Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Update on Zachary's novella "Shattered"

"Shattered," the novella from Zachary's point-of-view, which covers the same time frame as SHINE (Book 3), was originally scheduled to be published today, so I figured I should probably put up a quick post.

Um, it's not coming out today, on account of the fact that it's not finished. It'll be out some time in early 2013.

I've mentioned elsewhere what a difficult year this has been workwise. SHINE took two extra drafts to get it perfect, which pushed back the schedule for LUST FOR LIFE (WVMP Book 4, coming November 27), which compressed my time allotted for "Shattered" into a very short period that can only be described as "the last week and a half."

Tomorrow I have to get rolling on my next YA novel for Simon Pulse, due early October (to be released early 2014). I have a detailed outline, but they frown on authors turning in outlines instead of actual books. (I KNOW, RIGHT?)

Besides, I am super stoked to write this new novel. I've been cheating on other projects with it all year, an hour here, an hour there. It's completely different than anything I've done before, a contemporary (non-paranormal) novel from a boy's point of view. I'm doing it for Camp NaNoWriMo, which starts tomorrow.

I can't say much more about it until I write at least the first draft, because lots could change. It has a working title, which I also can't share because it'll definitely change.


Sorry.

Anyway, despite the fact that I'm dying to write what for now I am calling "Dave," I feel very kicky-screamy about having to put Zachary aside AGAIN. But such is the nature of balancing self-published work with contracted work.

I love "Shattered" maybe more than anything I've ever written, and I want/hope it'll be the BEST thing I've ever written. I want it to be perfect, though it probably won't be, because nothing ever is. But it will be ambitious literarily (is that a word?), a story structured in a way that's interesting beyond just the plot and characters. I hope.

In the meantime, you can get plenty of Zachary (and Logan and Martin and, on special occasions, Aura) on Twitter and on tumblr.

BUT WAIT...

I still owe you a "Shattered" teaser for Zachary winning Round 1 of the Crush Tournament--a funny, sexy scene of him and Aura having a video chat. That'll be here on the website soon, in both words and audio (read by me, hopefully not too embarrassingly). (Along with Logan and Aura's first kiss and the epilogue to the Prom Scene.)

AND...

Tomorrow at noon Pacific (3pm Eastern), a different scene from "Shattered" will be presented as part of the YA Scavenger Hunt. It will be available to read only as long as the Hunt lasts, until noon Pacific Sunday, August 5, and then I'm taking it down until "Shattered"'s release in early 2013. I won't be able to link to it directly from this blog--you have to go through the Hunt to search for it (them's the rules, sorry).

This scene? Features Logan and Zachary.




Yep.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A wee Crush Tourney Central directory

I know things get crazy during these events, so here are some quick and easy links to the important stuff. Share and enjoy!

WRAPUP:
--Fictitious Delicious's mega summary post with links and fundraising totals and all sorts of goodness
--SHADEboys' final Crush Tourney/Olympics fun, which will stand as my own wrapup post.

NEWS:
--Voting link--voting is now live closed! Zachary lost but Team Kilt won in other ways, such as...
--Team Kilt trends at #1 on Twitter!

HERE ON THE BLOG:
--Final incentive post--see how you can get your name in the "Shattered" acknowledgments
--Prom Night with Zach and Aura (aka "The Power of the Kilt,") a written-on-the-fly-100-words-at-a-time short story. Your Round 2 incentive!

AT FICTITIOUS DELICIOUS
--Team Kilt Wishing Tree--seriously, this is amazing.
--Fictitious Delicious's Round 1 defense, featuring the world's greatest crushologists, Amy and Jen

SHADEBOYS
--Logan and Martin's "A Lad's Lad--the male perspective on Zachary Moore," with shirtless-Zach pics and a shocking story from his past.
--Logan and Zachary's Secret Finnish Weapon of Devastation post

ELSEWHERE:
--Round 2 Giveaway Hop, hosted by Karen at For What It's Worth
--Team Kilt Pinterest, with avatars, pics, videos, and more!
--Interviews with Team Kilt members at Kilt & Keeley

MUCH more to come! I'll keep this at the top of the blog for all your Round 2 Crush Tourney Team Kilt needs.

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Final Crush Tourney incentive

So yeah, here we are with four and a half hours left and 2000 votes down. It's not looking good for a Zach victory, but the last 19 hours have been an amazing good time, and once again, I'm overwhelmed with the love you've shown for this sweet Scot.

Now, I'm well-known for springing final-hour incentives in these things to stage giant Team Kilt comebacks. Like most things I do, they're never planned, always spontaneous.

The most famous example came last year during the Final Four round. I'd promised that if Zachary won, I would write him a short story. Things looked bleak, and I really wanted to write it, not just for me, but for the readers who loved him. So with an hour left I said I'd still write the story AND put Team Kilt members in the acknowledgments, if Zachary got 5000 votes.

Which he did. And he won, which was TOTALLY not what I was trying to do. I just wanted Team Kilt to go out with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

This time, I thought of a final incentive, but not last minute. I wanted to share it with you now.

The number 3 is significant throughout the SHADE series, but especially in SHINE. Going through Eowyn's research, Aura and Zachary find mentions of the "third thing" that may have been created at Newgrange, that started the Shift. Zachary breaks out the Hegelian dialectic: A, Non-A, and B, referring to a thing, its opposite, and a third thing that is a synthesis of the two.

(Yeah, Hegel. Who says paranormal YA has to be dumbed down? Pfft.)

Aura, as always, puts it in plain speech (SHINE page 100):


Zachary wasn’t a replacement for my first love. He was my third half, as odd as that sounded. With him gone, I felt—not incomplete, exactly. More like unfinished. Like there was something I was meant to be and do and discover. Without Zachary, that something would always be out of reach.  
This thing between him and me had turned into Us, an entity to be kept alive at all costs. 

And then again at the end (page 389):

Us. That entity we'd create, the one that craved a life of its own, the one that could only be nurtured by each of us equally. If Zachary or I--or both--put ourselves before the other, that Us would wither until we were just another couple who met, fell in love, and grew apart. We'd be ordinary. And after all we'd been through all we'd overcome to stay together and alive, we were anything but ordinary.

Heh, that last line definitely applies to Team Kilt. You are anything but ordinary.

With that in mind, here's my final incentive, having to do with the number 3, and all of you:

If Zachary receives 3000 votes before midnight, I'll add all of the CURRENT Team Kilt members to the acknowledgments of Zachary's novella, "Shattered." 


How do you know if you're Team Kilt? If you tweeted, Facebooked, blogged, or even just voted for him today, you are Team Kilt.

So as not to flood my own inbox, if you want to be in the "Shattered" acknowledgments, please write to  Zachary at jerismithready dot com and say, "I am Team Kilt!" Say how you want your name to appear--your full name, first name, or twitter name, whatever. And say something nice to Zach while you're at it.

Now go vote and show him you love him. And let's have us a PARTY!


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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Prom Night with Zach and Aura

EDITED 8/13 TO ADD WINNERS!!

The 6 printed, illustrated versions of Zachary's novella, "Shattered," have been won by the following folks:

Traci @The Reading Geek
Suzanne
cristina
alicia marie
Marisol Gaddi
Poochylover

Congrats! I have emails for everyone but Suzanne, so Suzanne, please email your mailing address to me at jeri AT jerismithready DOT com within the next week, or I will draw another name. 

Also, I wrote a rough draft of the de-kilting scene over the weekend. Half of it is funny and cute, and the other half is just, ugh, so awfully cheesy. I'll have another go at it next weekend and try to get it ready for public consumption. I'm still working on it, trying to make it worthy of Zach and Aura. Hopefully it'll be done in October once I get past this deadline. Thanks for your patience!

If you're looking for a Crush Tourney wrapup post, check out Fictitious Delicious's phenomenal summary with links and fundraising totals and all sorts of goodness. And this SHADEboys tumblr post pretty much sums up my own feelings.


For every 100 votes Zachary gets in the YA Crush Tourney Round 2, I'll add another 100 words to this little story about Senior Prom. Aura briefly alluded to it in the final chapter of SHINE, but she gave no details other than "yeah, he wore the kilt."

I think it's time for details.

I only wrote about 1000 (unpolished) words ahead of time, which means eventually I’ll be writing on the fly. Who knows what joys and griefs await Aura and Zachary? All I know is that it'll be fun for those of us watching at home. 

Oh, if Zachary wins this round, I’ll finish the story and get Aura and Zach back to their hotel room.

If Zachary wins this round, that kilt is coming off.

EDITED 7/26 TO ADD: The story is now finished--I hope you enjoy it! Much of it was written on-the-fly, which was an interesting experience, one that forced me to forgo my perfectionism and just ride the flow of the story. It's a bit goofy, but that's part of the fun.


The first 100 words are free:

----


“That dress is killing me.”

Aura smiles in response and gives a self-conscious tug on the hem of her skirt. The black dress is short in the front, mid-thigh, but long in the back, and flowing all round, so that the right breeze might lift it farther. At least in my imagination.

“Only a spectacular dress would keep you from upstaging me in that.” She leans back on the limousine’s leather seat and gestures to my kilt, stopping a few inches short, as if it’s a sacred relic.

“What, this auld thing?” I smooth down the green wool over my right thigh. I’m not usually one who cares for clothes, but I’ll not lie—I love this whole getup: the kilt, the jacket, the vest, the sporran…even the shoes that lace up and around my calves, tied in a neat bow in front.

It took literally hours to make it all perfect, with no one to help me this year. But worth it. Wearing the kilt is like a following a thread to the past, tapping into the strength of my blood.

Also, it’s incredibly expensive, so I feel a wee bit James Bond. On the outside, at least.

Inside I’m wound tight, and not because of the way the black dress dips between her breasts, the neckline framing them in a silver beaded V that says, “Here, ya numpty! Look here!” Were it not for the all-too-short hour together in my hotel room last night, we’d be ruining each other this moment. My mouth would be smearing her makeup and my hands tangling her hair. That maddening skirt of hers would be hitched up to her waist so her bare legs could wrap around me and—

A’right, her dress isn’t the only reason I’m tense.

It’s being here again, gliding down roads I traveled without care for eight months. While I lived here last year, I feared for many things—my father’s life, my happiness with Aura, my ability to not crash a car. But I never feared for my freedom. Why would I, in the land of the free?

We pass the street that leads to the regional DMP office. My chest thickens, as if my heart’s filling it up with its uneven, swollen beats.

“Zach, what’s wrong?”

The word, “Nothing” comes out before her question is even finished. “It’s a wee bit stuffy in here.” My fingers fumble for the window controls, and I press the first one I find.

A hole in the roof of the car slides open. “Ah, that’s better. Let’s pop our heids oot, like dugs.” At her confused look, I drop open my mouth and stick out my tongue in a look of canine joy.

She laughs. “Definitely on the way home tonight, once my hair’s already a disaster.”

Good, we’ve changed the subject from my state of mind. “I’m glad you wore it doon.” I risk a brief touch of one long, dark brown lock, just my fingertips.

Mistake: I want to bury my hands in all of her hair, now.

“With the strapless dress, I had to, or I’d feel naked.”

Her little laugh after she says the last word goes straight to the base of my spine. I try not to groan, but there’s one less-than-perfect element to my ensemble, a foreign element that’s suddenly become quite, em, constrictive.

I brush my bare knee against hers. Her lower lip pulls in, just a bit.

“Ye can touch it,” I tell her. “It won’t break.”

She clears her throat. “What?”

“The kilt.”

“Oh! Okay.” Slowly Aura rests her hand on  my right hip, closest to her, then she breaks into a smile. “Wow, it’s softer than it looks.”

Nae comment.

She clears her throat. “I mean, I thought, since it’s wool, that it’d feel like a sheep.”

“Sheep are softer than they look, too.” That didn’t come out right.

Her hand drifts down to the hem. “Is it okay if—can I?”

I nod, since my lungs are too tight to breathe, much less help me speak. I close my eyes as she slips her fingers underneath the kilt. I know it’s curiosity as much as lust on her part, but I don’t care.

Her hand stops at the top of my thigh, as I knew it would. “Wait. What’s this?”

“What’s what?”

Aura pulls back. “You’re wearing briefs? I thought you didn’t wear anything under the kilt.”

“Usually, but this is prom. I plan to be oot there spinnin’ on the dance floor. It’s dodgy.”

She gives me a sideways look. “You’re telling me you don’t know how to dance in a kilt without flashing the world?”

There’s no point in arguing with Aura, so I tell her the truth. “It’s the rules.”

“Whose rules?”

“Yer school’s. Last year before junior prom, Principal Hirsch called me to his office just to tell me to wear something under my kilt.”

“Principal Hirsch ordered you to wear underwear?”

“Basically. I wouldnae dae it otherwise, especially not these…” I shift on the seat. “I’m a boxer man, you know that.”

“Why not wear boxers under the kilt, then?”

“Same reason you don’t wear shorts under yer skirt. It ruins the streamlined look.”

She heaves a frustrated sigh. “Zach, this is stupid. You don’t even go to our school anymore. It’s not like he can give you detention.”

“But he could make us leave the dance. I don’t want that.” I brush my hand over her bare shoulder, where there’s the faintest subtle dusting of glitter. “I want tonight to be perfect.”

“Me, too.” Aura turns her head to rest her cheek against my palm, then lifts her dark gaze to meet mine. “So take them off.”

I swallow hard, wondering if she’s serious. “Sorry?” My voice comes half an octave higher than usual.

“Take them off. I don’t care if we get kicked out. I want you to be comfortable. I want you to be you.”

I feel I should argue. I always argue. But I can’t think of a good reason—or even a bad reason—to deny her this. I do consider a negotiation, however, asking her to remove her own underwear as well.  But she’ll say no, and then if I say yes, anyway, I’ll look weak.

“Compromise. I’ll take them off now, but only until the dance.”

One side of her mouth curves down. “’K,” she says, her flat tone in complete disagreement with her letter-word.

I glance at the driver, who suddenly seems much closer than before. But he’s no doubt seen worse, and anyway, the window between him and us is tinted.

Still, I keep the kilt down as I slip the briefs off my hips and over my legs. They get tangled about my knees, of course. I’m careful not to disturb the laces around my calves as I stand to step out of the hateful piece of cloth.

I give a deep breath of relief as I sit back down. Now the outfit is perfect.

“Told you you’d feel better,” she says. “These are nice, by the way.” Aura examines the scrap of blue silk, which looks small and pathetic. “Now close your eyes.”

A smirk slips over my lips. “Why?”

Aura looks at the tinted windows on either side of the limo. We’re entering the expressway headed south, a good ten minutes from the restaurant. “Just do it.”

“No, you cannae win this battle.” I try to hold onto the smirk, but it falters. She still doesn’t know how hard it is to close my eyes, whether I’m alone or with someone, even her. It’s been almost a year, yet sometimes I still see that void on the backs of my lids. I still worry that when I open them, there’ll be nothing but a white ceiling.

“Then I’ll have to find another way to surprise you.” Her wide, innocent smile turns dark and ominous. She waves my briefs at arm’s length, then stands, steps back, and tosses them out the sunroof. All before I can move an inch.

“What the—” I can do nothing but turn and watch the tiny scrap of cloth tumble down the road, tossed by the wind. Far behind us, a red pickup truck runs it over.

Aura sits beside me again, smoothes her hair, then folds her hands in her lap. “You can thank me later.”


#

If I hadn’t once been a rock star’s girlfriend, I’d totally freak out right now.

My classmates swarmed Zach the moment we walked through the door. They all loved him last year when he went to Ridgewood, and absence makes the heart grow insaner, I guess. He’s created a human traffic jam here in the foyer, with his tux and kilt and that accent, which is so much stronger now that he’s been living in Glasgow.

As is he. It’s hard to even glance at him without remembering how the contours of his muscles looked and felt last night in his hotel room. He always had a good body, but in that general-fitness-healthy-weight sort of way that guys have when they play sports instead of video games for fun. Above average, but nothing extraordinary.

But now…he’s several standard deviations above the mean.


(Author's note: I thought an image might help, since visual descriptions are not my strong suit. :-)

(Back to Aura now.)


I hated leaving Zachary last night, and not just because he’s more delicious and addictive than all my grandmom’s Italian pastries combined. I knew it was his first night spent alone in months, since…

My gut curdles at the thought of what they did to him. He thinks I don’t see the fear flash across his face at the commonplace sight of a white DMP van, that I don’t feel the tension in his fingers grasping mine. He’s afraid of my country.

But based on the attention he’s getting right now, he’s warming up to it again.

“Zach, you look amazing!” My best friend Megan shoulders the forty thousand other girls out of the way to hug him. I send her a mental thank you and try not to laugh when she stomps on Tori Benson’s toes.

“Hey, Aura,” says a warm, familiar voice behind me. I turn to see Dylan, Megan’s date—also, my date last year and younger brother to my dead ex-boyfriend.

This should be awkward. “Hi, Dylan.”

“Hey. You look…amazing, of course.” He shifts his feet awkwardly, and in one second I’m taken back to a year ago, when we stood on this spot and he admitted he wanted me. He did that same foot-shift.

But things have changed. He’s with Megan now, sort of. It must just be the memories.

Zachary’s at my side in an instant, extricated by Megan from the crowd of admirers. “Hiya, Dylan.”

“Hey.” Dylan lifts his chin, then points to his own cheek. “Got a little lipstick there, bro.”


Zachary’s eyes widen, and he reaches for the handkerchief in his tux pocket.

“You do not,” I tell him.

Dylan shrugs and looks away. “Sorry, guess it was the light.”

For a moment, we all say nothing, and the James Bond theme playing at the photo booth behind us seems suddenly loud.

And then, a moment later, it gets even louder, as all the voices in the foyer stop.

“It’s okay, kids!” says a deep, authoritative voice. “Just have your fun. Nothing to see here.”

I step to my right to look between Zachary and Megan. Four DMP agents in white uniforms are at the front door, blocking the exit.

“What the hell are dumpers doing here?” Dylan says.

Zach freezes. Megan puts a protective hand on his arm. “You have GOT to be kidding me,” she growls.

The two youngest, buffest agents step forward. “Mr. Moore, we’d like you to come with us.”

Zach’s eyes meet mine. He wants to run, I can tell. So do I.

But the last time he was detained and resisted arrest, trying to defend his mom and sick father from the FBI, they used it as an excuse to keep him. And from the FBI, it only got worse.

I move forward to press against him, entwining my arm with his. “They won’t take you alone.”

#

F***ing hell. Another van. Same dark interior, same white uniformed agents.

I really need to stay oot of this country.

Aura stays close beside me in the rear of the vehicle. Not huddling, though, or looking to me to protect her. I know she’s pepper spray in her purse, and they’ve not taken it. They’ve not searched me, either.

That’s how I know they’re fake. They aren’t the DMP agents they pretend to be.

Their guns, however, are real. I’ve been shot once, with no desire to repeat that experience. Staring at the bigger “agent’s” sidearm, I rub the exit-wound scar just under my right collarbone. Aura notices, and I stop, putting my hand back in hers.

If they’re not DMP, could they be Nighthawk? If so, we could be on our way to a quiet execution in some dismal swamp. Or to a concrete interrogation cell.

I won’t let them take her. They can beat me, cut me, break me, and it’d be nothing compared to what I endured last summer. All for Aura.

We slow for a traffic light. Through the front window I can see we’re at the intersection of Pratt Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard, only a few streets from the exit to the highway. This could be our last chance.

Aura sees it, too, and slips her feet out of her high-heeled shoes, ready to run.

The van starts to ease into the right lane, then suddenly swerves left. I grab Aura as we’re thrown back against the wall of the van. My head slams something hard, making my skull reverberate with pain in every direction.

One wheel of the van bounces onto the median strip of the boulevard. The “agents” across from us spill onto the floor. Aura yelps in fear, and my mind fills with the image of the traffic coming the other way.

But the van lurches to a halt. The bigger chap, the one with the shaved head and sunglasses, reaches across the floor for a dark, dull grey shape.

The pistol he dropped.

In a split second that seems an hour, I choose between tackling him or going for the gun. But it’s too far to get and he’s too big to overcome.

I opt for the third choice. Reaching under the left side of my kilt, I jerk down the collapsible Smith & Wesson baton attached to the inside of my belt. The clasp releases, and with one hard snap of my wrist, the baton expands from the length of my hand to the length of my arm. Two feet of steel encased in solid black rubber.

Aye, that’s what’s under this lad’s kilt.

The thug’s hand closes around the pistol’s barrel, but before he can lift it, I slam the end of my baton on his knuckles. He howls in pain and lets go, long enough for me to kick the gun out of his reach, with my heel so it goes behind me.

The guy grabs my ankle. In adrenalin-fueled panic, I crack the baton against his wrist again and again. Finally he releases me, and I stumble back.

Behind me comes a Valkyrie screech, then a man’s high-pitched cry of pain. I turn my head to see the other agent on his knees, covering his left eye. Aura draws back for another blow, wielding her spiked-heeled shoe. His other hand snakes out, seizes her wrist.

“NO!” Swinging the baton with both hands, I bring it down and around with full force, against the back of his shoulder. He pitches forward, dragging her with him onto the floor.

I raise the baton again, ready to bash in his head, knowing it could mean losing my freedom forever. I’ve given that up for her once. I’d do it again, for the rest of my life, if that’s what it takes.

The rear doors open, letting in a flood of flashing red and blue lights. Four police officers stand with their weapons drawn, shouting words so fast I can’t understand.  I step back, drop the baton, and put my hands up.



[Author's note: I was asked what the baton looks like. Here it is in its deployed state. Collapsed and concealed it would just be the part on the right that looks like a handle.]

But for once, the guns aren’t pointing at me.

“Kids, it’s all right,” one of the uniformed officers says. “Come on out of there. Careful.” He steps forward, offering a hand to Aura while his partner trains the gun on the man who was holding her.

Behind them on the median strip, Dylan and Megan, along with two other students whose names I can’t remember, are standing next to a female officer. The right front bumper of Dylan's black SUV is streaked with white paint, the same white of the van I’m standing in now.

Nice one, mate. 

I pick up the baton I dropped and step around the fake agent.

“I’ll take that club,” says the young officer helping us out of the van. “You know it’s illegal to carry a concealed weapon in the State of Maryland.”

I wobble a bit as I step down onto the grassy median. Still dazed from the fight, I look at the baton held at my side. “It’s not concealed. Where would I—”

“Here.” The officer takes the baton from me and jabs the end against the side of the van. With a bang and a zip, the thing collapses back to its original eight-and-a-half-inch length. He holds it up. “You could hide that anywhere.” He glances down at my kilt and shakes his head. “Man, something new every day in this job.”


#

By the time Zach and I—and Megan, Dylan, Jenna, and Christopher, who saved our butts by running the kidnappers’ van off the road—finish at the police station, the prom is almost over.

Gina showed up—as my aunt to make sure I was okay, and as a lawyer, to make sure they didn’t charge Zachary with the misdemeanor of carrying a concealed weapon under his kilt. It was one of those gray areas where law enforcement can use its discretion. Zach did, after all, fend off people who were trying to kidnap us.

They weren’t really DMP agents, which we’d figured out. But they knew we were the First and the Last, born on either side of the Shift. It was only a matter of time before some random criminals thought we’d be valuable enough to hold for ransom.

I wish I could say this was the worst Prom Night ever, but it still beats last year. I’d rather be kidnapped at gunpoint than watch Zachary dance with Becca Goldman. Probably.

When we arrive back at Ridgewood High, most of our classmates have left, off partying in hotel rooms or people’s houses. The photographer is breaking down his cheesy James Bond casino backdrop, and the “bar” is all out of “mocktinis.” Sadness.

In the gymnasium, where the pulled-back bleachers are draped in silver, black, and gold, there are maybe twenty people still on the dance floor, jamming to a nu-metal/hip-hop mashup.

“Wait here.” Zach squeezes my hand and heads for the DJ station. I watch him walk away, his stride confident and steady, the kilt brushing the top edge of the backs of his knees.

“Wow.” Megan puts her arm around my shoulders and watches him with me. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I am at this moment burning that mental picture into my permanent memory.”

Dylan comes to stand on my other side, then sighs. “Takes a lot of, um, guts to wear that.”

I nudge him with my elbow. “Thanks again for saving our lives. Or almost killing us.”

He shrugs. “Since Operation Scot Free last summer was a complete fail, I had to try version 2.0.”

In a minute, Zachary returns to us, looking a little nervous.

“What’s wrong?” I ask him.

“Nothing.” He gives a quick tug to each sleeve of his short black tuxedo jacket. “I hope you like the song I chose.”

“Why wouldn’t I—” I cut myself off as the pounding bass fades into a sweet acoustic guitar. “Oh.”

He bites his upper lip, dark brows pinching together. “Is it a’right, then?”

“Zach, you…”

Any other words are useless, especially considering the song. I step close to him, wrap my arms around his neck, and pull him into a sweet, aching kiss.

Zachary makes that low, soft sound in the back of his throat and draws me closer, his hands firm around my waist. He deepens the kiss as Alison Krauss breaks into the chorus of “When You Say Nothing at All.”

“We’ll just be over…away…now,” Megan says. “Yeah.”

When Zachary and I finally open our eyes, she and Dylan are gone. We start to dance, our bodies pressed together, barely moving.

“I really wanted to do that last year,” I tell him, “when we were dancing to this song.”

“Aye, me, too.”

“Why didn’t we? Besides the fact that we had other dates.”

“Because we were daft.” He brushes his lips over the corner of my jaw, right below my ear. “Because we didn’t know we were already together.”

We stop talking, letting the wisdom of the song dissolve our past foolishness.

So many have tried to steal our future. They put Zachary away, tried to shatter his spirit and shake my faith. All to gain the powers we were born with, the powers that become something new and world-changing when we’re together.

But no matter the odds, or the ferocity of our foes, somehow we always come out stronger, and closer, and more hopeful than ever.

And that? Is the best power of all.

The End


(A short hotel-room epilogue to come in a separate post!)


-----

Want more? Vote for Zach now! You can vote once per browser, per device, from what I'm told.

EDITED TO ADD: Some nice person added this scene to GoodReads, so rate it if you like. Don't worry--I won't look.

Voting has now ended, and Zach didn't win in terms of getting the most votes, but Team Kilt made a brave showing and had a brilliant time. Thank you SO MUCH for all your support. It really meant a lot to me. 

In the meantime, you have through the end of Friday to enter by commenting on this post. Thanks!

Comment on this post to be entered to win an exclusive printed, illustrated (with photos!) version of "Shattered," Zachary's upcoming novella. One will be given away for every 500 votes Zachary receives. (EDITED TO ADD: These will not be available when the novella comes out--it will be ebook only.)

Open to international entries. Deadline: Friday, July 27.

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YA CRUSH TOURNEY ROUND 2!! (NOW IN ALL CAPS!)


Tonight’s the night! I can tell from Twitter that you guys are PUMPED. I admit, I’m nervous, but it’s the kind of nerves I’d get as a teen before Prom, or before going onstage. That this-will-be-AWESOME feeling.

Of course, voting for Zachary (NOW LIVE! beginning at 12:01am ET) is a big part of those 24 hours, but it’s about much more than that. A crush tourney is just another great excuse for a Team Kilt party, and we have amazing things planned!

I made a Crush Tourney Central post with links to VIP (very important posts) both here and elsewhere. It'll stay at the top of the blog, so all you have to do is pop back here for new links to all the insanity, including giveaways. Zach's phenomenal advocates Fictitious Delicious are cooking up some stuff that even I don't know about, but I'll link to it as soon as I do.


WISHING TREE

Fictitious Delicious is creating a virtual Wishing Tree (like the hawthorn “faerie” tree in SHINE) to be adorned with YOUR wishes over the next day and nights.

From their post: “Maybe you'll wish for a life of peace for your loved one or grant a final wish for someone special in your life.  Whatever you wish for, make it count.  This virtual species of the Hawthorn Tree is known for making wishes come true. Email your one sentence wish and an image to represent it to amyojens at gmail dot com between now and next Tuesday (July 24).”

There's still a couple hours left to add your wish.


GIVEAWAY HOP

For What It’s Worth blog is hosting a giveaway hop. If you have a blog and would like to give away a SHADE-related item to support Zach and Team Kilt, simply link up at the bottom of the post.

But there's more! At the same For What It's Worth post, you can enter to win some VERY cool prizes, including signed books by me and other YA authors, a query critique by my illustrious agent, Ginger Clark, and a full manuscript critique by yours truly!


PINTEREST

The Team Kilt Pinterest is rocking! Go there to grab your favorite avi or picture, or check out some of the awesome videos. If you have your own Pinterest, please repin your favorites!


THE BOYS SPEAK

Logan and Martin have written a blog post about why, from a male perspective, Zachary is crushworthy, complete with shirtless Zach pictures and a shocking story from his past.


#SHADEboysAfterDark HANGOUT

Tonight from 11:30pm to ???am eastern time, check out that hashtag for a casual, fun time, possibly with prizes, definitely with goofiness.


CHARITY

The official charity of Round 2 is Greyhound Welfare, the rescue group that brought our greyhound, Meadow, into our lives nine years ago. It was the best way I could think of to honor her memory.

Pledge form is here on my blog.


INCENTIVE!!

(Be honest, some of you scrolled past the other stuff to get to this, didn’t you? It’s what I would’ve done. Just ask my mom. I always snooped in closets and under beds to find unwrapped Christmas gifts.)

During the nomination round, I said that if Zachary reached the finals, I would write a little story about Senior Prom night. Aura mentions it briefly in the final chapter of SHINE (“when, yeah, he wore the kilt.”), but gives no details.

Tonight and tomorrow, I want to give you details.

Starting now…

-----

“That dress is killing me.”

Aura smiles in response and gives a self-conscious tug on the hem of her skirt. The black dress is short in the front, mid-thigh, but long in the back, and flowing all round, so that the right breeze might lift it farther. At least in my imagination.

“Only a spectacular dress would keep you from upstaging me in that.” She leans back on the limosine’s leather seat and gestures to my kilt. She stops an inch short, as if it’s a sacred relic.

“What, this auld thing?” I smooth down the green wool over my

-------

To be continued here.

Those are the first 100 words of “The Power of the Kilt, or, How We Survived Prom Night and Lived to Tell.” (That’s just a working title—I’m VERY open to suggestions.)

Every time Zachary gets another 100 votes, I’ll add another 100 words. So far I’ve written 1,111 words, and I expect Zach will get many more votes than that.

Which means at some point, I’ll be writing on the fly. It might get messy, it might get weird, it will most definitely get silly. There may come a time when I’ll ask you which way the story should go, like a Choose Your Own Adventure tale.

MAKE ME WRITE LIKE THE WIND, TEAM KILT. If Zachary wins tomorrow, I’ll finish the story and get Aura and Zach back to their hotel room.

If Zachary wins tomorrow, that kilt is coming off.


OTHER INCENTIVES

I’ll be giving away print illustrated copies of “Shattered” again on my blog, on the Prom Night story post. One copy per 500 votes Zachary receives. I’ll draw random winners on Friday.

Annotated SHADE trilogies will be given away at For What It’s Worth, one per 1000 votes Zach receives.

Other smaller, fun prizes will pop up spontaneously throughout the day.  Follow me, Logan, and Zachary on Twitter, for chances to win.  There'll undoubtedly be "Shattered" lines shared at some point, to shake things up.


IN THE EVENT OF…

Obviously a victory is far from a sure thing. Our opponents outnumber us tenfold, and they know they have to try hard to beat us. My sources tell me they’ve brought out reinforcements for this battle, because they respect what you’ve created here. Kudos to them for that, and for all their hard work.

But you know what IS a sure thing? That we will have a great time together, celebrating books and music and laughter, as we have so often in the past.

What ELSE is a sure thing? That Team Kilt is not about one or two tournaments, or even about one boy. It will go on long after tonight and tomorrow are nothing but a hazy, crazy memory.

Team Kilt is forever.



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Greyhound Welfare Crush Tourney pledge form

As many of you know, we lost our 12-year-old greyhound, Meadow, a few weeks ago. She had not only a beautiful face, but also a beautiful soul, one whose match I doubt I'll meet again in canine or human form.

We miss our little girl very much, but the many, many, many cards, tweets, Facebook posts, emails, and gifts of sweets and flowers our friends, family, and colleagues have sent have been a huge comfort. It only takes a minute to reach out to someone who's grieving, but it has a big impact. We are so grateful to you all.

We are also grateful to the adoption group who brought Meadow into our lives over nine years ago, Greyhound Welfare. They helped us choose among several amazing dogs, and they worked patiently with us when we had some early struggles (all my fault, not Meadow's, and looking back, I'm ashamed that I ever thought her less than perfect).

If I have a greater reach and power than the average person for the mere fact of having written books, I want to use that for good (because evil is so exhausting--ask any supervillain). So today and tomorrow, while I have an even larger-than-average spotlight on me and my books, I'd like to help GW.

Below is a donation pledge form. Between now and the end of Zachary's Crush Tournament Round 2, please consider pledging a small amount to help these hardworking folks at Greyhound Welfare bring these sweet dogs into loving, responsible homes.

If you can't donate, then please spread the word. (And vote for Zachary starting at 12:01am Wednesday--the more votes he receives, the more money gets donated!)

EDITED 7/25 TO ADD: Forgot to mention how much I was donating! $25 to start, plus another $25 for every 1000 votes Zachary gets.)


EDITED 7/31 TO ADD: Team Kilt raised $390 $425 for Greyhound Welfare during Round 2! If you would still like to donate in Meadow's memory, you can go directly to GW's donation page, but feel free to fill out the form below so I can send you a personalized thank-you.  


And THANK YOU, everyone, for your generosity. 






If you're wondering what the connection is between Meadow and Team Kilt/Zachary, check out this photo from last year's Crush Tourney Final Four round:


It was the middle of the night, so she was rather sleepy. But being a silly girl herself, she was ever tolerant of my hijinks. The prettiest team mascot ever!

Thanks, everyone.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SHINE soundtrack, with (spoilery) notes

At last! I created this soundtrack a few days before the release of Shine, posted it on the SHADEboys tumblr on May 2, and wrote down my thoughts on the songs. At the time I felt like this post was too spoilery to share, but now that Shine has been out for over two months in the US and one month in the UK, and people have been looking for it (I've noticed "SHINE soundtrack" as keyword searches for the blog), I think IT'S TIME! YAY!

SHINE soundtrack by Jeri Smith-Ready on Grooveshark

The soundtrack can also be purchased at iTunes (or it will be as soon as iTunes stops giving me the inscrutable "5002 unknown error"). I get no money from your purchase, just the satisfaction of spreading the word about some of my favorite bands.

Here's a list of songs:

Song Artist
Ready to Start Arcade Fire
Make This Go On Forever Snow Patrol
Northern Star Hole
Letters from the Sky Civil Twilight
Lost in Time Whitley
Castaway Green Day
Some Things Last a Long Time Beach House
Cannonball Damien Rice
You're Gone* Good Charlotte
Switchblade Jenny and Johnny
Combat Rock Sleater-Kinney
Everything Lifehouse
Sun It Rises Fleet Foxes
2 Bodies, 1 Heart* Noah and the Whale
This Unavoidable Thing Between Us Evermore
Fast Blood Frightened Rabbit
Keening Song Aine Minogue
Rise Above Black Flag
Stay Belly
You Are a Tourist Death Cab for Cutie

*Not available on iTunes version of soundtrack. Booooo, iTunes!!!


NOTE: Like any soundtrack, this list of songs is, for the most part, in chronological order. Also, I created it to follow the emotional rhythms of the book. Therefore, for maximum impact, it is highly recommended that you listen to it in order, rather than shuffling. You wouldn't read a book with the chapters out of order, would you? Okay, stepping off prissy artist soapbox.



***GIANT SPOILER WARNING: The rest of this post discusses specifics of SHINE scenes. If you have NOT read SHINE, do not read one word further. ***

Song by song explanation:

"Ready to Start" by Arcade Fire - This was the last song on the SHIFT (Book 2) soundtrack. It works for Logan, Zach, and Aura at different points.

This song and the next were mentioned in Chapter One of SHINE.

"Make This Go On Forever" by Snow Patrol - When I was writing SHADE (Book 1), this song always stopped me in my tracks and plunged me deep and hard into the pain of Aura and Logan's relationship after his death. The line, "Please just save me from this darkness" still makes me cry for him a little, though he's at peace now.

"Northern Star" by Hole - Plane crash and aftermath. I placed this song here because the soundtrack needed to shift tone dramatically, turning ominous and agonized.

To me, the first, second, and third verses correspond to Logan, Aura, and Zachary, respectively. The screaming pain of the final verse tears my chest open for Zach. (The song itself I'm pretty sure is about Kurt Cobain.)

"Letters from the Sky" by Civil Twilight - Zachary's detainment. Aura holds onto the hope that not only one day will they be together again, but that the world won't be gripped by fear of ghosts.

I love especially the end where it says "We will hear those planes overhead and we won't have to be scared." It reminded me of the days after 9/11, which never happened in Aura's universe. For people in the SHADE world, ghosts are the biggest thing to fear. They are the terrorists, or could be.

"Lost in Time" by Whitley - Some songs are where they are because they fit the story, and others are placed because they provide the right sound or rhythm. This is the latter.

It could've gone anywhere, since it can be about Logan (lost in time by dying) or Zachary (lost in time because that's what solitary confinement does to you) or Aura (whose summer becomes one long nightmare). But I placed it here because the playlist needed a lighter sound after the first four intense songs. (Hat tip to Ginger at G Reads Books for this suggestion!)

"Castaway" by Green Day - After the failure of Operation Scot Free, Aura strikes out on her own. She's strong and determined and ready to do whatever it takes to save Zachary. I picture her shadow-boxing to this song!

"Some Things Last a Long Time" by Beach House - Whew! The soundtrack needs a short, dreamy breather. This song corresponds to the month of August, when Aura's despair at saving Zachary grows and grows. Some things last a long time, indeed.

(Also, Beach House is from Baltimore.)

"Cannonball" by Damien Rice - Though Rice has appeared a couple times for Logan (on the SHADE Readers Playlist and Logan's "Sucks to Be A Ghost (Sometimes)" playlist, I saved this song for Zachary. The chorus is all about contradictions:

Stones taught me to fly
Love taught me to lie
Life taught me to die

After Zachary is released from 3A, his mind is really messed up, and everything is backward. He feels heavy and lost.

"You're Gone" by Good Charlotte - Surprisingly, this isn't about Logan, though it could be. It's about Tammi Teller, Logan's #1 fan and the face of Flight 346. This goes with her memorial service. Also, Good Charlotte is a Maryland band--woo-hoo! (Thanks to Melissa @3FixedHearts for suggesting this song for Logan.)

"Switchblade" by Jenny and Johnny - In an earlier draft of SHINE, there was a scene where Aura, Dylan, and Megan went to see Mickey play an acoustic gig near his college. He and his new, um, partner played a song he'd written for Logan. That whole storyline was changed, but I still associate this with Mickey's view of Logan and what his future would've been like had he lived. (It also reminds me of Adam Wilde from Gayle Forman's WHERE SHE WENT.)

"Combat Rock" by Sleater-Kinney - This song rocks the DMP assembly when Aura and her classmates stand up for what's truly American. I wanted a revolutionary song by a different riot grrrl band (I've already used Bikini Kill and L7 in WVMP soundtracks), so I asked my friend, author Stephanie Kuehnert, for help. She gave me the perfect song!

"Everything" by Lifehouse - Castle Scene. Perfection. That is all.

(Thanks to @shellseeker93 for this suggestion.)

"Sun It Rises" by Fleet Foxes - Newgrange!

"2 Bodies 1 Heart" by Noah and the Whale - This is for Aura and Zachary's birthday, which was for the most part incredibly happy. They deserved it, after all they'd been through, and with all they had yet to endure in the next few days.

It also echoes "Soul Meets Body" by Death Cab for Cutie, off the SHIFT soundtrack. Aura and Zachary's connection is deep and mystical: they're "soul twins," as Megan would say.

"This Unavoidable Thing Between Us" by Evermore - This is the night when Aura has the shades in her and she can't even be around Zachary. A lot of uncertainty--things have changed between them, but they're still fighting for each other.

"Fast Blood" by Frightened Rabbit - Shower scene and the (never to be shown X-rated) hotel bedroom scene that follows. As Scott Hutchinson once said in an interview, this song is "essentially about f***ing." They had just escaped death, after all.

"Keening Song" by Aine Minogue - When Zachary confesses to Aura what the DMP did to him. There are no words to express his anguish--not in English, at least.

"Rise Above" by Black Flag - Fight scene in the Òran Mór! I thought this song sounded brawly and perfect for Zachary's mates.

"Stay" by Belly - I've always loved this song. It's not actually a romantic song, but it's about a guy who has suffered and is well-loved ("I've loved him hundreds of thousands of years.") And at this point, Aura wants very much to stay in Glasgow ("It's not time for me to go."--except, it is). I considered cutting it for length, but the soundtrack needed a denouement between the big action scene and the finale...

"You Are a Tourist" by Death Cab for Cutie - This song perfectly sums up the way I felt upon returning home from Ireland and Glasgow, a sentiment Aura shares:

And if you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born
Then it's time to go
And define your destination
There's so many different places to call home

A year and a few months later, I still feel not-at-home at home. With luck and determination, I'll return one day. If not, well, at least Aura got to be where she belongs.

-------

So there it is. A musical journey through Shine. I hope you enjoy it long after you've finished the book, and that it gives you fond thoughts of Logan, Aura, and Zachary!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit presents: Jennifer Echols & SUCH A RUSH!

I'm doing a goofy dance (metaphorically) right now, because this week I'm hosting of my favorite authors (and people)--Jennifer Echols!

Her new YA novel and first hardcover, Such a Rush, is now out. Can you believe this amazing cover?

SUCH A RUSH

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever. 


But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business--until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers--and the consequences could be deadly. 


Engrossing and intense, SUCH A RUSH is a captivating adventure that is sure to keep readers soaring.

PRAISE FOR SUCH A RUSH

"In short: a real page-turner! You'll love it if you're looking for a summer read that's loaded with drama….It's an emotional story--complete with funny, sarcastic characters and mean-girl confrontations--that you're sure to enjoy!"
--Seventeen

"It is my new favorite Jennifer Echols book."--Chick Loves Lit

"Such a Rush is another masterpiece by Jennifer Echols. As a long-time fan of her work I truly believe it would be impossible for her to write a story where I didn't fall deeply in love with the characters, the plot, and the setting. Truly a must read for anyone looking for a contemporary novel."

ABOUT JENN

Jennifer Echols is the award-winning author of multiple romantic dramas and romantic comedies for teens. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

And now...my interview with the can't-sum-her-up-in-one-adjective Jenn!

We're always told to "kill our darlings." Do you have a short excerpt--a couple lines or a paragraph--that you'd care to share with us, something you love but just didn't quite make the cut.

You know, I really don’t kill much, just change it. I turned in this book at 80,000 words and it is now 97,000 because of stuff my editor asked me to add, so I’m pretty sure all the darlings are still alive.

Turn to page 99 of your current release: which word on that page describes your main character best, and why? 

Trading--because Leah is constantly negotiating in this book, trading one thing she doesn’t value for another thing she wants, before finally realizing that she shouldn’t have to compromise.

What’s the most surprising book-related thing to happen to you in the last year?

I got embossing. This book is my first hardcover, and on the jacket, the title and my name are raised and shiny, which is expensive for the publisher to produce. They don’t give the embossing to just anybody you know. I GOT THE EMBOSSING. It is almost like having my book in Costco.

Do you have a quirk or detail in common with your main character (e.g., favorite food, habit, phrase)?

Leah and I both go after what we want and hold on until we get it--for her it’s a flying career, and for me it was a publishing career--but other than that, it’s amazing how different we are.

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled for book research?

Nashville, for the current work in progress, my new YA romantic drama out this time next year called Dirty Little Secret. So excited about this one!

Speaking of travel, which do you like best: planes, trains, or automobiles?

Planes! In fact, I just visited the very cool Naval Air Station museum in Pensacola again and said hello to one of the characters in my book, the Stearman.

In the SHADE trilogy, Aura is the first of a generation that can see ghosts. If your generation could have a superpower, what would it be?

Video games. I will kick your ass at Centipede.

**[From Jeri: You would, because I suck at trackball. But your Arkanoid ass is MINE!]**

If you could bring any person back as a ghost so you could ask them about their lives, who would it be? 

Jane Austen. I would pick her brain about how she came up with her ideas, what she was thinking when she put a novel together, and what she would have written next.

---

Get your rush today!


Big congrats to Jenn on her first hardcover, and best of luck with the release. SUCH A RUSH sounds like the best one yet!

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Hunger Games giveaway winners


Thanks to everyone who commented on Friday's post and helped get Juli and Finnick the win! I had no idea so many people loved that guy as much as I do.

Winners are as follows:

HUNGER GAMES ARC: Ashley (@booknookblog)
HUNGER GAMES pendant (donated by Karen at For What It's Worth): Ashley G. (Wholly Books)
CLOCKWORK PRINCE: Jessica (Step Into Fiction)
SWEET EVIL: Kimberly (Kimberly's Novel Notes)

Please email your mailing address and the prize you won to melissa AT jerismithready DOT com. If prizes are not claimed within a week from now, I'll draw new winners.

Thanks again for taking part in YA Sisterhood's Crush Tournament, and *shameless plug alert* don't forget to vote for Zachary next Wednesday, July 25!

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Support Finnick (and Jem) and win ARC of Hunger Games (and other stuff)!



As you probably know by now, YA Sisterhood is holding their second Tournament of Crushes this month and next. Zachary did quite well last week thanks to you! (See this post for giveaway winners, updates on incentives, and a Round 2 pep talk.)

Beginning tonight at midnight Eastern Right now, one of my dearest friends and readers, Juli from The Reviews News, is advocating for the witty, gorgeous, and surprisingly resourceful Finnick Odair from The Hunger Games series. (If you've only seen the movie and are wondering who the heck Finnick is, he comes onto the scene in Catching Fire. He's the winner of a previous Hunger Game, and that's all I'll say to avoid spoilers.)

(Here's the direct voting link--go now!)

Juli is not only a friend and SHADE reader, she's one of the admins on the fabulous SHADE fan site, KiltandKeeley.com. She's always quick to support Team Kilt with an animated gif, or a gorgeous piece of graphic art, or even a song, like this version of Logan's song "Forever" she wrote last year:



Juli's pretty much a genius, yeah. But it's her heart that has made her one of my favorite peeps.

So there was no question that I would support Juli and Finnick in the tournament. And as you can tell from the subject line, I'm giving away something really special.

An Advance Review Copy of Book One, The Hunger Games. 

No kidding. There are two on sale on eBay right now, each for about $300.

***If Finnick wins Round One, I will give away this ARC to a randomly drawn commenter on this post. If Finnick loses, I'll keep it for myself to cherish and possibly finance a short Caribbean cruise with someday after all the movies are out.***

The ARC is in very good to excellent condition. And it's a really good book! :-D

Did I mention voting begins at midnight tonight voting has begun?

***Win or lose, I have a few other giveaways:

1. A Hunger Games pendant, generously donated by Karen at For What It's Worth (another fab K&K'er). Pictured here:

Oooh....aahhhh...

2. A hardcover copy of Cassandra Clare's Clockwork Prince, on account of the totally sweet, totally crushworthy Jem Carstairs also being in Friday's tournament matchups. Jem is represented by Page Turners Blog, one of whose members, Stacey Canova, is another fond friend of mine and member of Team Kilt.

3. A copy of Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins, which features Finnick's opponent, Kaiden, who I hear is VERY special.

RULES:

To enter, just leave a comment on this blog telling me your favorite part(s) of The Hunger Games, either the books or the movie. Or tell me what you thought of the movie compared to the book. Jog my memory, which is so terrible for details!

Deadline: 11:59am ET Saturday, July 14. Yeah, I'm giving you 12 extra hours to enter after voting is over, cuz I love ya. (Not that limiting the entry time to midnight would mean I DIDN'T love you.)

International entries welcome!

I will post the winners in the comments and on this blog on Monday. If you won, you MUST respond within two days or I'll draw another winner. Please don't leave your email address in your comment, because that results in spam, but I encourage you to leave your Twitter or Facebook name so that I have a way to get in touch with you.

EDITED TO ADD INCENTIVE: When Finnick hits 2,000 votes, I will donate $25 to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a charity that supports this vital habitat, the country's largest estuary (and rather dear to me, since I live close by, and since my granddad eked out a living on it as a fisherman).  

If Finnick gets 2500 votes, I'll donate another $25 for a total of $50. Team Fish Boy ahoy!

Vote for Finnick at Midnight now! And thank you!

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Crush Tourney Round 1 results and giveaway winners!

You did it--you came through for Zachary and gave him the win in Round One in YA Sisterhood's Crush Tournament!

Thanks to all of Team Kilt and especially to Zach's advocates Fictitious Delicious, who put up a hilarious-but-sincere defense, raised $170 in donations for the Tartan Army Children's Charity, and ran a "Video Game" in which the Loch Ness Monster got gussied up for a special Big Date.

A special nod goes to Emily at Falling for YA, who gave Alex from Delirium the excellent defense and fight he deserved.

GIVEAWAY WINNERS:

Because Zachary got 1500+ votes, that means I'm giving away 5 illustrated print versions of "Shattered" and 1 annotated SHADE trilogy.

The winners are as follows...drum roll...
"Shattered" winners:
Caitlin (comment #65)
Amy (#32)
Dizneeee (Lisa) (#30)
Krazzyme (Young Readers) (#26)
Aydrea (#16)

And the winner of the annotated SHADE trilogy is... jware (#28)!

The annotated SHADE trilogy will be mailed probably by the end of this month, and the "Shattered"s will be mailed some time after the novella is finished, obviously.

Please email your mailing address to melissa AT jerismithready DOT com and tell her which prize you won. And thanks again for taking part in Zach's Excellent Adventure.

MARTIN JOINS TWITTER!

As promised, Zachary's outrageous best mate, Martin Connelly, will be joining Twitter for a #SHADEboys chat (with Zach and Logan) on Thursday, July 19, at 8pm ET. He will also join Zachary and Aiden MacRae (the Highlander hottie from Cyndi Tefft's Between series) for a #FakeScotsmen chat, on a date to be determined.

LOGAN'S POV scene:

The votes are in! By the tiniest of margins, you chose Logan and Aura's first kiss as the scene I should write from his point of view:


I hope to write this on Monday and post by Wednesday.

A VERY SAD NOTE

Since so many of you offered good wishes for Meadow on last week's post, I feel I should update you here. Meadow passed away around 4am Friday morning after we took her to the ER for her intractable pain. The vet said that her symptoms indicated she most likely had a brain tumor, which was why the meds for what we thought was disc pain (which was going to be confirmed with MRI this week) just weren't enough anymore. It was a horrible, heartbreaking experience to see her suffer and then to lose her unexpectedly.

I spent most of Friday during the tourney in a numb fog at best. Your tweets for Zach and good wishes to me were my sanity's one salvation. That's all I can bear to say right now, but I'll have a special post honoring her within the next few days.

Until then, the SHADE fan site, KiltandKeeley.com, is offering handcrafted Team Kilt/SHADEboys keychains to the first 20 people who donate $10 or more to Greyhound Welfare, Inc., in Meadow's memory. See their post yesterday (Item #1) for details. Greyhound Welfare will be the official Team Kilt charity for the second round of the Crush Tourney, so hopefully we'll be able to raise lots of funds for this organization that gave me and my husband Chris the greatest gift we've ever received--the joy of Meadow in our lives.


ROUND TWO...

...will begin at 12:01am Wednesday, July 25. Zachary's opponent will be the inimitable Will Herondale from Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series (Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince, and the forthcoming Clockwork Princess).

Will is the #1 seed in the entire tournament. His advocates are the fabulous (and fabulously huge) fan sites Mundie Moms and TMI Source. According to the latter, Will "routed" his Round One opponent.

With competition like this, it's time for Team Kilt to get SERIOUS. No more fun and games, no more men-in-kilt avis, no more Loch Ness Monsters, no more--

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Okay, I can't keep a straight face. Team Kilt couldn't be serious if our lives depended on it. We will always have fun and games, men-in-kilt avis, and Loch Ness Monsters (and possibly zombies, we're still deciding). We will have them today, tomorrow, on July 25, and on every day in between. And every day after.

After all, Team Kilt is about more than one tournament, or even two or three tournaments. It's a community of fun-loving--and just plain loving--folks who welcome everyone with open arms.

If you'd like to join, to help out and get some nice wee bits of swag, sign up here (scroll down to form--it's funny, you'll like it).

Some may say winning Round 2 is impossible, that Will is fated to win this entire tournament because of the sheer numbers of his fan base.

You know what? It is impossible for Zachary to win--but ONLY IF we give up now and accept defeat. Don't forget what one of his heroes, David Beckham, once said:
'Impossible' is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. 

As for fate, I think Zach's countrywoman Princess Merida has a few words on that subject:





Team Kilt, you are the bravest folk I know. 

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GCC Interview - Denise Jaden and NEVER ENOUGH

I'm extra excited about this week's Girlfriends Cyber Circuit interview, because it's with one of my fellow Class of 2K10 YA debut authors, Denise Jaden! She's a very fun, very witty gal whose first book, Losing Faith, broke my heart and then put it back together again. Those are my favorite kinds of books.

Yesterday was the release of Denise's second book, Never Enough, which happens to be edited by my own editor at Simon Pulse, Annette Pollert. Which means it's pretty much perfect. ;-)

Denise is holding a contest on her blog where you can win four boxes of books!

From the author of Losing Faith, a novel about two sisters and the eating disorder that threatens to destroy their family.



Loann’s always wanted to be popular and pretty like her sister, Claire. So when Claire’s ex-boyfriend starts flirting with her, Loann is willing to do whatever it takes to feel special…even if that means betraying her sister.

But as Loann slips inside Claire’s world, she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Claire’s quest for perfection is all-consuming, and comes at a dangerous price. And Loann is frightened she could lose the sister she’s always idolized.

As Claire increasingly withdraws from friends and family, Loann struggles to understand her and make amends. Can she heal their relationship—and her sister—before it’s too late?






PRAISE FOR NEVER ENOUGH


"In her sophomore novel, Jaden (Losing Faith) offers an intimate and enlightened rendering of anorexia and bulimia...Loann's fight against forces that might be beyond her control is both harrowing and inspiring. While Jaden does not provide simple answers for the problems presented, she dramatically illustrates the importance of speaking out and reaching out."
—Publishers Weekly

“Raw and unforgettable.”
—Tara Kelly, author of Harmonic Feedback and Amplified


Check out this fantastic video Denise made with several other YA authors contributing, on how they never felt good enough.




ABOUT DENISE

Denise Jaden spent her high school lunch hours trying to tame her frizzy/curly hair in the bathroom, or playing freeze tag in the drama room. She attended the theatre program at college, and then enjoyed a variety of occupations, including stage production, mushroom farming, and Polynesian dancing. The first draft of her debut novel, Losing Faith, was written in 21 days during National Novel Writing Month. This is her second novel. She lives just outside Vancouver, Canada with her husband and son. Find out more online at denisejaden.com, visit her Facebook page, or follow her on Twitter.

And now, my interview with the ever-awesome Denise Jaden!


We're always told to "kill our darlings." Do you have a short excerpt--a couple lines or a paragraph--that you'd care to share with us, something you love but just didn't quite make the cut?

In a way I’d always felt like things that happened to Claire, happened to me too. Like I remembered in elementary school when she won this bike-decorating contest at sports day and people kept coming up and congratulating me afterward. But my rational brain usually kicked in to remind me of the reality.

Turn to page 99 of your current release: which word on that page describes your main character best, and why?

Short (in stature) with a big mouth. Loann is five-foot-nothing, and often tends to open her mouth and say things before she thinks through the outcome of her words.

What’s the scariest book-related thing to happen to you in the last year?

The scariest thing that happened to me in the last year is when I proposed a writing workshop for a small group of people, and it instead got picked up for a much larger theatre venue. I ended up teaching the workshop to several hundred people. It went well, and I’m proud that I did it, but at the time I was terrified!

Do you have a quirk or detail in common with your main character (e.g., favorite food, habit, phrase)?

Yes, we both have frizzy/curly/unmanageable hair. And we’re both short.

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled for book research?

I went to San Francisco a few years ago, and even though I haven’t set a novel there yet, I have hoards of notes and pictures because I plan to one day.

Speaking of travel, which do you like best: planes, trains, or automobiles?

I used to take a lot of road trips, but I’m feeling kind of old for keeping myself in the same position for that long these days. I’d say planes, because they get me there the fastest.

In the SHADE trilogy, Aura is the first of a generation that can see ghosts. What do you think defines your generation?

I think of my generation as a transitionary generation. We’re not the hands-on hard workers that our parents were, and we’re not the tech-savvy (and sometimes immobile) people that our kids are.

If you could bring any person back as a ghost so you could ask them about their lives, who would it be?

I’d love to chat it up with Jesus for a while, but it seems a little too strange to think of him as a ghost.

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Great answers, Denise. Congrats on your new release--I can't wait to read Never Enough!

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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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