Thursday, September 29, 2005

Coming up for air

I'm in the middle of doing massive revisions on my Luna novel, The Eyes of Crow*, trying to finish this draft by tomorrow to get it to my editor a month early.

Why a month early? Because the sooner she reads it and gives me feedback, the sooner I can do a final draft (and get paid), and the sooner I can submit my proposal for the vampire series (and hopefully get a contract, which means get paid), and the sooner I can submit a synopsis for Book #2, The Voice of Crow (and get paid).

It's all about the Benjamins.

In other news, I took my dog to the dermatologist this morning. Sigh...yes, there are doggie dermatologists, although apparently he treats cats, too. Meadow has been itchy-twitchy throughout the winter months the last two years, and we wanted to give her an allergy test to find out why.

It turns out, she's not allergic to the pine needles that litter our yard from October through April, as we had deduced, but rather the mold that results from those pine needles and other leaves sitting on the ground, getting ickier every week.

And to our great relief, she is definitely NOT allergic to cats or humans.

Okay, so much for air. Gotta get back to work.

*now the official title

Monday, September 26, 2005

Anansi Boys is here!

Just got a call from the library robot saying,
THIS is a message for Jerilynnsmithready. You have ONE item ready for pickup. It will be held until September THIRTIETH, two thousand and FIVE.
So I checked my account online to see which of my dozen requests had come in, and it's the new Neil Gaiman novel, Anansi Boys. I was psyched to read in this interview that it's more of a comedy than his previous works, because when Gaiman's funny, he's really funny.

Gaiman appeared at the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, this past weekend. A New York Times article looked at the political aspects of the Festival, which is run by first lady Laura Bush. Several attending authors declined the invitation to have breakfast with Mrs. Bush, citing differences with her husband's policies. From Gaiman's blog:
Some of the writers went, some of the writers elected not to go, and this particular writer was scheduled to be on a plane down from Boston while the breakfast was happening so was never able to even wonder whether he would go or not.
If I had been invited to the Festival and had a chance to have breakfast with Laura Bush, I'd have to say, "Sorry, I'm attending the Baltimore Book Festival. That's what you get for holding a competing book festival an hour away the same weekend. Don't let it happen again." And then I'd go "Hmph!" in a very indignant but cute manner, and she would feel bad, and I'd tell her she can make it up to me by teaching her husband to read.

But only if I were really really famous.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Yankees suck

That's not news to anyone who's been reading this blog since last year, but now they really REALLY suck.

Tuesday night, Yankee Bubba Crosby, after hitting a heroic bunt, crashed into Orioles All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts' outstretched arm. In what must rank as the nastiest sports injury since Lawrence Taylor ended Joe Theismann's career with a compound fracture of the shin, the Crosby collision snapped Roberts' arm back at a "grotesque angle," ripping the tendon off the bone, dislocating the elbow, and tearing a ligament.

Crosby was running inside the baseline. Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo flew into a rage when he learned that Crosby wasn't called out for this offense. Perlozzo was ejected.

Yesterday we learned that Roberts will require surgery that requires six months recovery time.

So let's review:
  • Orioles best player: out for six months, in an unimaginable amount of pain
  • Orioles manager: ejected from game
  • Yankee thug who destroyed Roberts' elbow: called safe, later scored on a 3-run homer which made the winning difference in the final score
  • Orioles: Lose
  • Yankees: Win and one day later take first place from Boston
I tried not to care anymore, but they suckered me back in. I'm a fool, a complicit victim in this cycle of abuse. One day I really will leave for good. Uh-huh.

I'm Stella Kowalski, and baseball is my Stanley.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Quick poll

Since my food-related posts seem to get way more comments than any others, I'd like you to settle something for me:

Graham crackers: are they cookies or are they crackers?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sponsor a Katrina pet

A Forever Home Rescue Foundation in Chantilly, VA, has placed some of the stranded Katrina animals into its network of temporary foster homes. These pups and kitties will spend ninety days in foster care to give their families a chance to locate them. After that time they will be available for adoption.

You can sponsor a Katrina pet through AFH's website, which also has pictures and stories of these brave, lucky animals. Many will require veterinary care, so any amount of money will be a great help.

Monday, September 19, 2005

You can take the filly outta Philly...

I was born just outside (of) Philadelphia, moved to Virginia when I was 9, then went back to the Philadelphia area for college before moving to Baltimore at 23. I never knew how much the City of Brotherly Love had infested my speech until a few days ago.

I wrote a line of dialogue in my manuscript where one character asked another
Are you done your chores yet?
Two readers marked it as a typo ("you forgot the word with"), but a third pegged it as a Philadephia-ism. She mentioned that her students would say, "I'm done my homework" instead of "I'm done with my homework," or "I've done my homework."

While I knew that it wasn't grammatically correct, I never thought of "done my chores" as a regional idiom. I thought everyone said it. "I'm done with my chores" sounds awkward and pretentious. Why waste all that time with an extra word?
"Jeet yet?"
"Naw, I'm still hungry."

Friday, September 16, 2005

The cult of Nellie Olsen

Just don't even ask how I came across this site.

Don't even.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

How you can REALLY help Katrina victims

If you've been wondering whether your donations to the American Red Cross and other large charities are getting to the people who need it most, if you're disturbed by stories of territoriality among relief organizations, then check out the Hurricane Katrina Direct Relief! blog. (Thanks to the Smart Bitches for directing me there.)

This blog, which is constantly updated, gives addresses of hurricane shelters along with lists of badly needed items. It also mentions volunteer opportunities across the nation and particularly in the hard-hit areas. You, yes, YOU can directly help the people suffering in Katrina's aftermath.

The items on the lists are cheap when bought in bulk at Target or Costco, so with very little expense you can pack up a box or two (or ten), knowing that actual hurricane victims will benefit from your efforts. Zero Overhead! What could be better?

Here's an idea: hold a Bypass the Bureaucracies party. Invite your friends and have each of them bring buttloads of a few designated items. Then spend an afternoon sorting, packing, and shipping.

And since it's a party, don't forget the beer. Hooray beer!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Aurora alert!

I just got word from that the sun recently spit out a huge Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), which is now headed our way. It could produce spectacular auroras in latitudes that don't usually get them. If you can, go outside tonight and tomorrow around midnight and look north.

Obviously the best views will be away from the cities. To which I say, nyah, nyah, you city people think you're so lucky 'cuz you've got plays and museums and decent Thai food. Well, you are. But you ain't got this.

And neither do we, apparently, because after two weeks of perfectly clear skies, it's going to rain for the next few days. Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!

Those without clear, dark skies can still listen to a solar flare. Headphones recommended.


So now that Michael Brown has removed himself from FEMA before he could be chased away by Barney and his posse of pissed-off Scotties, things should be running better down at Ye Olde Federal Emergency Management Agency, right?

Turns out the new guy, acting director David Paulison, is the same person who was responsible for the now-legendary Duct Tape 'n' Plastic Sheeting Frenzy of 2003.*

I hear Home Depot has built a statue to Paulison outside their headquarters.

*Admit it: you bought some, didn't you?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Favorite NOLA Novels

Before the hurricane, whenever I thought of New Orleans, these three books came to mind. Each of them brings the city to life and makes you feel like you're there, or at least wish very hard that you were.

1. Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

My favorite book by one of my favorite authors. Less famous than Even Cowgirls Get the Blues or Roadside Attraction, it's just as kooky. I think it was the New Orleans setting that made it so vivid and captivating. Or maybe it was the fact that I was reading it during a very rainy vacation at the beach.

2. Madeleine's Ghost by Robert Girardi

A ghost story, a love story; Brooklyn, New Orleans, and the Great Beyond. Adored this book. Here's a review excerpt from Publisher's Weekly:
The resonance with which he captures the gritty material world of New Orleans and the East Village provides a sturdy, credible spine on which to hang Ned's clash with the strange world of spirits.
3. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Really, what needs to be said?

I hope that someday the city that filled these books with so much life can get its own life back. Until then, we can only return there on the page.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Diary of a rescuer

The Oregon Humane Society, among many others, is in Louisiana helping to rescue animals stranded by Hurricane Katrina. Read a daily account of their heroic activities here. (Don't worry, it's not sad but rather very upbeat.)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Irrational cover fears

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I've submitted information to help Luna's art department design the cover to The Eyes of Crow (still tentative title). Now I wait a few months for the results.

Why am I scared? No rational reason. Luna's covers have ranged from the very nice to the drop-dead gorgeous. Not one has made me go, "My God, what were they thinking?"

But I'm sure that somehow mine will be the exception.

Mine will be the one cover designed during the artist's brief but destructive Chartreuse Period.

Mine will portray my skinny hero as buff as a weight lifter and inexplicably bare-chested during a funeral.

Mine will depict a unicorn piloting a starship (even though my book contains zero unicorns and even fewer starships) by shooting lasers out of his horn.

Mine will create a fifteen-foot blast radius of badness, so that any books positioned on nearby shelves will languish, unpurchased.

This is my fear. Why? Because I'm neurotic, that's why. Not enough to affect my everyday life (although anyone who has watched me load a dishwasher might beg to differ), but enough to make me believe that any dream I want so badly as I want to be a respected, successful author couldn't possibly come true. I've been around the publishing world enough to know that Things Go Wrong, things that aren't anyone's fault.

Part of me is still convinced that a very small earthquake will swallow up my entire shipment of books on their release date. Or that bands of marauding crows will start kidnaping babies right out of their strollers, so that no one will want to buy a book having anything to do with these birds. Or, more realistically, that a terrorist, serial killer, or hurricane with the same name as my main character will strike the United States right before my book comes out*.

The only way out of this negative thought pattern is to put all my effort into the one part of the process completely within my control: writing great books. I have to believe (or at least pretend for sanity's sake) that everything else follows from that.

*Not that I think my problem would be the worst result of such a disaster. I'm not that much of a narcissist. But to be safe on the weather front, maybe I should give her a name beginning with Q, U, X, Y, or Z, which they never use for hurricanes.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Luna author makes BookSense list

Poison Study, by debut novelist Maria V. Snyder, just made the October BookSense list.

This is great news for Luna's efforts to gain a larger audience outside the fantasy/romance readership. Apparently the BookSense list has some cachet with the literati. Can you say R-E-S-P-E-C-T?

I knew you could.

A big Woo-hoo! to Maria. Support a fellow fledging author: buy the book. I did, now I just have to wait for its release.

(checking watch)

Is it October yet?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I am ready...


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Anne Rice speaks

But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs.
Read the rest. Eloquent and edifying.


I want Senator Rick Santorum, who thinks that people who "chose" to stay behind during Katrina should be fined, to tell that to hurricane survivor Charmaine Neville, who, after her home was destroyed by flood waters:
  • Used a school kitchen to feed hundreds of neighbors until supplies ran out a day later
  • Got raped by thugs
  • Watched the National Guard repeatedly fly over and wave to her but not rescue anyone
  • Wheeled and carried people to the dry French Quarter
  • Stole a bus to drive the old and infirm to safety
Then I want Santorum and Tom DeLay and Dennis Hastert and Michael Chertoff and Michael Brown and Condoleeza Rice and Barbara Bush and her guitar-strumming, golf-playing, Trent Lott-porch-sitting spawn to go down to New Orleans and start collecting corpses.

Maybe then I won't throw up every time I hear the phrase "compassionate conservatism."

A bright spot

Amidst all the outrage over what went wrong last week, the Washington Post found one agency that did what it was supposed to, when it was supposed to: The Coast Guard.

I've always had a good impression of the USCG, because a good friend of mine in public policy grad school was a Coast Guard Lieutenant. Jim Elliott was the kind of person who goes into public service to, well, serve the public. He never called attention to his own accomplishments, just quietly did an amazing job.

Unfortunately, as so often happens after graduation, many of my fellow students lost touch with each other. I still have a core group of four friends (including me) who make a point of getting together at least once a year to catch up. Inevitably, someone will ask, "Anyone heard from Jim?" Nope.

Guess who turned up in that WaPo article?
Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jim Elliott , who is helping oversee rescues from Mobile, said the agency set up a unified command with states and local industries before the hurricane roared ashore.

"We know how to join with other organizations to get the job done," he said. "We were out the door as soon as the winds died down."
Those people are in good hands. If the rest of the Coast Guard personnel are anything like Jim, they won't waste time posing for cameras while there are still lives to be saved.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Let them eat press releases

If you need a metaphor for failure, this is as good as it gets...[This is] an insult to our humanity.
--neighbor who helped "bury" New Orleans resident Vera Smith
An article in the Salt Lake Tribune, about 1,000 firefighters who volunteered to help FEMA with post-Katrina disaster relief, provides a microcosm of everything that went wrong with the federal government's response. (Emphasis mine, all mine.)
Many of the firefighters, assembled from Utah and throughout the United States by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, thought they were going to be deployed as emergency workers. Instead, they have learned they are going to be community-relations officers for FEMA, shuffled throughout the Gulf Coast region to disseminate fliers and a phone number: 1-800-621-FEMA.
Firefighters. People trained to risk their lives to save others. Handing out fliers while the living await rescue and the dead await dignity.
"They've got people here who are search-and-rescue certified, paramedics, haz-mat certified," said a Texas firefighter. "We're sitting in here having a sexual-harassment class while there are still [victims] in Louisiana who haven't been contacted yet." The firefighter, who has encouraged his superiors back home not to send any more volunteers for now, declined to give his name because FEMA has warned them not to talk to reporters.
So even though these brave men and women are being used for PR purposes, they're forbidden to speak to the press. Like good little pawns, they should be seen and not heard. Just stand there and look heroic, guys, as you recite that 1-800 number to people who haven't had food or clean water for a week. If you're lucky, you may get a photo op with--oh, wait, there's more:
A team of 50 Monday morning quickly was ushered onto a flight headed for Louisiana. The crew's first assignment: to stand beside President Bush as he tours devastated areas.
You can't make this stuff up--and I should know, since I make stuff up for a living.

It's sad, really, that there are people so arrogant, they can't even be humbled by Nature. They still think they can create their own reality using spin and press conferences and the few remaining media lackeys whose blood hasn't curdled from the horror in New Orleans.

But sometimes, gentlemen, reality bites. Hard.

The silence will break

I haven't yet posted my reaction to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, because every hour I learn of another atrocity perpetrated on its victims, and I find myself paralyzed with sorrow and rage. I began writing a reaction post several nights ago, but it keeps getting longer and angrier and more incoherent. Many people, including other bloggers, have spoken eloquently and emotionally about what happened. I am, so far, unable.

Words have failed this writer. There are too many to say, and those who need to hear them most are not only deaf to the cries of the downtrodden, but have no ears to begin with.

Prominent Author to match Katrina funds

Nora Roberts, the wealthiest and arguably the hardest-working author in America, will match any funds donated to Habitat for Humanity between today and September 20.

Just think: if you donate $5, it's as if you really donated $10. Twenty-five dollars turns into fifty.

In addition, Nora's Turn the Page Bookstore in Boonsboro, Maryland, is collecting books to send to Katrina victims in shelters across the country. Think how stressful it would be to have to sit in a shelter all day long with nothing to do but worry about what you've left behind and what kind of future you face. Books can provide an escape to ease the enormous mental suffering of those who've been through hell.

Send checks payable to Habitat for Humanity to:

Turn the Page Bookstore Cafe
c/o Jeannie King
18 North Main Street
Boonsboro, MD 21713

Books can be sent to the same address, but add the heading "Books for Comfort Drive."

Thanks and kudos to Nora for her generosity. Now let's put her big honkin' advances to good use!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Archives complete

This past week I finally copied and pasted all the non-political posts from my old blog over to this one. Whew! Now all you new visitors have something to read on those days when I'm too busy (or hazy) to post. Some of the links to old news articles may have expired, but that's the way it goes. I miss most the photo of an Baltimore area bison hurdling a tennis court net. Oh well.

Repopulating the posts made me realize that Wednesday is the one-year anniversary of this blog and my redesigned website. I'll have to come up with a way to commemorate it. Perhaps a retrospective, a montage with stirring music, spotlighting the ups and downs of the past twelve months, chronicling the heartbreaks (Election Day, the death of my car) and triumphs (the World Series, a new publishing contract).

I'm just happy to have made it through a whole year without quitting. Now if only I could be so consistent with an exercise program....

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Help Katrina victims - Updated

We've only begun to comprehend the scope of the devastation in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. What at first seemed like an "it could have been worse" situation quickly turned into the disaster that experts had long feared.

Donate to the Red Cross Disaster Fund.

UPDATE: Also, if you'd like to help the Humane Society's efforts to rescue animals and assist their caregivers, you can donate to their Disaster Relief Fund.

More updates: Noah's Wish is an organization whose sole purpose is to aid animals during and after disasters. has a site,, for people who need shelter or who wish to open their homes to hurricane refugees.

The LSU Veterinary School has comprehensive information on animal rescue and recovery in the New Orleans area.

Now this from the New Orleans Times Picayune:
SPCA help for animalsFriday, 9:50 p.m.

There's hope for stranded pets in the New Orleans area. The Louisiana SPCA, New Orleans' animal control agency, has begun rescuing pets from owners houses.

Louisiana SPCA director Laura Maloney said shelter workers follow other agencies and crews through neighborhoods and rescue pets, some that are locked in houses. At the owners' request, "we break in," she said.

Owners have to call or email the operation and give their name and address and information about where the pet is confined.

The hotline number is: 1-225-578-6111. E-mail should be sent to

The hotline already is in effect, Maloney said. "It's busy an awful lot. We are trying to get a bank of telephones"

I'll keep updating the resources and changing the post date/time so it stays near the top of the blog.

Friday, September 02, 2005

On the Road on the screen

This just in:

Jose Rivera, writer of The Motorcycle Diaries (and, long ago, "Different Strokes"), will team up with Motorcycle Diaries director Walter Salles to bring the classic Jack Kerouac novel On the Road to the big screen.

No cast members have been chosen yet, and the film has a release date of 2007.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Animal Shelter for Katrina evacuees

Just in case anyone reading this knows someone in need in LA, I got this message from my greyhound newsgroup:
I don't have time to spend on the internet finding and learning how to post right now. Please just let all members know that we have opened a pet shelter at Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette, right next to the Cajundome. Evacuees may bring their pets their for housing. We have PLENTY of food, water, crates, cages, bedding and newspaper. BUT the owners are responsible for feeding, watering, walking and medicating their own pets.

Interested parties may call Lafayette Parish Animal Control at 337-291-5644 for more information. Also many area vets are accepting animals right now, until they fill up.
And for anyone who thinks I'm a jerk for caring about animals when so many humans are suffering, well, just bite me. One reason why many humans are suffering is because they can't find a place to take their pets, whom they consider part of the family. Many people risked their lives to stay in their homes because shelters don't accept pets.

I know I'd rather wander in the wilderness for days rather than leave my animals behind.


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**


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"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!).

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Jeri Smith-Ready

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

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