Friday, April 11, 2014

Terra Elan McVoy's Criminal, Out in Paperback!

Terra Elan McVoy's CRIMINAL is out in paperback this week! She's here on the blog giving us a little insight into the inspiration behind this intense YA novel.

First, a summary of the book:

Nikki’s life is far from perfect, but at least she has Dee. Her friends tell her that Dee is no good, but Nikki can’t imagine herself without him. He’s hot, he’s dangerous, he has her initials tattooed over his heart, and she loves him more than anything. There’s nothing Nikki wouldn’t do for Dee. Absolutely nothing.  

So when Dee pulls Nikki into a crime—a crime that ends in murder—Nikki tells herself that it’s all for true love. Nothing can break them apart. Not the police. Not the arrest that lands Nikki in jail. Not even the investigators who want her to testify against him.  

But what if Dee had motives that Nikki knew nothing about? Nikki’s love for Dee is supposed to be unconditional…but even true love has a limit. And Nikki just might have reached hers.

Beyond the Book: Terra's Thoughts

In advice to writers, Stephen King says, “Write the truth.”

Ernest Hemingway also famously said, “Write what you know.”

My thesis director and writing mentor, Mark Winegardner, went further to say, “Write what you most want to understand.”

It was this thought that motivated me to start writing Criminal. In 2011, I heard about a murder case in which a young man was accused of killing one of his girlfriend’s parents, out in broad day. When I discovered he had an accomplice—another young woman with whom he’d also been romantically involved—I was even more intrigued.

 “Who would do such a thing? And why?” Of course I was thinking of the shooter, but really I was most perplexed by the second girlfriend—the one who allegedly helped him do it. Who was she? Why did she go along with it? Did she know about his other girlfriend? And what happened to her after the fact?

Reading helps us to imagine things we haven’t experienced on our own, and to, ultimately, empathize with our fellow humans. In writing Criminal, I aimed to explain to myself—and to therefore understand—what it would be like to be a girl very different from me and most of the characters in my other books: someone without resources, without confidence, without an education or good family, and often without hope—so much so that she’d participate in such a horrible crime.

The result of my imaginings (and my research) is in this book. I didn’t write it to justify, or excuse, any kind of criminal behavior in the slightest. Instead I hope that in doing so, my readers and I can get closer to understanding that people who make terrible choices like this are more than just the results of their crimes. 

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In this short video, Terra discuss the challenges involved in writing about a complex character like Nikki and how she came to understand the decisions she makes.


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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Final Day of the Superfan Contest, featuring Mr. Ralph and the quote that came to me in a dream


Each weekday between March 31 and April 10 (that's today!), I'm posting a new This Side of Salvation "trading card" on my blog and on my various social networks. The cards feature quotes by the different characters, as well as iconic images associated with them. By sharing this image on your blog and/or social networks, you could win some great prizes!

Today's card features David's homeschool math teacher, Mr. Ralph. (He doesn't have a last name.) While I was writing This Side of Salvation, I woke one night with this exact quote in my head. I scribbled it on my notepad in the dark, and in the morning, though I could barely read my own handwriting, I knew I'd found the novel's central truth.

For Superfan contest details, including rules, prize list, and entry form, see this post. If you already know what to do, here's a direct link to the entry form, which contains helpful instructions on how to link to your posts. To see a gallery of trading cards (and other interesting stuff from the book), visit the TSoS Pinterest page.

This coming weekend, I will do the drawings for the nine daily prizes, Monday's bonus prize, and the grand prize of them all, so be sure to share this final card by the end of the day tomorrow. Winners will be contacted via email.

Thanks a million to everyone who shared these images and words from This Side of Salvation the last nine weekdays. I hope you had as much fun as I did!

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Superfan Contest Day 8, featuring Eve Decker


Each weekday between March 31 and April 10, I'm posting a new This Side of Salvation "trading card" on my blog and on my various social networks. The cards feature quotes by the different characters, as well as iconic images associated with them. By sharing this image on your blog and/or social networks, you could win some great prizes!

Today's card features one of David's homeschool classmates, Eve Decker. Overshadowed by her obnoxious older brother, Ezra, she's a bit of a wallflower when we first meet her. But then she develops, in every way. Like David, she's pissed at her parents for hiding the truth and denying her choices. Unlike David, she's really good at chess.

For Superfan contest details, including rules, prize list, and entry form, see this post. If you already know what to do, here's a direct link to the entry form, which contains helpful instructions on how to link to your posts. To see a gallery of trading cards (and other interesting stuff from the book), visit the TSoS Pinterest page.

Play every day for maximum points toward the grand prize, plus chances to win the daily drawings. It's super easy and super fun!

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Superfan Contest Day 7, featuring Sophia Visser


Each weekday between March 31 and April 10, I'm posting a new This Side of Salvation "trading card" on my blog and on my various social networks. The cards feature quotes by the different characters, as well as iconic images associated with them. By sharing this image on your blog and/or social networks, you could win some great prizes!

Today's card features Sophia Visser, leader of the Rush cult. A widow with a sordid past, Sophia dreams of eternal peace and salvation. But what will she sacrifice to achieve that dream, and at what cost to her devoted followers and their families? Well, at least she makes great cookies.

For Superfan contest details, including rules, prize list, and entry form, see this post. If you already know what to do, here's a direct link to the entry form, which contains helpful instructions on how to link to your posts. To see a gallery of trading cards (and other interesting stuff from the book), visit the TSoS Pinterest page.

Play every day for maximum points toward the grand prize, plus chances to win the daily drawings. It's super easy and super fun!

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Monday, April 07, 2014

Superfan Contest Day 6, featuring Jennifer Cooper, aka Mom


Each weekday between March 31 and April 10, I'm posting a new This Side of Salvation "trading card" on my blog and on my various social networks. The cards feature quotes by the different characters, as well as iconic images associated with them. By sharing this image on your blog and/or social networks, you could win some great prizes!

Today's card features Jennifer Cooper, David's mom. Like me, she loves cats, coffee, and peanut butter/granola bar sandwiches (that's peanut butter spread atop two granola bars, which are then smooshed together--try it!). Devastated by her older son's death, she goes to great lengths to save the rest of her family. But ultimately it's David and Mara who must save her

For Superfan contest details, including rules, prize list, and entry form, see this post. If you already know what to do, here's a direct link to the entry form, which contains helpful instructions on how to link to your posts. To see a gallery of trading cards (and other interesting stuff from the book), visit the TSoS Pinterest page.

Play every day for maximum points toward the grand prize, plus chances to win the daily drawings. It's super easy and super fun!

ALSO!! Today you can earn BONUS points toward the grand-prize giveaway and enter an EXTRA daily drawing for spreading the word about my AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit. Simply share the image found on my AMA blog post in all the same ways you share the TSoS trading cards.

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BONUS Superfan activity!


Today I'm doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) over at Reddit's YA Writers group. Please come and ask me questions about, yes, ANYTHING you like. You must register on the site to post a question or comment, but it only takes about 10 seconds to sign up.

AND...you can help me spread the word by sharing the above image on your social networks just as you would the This Side of Salvation Superfan daily trading cards. Those who do this today will be entered into a special bonus daily drawing (for a free book and a $10 bookstore gift card) as well as earn points toward the Superfan grand-prize drawing!

For Superfan contest details, including rules and prize list, see this post. Please use the entry form below for the AMA image only. It contains helpful instructions on how to link to your posts.

For today's Superfan trading card (which will post at 9am), please use the usual entry form.





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Saturday, April 05, 2014

No Superfan posts this weekend, BUT...

A couple people have asked where today's Superfan contest post is, which is awesome--you guys have picked up a great habit! The Superfan contest is running only on weekdays, to allow everyone to enjoy their weekends offline, hopefully in nice weather.

If you haven't shared yesterday's trading card, you have all weekend to do it, until Monday at 9am-ish (as I said, I am flexible with regard to timing).

Monday morning I'll start bright and early at 8am with a SPECIAL EVENT image to share, in addition to the usual trading card.

Meanwhile, if you haven't played the YA Scavenger Hunt yet, scroll down to the very next post and get started! Fifty authors are participating, and we're each donating at least one copy of our latest book to the grand prize drawing, as well as doing bonus giveaways at our individual posts. Deadline for entry is Sunday, April 6, 3pm Eastern. EDITED TO ADD: YA Scavenger Hunt is over--thanks for playing!

Hope you're having a great weekend!

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Friday, April 04, 2014

Superfan Contest Day 5, featuring John Cooper, Sr., aka DAD



Each weekday between March 31 and April 10, I'm posting a new This Side of Salvation "trading card" on my blog and on my various social networks. The cards feature quotes by the different characters, as well as iconic images associated with them. By sharing this image on your blog and/or social networks, you could win some great prizes!

Today's card features David and Mara's father. He's one of the most challenging characters I've ever created. A recovering alcoholic, he replaced booze with religion after his older son, John, was killed in Afghanistan. When the economy went bad, he got laid off from the finance job that had provided his family with the secure, comfortable life he'd lacked as a child.

Unwilling to accept help from mere humans, John Senior retreated further from reality and began speaking in nothing but Bible quotes. He proved adept even at small talk (turns out there's a lot of weather and food in the Bible, and holy wars make great sports metaphors), but his weird habit freaked out his children and alienated his friends.

Then cult leader Sophia Visser gave his life a new meaning. More on her next week.

The quote is Dad's own words, obviously, not from the Bible. It's how I felt when I lost someone dear to me a few years ago, the death that informed so much of This Side of Salvation. I realized one day that I was not sad or depressed, but rather deeply, existentially unhappy. Sadness is an emotion that comes and goes, while unhappiness is a state of being, which I believe stems from the world feeling fundamentally, unalterably wrong.*

Side note: This is my favorite yet of the cards, design-wise. Using a simple piece of clip art, I used an image filter to give the Bible this effect. It kinda reminds me of the cover of this novel's musical inspiration, Neon Bible by Arcade Fire:



For Superfan contest details, including rules, prize list, and entry form, see Saturday's post. If you already know what to do, here's a direct link to the entry form, which contains helpful instructions on how to link to your posts. To see a gallery of trading cards (and other interesting stuff from the book), visit the TSoS Pinterest page.

NOTE: There won't be any more cards until Monday, so you have all weekend to share this one!

Play every day for maximum points toward the grand prize, plus chances to win the daily drawings. It's super easy and super fun!

*Pleased to report that while I am still sad from time to time, I am no longer unhappy. Time may not heal all wounds, but it does eventually make them stop bleeding.

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NEW RELEASE!

This Side of Salvation

This Side of Salvation, Jeri's new contemporary YA novel!

Now available in hardcover and ebook.

“A smart, well-rounded, and unpredictable tale...bringing to light issues of belief versus free will, spirit versus body, and family versus self.” —Booklist, **Starred Review**

More about THIS SIDE OF SALVATION

Order from Indie Bound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.com.

NOW AVAILABLE!

Shattered

"Shattered," a Shade novella!

Available here on this website as a free download in all major ebook formats, as well as a printable PDF (now with photos!).

More about "Shattered"

About the author

Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

Learn more about Jeri...

Photo © Geoffrey C. Baker

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