Tuesday, July 27, 2010

BRING ON THE NIGHT release day musings + soundtrack

Holy crap, it's really happening! Bring on the Night's official release date is here.

Most authors will tell you that on release day, they are so nervous they can't eat or sleep. They often pace the floor endlessly, stopping only to refresh their Amazon page to see if the ranking has gone up or down and if there are any new reviews.

Me? Today? Just happy.

I'm not blase about this release--on the contrary, I am immensely grateful. I submitted a synopsis for Bring on the Night and its sequel, Let It Bleed, to my publisher in December 2008. January 1, 2009, I began writing Bring on the Night, not knowing whether it would ever see the light of day, because I knew that if it were bought, the deadline would be imminent.

About halfway through, I fell in love with it. Painfully so, because I knew there was a chance it would never be published. By the time the offer came through, the rough draft was 80% complete.

I think that authors have a more intense relationship with books they write "on spec"--i.e., with no guarantee of publication. It's a mixture of love and fear that produces some really raw moments. Not that I want to make a habit of it! I would much rather have the security of knowing a book will be published before I write it. I hate heartbreak, and I like paying the mortgage. (I know! Hacky, unromantic me, so focused on surviving and eating.)

Anyway, the book is now in stores, both online and real life. And I am too busy to be nervous, though by all accounts I should be terrified. The sales of Bring on the Night will probably determine whether I sell the fifth and final planned book in the series, Lust for Life.

I try not to think about that, because of course publishers make decisions based on more than one single number (I hear that tea leaves and gibbon entrails are also involved), and because it's ultimately out of my control. All I can do is write the best book possible and try to let people know it's available. I can't control the distribution or the number of copies the big bookstore chains order, or whether stores place it face out or on a special rack. Everyone knows those factors are controlled by aliens living in a Gobi desert bunker.

More important, I should be nervous because I took risks with this novel. The story demanded it. And maybe it's because the story (and the characters) demanded it that I'm not scared. I made choices for honest reasons, and my editor and critique partners helped me execute those choices in a way that would bring readers along for the ride.

Besides, I'm busier than a [okay, I looked up "busier than a" phrases, but they all involved missing limbs, so insert your own joke here, according to your level of sensitivity]. I'm currently buried in line edits for Shift. Which is exactly where I want to be--I loooooove line edits. Line edits are where a good story becomes a great book.

Back to Bring on the Night: I did a Skype chat interview with Kayley Thomas as Hopeful Monster blog last Friday (which I really enjoyed--seriously, if you want to do an interview with me in the next couple months, this is the way to go, rather than sending me a list of questions I will spend hours on and maybe return to you in September).

Kayley posted the chat and a lovely feature this morning. Go read it if you want to know more about the WVMP series or want to hear her insightful take on it. Oh, and if you want to read my interview.

Now, as promised, here is the soundtrack:

Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

I also promised I would discuss a few of the songs and why I chose them. Since I could ramble forever about this soundtrack, I think I'll put this sucker on shuffle and talk about the first 5 songs that come up. Maybe do a few more in a later post. Here we go:

1. "Swamp Thing," by Chameleons UK. Possibly the best song ever written. If nothing else, perfect for this book. The obvious connection is the title, which is also the name of a zombie movie starring Adrienne Barbeau. But the lyrics touch on several elements of the book, from talk of a storm to "selling blood by the litre" to "nothing's sacred anymore." And you know, a swamp thing.

This is one of several songs not actually on the playlist in front of the book. But I found after doing the soundtrack for Shade that playlists were vastly improved by the addition of songs to fill in the gaps where music is not mentioned in the book. I also took care to make sure the songs flow into each other well. This makes a soundtrack more listenable than a simple list of tunes.

2. "Not Dark Yet," by Bob Dylan. Another song added to turn a playlist into a soundtrack. I needed a song to represent a section of the book where Ciara is filled with fear and very tempted to rely on the false comfort of denial. Lyrics.

3. "Ripple" by the Grateful Dead. The only Dead song I truly, truly love (I am not a fan, though I married into a family of Deadheads). I once watched my husband sing it at his cousin's funeral. Everyone cried, but it was a comfort.

If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung,
Would you hear my voice come thru the music,
Would you hold it near as it were your own?

4. "Wild Horses," Rolling Stones (covered here by the Sundays). One of my favorite Stones tunes. I adore songs that reflect mature love rather than the initial glow of infatuation. Some people say this is a breakup song, though Mick Jagger denies it. To me, it's about a couple who has been through wrenching heartbreak and mutual hurt, but they see it through to the other side. I chose the Sundays' version partly because this section of the soundtrack needed a bit of a faster tempo than the Stones slow, dreamy original, and also because I wanted it to be from Ciara's perspective, so a female singer matched better.

5. "Seventh Symphony, Second Movement," Ludwig van Beethoven. Yes, classical music on a WVMP soundtrack! Hard to explain this one without spoiling the plot, so I'll just say it's one of my favorite, if not my favorite piece of music ever. I really like this recording I found on playlist.com, because most orchestras play it too fast for my taste. They ignore the "etto" in the "allegretto," you know what I'm sayin'?

If you get a chance to pick up Bring on the Night this week, I love you! I hope you enjoy reading it half as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Now excuse me while I go find a hundred different synonyms for "sigh."

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Monday, July 26, 2010

BRING ON THE NIGHT has arrived!

With this horrible heat wave, we could use a few days of nothing but night, huh?

Well, bring it on! At long last...after a fourteen-and-a-half-month wait since Bad to the Bone...it's here!

*throws blue, silver, and gold confetti to match the cover*

Technically Bring on the Night's release date is tomorrow, but it's shipping from most online booksellers already (follow that link to order your copy), and is already on the shelves at many Barnes & Nobles.

To save gas and time, you can even check your local B&N's inventory online. For instance, if you live in Duluth, you can see that the Miller Hall Mall location has copies. Just follow that link and punch in your own zip code to see which B&Ns near you are cool enough to carry it. If they don't, they can always order it for you.

Borders should have their stores' inventory listed as of tomorrow, but as of now it's still considered a pre-order.

If you need convincing, you can read the first two chapters. The first one is really short (don't panic), so they let me give you a bonus.

Also, For What It's Worth book blog did a lovely non-spoilery review which will give you an idea of what Bring on the Night is about. Very few advance copies were sent out for this book because we were extra paranoid about spoilers.

Some frequently asked questions about BOTN:

Q. What's Bring on the Night about? When does it take place? Who are the main characters?

Bring on the Night (named after the Police song) is the third installment of the WVMP Radio series, aka "the vampire DJ books." As always, former con artist Ciara Griffin, a twenty-something snark addict/commitment-phobe, is the narrator.

It begins two-and-a-half years after the end of Book 2, Bad to the Bone, so for readers new to the series, it's probably a good place to jump in. It's got plenty of action, both vertical and horizontal, to keep lovers of urban fantasy and paranormal romance very happy.

But current readers will find it particularly rewarding, as there are some major leaps in character development. As Bring on the Night begins, Ciara is about to finish her bachelor's degree and has just begun training for the paranormal paramilitary agency, the Control. She's living happily with her vampire boyfriend, Shane, and their vampire dog, Dexter.

Things are good. And then they're not.

This is a book in which a zombie invasion is not Ciara's biggest problem. As I've mentioned before, you really need to read Bring on the Night before you read ABOUT Bring on the Night, because you don't want to be spoiled. You've been warned three times now, so my work is done.

Q. Will Bring on the Night be released in the larger trade paperback form?

No, it will only be in mass market paperback (and pretty much every e-book format). The smaller size and price is more appropriate for the typical urban fantasy reader, who buys TONS of books every month. These readers rock!

Q. But...but...Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone were in trade paperback. My bookshelves will look uneven!

Well, if symmetry means that much to you (and believe me, the Shane in me sympathizes), Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone are also available in mass market paperback. Currently all order links on my website point to the mass market versions.

I wholeheartedly support this decision by my publisher to switch all their urban fantasy titles to mass market. But even if I didn't, authors don't make any decisions regarding format, languages, price, etc., so all complaints should be directed, um, elsewhere.

Q. Why the switch from present tense narration to past tense?

Ahhh, I could write a whole essay on that topic. The simplest answer is that I wanted Bring on the Night to stand out from the other (three, hopefully four) books in the series, for reasons that will become obvious when you read it.

Bring on the Night is darker and more introspective, and I think past-tense narration lends itself better to that mood. Also, one of the reasons I used present tense in the first place was because Ciara is a (former) con artist. The reader has reason to mistrust her telling of events, unless they're experiencing them with her.

In Bring on the Night, Ciara is definitely not a con artist. She has to learn to develop her physical strength and trust her emotional passions, because when the proverbial chips are down, sometimes cleverness isn't enough.

Q. How many books will be in the WVMP series?

Five, I hope! But so far I am only guaranteed four. Book Four, Let It Bleed, will be out this time next year. Ciara meets more of her blood relatives, who are scarier than most vampires. It's chock full of con artist-y goodness!

Q. Why zombies? Will you be introducing other paranormal creatures to the series?

Way back when I wrote Wicked Game, there was a reason the paranormal paramilitary agency known as “The Control” was called the International Agency for the Control and Management of Undead Corporeal Entities, not the International Agency for the Control and Management of Vampires. I wanted to leave the door open for a certain other kind of UCE (or “yoosie,” as the human Control agents refer to the undead when they’re out of hearing range).

No, I definitely will not be adding more paranormal creatures. Like vampires, zombies are created using blood magic (reanimated by a necromancer for his or her nefarious purposes), so they are logically consistent with this universe. Throwing in other creatures with other origins and explanations would make my head explode. I'm having a hard enough time explaining Ciara's anti-holy blood and figuring out where vampires go when they die, without adding faeries and werewolves to the creative cauldron.

Q. OK, you talked me into it. How can I get an autographed copy?

One of these ways:
  • Order from Constellation Books, a fabulous independent bookstore in Reisterstown, MD. When you place your order, be sure to let the nice folks there know whether you want it simply autographed or if you want it personalized (i.e., "To [name of righteous reader who supports indie bookstores and is therefore, at this exact moment, my ultimate BFF]"). Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.
  • Fill out the contact form and ask me for a signed, personalized bookplate. Tell me which book(s) you’d like, how you’d like it personalized, and (most important) your mailing address. No charge to you! Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. My administrative staff consists of an as-yet-uncloned me.
  • OR, Send your copy of the book to me at P.O. Box 66, Westminster, MD 21158 with a self-addressed stamped envelope for return. Let me know how you’d like it personalized. Again, allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.
Q. Hmm, I think I'd prefer to win a copy, and I feel pretty lucky this week. So any contests?

Yes! My publisher is sponsoring some giveaways around the blogosphere this week, which I will link to on Twitter and Facebook as I become aware of them, or you can Google it.

But I'm giving away three signed copies this week!
  • Before I send each quarterly newsletter issue, I draw two names to win a prize, and this issue's prize is, shockingly, a signed copy of Bring on the Night. All you have to do to enter is be subscribed to my newsletter (the signup box is on every page of my website, including the sidebar of this blog). Deadline: 11:59pm eastern today. International entries welcome!
  • Also, at the end of the week, I will draw a name from the people who "like" my Facebook "fan" page (or whatever the heck they're calling it these days) to win a signed copy of Bring on the Night. Deadline: 11:59pm eastern Friday, July 30. International entries welcome!

Tomorrow I'll post the playlist (which includes such diverse artists as Beethoven, the Brady Bunch, and Marilyn Manson, along with the usual rock 'n' roll favorites), and why I picked some of the songs, other than the fact that I love them to death.

Stay cool and happy reading!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Upcoming appearances & how YOU can get a signed copy of BRING ON THE NIGHT

Wow, Bring on the Night is almost here! Or, if you pre-ordered online, it is here! Hope you're enjoying it if it's already arrived.

If you're a current fan of the series, you need to read the book right away, before you hear spoilers concerning the Big Event within. You know I like to joke, but I'm not joking about this. Don't say I didn't warn you! But I will warn you again later, just to be thorough.

Anyway, my first signing of Bring on the Night will be Saturday, August 7, 3-5pm, at Constellation Books, my local awesome independent bookstore in Reisterstown, MD, pictured here.

Constellation Books features a fabulous selection of books, a very knowledgeable staff, and most importantly, air conditioning. Last time I signed, we only had a tornado watch instead of a warning, so things are looking up.

Saturday, August 7, 3-5PM:

Constellation Books
303 Main St
Reisterstown, Maryland 21136-1903

If you're familiar with Reisterstown but not with Constellation Books, it's across from Java Mamma's and on the same side of the street as the Cow, which, according to its Facebook fan page, rocks.

So what's in it for the rest of you, who can't make it to Reisterstown? If you order your copy of Bring on the Night from Constellation Books, at any time before or after the signing, I will sign it for you. If you order it before the signing, obviously, I will sign it that day and it will be shipped out the following Monday.

To get your signed copy of Bring on the Night, either call the bookstore at 410-833-5151, or place your order online, and when you get to the order page, note in the comments if you want it personalized. Otherwise it'll just be a plain old autographed first printing, suitable for future eBay transactions.

On Saturday, August 14, 10am-2pm, I'm doing a group author signing to benefit the Lebanon Library at:

Lebanon Valley Mall
2264 Cumberland Street
Lebanon, PA

Other authors include Maria V. Snyder and A.S. King. Check out the event page for a full list of authors.

Hope to see you there!

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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Anthology announcment

I was meaning to blog about this development this week, anyway, but, being scalp-deep in revisions for Shift (which hey, is now available for Amazon pre-order, by the way, which is incredibly scary because it's still lying broken and busted in thirty-four pieces on my hard drive, waiting for me to reassemble it into something resembling a book), I wasn't sure I'd have time.

But then LeBron James went all diva and decided to make his announcement about where he's playing next year (and presumably for many years to come) on a special hour-long ESPN show tonight at 9pm called "The Decision" (brought to you by bing and the University of Phoenix).

It was just too pretentious not to imitate.

So without further ado, brought to you by orange Tic-Tacs and Tetley British Blend decaffeinated tea, I'd like to announce that I just signed a multimillion dollar contract to write a YA vampire short story for the upcoming PC Cast-edited anthology, Eternal: More Love Stories With Bite, coming to you this December (the Amazon listing of October 26 is incorrect) from BenBella Books.

Like LeBron's lust for an NBA Championship, I've always wanted to be in an anthology. I've stood by season after season watching Kobe Bryant my fellow urban fantasy authors publish many stories, often before they'd even published their first novel. It's a great way for a new or newish author to find new readers.

I'd had a couple of anthology invitations that I had to turn down due to book deadlines (and the fact that I stand firmly in demand of NBA minimum salary SFWA-level minimum pay rates of $473,604 per year five cents per word). Now I have on my plate not only this story, but one for the Smart Chicks Kick It tour anthology, titled, Highway to Hell, coming September 2011 from HarperCollins. I'm absolutely silly psyched about these opportunities to flesh out the universes I've created in my novels.

Because I can't come up with two kinds of vampires with only one brain, my story for Eternal will be loosely tied to the WVMP Radio series. The vampires will have the same rules (stuck in time in the era they were turned, no sunlight whatsoever, the need for human blood, and yes, obsessive-compulsive), but the setting and characters will be completely different.

Sort of.

The main character is Ciara Griffin's first cousin once removed, Mary Cassidy O'Riley ("Cassie" for short) a sixteen-year-old member of one of the South Carolina Irish Traveler groups. Ciara's Traveler relatives figure prominently in Book Four, Let it Bleed, which will be out next August.

Cassie will also appear in that book, because I'm completely incapable of creating a character without needing to explore their lives in-depth. (This is another reason why I rarely do short stories--I fall in love way too easily.) But the story is by no means required for reading the series, and vice versa.

The first Love Stories With Bite collection, Immortal, is already out and includes such phenomenal authors as Rachel Caine, Rachel Vincent, and Richelle Mead. I can't say which authors have been confirmed for Eternal, because it's not really official until all stories are turned in and accepted for publication.

So I suppose there's an outside chance LeBron could end up playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves my short story could still be rejected on the grounds of absolute suckage. That would be really awkward, after this big press conference blog post.

And with THAT, I better get back to Shift so that I can have plenty of time to polish up the aforementioned short story, which is due next Thursday.

Have a great weekend!

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

All I want for my birthday...

...is a downloadable (and therefore uploadable into a playlist) copy of this studio acoustic version of Death Cab for Cutie's "Soul Meets Body":

EDITED TO ADD: Thanks to blog readers Carmen and Cari for finding it for me on Rhapsody! My life is complete.

This was how I first heard the song on the radio last year (yes, I know the song is several years old--I'm a Jeri-Come-Lately to DCFC). I was driving to a book club meeting at the Barnes & Noble in Camp Hill, PA, when it came on. I played it again and again on the satellite radio player, because it was




for Shift, the sequel to Shade. It's absolutely the theme song. How often does that happen, especially during the first few chapters of a first draft? For me, never. The song has kept me going through long periods of doubt--about how big this book can be, about how much I'm asking readers to believe in the impossible.

So anyway, I bought the album, Plans, which I'd been meaning to buy for over a year, since I adored Narrow Stairs. The studio version of "Soul Meets Body" frankly disappointed me after hearing the purity of the acoustic. The words are still the same, but the emotion gets sucked out by the perfection of the production, you know? I like my recordings a little rough and spontaneous (which is one why reason why I loved Narrow Stairs--on that CD, they kept in all the mistakes).

So if this studio acoustic version is out there, available for legal purchase and offline possession (as a fellow creative artist, I'm against stealing music), please let me know. I'd be eternally grateful. Until then, let's enjoy the YouTube version.

I want to live where soul meets body
And let the sun wrap its arms around me
And bathe my skin in water cool and cleansing
And feel, feel what its like to be new

Cause in my head there’s a greyhound station
Where I send my thoughts to far off destinations
So they may have a chance of finding a place
where they’re far more suited than here

And I cannot guess what we'll discover
When we turn the dirt with our palms cupped like shovels
But I know our filthy hands can wash one another’s
And not one speck will remain

And I do believe it’s true
That there are roads left in both of our shoes
But if the silence takes you
Then I hope it takes me too
So brown eyes I hold you near
Cause you’re the only song I want to hear
A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere

Where soul meets body
Where soul meets body
Where soul meets body

And I do believe it’s true
That there are roads left in both of our shoes
But if the silence takes you
Then I hope it takes me too
So brown eyes I hold you near
Cause you’re the only song I want to hear
A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere
A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere
A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere
A melody softly soaring through my atmosphere

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Friday, July 02, 2010

Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit Tour - Jenny O'Connell

This week on the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, we have just the perfect books for your long holiday weekend (Happy Canada Day to our northerly neighbors, by the way!).

Jenny O'Connell has just released two Martha's Vineyard novels, Local Girls and Rich Boys, which take place on--you guessed it, Martha's Vineyard--(sigh...drool...can you tell I have a little bit of cabin fever?)

You can win an Island Summer T-shirt at Jenny's blog, just in time for your own beach getaway!

A little bit about the books:

There are two kinds of people on the island— those who leave at summer’s end…and those who are left behind. Bestselling author Jenny O’Connell presents a sizzling series for summer. Her first two Island Summer novels, LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS highlight the lives of the summering visitors, the year-round locals living in the beach towns of Martha’s Vineyard, and the fireworks that explode when they combine for three steamy months.

In LOCAL GIRLS, friendships are in danger of ending with the summer. Kendra and Mona are best friends, local girls who spend their summers catering to rich tourists and the rest of the year chafing against small-town life. Then Mona's mom marries one of the island's rich summer visitors, and Mona joins the world of the Boston elite, leaving Kendra and Martha's Vineyard behind. When Mona returns the following summer, everything is different.

Unlike his sister, Mona's twin brother Henry hasn't changed. He's spending his summer the way he always has: with long, quiet hours fishing. Early mornings before work become special for Kendra as she starts sharing them with Henry, hoping he can help her figure Mona out. Then Kendra hatches a plan to prove she's Mona's one true friend: uncover the identity of the twins' birth father, a question that has always obsessed Mona. And so she begins to unravel the seventeen-year-old mystery of the summer boy who charmed Mona's mother. But it may prove to be a puzzle better left unsolved--as what she is about to discover will change their lives forever...

In RICH BOYS, Winnie jumps at the chance to babysit for a wealthy summer family and earn some extra money—but soon learns that life in the Barclay’s beautiful vacation home isn’t as perfect as it appears. And what was supposed to be a carefree summer quickly becomes more complicated than she ever thought possible.

Amazon links:

Jenny O'Connell received her BA from Smith College and her MBA from the University of Chicago. The author of PLAN B and THE BOOK OF LUKE, she lives outside of Boston with her family.



This Side of Salvation

This Side of Salvation, Jeri's new contemporary YA novel!

Now available in hardcover and ebook.

“A smart, well-rounded, and unpredictable tale...bringing to light issues of belief versus free will, spirit versus body, and family versus self.” —Booklist, **Starred Review**


Order from Indie Bound, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.com.



"Shattered," a Shade novella!

Available here on this website as a free download in all major ebook formats, as well as a printable PDF (now with photos!).

More about "Shattered"

About the author

Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready is a Maryland author of books for teens and adults.

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