landing. I wore out the library's copy. From then on, I searched for your books. When The Demon Count (and daughter later) came out, I was in heaven. Your books are the only ones I will buy sight unseen. I own them all. The darkness vs. light, unredeemable hero vs. flawed but fascinating heroine, interesting settings, and twist plots keep me reading and reading. Life absolutely sucks sometimes, and we're not ever appreciated as we should be, but your books have been a major part of many of our lives for a long time now and I hope you keep writing forever.

7:22 PM  
Blogger JenWyatt said...

Dear Anne,
The others who posted before me summed up your fabulousness so well that I need only add one note:
Count me as a member of your snarky-ass-kicking army.
xxx

10:33 PM  
Blogger Carla Swafford said...

Yeah, I'm with Jen. Where do I sign up?

Your books have inspired me in so many ways. Geez, I'll have to tell you some day how much.

When I nagged Laura Hayden to invite you to Birmingham and then I got to pick you up at the airport, OMG! I was so not disappointed in meeting you. Your mind is quick and devilish fun.

I agree also with Athena. Hell with being a princess. They're no fun with their sticks up their...well, let's say a sorceress is so much better and certainly I know you already have the magic when it comes to writing heroes (or anti-heroes) that I love to read.

You rant anytime you want. Your army is nearby.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Anne Stuart said...

You are all magnificent! We can be sorceresses together! Glorious ones!

8:12 AM  
Blogger BarbN said...

I loved this post, and I love your books. I've only read three so far, but I'm working my way through. Slowly. When I find a good "new" (new to me) author, I spread them out, so I won't run out of them too soon. the good ones are so rare. and thanks for the list of your faves, it gives me some new ones to try.

11:26 AM  
Blogger SusannahC said...

I confess that I never read one of your books until after I met you at an RWA conference in the late 1990s or early 2000s. (We met by happenstance; our rooms were almost across from one another.) But once I read one of your books, I read many others. I like your books. I like you. You're an inspiration, even some readers and publishers don't understand it. Other authors surely do.

I'm also avoid confrontation, hate the IRS, and will probably scream the next time I read the word trope, which seems to have suddenly proliferated---almost always misused.

I'm also doing NaNo. Go, Krissie, go!

4:22 PM  
Blogger inkgrrl said...

Who told you that you weren't pretty? Worse, who got you to believe it? Because s/he/they were wrong. I am often wrong (but never in doubt) but about this thing I am absolutely right: you are pretty, you are beautiful, you are gorgeous, you are splendid, and I'm not just saying that because I adore your writing. The Prince is echoing this over my shoulder - you utterly rock.

FYI - I'm REALLY good at hiding bodies. Just to avoid the paperwork, you understand ;-)

Hugs and smooches to you, gorgeous!

8:55 PM  
Blogger Sherry Thomas said...

I don't know enough about anything else but not pretty?

I looked at you for an hour straight at NJRWA conference last year. You were a pleasure for the eyes.

Let your mom worry about her looks, if she wants to. You are a fine-looking woman.

4:40 PM  
Blogger me said...

my comment disappeared but I wanted you to know I love you and have been reading your books for years. Way after you were well into being a publishing queen. I love laura kinsale and she writes a fantastic dark hero as well

reese

5:55 PM  
Blogger nafeesaiqbal19 said...

I'm 19, and you are offcially my favourite author. If I find a book with your name on it, I will buy it right there and then without even reading the blurb or anything.
I LOVE YOU TO BITS!

1:12 PM  
Blogger Lindsay Longford said...

Hey, swee'pea, for what it's worth, I love your books, darkness, angst, and all, and I've been reading them ever since I found your first one.

And, dahlink, I'm a-gonna keep on reading them under whatever name you write.

Not that it matters, but, by the way, I think you're totally beautiful as well as totally fabulous. So there, you go right ahead and be as grumpy as you want--and I hope tomorrow (today?) is a better day.

3:43 AM  
Blogger Myrna Mackenzie said...

I was behind you in the check-in line at my very first RWA conference back in 1990. I was green and didn't know who I was talking to, but you were very gracious to me, asking about my own writing. Then at the awards ceremony, you were the presenter for romantic suspense. People at my table went wild, and one woman explained to me that you were Anne Stuart and you were a goddess.

A gracious woman and a goddess, too? I had to read something by you. It was a good move, because I've read and loved all your books and now, in addition to your new books, I'm buying your older ones and rereading them (have to have them for my Kindle). What's more, I've often said that you are one of the very few authors I would show up to hear speak no matter the topic and I'm going to keep saying that, because it's true.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Bernizzya said...

Let it out, Ms. Stuart. As Beth T said, we will help you hide the bodies.

I have only started reading your books (feels like I've been living in a third world backwater for so long) and now I cannot get enough. Your stories--in all their dark glory--are beautiful and moving and kick ass.

2:36 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Has the world gone mad! Not been published as Anne Stuart?! Add me to your ever increasing army.
I'm very upset as I'd hoped you'd continue with the House of Rohan stories, especially Brandon Rohan and Emma Cadbury's story.
You have thousands of fans and they all want you to continue writing. You are the only one who can who can hit the spot(no pun intended!)
Thanks.I'm now going on Amazon!

7:25 AM  
Blogger 1lfb said...

Your writing rocks! Thank you for sharing your talent. As long as I have one of your books to read I'm never at a loss for a place to take refuge.

1:05 AM  
Blogger Tricia said...

You have helped me through one of the hardest times of my life. My husband after 14 years and 4 kids told me he doesn't want to be married anymore. No real reason (Except his Mother) but I have reread all your books and they and my children are the only thing that got me through it. So thank you!!!
Tricia

9:12 AM  
Blogger KarenL said...

Just a little comment on #8 - - - I KNOW, RIGHT???!!! Feel the same way....SUCKS!

Lol, okay, I'm done now.

1:41 PM  

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