Saturday, April 29, 2006

Come sale away

A good housecleaning is a useful mental ritual between books. I'm starting Voice of Crow on Monday, as thoughts of Bad Company gradually fade.

This morning I'm off to a friend's yard sale, with a box of old books, DVDs, and ugly tchotchkes (I purchased many of the latter at previous yard sales, although I don't remember being drunk at the time). My goal is to come home with less stuff than I left with, and maybe enough money for Sunday night pizza.

May we all find a way to clean out the literal or metaphorical cobwebs on this beautiful spring weekend.

UPDATE 9:12 PM: It's good to have goals. It's even better to have flexible goals. I've decided that coming home with better stuff is preferable to coming home with less stuff.

Final tally:
  • $48.55 in cash
  • Two CD shelves (the crowd goes wild)
  • set of Monet coffee mugs
  • The Best of Jefferson Airplane
  • Kinky Friedman's Old Testaments & New Revelations
  • Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger (2-CD set)
  • furry Eeyore Pez dispenser
  • ginormous stuffed bear for my dog
  • sunburned lips
  • an appetite big enough to eat a whole box of Kraft Macaroni 'n' Cheese right out of the mixing bowl, with a wooden spoon
Ah, a good day. Welcome spring, indeed.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Author alterations, Part Two

Finally. A few weeks ago I talked about Author Alterations, the last stage of the publishing process to involve me, the author.

At the AA stage I can still change words or sentences, with the stated caveat that any changes I make introduce the possibility of typesetter error and publisher annoyance and the resurgence of the Black Plague. So here's a sample of what I've changed and not changed:

Not changed:
"Each fall, as the oak leaves turned gold and fell to the earth..."
I shrieked inside when I read this: I used "fall" and "fell" in the same sentence! I should change "fall" to "autumn." Only then will the book be perfect. (pulls out hair)

Nah, I decided it wasn't a big deal. Any reader who notices something like that isn't involved enough in the story, which means I have bigger problems.

I made one change, though miniscule, that altered the entire portrait of one of the main characters. The scene takes place after the hero and heroine have made love (okay, screwed like wildcats) just a few hours after meeting. The next morning he says he's torn between wanting to avoid her and wanting to get to know everything about her so he can figure out "why I need you so much."

Reading this sentence, I found him extremely, well, needy. I mean, dude, you just met her last night, and now you can't live without her? What a loser.

So I added an 'ed' (the famous Mr. Ed!) and changed the sentence to "why I needed you so much."

With two little letters, I turned a creepy codependent into a relatively normal guy contemplating a moment of supreme horniness. It still makes him more reflective than the average man would be in that situation, but he has issues that explain that level of introspection.*

Beyond that, most of the alterations were either typo fixes or subtle changes for clarification purposes, e.g., where it wasn't clear who was speaking.

Now that this stage is over, I'm glad I won't get to review the galleys. I'm so sick of this book. I want to beg Luna not to publish it, or barring that, beg people not to read it, to tell them, "Don't bother, but try my next book. That one will be really good, I promise."

But I know it's just a matter of perspective. A reader falling into this world for the first time won't be bored, won't notice that I used "fell" and "fall" in the same sentence (except for you guys, now that I've pointed it out).

Crap, I just used "falling" and "fell" and "fall" in the same sentence in this blog. Time to hang it up.

*Plus, the audience is primarily female, and we like to fool ourselves that guys apply the same level of analytical thinking to sex and love as they do to sports, computers, and comic books.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

For your cliche-free reading pleasure

Whew! I passed the Fantasy Novelist's Exam, answering "No" to all 75 questions, which are meant to ferret out fantasy cliches such as:
  • Is your main character a young farmhand with mysterious parentage?
  • Do any of your female characters exist solely to be captured and rescued?
  • Did you draw a map for your novel which includes places named things like "The Blasted Lands" or "The Forest of Fear" or "The Desert of Desolation" or absolutely anything "of Doom"?
  • Do you see nothing wrong with having two characters from the same small isolated village being named "Tim Umber" and "Belthusalanthalus al'Grinsok"?
The only one I answered "Yes" to was #28:
  • Is this the first book in a planned trilogy?
To which I can only say, hey, that's what they paid me for.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Parting is such sweet sorrow

This one goes out to the one I've left behind
Another prop has occupied my time.
This one goes out to the one I love.
--R.E.M., "The One I Love"
Bon voyage, Bad Company. May you arrive at my agent's in one piece, be copied half a dozen times by her assistant without your pages getting out of order, and travel on to editors across the great island of Manhattan, editors who will laugh with you, not at you. May they mud wrestle for the right to shower you with a big advance, minimal requests for changes, and a cover that doesn't feature a bare-chested guy under a full moon.

And just because I turn my attention to another book, doesn't mean I don't love you best. MMMWAAAH!


Friday, April 21, 2006

Seven Wonders of My House

Thanks to Rob at Laughing at the Pieces for coming up with this meme.

  1. The Bunny Sanctuary Dispensary - For some reason, rabbits think that our yard would be a great place to raise a family. I can see the pros: good schools, lots of cushy pine needles, low taxes, shelter from hawks, foxes, and barn cats. The cons are pretty big, though, and have four legs, and think that bunny nests are a form of snack machine.
  2. Our new basement carpet - Thanks to the Great Pipe Burst Flood of Ought-Six, our old carpet had to be replaced with (I'm not questioning) a better carpet, with a thicker pad. Jesus walking on the water never felt so buoyant.
  3. Zero-Sum Ceiling Fan - When the light is on, it spins slowly. But switch off the light and watch it fly!
  4. The Pole - It's the reason we could afford this house. A telephone/electric/cable pole sits in our backyard a few feet from our deck. Since the day after we moved in, I never see it; I only see through it. But obviously other buyers thought, "EEEEWWWW, a pole! I'd rather pay 50K more to live in a shed downtown than take this house with the new roof and pastoral view and fenced-in three-quarter-acre plot."
  5. The View - To the west, hills and beautiful sunsets; to the north, farmland and horses and more hills; to the south, our neighbor's house and another horse farm; to the east--well, a row of pine trees, but beyond that, more hills and beautiful sunrises. Oh, and straight up? Starry skies (but only at night, unless someone just hit you on the head).
  6. Lack of clutter - The good thing about buying as much house as you can afford is that after you pay the mortgage, there's no money left over to buy random crap. We have no more stuff than we did when we moved in three years ago.
  7. Media! Media! Media! - The exception to the above rule is entertainment, in the form of books, CDs, and DVDs. At the risk of sounding like an obsessive/compulsive freak, they're all alphabetized. Apparently that's not normal.
I love our house. We hope to stay here until they cart us off to the old folks' home, or until Eminent Domain bludgeons us with a bypass.

Pass this meme on so Rob can get famous for something other than eating carrots.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A quick word on words

Grrr. Spell Checker just fixed my spelling of "fluorescent" for the five hundredth time. I can't seem to get it in my head that the "u" comes first.

I'm a good speller in general, but certain words get me every time:
  • broccoli
  • vacuum
  • fluorescent
  • acquiesce
Maybe I should make myself write them twenty times in a row, like I had to do in elementary school.

How about you? Which words are your "spelling bane"?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Easy on the eyes

I've never been a Microsoft cheerleader, but yesterday I accidentally discovered a wonderful feature in Word 2003: the Reading Layout view.

A huge relief for those of us who read and revise long documents (like novels!) on the screen, Reading Layout view:
  • Gets rid of distracting toolbars
  • Lays out pages in narrower paragraphs to minimize left-right eye movement
  • Uses Microsoft's Clear Type Technology to increase legibility.
You can increase or decrease the size of the text onscreen without changing the font size in the document. And yes, you can edit the document within Reading Layout view.

One really nice feature is that when you finish reading what's on the screen, just hit the Page Down key, and it actually takes you to the next complete bit of text. In other words, unlike with the usual Page Down action, you don't have to find your place again every time you hit the key.

It's so easy to get in and out of. To apply Reading Layout view, simply go to the View menu and choose Reading Layout, or, even more quickly, click on the button on the Standard toolbar (that's the one on the bottom of the screen) that looks like a book. To go back to the previous view, just hit Escape.

I'm probably not describing it very well, so check it out yourself, or click here for more coherent instructions, information, and a demo.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Levels of like

(This started out as a reply to comment's from yesterday's post, but it got so long I decided to turn it into its own post. Go read the comments, then come back here for Part Two. Go on. We'll wait.)

I didn't mean to imply that "really enjoyed" is a lukewarm response. When I say I "really enjoyed" a book, it means just that. I couldn't put it down, or it made me laugh/cry/love the characters, etc. But I didn't necessarily admire it. I didn't put it down and think, "Wow, I hope someday I can write that well."

See, in my mind, there's a four-box matrix. Let's take music, for example.

Box 1: bands I enjoy but don't admire, the "guilty pleasures" (e.g., Ace of Base--I could listen to their infectious electronic pop for hours). They make my heart happy, even as my head is thinking, "This is crap."

Box 2: bands I admire but don't enjoy (Pearl Jam, Steely Dan, the Beatles). Good for the head but do nothing for my gut. They don't touch me.

Box 3: bands I admire AND enjoy (excruciatingly long list including Nirvana, the Doors, the Rolling Stones, Tori Amos, and so on). These are the bands I "love." They appeal to my heart/gut and my head.

Box 4: bands I neither admire nor enjoy (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston, and every hair metal band that ever existed). They do really nasty things to my gut and head, things that require large doses of Maalox and Excedrin.

I could do the same with movies and books, but you get the point.

I can see why some people would love Bad Company because it fits with their tastes and the way they think a book should be written, as well as being enjoyable. Based on my agent's favorite authors, this fits her preferences, so I don't think her profession of love is hyperbole. She doesn't love everything I've written.

I can see how most people would merely "really enjoy" it--hey, it's not great literature by any means, and neither is it an emotional gut-wrencher. People who prefer Umberto Eco or Nora Roberts would probably still get a kick out of it, but it wouldn't touch them at the deepest level of heart or mind.

And I can see how some people would totally hate it. It's not for people who like their vampires all dreamy and romantic and tuxedo-wearing, or for people who like their heroines innocent and pure. Believe me, there are plenty of books for those people.

Getting back to the original point, I do take "really enjoyed it" as a wonderful compliment. But it's hard to come down from the reaction to Requiem for the Devil, which seems to make some people (a solid percentage of the roughly 1,000 people who have read it) swoon and gush and pronounce breathlessly that it's the Best Book Evaaaah.

I'm a much better writer now than I was when I wrote Requiem, but how does one top a love story involving the second most powerful being in the universe? It doesn't get any bigger than that.

Well, it does, but I think The DaVinci Code already covered that territory.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Off and running

Got comments from my agent this morning on Bad Company. She said she "LOVED" it (all caps hers). Which relieved me, because my other two readers said they "really enjoyed" it.

When I say I "really enjoyed" a book, it means that I found it entertaining but didn't think it was great. Hopefully those two readers have a different definition, but I detect a certain restraint in the phrase. Perhaps I'm crazy, or paranoid, or desperate for approval. Or all three.

In any case, I'll be spending this week whipping it into final shape for my agent to submit to publishers. Then we wait.

[Icy fist of anxiety closes around heart]

While waiting, I can distract myself with the first draft of Voice of Crow. Having just finished the AA's for Eyes of Crow (which I promise I'll write a Part Two about), I'm eager to get back into those characters' lives.

Hopefully they'll be glad to see me, too.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

It starts with words on a page

The Writers Guild of America has named the 101 Greatest Screenplays of all time.

Nothing controversial about the Top Ten. I doubt anyone out there is thinking,
"What!?? Casablanca, that piece of crap??!"
But I feel a sense of validation regarding some of the other choices, underrated movies that rank among my all-time favorites:

Shawshank Redemption (#22)
Groundhog Day (27)
Unforgiven (30)
Moonstruck (62)
Memento (100)

What movie would you add to the list? I'm torn between Pleasantville and The Big Sleep.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Show me. Or not.

Last night I got back comments on Bad Company from one of my readers, who really enjoyed the story itself (whew! Please God, don't let me have to rewrite major plot points like I did for Eyes of Crow) but said that my descriptions were, well, nonexistent.

First, she said she couldn't see any of the characters, even though they had distinctive, memorable personalities. The second point was lack of description in setting.

I confess, visual descriptions are my weakest aspect, maybe because I'm legally blind (without corrective lenses). Before I got contacts at fifteen, I would float through my days in a blur because I was too vain to wear my glasses. Each morning I would memorize what color shirts my friends were wearing so I could pick them out of a crowd.

Anyway, this lack of visual awareness carries over to my reading and writing. I tend to skim physical descriptions when I read, unless it's a detail that truly brings a character to life. My problem with too many novels is the overindulgence in static visual descriptions to the detriment of other factors (the sound of a character's voice, the way they move, etc.).

I've always subscribed to Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing, the last three of which are relevant here:
8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
9. Don’t go into great detail describing places and things.
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
By #10, he means long passages of introspection and description, possibly even hooptedoodle.

Having said that, I think my reader's correct: a few choice details here and there would go a long way toward drawing the reader into the world of Bad Company.

My agent is supposed to return comments to me on Monday, so I'll get her opinion then. I have a feeling I know what she'll say. According to this interview, her favorite novelist is Elmore Leonard.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Be kind to eyes

Can't...breathe. Laughing...too...hard.

When I discovered my web designer husband having a near-coronary over this site (courtesy of Web Pages That Suck), I had to check it out.

There's almost nothing funny that can be said about a site as bad as the one for the Association of International Glaucoma Societies. It is its own best ridiculer. I'll just say that it made me wish I had glaucoma.

Don't miss these highlights:
  • Disembodied heads playing peek-a-boo and jockeying for position in the upper left corner
  • The hauntingly incoherent "Glaucoma Hymn"
  • The creepy eyeball Flash animation in the lower left corner (run your cursor over it to make it blink)
  • The 149 photos of the 2005 World Glaucoma Congress (of which this riveting shot of a guy contemplating the crudite plate is typical)
To keep this from being a totally irrelevent post (yeah, like people visit this blog to get solid, sage advice on writing), I'll say that it points out the importance of a well-designed website. You wouldn't believe how many established, even famous, writers have sites that are cutting edge 1997.

I would link to them here, but they might get mad at me. Don't ask why I care.

Besides, your eyes need a rest.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dreaming in black and white


12-point Courier-font words.

Rearranging themselves on the page, forming atrocious sentences and paragraphs that might or might exist in the real world.

That's what I've been dreaming about lately. Not my characters themselves--that would be fun--but the things they say and do and think, as transcribed by the English language. When I wake up, I try to convince myself that none of the absurdities of my dreams can actually be found in the manuscript. But they keep coming back, anyway.

Anyone who plays video games knows what I'm talking about. The images we fill our hours with trickle over into sleepy time. When I was a kid, I'd fall asleep with Space Invaders tromping back and forth behind my eyelids.

As far as work-related dreams go, this sure as heck beats my old waitressing nightmares. I'd rather worry about a mixed metaphor than a mixed salad any night.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Megashuffle returns

Since the resurrection of Natalie T. Steppenwolf, I've been hard at work re-ripping my CDs onto her new hard drive. So far I have about 1,800 songs loaded, which is more than half, so why wait any longer for a Megashuffle? Let's see what comes up:

  1. "Travellin' Soldier" by the Dixie Chicks. This song was featured on the compilation album Songs that Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11. I just heard it for the first time today, and it made me cry. About a girl who loves a boy who goes to 'Nam and never comes back.
  2. "Pentagram" by Cake, off of their first album, Motorcade of Generosity. I loves me some Cake, yes ma'am, I do. I love that they found a distinctive sound and have never changed it. They don't "develop," and they don't need to. Despite their steadfast style, no two Cake songs sound the same.

  3. "The Sprawl" by Sonic Youth from their classic Daydream Nation. I'm ashamed that I never really discovered this band until last year. They were pioneers of punk and alternative rock, and singer Kim Gordon has been called 'The Godmother of Grunge.' She introduced Kurt Cobain to David Geffen, who then signed Nirvana to their first big label release.

  4. "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf (Philip Steir remix), from the soundtrack to the movie Go, which has been called Generation Y's Pulp Fiction. It's a load of fun. This kickin' remix does great justice to the original tune. "Magic Carpet Ride," from Steppenwolf the Second, combined psychedelic rock with early heavy metal to give us one of the grooviest tunes evah.

  5. "Monkey" by Bush, off their first album Sixteen Stone. I love Bush. I love Bush so much that I can say "I love Bush" with no irony whatsoever, because it doesn't occur to me that I might be referring to the President of the United States, whom I do not love. The fact that I love Bush pretty much proves that I'm a rock idiot. They're reviled by critics as over-produced Nirvana wanna-bes. Whatever. Unlike the rest of Sixteen Stone, "Monkey" sucks.

  6. "Alien" by Bush, off the same album. Out of 1,861 songs it could have gone to, RealPlayer went only two tracks down the list to pick this one, the other sub-par song on Sixteen Stone. Proof that the process is truly random. Bush hired Steve Albini to produce their second album, Razorblade Suitcase (my favorite), because they wanted a grittier sound. I don't like any of their albums after Suitcase. My theory is that after singer Gavin Rossdale married No Doubt chanteuse Gwen Stefani, they were both too happy to make decent music.

  7. "The Perfect Girl" by The Cure, off of Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me. Anyone who thinks The Cure writes nothing but mopey songs should listen to this album. It runs the gamut from exuberant to gloomy to spooky. Short song, so that's all I have time to write.

  8. "Silent World" by Donna Lewis, from Now in a Minute. I once made a compilation tape to deal with my feelings about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and this song was on it. It's a raw, simple song about someone who was ripped from the world unexpectedly.

  9. "Where Do We Go from Here?" off the soundtrack to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Once More With Feeling." Every time I put in this soundtrack I expect it to be funny and wry, but it ends up depressing me. There were some serious conflicts and sadness going on at that point in the series. This song plays near the end of the episode, after everyone finds out that Buffy was actually in heaven, not hell, before they brought her back to life. Oops.

  10. "Feelin' Good," by Little Junior's Blue Flames, from Sun Records' 50th Anniversary collection #1. We visited Sun Records' Memphis studio in 2003 and stood in the exact spot where artists like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, and U2 had recorded. Sun Records owner Sam Phillips was one of the first white producers to record black musicians and try to bring what were called "race records" into the mainstream. You could call him the "midwife of rock 'n' roll." Thank God for him.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Author alterations, Part One

No, I'm not getting fitted for a new dress. (New clothes? What's that?) Author alterations, or AA's are a stage in the production process, and I just received mine in the mail for Eyes of Crow.

Before opening the package, I had my dogs sniff it thoroughly for bombs. As publication time creeps closer, I naturally assume the folks at Luna will realize they made a huge mistake.
Hey! We could just kill her instead. It would cost less.
An AA looks like a typed manuscript in every way, with the addition of line numbers along the left side. The book has been copyedited since the last time I saw it. My job is to look it over carefully and inform the publisher of any changes.

Since this is my last chance to perfect the novel, you can imagine how nuts this makes me. I won't see it again until the book is published. Usually authors get to approve "galley proofs," which are replicas of the eventual pages, but the production department is behind schedule.

I should be upset about this, since it's against standard practice, and theoretically someone could screw up the typeset without my knowing it, but I'm actually glad to have less work to do, to have one less chance to obsess over it.

However, any typos that appear in the final novel? Not my fault. Probably.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Hug your librarians today

Or just bring them doughnuts.

In honor of National Library Week, I'd like to confess a dirty secret:

I hardly ever buy books.

Yeah, yeah, I should support my fellow authors by contributing to their sales figures. But if I only read books I could afford to buy, I'd never read anything, which doesn't help those authors at all.


  • If I really love a book I’ve borrowed, I’ll often buy it, usually from the independent bookstore across the street from the library (they’re small, but they’ll order anything), because God forbid I leave my Habitrail and actually DRIVE somewhere else.
  • Checking out a book makes it more likely the librarians will order that author’s next book, or maybe even more copies of that current book. Well-read paperbacks get reordered when they fall apart.
  • I tell everyone I know, including y'all, about books I’ve loved. See the sidebar for current reads, both of which are excellent.
  • Having a deadline (due date) forces me to actually read the book instead of putting it on a shelf for "when I have free time," which always translates into "when I get my annual head cold."

If we don't patronize the public library system, our governments will be glad to spend the money elsewhere. Without libraries, literacy could become yet another privilege of the wealthy (like health care), further widening the gap between the rich and the poor.

Every time I go to the library, there's a mom or dad checking out a two-foot-high stack of books, and it brings back memories of when I was a kid. If my parents had paid for every book I read growing up, they probably wouldn't have the money to send me to college.

We already pay for our libraries through our taxes, so we might as well use it. Last year, the retail value of the books I borrowed equaled our county tax payments. So the way I see it, I got a year’s worth of free fire department and police services.

I think "Get Free Cops" ought to be next year's National Library Week slogan.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fear the turtle

for she will put your smug little Blue hiney in a sling.

Way to go, ladies.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ain't no Sunshine when she's gone

As you can see from the sidebar, Sunshine has gone to her forever home. Like all of our fosters, she pranced out the door and into her new owners' vehicle without looking back. Not so much as a "Thanks for saving my life" or "I swear I'll send a postcard."

After all, these people had biscuits.

I think our fosters can sense that the people who take them away from our home are The Real Thing, that the dogs somehow understand that we're just a layover on the journey to true love.

Anyway, we'll miss Sunshine. She's a real Dog-dog, if you know what I mean. Uncomplicated, glad to see you no matter what, wants nothing more than in life than a good belly rub.

She thought everything we did was wonderful. I'd get up from the chair to get a glass of water, and she'd give me a standing ovation. As Meadow barely opens her eyes, and Brutus gets this, "Now what's happening? Should I worry?" look, Sunshine would wag her tail, curve her head around, and follow on my heels with an attitude that said:
You stood up! You're the greatest! Do that again, you magnificent human!
When I was despondent over my agent not returning my e-mails (which turned out to be a technical problem with their server), only Sunshine was there to listen to me moan. When I shed tears over the death of a friend's dog, only Sunshine gave me a furry shoulder to cry on. The other two were like, "Got my own problems. When's dinner?"

All in all, I prefer calmer, more independent dogs, ones that don't turn a trip across the room into a ticker tape parade. But there was something about Sunshine's blithe spirit that will always make me smile when I think of her.

Her new family is perfect for her. The kids want to get her involved in pet therapy, maybe Pets on Wheels or a "Read to Rover"-type program. She would love that. She has such a giving spirit that asks nothing in return but love and attention (and biscuits don't hurt).

So now this poor dog whose previous owners wouldn't pay her "Get-Out-of-Jail" fee, who could have been one of the millions of unwanted animals euthanized alone in a shelter, has a second chance at a wonderful life. That's a happy ending.


Monday, April 03, 2006

The good and the Bad, Part 3

Last week I gave version 1.5 of Bad Company to two readers and my agent for comments. I thought it was in pretty good shape, even as a little voice in the back of my mind said, "If you still like it, it probably sucks." In my experience, a book isn't ready for submission/publication until I hate it.

That voice was right. After looking at the manuscript again, I realized --Oops!*-- I had done nothing but the briefest of edits over a hundred-plus-page section. It was crammed with extraneous dialogue, inappropriate quippage, and unrealistic character reactions. The mistakes are already fixed, but I'm embarrassed to have sent it out this way.

Eyes of Crow went through five drafts before publication, not including the intermediate drafts I would print out and pore over after each round of major changes. While lots of toning and revising may be appropriate for a lyrical, complex novel like EOC, I think the same exactitude would suck the spontaneous fun right out of Bad Company.

It's like the difference between a symphony and a rock song. An orchestral performance can't be too perfect. Each instrument must be in its place at every hundredth of a second. But a rock song needs those raw edges to provide a thrill, those moments where some element goes too far.

A case in point is the song "Outside" by the alt-metal group Staind. It originally appeared on the "Family Values Tour" concert album, on which their singer, Aaron Lewis, performed it acoustically with Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst.

The live version got a lot of radio play because it was, quite simply, phenomenal. The raw emotion pouring out of Lewis's voice stuns me today as much as it did in 1999. If I hear it in the car, I fight not to close my eyes to savor the heartbreaking power.

Several months later, a studio version of "Outside" was released along with Staind's new album Break the Cycle. The song, while technically perfect, had lost its emotional resonance. It was the same melody, the same voice, but the producer drowned the original energy in layers upon layers of perfectly crafted instrumentation. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't great anymore.

The last thing I want is for BC to come out slick, tame, and {shudder} over-produced. So while I might be tempted to scale back on the emotion, the humor, the eroticism, to bring everything into a mythical perfect balance, I have to trust the original inspiration that put it all there.

*only I didn't say 'Oops'

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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!

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Jeri Smith-Ready

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

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