Friday, March 28, 2008

Guest blog, ARC giveaway, and rewrites

I'm today's guest over at the blog of author Jaye Wells, as part of her Adopt a Vampire Novel Month. The topic is "Vamp Like Me: In Defense of Defanging," in which I discuss whether vampires have gotten too mushy and romantic in today's literature. Find out how feminism and Archie Bunker have entered the argument.

Oh, and I'm giving away an ARC of Wicked Game to one lucky commenter. But you only have one day to comment, so skedaddle!

Speaking of prizes, the winner of a signed copy of Justin Gustainis's Black Magic Woman is...Lori! Lori, please send your mailing address to jeri AT jerismithready DOT com, and I'll pass it on to Justin for your prize.

You have until Monday to enter the giveaway for a signed copy of Rachel Vincent's new book, Rogue.

I finished the rewrite of The Reawakened last night (okay, early this morning), and today I start the revision stage. I'll explain the difference in more detail in a post soon, but basically in the rewrite I change the story, rip out scenes, and add new ones. For instance, in this draft of The Reawakened, three characters who died in the first draft get to live, while three (edited: four edited again: five) others who lived get to, well, die. The ending of both Parts One and Two are completely different. The epilogue is the same, though (except without those formerly living characters).

Revisions, on the other hand, consist of going through the manuscript to see if the rewrite makes sense, filling plot holes and smoothing out character inconsistencies. The final pass is the polish, where I make every scene and sentence as strong as it can be.

Have a great weekend!

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Now playing: Evenstar - Various Artists
via FoxyTunes

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Interview with Rachel Vincent, author of STRAY and ROGUE

Welcome back to our final installment (for about a month, anyway) of our author interview series. Today we have Rachel Vincent, who is following up her USA Today-bestselling urban fantasy Stray with its much-anticipated sequel, Rogue. Rachel's graciously agreed to give away a signed copy of Rogue to one lucky commenter.

Stray and Rogue form the first two books in Vincent's Werecat series, which will be at least six books long, the very thought of which makes us fans purr and knead our claws into the closest fuzzy blanket we can find. Or maybe that's too much information.

Q. In STRAY, your werecats belong to family-based organizations called Prides, each of which has its own territory that is strictly (and violently) enforced against outsiders. Was there an intentional allusion to organized crime syndicates?

Rachel: No, there were no intentional allusions to organized crime syndicates. In fact, I hadn't thought of it along those lines until you mentioned it. I've actually never seen any of the Godfather movies (and I assume that's what you mean by crime syndicates).

Do the animalistic/fantasy aspects make it easier for readers (and you as a writer) to sympathize with guys who are occasionally called upon to be cold-blooded killers?

For the readers? I certainly hope so. And the fantasy aspect definitely makes it easier for me to sympathize with the enforcers. That, and the fact that they're truly doing what they feel is right, even if the violence element of it feels drastic to some of us. They act in defense of each other and of their territory. Loyalty is very highly prized in the werecat world.

What strategies did/do you use in writing your follow-up novels, where you build upon an existing world and continue existing storylines? How do you decide how much backstory to include so that each subsequent book can stand alone? Did you find it easier or harder to write ROGUE (and others beyond) than STRAY?

In some ways, writing sequels is easier than writing the first book in a series, because a lot of the world building and character establishment is already done. But in other ways, it's harder. It's very difficult to remind the readers of what they read in the previous book without giving away the entire story to readers who may not have read that first book yet. I tend to err on the side of caution, putting in little backstory initially. Fortunately, my editor will always tell me if we need a bit more of a reminder.

ROGUE was much harder to write than STRAY, and required more intensive revisions. But I think that as a result, it's a much better book. Compared to writing ROGUE, writing PRIDE (March '09) was easy. It was completely plotted out before I wrote it and seemed to just fly onto the screen. But now I'm almost done with the fourth installment and it's been the most difficult of all so far, because we see a lot of plotlines colliding in this book. Everything Faythe has come to trust and rely on is sort of crumbling out from under her feet, leaving her nothing to count on but herself. People she used to depend on are now depending on her. It's been a very emotionally draining novel to write, but so far the result is worth all the stress. I love this book. ;-)

You've said that Faythe (your main character) undergoes significant character growth in ROGUE. How are her choices and challenges in this volume different from those in STRAY? What issues will she struggle with most in this book and in the future?

In STRAY, Faythe had no idea who she was, or who she wanted to be. She didn't start to really grow up until she got a peek at what real independence means, and that freedom isn't really free. It comes with a lot of responsibility. At the end of STRAY, she accepted that responsibility. In ROGUE, she's growing into it.

In STRAY, Faythe's choices revolved around herself. What was best for her. But in ROGUE, she makes decisions based on what's good for the Pride, even if that decision isn't very good for her. And in fact, in this second volume, we see even more clearly that what's good for the group and what's good for her as an individual seldom go hand in hand.

As for future struggles? Her personal life is never easy. She and Marc love each other, but there are many other factors that affect a relationship, and theirs is pretty stressful anyway. Still, she's not one to give up on something just because it isn't easy. ;-)

Faythe will also have an opportunity in the near future (books 3 & 4) to see things from a new-to-her perspective, and I think it'll be interesting to see how that changes her outlook.

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

Ooh, that’s tough. None of my characters live very peaceful lives, because peaceful is boring. But of all the werecats (because my werecat world is the only one currently on the shelf), I guess I’d like to be Faythe. On one of those days where she gets to enjoy the high metabolism and hang out with Marc all day. Not one of those kill-or-be-killed days, where she gets blood all over her clothes and under her fingernails.

Conversely, which of your characters would you most like to bring to life in our world (maybe as a best friend or much, much more)?

Jace. I’d love to have Jace hanging around. And judging from some of the mail I’m getting, I’m not the only one. ;-)

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

I’d love to be Jeaniene Frost’s Cat Crawford, and not just because she’s named Cat. ;-) She has the advantages of a vampire, without that pesky daylight allergy.

And I’d love to bring Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan to life, and not just because we share a first name. I’d like to meet her in real life because she’s fiercely loyal to her friends, and who couldn’t use a friend like that?

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

Stephen King. I love King’s writing, and I think he’s brilliant. And even though working with him would no doubt give me a huge inferiority complex, I’d never pass up that chance.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the publishing industry, what would it be?

The waiting. No doubt. Everything takes forever in the publishing industry, and even though I know there are many, many steps between writing the book and seeing it on the shelf, I’d love to speed that process up a bit. You know, if I had that magic wand… ;-)

What's the weirdest tidbit of research you've ever incorporated into a book?

Well, I don’t know how weird this is, but during my research for Stray, I discovered that there’s really no such cat species as a black panther (though cougars are sometimes called panthers). Big cats that appear to be black are actually jaguars or leopards with melanism, an increased amount of black or nearly black pigmentation. It’s the opposite of albinism. If you look closely at a melanistic cat, you can see the rosettes in its fur.

What's your earliest memory?

Watching out the window as my two younger sisters played in the season’s first (and probably only) snow. I was maybe four years old. I couldn’t go out because I had chickenpox. I had the last laugh, though. My mom said I couldn’t scratch. But she never said I couldn’t get my sisters to scratch for me. Soon they had it, and I was all better. ;-)

Do you have any phobias?

Like Faythe I can’t eat chicken skin. Can’t do it. That’s where her aversion comes from.

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

I hate it when people say “added bonus.” If it’s a bonus, it’s been added by definition. No need to say it twice. I also hate “kneel down.” Has anyone ever knelt up?

Name a literary cliche that makes you throw a book across the room.

I hate it when a girl is so overwhelmed by a man’s beauty/magnetism/whatever that she can’t maintain consciousness. What’s up with passing out over one kiss? Excuse me, but no one’s that hot.

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)?

Okay, don’t tell anyone, but I’m totally obsessed with “So You Think You Can Dance.” Because I know I can’t dance. I love it. I rearrange my schedule around it in the summer.

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

I would go see a movie with some friends I hardly ever see. Then we’d go out for ice cream. Marble Slab Creamery. Then, when I got home, I’d read until I fell asleep with the book still in my hand.

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

“If you could start your career all over again, would you do anything differently?” Because experience teaches people a lot, so surely nearly everyone has one thing they’d change. And I’m really nosy. ;-)

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

Mysteries. I’ve always wanted to write mysteries. I love mysteries (both books and movies) and love trying to guess who-done-it.

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

Right now I’m working on the fourth werecat book, which I can’t mention by name until the title has been officially approved. But it’s the most emotionally wrenching book I’ve ever written, and also the most difficult to work on, for that reason. Pride, the third werecat book, will be out in March ’09, to be followed by the fourth, fifth, and sixth in the next couple of years. And like most writers, I have a couple more things up my sleeves… ;-)

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

My werecat series is about Faythe Sanders, a tabbycat facing a big responsibility and an even bigger opportunity. She’s in the unique position to change her world for the better, but like all great changes, this one will come at an immense personal cost. A revolution is on the horizon, and Faythe will be leading the charge--if she lives long enough to see it.

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Give Rachel a comment or a question, or tell us why your own cat would make a good enforcer, down there in the comments before 5 p.m. EDT on Monday, March 31. I'll draw a name and announce the winner next Tuesday morning.

If you don't have a Blogger account, just sign in as anonymous and leave your name at the bottom of your comment so I can call your name.

***I recommend against putting your e-mail in the comments, since that brings on spam. HOWEVER, if you don't leave a way for me to find you, you must stay subscribed to the comments or come back next Tuesday to see if you won. I don't have magical finding powers, and unlike Faythe, I will not cross state borders to hunt you down.***

P.S.: You have through Thursday to comment for a chance to win Justin Gustainis's Black Magic Woman. So stop on by!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

4000

Yesterday the 4,000th U.S. servicemember died in Iraq. See this site for details about any and all of them.

I mention this not because we should care more about #4,000 than #1 or #378 or #1,905, but because according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, only 28% of Americans surveyed knew how many thousands had died (most people thought it was 3,000 or fewer).

So. Now you know.

But don't worry. As Vice President Cheney pointed out today, they're all volunteers, and "the president carries the biggest burden, obviously."

Bigger, say, than the 2,200+ children who have lost a parent to this insanity. Obviously.

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July schedule change: bad news and good news

Due to personal budget cutbacks (this is going to sound odd, but my dog needs acupuncture for her back pain), I unfortunately won't be attending this year's Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference in the lovely but fabulously expensive city of San Francisco the last week in July.

The good news is, I've added an appearance the previous weekend at Conestoga 12, a science fiction/fantasy convention in Tulsa, OK, from July 25-27. It'll be the first time in almost five years I've been to a new-to-me state (since Tennessee and Mississippi in 2003, the story of which can be found in a post about how I got religion on the blues).

The urban fantasy group I belong to, Fangs Fur & Fey, will be hosting a mini-con (or a 'con within a con', if you will) at Conestoga, so I'll get to meet a lot of cool people I've had the privilege to interact with over the last several months.

Here's our sweet logo, designed by author S.J. (aka Sylvia) Day:





To all my RWA friends, I'll definitely see you next year here in DC!

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Interview with Justin Gustainis, author of BLACK MAGIC WOMAN

I feel lucky to have so many wonderful fantasy and science fiction authors visit this blog and give such witty answers to my occasionally dorky questions. Today is no exception, as we welcome Justin Gustainis, author of the acclaimed and ABA bestselling urban fantasy thriller Black Magic Woman, which was released at the end of January.

Dresden Files author Jim Butcher called BMW "the best manuscript I've ever been asked to read." (Am I the only one who wonders if there's a Justin Gustainis Voodoo Doll making its way through the ranks of fellow Butcher blurbees?)

Justin has agreed to give away a signed copy of Black Magic Woman to one of you lucky people.

Speaking of which, the winner of Adrian Phoenix's signed copy of A Rush of Wings is...Brooke! Way to comment, Brooke. Send your mailing address to jeri AT jerismithready DOT com, and I'll pass it on to Adrian.

And now, ze interview:

Q. Your protagonist, Quincey Morris, is a descendant of the character of the same name from Bram Stoker's DRACULA, a man sadly omitted from most movie adaptations (if DRACULA were a rock band, Morris would be the bass player). What intrigued you about this classic character to make you decide to form that connection?

Justin: There were, I think, two factors involved. One is what you've just mentioned -- Quincey is the Rodney Dangerfield of Dracula: he "don't get no respect." Well, that's not true, but he's given pretty short shrift by Stoker -- and this is the guy who gives his life to help kill Dracula! Talk about taking one for the team! I've always been interested in Quincey, but there's not a lot to do with the character, since he dies at the end (although P.N. Elrod portrays him surviving as a vampire, which is an interesting idea; wish I'd thought of it).

The second factor is motivation. I wanted to give a plausible reason why my male protagonist is an occult investigator, something beyond, "well, he's just a good guy who fights evil." The Morris lineage seemed like a good way to explain it -- my hero is simply carrying on a family tradition that began in the shadow of Castle Dracula. He's been brought into the family business, you might say.

Unlike most urban fantasies, BLACK MAGIC WOMAN is told from multiple points of view with interwoven plotlines, much like a thriller or horror novel. Was this your intention from the beginning, or did it come about during the writing process as your story grew in scope?

It was my intent from the beginning. I prefer third person; all I've written in first person are a couple of short stories. I understand the value of first person: the reader sees everything through the protag's eyes, and thus is surprised every time the protag is. But it limits you, too. The only information the reader gets is what the narrator knows. Third person gives you more ways to build suspense, IMHO.

That said, I wasn't making any conscious effort to "swim against the stream" of urban fantasy. Several reviewers have said what a refreshing change it is to have an urban fantasy written in third person, and with a male protagonist.

I wasn't trying to be "refreshing." Although I read a lot of urban fantasy, I never consciously thought about the first-person-female trend. I've explained above about the choice of third person. And I chose a male because I am one, and thought I could identify better with the character (although I like to think I did right by Libby Chastain, and most of the women who have talked about the book seem to believe that I did).

I guess it's only natural to use your own gender as a focus for the story. Most of those writing urban fantasy today are women (and they're an incredibly talented bunch, too), so that probably explains the female progatonists. Whereas Jim Butcher's and Simon R. Green's heroes are male.
Vive la difference!

You said in your interview with Marta Acosta that EVIL WAYS (January 2009) is "in some ways" a sequel to BLACK MAGIC WOMAN. I'm intrigued by the phrase "in some ways"--will it be a departure from the storylines and main characters of BMW (that acronym, by the way, has a lot of class :-)?

Well, I wasn't trying to be clever with "in some ways." A number of plot elements are wrapped up at the end of BMW, but there are a few left hanging. Most of these involve the insane gazillionaire Walter Grobius. He figures prominently in EVIL WAYS, as does his "henchman," a wizard named Pardee. I also introduce some new characters, including Hannah Widmark, known in some circles as "Widowmaker." She's a bounty hunter specializing in supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, etc.), and she does not believe in "Bring 'em back alive." Hannah's got issues.

Quincey and Libby don't really have a lot to do in this book -- just save the world.

What's been your biggest surprise/thrill about your first release?

My biggest surprise involved my publisher, Solaris Books in England. I appear to have gone from the slush pile to a contract offer in the space of three weeks. Believe me, I know just how rare that is -- which is why I was just about floored when the phone call came from England.

I suppose the biggest thrill (so far, anyway) came when I learned that BMW was going to be the January featured SF/F book at Waterstones, the UK's largest bookstore chain. It had its own display in each of their 300-some stores. My editor sent me a photo of the display in one of the stores -- freakin' awesome!

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 Quincey Morris, my male protagonist. Quincey has all kinds of specialized knowledge of the occult, and he uses it to fight against the forces of darkness. My own idea of fighting the forces of darkness usually involves turning a light on, so I'd really like to be Quincey and do the real thing.

Conversely, which of your characters would you most like to bring to life in our world (maybe as a best friend or much, much more ;-) ?

I think it would be cool to have white witch Libby Chastain as a girlfriend. She's smart, kind, got an off-kilter sense of humor, and, oh yeah -- she can work magic. What's not to like? Besides, both the book's cover artist (Chris McGrath) and I agree that Libby has a cute ass.

Never underestimate the value of a cute ass. :)

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

I think I'd like to be Carl Kolchak (the original, not the 2006 version). Kolchak has an insatiable curiosity, and the courage to indulge it, no matter how hairy things get -- and around Kolchak, things often get very hairy. And he doesn't take crap from anybody, including his editor, Tony Vincenzio.

Who would I like to hang out with? Got to be Emma Peel, from The Avengers. I was sooo in love with her when I was a kid (of course, it's hard to separate her from Diana Rigg, the actress who played her -- but then, who would want to?). Emma's smart, and she kicks butt. Plus, I've always been a sucker for that upper-class British accent (at least, in women).

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

That's kind of a tricky question, because if you paired me with one of the writers whom I truly admire, I'd probably be so intimidated that I might not have a lot to contribute to the partnership. But, that said: Raymond Chandler. I wouldn't mind resurrecting Philip Marlowe for some new cases, and I also like Chandler because he didn't start writing fiction until later in life -- like me.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the publishing industry, what would it be?

I'd magically find a solution to the "Catch-22" that all new writers face when trying to break in: the biggest publishers won't look at your stuff unless it comes through an agent, and you can't get an agent unless you already have a track record of successful publications. I don't know what the answer to that conundrum is, but we're talking magic here, right?

What's the weirdest tidbit of research you've ever incorporated into a book?

Well, did you know that some kinds of African muti magic use the organs of human beings -- and that the organs must be "harvested" while the victim is still alive? I made use of that in Black Magic Woman, although I suspect that mahny readers will think I made it up.

Do you have any phobias?

Although I like fish, I don't eat it much, because I'm afraid that a bone will stick in my throat and choke me. Happened to one of Ted Kennedy's sisters -- she died. You could look it up.

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

It's when people confuse "verbal" with "oral." Verbal means "with words," which includes words both spoken and written. "Oral," means by mouth. I hear people say things like "We had a verbal contract." Well, duh! What other kind is there? When the parties point and grunt until the terms are settled?

I once knew a girl so naive that she thought oral sex meant talking about it (cue rimshot..). Believe me, if that's all it is, nobody would have even heard of Monica Lewinski.

Name a literary cliche that makes you throw a book across the room.

It's when a macho character proclaims, "I'm goin' in!" What does he expect the other characters to do -- talk him out of it?

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)?

There's a show on the Cartoon Network that they only show late at night. It's called "Moral Oral," and it's a satire of those old "Davy and Goliath" kiddie programs that the Lutherans (or somebody) used to show on Sunday mornings. It's done in the same crude, stop-motion-animation style as the original, but the content is utterly subversive. In one, Oral journeys to the big city to recruit a bunch of prostitutes to come to his town -- so that the Reverend will have some sinners to save (everybody in Oral's town is perfect, you see). Well, the hookers show up, and they are very popular -- but not in the way Oral had in mind (although I believe "Oh, God" is often uttered in their presence). Talk about oral communication.

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

I'd spend the morning sleeping in, the afternoon in a good bookstore, and the evening in the arms of a beautiful woman who loves me.

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

I'd ask, "With all your success, are there still times when you find yourself looking at something you've written and think, "This is shit. Nobody's going to want to read this"?

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

I'd try crime fiction. I'd like to write hardboiled, noirish stories about a professional criminal who always gets away with it --sort of like Westlake/Stark's "Parker" novels.

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

I'm writing Evil Ways, the sequel to Back Magic Woman. My publisher also has an option on two other Quincey Morris/Libby Chastain novels. In addition, I'm putting together an anthology of "occult detective" stories, and I'm pleased to say that a number of "name" authors have argeed to contribute: Kim Newman, Lilith Saintcrow, Rachel Caine, Simon R. Green, and others.

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

The book is kind of like an urban fantasy version of Prego's spaghetti sauce. Witchcraft? It's in there. Vampires? Got 'em. Werewolves? Check (well, one, anyway). Zombies? Why don't you by the book and see for yourself?


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Give Justin a comment or a question, or tell us which distant descendant of a classic character you'd like to see solving mysteries in a gritty city, down there in the comments before 5 p.m. EDT on Thursday, March 27. I'll draw a name and announce the winner next Friday morning.

If you don't have a Blogger account, just sign in as anonymous and leave your name at the bottom of your comment so I can call your name.

***I recommend against putting your e-mail in the comments, since that brings on spam. HOWEVER, if you don't leave a way for me to find you, you must stay subscribed to the comments or come back next Friday to see if you won. I don't have magical finding powers.***

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

WVMP logo and signed copies

At long last, I'm thrilled to reveal the logo for WVMP, the radio station from Wicked Game. (Click for larger version that will kick you in the head with its coolness.)



Kudos to the folks at Henderson Creative for the design. Several forms of it (mainly different colors and angles of the guitar) will grace T-shirts, mugs, and other forms of swag. It and additional merchandise mentioned in the book--including buttons with slogans like “Feed the Need” and “Bite Me, I’m O-Positive"--will be available on the WVMPradio.com site when it goes live in May.


NEW APPEARANCE

I'm thrilled to announce that on May 10, I'll be a spotlight author at Mysterious Galaxy's 15th Birthday Bash! MG is one of the nation's premier science fiction/fantasy bookstores. Other authors at the Bash will include Charlaine Harris, Susan Hubbard, Jeff Mariotte, Savannah Russe, Samantha Sommersby, and Robert Tenenbaum.

Why should you care, if you're not a San Diegoan? Because if you pre-order your copy of Wicked Game from them, you can ask them to have me sign and personalize it for you while I'm there. Just put "Please have Jeri autograph (and personalize to NAME, if you want it personalized, otherwise I'll just sign my name)" in the comment box when you order online, or say it out loud when you call them at 858-268-4747 to order.

For the online orders, let's say you should do it by May 8 to be safe. Also, put your name instead of the word NAME. Unless that's really your name, in which case, I'm sorry, in both senses of the word.

UPDATE 3/19: In all my excitement over the news, I forgot to announce the winner of the latest book drawing:

Congrats to Tom Gallier, who just won a copy of NIGHT LIFE! Tom, please send your mailing address to me at jeri AT jerismithready DOT com, and I'll pass it on to Caitlin.

Thanks to Caitlin for being a great guest and interviewee, and thanks to everyone who commented.


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Now playing: Short Skirt/Long Jacket - CAKE
via FoxyTunes

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Interview with Adrian Phoenix, author of A RUSH OF WINGS

As you all know, I love love loved the debut novel of today's guest author, Adrian Phoenix. A Rush of Wings was a lush, absorbing read that yanked me into its chilling world of vampires and rock 'n' roll. Entertainment Weekly said, "Hard-charging action sequences, steamy sex scenes, and a surprising government conspiracy make this debut, the first in a series, engrossingly fun."

So I was thrilled when Adrian agreed to be part of my interview series. Even better, she's giving away a signed copy of A Rush of Wings to (say it with me now...) one lucky commenter.

Speaking of prizes, the winner of Chris Marie Green's prize, a signed copy of Twice Bitten, is...flip! Congrats! If you're watching, please send your mailing address to jeri AT jerismithready DOT com, and I'll pass it on to Chris.

Q. What’s been your biggest surprise/thrill about your first release?

Adrian: Can I say everything? I’d have to say the biggest thrill so far has been the great review A RUSH OF WINGS received in Entertainment Weekly. I’ve been a regular reader of the magazine for a gazillion years and it was pretty damned surreal to see a review of my book in their pages. Thrilling, yes, but surreal!

Dante’s world of New Orleans is so beautifully ‘painted’ by your words. Have you spent a lot of time in that city? Why do you think it’s such a natural place for vampires to hang out in literature?

I haven’t spent as much time as I’d like, honestly. As I was preparing to write RUSH, I went to New Orleans and walked the Quarter over and over and over. I’d sit and watch everything around me – this was during Jazz Fest, so the streets were full of people – note the way things smelled, looked. I went into almost every shop and museum and imagined Dante walking through the same places, imagined what he’d see, feel, think, and picked the perfect (to me) street for Club Hell.

But my favorite time was night. Then, with the flickering old-fashioned street lamps, the old , flower-draped buildings and the clop of horse hooves on the cobblestone streets (tourist rides in a horse-drawn buggy), I felt like I’d stepped back in time. And I felt like I belonged there.

As to why it seems like such a natural place for vampires – for me, it was the atmosphere and the city’s pulse, or maybe it was more the Quarter’s pulse, a deep and dark rhythm pounding beneath your feet. Mystery and the possibility of danger saturated the night air. Each narrow alley, each inner garden, each shuttered window whispered a seductive, “Look, ma jolie, if you dare.” LOL. What’s not for a vampire to love? The city is night-blooded.

The storylines in RUSH are complex, with many point-of-view characters, yet the plot is deftly woven so that it all comes together in an easy-to-follow way. I’m in awe. What’s your secret? Index cards? Hyperlinked multi-colored outlines? Forty drafts?

Thanks so much! Actually, I hate to admit it, but I don’t have a secret. I did three drafts of the story, mainly to cut it for length. It was 150K words originally. But for the plot lines, somehow they all kept clear in my mind. I’d finish a chapter and think, “Okay, it’s now this day and time. What is everyone else doing?” And go to the next POV and storyline. I knew how they needed to weave with the others. It’s been going the same way with the second book. But I think, before I start the third, I’m going to create a bible so I can keep everyone straight. It’s finally reached that point.

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?

Wow. A very interesting question! A tough one too. I choose Dante, because the creative side of me would love to delve into the world of music and rock shows.

Conversely, which of your characters would you most like to bring to life in our world (maybe as a best friend or much, much more)?

Another tough question! Heather and Von would both make great friends, and Lucien and Dante would be very cool as otherworldly friends and Dante could be a friend with privileges. ;) Ack! Can’t choose.

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

Geek-girl jumps right in with Legolas from LOTR – but the movie version instead of Tolkien’s book. The books lacked characterization, but the films offered much more with expressions, a hand to the shoulder, a glance away, a tensed jaw. Yeah, Legolas, for both. A second choice would be Eric Draven from The Crow.

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

Oooo! Another tough one! Bring ‘em on, baby! ;) Stephen King would be my first choice. I also loved Caleb Carr’s work in THE ALIENIST and its sequel.. It’d be cool to work with him too. But he’d be third pick. Oscar Wilde would be my second choice. LOVE him!

What’s your earliest memory?

Oddly, it’s a sensation of falling and darkness.

Do you have any phobias?

Oh yeah! I can’t have the light on when in the bathroom. A night-light, yes. But not a light. It freaks me out. (I have no explanation for this.) Maybe I’m afraid of seeing what might need to be cleaned.

Name a literary cliché that makes you throw a book across the room.

The old misunderstanding bit: X walks in on Y sitting all cozy with Z, assumes the worst and stomps off. Refuses to listen to Y explain that they’d been bargaining for X’s life with Z. X and Y split up. Years later the truth comes out, etc.

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

Go to a movie or three, eat lots of popcorn, then go home, lounge on the sofa and read, yummies at my side.

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

Historical. Definitely.

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

Right now, I’m finishing up IN THE BLOOD, which takes place three weeks after the events in RUSH. I’ve got some short stories coming out in anthologies and I’ll be doing a dark fantasy novel on John Keats in the near future.

If you could tell a perfect stranger just one thing about A RUSH OF WINGS, (other than what it’s about – no cheating by quoting synopses or back cover blurbs) what would it be?

It’s about facing the past, no matter how dark and bleak and ugly, and holding onto your heart, to who you are deep inside.

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Give Adrian a comment or a question, or tell us about a cool new (or new-to-you) band you've discovered recently, down there in the comments before 5 p.m. EST on Monday, March 17. I'll draw a name and announce the winner next Tuesday morning.

If you don't have a Blogger account, just sign in as anonymous and leave your name at the bottom of your comment so I can identify you. Then come back next Friday or stay subscribed to the comments to hear the results.

***I recommend against putting your e-mail in the comments, since that's a spam magnet.***

(And don't forget, you have until Monday to enter the drawing for Caitlin Kittredge's Night Life.)

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Interview with Caitlin Kittredge, author of NIGHT LIFE

It's debut author time again! Today we have Caitlin Kittredge, whose first novel, urban fantasy Night Life, just came out last Tuesday. Fresh Fiction called Night Life "fast-paced, witty, and sexy," and if the excerpt on Caitlin's website is any indication, it looks like the kind of book that glues itself to your hands until you hit the last page.

Caitlin has graciously agreed to give a signed copy of this exciting paranormal thriller to (you know the next words by now...) one lucky commenter.


Q. What's been your biggest surprise/thrill about your first release?

Caitlin: That people I don't know actually show up to my author events! I was fully prepared to be one of those sad horror stories of authors sitting alone at tables while people flock past them to buy magazines and celeb tell-alls, but so far the enthusiasm level for NIGHT LIFE has been fantastic.

NIGHT LIFE has been described as a paranormal police procedural thriller. Are you a big fan of the cop show genre? Do you have a favorite?

I am, and I do. Criminal Minds is my current favorite crime show. I also really like Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

The main character in NIGHT LIFE, Luna Wilder, is a detective with the Nocturne City Police Department. She's also, well, a werewolf. Does she have trouble balancing these two sides of her life?

In the book, Luna's pretty much constantly at war with her two sides--she has trouble controlling her emotions because of the werewolf instincts, and she has trouble hiding who she is, because she works with a bunch of detectives. It makes for some awkward moments.

According to your bio, you live with two pushy cats. Do they work together as a team to bug the crap out of you, or are they individual annoyance artists?

They have a sort of dual system going: One, Victor, will cuddle very close to me and bite my wrist as I work on the laptop. The other, Faust, will run into my office, meow, and run out again. One point man and one for close-in work. They're very effective.

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 probably chose Pete Caldecott, from my short story 'Newlydeads' (part of the anthology My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon), and my novel Street Magic, which my agent is shopping. Pete's very down-to-earth and able to think on her feet, and I'd need that in her world!

Conversely, which of your characters would you most like to bring to life in our world (maybe as a best friend or much, much more ;-) ?

That'd have to be Jack Winter, from the same short story and novel. Jack is an aging punk rocker/mage who can see ghosts, has a barbed-wire wit and is quite the hottie, in his own way. I'd just want to follow him around and watch him get into trouble.

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

Sarah Connor. I wanted to be her when I was about 12 years old and first saw the Terminator movies. She kicked so much ass, and she wasn't perfect, but she came out on top because she was strong and driven.

If you read my blog, you know I'd love to have Dean Winchester, the hero of Supernatural, land in my neck of the woods. We'd have a great time--we have the same taste in music.

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

Neil Gaiman or H.P. Lovecraft.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the publishing industry, what would it be?

The speed of things! I'd make everything happen in a week, like it does on TV, instead of months or years.

What's the weirdest tidbit of research you've ever incorporated into a book?

The history and construction of the Glasgow Necropolis, which is a Masonic cemetery that used to be bound by water. You can't make up a locale that's better than that.

What's your earliest memory?

Watching my grandmother cook breakfast for my mom the day after I was born. I know they say you don't remember anything that early, but I distinctly remember her standing at the stove in a pink sweater making eggs.

Do you have any phobias?

I used to be terrified of mall Santas. Clowns still don't thrill me. Maybe it's something about people in funny makeup...although that would mean I should also fear KISS, and really...not happening.

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

The accept/except mix-up. I don't know why, but when I see it I get majorly peeved!

Name a literary cliche that makes you throw a book across the room.

The one where the hero dies and the heroine finds out she's pregnant with his baby. That one is a wallbanger for me.

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)?

Life on Mars, which is a TV show that aired in the UK. (Actually, I showed it to one of my American friends, so now it's me +1 on this side of the Atlantic.) It's a great show--it's about a police inspector who gets thrown back in time to 1973 Manchester and has to figure out how to get home, while solving crimes and living in a very different world. Also, I'm sort of in love with Philip Glenister, who plays DCI Gene Hunt. He's very adorable.

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

Eat some cheese fries, go to the movies (where they would naturally be showing a double feature of Batman Begins and Better Off Dead), go to the bookstore and the comic store and spend as long as I liked, then go home and cook a fabulous meal for my friends and I, probably also involving cheese fries.

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

"What would you be doing with your life if you weren't a writer?"

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

Mystery/suspense. I'd love to do a really good thriller with a female protagonist and a great bad guy who really gave people the creeps.

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

I just finished a draft of a young adult novel, which I've sent to my lovely agent for a look. It's about the Winter Court of the Fae, a coup that occurs and a young Fae's escape to 1881 England, at the height of the Victorian era. My other adult series is being shopped, as I mentioned above, and it's about what I call "punk-rock demonology", hungry ghosts, and a host of other good and scary things. Pure Blood, the second book in the Nocturne City series, releases August 26th.

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

That I've tried my best to write a real story with relatable characters set in a fantastical world, and that they should read it, because I think it kicks ass!

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Give Caitlin a comment or a question, or tell us which cop show character you suspect could be a werewolf (or the one you'd most like to see, uh, 'wered'), down there in the comments before 5 p.m. EST on Monday, March 17. I'll draw a name and announce the winner next Tuesday morning.

If you don't have a Blogger account, just sign in as anonymous and leave your name at the bottom of your comment so I can identify you. Then come back on Tuesday or stay subscribed to the comments to hear the results.

***Do not put your e-mail in the comments. That creates spam, and only Hormel is allowed to do that.***

(And don't forget, you still have three days left to enter the drawing for Chris Marie Green's vampire novel Twice Bitten.)

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Friday, March 07, 2008

Interview with Chris Marie Green, author of the Vampire Babylon series

Congrats to Silverstein, who just won a signed copy of Anton Strout's Dead to Me. Just send your mailing address to me at jeri AT jerismithready DOT com. Everyone else, console yourself by buying Anton's book. If you do it now, I bet you'll have it before Silverstein gets it in the mail, which should be some small revenge.

Now stand and clap your hands for Chris Marie Green, author of the Vampire Babylon series, which began in 2007 with Night Rising and continued last month with Midnight Reign.

Chris, who also writes for several romance lines as Crystal Green, will be giving away a signed copy of her first vampire book, Twice Bitten, to (as always) one lucky commenter.

I will now let this very cool book trailer tell you about her latest:



Q. NIGHT RISING, MIDNIGHT REIGN, and BREAK OF DAWN (September 2008) form one trilogy in the Vampire Babylon series. You're currently working on the first book in the second trilogy. How is the second trilogy different from the first? A new set of characters? Will Book Six be the ultimate culmination, or could we see Books 7-9 as well? Or can't you tell us without spoilers? ;-)

Chris: Heh, heh, heh. Actually, I can’t tell you too much, but I can say that London comes into play. (I got the chance to take a research trip there this November, and I have pictures on my blog.) And there is a new character who becomes vital to the hunting team. Also, there’s a character we’ve already met—one who we’re introduced to in BREAK OF DAWN—who becomes very important….

The Vampire Babylon series is described as 'noir fantasy-mystery,' which sounds like my cuppa joe. Are you a big fan of the film noir genre? Do you have a favorite?

You know, I can’t say that I’ve avidly sought out noir movies, but I do love them when I find myself watching one. The tone is always so stirring, and I love characters whose “moral compasses” aren’t always set quite right. Movies like Chinatown and Blood Simple have brilliant takes on “noir,” and there’s so much to explore within the genre.

Speaking of films, the series takes place in an underground Hollywood subculture, in which stars become vampires in order to stay young and pretty forever. Which current celebrity would you most like to see 'vamped'?

I’m not sure about current stars, but I sure do wish Harrison Ford in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK could grace us again and again!

From your website, it looks like you've done a lot of traveling. Have any of your experiences inspired a brand-new story or novel you weren't expecting?

Most of the time I have a purpose for my trips. For instance, I did research for an atmospheric thriller called BAITED while I was in Japan, and that led me to Mikimoto’s Pearl Island because my heroine was a pearl diver for an entertainment water park. But I was inspired to write a Blaze called BORN TO BE BAD during a trip to New Orleans years and years ago. I had to write about that city, and I built a story around it. But, basically, my travels center around story ideas that are already in motion.

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?

A lot of my characters are in deep trouble during their respective stories, so although I admire the courage of characters like Dawn Madison and Camille Howard, I think I’d want to be Kimberly Wight from a vampire Blaze I wrote called THE ULTIMATE BITE. She got into trouble, but it wasn’t too much, and she won the love of a hot vampire. I also very much connect to the “geek vibe” she had going: like Kim, I like to read comics and I’m a pop culture freak. Adding a vampire to the equation would make life extra interesting. :-)

Conversely, which of your characters would you most like to bring to life in our world (maybe as a best friend or much, much more ;-) ?

LOL—it seems most of my heroes have bigger issues than I’m equipped to deal with, so I’d choose Breisi Montoya from NIGHT RISING as a good friend. She’s totally got her stuff together, and she’d be a rock in anyone’s life. She’s also a kick-ass, vamp-slaying genius girl, and I would anticipate some very enthralling conversations during happy hour.

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

I sooooo want to be Indiana Jones. He doesn’t have any heavy personal things to drag around, and he’s just…Indiana Jones. I’d love to learn to use a whip like that, too.

As far as bringing a fictional character to life? I’d kind of like to do that to Dr. Sloan on GREY’S ANATOMY, just to give him a hard time. I’d tame that man (without totally taming him, of course).

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

Larry McMurtry. It’d be awesome to take a master class from him in creating characters who reveal so much without saying a lot—but when they do have something to say, every word counts. And I love how his characters are so quirky yet very real.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the publishing industry, what would it be?

Paying all authors 50% in royalties! LOL.

What's the weirdest tidbit of research you've ever incorporated into a book?

This is gross, but I think the honors would go to “How to Kill a Wild Boar” in BAITED (10/06). There are just things you never anticipate researching, and this was one of them.

What's your earliest memory?

I remember putting on this ALICE IN WONDERLAND record—it was red vinyl—on a turntable. Then I would go to the center of the room and spin around and around while I listened to music. I was a weird child.

Do you have any phobias?

I’d say the most noteworthy phobia I have is making sure the covers are around my neck when I go to sleep at night. I got that from watching IN SEARCH OF… when I was little. There was a clip of NOSFERATU because they were highlighting vampires, and that gave me a freaky fear of being ambushed by Max Schreck.

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

When “travesty” is used instead of “tragedy.” Nggggghhh.

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

So embarrassing, but I love the movie STARSHIP TROOPERS. I know. It just has this hold on me every time it plays on TBS. Many, many people mock that movie, but I think the whole propaganda angle is awesome. And I kind of like the bugs that toot at the spaceships in order to defend their planet. Where else are you going to see that?

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

Wow, I don’t even know. I think I would read all day, taking breaks only to watch new episodes of LOST (which would exist because I willed them to). While I watched TV, I would eat Chinese food, then a stuffed crust pizza, then chocolate mousse.

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

I’d love to write a superhero comic! I guess that’s more a different medium than genre though. Still, give me SUPERGIRL or BATGIRL and I’d be ecstatic.

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

I’m finishing up that fourth Vampire Babylon book and then polishing a vampire story for Blaze, which will be released in October. There’ll be lots more Vampire Babylon from me—I’m contracted for six books—and I’m hoping to write an atmospheric thriller in the near future. It’s a cross between Agatha Christie and THE SHINING.

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

That it’s, at the core, about a girl who isn’t fighting to “save the world” as much as she’s fighting to save her own world. Also, it’s about feeling like a nobody in a society that asks everyone to be a somebody. And it’s about kicking vamp ass.

UPDATE: The winner of Chris Marie Green's prize, a signed copy of Twice Bitten, is...flip! Congrats! If you're watching, please send your mailing address to jeri AT jerismithready DOT com, and I'll pass it on to Chris.

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Give Chris a comment or a question, or tell us which celebrity you'd most like to see 'vamped' and preserved forever as they are, down there in the comments before 5 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 12. I'll draw a name and announce the winner next Friday morning.

If you don't have a Blogger account, don't panic! Just sign in as anonymous and leave your name at the bottom of your comment so I can identify you.

***No need to put your e-mail in the comment--I will find you.***

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

More vampy goodness and a new band

National Adopt a Vampire month continues over at Jaye Wells' blog. Yesterday Jennifer Rardin, author of the brilliant Jaz Parks vampire assassin series, let Jaz speak about what it's like working with vampires.

Today Jaye asks us why we love vampires. So pop on over and join the discussion.

Completely unrelated, I just discovered a dreamy new band called The Raveonettes. Check out their music, especially "Aly, Walk with Me" and "Dead Sound."

Entertainment Weekly made The Raveonettes' new release Lust Lust Lust an EW Pick and called them, "the supergroup that, in an alternate universe, the Ronettes, My Bloody Valentine, and the Velvet Underground formed on a lost weekend."

I'm in heart.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Catchin' up

We interrupt the parade of guest bloggers--okay, technically I interrupt the parade--to do a little TCB (that's takin' care of business for you non-Elvis fans), and then show you some dog shots.

INTERVIEWS/BOOK GIVEAWAYS

Congrats to Karen Mahoney, who won a signed copy of Ann Aguirre's Grimspace! Now the rest of you, go buy yourself a copy before the government takes it away. Oh wait, that's egg nog, not Grimspace. Sigh...it's not egg nog itself I miss, it's that pumpkin-flavored soy milk from Silk. Man, it was good on oatmeal.

If you haven't yet, don't forget to comment on my interview with debut author Anton Strout, to win a signed copy of his new urban fantasy Dead to Me.

Coming up we have interviews with:

March 7: Chris Marie Green, author of the Vampire Babylon series
March 11: Caitlin Kittredge, Night Life
March 14: Adrian Phoenix, A Rush of Wings (which as you all know, I loved)
March 18: More TCB from Yours Tru-lee!
March 21: Justin Gustainis, Black Magic Woman
March 25: Rachel Vincent, Rogue

Each of them will be giving away a signed book to one lucky commenter, so be sure to stop by!

CONTESTS

Here's the prize schedule for my Lucky Thirteen Giveaway:

February 12: Wicked Game cover flat -- Winner: Bonnie W.
February 19: Wicked Game Advance Readers Copy --Winner: Reg
February 26: Wicked Game cover flat -- Winner: Betsy L.
March 4: Amazon.com gift card ($10) -- Winner: Tracy P.
March 11: Wicked Game cover flat
March 18: iTunes gift card ($15)
March 25: Wicked Game cover flat
April 1: Booksense gift card ($20)
April 8: WVMP Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll T-shirt
April 15: Barnes & Noble gift card ($25)
April 22: WVMP Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll coffee mug
April 29: signed copy of Wicked Game
May 6: signed copy of Wicked Game

To enter, all you have to do is subscribe to my newsletter--put your e-mail address in the box on the sidebar (the one that says "Sign up for Jeri's newsletter"). If you're already signed up, the nice people at the mailing list place will tell you.

Newsletter subscribers will get first look at the brand-new ultra-cool WVMP Lifeblood and Rock 'n' Roll logo, and when the free tie-in short stories come out, they'll get to read them a week before anyone else.

APPEARANCES

This Saturday, March 8, from 3-5PM I'll be at A Likely Story here in Sykesville, Maryland. I'm psyched to be appearing with fellow authors Tracy Anne Warren (who won the Rita award for Best First Novel last year), Janet Mullany, and Christi Kelly. Rumor has it there'll be punch and pie.

Visit my News and Appearances page to find out where I'll be for the next three months. Lots of exciting gigs, which I'll tell you more about in my next update.

FUN

March is Adopt a Vampire Novel Month on author Jaye Wells's blog. Stop by all month to find out why the rumors of the vampire's death are greatly exaggerated (and win prizes, too!).

Jim Hines honored Wicked Game with a LOLbooks cover. Hee.

And now, as promised, here are some furries with my book:





The top shot is Brooke C.'s Chihuahua Riley, and the bottom is Riley's son Elliott, who's half-Pomeranian.

Are your pets bookish? Send me their pics, and I'll make 'em famous-ish!

----------------
Now playing: Squeeze - Piccadilly
via FoxyTunes

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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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