Monday, July 31, 2006

Be cool

More on RWA tomorrow, but for now, try to enjoy this Public Service Announcement:

If you live in the East, look out for heat indices in the 110-115 degree range tomorrow. Even at night, the heat index will be around 100. It's like going outside and getting punched in the face.

This is serious business, folks. Whenever the heat index goes above normal human body temperature, it becomes very difficult to cool off. Hundreds of people have already died in California and the Midwest this week. At the risk of sounding gruesome, I'm sure this is a fraction of the final death tool, as many more bodies will be found in homes during the coming days.

Do your fellow humans a favor: cut back on power usage as much as you can to help prevent grids from overloading and browning out. We're all counting on each other not to be energy hogs.
  • Set your thermostat as high as you can stand it. 80, 82, 85 degrees. How high can you go? Have a contest with your neighbors.
  • When you come home from work, hang out in your basement. Sleep there if you have to.
  • Bring home takeout (sushi, anyone?) so you don't have to use the stove.
  • Let the laundry wait until the weekend. The dishwasher, too.
  • Have a mint julep, or at least a margarita.
  • Eat spicy foods--it'll make you sweat, thus cooling you down.
  • Two words: sponge bath. Two more words: frequent. ly.
  • Sit around saying, "hooo-weee!" Trust me, it will work.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Quarterfinal in Scriptapalooza!

My romantic comedy, Between the Lines, has just made the quarterfinals of Scriptapalooza, one of the country's biggest screenwriting contests. Out of more than 3600 entries, 334 were picked as quarterfinalists.

Think I'm making this up? Go to the Scriptapalooza site, click on "9th Annual International Screenwriting Competition, and then click on Quarterfinalists. Sorry there isn't a direct link.

In the past, production companies and agents have requested looks at winners, finalists, semi-finalists, and even quarterfinalists of this contest. But the coolest part to me is that now more than one contest has given me strong positive feedback on this script. So it's not just that one guy at Bluecat Screenwriting Competition who thinks it's cool (though not cool enough for the 10K first prize).

Semifinalists will be announced tomorrow, probably around 11:59 PM Pacific time, the way these things go. Obviously I'll let you know about that, as well as a recap of the RWA conference, which was, in a word, awesome.

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Back from RWA

Body: So very tired.
Mind: So very fried.
Romance writers: So very, very cool.

More later.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Off to RWA

I'm leaving for a writer's conference in about half an hour and won't be back until Sunday. Hopefully I'll have internet access at the hotel (yes, I've packed my ethernet cable) and will be able to blog and get my e-mail from there.

Have a good week!

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Eyes of Crow final cover

Pretty much, at least. Next month I'll get an official high-res image from the art department, but for now, feast your peepers on this:

No biggie. I know you've seen this before, but now it has a cool, completely-unreadable-at-this-resolution cover quote from Nebula Award™-winning author Catherine Asaro:
Jeri Smith-Ready's lyrical prose brings to life unforgettable characters and a poignant story that haunted me long after I finished the novel...Highly recommended.
And now, for your first viewing enjoyment, may I present:

The Back Cover



Click on either image for a larger view.

The back cover copy, in case you can't read Blurrish, goes a little something like this:

She was born to die . . . again and again.

For Rhia was bound to the Spirit of Crow, gifted with the foresight of Death's approach and doomed to the isolation of one feared and set apart. There must always be one whose magic can ease the passage of the people of Asermos to the Other Side. But to be the guide her people require, to truly know the depth of her gift—her curse—Rhia must surrender herself to the wisdom of the Great Forest . . . and drink deeply of Death itself.

And though two powerful men stand ready to aid her, even to love her, the Aspect of Crow demands unthinkable sacrifices from the one who walks its path.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tubes!

Usually I try my damnedest not to make fun of politicians on this blog, and this is apropos of nothing writing-related whatsoever, but...

Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska (y'know, the State that hates the federal government but loves to take its money) went off on a strange diatribe last month. His rant wasn't, for once, about how we should drill caribou for oil, but on why he didn't vote for an amendment on net neutrality, and--hey, wake up! It's important.

Anyway, here's a quote (emphasis of incredulity mine):
Ten [Netflix movies] streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet? I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.
And another quote:
They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes.
You can read the full transcript of his speech or, better yet, listen to the kickin' Techno-Mashup Remix (.mp3 format). You cannot not get up and dance when you hear it.

Let me know if this blog post reads okay on your internet, because it looks just fine on my internet. But sometimes those tubes really distort things.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Random thought #862

Pizzerias should put Cold Pizza on their menus.

You’d bake it, let it cool, refrigerate it overnight, and sell it at a premium as a deliverable breakfast item*.

OR you could quick-cool it with carefully applied liquid nitrogen. But the whole point of cold pizza is that the sauce has a chance to mellow and blend with the cheese and crust. There's no magical substitute for time.

This could be huge in college towns. What frat boy hasn't punched a pledge after finding nothing but empty pizza boxes to greet his hangover?

*Come to think of it, every breakfast place should deliver. C'mon, Dunkin Donuts, save us the shower!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Killing a Friday

You could get diabetes reading them, couldn't you?
--Charles Schultz, on The Family Circus
Join me today as I waste an hour or two reading my favorite new blog: The Comics Curmudgeon, written by Baltimore resident (yay!) Josh Fruhlinger. Josh and his commenters deconstruct the daily comics page with brutal wit and sporadic admiration.

If you've ever wondered how the hell Apartment 3-G has outlasted nine Presidents*, or if The Family Circus makes you want to throw yourself off the nearest railroad trestle (get in line!), you'll love The Comics Curmudgeon.

If you have a particular comic you love to hate, check out the archives (left sidebar) to see posts organized by strip. Or just click on "Randomly Selected Post O' Mystery."

Now's the time to catch up on posts, while Josh is on vacation. If you love the blog as I do, consider making a donation or picking up some sweet CC swag. T-shirts don't get any more esoteric than this.

*Hint: only 37.5 "story-hours" have actually passed since the comic's debut in 1961.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Miniature undead

Does my book cover look weird when it's shrunk very small, as it is on my Blogger profile?

To me Rhia kinda looks like a zombie when she's half an inch tall. The shadows around her eyes are accentuated, and her necklace looks like a big wrinkle.

I dunno. Maybe I'm nuts.

And now I have "Zombie" by the Cranberries in my head but I don't feel like changing the sidebar. It probably won't last.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Name that character

Help me out here. I'm looking for name for the main character of my next proposal.

Gender: Female
Age: 39ish
Occupation: High School Drama teacher
Marital Status: Divorced
Family Status: Two kids (sole custody), and a live-in, retired, not-so-elderly mother
Ethnicity: To be determined--the name might help here!
Hometown: Northeastern suburb or small city
Personal Issues: Just became a werecougar

I've been sifting through Popular Baby Names from the late sixties on the Social Security website, but nothing's striking a chord.

If I choose your suggestion or something similar, I'll put you in the acknowledgments and enter you into the drawing for a free copy of Eyes of Crow (to be picked October 15). But most importantly, you'll have my ever-loving gratitude.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Shine on you crazy diamond

Did you exchange
a walk-on part in the war
for a lead role in a cage?
--Pink Floyd, "Wish You Were Here"
It was just announced that Syd Barrett, the founder of Pink Floyd, died the other day at the age of 60.

Enjoy your great gig in the sky, Mr. Barrett. You'll be missed more than ever now.

Eyes of Crow release date

I got the official word yesterday from my editor: Eyes of Crow will be on sale October 24, just in time for your Halloween reading enjoyment.

Remember, kids, always carry a flashlight and wear reflective clothing when you read, and be sure to have your parents check all your books for cyanide and straight razors.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Chapter titles

Do you notice them when you read a book? Usually I don't, unless it's to check the table of contents when I'm considering a work of nonfiction. Even then the chapter titles are sometimes so clever that they disguise the actual subjects.

I've titled the chapters of two out of the five novels I've finished, as well as two of my three incomplete novels, and in every case there was a system or naming convention.

In Requiem for the Devil, each chapter title was a content-appropriate line from the Requiem mass. Was it pretentious to use Latin? Maybe, but I included an appendix with the entire text of the Requiem and its English translation so people could look it up if they wanted.

In Bad Company, each chapter title is the name of a rock or pop song, again reflecting the content of the upcoming chapter. I kept a balance among decades (40s through 90s) and made sure not to include more than one tune by the same artist.

In Angel's Gambit, an unfinished Requiem sequel, each title was going to be named after a chess term, since the main character was a master player.

And in my most literarily ambitious novel, The Forgetting, Requiem's direct sequel (Beelzebub's tale), the titles formed the first few words of the chapter, as well as reflecting its larger theme or subject. Example:
A candy-eyed teenager

hands us what looks like blue garbage bags as we stand in line for the Maid of the Mist boat tour, the one that takes you right up to the feet of the falls.
Later in the chapter, one of the main characters tells a story of a relationship he had in high school, when it can be assume that he was himself a "candy-eyed teenager." The story isn't prompted by seeing the kid from the first sentence but by an event on the boat itself. The more distant a thematic echo, the less blatant it is.

And a less subtle example:
Three Ivy-League assholes

glare at us over their cans of beer. Marc, who for a moment was frozen on top of me, springs to a sitting position and stares at them with a look of prey.
The rest of the chapter depicts how Beelzebub and his traveling companion kick the crap out of a trio of would-be gay-bashers.

Sigh...I miss that book. Must finish it someday, even if no one else ever reads it.

Back to the original question: what do you think of chapter titles? If you notice them, do they act as spoilers or as tempting hints? If you don't notice them, do you consider them just an indulgence on the author's part?

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Meet the new boss

Anyone who works at home, or who has had to complete a long-term project like a thesis or a book or a quilt, knows that we have to employ constantly shifting strategies to trick ourselves into working.

My new strategy: a 9-5 workday, during which I concentrate on nothing but Voice of Crow. All my other priorities--e-mail, blogging, writing new proposals, tasks for my part-time jobs, promo for Eyes of Crow, housework, and maybe even leisure--get stuffed into the off-hours before or after 9 to 5.

It's very freeing, in a way. My brain can focus, knowing that there's another time set aside to do all those other minutiae that knock at my mental doors. I need this level of single-minded concentration to sort out some perplexing issues in this book.

But I'm not a person who does well with too much structure, so we'll see how this goes. Tricking myself into work is like playing Whack-a-Mole--the little critters named Laziness and Distractability* keep popping their heads back up in a different place.

BAM! Time for work.


*and their tag-along little brother, Freddie

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

It's my birthday, too, yeah

Not today, not tomorrow, but someday. Hey, I should keep at least one thing private from the world, right?

Anyway, found this amazingly accurate and world's quickest online quiz through Baltimore Diary:

Your Birthdate: XXXXX

Spiritual and thoughtful, you tend to take a step back from the world.
You're very sensitive to what's going on around you, yet you remain calm.
Although you are brilliant, it may take you a while to find your niche.
Your creativity is supreme, but it sometimes makes it hard for you to get things done.

Your strength: Your inner peace

Your weakness: You get stuck in the clouds

Your power color: Emerald

Your power symbol: Leaf

Your power month: November

Glad to hear November is my power month, since that's when my Luna books are coming out. But "Leaf"? Maybe it would help if I became Canadian.

Too bad I can't thwart a mugger with my inner peace.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Rockets' Red Glare

Thanks, Discovery, for giving the country something to celebrate on its birthday.

Just return home safe now, y'hear?

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Monday, July 03, 2006

They get around

Runnin' down a dream
It never would come to me
Workin' on a mystery
Goin' wherever it leads....
--"Runnin' Down a Dream," Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Two dudes, two missions, one blog post.

This Wednesday, thriller author J.A. Konrath will embark on a high-speed bookstore tour he's dubbed the RustyNail 500. He plans to hit 500 bookstores in sixty days to promote his new novel, Rusty Nail, third in the Jack Daniels series.

"Jack" is short for Jacqueline Daniels, a forty-six-year-old Chicago police detective who routinely battles insomnia and serial killers. The books will make you laugh out loud, then have you sleeping with the lights on.

Konrath's blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, is in my opinion the single best online resource for writers. He gives authors a healthy dose of reality about the publishing business today while encouraging us to take charge of our careers. His advice is like a kick in the butt with a velvet boot. If that makes any sense.

His motto: "There's a word for a writer who never gives up: published."

Anyway, check out his list of stops (.PDF file) to find out when he'll be in your neighborhood. He'll leave a trail of signed copies in his wake, so snap one up while they last.

* * *

In a remotely related story ("related" in the sense that I was thinking about them on the same day), this guy named Matt has spent the last two years dancing around the world.

Check out his cool videos on the homepage and, if you're wondering what the hell he's doing, read the section "About Matt."

My favorite part is the map, where you can click on the various places in the world Matt has traveled, with links to the relevant blog posts.

Hint: the blue pins on the map have blog posts attached to them; the red ones do not. It took me awhile to figure that out, and I'm passing the time savings on to you!

Enjoy.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

The True North Strong and Free

Happy Canada Day to our neighbors upstairs! You are the coolest of the cool.

Missing your lovely lands,
Jeri

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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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