Saturday, May 31, 2008
Come learn about:
— "Real" vampires (real people who drink the real blood of other real people--really!)
— The oldest con artist trick in the book (page 122)
— How good a guitar player you have to be to acousticize (yes, it's a word, as of....now) Nirvana's "Drain You."
Oh, and one lucky commenter wins...a signed copy of Wicked Game!
NOTE: to enter, you must comment over there at the actual post, though you're welcome to comment here as well.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Today's stop on the Blog Whore Tour is an interview with Love Romances, who gave Wicked Game a sweet review a couple weeks ago. Come find out why I can't write like Margaret Atwood and whether Ben or Matt would make a better Messiah.
Thanks very much to Dawn for having me over to the site!
No. I mean, damn her for getting me to talk.
About my new book.
In stores now.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I'll be signing Wicked Game (all my books, actually) at the Barnes & Noble at the Concord Mall in Wilmington, Delaware*, from noon to 2pm. Then I'll shoot up I-95 to the Borders Express in the Springfield Mall in Springfield, Pennsylvania, where I'll be from 3-5pm.
So if you're not headed 'down da shore' this weekend, stop by and show me some Brotherly Love*. Bring your friends! And soft pretzels!
*please note that the official city slogan is now "The City That Loves You Back"
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I'll let him tell you the rest:
Kelly McCullough's first novel in the WebMage series, WebMage, was released by Ace in 2006 to considerable critical praise. A second, Cybermancy, followed in 2007. His newest release, CodeSpell, will be out May 27th. And a fourth book, MythOS, is slated for late May '09. His short fiction has appeared in numerous venues including Weird Tales, Writers of the Future, and Tales of the Unanticipated. His illustrated collection, The Chronicles of the Wandering Star, is part of a National Science Foundation-funded middle school science curriculum, Interactions in Physical Science.
For more information and samples of some his short stories you can check out his website. Kelly blogs regularly on writing topics at Wyrdsmiths, along with several other members of his writing group including well known authors Eleanor Arnason, Tate Hallaway/Lyda Moorhouse, and Naomi Kritzer. He also occasionally posts at SF Novelists – usually on the 11th of any given month.
1) Why this book? What made you want to write this story?
That's a surprisingly difficult question to answer. This is the third book of a series and certainly part of my motivation for writing it is that this is a fun world to play in and I like these characters enough to want to spend more time with them. Part of it is that I had what I thought was a fast fun plot that continued the story in a way that would be entertaining to write and to read. But probably the most important part of the equation for this book is that actions have consequences. The things that Ravirn did in books one and two have ongoing repercussions and I wanted to see how they played out and how Ravirn would have to grow to respond to them.
2) Which authors inspire you? Has that changed over time?
Different writers teach me different things at different times. Zelazney and Tim Powers are probably at the top of the list of writers who've affected my work most visibly, though Powers is less present in the WebMage stuff than he is in some of my other, darker work. Norton and McCaffrey and Tolkien are in my bones. Martha Wells is wonderful and so are Robin McKinley and Lois McMaster Bujold.
3) Why genre? Is there something special about science fiction or fantasy that draws you to write in the field?
I was pretty much raised to be a fantasy and science fiction writer, though that certainly wasn't the intent of the process. I'm a third generation fan of the genre and some of my earliest memories are of having the Lord of the Rings, Asimov's Foundation trilogy, and A Midsummer Night's Dream read to me. I learned very early to love story and genre and once I found out that I could maybe make a living by telling the sorts of stories that were told to me I was pretty much lost.
4) What do you find most interesting about Ravirn? Why write about this protagonist?
What I love about Ravirn is his combination of idealism and cynicism. He expects the worst of a situation but won't let that stop him from working toward a solution, even when he knows the attempt is probably doomed. That and his sense of humor. I come from a family where humor, particularly black humor and sarcasm, are fundamental coping mechanisms. Sometimes life hands you a situation where you have to laugh or cry, and given any choice in the matter I'll always pick laughter. It may not solve the problem, but it sure lightens the load.
5) You're a writer. What else are you? What are your interests? Hobbies?
Husband and cat-wrangler are probably at the top of the list for other self-identifiers. My wife and I are coming up on twenty fantastic years together and over that time two cats became three cats, became four cats, became five. I love to read and play video-games. I've got a Gaiman, a Pierce and a Blaylock on the active books pile and I just finished playing Portal and Drake's Fortune. I also like hiking and biking, and since it's spring, I'm at the front end of the annual garden madness.
6) Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you need to know in order to write it that you didn't know before? Do you have some special preparation you do for your writing?
I didn't have to do a lot of new research for this book. After finishing two novels set in the Greek gods plus computers reality of the WebMage I have a pretty good grounding in this world, and I really only needed to touch up my memory of a couple of the myths involved in this specific story. On a more general note, I read non-fiction voraciously. I just finished a great book on plants in traditional Hawaiian culture as part of a Hawaiian history and mythology kick. I read several science and technology magazines on an ongoing basis and I'm looking around for some good references on the Canadian Maritime provinces in general and on Halifax in particular.
7) I see a lot of computer and programming stuff in the WebMage series. Is that something that really interests you? Or is it more driven by the needs of the story?
Mostly it's the needs of the story. I love my laptop and the web and I tend to be a technology early adopter if I can afford it, but I'm not really much for programming or hacking. While I have been immersed in computer culture from a very early age since my mother became a bug-checker when I was about ten and has been working as an analyst and programmer ever since and because I've got a lot of close friends in IT, it's not something I'm much involved in outside of writing the books.
8) Ravirn displays a lot of physicality, constantly getting himself into life-threatening situations and back out of them in ways that involve all sorts of death defying action. I'm guessing that's not something you the writer have an enormous amount of experience with. How do you make that convincing? Do Ravirn's solutions reflect the sort of things you might do in a similar situation?
I'm much more of a thinker than Ravirn, especially as I've gotten older, but I've got to admit to a certain amount of speaking from experience when I have him do something big and physical and stupid like climbing a building and then jumping off. It's not the sort of thing I'd do now, but when I was in my late teens and early twenties I was something of an adrenaline junkie. I was into martial arts and mountain climbing and all sorts of things that are moderately safe when done responsibly and less so when done the way I did some of them. From fifteen to twenty-two I averaged two trips to the emergency room a year, and as I've gotten older that's led to things like a couple of knee surgeries and other corrective measures.
9) What are you writing now?
A couple of things. I just sent off book proposals for a fifth WebMage and for two books that I would like to write as a successor series to the WebMage/Ravirn books. I've also got a YA I want to work on–the second in a series that my agent is shopping around now–because I'm in love with the story and the world. That's the main front burner stuff. But I've got five complete novels and nine proposals out with various editors and any of those could get moved up the list if they sell. I'm pretty busy at the moment, and I love it that way. There's really nothing I'd rather be doing with my life than what I'm doing right now.
10) How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you be surprise?
Short answer: I quit theater. Longer version. I set out at the age of eleven to be an actor and was well on my way when I met the woman I would eventually marry. At that point, I realized how incompatible theater was with having a long term relationship and I went looking for something else to do. On something very like a whim I wrote my first novel and fell head over heals in love with writing. Now I can't imagine myself doing anything else.
11) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?
I write between two and eight hours a day five days a week. On a typical day I get up around eight in the morning, stagger downstairs and collect a unit of caffeine–could be soda, could be tea, it doesn't really matter since it's a delivery system. Then I hop on the treadmill and websurf and read email and the like for an hour or so. At that point I'm mostly awake and I do things like respond to the email or other writing and life maintenance tasks. That can take anything between twenty minutes and two hours. Then I write. Less than a thousand words is a bad day. More than two thousand is a good one. Oh, and, I use a laptop so that I can work where the whim takes me.
12) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write? A favorite? How does the environment you write in affect your production? Your process?
In summer I write in a second floor screen porch. It has a gorgeous view over the park that abuts our backyard, and that sort of near outdoor setting is my preferred setting for writing–I'm hoping to have a more permanent solar built to replace the porch soon. Until then, my winter office is our upstairs sitting room which gets southern light and is a pretty comfortable substitute for my screen porch.
13) Is there anything you especially like to work on in a book? Anything you hate?
I love world-building and plot-twisting. Figuring out how a system of magic might work and then figuring out ways to game that system fascinates me. And yes, I was a rules lawyer back in my role-playing days, why do you ask? Likewise building a plot and then coming up with ways to add twists or bits of misdirection is a joy for me. I don't really have any hates. There are things that I used to find more difficult, character chief among them, but I'm getting a steadily better handle on the whole process and I just love writing. I even love rewriting, both the sentence level stuff and the bigger more complex story edits.
14) This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there.
Well, primarily it's the WebMage stuff. WebMage, Cybermancy, and now CodeSpell with MythOS finished and forthcoming and a proposal in for SpellCrash after that. On the novels front, as I mentioned above, I've got five more books and nine proposals out, so that could change at any moment. I've also had a number of short stories published, including an illustrated collection as part of a big middle school physical science curriculum that's been adopted by several states. But that doesn't make an enormous amount of sense outside the classroom setting it was written for.
15) Do you see fiction as having a purpose? Generally? How about your own work?
Transcendence. I think that human beings need story. We need myths and legends and tales that lift us out of ourselves and that fiction supplies that need. That's another reason I do most of my work in fantasy-if I'm going to be a mythmaker for a living I might as well write the truly mythic.
CodeSpell has been getting great reviews.
Publishers Weekly called CodeSpell the "taut third book in the Ravirn series" and said, "A hint of cyberpunk, a dollop of Greek mythology and a sprinkle of techno-magic bake up into an airy genre mashup. Lots of fast-paced action and romantic angst up the ante as Ravirn faces down his formidable foes."
From Romantic Times four star review: "This third book featuring hacker extraordinaire Ravirn is every bit of a fast-paced, energetic, page-turner as its predecessors. Ravirn continues to be a fascinating protagonist, and the chaotic twists of the plot carry the reader through to the end.
Barnes & Noble:
Dreamhaven (signed copies)
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
— A brand-new Music of Wicked Game page here at jerismithready.com--now with more playlist-y goodness! Not only the 'soundtrack,' but also the popular songs that make up the chapter titles. And a link to the DJs playlists, and some Pandora stations, too. Go listen now!
— Guest blogging about the Wicked Game soundtrack at the Parkersburg (WV) News-Sentinel, which reviewed the book earlier this month.
— Interviews with me at the blogs of authors Val Griswold-Ford and Maria V. Snyder. Giveaway of Wicked Game at the latter (contest entry for MySpace folks only--sorry!--but anyone can read it).
— Coming up: an interview with Kelly McCullogh, whose third book in a science fiction thriller series, Codespell, is being released today.
There. No complete sentences. Harder than it looks.
Now playing: Politik - Coldplay
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Got a new idea today, for a (God help me) vampire series. The titles will have Bad in them and be song titles, like "Bad Company," "Bad to the Bone," and "Bad Medicine," etc. The heroine works in a radio station where the nighttime DJs are all vampires, each of them stuck in the era they were vamped in. They can't learn anything new as vampires.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Anyway, here's my schedule:
Saturday, midnight (that's technically Sunday at midnight, as in the end of the day on Saturday): VAMPIRES: We've Come a Long, Long Way. Let writers tell us what's new and what works with this still-popular character in drama. Other panelists include Tony Ruggiero and Claudia Gray.
Sunday, 4pm: Autographing
Sunday, 6pm: Reading from Wicked Game
Sunday, 9pm: Hal Clement Panel - How Does a Writer Create a Physical Universe? Get it done without breaking the laws of Einstein and Newton. How to get geology, biology and weather right enough for a reader to believe them. Other panelists include Catherine Asaro, Yoji Kondo, and Charles Gannon.
Sunday, 10pm-1am: Rock 'n' Roll in Science Fiction Panel with Catherine Asaro and local band Point Valid. Asaro and the band will discuss the making of the CD for her upcoming (May 2009) novel, Diamond Star. They'll also perform a few songs. Following the panel will be food and CAKE!! and a launch party for Wicked Game.
EDITED TO ADD: If you go to Balticon, please double-check the times and places of events, as last-minute changes do occur. A lot.
Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Here's what you do. First of all, don't panic if you can't find it at your local bookstore. It might be shelved under science fiction/fantasy, or romance, or even horror (EDITED TO ADD: and general fiction). It might be in new releases. It might be under "S" for Smith-Ready, or "R" for Ready. One person found it under "J" for Jeri. (Seriously. I can't wait until I'm famous enough to be known by one name, but let's not jump the gun.)
Just walk up to the information desk and ask the nice person to look it up for you. If they tell you they currently have no copies, it's not a problem. It's an opportunity! An opportunity for you to be my own personal hero(ine).
See, bookstore employees are busy people, and as you might've noticed, there are A LOT of books out there. At least thirty or maybe even forty.
The computer doesn't send out a DANGER! DANGER! alert when a book sells out, because really, that ought to be saved for a true emergency, like a fire or a system crash or a faulty coffee maker. So lots of times a store won't restock a title even if, say, it sells out in the first week of release.
Here's where you come in. Ask them to order you a copy of Wicked Game (EDITED TO ADD: Don't worry--it won't cost you anything; they'll call you when it's ready and then you go pick it up, with much rejoicing). That gets their attention (especially if you drop the A-bomb* under your breath), and they might even order more than one. If you're not the first person to ask for it, that really gets their attention. They'll think it's a movement!
If you're like me and don't like to waste gas, call first and see if they have it. If they don't, consider ordering it.
Or if you're really like me and too lazy to drag yourself out of the house, order it online.
This public service announcement has been brought to you by the Misha Ready Catnip Foundation, working to bring health and happiness to
*A is for Amazon.com
Monday, May 19, 2008
Come and leave a comment, ask a question, or tell us how music has inspired you or your creativity. One lucky commenter (from a pool of commenters on the Blogger, MySpace and LiveJournal versions of the interview) will win a signed copy of Wicked Game! You have until 5PM Eastern time on Thursday to enter.
Also, I did an hour-long interview on Blog Talk Radio yesterday, on the Romance with Regan show. Regan Taylor was a fantastic host, and I look forward to coming back in November before the release of The Reawakened. Hmm, that book really needs its own page on my website. No cover yet, but the back cover copy is ready, and soon there'll be an excerpt.
Speaking of TR, line edits are due Friday. Gotta run!
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
The Book Girl is holding a contest between now and Sunday midnight for a bag of WVMP Lifeblood of Rock 'n' Roll swag--buttons, bookmarks, a book and more.
All you have to do to enter is comment on her blog post and tell her your favorite rock 'n' roll song. Easy, huh?
Have a great weekend, and I hope to see my MD, WV, VA, and DC folks at Borders in Winchester, VA, tomorrow from 3-5 for the signing!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Interview at Ann Aguirre's blog. Find out my secret celebrity boyfriend, my favorite drink, and whether a dolphin could take on a ninja. Or a pirate, I forget. Anyway, one lucky commenter will win a signed copy of Wicked Game.
Interview at Fangs, Fur & Fey. Rachel Vincent asks about my favorite scene from Wicked Game, how I researched the book, and why the hell I chose to write in first person present tense.
Big Idea at John Scalzi's Whatever blog. This is one of my favorite blogs going way back, so I'm tickled and terrified at being featured on it myself. The Big Idea is--well, just go look. It's pretty short.
Thanks to Ann, Rachel, and John for picking my brain!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I'm giving away a signed copy of Wicked Game to one commenter. You have until noon Eastern time tomorrow to comment (EDITED TO ADD: on the SFC blog itself, not here), so let's hear your strategies for conquering the Enemies of Brainspace! How do you resist the internet, television, and other things that clutter up your mind?
Also, my final answers to the intriguing questions at Fallen Angels blog are up. Find out something shocking about me, where I got the idea for the playlists, and more!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
When Wicked Game officially hits the shelves across North America today, my work is done (except for the small detail of handing in the sequel this Friday). Release days are about the reader, not the writer. The reader finally has a chance to form his or her own relationship with the book, outside of reviews and ads and endless blog posts stretching back to the day the contract was signed (eighteen months ago, in my case).
Getting ready for a book’s release is sort of like planning a big party or a wedding. Prepare as much as you can, handle the variables you can control (which, in publishing, isn’t much), then sit back and take the rest as it comes. And just like with a party, don’t let the stress get in the way of enjoying yourself. (I'm of course a total hypocrite--I've been on the verge of a nervous breakdown all day.)
If you're stopping by for the first time, here's a bit about the book. If you're sick of hearing about it, skip down to the new stuff.
Late-night radio you can sink your teeth into
Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, 60s psychedelia, 80s Goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers how the DJs maintain their cred: they’re vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned.
Ciara’s first instinct, as always, is to cut and run. But communications giant Skywave wants to buy WMMP and turn it into just another hit-playing clone. Without the station—and the link it provides to their original Life Times—the vampires would “fade,” becoming little more than mindless ghosts of the past. Suddenly a routine corporate takeover becomes a matter of life and un-death.
To boost ratings and save the lives of her strange new friends, Ciara re-brands the station as “WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock ’n’ Roll.” In the ultimate con, she hides the DJs’ vampire nature in plain sight, disguising the bloody truth as a marketing gimmick. WVMP becomes the hottest thing around—next to Ciara’s complicated affair with grunge vamp Shane McAllister. But the “gimmick” enrages a posse of ancient and powerful vampires who aren’t so eager to be brought into the light. Soon the stakes are higher-and the perils graver-than any con game Ciara’s ever played…
Smith-Ready’s musical references are spot on, as is her take on corporate radio’s creeping airwave hegemony. Add in the irrepressible Ciara, who grew up in a family of grifters, and the results rock. — Publisher’s Weekly
A colorful premise and engaging characters make the author’s (Aspect of Crow trilogy; Requiem for the Devil) latest a fun read. Recommended for all urban fantasy and paranormal romance collections. — Library Journal
WICKED GAME is an urban fantasy thrill ride. Not only is the story incredibly entertaining and exciting—even a little romantic—but it's also sexy as hell. — Simply Romance Reviews
And now, a humble request:
As with most series, the longevity of the WVMP vampires depends on reader enthusiasm, which is as it should be. So if you like Wicked Game, tell your friends, family, bookseller, librarian, and that guy/girl you’re always making eye contact with at the bus stop (no, not that one, the other one). That way, there'll be many more books to come.
Thanks to every one of you, whether you've known me since I was a wee bairn, or whether you've just heard of me for the first time this minute.
Now it's time for me to shut up and write. And let you read.
First, the heroine of Wicked Game, Ciara Griffin, had a very special interview with Jezebel, the (ex-)demon star of Jackie Kessler's fabulous HELL ON EARTH urban fantasy series. Ciara was astonishingly frank about her job and her sex life. So check it out if you want the dirt about her and Shane and WVMP. Some of it might even be true.
Also, I posted my answers to the first slew of questions over at Fallen Angel Reviews. You have until noon to ask me a question, and then we'll be drawing a name to win a signed copy of Wicked Game. I'll answer the second batch of questions at that time. I'm getting some fascinating ones, so go check it out!
Finally, I must hang my head in shame. In yesterday's post about almost turning into Runway Pancake, I accused FTD of not delivering my mom's Mother's Day flowers. Heh. It turns out, they didn't deliver the flowers because I told them to send them this Friday instead of last Friday. D'oh! So mea culpa, Mom, and sorry, FTD. You're as awesome as always, and I'm as braindead as ever.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Come visit me guest-blogging today at Fallen Angels Review. Everyone who asks me a question will be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of Wicked Game.
You have until noon Eastern time tomorrow to enter. I'll answer one question tonight and one tomorrow when we announce the winner.
HINT: The more original the question, the more likely I am to answer it.
7:30pm Central Time, Chicago's O'Hare Airport: The place is packed with frustrated travelers. Flights to the east coast are delayed and canceled due to "air traffic control," which means, "weather" (but they're not allowed to say 'weather,' for some reason). Gusty wind and heavy rain are forecast for our arrival in Baltimore. Anticipating turbulence, I skip dinner (this becomes important later).
Steve McCroskey: Johnny, what can you make out of this?
[Hands him the weather briefing]
Johnny: This? Why, I can make a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl...
We're sitting on the runway, and a customer service agent comes on the intercom: "Ladies and gentlemen, we're ready to go, except we're waiting for the first officer and the captain to arrive." I quip to my rowmates, "I hope they're not in the bar."
[as the plane prepares to take off]
Hanging Lady: Nervous?
Ted Striker: Yes.
Hanging Lady: First time?
Ted Striker: No, I've been nervous lots of times.
Flight is fine out of Chicago. For the second time today, I watch an episode of Chuck without sound. Anticipating turbulence, I order a seltzer water.
With the spontaneity only afforded to those who sit on the aisle, I decide to use the restroom. The moment I lock the door, the plane starts to shimmy (the two events aren't connected, as far as I can tell). A sign over the sink lights up--a sign depicting a stick figure getting her ass back to her seat. I obey. (Commercial air travel is a good place to exercise respect for authority.)
Steve McCroskey: This fog is getting thicker.
Johnny: And Leon is getting laaaaarrrrrger.
The turbulence is fierce, the worst I've ever experienced. I bury myself in a book and successfully ignore it.
Suddenly, we lose altitude. A lot of altitude. A moment later, the pilot guns the engine and we're ascending again, fast and hard. Assuming he's avoiding a cloud or something, I look out the window--
--and see the airport buildings fading below us. We just almost landed but didn't. It was a touch-and-go, but without the touch.
Dr. Rumack: Elaine, you're a member of this crew. Can you face some unpleasant facts?
Elaine Dickinson: No.
A voice comes out of the speakers: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your first officer. As you can tell, we're not on the ground yet. [burst of nervous laughter from the crowd] We caught a little bit of wind shear on approach, so our captain decided to take us around again."
It turns out, a sudden wind shear dumped us a few feet from the ground, but it happened to be a part of the ground that had no runway. Only the pilot's lightning-fast reflexes saved us from a Very Bad Touch. He was definitely NOT in the bar before we left Chicago.
Quick aviation lesson: This diagram depicts a commercial aircraft avoiding wind shear by increasing speed and altitude. However, if you look closely you'll notice that the avoidance occurs far up in the air. When wind shear hits close to the ground, as it did to us, the diagram depicts a red X next to the runway. SPLAT.
Jack Kirkpatrick: Shanna, they bought their tickets, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em crash.
So we're circling the airport again, making another approach. The storm is worsening. The plane is pitching and rolling, fighting the wind. Passengers are puking (thankfully not the guy next to me, who somehow SLEPT through the whole thing).
I bury myself in the book again, but I know there's a small chance that on our next approach the wind shear will drop us into the ground--this time with no feet to spare. I don't pray, but I do consider a few consequences of my demise:
1. My book would become a posthumous bestseller.
2. But the sequel would never be published.
3. My mom would never know I sent her Mother's Day flowers, since stupid FTD didn't deliver them.
[reading newspaper headlines]
Rex Kramer: Passengers certain to die!
Steve McCroskey: Airline negligent.
Johnny: There's a sale at Penney's!
We approach again, battling the wind and rain, fighting to stay straight. The plane is bobbing and weaving like Muhammad Ali. The ground gets closer, and closer. I think of how I love the city of Baltimore, but I don't want to become a permanent part of it.
We're over the runway, still rolling and pitching, and then...we're wheels down! All of them! Permanently!
We break into spontaneous applause. We hoot and cheer when the captain says, "Welcome to Baltimore" (even though he left off the 'hon'). The guy behind me announces that as part of a new bargain with God, he'll never fly again. Some continue to puke. My hands are shaking so hard, I have trouble calling my husband to tell him I'm alive. He's currently on I-95 in the pouring rain, on his own survival mission, so I leave my story until pickup.
We all thank the pilot on our way out.
Tonight I plan to watch Airplane while eating a box of Kraft Macaroni 'n' Cheese. I will also check to see if Amtrak goes to Tulsa.
Captain Oveur: Joey, have you ever been to a Turkish prison?
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I had a great time at Mysterious Galaxy's 15th Birthday Bash yesterday. Tomorrow I'll post more about it (including actual pictures, including one of giant monkeys).
Today I wanted to tell you about two interviews available online for your listening pleasure:
My friend Rob Usdin at Jersey Jamcast hooked me up with two wonderful podcasters. The first was Brian Noe of Studio C. Last week I had my very first phone-in (or Skype-in, technically) interview.
Here's a shot of me during the interview, thinking of wise and witty words. By the wet hair and lack of makeup, you can tell it was NOT my idea to have my picture taken. But at least I changed out of my jammies for the occasion.
One thing I like about the interview is that two of the tracks that I couldn't get for my playlist ("I'll Never Get Out of These Blues Alive" by John Lee Hooker and "Ciara" by Luka Bloom) made it onto the podcast, at least briefly.
Then later that week I did an interview with Zack "The Mothman" Daggy for his Shameless Plugcast. I really enjoyed this one as well. Zack told the world that if you love the humor and drama of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you'll love my book. And that as a DJ, he really sympathized with the characters in Wicked Game.
I love their theme song. It's now stuck in my head ("Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeaaaaahhhh....")
NOTE: you don't need an iPod to listen to a podcast. You just need one of those thingies, what do you call them? Computers! That's it.
I'm now going to avail myself of the free continental breakfast. Such as it is.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Not only is she a fabulous writer, she does what she can to help others. Right now she's holding a drawing for $150 worth of free books.
How do you enter? Simple:
1) Donate money to an organization helping the Cyclone Nargis victims in Burma/Myanmar.
2) Tell Ann about your donation.
More details on her blog. If you have your own blog, please spread the word.
Now playing: Little Milton - I Wouldn't Take Nothing For Your Love (live)
via FoxyTunes read the word.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
The Blog Tour rolls on, making a quick stop at Simply Romance Reviews*, where I talk about how I got the idea for Wicked Game. They're giving away a signed copy to one lucky commenter, but you only have today to get your name into the drawing.
Oh, and you have one more day to enter Rachel Vincent's chocolate-and-book-giveaway, featuring Wicked Game and Godiva.
You know what I like about Blog Tours? No jet lag.
*which by the way gave Wicked Game an A+ Outstanding Read!
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
We all come from somewhere. So stop by and tell us how your background has affected who you are. Do you embrace it or rebel against it? Are your favorite characters a product of their hometowns? Or just come by and say hi to an awesome blog.
Now playing: Brain Damage - Pink Floyd
HOTTER AFTER MIDNIGHT: Cathy!
WHEN HE WAS BAD: Jackie!
Congrats to both of you. Please send your mailing address to jeri AT jerismithready DOT com, and I'll pass it on to Cynthia so you can receive your signed books. Thanks so much for commenting, everyone!
Today's interview is with someone who is not only one of my favorite authors, but one of my favorite people: Jenna Black. I highly recommend her Guardian series, which began in November 2006 with Watchers in the Night. Black puts several fascinating twists on vampires, and I particularly like the seamless way she incorporates details from real modern-day cities. It gives her books a realistic flair, especially if you're familiar with the cities in question (Philadelphia, Baltimore, etc.).
Okay, I'll shut up and let Jenna tell you the rest.
Jenna Black is your typical writer. Which means she's an "experience junkie." She got her BA in physical anthropology and French from
Once upon a time, she dreamed she would be the next Jane Goodall, camping in the bush making fabulous discoveries about primate behavior. Then, during her senior year at Duke, she did some actual research in the field and made this shocking discovery: primates spend something like 80% of their time doing such exciting things as sleeping and eating.
Concluding that this discovery was her life's work in the field of primatology, she then moved on to such varied pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation. Among her other experiences . . .
- Ballroom dancing.
- Traveling all seven continents. Yes, even
- Becoming a Life Master in Bridge.
- Singing in a barbershop chorus.
What was your inspiration for writing HUNGERS OF THE HEART?
Since the first book of the Guardians of the Night series, I’ve always known I would eventually write Drake’s book. Many of my readers have also impatiently been awaiting his book since they first “met” him in WATCHERS IN THE NIGHT. As excited as I was to write his story, though, it turned out to be very hard to do. One of the most attractive things about Drake in WATCHERS was his self-confidence, the sense that he was comfortable in his own skin. Confident, comfortable characters, however, don’t make for interesting protagonists, so I had to shake him up. I found myself strangely reluctant to do so. That was the first time I had to struggle to make myself be mean to one of my characters. Usually authorial cruelty comes easily to me, as my readers no doubt know!
Which books and authors have most influenced your career?
I’d have to credit THOSE WHO HUNT THE NIGHT, by Barbara Hambly, as being the book that piqued my interest in vampires. The main vampire character in that book, Don Simon Ysidro, is absolutely fascinating to me. There’s no question he’s a bad guy—all her vampires are killers, and none of them seem to feel any remorse for their actions. However, Don Simon also has redeeming qualities, such as a sense of honor, that make him at least somewhat sympathetic to both the reader and the novel’s hero. (And from that description, you can no doubt see how much I was influenced by that particular book!)
For my urban fantasies, I’d have to credit the Anita Blake series, by Laurell K. Hamilton as having had the most influence. That was the first urban fantasy series I read, and I ended up absolutely hooked. After reading her books, I went on to “discover” such authors as Kelley Armstrong, Keri Arthur, Rachel Caine, and Patricia Briggs. It was because I loved all those books so much that I set out to write an urban fantasy myself.
What’s the best and the worst advice you’ve ever received?
The worst advice I ever received was to slavishly follow all publishers’ guidelines for submissions. (Note the word “slavishly.” I’m not saying to ignore guidelines.) For the 16 + years I was seriously trying—and failing—to get published, I dutifully submitted books one at a time, no simultaneous submissions. I can’t tell you how many times I had to wait a year or more to get a response. And during that waiting time, I refused to submit the book to another publisher, because most publishers say they won’t accept simultaneous submissions. It made for a painfully slow, agonizing, frustrating process. If I had it all to do over again, I’d probably go ahead and make simultaneous submissions despite the guidelines. I think it would have saved some of my sanity.
The best advice was for me to take responsibility for my own career. This meant always acting as though my career was under my control, even when sometimes it feels like I’m a victim in the winds of fate. This advice was crucial to my finally getting published. I had gotten to a point where I’d convinced myself I needed to get that lucky break to get my foot in the door. And that was a dismal prospect, because you can’t control luck. Then I went to a workshop where the teachers were adamant in their belief that luck has nothing to do with it, that if you write well enough and long enough, you’ll break in. It was a total change of attitude for me, and it changed the way I approached my career. When I began to believe that it was my own abilities, not the whims of luck, that would ultimately get me published, I started working much, much harder at my writing. I started treating it like a career, rather than a hobby. A year later, I had an agent. Two years later, I had my first contract. And now I have five books out with four more under contract. So it was by far the best advice I’ve ever received.
What (besides writing) do you do for fun?
Number one on my list is, naturally, reading. Like most writers, I’m a voracious reader. I’ve recently become addicted to doing jigsaw puzzles. My enjoyment of jigsaw puzzles has come and gone multiple times over the course of my life. I’ll go for years without doing one, then suddenly I’ll have an urge and I’ll do a whole bunch in a row. I’m finding them particularly fun right now because they’re something I can do that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a computer.
I also enjoy ballroom dancing, which I’ve just taken up again after several years’ hiatus. I think it’s important for me to find things to do outside the house now that I’ve quit my day job. It would be so easy for me to become a hermit. So that’s why I decided to start dancing again. (Though it’s also a lot of fun as well as being good exercise.)
What are you writing now?
Right now I’m working on the fourth book in my Morgan Kingsley series. I’ve just gotten started, so I’m still in those very uncertain “what the heck is going to happen in this book?” stage. It often takes me a few chapters before I start feeling like I’ve “really” started the book. I’ve also been playing around with an idea for a YA urban fantasy, but I have to put that aside now to work on the book that’s sold and on deadline.
Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?
I wrote my first book when I was in fifth grade. It was an autobiography. It’s written in pencil, with crayon illustrations and a construction paper cover. So I’ve pretty much been writing forever. I wrote my first novel my senior year of high school for my English class on creative writing. (Actually, it was really a novella, but I considered it a novel at that time.) I then wrote my first real, full-length novel in college. However, it took about 20 years and 17 more novels before I made my first sale.
In college, I majored in anthropology and French. My intention was to get a PhD in physical anthropology and become the next Jane Goodall. Obviously, my career and my ambitions ended up taking a different path.
What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?
I start out by trudging up to my computer while guzzling coffee as I try to shake the sleep clouds from my head. (I’m not the best morning person in the world.) I usually read emails and look at some of my favorite Internet sites (like MySpace and Romance Divas) while I wait for my brain to be fully functional. Then I drag myself to a computer that has no Internet access and no games—nothing installed on it other than word processing software. And I write.
I tend to write in multiple short (45 minutes to an hour) spurts throughout the morning and early afternoon. Between spurts, I check email or do chores or work out. (Or goof off, but I try to keep that to a minimum.)
Where do you write?
I have a home-office-cum-library where I work. It’s a converted bonus room over our garage, and it’s decorated to help stimulate my imagination—and give me the illusion that I’ve actually left the house to write. The effect is like working in a medieval/gothic library, with faux-wood floors and faux-stone walls.
What is the best part of being a writer? The most frustrating?
The best part about being a writer for me is hearing from readers. I love knowing that people have read and enjoyed my books. I was especially moved when I got an email from a reader who was seriously ill and told me my books helped make the bad times better for her. Books have always been my escape during the worst times in my life, and one of the thoughts that kept me going while I was struggling to sell that first novel was the desire to provide that same kind of escape for others. Learning that I’d done so for at least one reader brought tears to my eyes.
The most frustrating part of being a writer is how many things about your career are not under your control. You can’t control the whims of the market, the editorial shifts in your publishing house, the closing of lines, the cover art, the marketing . . . You name it. (Some of those things you can control when you’re a mega star, but I’m not there yet!)
This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there?
There are three other books out in the Guardians of the Night series: WATCHERS IN THE NIGHT, SECRETS IN THE SHADOWS, and SHADOWS ON THE SOUL. There’s also THE DEVIL INSIDE, the first book in my Morgan Kingsley, Exorcist series. The second book in that series, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW, will come out on July 29.
Where can we learn more about you and your books?
Quick Tip: Link to Other Wiki Pages
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Thanks, Jenna, for all your amazing books, and for giving me a bad case of office envy.
Monday, May 05, 2008
No, really! There I was, a stone's throw away from the Capitol (though I *don't* recommend throwing stones at federal buildings unless you like the taste of sidewalk), giving a talk at the Library of Congress. They have a "What If" science fiction/fantasy forum, to which they invite authors to read or discuss their books and stories.
It went pretty well, aside from a few technical difficulties. The iPod got tired of waiting for me to start, so it took a nap in its cozy little docking station, which meant the remote control wouldn't, you know, control it. I had to walk over and wake it up.
So embarrassing. They never perform when you want them to.
But it seemed to go well otherwise, judging by the audience reaction. They laughed, they cried (okay, they didn't cry, even when I chopped raw onions), they bought all my copies of Wicked Game. I'm told I was the first author ever to sell out at one of these talks, and they've had some pretty big-name authors (who, no doubt, brought bigger boxes of books, so I'm not congratulating myself too vigorously).
I wish I'd brought my camera, because it was a gorgeous day. Washington, DC, is lovely in the spring, until about Memorial Day, when it turns into the Ninth Circle of Hell.
But I did get to keep my parking permit, the thing that let me past the scary reinforced steel barrier that said STOP! in big red letters. It made me feel special, so I'll share it with you:
Yay. I am now officially Important. And in Washington, nothing else matters.
Now playing: Wilco - Hummingbird
Scared, am I? Yes, quite a bit. I'm not used to having the entire stage to myself when I have to make stuff up.
The title of my talk is "Rock 'n' Roll Can Never Die." I'll be reading several snippets from Wicked Game, interspersed with a few appropriate songs and a discussion of how music has inspired my writing process. It might totally rock, or it might flop. I'll let you know.
On the Internetz, Werecat author Rachel Vincent is giving away a copy of Wicked Game AND a box of chocolates to one lucky commenter this week. Yes, chocolate. Which makes her officially today's Best...Person...in The World! Last week she discussed the book on her blog, which made me all pitter-pattery.
And don't forget, you have through the rest of the day today to enter the drawing for one of Cynthia Eden's fantastic new books.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
There's important information for you in the second paragraph, so read on.
I'm thrilled to announce that on Saturday, May 10, 3-4pm, 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.
Ah, that was easy. I should repost more often. Heck, people watch reruns all the time on TV.
Now playing: Scentless Apprentice (Rehearsal) - Nirvana
Saturday, May 03, 2008
I'll let Tate tell you the rest in her own words:
Tate Hallaway is the best selling alias of the award-winning science fiction author Lyda Morehouse. Lyda wrote a four book trilogy about angels, computers and the end of the world all of which are currently out of print, though she still writes and publishes science fiction/fantasy/horror short stories. Tate’s books are all in print with more in the Garnet Lacey series in the works. You can find both Lyda and Tate all blogging all over the internet including places like LiveJournal, Blogspot, MySpace, Facebook, and even YouTube. “They” live in Saint Paul, Minnesota with five cats, a five year old son, and many, many fresh water fish.
Romancing the Dead
It’s been one heck of a week for Garnet Lacey. The Vatican witch hunters finally think she’s dead, the FBI has closed their file on her, she’s co-founding a new coven—and the gorgeous vampire she loves has just asked her to marry him. How lucky can one girl get?
Then, her fiancé goes missing and Garnet’s worried sick. Has he been kidnapped? Or could he have run off with that blonde from the coven? Now Garnet will have to seek the help of her future stepson—the same brat who turned her over to the witch hunters for a brand-new Jaguar. But there’s more bad news: the Goddess Lilith, who camps out in her body, has been making embarrassing appearances. And on top of that, some killer’s on her tail...
What was your inspiration for writing ROMANCING THE DEAD?
ROMANCING THE DEAD is the third book in my paranormal chick-lit Garnet Lacey series. People often ask me how I, as a writer, stay inspired when writing about the same characters. I think I could get pretty bored if I didn’t allow my characters not only to be human (and thus full of flaws), but also to change and grow.
A lot of the romance I read when I first started reading romances were “first blush,” as in the main point of the story was the excitement of meeting someone new. At the end of these novels, things faded very quickly into the nebulous (and unrealistic) happily, ever after. One of the things I’m trying to do in the Garnet Lacey series is promote the romance that can be found in a long-term relationship. I mean, Garnet is in love with a vampire, for goodness sake. You don’t get more “ever after” than that. I, myself, have been together with my partner for more than twenty years, and I don’t think those kinds of relationships get a lot of glory in romance novels, you know?
Plus, in every novel I like to take on one of the tropes in urban fantasy and do my own thing with it. In this book, I have Garnet meet someone who may or may not be a werewolf.
Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?
Currently my favorite authors are writing graphic novels. I’m in to Brian Michael Bendis’ NEW AVENGERS. I just finished reading NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI in preparation of the up-coming Secret Invasion. I’m also a huge fan of Ed Brubaker’s CAPTAIN AMERICA, particularly his WINTER SOLDIER stuff. Comic books haven’t been this fresh for me since I first picked up Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s FANTASTIC FOUR when I was a kid.
For more traditional fare, my favorites are Rachel Caine, who writes the Weather Warden series, and Kristin Katheryn Rusch who writes the Disappeared series, which is a kind of futuristic a police procedural set on Mars. When I was growing up my favorite authors were Katherine Kurtz and Anne McCaffrey.
What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?
Seriously, I was talking to a friend about this at a bar the other night, and I confessed that one of my favorite things about writing paranormal romances/urban fantasy is that you get to have all the relationship/girly stuff married to the high-octane adventure/boy stuff. That’s pretty near perfect for me.
Why did you decide to make Garnet a Witch?
Because I am.
And it can be very difficult to find realistic portrayals of Wiccan religion in novels. One of the things that drives me crazy in movies and TV shows like “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” is when a complete novice reads a spell they find in a dusty book and they conjure a demon without breaking a sweat.
Of course, because the Garnet Lacey series is fantasy, I take liberties, too. Real-life witchcraft can be pretty dull. The scope of Garnet’s power is a lot stronger than anything I’ve experienced in real life, but I try to show ritual as part of her daily practice as well. In other words, she doesn’t just cast spells, but she also prays to a Goddess and observes the cycle of the seasons, like the real witches I know.
What (besides writing) do you do for fun?
I’m an aquarist. I have four fresh water fish tanks in my house and have had over the course of a year: powder blue dwarf gourami, neon tetra, bettas (a spawning pair), a white cloud minnow, yellow tuxedo guppies, and several goldfish (comet and shubunkin). I’m so into it I read fish magazines and occasionally write long, boring blogs about my fish triumphs and woes on my livejournal. My betta Johnny/Giant-Girl is even a YouTube star.
What sort of research did you do to write this book?
Well, because I’d decided to play around with the urban fantasy trope of werewolves and the story takes place in Madison, Wisconsin, I did a little research and discovered that Wisconsin has its own werewolf myth: “the Beast of Bray Road.” There’s a book about it by Linda S. Godfrey called BEAST OF BRAY ROAD: TAILING WISCONSIN'S WEREWOLF.
Garnet loves astrology. Is that your favorite thing too?
One of them. Just like Garnet I’m an amateur astrologer. Yeah, we’re talking about predictions and horoscopes and stuff. No, I don’t think the stars rule my destiny, but, yeah, I think it’s all a very fascinating and entertaining way to look at life and relationships.
I love astronomy, too. My friend Rachel takes me and my four-year old out star-gazing on clear nights. The science fiction fan in me loves seeing the rings of Saturn and such.
What are you writing now?
There’s more Garnet Lacey in the works. I’m currently putting the wraps on book four, DEAD IF I DO, which I like to describe as “The Wedding Planner” meets “Night of the Living Dead.”
Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?
It took boredom to turn me into a writer.
True, I was an English major in college, but other than dabbling a little in fanfic as a teen I didn’t really do a lot of creative writing. After college, I had a series of dead-end secretarial jobs and really didn’t require a whole lot of my brain power. One of these jobs didn’t even come with a computer, but when I incessantly bugged my boss for work she taught me the art of the slack. She said, “Sometimes it’s important to LOOK busy.” So, I started typing letters home to friends. The letters turned into little silly stories, limericks, and finally, the beginning of my first novel, Sidhe Promised, which has never been sold.
Someone either a friend or my partner talked me into taking a science fiction writing class at the Loft. I had an awesome teacher who taught us the art of critique and encouraged us to form writers’ critique groups outside of class. The one I formed from that class with my friend and fellow writer H. Courrage LeBlanc, Wyrdsmiths is still going strong today, nearly twelve years later. If you want to check out the "life" of a writers' group, we have a blog.
Eventually, through a friend of a friend I got my second novel, Archangel Protocol, under the nose of an agent. The rest, as they say, is history.
What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?
Well, I’m in crunch time now, so I write close to four hours a night, from about 8:00 pm to midnight. Normally, however, I tend to clock closer to only a couple of hours, if that. I have a full-time job as a mom, so my writing time doesn’t start until everyone is fed and tucked in their beds. When not writing under a deadline, I also take weekends off.
Hm, which may explain why I'm in crunch time now, eh?
Where do you write??
Wherever my laptop is. I tend to write propped up in bed or on the couch in the TV room.
What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?
I’ve always found dialogue the easiest to write. That’s probably because it’s the part I practice the most. Not only do I love to talk, but also when I’m falling asleep at night it’s the fictional conversations that I play with in my head.
As for hard, that would be plot. If I had my druthers, no one would do anything. They’d all sit around in a coffee shop and argue.
This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there?
Though all of them are meant to stand more-or-less on their own, there are two previous Garnet Lacey books: TALL, DARK & DEAD and DEAD SEXY. Both follow the exploits of Garnet Lacey, a Witch who accidentally drew in the dark and murderous Goddess Lilith to protect her coven from attack by Vatican witch hunters. When the stories start, she’s on the run and trying desperately to give up witchcraft, which Lilith (and, consequentially, she) crave like a drug. Tall, dark and dead Sebastian Von Traum comes into the bookstore the Garnet manages and, as they say, hilarity ensues.
And explosions…or at least zombies.
There’s an excerpt of the first chapters of all three books available on my website.
Amazon.com links to Tate's books:
Romancing the Dead
Dead Sexy (Garnet Lacey #2)
Tall, Dark & Dead (Garnet Lacey #1)
Places to find Tate on the Web:
Wyrdsmiths group blog
Fangs, Fur & Fey (group blog for urban fantasy/paranormal romance writers)
Friday, May 02, 2008
Find out which character I'm most attached to, why I hate first drafts, and how much potential I have for becoming a crack addict.
Beginning now, I'm taking a long weekend off to do some intensive work on Bad to the Bone. I'll fill in plot holes, untangle storylines, and oh, I don't know, maybe finally figure out what happens in the last chapter. And whatever happened to the disappearing journalist. And that other guy.
May your weekends be full of fun!
Thursday, May 01, 2008
1) I created a Wicked Game playlist:
It's also posted it on the book's page (click and scroll down). This is a "soundtrack" of most of the songs mentioned in the novel (all the ones I could get legally through Playlist.com). More playlists coming soon!
If you'd like to post the playlist on your own website, MySpace or Facebook page, send me an e-mail and I'll give you the secret code. Or you can just grab the HTML yourself if you know how to do it.
2) Wicked Game is this month's Editor's Choice at Love Vampires: The Website Dedicated to Vampire Fiction.
In her review, Amanda made herself my favorite person always and forever. Here's a long excerpt (all emphasis mine):
I have read a lot of vampire novels, some romance, some horror, some urban fantasy and some of just about every flavour in between. Some books have been so good I’ve spent the next week pimping the book to everyone I speak to. Some have been so bad I’ve wanted to bang my head (hard) against my desk and induce unconsciousness so I won’t have to think about what I’ve just read. A lot have been average, neither bad nor fantastically good, but a pleasant and entertaining way to pass time reading.Go read the rest if you like, or just admire the gorgeous website design. I'll be here dancin'.
However, every once in a while someone writes a book that surpasses genre conventions and expectations, turning established ideas into something fresh and new. Books that have done this for me include J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, Charlaine Harris’s Southern Vampire series and Laurell K. Hamilton’s early Anita Blake. All in their own way original or unique, some of them eventually being consumed and becoming part of the established framework for that genre. It is in this way that Wicked Game strikes me as original and unique.
The words different, original, unusual and unique are used a lot in reviews but hopefully I have managed to give some context of what I mean when I use them. It is hard to draw comparisons between Wicked Game and other vampire novels because nobody else is really writing like this at the moment.