Friday, January 28, 2011

WVMP Schedule 2011-2012

Hey, folks! Just wanted to give you an update on what's to come on the WVMP RADIO front. I'm happy to announce that I will have the chance to give the series the Final Ultimate Mega-Happily Ever After ending (FUMHEA, as we say in the industry, as of just now) I've been dreaming of (and that Ciara and Shane deserve, dontcha think?).

The fourth and final full-length novel, LUST FOR LIFE, will be published in Fall 2012.

*Cue Iggy Pop*

I realize that's a little bit of a schedule shuffle, since Book 3, Bring on the Night, was released in 2010, so to tide you over this year, I have something special planned.

On July 26, 2011, I will begin posting a free serial novella, "Let it Bleed," here on my website. I'll put up one chapter per week for about twenty weeks. Then in January 2012, I'll offer it as an e-book with special bonus material (deleted scenes with commentary, etc.).

"Let it Bleed" will be from Ciara's point-of-view and will take place immediately after the end of Bring on the Night. It will also feature the teen couple from "Thief" in the Eternal anthology. Lots of readers have told me they're dying to know what happens to Cass and Liam after the end of that story.

I also hope, before the end of the series in Fall 2012, to post the "origin stories" of Regina and Noah, to complete the cycle, and then release all six together in an omnibus Kindle edition.

Here are the links for the existing stories, complete with play-along soundtracks for your reading/listening pleasure:

Monroe
Spencer
Jim
Shane

Regina's will be the easier of the remaining two, since I was actually in London in the late eighties when she was turned. But Noah is from Jamaica, which I've never visited. Sigh...I guess I'll just have to go there to do research. The sacrifices I make for you people!

Speaking of research travel, I might write a story about Ciara's childhood/teenage years on the Great Plains, after I go on a stormchasing tour with my brother this spring.

If I get sucked up into a twister, I guess that'll be a story in itself. Just not one I'll live to tell.

To review, here is the WVMP schedule for 2011-2012:

July 26-December 2011: "Let it Bleed," serial novella, free here on the website
January 2012: "Let it Bleed" available on Amazon Kindle
Spring and/or Summer 2012: Regina and/or Noah's origin story
Fall 2012: Fourth and final novel, Lust for Life (published by Pocket Books, who brought you Wicked Game, Bad to the Bone, and Bring on the Night).

Have a good weekend!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Click to help my favorite animal rescuers

As my long-time blog readers know, my husband and I used be foster "parents" for Tails of Hope, an animal rescue organization here in Maryland that also covers the other mid-Atlantic states. We fostered twenty-three dogs (not at the same time) and one cat. (If you follow that link in the previous sentence, you can read some of my blog posts about the dogs and see some funny pictures. Don't worry--none of them will make you sad, because they all went to perfect, forever homes. Yay!)

If it weren't for Tails of Hope, I never would've met the real-life inspiration for Dexter in Bad to the Bone, Foots.




And we never would have gotten our seven-pound cute attack, Twinkle! She was our foster cat for about half a day before we decided to keep her (though the official adoption didn't happen until after we were sure she would get along with our other pets).




So Tails of Hope is doing another Shelter Challenge, where you can vote to help them receive grant money and other prizes.

All you have to do is go to the Animal Rescue Site Shelter Challenge page, enter Tails of Hope in the search box, and then follow the instructions to vote. You don't need to give any personal information or register or anything like that. It's totally private and totally effortless.

You can vote once per day per computer. The site will remember that Tails of Hope was the last one you voted for, so you won't have to search for it again. It takes about ten seconds a day to vote.

I added the link to my Firefox toolbar by clicking on the "paw" icon in the URL box and simply dragging it to my toolbar. That way I remember every day when I'm scanning the toolbar looking for a way to waste time. I think Internet Explorer works the same way. Voting continues until March 20.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I don't get much time to volunteer these days due to book deadlines and the day-to-day duties of running a business, so this is one of the few ways I can help, by spreading the word. If you would in turn help me by reposting the link and the voting instructions on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, I would be very grateful.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Tidbit Tuesday #10 (I think) - A chat, a giveaway, and a real-life appearance!

It's Tuesday again, the day I wrap up lots of bite-size pieces of news and serve them to you all shiny and tasty and convenient.

--This Thursday at 8:30PM Eastern Time/5:30PM Pacific, I'm doing a chat to help celebrate the first anniversary of Eve's Fan Garden, a wonderful book blog and forum. A bunch of other authors are also chatting, so it should be lots of crazy fun. Here's the link for the chat.

--I'm honored to be the Sunday Spotlight Author at Fictionall this week, where RK Charron is giving away 6 of my books (4 WVMP and 2 SHADE series)!

Deadline: January 22, midnight EST
International entries? Yes!

--Then next Wednesday night, January 26, I'll be speaking as a guest of the Maryland Writers Association, discussing writing fantasy for adults and teens.

Place: National Museum of Civil War Medicine, 48 East Patrick Street, Frederick, Maryland.
Time: 6:30-8pm

The talk begins at 6:45, and books will be available for sale and signing. NOTE: PLEASE ARRIVE ON TIME. I am told that due to the setup of the museum, the doors will close at 6:45 and no one will be admitted afterward.

Have a great Tuesday!

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Make dreams come true-ish?

So I was going to do a long, elaborate post today about all the new covers for the Shade series in 2011. Most of you have already seen them, but I was planning to do a little commentary on each one. It was going to be cover-licious! (And it's been on my to-do list for eight weeks.)

Then I made the mistake of checking Twitter and learning that today is supposedly "Blue Monday," the most depressing day of the year--and not just for fans of the Patriots, Ravens, Seahawks, and Falcons (there is a lot of shame to go around after those games, sniffle). And then I went to YouTube and dug up this video from 1999, Orgy's remake of New Order's "Blue Monday."



Then author Myra McIntyre posted her Blue Monday cure, Cute Overload's Top Ten Photos of 2010 (can I get an AWWWWWWW?). Hoverball Cat was my one of my ten favorites out of the ten:


And now I only have fifteen minutes left in my allotted blogging hour before I have to go do real work. So I decided on a quick post to ask your opinion on a creative matter:

Last week I dreamed that I should give Dexter, the vampire dog from the WVMP Radio series (pictured here on the cover of Bad to the Bone) a girlfriend in the series' final book. Not a girlfriend-girlfriend, mind you, although I've never mentioned specifically whether he was neutered. But a companion. At the end of the series, my plan is for all the characters to be really happy, and not just because they survived the brutal climactic battle scene without getting staked or decapitated (though that would be considerable cause for joy).

But by the morning light, I thought maybe giving Dexter a fellow vampire dog friend-who's-a-girl might be a little cheesy. What do you think?

(Keep in mind, that same night, I dreamed that Pam and Jim from The Office broke up because Jim fell in love with Michael Scott.)

A lot of writers say their stories came to them in a dream, but it's never happened to me. What about you? Do your dreams ever make it into your stories, either in pieces or as a whole? Or are they just too off-the-wall, like mine? And is it really bad taste to be talking about TV-and-book-related dreams on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, or did I dodge that bullet by not titling this post "I can haz dream"?

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Do NOT have a heart attack, but here's another blog post

First, thanks for all the wonderful comments left on Monday's post. You guys made me cry MORE, dammit! I am very lucky to have such readers and friends--over the months and years that I've been publishing, many readers have become friends, though most of us haven't met in person.

I mentioned in the comments that Meadow had to go to the vet to get her foot stitched. Turns out they just needed to put some skin glue on it and bandaged it up:


I know, she's so good at looking pathetic. She has to wear a baggie over the foot when she goes out in the snow, to keep it dry. Today we took her back to get the bandage changed, and the vet put on a purple one for the Ravens! Yay! (Go ahead, Steelers fans--I dare you to boo my crippled dog!!)

What happened (we think) was, she stepped on the remnants of a wheat stalk in the field near our house, where we take her for walks. Never yelped or anything, even as it was gouging a hole in her foot. Greyhounds are funny.

Today the mail lady brought me an ARC of Seanan McGuire's upcoming Late Eclipses, the fourth in her October Daye urban fantasy series, plus a copy of Seanan's music CD, Wicked Girls. I had no idea she sang, but she's amazing!

The Toby Daye series is my current favorite, adult or YA. The main character is a half-human, half-fae (changling) detective who says she's not a hero (she's lying). It's noir, but not in a self-conscious, trying-to-be-Raymond-Chandler way. It's published for adults, but I can't think of anything in it that would be inappropriate for teens. There's even a really sweet teen fae dude, Quentin, on whom I have an age-inappropriate crush.

Here's what I said officially about Book 3, An Artificial Night:

Hold onto your candles, folks! The darkness deepens and the tension spikes in AN ARTIFICIAL NIGHT, as this series just gets better and better with every page. The Toby Daye books blend a complex, realistic faerie world with the dark wit of the best film noir. McGuire's nobles and ruffians (and noble ruffians) feel real enough to touch--not that I would dare. Hands down, my favorite urban fantasy series.

Yep, I managed to get through an entire cover quote without once using the word "ass." (Seriously, check out my first four or five cover quotes--it's in there somewhere, usually combined with "kick-", but still, a disturbing habit.)

Anyway, according to my cat Misha, my time at the computer is over, and my time in the kitchen making his food has begun.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Doubt, love, and the Tucson tragedy

One of my plans for this year was to make my blog more spontaneous and chatty, because it was becoming nothing but contests and interviews and news items. The thought of putting up a good old-fashioned essay-type blog post, loaded with links and graphics and photos and eye candy just made me want to give up the blog entirely. Or better yet, take that creative energy and put it into a novel!

So today I wanted to talk about Saturday's shootings from my personal perspective, as a writer and as a former wanna-be public servant. This might not be well-structured or pull-quote worthy, and it might have some thoughts that wander off a cliff. But it will be honest. And unlike most of my posts over the last year, it probably won't contain one single "Yay!" Because I'm not feeling very "Yay!" today.

As noted in my bio, I got a graduate degree in environmental policy from University of Maryland (go Terps/fear the turtle/etc.). I had the highest GPA in my class, which is pretty amazing, considering I barely managed a B average in high school and undergrad. I was super driven to do my best because I really cared about public policy. I wanted to make the world a better place, as hokey as that sounds.

Later I got into an exclusive, fast-track employment program with the state government that could've led to a promising career (although with all the recession-era budget cuts I'd probably be out of that job by now, but anyway...). I was on my way, ready to do what was important to me.

But I couldn't handle the boredom and frustration. I'd worked office jobs for years before going back to grad school, but after enjoying the relative freedom and lack of structure that full-time classes gave me? I just couldn't do it anymore--the meetings, the memos, the something else that probably starts with 'm' but I've wasted five minutes trying to finish this sentence and it's time to move on.

Anyway...where was I? So yeah, I got bored and threw it all away to do this. I worked meaningless jobs to pay the bills while I worked toward getting published. (Note: I would NOT advise anyone else to quit a promising career and martyr your bank account on the altar of authordom. But for me, it was becoming a mental health issue.)

The gist of the matter is, I admire, on a deep personal level, people like Congresswoman Giffords and her staffers and the late Judge Roll and even the citizen supporters and constituents who came out for Congress on the Corner Saturday morning. They were out there doing their jobs and participating in a peaceful democratic gathering, despite all the death threats against them. Even the little girl who died wanted to go into public service one day.

So regardless of the motive, these people were killed because of who they were, because they cared enough about our country and their community to get involved and do something. It's easy for people outside the Beltway to forget, but government workers--yes, including politicians and their staff--are human beings. They're too often villainized or caricatured, not only in the news, but also in fiction. I'm guilty of this myself--the DMP, anyone?--even though I know better. I know that people who work for governments at all levels have to put up with a lot of shit for much less pay than they would make in the private sector for the same work. And last Saturday, as in 1995 in Oklahoma City, they had to put up with violence, even death.

We forget that firefighters, cops, librarians, and teachers are government workers. Those brilliant doctors who saved Giffords' lives? They work for the state university hospital. That makes them public servants, too. They're paid by our tax dollars, which are collected to be used for the common good, to meet needs that the free market can't.

That used to be me. But it hasn't been for a long time. It's been years since I even volunteered with Tails of Hope, the animal rescue organization we used to foster dogs for. There just hasn't been the time. Books have become everything. Writing them, rewriting them, blogging about them, traveling to promote them. There's barely room in my life anymore for my immediate family, much less the larger world I once actively cared so much about. I still get the newspaper, but it's a rare day when I read more than the sports page to see Mike Preston's latest rant about the Ravens' imperfections.

So a couple hours ago I tweeted/Facebooked, "Anyone else can't focus since Sat shootings? I feel like I felt after 9/11 & Katrina: like something in the world shattered." And then, "And when real-world events are so horrible, what happens in make-believe worlds just doesn't seem to matter much anymore." Because I was once again, as I was after those events, having an existential crisis, wondering if what I do now isn't just a self-indulgent exercise in making myself happy, rather than helping others.

I mean, if I'm content in my profession, if it's often fun despite being very hard and often crazy-making work, then it must not be worthy, right? (Where did I get this guilt complex? Seriously, my parents always told me to do whatever made me happy in life, so it's totally self-invented.)

So I began to write this blog, weeping, because a couple of tweets/status updates weren't enough to express the depths of my admiration for the likes of Giffords and my recurring "I'm not worthy" doubt over my own life choices. (The fact that the Let It Bleed rewrite is hitting a major roadblock isn't helping.)

And in the middle of writing this blog, someone on Facebook told me that my books (among others, though they had specifically requested that mine be brought to the hospital) had kept them going when they felt suicidal. They said, "My kids still have a mom in part because of what you do."

Now I'm full-on snot crying, and have gone through half a box of tissues. (I know, you desperately wanted those details, didn't you?) And I don't really know what my point is anymore. Because I guess what writers do is important. What doctors do is important (I'm sure my Facebook friend's physicians had a lot to do with her recovery). What politicians and judges and cops and grocery store clerks and people who work to make a better coffee machine do is important.

I guess my point, if there is one, is best said by the quote Congresswoman Giffords' reportedly has on her website as her favorite, by Mother Teresa:

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.”

--
Um, so this is the new blog format. Rambly, with fair-to-middlin' grammar, but honest. And hopefully more frequent, though my commitment-phobic self ain't makin' any promises.

What do you think? About anything.

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Saturday, January 08, 2011

Girlfriends' Cyber Circuit Tour - Eileen Cook

Interrupting my self-imposed Desperate Deadline Exile (which should be said in a deep, movie-trailer voice with plenty of reverb) to catch a quick football game (note to self: have agent include in next contract that deadlines will not occur during NFL playoff season) and post the latest Girlfriends Cyber Circuit interview!

Everybody welcome Eileen Cook and her brand-new novel, The Education of Hailey Kendrick!

About the Book

Hailey Kendrick always does exactly what's expected of her. She has the right friends, dates the perfect boy, gets good grades, and follows all the rules. But one night, Hailey risks everything by breaking a very big rule in a very public way...and with a very unexpected partner in crime. Hailey gets caught, but her accomplice does not, and Hailey takes the fall for both of them.



Suddenly, Hailey's perfect life--and her reputation--are blowing up in her face. Her friends are all avoiding her. Her teachers don't trust her. Her boyfriend won't even speak to her for long enough to tell her that she's been dumped.



They say honesty is the best policy--but some secrets are worth keeping, no matter the cost. Or are they?



The critics are loving Hailey! Here's what some of them had to say:

"Hailey may be an A student headed to the Ivy League, but when it comes to taking a chance on life, she’s clueless. She’s also enormously appealing and great company throughout this breezy read. Yes, it’s chick lit, but of the highest quality—like a gourmet truffle. Cook has whipped up a real treat.” --Kirkus ***starred review***

"Cook effectively builds both Hailey's (justified) feelings of rebellion and the social dynamics of her ostracism, especially in her growing friendship with a challenging townie, Drew, who supervises her punishment working with the janitorial staff....Cook coaxes considerable empathy for the otherwise privileged Hailey as she abandons the achievement treadmill to explore her independence." --Publishers Weekly

And now...my interview with the lovely Eileen herself!

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

I would never choose to be my characters because I have this tendency to torture them through out the book coming up with more and more ways to make their lives miserable. Poor things.

2. On the flip side, which of your characters would you most like to bring to life in our world (as a friend or a little bit more ;-) ?

I will admit to being a bit smitten with the character Drew in this book. He is willing to try anything and is one of those people who never sits back and let life happen to him.

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

It is a little known fact that more people are killed every year by being crushed by falling vending machines than in shark attacks. Sort of makes you feel uneasy when you see a bank of Diet Coke machines doesn’t it?

4. Do you have any phobias?

I get the whim whams when I come across spiders and I don’t like to touch worms either. This is due to an unfortunate incident when I was a kid and someone threw a worm in my hair at recess. In my frenzy to get it out I squished it and then had worm guts in MY HAIR for the rest of the day. (shudders)

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

I would love to write a book with Meg Cabot and Judy Blume. I would even volunteer to make fresh cookies to keep us going.

---

Aww, poor little Eileen! I get the whim whams, too, when I think of any creepy crawlies in my hair. I dreamed the other night that my hair was full of very pale ants. *shudders*

Ahem...anyway, congrats to Eileen on her new book, which looks like yet another fun-filled adventure from this talented novelist!

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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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