Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dante & Ciara Interview Part One

Since Dante Baptiste (of Adrian Phoenix’s A Rush of Wings and In the Blood) and Ciara Griffin (of Jeri Smith-Ready’s Wicked Game and the upcoming Bad to the Bone) are from two different worlds, it seemed likely (and sad) that they’d never meet.

But then the dimensional fabric between their worlds thinned for a brief time, so that they could share a few (okay, make that a lot of) drinks at the Bar Between the Universes (not to be confused with the Restaurant at the End of the Universe—the Bar only serves basic pub grub) and got to talking:

ROUND ONE (see yesterday's blog for an explanation of rounds)

Dante (drinking Absinthe King Gold): Hey Ciara, bon soir. We’re the only ones in the club, and I’m content to play bartender. Name your poison.

Ciara: Hmm, given your choice of words, I’ll take a Coke. In the original container. Unbroken seal.

Dante: (snorts) So you’re saying that the drink used world-round to clean car batteries is safer than anything I’d pour for you? Oh-kay. (Hands Ciara an ice-cold short bottle of Coke. Unopened. Offers her a bottle opener.)

Ciara: Hey, I’m new in your world. Lots of scary-ass folks, including nightkind. Always gotta watch out for numero uno, right? Trust no one. Well, almost no one.

Dante: C’est vrai, but you gotta trust yourself, yeah? It gets old always watching out for Numero Uno. You never know when he’s gonna blindside you with a flying tackle. I ain’t trying to be cold, but I think it’s time Numero Uno was told he ain’t with the Saints no more. D’ya think there’s an assisted living center for delusional ex-football players?

Ciara: (blinks)

Dante: Oh. Wait. You meant numero uno as in (points a finger at Ciara’s chest, then points at his own). Gotcha! See, there’s this . . . never mind, ain’t important. (Downs his drink)

So I read Wicked Game.

Ciara: And you told all your friends, right? Maybe talked about it onstage? Been my ever-lovin’ pimpalicious baby?

Dante: (pouring himself another tumbler of Absinthe King Gold) Oui, I told all my friends about WVMP and its vampire DJs, and I think I mentioned you. And Shane. And all the hot sex.

(A smile tilts his lips)

I even told them there was another book on the way full of action, hysterical one-liners, deadly fanatics, and – oh, yeah – more hot sex. I ain’t mentioned it onstage, but where do I sign up to be your ever-lovin’ pimpalicious baby? What are the perks?

Ciara: Gold chain medallions, ankle-length leather coat with arctic fox trim. The standard pimp accoutrements. I think you’d look cute in one of those big purple hats.

Dante: (chokes on his drink. Turns around so Ciara can lean across the bar and pound on his back as he gasps for air.)

Ciara: Anyway, I’ve read both of your adventures, A Rush of Wings and In the Blood, which puts me one ahead of you. I’ve even read the sections you didn’t narrate, which means I know seeeeeecrets. Which I’m willing to sell.

Dante: Secrets? To sell? How much? (works hand into pocket of leather pants, then his gaze lights on the cash register. He grins and pulls his hand free of his pocket.)

Ciara: Actually, I’m not sure I want to be around when you find out some of those not-so-fun facts. Maybe I could mail them to you and you could wire the money to one of my offshore accounts. After I’m far, far away. Out of “unmaking range.”

Dante: (blinks) Offshore accounts? What, are you Le Chiffre from Bond? Does that make me Bond or the Bond chick? And I ain’t one of those ‘unmake the messenger’ types, p’tite.

Ciara: That’s good to know. So where was I? Oh yeah, your books. I tell all my friends about your antics, and once I have some free time in between all the not-getting-killed, your stories will be the first ones I review on our dormant website. Because they officially rock.

Do people still say things “rock”? Sometimes I worry I spend so much time with Nineties Boy, my slang gets out of date.

Sorry. You were saying. Or maybe I was saying. Who was saying?

Dante: (reaches over and yanks the bottle of Coke out of Ciara’s hand.) You’ve had waaaay too much caffeine, p’tite. Choose a non-caffeinated drink.

Ciara: (sighs) Okay. Give me a Smithwick’s. That’s Shane’s favorite beer. But again, sealed, please.

And when you get a chance, come sit with me. You hovering behind the bar feels too much like a shrink with his patient. Unless you feel threatened, in which case, hover all you want. I know better than to threaten a vampire.

Dante: (snorts) Threatened. (Moves in a blur of latex and gleaming steel and sits on the stool beside Ciara, unopened bottle of Smithwick’s in hand, which he extends to her.) You still have the bottle opener, yeah?

Ciara: (gapes) Uh…yeah. (presses cold bottle against neck to cool off)

Dante: I’m impressed by how you’ve been able to play the book off as fiction, but given your skills in the persuasive arts, not surprised. You got any other promotions for WVMP coming up?

Ciara: (recovers at the mention of marketing activities) You bet! We had a rockin’ Halloween party, and then a Happy Hell-iday celebration for Christmas. Eight fanged reindeer pulling Santa’s coffin, devil horns on my elf costume, and of course, the classic holiday songs like “Little St. Nick” by the Beach Boys, and “Christmas Sucks” by Tom Waits and Peter Murphy.

(pops top of beer bottle)

See, some annoying people insisted we were going to hell, so we decided to milk it. Ratings, you know. You can read all about it in my next adventure, BAD TO THE BONE, coming out in May, in stores everywhere!

(looks around for someone to hand a bookmark to, sees no one, is deflated)

Dante: Leave some bookmarks on the bar, I’m sure people will pick ‘em up. I’d like one, too.

Ciara: So what about you? How’s the Inferno tour going? Any more onstage, um, episodes like the one in Seattle that Heather told us about in IN THE BLOOD? That looked pretty rough. I’m not surprised people thought it was a stunt. Tabloid rumors really sell concert tickets! But seriously, I hope you’re feeling better.

(reaches out to pat his shoulder, thinks better of it)

Dante: People thought what happened on stage was a stunt? Wow. I didn’t know that. Tabloid rumors . . . hell, I didn’t even think about that! I don’t even remember what happened, to be honest. But I’m good, merci beaucoup for asking.

Ciara: Good. I want to keep you around for those next two books I hear are coming down the pike. You know anything about them? Any hints for your cutest fan? (bats eyelashes)

Dante: Shane’s here?? Oh. You meant cutest female fan. (Wicked smile.) Umm . . . well, the title is BENEATH THE SKIN. And the series now has a name – THE MAKER’S SONG. I can’t really give you any hints because it might spoil ITB for those who ain’t read it yet. I can say there’ll be fights for survival, sex, love, blood, oh, and a fight for sanity. I know . . . generic. (Shrugs.) Can’t be helped, p’tite.

Ciara: Ooh, your series has a name. I’m jealous. But congratulations—it all sounds very intriguing.

Dante: Your turn. List the DJs in order of hotness. I think it’s a given Shane’ll be numero un. Gotta admit, I think he’s hot too.

Ciara: Why, thank you. In order? Definitely Noah is second—he’s got a kind, gentle soul, and the dreadlocks are a work of art. I also like that he sometimes wears glasses, though of course he doesn’t need them.

Dante: Dreads are smokin’ for true.

Ciara: Then probably a tie between Spencer and Monroe. They’re both so aloof and magnetic, although Spencer, frankly, is a major tightass. But he has piercing eyes, so point in his favor.

Dante: Oui, I’d say piercing eyes earns points, tightass loses points, so maybe Spencer’s a wash, yeah?

Ciara: Overall, yeah, but he’s good to have around. At least the sanest patient is running the asylum.

Back to the hotness rankings. Last would be Regina and finally Jim. Not that they’re not gorgeous, but their personalities are kind of a turnoff. Regina’s a bully, and Jim…well, I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. He’s definitely committed “bad touch” with me more than once. I’d give anything to be able to haul off and whack him upside the head, but that’d probably get me killed.

Shane put him in his place, though, in BTTB. He totally drank his milkshake. Well, he took a sip, at least.

Am I talking too much? Do I seem nervous? Don’t answer that.

Dante: I never really got that “I drink your milkshake” line in that “There Will Be Blood” movie. I mean, what the hell was that movie even about? Um…excuse that digression.

(C&D speak over each other)

Ciara: I didn’t actually see it--I spent most of that December trying not to get killed. But these days, the catch phrase is enough to fake one’s pop culture awareness.

Dante: You seem a little nervous, yeah. But I ain’t gonna do any “bad touch” stuff or let anyone else bother you – if anyone should walk in, that is, which they won’t. Club’s closed. Just you and me, chere. Whoops. I wasn’t supposed to answer that, yeah?

Ciara: Answer what? Huh?

Dante: (pours fourth Absinthe King Gold and waits for her to catch up)

Ciara: Anyway, instead, answer this: What’s your favorite song you’d never cover onstage? A secret guilty pleasure, like REO Speedwagon or Barry Manilow, perhaps?

Dante: My secret guilty pleasure--but it ain’t secret anymore--is Justin Timberlake. I’d love to do a cover of “Cry Me a River” that song’s just brimming with rage, but the guys would probably tie me up and stuff me head first into a laundry hamper full of smelly athletic gear. My other secret--dammit…not anymore!--guilty pleasure would be Kelly Clarkson’s “Addicted.” That song cuts to the core. But…the guys would probably tie me up, stuff me into a laundry hamper, etc.

You next. What song or band is your secret guilty pleasure?

Ciara: Does Coldplay count? I’m told they’re not cool, but they’re my musical Valium. Except for their new album, which I hate. Now that they’ve been praised for reinventing themselves, they’ll do it every time, and I’ll never get my mindless soothing Brit Pop melodies back. Ah well. There’s always Snow Patrol.

Dante: Oui, Coldplay counts. The reinvented Coldplay is too generic to be worthy of secret guilty pleasuredom. (Clinks his tumbler against Ciara’s beer bottle). Hey! While we’re starting to feel no pain, it’s the perfect time to indulge our secret guilty pleasures, yeah?

(Dante jumps to his feet, blurs back behind the bar, much clinking, clanking, and muttering ensues. He straightens, shaking his hair back from his face, a triumphant smile on his lips. He thumps a karaoke machine on the bar.)

Le voici! Ain’t never done this, but I think it’d be fun, yeah? Just you and me and any song we’d never sing in front of an audience. I can set this up, we can take turns singing in the Cage or on the bar! I totally want to sing “Like a Virgin!” Whatcha wanna sing? We can flip a coin or arm wrestle or kiss or something to decide who goes first!

Ciara: Ooh, I know—let’s start with a duet! Like maybe… (flips through karaoke book) Perfect! (programs machine and hands Dante a mic) First one to laugh has to sing anything the other one chooses.

Dante: D’accord. And drink anything the other one pours.

(We hear the opening strains of the world’s tenth cheesiest vampire song: Ozzy Osbourne and Lena Horne’s “Close My Eyes Forever.” Fade out as Dante snarfs absinthe out his nose.)

To be continued next month...


Um...yeah. Anyway, leave a comment or a question for Ciara and/or Dante between now and 11:59pm EST next Wednesday (January 7) to be automatically entered to win an autographed copy of In the Blood.

And since I'm still skeptical about the level of people's internet engagement over the holidays, I'll throw in a $10 Amazon gift certificate if we reach 50 comments, so you can buy another copy of ITB for a friend. That way you won't have to lend it out and get it back with coffee stains and cat-chewed cover corners.

If you don't have a Blogger account, no worries! Just sign your name and be sure to either check back next week to see if you won, or leave a way to get in touch with you (leaving an e-mail in the address not recommended, due to spam issues).

Get an extra chance to win by friending Ciara or Dante on MySpace. Be sure to let them know you're entering the contest and what name you've commented under, so I know which commenter to assign the extra chances to. Clear as mud?

Happy New Year!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

IN THE BLOOD by Adrian Phoenix

My pal Adrian Phoenix and I have something special planned for y'all over the next four months. The hero (hmm, maybe word that should be in quotes) of her vampire series, Dante Baptiste, and the heroine (that word should definitely be in quotes) of mine, Ciara Griffin, found a wormhole and met for a few drinks at the Bar Between Universes. (Not to be confused with the Restaurant at the End of the Universe--that's much more crowded.)

So we'll be presenting Dante and Ciara's mutual interview/drinking game in four rounds, beginning tomorrow and continuing the first week of every month between now and April. Each round will give you a chance to win one of our books, so stay tuned.

But first! I have to tell you about Adrian's latest, In the Blood, the second in her urban fantasy thriller series that began last year with A Rush of Wings. As you might remember, I loved Rush (click that link for my review, in case it's not obvious).

Full disclosure: over the last year, Adrian and I have gotten to be good friends, but that's honestly not why I'm telling you about In the Blood. I have a lot of writer friends, and unfortunately I read very few of their books. Most of them are too prolific to keep up with, or they write in a genre or subgenre that just isn't my bag. If I read nothing but friends' books (at my usual pace of 50 books a year, that would barely scratch the surface), I'd feel like I was reading out of obligation instead of choice. What fun is that?

In the Blood was different. In fact, I would've loved this book even if Adrian were my sworn enemy. Everything I said about A Rush of Wings is twice as true for the new installment. Phoenix's prose is breathtaking and, for a fellow writer, envy-inducing. Certain descriptions and gestures were perfect--and so deft they seemed effortless.

But it wasn't long before I was too absorbed in the story to notice the words that created it. The plot shoots off like a rocket, with Dante and Heather in immediate danger, targeted by a nasty secret FBI project called Bad Seed. Heather finds herself betrayed by those closest to her, and Dante is spiraling ever closer to the truth and the madness that it holds.

The stakes rise to universe-shattering levels (no, really--we're talking near-apocalypse), involving fallen angels in Gehenna and scary batshit humans on earth. Some fascinating new characters are introduced, including Heather's sister Annie and a mysterious assassin named Caterina, whose motives and passions are obscure enough to keep us wondering about her until the last chapter.

The ending absolutely blew me away. One unforgettable image after another imprinted itself on my psyche. (There was this one really bad guy Dante needed to shut up, so he kind of took his face and--oh, never mind, just read it and shudder for yourself.) These are definitely on the thriller/horror end of the spectrum, so if you like your urban fantasies gritty and scary, this one's for you! I can't wait for the next installment, Beneath the Skin, to be released next January.

If you're intrigued, you should definitely read A Rush of Wings first, as the story picks up pretty much where that book left off. Rush is currently available in trade paperback and will be out in mass market paperback February 24. But with Amazon's discounts on trade paperbacks, you're only paying $3 more for the larger, better quality version, so really you should buy that now. I'm just sayin', as a helpful financial tip.

Dante and Ciara will see you back here tomorrow morning, bright and early. Well, bright and early for them. And you'll have a chance to win that book I just talked about up there. ^^^


Monday, December 29, 2008

Pretty good year

Hey kids, it's time for that annual self-flaggelation ritual--the Goals Review!

On January 2 I posted my writing/personal goals for 2008. It was fun to look at them this morning, because I hadn't actually given them any thought since, er, February?

With that in mind, let's see how I did:

1. Rewrite The Reawakened (non-negotiable, since it's under contract)

Done! (see completed book for proof)

2. Write and rewrite Bad to the Bone (ditto)

Also done (see Amazon page for proof--sorry, no cover art yet. Believe me, I'm just as anxious as you are to see the final version)

3. Write six tie-in stories for Wicked Game

I wrote three: Monroe's, Spencer's, and Jim's. I plan to write Noah's this week and get it up some time in January, then post Regina's around the end of February and finally Shane's on April 5. Due to contractual deadlines, however, I might have to skip Noah's and/or Regina's and come back to them later in 2009.

4. Submit proposal for more vampire books

Almost there--the proposal is finished and just needs polishing. My editor is out until next week, though, so I'll probably just wait until then to send it in. Or send it Wednesday so I can say I did it in 2008.

5. Submit young adult fantasy proposal (completed Book 1 and series synopsis)

Done! My proposal consisted of just the first three chapters and a series synopsis, not a completed book.

6. Write and submit proposal for new adult novel/series

Um, no. No time or need for that, though a new idea has wriggled into my brain. Maybe I'll work on that in 2009 if deadlines allow. Or I could toss something together by Wednesday and send it to my agent, just to annoy her on vacation.

7. Fix screenplay ending and begin submitting it to contests again

Wow, really? I never even thought about this all year.

8. Design and build website and blog for Wicked Game's release

Done! It features playlists by each of the DJs, as well as links to buy WVMP merchandise. The vampires haven't done much blogging yet. Okay, any blogging.

I also made a Pandora station for each of the DJs, so you can hear more of the types of music they'd play.

9. Build MySpace pages for WVMP and characters

Done, with modifications. Ciara and Shane have MySpace pages, and I barely have time to keep them up as it is, so don't expect to see seven separate MySpaces in the future.

10. Attend 5 conferences/conventions/book festivals

Attended 6!

11. Sign stock at 100 bookstores

Not even close. Maybe 10-15. In the future, I'm not going to make this a priority--it takes too much time and gas to drive around to different bookstores. It's definitely worth it if I'm in the area and it's not out of my way, but I literally never had a free day (or several days) all year to just tool around Baltimore/DC signing books.

12. Do 10 non-conference appearances (signings, talks)

I did 12. Will probably cut back on these next year.

13. Do 25 online interviews/guest blogs

I did at least 27 interviews (some written, some podcasts/radio, and one television), 2 online chats, and 13 guest blogs.

This was insane. It stressed me out big time--part of me is still burned out from the constant self-exposure. More important, it interfered with my ability to meet my Bad to the Bone deadline. On balance, my editor was happy, because Wicked Game sold much more than they expected, and they think it was due to my full-court press online. But this year, I'm sorry to say, I might not be able to grant every interview request, due to actual writing commitments. I will consider every request, however, so don't hesitate to ask.

14. Read 50 books

I've read 48 so far, and am more than half finished with two others, so no prob.

15. Watch 50 movies

Nope. I hope to make it to 28, which will be twice as many as last year. We spent most of our Netflixes on TV shows (Deadwood, Rome, The Sopranos, Arrested Development), all of which were better than most films, so there's that.

16. Foster 5 dogs (not all at the same time)

Sigh...between deadlines and Meadow's back injury, this was not to be. Our last foster dog was Tommy. I hope to start fostering cats in 2009, but they stick around a lot longer, so my goal will probably be closer to 2.

17. Do my part to make sure my candidate becomes President

Sadly I could only give a small amount of money and none of my time. But I nagged my husband into volunteering, and he was really good at it! Also, I rooted very hard, and this time it worked.

18. Never be satisfied with "good enough."

I think, in the end, I accomplished this goal. At some of the interim deadlines for both books, I turned them in in a state that was as good as I could do at the time, but at the final stages (copyedits/AA's), I was really happy with the results.

For instance, I sent back copyedits for Bad to the Bone a week ago Friday, and it was the first time I really felt like it kicked as much ass as it could. It's amazing what a few tweaks here and there will do for the quality of the prose and therefore the story. I believe that the little details add up to a better reading experience, that no matter how explosive and exciting your storyline may be, it can always be enhanced by finding just the right word to describe it.

I guess I should start on my 2009 goals now. Sheesh, I haven't even started Item #1 on Monday's to-do list! I can't tell you what it is, because it has to do with a Supah Sekrit project I'll be spending January writing. Item #2 is polish the vampire proposal, and Item #3 is watch a movie about Bob Marley and brainstorm Noah's story.

Hey, maybe those should be my first three goals of 2009. Instant win!

Did you set goals for 2008? How many did you meet? (Note: this is not a contest.) What did you learn from them? Do you now doubt the sanity of your January 2008 self?

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Weekend update

Hey everyone, hope you're having a great holiday season.

Just a quick reminder on a couple of drawings:

Comment on Monday's interview by the end of the day Sunday for a signed copy of Carrie Jones's Need, an Amazon gift certificate, and a special secret bonus.

Comment on my guest blog post at Paranormal Romance by Monday to enter to win a signed copy of one Aspect of Crow novel (winner's choice).

Urban fantasy author Justin Gustainis will be here next Friday to tell us about his new Quincy Morris novel, Evil Ways. You can check out an exclusive extended excerpt over at BookSpot Central.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Interview (and giveaway!) with Carrie Jones, author of NEED

It's currently nine degrees Fahrenheit here at our house, with winds of tropical storm strength, which makes it...(checks five degrees for being outside of town)...hang on, running some numbers...(subtracts another ten for living on a hill)...Greenland.

Which is the perfect setup for the book I want to talk about (and give away!) today. Need is a brand-new young adult contemporary fantasy from Carrie Jones, and it's guaranteed to make you shiver. Not just because it's set in Maine, but because its bogeymen are not vampires or werewolves (though there are a few of the latter), but pixies.

That's right, pixies. And unlike Tinkerbell, who was evil but in an annoying way, you can't stomp on on these pixies. They're tall, fast, and like most fey creatures, have magically irresistible auras. And they're spooky. Trust me, you'll never look at gold glitter the same way again.

However, the pixies aren't the best part of this book. That honor goes to the heroine Zara, who feels as real as your best friend (assuming your best friend isn't imaginary--not that there's anything wrong with that). She's smart and funny and charmingly neurotic. I could totally have coffee with her.

Anyway, when the book opens, Zara is in a deep state of mourning over her recently departed stepfather, who is the only father she's ever known. To snap her out of her paralyzing grief, her mom sends her from their home in Charleston, SC (which has "warm air and flowers and ROADS WITH NO ICE ON THEM"), to live with her grandmother in East Nowhere, Maine.

I know! Instead of stabbing herself with an icicle like most of us would do, Zara handles this disastrous change with humor and a begrudging acceptance borne partly from her inner strength and partly from her general lack of giving-a-rat's-ass.

She meets a cast of characters at school who are beguiling without being obnoxiously quirky. Again, real. Two boys compete for Zara's attention, and at first we don't know which to trust. Once Zara makes her choice, the romance is sweet and unpredictable. She's smitten without giving up one iota of herself, which is nice to see. This is a definite winner for readers of all ages who like books such as Twilight and Wicked Lovely (especially the latter, because of the fey aspect and the not-being-completely-consumed-by-supernatural-dude thing).

Also, Jones manages to make her characters sound like real teenagers without using profanity, a talent I've yet to master (or even attempt, to be honest). So this would definitely be suitable for readers as young as 11 or 12, if they're not easily spooked.

So if you're looking for a last-minute Christmas gift for the young woman in your life, or a great read for yourself over the holiday vacation, check out Need.

Here's Carrie to tell us more, then check out the end of the post to find out how you can win a signed copy of Need, plus a special surprise goody!

Q. Your first novel (TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (EX) BOYFRIEND) was released last year (checks calendar--yep, it's still 2008 now). What was the most surprising/thrilling thing about being a debut author?

Carrie: Because I have absolutely no self confidence at all (Seriously, Tim Wynne-Jones mocks me for saying ‘sorry’ all the time) the most surprising things was getting published at all. I kept expecting Andrew Karre, my editor, to call up and say, “Carrie. We’ve totally been punking you.”

The most thrilling part? Getting letters and emails from people (men and women) who said that my book helped them. It’s about love and acceptance and identity and some kind of tough issues. I never imagined it would actually help anyone. Now I can die all happy.

Note to Fate: That does not mean I should die right now.

In NEED, the heroine Zara is obsessed with naming phobias. Fear obviously shadows and colors much of her existence. Do you see fear as something always to be conquered, or can it play a useful role in our lives?

I think fear works both ways. You know how at slumber parties everyone would freak themselves out because they heard noises in the kitchen or outside? I was always the kid who grabbed a weapon, made the other kids form a line behind me and investigated. “You have to face your fears” was my mantra. Honestly, I even said it out loud TO MY FRIENDS. I have no idea how they didn’t stake me.

More seriously, I’ve seen so many people crippled by their fear. One brilliant woman I know wants more than anything to be a writer but refuses to try because she’s so afraid of failing. My mom goes weak-kneed if she sees a pigeon. She won’t go in a house or a museum if there’s a bird cage. That kind of fear holds you back.

At the same time fear can push you to your limits, help you expand who you are, and sometimes make you do better at tests and with speaking. I am a MUCH better test taker and public speaker if I’m terrified.

Sherman Alexie wrote, “The dream he needed most was the dream that frightened him more.” If you think about that quote it seems that fear is terribly vital.

Why pick pixies over other paranormal peeps?

Because I was so sick of Tinker Belle being the ultimate of pixies. Pixies weren’t always Disneyfied. I wanted to get them a little closer to their roots.

Both Zara in NEED and Belle in your first two books (TIPS and its sequel LOVE (AND OTHER USES FOR DUCT TAPE), are passionately involved with Amnesty International. Is this one of your favorite causes as well? What can we do to help, and how can we find out more about
their most urgent Calls to Action?

I am passionate about Amnesty. There are links to Amnesty on my website, but you can also sign up at its web page and receive Urgent Action Appeals. Then you write letters to officials urging them to release political prisoners or asking them to uphold the tenets of basic human dignity and rights.

Will we see more of Nick and Zara in future books, or is NEED a stand-alone novel?

I just found out yesterday (officially) that NEED is not a stand-alone novel. Eek. This means I need to start writing.

If you could inhabit the life of any of your characters, enter their world and deal with it as that person, which one would you choose?

I’d like to be Zara’s grandmother who is about 75 and an EMT and used to be an insurance exec. She is one tough lady. She retired, got a black belt, ran a marathon and then decided she wanted to do something good for the community. So, she became a paramedic. That just rocks. Plus, she has nice eyes.

Conversely, which of your characters would you most like to bringto life in our world (as a friend or a little bit more ;-) ?

Oh, that’s such a hard one….. I fall in love with ALL my leading men. I am horrible really. So, it’s a bit of a toss up between Tom (from TIPS) and Nick (from NEED) and Paolo (from GIRL, HERO).

They are all good kissers.

To hang out with? I would love to hang out with Issie, Zara’s friend from NEED. She is just so huggable.

Same two questions, but use examples from another author's work (including television/movies/theatre)?

I would like to be…… Um………. Urck…… Puff the Magic Dragon, because, you know, he lived by the sea and he frolicked in the autumn mist. A lot.

I would like to bring Dumbledore into the world, because seriously… how cool would that be?

Which author, living or dead, would you most love to collaborate with?

Steve Wedel. He writes adult horror werewolf novels. I know he’d be nice to me if we wrote something together. Plus, he is from Oklahoma.

What's your earliest memory?

When I was born the doctors thought I was blind and I had some severe vision issues. So most of my memories are of smells and texture. When I was one I had eye surgery and I can remember the stickiness of the patches on my face and the texture of the couch against my hand. It was bumpy and kind-of-tweed textured (totally unlike the smooth surfaces of the hospital) and it was home.

Do you have any phobias?

I am afraid of skiing.

I tried to take a lesson with this guy at Sunday River Resort and he looked just like Luke Wilson, which I told him. We spent the hour laughing hysterically. He spent it laughing hysterically at me. I ended up skiing maybe four feet total.

At the end he said, “You are the weirdest person I have ever taught. I mean that in a good way.”

And I said, “I don’t have much of a future in skiing, do I?”

And he said, “God, no, but I’ll teach you again for free.”

And I said, “You need laughs that bad?”

He just nodded.

He was so cute. I think the point of that story is that even though he was super cute and I had the best time standing on skis on the bottom of that mountain I still didn’t go back for a free lesson because I WAS SO TERRIFIED!!!!!!!

My husband hates when people use the word 'barometer' to mean 'measure.' Which word usage faux pas drives you berserkest?

I am pretty darn mellow, but I guess when people say “vanilla folder” when they mean “manila folder” is what upsets me the most. Although, honestly, it basically just makes me snort tea out of my nose.

Let's say there's a TV show, movie, or recording artist that has a cult of you. Which is it? (i.e., what do you like that no one else you know likes)?

I like Postum, which is a wheat-based cereal beverage (served warm) made by Kraft. They stopped making it last year because only 98-year-olds and I were drinking it.

But that’s not a pop culture type thing… What do I like that nobody else likes? Hm…..

There’s this weather man in Bangor, Maine and he looks like Beaker from the Muppet Show and every time the weather is on he says, “Tonight’s weather is sponsored by Merrill’s Furniture in Ellsworth, Maine. Good furniture. Family feeling.” Yep. He’s so pathetic hawking his meteorological services that he’s hawt.

If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Kiss people.
Sleep more.
Hug dog
Fantasize about the weather man.

If you could ask your favorite author one question and they had to answer honestly, what would it be?

I don’t have a favorite author.

I would, however, like to ask Danielle Steele about her sex life.

Or I’d ask Charles Bukowski if he really thinks that “Sexual intercourse is kicking death in the ass while singing."

If you could write in a totally different genre than your current one, which would you choose?

Hamster erotica.

It’s a hard choice.

What are you working on now, and what new releases can we expect to see from you down the road?

I’m currently working on a super secret project and I’m also working on a sequel to NEED (which will be the next book to come out), a couple young adult novels that aren’t fantasy, and some nonfiction picture books.

If you could tell a stranger just one thing about NEED (other than what it's about--no cheating by quoting synopses or back cover blurbs), what would it be?

NEED is a book. It is not about me. All my books are not about me. (Dad! Are you listening? Not me!) Does that count as three things?


Give Carrie a question or a comment, or share your secret or not-so-secret phobia, down in the comments, and be automatically entered to win a signed hardcover copy of Need, as well as a supah-secret bonus surprise goody! (I am curious about the latter, too.)

And as a special not-so-secret bonus, if we get at least 25 unique commenters (not counting Carrie), I'll throw in a $15 Amazon gift card for the winner, so you can buy another copy of Need for a friend.

So come on, people, prove that someone out there is still reading blogs this holiday week! Contest closes next Sunday night at 11:59 eastern. Have a great week!

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

When Characters Revolt - guest blog and giveaway!

Sneaking a few minutes away from Bad to the Bone copyedits to let you know that I'm guest-blogging over at Paranormal Romance about the naughty little whippersnappers in my latest novel, The Reawakened. Sura and Dravek, I'm looking at you,, you!

Leave a comment at the post (i.e., there, not here) between now and December 29 and be automatically entered to win your choice of one Aspect of Crow book (signed, of course!).

Now...back to the blue pencils.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A fistful of updates

Sorry I've been slack on blogging lately. Actually, not so much slack, just really busy writing and taking care of my invalid dog (mostly the latter--she's a very demanding patient).

- A full fifty percent (50%) of "Storm Reaper" is now available on my publisher's website. The link there goes to the main page where you can access chapters 1-4 at will.

- You have one more day to enter two giveaways:

Lori Devoti's 30 Days of Vampires ends tomorrow, and so does the chance to win a signed ARC of Bad to the Bone (or a signed copy of Wicked Game, if you prefer).

Patrick Rothfuss's phenomenal fundraiser for Heifer International will end tomorrow. He's already met his new goal of $40,000 raised by fans and friends, which he will match, because he is a dude of the highest order.

I bought a goat (not for me, for a family somewhere in Foreign Lands) to celebrate a few things I'm grateful for this Christmas:

1. My husband still has a job. Two, in fact! And no, you can't have one. We need them both, because of #2.

2. Meadow had surgery the week before Thanksgiving to fix four ruptured discs in her back. She is recovering nicely and is no longer in massive amounts of pain and fear. It was really bad there for awhile. Her regular vet was starting to suggest that she be put out of her misery, and he was pessimistic about how well she would handle the operation and recovery. Mainly because, unlike her neurologist, he didn't have a clue what he was talking about. Pbbbttt! We'll be looking for a new vet pronto. More on that later, because I think it's important for all dog owners to be aware of the symptoms of ruptured discs and what to do in that event.

3. Um, can't tell you about #3 yet, so for now we'll put in a placeholder: the Ravens are having a spectacular season, despite the fact that they have a first-time head coach and a rookie quarterback. For the first time since, uh, ever, they have an offense that doesn't embarrass their terrific defense.

Where was I? Oh, a goat. So the least you can do (for the chance to win an ARC of The Reawakened and prizes much cooler, like the manuscript for Kevin J. Anderson's Batman/Superman: Enemies and Allies, the book where Batman and Superman apparently meet for the first time, and which won't be out until May) is pony up twenty bucks for some chicks. Or name your own donation amount in the white box.

Patrick's already met his 40K goal, but I bet if we get tons of people donating today, he'll raise it to $50,000. That's not a dare, just a hunch.

- Four more days to enter the giant Spirit Animal/Aspect of Crow trilogy giveaway. Details on the click-through.

Anyway, I'm pretty much giving myself permission these days to do nothing but take care of my dog and work on books in various stages of existence. So blogging has to fall by the wayside.

But as always, I'm active on Twitter. If I go off Twitter for more than 48 hours, just assume I'm either dead or held captive by a roving band of clown monkeys. If it's the latter, please pray for the former.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Spirit Animal quiz and Contests!

One more chance to win a complete signed Aspect of Crow trilogy!

Since a lot of you have started reading the blog since the release of Wicked Game, I thought I’d tell you about my monthly prize drawing tied in with the ASPECT OF CROW trilogy:

***Discover Your Spirit Animal!***

If you were an animal, which would you be? Are you strong as a bear, loyal as a wolf, crafty as a fox?

My website features an interactive personality quiz to determine which of twelve Animals from the series you would be. Here are two sample questions:

1. How do you feel about crowds?
a. Love 'em - the more, the merrier!
b. Invigorating, in small doses.
c. I prefer small, tight-knit groups.
d. I'd rather spend the day in the dentist's chair.

12. How gullible are you?
a. I can spot a lie with my eyes closed.
b. I'm a skeptic, but I take most people's words at face value.
c. I'm my friends' favorite practical joke target.
d. I've bought the Brooklyn Bridge. Twice.

Each month belongs to one of the twelve Animals. E-mail me your quiz results (jeri AT jerismithready DOT com, or just use the contact form) for automatic entry in a prize drawing during your Animal’s month:

November: Crow
December: Wolf
January: Spider
February: Wolverine
March: Otter
April: Fox
May: Hawk
June: Bear
July: Owl
August: Swan
September: Cougar
October: Horse

For instance, if your quiz results showed you were a Wolf, you might receive a prize on December 31. Prizes include totem stones, jewelry, artwork, and more!

Here's a sample result for Crow:

You are a Crow! (your score: 22)

Characters: Rhia, Coranna, Damen in the Aspect of Crow trilogy; John in "The Wild's Call"

Powers: foreseeing death, communicating with the dead, resurrection

As a Crow, you are analytical, adaptable, and exceedingly clever. You like solving problems, sharing a hearty laugh with friends, and most of all, enjoying a good meal. Your inquisitive, philosophical nature leads you to constantly question authority and the status quo, sometimes just for the sake of asking, "Why?"

Best matches: Foxes, Wolves, Swans

Watch out for: Wolverines, Bears, Hawks

Have your friends and/or significant other take the quiz and see how well your Spirits get along. Argue about which one is cooler. And lest there be any controversy, if you're a Wolverine, yes, your Spirit can beat up anyone else's Spirit.

The drawings will take place at the end of each month through October 2009, but I'm going to hold off on the Crow drawing until December 15 to give newcomers a chance to enter.


PLUS...everyone who tells me their Spirit Animal here in the comments or e-mails me between now and December 15 will be put into a drawing for a complete autographed trilogy.

PLUS PLUS...spread the word about this contest and get an extra five chances to win. Five chances per mention (so if you talk about it on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger, you get, uh, five times four equals...twenty! extra chances). Simply send me the links to your posts to qualify or put them in the comments.

PLUS PLUS PLUS...subscribe to my newsletter and get ten extra chances to win. The subscription box is on the right-hand side of pretty much every page of my website. Or you can check the newsletter subscription box on the contact form when you send me your quiz results.

The drawing for the trilogy will take place at 11:59 EST on December 15. Enjoy!

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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.

Learn more about Jeri...

Photo © Geoffrey C. Baker

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