Friday, September 29, 2006

Baltimore Book Festival

Tomorrow I'll be giving out free autographed chapbooks of Eyes of Crow at the Maryland Writers Association booth at the 11th Annual Baltimore Book Festival.

The Festival is hosting over 200 authors, including actor Hill Harper from "CSI: New York," who's here to talk about his new book Letters to a Young Brother: Manifest Your Destinies. Tonight, Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Kate White will be hosting a lively "Ladies Night Out" panel, which sounds like a lot of fun.

The Walters Art Museum one of several places for author talks tomorrow, including Ruby Dee at 4PM. Her new book is called Life Lit by Some Large Vision: Selected Speeches and Writings by Ossie Davis. Sunday will feature author Sebastian Junger, who wrote A Perfect Storm and A Death in Belmont, at 1 PM.

There'll be live music, theatre performances, and food, food, food all weekend, so come on down to Baltimore's beautiful Mount Vernon Plaza, home of the first (and prettiest) Washington Monument.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


When people come in here and see what's been done in less than a year's time, they are going to say, 'If the Superdome can be rebuilt after that tremendous destruction, my house can be rebuilt, my neighborhood can be rebuilt and my city can be rebuilt.'

So much of this recovery is about confidence and belief. You've got to want it to happen. You've got to believe it. This is symbolism.
--Doug Thornton, Superdome general manager
Forgive me another football post, but this is about more than football, because the New Orleans Saints are more than just a football team.

I just watched the Saints return to the Louisiana Superdome for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

A little over a year ago the Superdome was the scene of despair. What was supposed to be a refuge turned into a death trap. A nation watched in horror as every level of government--whether through incompetence, indifference, or both--failed the people of New Orleans. The Superdome, along with the Convention Center, became a symbol of that failure.

Some wondered if the city would lose their only professional sports team. Now, for the first time in the franchise history, Saints' home games are sold out for the entire season. The Superdome is now a symbol of resilience, even of hope.

The national shame still stares at those willing to look. The Lower Ninth Ward is a graveyard of ex-homes, and the city's population has fallen to 1880 levels. People remain homeless, promises remain unfulfilled, if not outright broken.

So how'd the game go? The Saints blocked a punt 90 seconds in for a touchdown, scored another TD on a double reverse, blocked a field goal, and stymied the Falcons' inimitable quarterback Michael Vick. They won 23-3 to go 3-0 for the season.

If ever a city deserved a little happiness and luck, it's New Orleans. If ever a building deserved to be restored to a place of joy, it's the Superdome.

When is a game more than just a game? When the Saints come marching in.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pampered Pooches

In his "Notes and Errata" column last week, the San Francisco Chronicle's Mark Morford discusses why beef-flavored drinking water for dogs just might be a sign of the Decline of Civilization.

And I thought I was spoiling my pets by running their tap water through the Brita filter to take out the well-smell.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ravens 15, Browns 14

Well, that was certainly emotional.

Ravens are 3-0 for the first time ever. But it wasn't easy. They squeaked out a win in the last two minutes with a Chris McAlister interception in their own end zone, a heroic series of catches by Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, then a 52-yard field goal by "Mr. Automatic," Matt Stover.

Stover is the only member from the original Ravens team and, sadly, the only consistent offensive player in their eleven-year history.

I felt bad for the Cleveland fans today. The Browns played well in the first half and really should have pulled out the win. But turnovers will kill you every time. (Just ask the Buffalo Bills, who gained nearly 500 yards and still lost to the Jets after 3 TO's.)

Clevelanders hate the Ravens and Baltimore to begin with, because we stole their team. But at least the Browns were only "deactivated" for three years, and they were able to retain the name and the uniforms. When the Colts ditched Baltimore for Indianapolis, it took the city twelve years to get another team.

So I'll be damned if I'll feel bad for that.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Summer Book #5: Born on the Fourth of July

I am left with the corpse, the living dead man…the angry lonely man, the bitter man with the nightmares, the murder man, the man who cries in the shower.

In one big bang they have taken it all from me, in one clean sweep, and now I am in this place around all the others like me, and though I keep trying not to feel sorry for myself, I want to cry. There is no shortcut around this thing. It is too soon to die even for a man who has died once already.

--Born on the Fourth of July by Ron Kovic

As promised, my Top Five summer books. With any luck, I'll finish the list before June 21, 2007.

As you probably remember, Born on the Fourth of July by Ron Kovic was made into a movie with Tom Cruise, back before he was crazy. I mean, crazy in love with Katie Holmes. Or crazy in love with the idea of being crazy in love with Katie Holmes.

Anyway, the movie was good and deserved all its awards, but the book is phenomenal, riveting, heart-rending, and more important now than ever.

Kovic's tale is a true one, of how he was paralyzed from the chest down from his wounds in the Vietnam War. He describes the ghastly, inhuman conditions of the VA hospital (they saved bits of food to give the rats so the rodents wouldn't chew on the soldiers' feet), then the despair of realizing he would only have the use of half his body, a fate that often seemed much worse than death:
This end was no beginning. It was starting to become very clear that there would be no change in his condition, no reconciliation with the half of his body that seemed so utterly lost forever. He was in the rain, trapped, and there was no one. It was ugly and cold and final.
He eventually protested the war with many of his former comrades as part of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He was spit upon, beaten, even arrested.

Eventually Kovic found a measure of peace by chronicling his journey from hell to healing. Fourth of July was originally published in 1976, but it was re-released in 2005 with a new forward addressing the War in Iraq. He draws many parallels between our current Administration and the ignorant fools who waged the Vietnam conflict. The saddest and yet most obvious conclusion is that those waging the War in Iraq learned absolutely nothing from the mistakes of the past, since after all, none of them actually took part in that other war:
[T]hese ignorant, arrogant men and women who never saw the things we saw, never had to grieve over the loss of their bodies or the bodies of their sons and daughters, never had to watch as so many friends and fellow veterans were destroyed by alcoholism and drugs, homelessness, imprisonment, neglect and rejection, torture, abandonment, and betrayal, in the painful aftermath of the war.

These leaders have never experienced the tears, the dread and rage, the feeling that there is no God, no country, nothing but the wound, the horrifying memories, the shock, the guilt, the shame, the terrible injustice that took the lives of more than 58,000 Americans and over two million Vietnamese.
Nearly 20,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in Iraq since the beginning of military action in March 2003. 9,100 of them were unable to return to duty because of their injuries.

Every warrior accepts the possibility of death. It's the living death of the wounded soldier that no one imagines and everyone would rather ignore.

But if you give Born on the Fourth of July a chance, it will put you in the perspective of another human being in a way that few books can.

Dare to care. Then do something with those feelings. Me, I'm going to find a disabled vets group to donate 10% of royalties from Voice of Crow (October 2007), which features a main character forever crippled by war. That, and try to tell the man's story as honestly as a lucky person like me possibly could.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Writer's Fog

This is how bad it gets, deep into a manuscript:

Yesterday it was 4:15 PM before I noticed I was wearing mismatched socks.

We're not talking one black sock and one dark blue sock. We're talking one with stripes and one with kitty cats all over it.

And I wasn't wearing shoes.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Now this is cool

Yesterday an amateur astronomer in France took a photo (from earth, obviously, since that's where France usually is) of the space shuttle Atlantis separating from the International Space Station as they passed in front of the sun.

Check it out here at The photo probably will only be up on their home page a couple of days, and since they don't give separate URL's to their articles, it'll be gone soon.

And no, it's not a hoax. The people know real amateur astronomers from Loch Ness Monster-shooters.

New workout DVD: "Ease into Pilates"






sitting up.




Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ravens 28, Raiders 6

Pinch me, I'm dreaming.

No, on second thought, I don't want to wake up from this one. Ravens have scored 55 points in two games. It took them six weeks to score that many points last season. The dastardly Raiders gave up 6 turnovers, something they haven't done since 1989 (I love stats like that).

They even got a safety. I love when refs signal a safety--they look like they're about to do a belly dance.

But what excited me the most--besides the triumphant return of Ray Lewis and the dogged heroism of a 300-pound defensive lineman sprinting more than half the field for the second straight week--was the rookie punter, Sam Koch (rhymes with 'book,' not 'crotch').

Koch kicked it long when they needed it long, and inside the 10 when they needed it short. The boy made punting a thing of beauty, and that's no easy feat. But it's impossible to take a photo of a punt, so I can't reveal his glory. Punters are sort of the football equivalent to a rock band's bass player. I always wanted to play bass.

Football is my only hobby, the only thing that has nothing whatsoever to do with writing (even though they're the 'Ravens' and I wrote a book called Eyes of Crow). I decided last year that I needed something in my life that I do for pure, meaningless enjoyment, just for myself. It's my weekly mental vacation.

And this year, it's not grounds for depression. But even if it were, I'd still watch, because that's what it means to be a fan. And since I stayed for every last humiliating, frustrating, and occasionally infuriating play last season, I figure I deserve a little happiness this year.

Next week, Cleveland.

P.S.: I know the colored text looks hideous, but just be glad I don't turn the whole site purple every Sunday.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I need your opinion on something. Go to this page and click on the cover image.

Do you find the lightbox effect cool or confusing/startling?

I'm not asking what you think of the cover, but the special effect itself.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Books for Troops

Thriller writer J.A. Konrath has a friend stationed in Iraq who wants to help clean your bookshelves.

Konrath is offering free copies of his first three hardcovers in the Jack Daniels series to whoever ships the most books to Sgt. Hansen's entertainment-starved unit. But ask not what Konrath can do for you, ask what you can do for Konrath's friend.

Here's the name and address, as well as shipping guidelines courtesy of Books for Soliders. They recommend using the Post Office's flat rate boxes, so you can ship any weight, anywhere in the country for $8.10. Not surprisingly, they also say no pornography or books about the Apocalypse. And definitely no apocalyptic porn.

Regardless of what you think of the war in Iraq or our military's civilian leadership, the troops on the ground need our help and our thoughts. Make their day by including a note in your book box telling them how much their service means to you and your family.

Let them know that they're not forgotten.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Story announcement

When my publisher called last month to ask me to write a daily serial story for their Online Reads library, I took roughly 0.2178 seconds to say “YES!”

Result, after two mad weeks of writing (and barely blogging):

“The Wild’s Call,” a romantic urban fantasy that forms a distant prequel to Eyes of Crow. It tells the story of Elysia and Darien, two friends called by Animal Spirits to escape a world plummeting into a new Dark Age.

It’s How It All Began. The Collapse. The Reawakening. The choosing of people by each Animal Spirit to embody its essence.

There’ll be guns, getaways, and good lovin’, doled out in twenty short chapters, one per weekday for four weeks.

It all starts Monday, November 13. I'll post a direct link to the story as soon as it's available.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sept 11 thought

What Sharon said.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ravens 27, Bucs 0

Breaking an eleven-road-game losing streak, the Boys in Violet gave us our first Happy Opening Day in five years.

It's amazing what you can do when you have a defense and an offense.

Basking in Baltimore,

Friday, September 08, 2006

Happy Bastille Day 2007

Just found out from our senior editor that Eyes of Crow will be translated into French and published in France in July 2007. Formidable!

They haven't announced the French title yet. A literal translation would be Les Yeux de Corneille, but that might be hard to fit on a cover.

Speaking of titles, a lot of people think it's called Eyes of the Crow, but Crow is the name of a character, who happens to be, well, a crow. But not a real crow, the Crow Spirit. Plato would have called him the Form of Crow.

Anyway, the main character Rhia receives visions from this Spirit, making her the Spirit's eyes. Hence: Eyes. Of. Crow.

Pedantic lecture signing off.

I'll have another fun announcement Monday, which I hope will explain why my book reports are so late.


Monday, September 04, 2006

All Creatures Great and Small

Conserving koala bears is easy. When it comes to conserving the nasties like spiders, snakes and crocodiles, and things that kill you and eat you, it's a different story to get people to value those animals. People say, 'What the hell are you conserving them for?' and [Irwin] made a strong contribution in making people think a lot more about the values of conserving these animals.
--Professor Graeme Webb, croc expert, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
Though we all knew that 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin wasn't likely to meet his end in a rocking chair at the age of 98, sipping tea and eating biscuits, the news of his death at 44 from a sting ray's blow has stunned the animal-loving world.

His popular Discovery Channel show taught us to see the beauty in the beast, the splendor in the sinister, the hand of God in the fang of a viper.

We learned of the basic right of every creature to exist and thrive and share our world, regardless of its cuteness, fuzziness, or utility to humans.

Crikey, indeed. He'll be missed.


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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