Wednesday, July 30, 2008

New interviews and quintupled Wicked Game giveaway

My Conestoga update will have to wait for tomorrow, as I need to finish my proposal today to stay on schedule. Plus I have a ton of e-mail/MySpace/Facebook messages to catch up on--a never-ending battle. So I need to spend my online time today carefully.

So the stuff:

Fellow author Jon Armstrong interviewed me for his podcast, "If You're Just Joining Us." I haven't listened to it yet, because we did the interview in the morning, when I'm not at my best. So if someone out there would listen to it and report back as to whether I said anything grossly stupid or offensive, that'd be swell.

Also, CK2S Kwips & Kritiques posted their interview with me yesterday. In it I discuss both series of books, what it's like to foster dogs, and discuss a tiny bit about Wicked Game's sequel, Bad to the Bone. Check out Kelley's and Debbie's sweet reviews of Wicked Game while you're there.

Renowned tabloid National Examiner is giving away 5 copies of Wicked Game in their "Fantastic" summer giveaway. If you get a chance to pick up a copy, check out page 46 of the July 28 issue (click for larger image):


So if you're wondering how I got a free ad in a magazine with a circulation of 420,000, it happened this way: Pocket sent the Examiner a review copy of Wicked Game, and I guess someone there liked it (described it in the ad as a "delightful comedy") and asked if they could do a giveaway.

Not bad, eh? And in this issue, the ad faces an exciting article about the pyramid-shaped "Car of the Future," an eco-friendly machine that uses NO gas, is bulletproof, and hits 200 mph.

There are no airbags as the nose cone and interior of the eco-friendly car is lined with a 3-inch-thick layer of bubble wrap.

Get yours today.

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Now playing: Iggy Pop - High On You
via FoxyTunes

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Conestoga brief and contest updates

I'll post my Conestoga rundown tomorrow--I'm running behind right now due to United Airlines having stolen a day of my life.

EDITED TO ADD: Read others' accounts of Conestoga here on the Fangs Fur & Fey debriefing post.

All I can say is that it was fabulous, one of my all-time favorite convention/conference experiences. I had a chance to talk at length with a lot of people I'd only met briefly at more hectic conferences like RT, or had met only online. The convention was tons of fun, without leaving me feeling like I'd been hit by a cement truck.

The trip there and back, on the other hand?

Let's see, from the time I left my house until I got to my hotel room Thursday: 17 hours.

On the way home? 26 hours.

I'm once again thinking of giving up air travel.

Two contest updates:

The winner of a copy of Nancy Hunter's Taste of Liberty is Jamie! Thanks to everyone who commented on the interview last week, and especially thanks to Nancy for stopping by. Jamie, please get in touch with me at jeri AT jerismithready DOT com to claim your fabulous prize.

Also, there's one day left to win a signed copy of Wicked Game on Sidhe Vicious's blog, where she interviewed me earlier this month.

Now. Must shower. Brush teeth. Buy groceries. All the things I couldn't do while standing in line at Customer Service. (Fortunately, I am part English, so standing patiently in line is in my blood.)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Conestoga schedule - UPDATE

Busy day ahead, as always the day before leaving for a con. I am so SO excited, because there'll be a lot of people there I adore, plus even more people I barely met at RT and didn't have time to get to know on account of trying to be a social butterfly and hang out with all 1,200 people for five seconds each.

Real quick, here's my Conestoga schedule:

Friday

Nothing scheduled for the daytime! You'll probably find me attending panels or hanging out in the bar, dealers room, con suite, or art show. On the other hand, I might be touring Tulsa or holing up in my room doing work, in which case you won't find me.

9pm, bar - Fangs, Fur & Fey get-together. Please feel free to stop by and talk to us urban fantasy and paranormal romance authors. We are weird but friendly.

Saturday

9am, Main Hall across from Registration: SIGNING with the lovely and talented Jeaniene Frost, Gena Showalter and Shanna Swendson. Even if you don't have something for me to sign, please stop by and say hi.

NOTE: The Dealer's Room doesn't open until 10am Saturday, so if you want to buy something for one of us to sign, make sure to grab it Friday night.


***ALSO, never assume at any convention that the Dealer's Room will have a large enough supply of an author's books. If you have your heart set on a signed copy, bring the book with you to to the con. Trust me, I've been burned more than once on this, both as a fan and an author.***

11am, Salon F: RELIGION IN FANTASY AND HORROR (moderator) - Panelists include Linda Donahue, M. H. (Maggie) Bonhan, Steven E. Wedel, Angeline Hawkes, Shanna Swendson, and THE james k. burk.

12pm, Chairman room: BROAD UNIVERSE RAPID-FIRE READING - Come listen to eight authors read for 5-6 minutes each from our latest works. Host: J. Kathleen Cheney. Fellow Broads: Rachel Caine, Marie Brennan, Melanie Fletcher, Devon Monk, Suzette Haden Elgin, Melanie Fletcher

3pm, Main Hall across from registration: NEW SIGNING TIME!

5pm, Executive: LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX - Other panelists include PC Cast, Patrice Michelle, Jeaniene Frost, and Gena Showalter.

6pm, ??: AUTHOR SPEED DATING - Authors in pairs move from table to table at 3-5 minute intervals so readers can meet us individually. I'm psyched to be paired with Rachel Caine!

7-9pm, Regency: NEW RELEASE RECEPTION - Come help celebrate our new releases (within three months of Conestoga)! Cash bar!

Sunday

9am (why do cons always give me 9am Sunday panels? Do I have Sucker written across my virtual face?), Salon G: AUTHOR/READER CONNECTIONS - with fellow Suckers Kristin Cast and Caitlin Kittredge. My first experience as the oldest member of a panel, and it'll be by more than ten years. (Oh God, fifteen years?!)

I'll try to blog from the con, but I rarely get time, so I would recommend against holding your breath.

Wish me luck a better flight than last time!

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Now playing: Tori Amos - Lust
via FoxyTunes

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Still life with Tommy

Don't forget, you have until Thursday at 5 eastern to enter to win a copy of Nancy Hunter's debut historical novel Taste of Liberty!

And now, an update on Tommy, or should we call him, the Stair Master! As of yesterday, he has now conquered all staircases, inside and out (yes, even those slick wooden ones on the deck).

The only thing he's unsure about are slick floors like the kitchen. It's pretty hilarious, feeding the cat in the middle of the kitchen floor, and Tommy wants so badly to taste that yummy cat food, but he can't...quite...reach if he insists on leaving one toe on the carpet. The cat just eats, smugly.

This morning I finally got him to hold still enough to take two pictures that actually show what he looks like:



That's grass stuck to the corner of his mouth. He'd just been rolling around on his back like a nutball.



Here he's waiting to come inside--from the deck!!

Tommy has three applications to adopt him so far, but the process is a little slowed by the fact that the volunteers who do the home visits are on vacation, so he might be with us another week. He's a really good dog, so we don't mind.

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Now playing: Flogging Molly - Seven Deadly Sins
via FoxyTunes

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Interview with Nancy Hunter, author of A TASTE OF LIBERTY

Congrats to Nancy Hunter, whose debut novel, Taste of Liberty, was just released a few days ago from Cerridwen Press! Nancy's a friend of mine (as opposed to 'a friend of ours,' because she's not, you know, made, unless she is and I'm not aware. Not that I would be. Anyway....), and I'm very excited to have her on my blog today.

She's giving away a copy of her new book to one lucky commenter. You can read an excerpt here if you like, but don't forget to come back and read the interview. We worked really hard on it. And when I say, "we," I mean Nancy.


Q. What's the most surprising/thrilling thing about being a debut author?

Nancy: As soon as I got my website up and running and began posting excerpts of the book, I started getting wonderful responses from people who read them. It’s a wonderful feeling to have readers fall in love with the characters you’ve developed and nurtured and grown to love.

Have you always had an interest in the American Revolution and its era? What made you choose this period?


I’m a bit of a history geek (seriously, it would take a 12-step program to wean me off the History channel), and I did have a great American History teacher in high school, so I was drawn to research the Revolution. But I also wanted to learn more about our foremothers – those incredibly strong, brave, resourceful women who helped settle the frontier and who, in the absence of the men, e.g, in times of war, single-handedly ran the homesteads and protected the land, with guns when necessary.

Does your anthropology background play a helpful role in your fiction writing?

Anthropology is a research- and writing-heavy field, so in that sense it helps tremendously. And because anthropologists thrive on uncovering the details of human culture on familial and societal levels, my mind is always returning to the whys and hows of my characters’ lives, which allows me to write about them in a more in-depth way. But at some point I have to force myself away from the research and just start writing, because I love the minutia so much, I could spend years reading about the time periods and never getting around to writing about them.

How many rescued cats do you currently serve? Care to share any funny or touching stories with readers?

Oh, ‘how many’ is a rather personal question. Will we also be discussing my age and weight? OK, I’ll admit that we currently have six cats, all ‘hand rescued’ by us from the nearby woods, or in the latest case, during a beach vacation. We do, indeed, live to serve these critters, and they are all family members (really furry, demanding family members). My daughter insists that we spoil them much more than we ever did her.

We had a tough year in 2007 when two of our cats died. One was a rescue cat who had Feline HIV. His demise was very sad, but not unexpected. Four months later, our very healthy, almost kitten-like Siamese (the only cat we ever actually purchased!) was diagnosed with asthma, and despite heroic measures, expensive pet hospital stays, and daily medication, died three short weeks later. Misser (pronounced ‘mee-sah') was as much like a sibling to my daughter as a pet can be, and he died exactly one week before her high school graduation.

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?

Well, if I had to go back to the rough-and-tumble frontier world in Taste of Liberty, I’d want to be Liberty’s Aunt Caroline. She’s an independent woman, a gunsmith, and a crack shot. She kicks frontier butt and takes names!

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

I think most (female) authors would like to meet their heroes, and I’m no different, so I’d say Sebastian. Only as a friend, of course, as I’m happily married to my own real-life hero, although Sebastian is tall, dark and sexy, and has that British accent going for him.

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

So much research doesn’t make it into the books, but when researching folk medicine for TOL (she trains to be the Ocanneechi’s medicine woman), I learned that tobacco leaves can be wrapped around wounds to help draw out infection. Good to know if you ever take a bullet while traipsing through tobacco fields.

A tidbit of research that didn’t make it into the book is related to my surname (my real name – Yeager). Hessian soldiers were often called ‘jaegers’ after the jaeger rifles they used that had been brought to the Colonies by Hession gunsmiths. So when a lot of Hessian soldiers settled in the Susquehanna Valley in PA (from whence I hail), they assumed Jaeger, and it’s various spellings, such as Yeager, as a surname. To this day there are a lot of Yeagers in that neck of the woods.

What's your earliest memory?

I remember standing at the picture window in my childhood home, watching my older siblings play outside. I was too small to join them. Perhaps that’s why I’ve become such an observer, as most writers are. My family can only blame themselves for what’s become of me.

Do you have any phobias?

Besides my real, honest-to-God phobia of snakes, I have a few quirky, charming personality traits that others might consider irrational fears. One is that I don’t like to sleep with open doors (bedroom, closet, etc.) in my room. No scary person (or snake) has ever jumped out at me through an open door during the night, so I can’t explain it. I just know I hate it. Unfortunately, the previously mentioned furry family members have the exact opposite fear – that of closed doors. Guess who wins that battle? (hint: It’s not the one who has to get up in the morning for work and therefore must do whatever is necessary to stop the frenzied meowing outside closed doors.)

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

My husband gets tired of hearing me rant about this, so I’m glad I can share with someone else! I hate it when people use the word ‘literally’ when in fact they’re speaking figuratively. The worst offense I witnessed was from an author (yikes!) on Book TV. Yes, in addition to being a history geek, I’m also a C-Span geek. Anyway, this non-fiction author was recounting her role in a company that was caught up in one of the major corporate scandals of recent years. She mentioned an incident that “literally scared me to death." Hmm. Really? Either she was speaking figuratively, or she’s going to be a character in one of my upcoming paranormal books.

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

Ohhh, I’d go to a wonderful old bookstore, the kind with multiple floors and a balcony overlooking the reading area, and ladders to reach the upper shelves. I’d peruse shelves, read books, and drink unlimited free lattes, which would magically cause no caffeine-induced jitters. Then my husband would pick me up and would load my stacks of purchased books into the trunk, saying nary a word about the enormous height of my to-be-read pile. We’d go out for a lovely meal with wonderful wine, then would go home to a sparkling house because the cats had finally learned to clean. Please, can I have this day? Please, please, please?

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

I already write in multiple genres. In addition to Historical Romance, I write Urban Fantasy and Women’s Fiction. I wish I could tackle murder mysteries, but I can’t get the past the plotting stage with them. So I compromise by throwing in a murderer here and there in my other genres.

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

Taking the second question first, I have another Historical Paranormal coming out sometime in the next year (don’t you love the specificity of the publishing world?). It’s called Playing to Lose, and it’s a fun romp in post-Regency England with a beautiful lady, a sexy earl, and a deranged serial killer (excerpts are on my website!).

My current work-in-progress, which I’m polishing to a beautiful, lustrous shine, is an Urban Fantasy set in San Francisco, with the working title Beneath this Cape. This book has a kick-ass heroine, a sexy man, and a serial killer. Hmm…I’m sensing a theme here…

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


If you’re anxious to read a great love story with a dramatic historical backdrop and a deliciously evil villain, Taste of Liberty is the book for you!

---

Leave a comment, ask Nancy a burning question, or tell us which historical period you think is vastly underserved in today's fiction, down there in the comments before 5PM eastern time on Thursday.

***I recommend against putting your e-mail in the comments, since that brings on spam (not from me, from the Bad Guys). HOWEVER, if you don't leave a way for me to find you, you must stay subscribed to the comments or come back to the blog to see if you won.***

Good luck!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Guest blog and giveaway at Paranormality

One day only! A chance to win a signed copy of Wicked Game. Monday I'm guest-blogging at Paranormality, discussing the supernatural things I'm skeered of and how I overcome these crazy fears through writing.

(And no, I'll never write about monkeys or clowns. I only dispel irrational fears through writing.)

Also in this guest blog post, I discuss for the first my new young adult work-in-progress. This should not be taken as a guarantee that it will ever see the light of day. After you read about it, immediately wipe your memory, or we'll all have jinxed its chances for publication.

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Now playing: The Prophecy - Howard Shore
via FoxyTunes

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Get 'em while they're wee

This just arrived at my inbox, from my Amazon Associates Program (yes, I serve the Dark Lord, for he hath pulled my sales numbers out of the murky pits).

Subject line:

Amazing July Baby Sales

Wow! I thought that was illegal. But...what the hey? Free markets should be free, right?

Um...let's see, do you have anything in a green-eyed blonde, about twenty inches long and 8 pounds, 2 ounces? Oh, and I'll take a Cancer, please (I don't have the energy to keep up with a Leo). Non-colicky, if possible. *crosses fingers*

On second thought, if you have an advanced model, say...for instance...a med-school student specializing in plastic surgery or geriatrics, that'd be perfect.

Yeah, you'd better express ship it.

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Now playing: Sunshine Highway - Dropkick Murphys
via FoxyTunes

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wicked Game featured on The Eclectic Review

Podcasters Stuart and Glory Jaffe of The Eclectic Review discuss the evolution of the portrayal of vampires, from Dracula to Anne Rice to the Anita Blake books to Buffy to...Wicked Game in their latest episode, "Vampires are Deadly and Fun Part 2".

Very interesting discussion. Check it out! Apparently there'll be more about Wicked Game in a future podcast, so stay tuned.

And here's a new shot of Tommy:


It's very hard to get them to stay still for a photo, as I mentioned before.

That's all for today--I plan to finish a rough draft of my sample chapters by tonight (note to self: rough draft means it doesn't have to be perfect. Let yourself put in too much backstory this time around.), so I'll be offline most of the day.

Have a good one!

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Now playing: Home Of The Blues - Johnny Cash
via FoxyTunes

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Brief Tommy update and a new interview/giveaway

Tommy made it to the basement this morning by going in the lower back door to the storeroom. I guess a few concrete stairs are not such a big deal. So now he has the run of half the house, with access to the backyard. Baby steps!

I did an interview with the lovely Sidhe Vicious, who posted it this week on her blog. And of course, you can win a signed copy of Wicked Game by commenting on the interview (there, not here).

I'm making a big trip to the post office tomorrow, so anyone waiting for me to send them stuff, it'll be on its way this week. Hopefully by the end of July I'll be all caught up on e-mail and maybe *gasp!* filing. Today and tomorrow I hope to bang out a few sample chapters of my proposed YA novel to send to my agent, then I'll get to work on Spencer's story, which I hope to have up by mid-August at the latest.

Lastly, but most important, thanks a million to the *gulp* 200+ people who sent me birthday wishes by e-mail, MySpace, Facebook, and LiveJournal. I was flabbergasted, to say the least, and I promise to reply to each of you before my next birthday.

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Now playing: The Smiths - Girl Afraid
via FoxyTunes

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

The (Not-So) Talented Mr. Tommy, Part One

At last...we have a new foster dog! His name is Tommy (insert Chris saying "Tommy Tommy Tommy Tommy" in a Philip-Seymour-Hoffman-from-The Talented Mr. Ripley-voice, constantly, probably until the day the dog gets adopted). My camera batteries have died, but here's a picture from his page on the Tails of Hope website:


He slept all the way from Frederick, curled up on the floor behind the driver's seat, only looking up when I had to slow down from 60 to 0 to avoid hitting a groundhog sitting in the middle of the highway (they're the world's most suicidal animal). He seems like a real sweetheart.

So he got home, played in the backyard with Meadow, who is thrilled to have him, as is Misha (well, Misha's cautiously indifferent). Then it was time to go inside, since there was a thunderstorm coming.

No dice. Mr. Ripley doesn't like stairs. At all. Unfortunately, we live in a split foyer home, which means that the only way in and out of the house is by stairs. After a lot of coaxing, he came up to the top floor, drank some water, and explored all the rooms. Then it was time to try the downstairs family room. He ran down the first level, then...got stuck on the front landing. Wouldn't go back up or go all the way down.

He was so anxious about it, I decided to just let him stay there for now. Forcing a dog to do something they're afraid of just makes the fear worse. So he's sleeping on a nice bed with a few chew toys. The landing is about 15 square feet, probably bigger than his cage at the shelter. As soon as he wakes up, I'll feed him, give him some more water, then take him out for potties.

Wish me luck getting him back in the house, and eventually back up the stairs! Always an adventure....

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Interview with David Louis Edelman, author of INFOQUAKE and MULTIREAL

My guest today is one of my fellow SFNovelist authors, a great guy whose career is well, not meteoric, since meteors plummet. It's rocket-ic, but not those booster rockets that fall flaming to earth right after takeoff.

Anyway. Fridays are not my most eloquent days.

EDITED TO ADD: David is doing a giveaway on his blog for the best sf/f porno title. Winner will receive the complete works of David Louis Edelman. Entries are due this Sunday, so hurry on over and put your creative talents to their most noble possible use.

Enough with the ado, I now present...David....Louis....Edelman!

David Louis Edelman's debut novel Infoquake was released by Pyr in 2006. Barnes & Noble Explorations called the story of cut-throat software entrepreneurs in the far future "the love child of Donald Trump and Vernor Vinge" and later named it their SF Book of the Year. The book was also nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best Novel, and Edelman was nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer on the strength of that novel. Infoquake has just been re-released in mass market paperback by Solaris Books with a fancy new cover by Stephan Martiniere.

This week, Pyr is releasing book 2 of David's Jump 225 trilogy, MultiReal. The book continues where Infoquake left off, and has already been called "a thoroughly-successful hybrid of Neuromancer and Wall Street" by Hugo nominee Peter Watts.

BIO: In addition to writing novels, Dave has also programmed websites for the U.S. Army, the FBI, ExxonMobil, and Rolls-Royce; taught software to the U.S. Congress and the World Bank; written articles for the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun; and directed the marketing departments of biometric and e-commerce companies. Dave is well-versed in PHP, Ruby on Rails, WordPress, ColdFusion, HTML, Javascript, XML, and CSS, and is an expert in web usability, web design, search engine optimization, and writing for the web.

1) What was your inspiration for writing Infoquake and MultiReal?

Infoquake and MultiReal are two parts of a story I started writing in late 2000 about my dot-com experiences in the '90s. I'm a marketing guy and web programmer by trade, and I saw a number of crazy things during the dot-com bubble. Mostly I was interested in the personal dynamics -- how charismatic schemers like my protagonist Natch convinced so many people to invest in so many worthless companies.

So in 2000 and 2001, I wrote a novel titled Jump 225.7, which you might call a far-future satire of the dot-com era. I literally finished the first draft of it on September 10, 2001. Then suddenly the next day, satire seemed the wrong way to approach the story I was trying to tell. So when I started rewriting it, the story became much darker and more serious in tone. I tried to ask all the big questions about capitalism, about Western society, about human nature and greed and what the long-term prospects of the species were. The end result was the Jump 225 trilogy, starting with Infoquake and continuing with MultiReal.

2) Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

Growing up, my favorite author had to be J.R.R. Tolkien (unless Stan Lee counts). I'm sure I read the whole Lord of the Rings saga (including The Hobbit and The Silmarillion) half a dozen times. Then in adolescence I fell in love with Kurt Vonnegut, with a special reverence for Cat's Cradle and Slaughterhouse-Five. College brought John Barth to my attention, and I've been running the biggest fan website for his books since about 1996 or so. If I had to name my favorite author since college, I'd have to pick either William Gibson or Thomas Pynchon.

3) What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

I think for me it's the ability to rethink absolutely everything about the world, down to the smallest nanoparticle. I'm a worldbuilding addict, so I like being able to examine and reconfigure the politics, the history, and the sociology of my world to suit the story I'm trying to tell. For the Jump 225 trilogy, I considered all of those things and more -- I even got down to the level of thinking up new building materials and trying to invent ways that people would move goods from place to place in the absence of trucks and an interstate system. I can't really think of any other genre you can do that in.

4) Why did you decide to make Natch a software entrepreneur?

When I started writing the Jump 225 trilogy, I followed the axiom of writing what you know. I'd worked for several high-tech start-ups run by young, charismatic, slightly unhinged software entrepreneurs. And so that's who I started with.

The supporting characters are also based on character types I'd met in dot-coms. Horvil is the heavy-set, brilliant engineering guy who prefers to run things behind the scenes and leave the politics to the boss. And Jara is the serious, no-nonsense marketing woman who has something of a love/hate relationship with the company.

5) What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

I'm incredibly boring. I read. I putter around on the computer and tinker with my websites. I watch a lot of movies, and I keep up with the news. I'm looking forward to having children so I can have the excuse that I'm "spending quality time with my family."

6) What sort of research did you do to write these books?

Infoquake is heavily concerned with biologic software (or "wetware," as it's sometimes called). I know something about software, but I know very little about biology or physiology. So I certainly had to do some basic research into how the human body works. The main technology behind MultiReal also involves quantum physics, so I had to beef up on that a bit too. I admit that I don't tend to delve very deeply into the subjects that I research; mostly it's just your basic Wikipedia and Google searches, combined with long involved discussions with subject matter experts I know.

7) Natch is a compulsive workaholic. Are you that way too?

Absolutely not. I'm actually not very much at all like Natch or Jara, the two main protagonists of the novels. Although I suppose I do share certain characteristics with them. If I had to name a character who was closest to me in temperament, I'd have to say Horvil, the fat cheerful engineer who's always putting up with Natch's crap.

8) The political factions in the Jump 225 trilogy are divided between governmentalists and libertarians. If you were a character in the books, which would you be?

A lot of people who've read Infoquake assumed that my sympathies lie with the libertarians, because that's where Natch's sympathy lies. But I'm definitely more conflicted in my politics. I like to pick and choose among the different parties and philosophies. I have some definite liberal tendencies but a number of conservative ones as well.

You'll discover in MultiReal that the political situation is much more nuanced than Natch makes it out to be in Infoquake. The central government, which really seems like the epitome of evil in Infoquake, is a conflicted organization itself with some do-gooders working in the fringes. And the libertarians are full of self-interested schemers who'll stab you in the back.

9) What are you writing now?

I'm currently about 80,000 words into Geosynchron, the third and final book of the Jump 225 trilogy. I'm a very slow writer and I write a million drafts, but I'm hoping to finish the whole thing by the end of the year.

10) Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

Yes, I always wanted to write, ever since I was a little kid. I wrote my first "novel" when I was about 6 years old, and I spent much of my childhood building up a pantheon of superheroes with my brother. I studied creative writing in college at Johns Hopkins, and tried to write a novel in my early 20s. It wasn't until I had given up on the writing and spent half a dozen years in the trenches of high tech that I came up with an idea that I could follow through on. And that was the Jump 225 trilogy.

11) What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

I've never been very good about setting a concrete writing schedule. Maybe that's why it takes me so long to finish anything. I typically work about three days a week at my part-time web programming job, and then write whenever I have the free time and the inclination.

12) Where do you write?

I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I'm one of the guys you see sitting there at Starbuck's with his laptop for hours on end. For some reason, I find it easy to write with background chatter. But when I'm not writing there, I'm sitting on my couch at home with one dog on the back of the couch behind my head and one dog nestled between me and the armrest.

13) What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?

The hardest thing for me as a writer is discipline. I have an easy time coming up with great ideas, and I find it very easy to sit down and start pecking on those first few paragraphs. But then I quickly burn out. If you're ever going to finish anything, you need to be able to batter your way through those burnout times, and I have a difficult time with that. And then I'm so rarely satisfied with what I write, it always takes me to forever to finish.

More about David Louis Edelman

More about Infoquake

More about MultiReal

Thanks for stopping by, David, and best of luck with the rest of the series! And please don't take forever to finish the trilogy. Readers agree with the wise words of the Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince: Forever is a mighty long time.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Winner of IWBYJR and chance to win $130 worth of books!

The winner of the signed copy of Stephanie Kuehnert's I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone is...macbeaner! Woo-hoo!

For everyone who isn't macbeaner, it's time to go out and buy the book. If you'd like to know why, be sure to read my review and my interview with Stephanie.

BUT WAIT!! If that's not enough incentive, Shooting Stars Magazine is holding a contest to win $130 worth of book store gift certificates. To enter, all you have to do is buy I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and send either the receipt or a picture of yourself with the book to Lauren at Lauren51990@aol.com by July 30. See the official announcement for more details.

I'm definitely entering. *drools at the thought of $130 worth of books*

Now I'm off to do a few tasks before I go AWOL for my birthday. Wish me luck getting a good birthday song (that's the first song I hear on the radio after my birth-minute). I'll be sad to say goodbye to Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box." They don't get any better than that. Except maybe the year before, when it was "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" by George Thorogood and The Delaware Destroyers.

Anyway, y'all have some book shopping to do. And remember: buy early, buy often.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Contest winner and Looking for birthday ideas

The winner of the CD giveaway for Monroe's story is...alishsmom! So just send your mailing address to jeri AT jerismithready DOT com, and I'll see that your brand-new copy of Alvin Youngblood Hart's Big Mama's Door gets on its merry little way.

You have until 9pm eastern tomorrow night to enter to win a signed copy of the phenomenal debut novel by Stephanie Kuehnert, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. See my interview with Stephanie for details.

Now...my birthday is Friday, and I'm hoping to get all my work done before then so I can take the day off. I'm trying to figure out how I want to spend my day. So far I have two ingredients:

1. Sending Chris to Sam's Bagels for breakfast sandwiches, coffee, and a dozen bagels, a treat I usually save for Deadline Hell.
2. Reading the entire Y: The Last Man comic series by Brian K. Vaughn. The tenth and final volume just came out a couple weeks ago. I've read the first two, but then stopped and waited for it to be over so I could glom it all at once. That's how I tend to operate with series. Does anyone else do this?

Other than that, I'm coming up dry. I'm so unaccustomed to days off that I don't know what to do with them, and I'm afraid I'm going to end up wandering aimlessly around the house, then accidentally fall into a mad fit of filing.

So I'm looking for inspiration. If you had a free day with no responsibilities, how would you spend it?

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Interview with Stephanie Kuehnert, author of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE

Welcome back to our (the royal "our") Mostly Debut Author interview series! Today we have Stephanie Kuehnert, whose new novel, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, officially comes out tomorrow, but is already available everywhere that is anywhere.

If you read my blog post yesterday, you already know how wonderful the book is. Now you can learn more about the fascinating Ms. Kuehnert herself. She's agreed to give away a signed copy of IWBYJR to one lucky commenter.

First, an announcement: I have no idea if this is a coincidence or not, but today, July 7, is the birthday of the main character Emily Black. Happy Birthday, Em!

Q. IWBYJR is told from two perspectives, the mother and daughter. Did you always plan to present the story this way, or did it evolve from fewer (or more) points-of-view?

Stephanie: It actually evolved from more points of view. I told it from Michael, the dad’s and Molly, Louisa’s best friend’s, too, because I thought they gave a wider scope to the story, particularly giving more about who Louisa was, but also giving more about Carlisle. But ultimately it was Louisa and Emily’s story. I miss some of the scenes I cut, though, and plan to post them as outtakes on my website in August.

What was the original spark for the novel's idea? Did it come in an instant, or did it evolve over time?

This one definitely evolved over time. I’d written short stories about Emily and Louisa and hadn’t realized they could connect and bring a whole new layer of depth to their stories until one evening when I was taking the ‘L’ home from school, standing in the subway tunnel and I realized that I wanted to make Emily’s story into a novel because I wanted to write a great rock ‘n’ roll story about a girl, but I need something more to her so she wasn’t just this sarcastic girl with big goals. So I wondered about what vulnerability she could be hiding and then I thought about the most vulnerable and raw character I’d written, Louisa, and was like, what if she was Emily’s mother. Then it became a mad race to scrawl things down before the train came…

Every page of IWBYJR pulses with your love of music. Was music a big part of your life right from the cradle?

When I was really young, I was mostly surrounded by my parents’ music, the Beatles, which I loved, and a lot of folk stuff, which I wasn’t really too into. I liked the oldies station, 50s and 60s songs about California and car accidents and bad boys on motorcycles. Before I started buying my own music, I’d check the Billboard greatest hits albums of the early 60s out of the library. The first music I bought was pop stuff: Madonna and Janet Jackson and Cyndi Lauper and the Bangles. I never much liked the boy bands like New Kids, though. I will admit to owning Vanilla Ice because that amused me. In late grade school, I listened to pop radio, trying to fit in, but when I was about 10, I made friends with a girl who had MTV and I convinced my parents to finally get cable so I could have MTV. This was when MTV *actually* showed videos and exposed you to new bands. I discovered REM and Jane’s Addiction and Depeche Mode and Faith No More. My friend got Nirvana’s Bleach album right before Nevermind came out and we were hooked on them. Then I got into the Sex Pistols and Hole. And from there got into more underground bands.

Who have been your biggest sources/influences for new music discoveries--family, friends, or serendipity/your own curiosity? What are some of your favorite places to find new music these days?

Friends and curiosity mostly. My friends have always played a great role in turning me on to bands. I also read liner notes and interviews and when people like Kurt Cobain would name some band, I’d go check them out and then I’d check out the bands they were affiliated with and so on down the line. There was also this super cool punk record store that existed in my town for all of a year, my junior year of high school, and they really educated me about punk rock. Nowadays, I still get recommendations from my friends and especially my boyfriend. I’d kind of been out of the punk loop for awhile when I met him and he turned me on to a bunch of great bands. I also have discovered a few bands on MySpace and I love it when my readers recommend music to me. One of them recommended this band, Civet, and I am so obsessed with this band. I don’t think I’ve been this obsessed with a band in years.

I still primarily buy music the old-fashioned way, though. I love my local independent record store and even though I put the music on my iPod, I like to have the cover art and booklet with liner notes and all that. My new favorite thing is buying vinyl with a free music download. Every band should put out their music this way. Because I’ll actually listen to the vinyl when I’m at home and I can put it on my iPod!

I'm always fascinated by titles and how they come about. When did you know that Sleater-Kinney's song "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" would be the title? Has this always been a favorite song?

It has always been a favorite song, but the story of how it got chosen as a title isn’t so glamorous. I quickly learned that you don’t have all that much control over your title as an author. The Marketing Department has the final say. My original title (well, the one it had when it sold, it had others before that) was “All Roads Lead to Rock ‘n’ Roll,” which suits the book well and is now a chapter title, but Marketing didn’t find it catchy enough. They told me to come up with a list. And they wanted song names and band names and stuff on that list. I was rather attached to calling it “Punk Rock Girl” after the Dead Milkmen song for awhile, but that wasn’t catchy enough either I guess. They suggested something like “Searching for Johnny Rotten” and I was like, “No, no, the book is about female musicians and American punk.” I put my iPod on shuffle searching for inspiration and the first song that played was “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and I thought, well, this fits their criteria and mine, especially since it has double meaning for Emily because she wants to be the queen of rock ‘n’ roll that Sleater-Kinney sings about and she also wants to be her mom’s Joey Ramone. So I put the song on the top of the list, but I wasn’t holding my breath because I thought they’d say it was too long. Fortunately they loved it as much as I did!

Your novel recreates many universal (and sometimes painful) adolescent experiences like intense friendships, first loves, sky-high hopes, and devastating betrayals, yet it never descends into a 'downer trip' that becomes too hard to read. How did you find a balance to keep this emotional roller coaster from riding off the rails?

Humor. Emily has a great sarcastic sense of humor. The person who really taught me about using humor to keep drama from completely swallowing a story was John McNally. He is the master. His short story collection “Troublemakers” is my go-to guide when I want to bring levity to painful situations. And I met him at a writing festival hosted by the college I attended and he critiqued the first short story that Louisa appeared in and he suggested I look at how to balance out the really dark tone to the story. So yeah, John McNally is my hero.

OK, give us a riff on the state of the music industry today (or feel free to shake your head and tell me, "Jeri Jeri Jeri, don't say industry.") Ready...kick it!

Yeah, I guess I’m gonna cringe at the word "industry." When I think of “music industry” I just think of guys in suits freaking out because they still don’t know how to adapt to music downloading. As for the state of music… Well, part of me is becoming one of those old people who says, “It was better when I was growing up” because I really do think the early to mid-nineties just ruled (along with several eras of rock before my time). But another part of me thinks that, as usual, you just gotta know where to look for the good bands. There are almost too many to search through now. All the requests I get on MySpace… But I have really found some gems when I have the time to listen to them, like Full Contact Kitty. I still don’t really expect to find the next great band on the radio. I expect to find them in a random bar I walk into. Which happened to me in Denver. And the band, Sybris, was from Chicago. Weird I had to go to Denver to find them.

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?

That’s hard because I love certain aspects of the lives of many of characters, but they all have a lot to deal with. I think I would have to say Regan because it would be pretty damn sweet to be an awesome girl drummer and she has great parents and a cool older sister and I always wanted one of those and she has a pretty cute boyfriend, too.

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

Definitely Emily. She would be fun to hang out with. I couldn’t deal with all her problems, which is why I didn’t choose her for the last question, but I definitely loved writing about her because it was like creating a cool friend. Plus I just really want the music she makes to be real!

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

I want to be Weetzie Bat from Francesca Lia Block’s books. She’s got her problems, but she’s so fun and hopeful and carefree and lives in this really pretty version of Los Angeles. Or I’d want to be Elizabeth Swann from Pirates of the Caribbean. She’s bad ass and I totally want to be a pirate. I mean, if I could be anything in the world, I’d be a pirate. But I’d totally break up with Orlando Bloom for Johnny Depp.

As for somebody to bring to life as a friend, Spike from the original Degrassi High. Since I was ten years old I wanted her to be my friend. She’s even still cool now as a mom on The Next Generation. We could definitely chill and listen to the Pogues and she could do my hair.

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

Francesca Lia Block. We could write so many beautiful stories about damaged girls.

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

I haven’t really had any super weird research yet. Mostly I just researched music history for IWBYJR and distances. I needed to figure out how long it would take Louisa to drive from New York to New Orleans for example.

What's your earliest memory?

I was about 5 or 6 and I was insanely jealous of my best friend’s (the boy next door) little sister’s Rainbow Brite doll, so I buried it in my sandbox. It was easily discovered and I tried and failed to blame it on my little brother. Then, filled with shame, I “ran away.” This meant I hid on the top bunk of my bunk bed for a few hours…

Do you have any phobias?

I am insanely superstitious about the weirdest things, my bracelets being one of them. For years I wore exactly 27 bracelets, mostly those rubber jelly bracelets, but some cool beaded ones that my friend made for me too. Whenever a bracelet broke, it was a huge deal; I kept waiting for something horrible to happy. Now I am down to one bracelet. It’s really cool, I found it in Seattle. It has all these old images of Seattle like postcards. I bought back-ups of this bracelet for when it inevitably breaks (I’ve broken one already). When I’m really going through a rough time I sleep with the bracelet on. Otherwise I only take it off at night or when I work out or take a shower. When I forget to put it on, I worry. I forgot it about a week ago and seemed to have a good day in spite of it, but then I found out the next day that something really horrible had happened the night before. I know it’s silly but I can’t help but think that if I had only worn the bracelet…

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)?

One Life to Live. The soap opera. I’ve been totally addicted to it since the summer before freshman year of high school. I tape it every day and watch it while I eat dinner. I’m particularly obsessed with this character Todd Manning who is so evil. Like normally I would completely despise him because he raped a woman in college. I started watching it during that plot line and I did hate him. But he’s had a redemptive arc. He’s still evil, but not in that way and he’s really funny. I liked the old actor that played him best though. Roger Howarth was his name. I am totally in the cult of Todd Manning. I even have a t-shirt though I don’t actually wear it. I got them for me and my best friend who is also in the cult of Todd Manning.

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

Well, preferably I’d fly to Seattle and hang out there. But if I had to stay here: Take a long walk while listening to my iPod. Read one of the many books on my to-be-read pile. Watch some episodes of either Grey’s Anatomy, Degrassi or My So-Called Life. Eat Chipolte for lunch and vegan sushi for dinner. And I’d write. Even though it’s my job, I love to do it.

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

Hmm, my favorite author tends to fluctuate. One day I’ll say it’s John Steinbeck, one day Francesca Lia Block, one day Joe Meno, one day Irvine Welsh. The nice thing is I know both Joe and Irvine and they will answer any question I have honestly, so that’s lucky. John, I’d probably have boring writerly questions about structure. Francesca, though, I would ask how she deals with straddling all kinds of genre lines because she writes YA books that appeal to adults, she wrote erotica, she does everything. I have that YA/adult thing going on with this book and it would be interesting to gain some perspective on it.

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

Not to be a kiss ass, Jeri, but I would be you. I want to write a kick ass vampire story or other urban fantasy. But you already wrote the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll vampire story, so I’m leaving it to you.

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

My second novel BALLADS OF SUBURBIA comes out next summer. It’s about a teenage girl who finally finds a place to fit in, but then her life starts to spiral out of control. Yeah, that is really generic summary. You can read more about it here. Right now I am toying with two ideas. One is another multi-point-of-view story that focuses on a mother/daughter relationship again and a best friend relationship. It’s about two best friends whose kids run away together and how they deal with it. Another is my first attempt to write from the male POV, about a teenage boy dealing with the suicide of his twin sister. It’s also kinda my modern, realistic version of the Persephone myth.

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

Ahhh, I suck at this stuff!!! I couldn’t sum my book up easily until they wrote the back cover synopsis for me! I guess, I would just say, “You really can judge my book by its cover: it’s that a lot of that tough, combat-booted outer layer, but that little swatch of lace reveals the vulnerable insides.”


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Leave a comment or question for Stephanie, or tell us how music inspires you, down there in the comments. One name will be drawn at random at 9pm eastern time on Thursday, July 10 and announced here. International entries welcome!

***I recommend against putting your e-mail in the comments, since that brings on spam (not from me, from the Bad Guys). HOWEVER, if you don't leave a way for me to find you, you must stay subscribed to the comments or come back to the blog to see if you won.***

Good luck!

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE by Stephanie Kuehnert

As you know, I rarely do book reviews. I suck at summing up the events and themes (you'd never know I was an English major for a time), and have difficulty articulating what I love about a book, so for me to make the effort, I need to feel strongly about it.

Which I do (do I ever!) about I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert (pronounced Keen-ert, by the way, mentions Jeri Smith-Ready-as-in-ready-to-go-NOT-reedy). Stephanie will be joining us Monday for an interview, and will be giving away a signed copy to one lucky commenter. But first, to whet your appetite:

IWBYJR follows Emily Black from her early teens to early twenties, as she navigates the rough waters of adolescence and young adulthood. She's got a tougher time than most of us: her mother Louisa left her in the care of her father when she was just a few months old. Growing up, Emily painted a glamorized portrait of her mom, telling herself that Louisa left to "follow the music," especially punk rock in its nativity. She followed in what she thought were her mother's footsteps by getting as close as she could to the music itself, first through the boys and men who played it, and then by taking the guitar in her own hands.

We discover, through Louisa's point-of-view, that her life is anything but glamorous, and her reasons for abandoning her family are tragic and complex. Kuehnert shows us the parallel odysseys of mother and daughter as they try to find themselves (and by extension, each other) in music, drugs, and relationships.

I expected to like this book. What I didn't expect was how much it would worm its way inside me and make me think about it when I least expected it. My life was nothing like Emily's, but I think anyone who's ever been a teenager (i.e., all of us, whether we want to remember it or not) could relate to this book. You don't need to be a fan of punk music or even music at all to feel this novel's heart. Its themes--family, friendship, betrayal, and the kind of hope that simultaneously lifts us up and makes us crawl--are universal.

The characters are all well-drawn. In a lot (okay, most) novels about teenagers, the parents are either dead, absent, or have as much depth as indoor/outdoor carpet. That wasn't the case with IWBYJR. Emily's father Michael is appealing, and you can see how much of her strength comes from his unwavering and unconditional love. He's far from perfect--since Louisa's departure, he's placed himself in an emotional purgatory that sometimes prevents him from really living. I wished desperately for him to find happiness. Louisa, who shares the novel's narrative, is a fascinating portrait of an adult runaway. Even Molly, the mother of Emily's best friend Regan, is fully fleshed and sympathetic as both a parent and a person.

Supporting characters, including Emily's bandmates (Regan and her boyfriend Tom), along with her first love Johnny, are also richly nuanced and real. But Emily is the literal star of the show. She makes a lot of bad choices, and she raises self-deception to an art form. But her sense of perspective (to me it seemed as if an older, wiser Emily was telling the story), humor, and raw sincerity made her easy to love.

Now, the music: even though I didn't know most of the songs (seeing as many were fictional), the vivid descriptions put me right there with Emily in the mosh pit or on the stage. I could feel the way that music both enthralled and empowered her. Music was both a means and an end--meaning, it formed a path to what she wanted most, and was also something to be enjoyed for itself.

As I mentioned before, this is definitely a book that would appeal to adults and older teens alike. Some parents might object to the sexual situations and drug use, but they're handled with honesty and frankness--meaning they're neither demonized nor romanticized (believe me, no girl is going to want to run out and get laid after reading about Emily's first encounter). I can't even express how refreshing that is, and it's one of the many reasons I loved this book.

So join me Monday to learn more about Stephanie Kuehnert and I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, and enter to win your very own copy of this phenomenal new book!


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Now playing: The Gits - Snivelling Little Rat Faced Git
via FoxyTunes

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Last day on the Island

Wahhh, it's already time to leave my new friends at the Desert Island Keepers blog. They really know how to treat a guest.

Stop by today to see which 6 books and which 7 CDs I'd bring with me to our desert island. Maybe a few surprises.

Ongoing contest update:

Signed copy of Wicked Game: Amberkatze's Book Blog (interview and giveaway)
Blues CD giveaway: My post about Monroe's story

I'm off now to scrutinize the typeset for The Reawakened. It'll be the last time I get to make changes to it. I'm a bit sad the series is over, but sad in a good way. And as long as people are reading it, I guess it's never really over.

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Now playing: The Killers - Why Do I Keep Counting?
via FoxyTunes

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

It's all about Shane (for once)

First, Happy Canada Day to my friends from the north!

If I were really organized and forward-thinking, today would be the big debut of Regina, the Canadian vampire from Wicked Game. But alas, I didn't think of that until now.

Instead, I'm giving Shane McAllister his day in the sun--er, moon. (Sun bad, very very bad!)

First, I'm telling the world a little more about him over at Part Two of my stay on the Desert Island Keeper island (why yes, the daquiris are divine). The drawing for a signed copy of Wicked Game (or one of my other books if you've got that already) will take place at 11:59pm eastern tonight, so put your commentin' boots on.

Also, his MySpace page is up at last! He even blogged a couple of times. Go friend him and make him feel all warm inside, because the only other way to do that is--well, you know.

I think part of his incentive to get off his butt and onto the social networking site was to referee the escalating tension between Ciara and vampire (sorry, nightkind) Dante Baptiste from A Rush of Wings. Things should really get interesting now. Shane's never been one for delicate politicking.

In case you missed my late-night posting, Monroe's story is up on my website now for your reading (and listening) enjoyment. To celebrate, I'm giving away a brand-new copy of my favorite blues CD. For details, read last night's post.

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Now playing: The Black Crowes - Horse Head
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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