Now, today's guest blogger is author Jeri Smith-Ready!
Jeri Smith-Ready has been writing fiction since the night she had her first double espresso. A constant stream of caffeine has resulted in six published novels, including Wicked Game and Eyes of Crow, which have each won multiple awards in the fields of fantasy and romance.
Jeri will have her teen fiction debut in May 2010 with the Simon Pulse release of Shade, a paranormal love story featuring a world of spirits only the young can see. Shade’s sequel, Shift, will follow in 2011. The next two years will also see the continuation of Jeri’s fun and sexy WVMP Radio urban fantasy series from Pocket Books.
Jeri holds a master’s degree in environmental policy and lives in Maryland with her husband, cat, and the world’s goofiest greyhound. When not writing, she can usually be found—well, thinking about writing, or on Twitter. Her website is jerismithready.com
Here's Jeri's ballad... or really Jeri's character Shane's Ballad:
Hey everyone, Jeri here first. I’m way too chicken to reveal my own defining moments, so I’m going to throw the vampire DJ hero of my WVMP Radio urban fantasy series, Shane McAllister, under the ballad bus.
This ballad springs off of a moment in Wicked Game, when he and Ciara are in the record store and he picks up the soundtrack to Purple Rain. He says he took his first girlfriend to see it, then gets a faraway look in his eyes. Ciara fills in the raunchy remainder of the story in her imagination. Turns out the truth, as usual, is a little more complicated.
The Ballad of Shane McAllister
Of you and I engaged in a kiss.
The sweat of your body covers me.
Can you, my darling,
Can you picture this?
--“When Doves Cry,” Prince & the Revolution
Hell yeah, I could picture it. I couldn’t picture much else when I was sixteen, much else but my girlfriend Tracy and me—naked, sweaty, and making the kinds of high-pitched ecstatic noises Prince would make between that song’s verses. My imagination skipped the courtyard and the oceans of violets and the animal voyeurs, and went straight to the important parts.
But I was clueless as to how to make it happen. My friends and I weren’t exactly innocent—most of us had been picked up for vandalism or fighting or drugs, or all of the above. Our part of Youngstown was rough. (Scratch that—every part of Youngstown was rough in those days.)
It was all set. Everyone told their parents we were staying at each other’s places. First, the Friday night football game, which we only caught glimpses of from under the bleachers where we all had a few beers to get our nerves up. Then, the movie.
Seven minutes in, I was lost. If you glanced at me right then, you’d see a big, brawny dude (I was a boxer, and how that happened is the subject of the ballad I didn’t write because I didn’t want to depress you) with one arm around his girlfriend’s shoulders, and his other hand in her, um, bag of popcorn.
Frozen. Slack-jawed. Transported.
Seven minutes in, I’d forgotten all about Tracy, despite her teased-up hair tickling my nose and her knee “accidentally” rubbing mine again and again.
He poured all the rage and confusion he felt—all the rage and confusion I felt—into those strings, until they sang and screamed his emotions in perfect pitch. Until the world understood, if only for forty-five seconds, what it meant to be him. Beyond the costumes and the lights and the fake smoke, straight into his soul.
I wanted that. I needed that, more than sex and power and attention, all the things that playing a guitar could bring me. I needed a way to speak.
Halfway there, we passed a music store, closed for the night. I stopped to gawk at the gleaming electric guitars in the window display. The price tags seemed to reach through the glass and rip my heart out of my chest. I leaned my forehead against the window and tried to catch my breath as my brief, bright future dimmed before it even began.
I cupped my hands around my eyes to see into the dark depths of the store. Hanging on the side wall was a battered old acoustic with a handwritten sign that said USED $30. I suddenly remembered why I loved Tracy so much, and why I, the King of Self-Absorption, totally didn’t deserve her.
But other things were. A year later I had a music scholarship to Ohio University, a few hours’ drive but a world away from Youngstown. The road I traveled for the next ten years was riddled with sinkholes, doubled back several times, and even went off a cliff or two, but at least I was on a road.
Electric word, life.
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time.
--Let’s Go Crazy
“Last Request”: Shane’s origin story: http://www.jerismithready.com/books/wicked-game/shane1.htm
Shane’s page on the WVMP Radio website: http://www.wvmpradio.com/page.cfm/dj-s/shane
Shane on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShaneMcAllister
Tomorrow, Greg Logsted, author of Alibi Junior High will be guest-blogging. So please come back to see what he has to say!