Monday, August 3, 2009

Cyber Launch Party Day 16: Jeri Smith-Ready

Welcome to Day 16 of the Ballads of Suburbia Cyber Launch Party! For all of the details on the party including guests, the daily contests and the grand prize drawing be sure to read the information at the beginning of Day 1's blog.

Before we meet today's guest, I have a few things to tell you about.

Ballads of Suburbia-related contests:

On Saturday, Free Book Friday posted an interview with me and a contest. Three lucky winners will be drawn on Friday and receive signed copies of Ballads. So read the interview and enter here.

Shooting Stars mag is running a huge contest somewhat similar to the Ballads Blitz. So if you bought Ballads (or buy it anytime between now and the end of the month), you are eligible to enter for a ton of cool prizes! All the details are here!

Girlfriends Cyber Circuit Tour!

My regular blog readers will recall the interviews I do from time to time with my fellow authors who are members of the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit. Now it is my turn to be interviewed! Each day this week, I will be posting links to my interviews. You'll get extra contest entries for the Cyber Launch Party contest of the day by posting a comment on the interview and/or posting links to the interviews! You'll find out all sorts of things about my writing process in general, particulars about writing Ballads, books and other things I love, and fun little details like what kind of car I drive.

Here are some of the interviews that are up so far:

Interview with me on Karin Gillespie's blog
Interview with me on Wendy Toliver's blog
Interview with me on Lucienne Diver's blog

Today's Winner:
Each day I am announcing the winner of the contest that was posted one week earlier. Today's winner gets LOVESTRUCK SUMMER from Melissa Walker! And that winner is... What a Girl Reads from Blogger! I will email you for your address shortly! Remember to enter last week's contests! Each contests lasts one week!

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

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

Dig if you will a picture
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.)

And then along came PURPLE RAIN. We’d seen the smokin’ previews and heard it was three seconds of cut footage from an X rating. Every girl I knew was turned on by the video for “When Doves Cry,” when Prince gets out of the bathtub and crawls naked across the floor.

So my best friend Steve and I figured that movie was our key to the kingdom. Let Prince get our girlfriends on base, and then we would bat cleanup (the mere fact that we still used baseball analogies says worlds about our sexual sophistication).

We even had the site: an abandoned row home that everyone thought was haunted. Even the addicts would rather sleep in an alley than set foot in that house, so it was safe, clean, and private (among the living). We called it the Ghost House, because we were not creative.

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.

Because seven minutes in, Prince played the closing guitar solo to “Let’s Go Crazy.” Standing on the piano. Holding life in his hands.

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.

Afterwards, we left the theater and headed for the Ghost House. Steve was hoping to find a liquor store on the way that would sell to us. Our girlfriends talked about the clothes in the movie, where they could get them and how much they might cost.

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.

“Look,” Tracy said. “That one over there’s only thirty bucks.”

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.

The next morning I bought that guitar, with money I borrowed from my sister. Since I’m left-handed, I learned to play all the chords upside down.

As for the night’s original objective? When we got to the Ghost House, it was still smoldering, surrounded by fire trucks. Turns out it had been hit by lightning, and an attic full of old newspapers had gone up in flames. Some things just weren’t meant to be.

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.

One that led me here, to this radio station, and this immortal life.

Electric word, life.

It means forever and that’s a mighty long time.

--Let’s Go Crazy

“Last Request”: Shane’s origin story:

Shane’s page on the WVMP Radio website:

Shane on Twitter:

Today's Contest:

It's no secret that I love Jeri Smith-Ready and her books. Shane is one of my all time favorite literary characters so I was really excited to have him here today. Jeri, super cool chick that she is, is offering the winner of today's contest their choice of prizes: You can go for a signed copy of Wicked Game, a signed copy of Bad To The Bone, or if you already have both books, up to 20$ worth of merch from the WVMP store.

To enter just leave a comment on Jeri/Shane's ballad and...

+1 for blogging/tweeting/etc about this blog
+1 for blogging/tweeting about the Ballads related contests I mentioned above.
+1 for comments on the GCC interviews
+1 for blogging/tweeting about the GCC interviews

Just note your additional entries in your comment. Winner will be chosen at random on Monday, August 10!

Tomorrow's Guest:

Tomorrow, Greg Logsted, author of Alibi Junior High will be guest-blogging. So please come back to see what he has to say!


Unknown said...

Hi :)
I LOVE Jeri's writing.
I have all her books already, but none of them are signed.
(I live in a very small city in Northern Ontario).
If I won I'd pick WICKED GAME.
Best wishes,
PS - Thanks for the fun interview.

Amy Pittel said...

Fabulous interview. I have all of Jeri's books, all signed.

What I love most about Shane's Purple Rain story is how vividly and clearly Jeri makes this small tidbit of a story come to life. I had to remind myself when I was finished reading that Shane is a fictional character. Even if he IS on Twitter. Speaking of Twitter, I RT'd her post about the blog!

Riva said...

I swear, reading an interview with Jeri (or Shane or Ciara) is almost as good as reading the books. I have both of the WVMP books so would love a chance to get some WVMP merchandise (and maybe signed bookplates for my copies??)


Kay said...

I love that Jeri does interviews of her characters. Yet to read Bad to the Bone, but I loved Wicked Game.

Tynga said...

Please count me in =) I've had my eyes on that book for a while!

I posted about the contest on my right-hand side bar.

Kristen said...

Wow, very cool! After hearing a ballad from one of her characters, I'm interested to read some of her books. :) Please enter me!

+1 for tweeting

Bianca said...

Um. I love this. I haven't heard of Jeri until now and oh wow.
I freakin' LOVE Prince.
I definitely want to read her books. If I won I would loved Wicked Game!

Wicked Good interview!!!!

Sara said...

Wow. I haven't read any of Jeri's book yet, but I would really like too, they seem great!


Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

I've never read Jeri's books before, and I have no clue why - they look like my type of read all the way! I am digging this Shane character too. I would take either book since I haven't read them yet =D


Unknown said...

What a terrific and moving story - it's like Fate was throwing up a neon sign. Very beautiful, and so very Shane. Can't wait for my copy of Bad to the Bone to arrive - stupid postman.

afstone3 said...

I love the interviews that not only Jeri does but also the ones by Shane and Ciara, it gives us readers a little more insite into who they are.


Carrie Clevenger said...

I tweeted. I like Jeri. I like Jeri stuff. ;)

I LOVE Shane.

Karen said...

Great Shane story!

Like you said it wasn't about what you would think it would be :-) (it was better)and as always it adds to the original Wicked Games stories.

Love how the characters are so well thought out!

Carrie Clevenger said...

baby occupied me so I couldn't post my tweet link but here it is. Looking for WMVP schwag.

Carrie Clevenger said...

Third time's a charm. =\

My verification is "lickhote". O.o

HockeyVampiress said...

I will be tweeting this(hockeyvampiress)... Jeri and I have a love hate thing going with Shane... she knows I love him and I hate that Ciara gets all his free time... LOL I can see this as Shanes ballad and of course love when she can bring any of her characters more human side out... esp Shane... :)

Llehn said...

Prince sure brings back a lot of memories!


throuthehaze said...

Ive only recently heard of Jeri's work but it looks amazing! I would love to read Wicked Game!

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

Ellz said...

Jeri is on my TBR list, and I too, like Shane, am a huge Prince fan.

marina said...

i recently caught the end of purple rain and maybe it's because i don't like prince, maybe it's because i was with people who mocked it and made it seem much funnier than it was. either way, i didn't much enjoy it like this person did. haha. maybe it's also because i'm from a different era. but i do like how much the movie effected that character. how it changed his life. that's pretty cool.


Mel said...

I discovered Jeri Smith-Ready yesterday, buying "Wicked Game" while waiting to see Public Enemies. Even /with/ Johnny Depp in it, I just wanted to get back to my book - and stayed up way too late to finish it all.

Doubt I'm eligible to win swag (I live in New Zealand - postage, anyone?) ... but I loved Shane's Prince ballad remininscence. Especially since I'm old enough to remember it the first time around.

Sadly I think all my "moments" were around Billy Idol, ACDC and, well, any number of male performers with very big hair and a lot of leather who pranced around the stage in lipstick.

Mel said...

Oh yeh: forgot to add +1 for twittering on the launch party :)

Pissenlit said...

Thanks for sharing your ballad, Shane!(I love it when Jeri lets her characters out to play!) :D

+1 for blogging about this blog

C. Allen said...

Synchronicity? As I was reading Wicked Game, heard the NPR ATC segment on Rurple Rain's anniversary showing in Prospect Park. Great writing! Thanks for letting me play along.

Lori T said...

Wow, really great ballad. I love Jeri's writing and Shane is one of my favorites.

Breanna said...

Wow that was a really great ballad. I really love all these ballads. They're so much fun!


audrey said...

I really enjoyed the interview, it was great :)

Wouldn't turn down a chance to read those books, they sound really great. =]