Thursday, June 29, 2006

No-squinting zone

One other thing I meant to mention about the EOC galleys: the print is large enough to read. Hey, there's a concept.

When I saw on Amazon that the book would be 480 pages, I blanched. I hadn't realized it was that long. More than one "beta" reader (you know who y'all are) said they finished it in less than a day. What's going on here? I wondered.

Now I know. While it might be more pages than today's average novel, some of that size is due to the typeface.

I'm thrilled. Not only is it comfortable to read, but it gives the illusion of being a fast-paced novel. After finishing it, people will go,
Wow, I just read a 500-page book in a day! It must have been really good.
I love short books, The Historian notwithstanding. Lately I've indulged in several young adult novels, which give me a feeling of accomplishment after I polish one off in a few hours.

For instance, I've been reading Jeff Mariotte's Witch Season series. Though it took me over a week to read Summer (it was a little slow at parts), Monday night I read the second half of Fall and all of Winter, then read all of Spring the following day (I have a cold, which is the best excuse to do nothing but read).

Anyway, kudos to Luna for the decent-sized print. They could have saved a lot of money by shrinking the typeface and the margins, but they chose to be kind to readers instead.

Apologies to the trees, though. I read an article about an author who planted a certain number of trees to negate the impact of his or her books. It's saved somewhere in the forest of my e-mail folders. I'll be sure to do the same, especially since trees are an integral part of my story.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Hastily written blog post coming your way due to impending electrical storm:

Luna sent me half a dozen galleys of Eyes of Crow last week, and I must say, they are gaw-geous! Each manifestation of the cover just looks better and better to me than the last.

Also, they came up with an intriguing chapter heading doohickey. It's hard to describe without making it sound really odd, but here goes:

It's a drawing of a woman's face carved into what looks like a tree. Are you with me so far? Then the top of the tree trunk is sort of broken off into the shape of a crow flying away. So in a way, there's a crow flying out of her head.

I said it was hard to describe.

I couldn't resist reading the thing, even though I hated it on the last go-'round. But you know what? There's a big difference between reading a manuscript and reading something that looks and feels like a book. Now I'm really digging it, and more importantly, getting inspiration for Voice of Crow as I read it.

Also, I found a couple of continuity errors between the two books, things I'd forgotten I'd established. Nothing serious, but hey, it's bad form to break your own rules. And really bad form to make some dude a Cougar in one book then change him to a Bobcat in the next.

The *#$^*(#@ thunderstorm is almost here, so I'd better sign off before I get zapped. It would suck to die in the name of blogging.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

White House elm falls, curses its bad aim

Last night one of the century-old elm trees outside the White House fell during a raging storm that swept (and continues to sweep) through the mid-Atlantic. The tree, pictured on the back of the $20 bill, fell close to the President's door.

The Secret Service confirmed that no people were injured in the fall of the elm. President Bush, however, declared that the event justified his pre-emptive War on Trees.

The remaining elms could not be reached for interview, as they had been hastily relocated to Guantanamo Bay.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The One-and-a-Half Floor

Last night--okay, technically at 4:13 this morning--I woke up on the basement couch to hear a scrabbling sound coming from the ceiling.

Rewind. I was on the couch because of a thunderstorm. My dog gets nervous and won't rest until someone goes downstairs with her and turns on the TV to one of the soothing digital cable music channels, such as "Soundscapes" (New Age) or "Smooth Jazz" (All Kenny G, All the Time, aka, Jeri Takes an Icepick to Her Eardrum station). Meadow prefers the latter, since it makes more noise to cover the sound of the thunder.

So Meadow, Brutus, one of the cats (Misha), and I had yet another weather-induced slumber party. I finally dozed off at 2 AM with the aid of a bowl of cereal, a generic Unisom, and the soothing, alpha-wave-inducing Soundscapes channel.

4:13 AM. Scrabbling sound.

Something relatively large, maybe a squirrel or rabbit, is living above our basement's drop ceiling tiles. It was not the least bit soothed by Soundscapes.

The animal was either trapped or trying to lose weight, because for half an hour it ran laps around the perimeter of the room. Every time it reached a corner--bang!--it ran into the wall, so I'm guessing it's a squirrel. They probably have bad night vision.

I sat up, thinking,
I should do something to help it. Lift a tile so it can escape.
But the thought of a terrified mammal with big pointy teeth dropping onto the family room floor--or worse, my head--stifled this impulse. The drugs allowed me not to care, allowed me to lie back down and let my cat worry about the Thing in the Ceiling.

Whose environment, I imagine, is much like that of the office from Being John Malkovich. Maybe there's a portal in there leading to Bambi's Brain.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The real Rhia

A little gift for my male readers...

While Googling the title of my book (which is something I vow to stop doing once it's released), I came across the website of model Amie Decker, whose resume includes

Eyes of Crow Book Cover Due Out Late 2006

My husband says she's a dead ringer for Rhia. I have a hard time separating the face from the context of the wardrobe, makeup, etc., so I don't know*. But it's pretty cool to see what Rhia would look like in a bikini.

I wonder if Ms. Decker thinks the painting on the final cover looks like her.

What do you guys think? And by "guys," I mean everyone.

*Though I think the photo in the lower right hand corner of the head shot page looks just like Ciara, the heroine from my vampire novel. Same with the shot in the same position on the fashion page. Note to self: show these pictures to the lucky bastards who publish Bad Company.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Win stuff! Eyes of Crow pre-order

Lots of exciting news has built up over the last two weeks, but the one that psyches me up the most (next to the Ravens snagging former MVP quarterback Steve McNair from the Titans) is that Eyes of Crow is now available for pre-order on Amazon. This is actually happening!

But I need your help.

Booksellers decide how many books to order from the publisher 4-6 months ahead of release date. Right now, in a dusty backroom of your local bookstore, and in the cavernous warehouses of, people are making calculations that determine the fates of authors' careers.

Not to be dramatic or anything, but it's true. Publishing is neither a charity nor an arts foundation; it's a business.

Early orders affect print runs, and if my publisher sees a lot of enthusiasm from booksellers, they'll get excited and support the book with more marketing dollars.

One weird thing about this business is that there are very few "surprise hits." Publishers pretty much decide which books will succeed and which will fail, and allocate their promotional resources accordingly, thus fulfilling their own prophecies.

They're like a wild animal with a big litter of babies. The runts get shoved out of the nest or den and left to die, while the robust ones get all the good milk or worms or crickets or whatever. It's not cruel, it's just survival.

I have no way of knowing at this point whether I'm in the runt category. The fact that Eyes of Crow is slated for a November release is a good sign; fall is the big fiction season for "serious" books--i.e., non-beach reading. The fact that no other original Luna titles are scheduled for that month is probably also a good sign.

Beyond that, it's hard for me to find out how they truly feel about it without asking a lot of nosy questions they'd rather not answer--questions about sales budgets, print runs, etc. Things you don't tell the children.

So I'll make you an offer: if you place a pre-order* for Eyes of Crow and e-mail me your receipt (take out any personal billing info you'd rather not share), I'll send you an autographed limited First Edition chapbook containing the first three chapters, which is a lot more than you can read here.

Only 100 of these chapbooks were printed, and I have about thirty left. I might do a second printing at some point, but those will clearly say "Second Edition--Utterly Worthless" on them.

But wait--that's not all!

Everyone who sends me a pre-order receipt will be put in a drawing for a free autographed copy of Eyes of Crow. I'll do the drawing October 15, so if you win, you'll have time to cancel your order before it's shipped. And since Amazon doesn't charge you until your order ships, you can't lose!

If you want, I'll even get Steve McNair to sign it for you.

*If you don't want to go through, it would be equally as helpful to me, if not more, for you to order it at your local bookstore. I've been told that the big chain stores already have it in their computers, and I know of at least one independent bookseller who has it.


Monday, June 19, 2006

It's like I never left

I'm back from my vacation, feeling refreshed. A feeling that will fade in about an hour, as the temperature and humidity climb into the nineties.

Not that I'm complaining. June has been exquisite until now, with cool temps and dry air. On Friday we actually had a wind chill instead of a heat index--the temperature was 81 but "felt like" 80, according to I worked outside all day. Life was good.

While I didn't catch up on my manuscript during my break from blogging, I managed not to fall too much farther behind, which is an accomplishment in itself. My sense of disconnection from the work has faded; I'm really into it now, finding myself thinking about it* when I'm not in front of the computer. It's become less of a job and more of a joy.

(Un)fortunately, one morning in the shower I realized I needed to rewrite part of the beginning--not just the opening scene, but the first 20% of the novel. Many scenes will have to be replaced, others will have their settings or personae changed. It's the kind of rewriting that has to be done at the first draft stage, thus adding to the strain of finishing on schedule (July 21). But I'm glad I figured it out, because it solved some serious plot problems.

I also came up with a new idea for a book. More on that later this week.

Other announcements also to follow, including giveaways, contests, cool links, and Random Thoughts.

Thanks for not forgetting about me!

*I call these "Moments of Musery" (careful not to substitute an 'i' for the 'u').


Saturday, June 17, 2006

On my way...

I shall return! See you Monday morning, rain or shine. Two weeks' worth of yammering, all bottled up inside me. Look out!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Vacation, all I ever wanted...

I'm going, I'm going where the water tastes like wine
Well I'm going where the water tastes like wine
We can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time
--Canned Heat, "Going Up the Country"
Even bloggers need a break sometimes. So for the next two weeks, I'm off to a place where I can watch the corn grow by day and the Milky Way shine by night.

Okay, so technically, it's my own house, which I realize takes the "vacate" right out of "vacation." But I've signed off all my mailing lists and bought fourteen days' worth of margarita mix, so I'm ready for a marathon writing retreat.

I need to catch up on my Voice of Crow manuscript, do tons of research for said novel, write an article for next year's Nebula anthology, and devise some spankin' new content for the Eyes of Crow portion of my website. In that order of importance.

So pretend I've gone to Vermont. One day, if I work hard enough, I might get there for real.

See ya back here in two weeks, if you haven't forgotten about me by then. And if you actually visit/live in Vermont, send me a postcard.
I'm gonna leave this city, got to get away
All this fussing and fighting, man, you know I sure can't stay
Now baby, pack your leaving trunk, you know we've got to leave today....


Saturday, June 03, 2006

Random thought #576

You know what you should do? Next time you meet someone, ask where they're from.

When they tell you, just nod slowly and say, "Ah, that explains a lot."

Thursday, June 01, 2006

New SF/F imprint

Bucking the publishing industry's latest consolidation trends, Hachette Book Group USA plans to launch Orbit, a new science fiction/fantasy imprint, next spring. According to this article in Publishers Weekly,
Orbit will become part of Little, Brown and plans call for a list of 40 titles within three years. “We want to have a significant program really fast,” said LB publisher Michael Pietsch.
Orbit is currently part of Little, Brown's UK publishing business, and plans to expand to Australia as well as the United States.

Frankly, after years of Chicken Little-League bad news from the publishing world, I'm a little stunned at this development. Apparently reports of the genre's death have been greatly exaggerated.

Best wishes to the new kid on the block! Oh, and, buy my books.


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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Jeri Smith-Ready

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

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