Monday, April 30, 2007

Back from RT

More details tomorrow, but I had a phenomenal time. I met dozens of wonderful people, had a blast on the panels, and sold out of all my copies of Eyes of Crow at the Book Fair, which gave me time to buy other authors' books and get them autographed. Now I just have to decide which one to read first.

A bit brain-dead right now, so I'm spending the day unpacking, napping, working on my MySpace page, and waving this stupid fly away from my head.

By the way, I have a MySpace page. I've had it for awhile, but it's been on the lame side up to this point. It's better now, content-wise at least, so stop by and friend me!

A-Z Update: "Dracula Moon" by Joan Osbourne

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Random bits of RT

1. Yesterday I had my first chocolate martini.

Confession: it was my first martini ever. I'm more of a straight liquor kind of girl--the fanciest I get is Coke with my Jack Daniels. And I hate gin, so I've always avoided martinis. Turns out, some of them, including chocolate ones, are made with vodka. Where have I been? I also found out that the moon is not in fact made of green cheese. It's made of Brie. Because the air is so dry up there, it never spoils, which is how it keeps that pasty white aspect.

2. Last night at the Ellora's Cave Moulin Rouge party, a palm reader told me that I don't let myself celebrate my success, that as soon as I accomplish one goal, I immediately turn to the next thing and focus on what I haven't done.

I don't know if she got that from reading the lines on my palm or by the underlying tension in my hand or face, but she pegged me. Bulls-eye. As much as I probably seem to brag here on the blog, I don't revel in any of it. None of it brings me lasting happiness (except for that Charles de Lint review--that kind of joy is eternal).

It reminded me of this recent post from JA Konrath's blog about Happiness and the Writer. He explores the professional writer's feeling that whatever we accomplish, it's not enough. We're always stretching for the next goal and never take the time to enjoy the fruits of our hard work. He said it's because, "Happiness isn't productive...You don't get anything done while you're celebrating."

This is why, Konrath goes on to say, we have to find joy in the journey, not the destination, because once we reach that destination, we look around, shrug, and keep moving.

But the palm reader told me to take the time to "run naked through the daisies." Instead I went and danced with a hundred total strangers (including, just possibly, a cover model or two) until my new shoes started to gouge stripes in my feet.

Which was about four songs. But hey, baby steps. I'm new at this celebration thing.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Part 2 of the Texas Trilogy

It began in Austin. It will end July in Dallas.

But right now it's Houston, bay-beee!

I'm old enough by now to have learned this basic life lesson: make a list before you pack. Otherwise, you end up making a list after you get there that looks like this:

Stuff I Forgot
  • silver high-heeled shoes (leaving me only with the black strappy Cruel Shoes)
  • a purse
  • my notebook
  • massage-y thing for when my back hurts
  • sign and entry forms for my Book Fair giveaway
  • assume three or four more things before the day is through
The whole shebang starts in about two hours with some afternoon workshops, then a mixer, then a party, then do the whole thing all over again for three more days, or until we collapse, whichever comes first.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Dear Grim Reaper

Oh Ye of the Shroud and Sickle, just a quick note before I hop aboard that big ol' jet airliner tomorrow....

Remember a couple of months ago, when I saw this review* by one of my favorite and most admired authors, godfather of urban fantasy and fellow corvophile Charles de Lint, in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction? Remember how I said, having gained the approval I coveted more than that of The New York Times Book Review, "I can die happy now"?

It was just a figure of speech, 'K?

*also note glowing review of friend and fellow Luna author C.E. Murphy's Thunderbird Falls. Go, Catie!

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Summer 2006 reading, Books 3 and 2

In an effort to speed up and actually finish this series begun so long ago, I'm going to cover two today. Moreover, I'm going to transcribe directly the words I wrote in my book journal the day I finished the books, so that I won't have to think too much before 8am on a Sunday. Here goes:

3. War and the Soul by Edward Tick, M.D.

This book was heartbreaking, and provided a lot of insight into how war can damage the soul. But not only that, it made me realize that war is part of the human condition and that it doesn't have to be spiritually mortal. In its proper context and for a noble cause, it's a rite of passage, but modern warfare is so far from noble that it must always corrode the soul, not just of individual soldiers, but the nation itself.

[Editorial note: read this book if you want to do something that will really help support our men and women in uniform--i.e., understand them. Indispensable for writing about war and its aftermath in a human way.]

2. Looking for Alaska by John Green

The kind of book that makes me want to give up writing because I could never write anything that deep and perfect. [Note: this feeling usually wears off in a few hours.] I wonder how the experience would have been had I not read the Publisher's Weekly review that revealed [major stinkin' plot point--as in, the fulcrum of the entire story]. From about a third of the way through, I knew what the "before" and "after" were before and after. [The chapters are titled "Three Months Before," for example, going down to "An Hour Before," then "One Day After" etc.--a brilliant use of chapter headings to create suspense]. Most readers, not knowing, would've thought that it was before and after their kiss, since that was the be-all end-all of Miles's existence.

I feel enervated somehow, like I'd like to just lie down all day and think about it, to mourn [person] and stay with these characters a little longer. They were all so well-drawn and real, it was as if they were alive for awhile: the Colonel, Takumi, Lara, Mr. Hyde, the Eagle, and of course Miles and Alaska.

In some ways, because of the insular boarding school setting the plot seemed timeless--no cell phones or iPods. Lots of video games, but the other pieces could've been anywhere, any time, which means it'll be just as profound a book in ten years as it is today.

[Another note: in case it's not obvious from the first paragraph, do not read reviews of this book if you don't want to know the crux of the entire plot. And another 'nother note: this book made me want to smoke so bad it was excruciating. These kids light up every other page, and it's portrayed in a vivid, non-judgmental way. It would be like reading Like Water for Chocolate while on a diet.]

Whew! Only one more book. Will I actually finish something I've started? To find out, come back tomorrow.

Or maybe next week. Or next month.

A-Z Update: "Don't Go Off Wandering" by Limp Bizkit


Friday, April 20, 2007

Two roads diverged in a salon

Yesterday I went to the hairdresser for the first time since (checking date of best friend's wedding...) July 2004. I normally cut and color it at home, and it being huge and curly, it's pretty forgiving. Any mistakes sort of blend in. But with the big convention coming up next week, I decided to take the plunge and get (DUHN duhn duhn...) highlights.

OK, pretend you care for a sec.

My previous stylist, Dave, the one I'd been seeing since 1995, was long gone, either into the Witness Protection Program or some salon in Mt. Washington, no one was sure. Coincidentally, I'd just gotten a $10 gift card for the local Regis salon.

(Note to vendors: I cannot resist a gift card. If you send me a gift card for a turret lathe, I'll buy one. I don't even know what a turret lathe is, but I'll find a use for it, if I can get ten bucks off.)

So I took a chance and headed to Regis, where I spent four hours, which is approximately twelve times longer than I spent in the dentist's chair last month.

The end result? Wow. Gulp. It's...different. Dramatic. I'm not in Kansas anymore. Or if I am, my hair has left and gone to Vegas.

(Still pretending you care? Good job!)

Keeping my basic dark brown (which may or may not be my actual hair color--it's been so long I can't remember what that really is), I had them add chunky burgundy highlights, giving me a quasi-Goth-y look that I am, frankly, way too old for. (Luckily I appear a lot younger than I really am, so who cares?) Then she layered it and straightened it with a flat iron.

Walking down the mall hallway later, I passed myself in a mirror. With my long black coat, long straight taillight-red hair, I no longer looked cute. I looked cool. Kinda tough.

At the salon, the next chair held a woman with an elementary school-age daughter. She might have been my age (the woman, not the daughter), but her choice couldn't have been more different. She went with a straight, shoulder-length cut and kept her dull, ash-brown/blonde color. I guarantee her husband did not have the same reaction to her day at the salon as mine did.

Like I said, we might have been the same age, but in contrast to my arrested development, she was contentedly settling into her middle years. I didn't know whether to pity or envy her. In two decades, will she be the graceful grandma, bouncing babies on her knees while I, the pathetic aging Goth hag, will still be squeezing my pudges into junior wear?

Maybe it doesn't matter, as long as we're both happy in our skins right now.

A-Z Update: "Darshan" by B21


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hustle is back!

Anyone who knows me knows that I don't watch much TV that doesn't come in the form of a flat disc in a red Netflix envelope, or 300-pound guys slamming each other into the astroturf. I even somehow lost track of Battlestar Galactica this season, though I adore the show.

But tonight at 10PM on AMC (American Movie Classics), the BBC hit show Hustle returns for its fourth season, and I'll be there.

Hustle is about a group of British con artists (except for Robert Vaughn, who plays an American) who pull off the most mind-boggling, audacious scams--but always on people who deserve it, of course. The show is delightful and intelligent and--heck, just watch it. Though it has story threads that weave throughout the seasons, each episode stands alone.

Ciara, the heroine of my vampire books, is a former con artist (only not so much former), so I started watching Hustle last year for "research purposes." Because I'm pretty much a Puritan who won't do anything fun unless it's also work-related.

Luckily my work is writing novels, not calculating actuarial tables.

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End-of-summer reading roundup, Book 4

Now that the leaves are turning and the school buses are clogging up our country roads twice a day (Would it kill those kids to walk farther than the end of their driveway? Oh wait, no sidewalks. Yes, it could kill them. Never mind.), it's time to finish reporting on my summer reading.

(Checks calendar.)


Anyway, our #5 book was Born on the Fourth of July by Ron Kovic. To ensure that this list actually gets finished before the end of summer 2007, I'll keep the rest of them shorter.

4. Uglies, Pretties, and Specials, by Scott Westerfeld

This young adult science fiction trilogy counts as one book because the individual volumes don't stand alone, at least not if you have a remotely human level of curiosity. The cliff-hanger endings will leave you racing back to the bookstore or library. Because I suck at summing up a book in one sentence (unless it's mine), I'll quote the School Library Journal review:
Set some time in the future, after a human-made bacteria destroyed the modern world, the trilogy tells of new cities established and tightly controlled through brainwashing and a series of operations leading to a compliant society.

Me again. The novels touch on issues of free will, vanity, conformity, and loyalty. The thing I liked most was that the lead character, Tally Youngblood, makes some selfish and/or fearful choices early on that bring harm to others, but has the courage to redeem herself in self-sacrificing ways. Her bravery was all the more inspiring because of her all-too-human weaknesses. She wasn't some kick-butt super-heroine who never had a second thought or fear. I thought, I could be her.

Plus, it had some amazing hoverboard action sequences. Whee!

A-Z Update: "Cry Awhile" by Bob Dylan


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Vamps vs. werewolves - talk to me

I am a Death Dealer, sworn to destroy those known as the Lycans. Our war has waged for centuries, unseen by human eyes. But all that is about to change.
--Selene, Underworld

The first testament says "an eye for an eye." - The second testament says "love thy neighbour." - The third testament ... Kicks Ass!!!
--Tagline, Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter

I'm on a panel next week at the RT convention entitled, "Why Can't We All Just Get Along?" It will explore, with all the coherence we can scrape together at 5PM on a Friday, why vampires and werewolves hate each other.

Since werewolves don't even exist in my vampires' universe (Humans who turn into puppies? How Key-ute!), my approach to the panel will be a little more abstract. Meaning, I'll just make it up, with your help.

So where do you think the animosity comes from? Is it a natural conflict between hyper-physical thugs and elegant Nancy Boys? Between the (un)dead and the (intensely) alive? It's got to be more than the hairstyles.

Maybe this hostility is an unfortunate stereotype, bludgeoned to a gasping, choking near-death by a thousand films and books. They're both creatures of the night, so why shouldn't they pal around? Even Democrats and Republicans can root for the same football team. If vamps and weres ever joined forces, who would they fight? Us, or some third, scarier entity, like Abbott & Costello?

Help me out here. There are no wrong answers.

(Everyone join in, but like a teacher, I'm going to call on people:

All you RPGers (Andrew, Sharon, Rob, other Rob) confront these issues when you build worlds and characters. Kathy, you've read a million paranormal books. Cynthia, you write about these bad boys, give me your perspective. Catie, Robin, other authors--make something up.

And Greg, don't tell me you haven't seen Underworld and Underworld: Evolution. Someone give me its mythology so I don't have to rent it myself. There's a limit to how far I'll go for a panel.)

*A-Z Update: "Credit in a Straight World," by Hole, heading into (appropriately) "Creepy Crawling" by Chumbawamba

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Monday, April 16, 2007

It's green*

The little number in the upper left-hand corner of the TurboTax window, that is. As in, instead of red. Which means a refund instead of a payment, for the first time in many, many years. Woo-hoo! My convoluted spreadsheet, the one that tracked our income and expenses and told me when to send estimated payments, actually worked.

Of course, all of the refund, plus some, will go right back to the IRS in the form of our first-quarter estimated tax payment. But hey, one check is better than two, right?

A nor'easter is currently slamming our house with 60-mph gusts, and there are big cold puddles in our basement storeroom. On the bright side, the ten-day forecast for Houston shows 79 and sunny for next Tuesday. Never thought I'd look forward to Texas weather.

*Yes, I'm still punch-drunk enough for obscure Star Trek references.


Friday, April 13, 2007

It's still yesterday

Stayed up all night to finish Voice of Crow line edits, which just went out the door (I love the USPS's Carrier Pickup service).

Fixed a scene at the end that was really bugging me and my beta readers.

Discovered that I have an embarrassing crush on the word 'only' (who knew?).

Squashed said crush.

Have programmed laptop to give me an electric shock whenever I type the word 'only.'


Forgive me if I take off the remainder of my forty-hour day. Maybe have some lunch.

A-Z update: "Changing Your Demeanor" by The Chieftains


Monday, April 09, 2007

VOC line edits

(Apologies for early-morning incoherence, if applicable.)

Right now I'm at the line edit stage for Voice of Crow. This is the stage in which the editor makes short notes, usually related to language usage or sentence clarifications, and the writer makes his or her last stab at substantive changes.

Though I'm happy with the story as it stands, I think there are a lot of places (like, every page) where the language or description could be pumped up, or where I cut too much in the last edit.

A musician with a slightly out-of-tune instrument might still play a good song and entertain her listeners, but even those of us with a tin ear will come away with a sense of sub-excellence.

In the same way, a book that's a bit "off" here and there might still provide an enjoyable read, but readers deep down will know the difference. Each time a repetitive phrase is used, or a paragraph contains a stilted rhythm, or an emotional transition goes "clunk" for the lack of a few more words, readers subconsciously lower their estimation of the book another fraction.

They might not be able to articulate why the book was merely good instead of awesome, but when their friends ask if they recommend it, they'll give a shrug and a "Yeah" instead of an arm-clutch and an "Ohmigod, you MUST take a sick day and read this book NOW, then call me the minute you finish it!"

And on that note, I'm off for the next few days to complete the line edits. See you on Friday!


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Pocketful of contracts

Last weekend I was happy--nay, ecstatic--to sign the Simon & Schuster contracts for Bad Company and its sequel.

When I signed the contracts for the Aspect of Crow series, my mom insisted that my husband take my picture. Somewhat embarrassed, I agreed (we have to humor moms--it's the law).

Since I take a lousy picture when I haven't the privilege of a professional photographer and makeup artist (Google my name under "Images" if you don't believe me), and since I hadn't so much as showered, much less dressed and suitably coiffed myself last Sunday when I signed the contract, I hired a stand-in.

Meet Gertrude:

Gertrude is the mascot for Pocket Books (scroll down if you click), and yes, I'm a big enough geek that I asked for a stuffed kangaroo for Christmas so I could name it Gertrude.

And no, I will NOT be inscribing this little marsupial into my skin as a tattoo. Cute though she is.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Requiem excerpt

A very nice lady e-mailed recently to tell me that she couldn't pull up the .pdf file of the first chapter of Requiem for the Devil.

Of course, I investigated right away (okay, several days later). It turns out the file didn't even exist on the server. Big fat OOPS.

I'd been meaning to convert it to HTML so it could be read right on the website without the need for Adobe Reader. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.

And here it is, for your easy-on-the-eyes pleasure, in case you haven't already read it, the first chapter of Requiem for the Devil.

Note: if you print it, it comes out in a nice printer-friendly version without all the sidebar and menu crap. Because here at, we want you to be happy. Or at least content. Not disgruntled. Not on our account, anyway.

As a special thanks, I gave a signed copy of Eyes of Crow to the lady who alerted me about the problem. So if you find a serious error on this site, let me know and you might get a tangible representation of my thanks. Because here at, we don't shoot the messengers, we bring them inside and offer them brunch.

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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**


Order from Indie Bound, Barnes & Noble, or



"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.

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