Renegade is live (plus contests)

MarchJonesing for more March? Go check out the story and then come back here to let me know what you think. It’ll be worth your while, and not just for the free story.

Why? Well, I heard that a big box of ARCs is heading my way. That’s right; I’ll be giving away advance copies of Wanderlust from now until August 26. I’ll be doing a huge contest on Smart Bitches, but you can also enter to win a copy today. How?

Go read Renegade, and then leave a comment, telling me what you liked most (or least) about the story. That easy, you’ll be entered to win a galley of Wanderlust. That’s a win / win for y’all — read free story, maybe win a free book. Sweet! I’ll give this contest a week, winner announced on June 2.

Theme songs

Most of my books have them. I find one that encapsulates the mood of the book and then play it until I can sing every word by heart.

For GRIMSPACE, it was Song to Say Goodbye by Placebo. For WANDERLUST, it was Lost Cause by Beck. For BLUE DIABLO, the first Corine book, it was Me Muero by La 5ª Estación. I provide links so you can check the songs out if you’re unfamiliar with them.

Now here’s the song I listened to religiously while writing HELL FIRE. It’s sad, soulful, and a little heart-wrenching.

From the mailbag

I thought I’d pull out a few questions I’ve received and answer them here. If they’re funny enough, I add questions to my FAQ permanently and send the person who asked a prize. These questions, however, are so awesome (or freaky) that I felt they deserved a blog post. They’re all Grimspace related, so maybe other readers were secretly wondering the same thing but didn’t have the chutzpah to inquire.

And now, onward!

Elise asks:

Can Vel have sex in human form? Has he ever? For that matter, what’s his stuff like in his natural form?

I cannot tell you how I laughed to receive these questions. I have been told by another reader that I managed to make Vel appealing, mysterious, and yes, even erotic, but this is the first time anyone has ever asked about his package. But here we go.

Yes, Vel can have sex in human form, but it’s more mimicry than anything pleasurable for him. I mean, he’s wearing a human suit, basically. Imagine having sex while wearing a condom all over your body that’s several inches thick. Just because it’s possible, that doesn’t mean he’ll enjoy it.

And yes, Vel has had sex in human form. I’ll say this much: you met one of Vel’s former lovers briefly in Grimspace. I will not tell you more, however, because it would spoil a free short story that will be forthcoming, probably in December.

Finally (and I can’t believe anyone wants to know this), I did research praying mantis sexual organs when I was writing this book. Vel has an adapted system, similar but not identical to the praying mantis. That is to say, he has a series of barbs and slits designed to interlock with a female of his species for the exchange of genetic material. It’s a more functional arrangement than humans have. The barbs offer no sensation whatsoever; they’re simply present to allow the Ithtorians to hook together long enough to do what’s needed. The slits, however, do offer some pleasurable sensations, which another species can act upon. Sex-for-pleasure is a foreign concept to his people, but he’s been in exile a long time.

Adam asks:

Do you think Jax will ever do it with Dina? If March were eaten by aliens, maybe. Because that would be hot.

No. Sorry. Even if March is eaten by aliens, it’s not going to happen. Dina isn’t attracted to Jax that way.

Melanie asks:

I liked the book, but I don’t understand how you can say they proved there’s no such thing as the soul, yet people still have religion, all that Mary worship stuff. How does that even make sense?

To my mind, the two are not mutually exclusive. Think of all the things science has “proven”, evolution, for instance. How many sects are there today that deny it because it goes against their theology? Science and religion have always been at odds in that way, a question of evidence versus faith. Why wouldn’t that continue to be so?

Well, that’s all for today! I hope y’all found this edifying. If you have a question, feel free to email it to me. If I pick yours for a blog post or the FAQ you’ll win a prize, just like Adam, Elise, and Melanie.

Wicked Game winner

First I’d like to thank Jeri Smith-Ready for entertaining people on my blog when I was in no shape fit or able to do so. I’ve been quite heinously ill for the past week, and I appreciate her blog presence over here so the place didn’t seem quite so empty. I’m sure y’all have seen why I like her so much. She’s great, isn’t she? And even more charming in person.

Anyhow, I have a winner to post, don’t I?

Lina (#27), email me with your full name and address! I’ll get you hooked up with a free copy of Wicked Game. Thanks to everyone who commented. I’ll see if I can be a little more entertaining this week, now that it looks like I won’t die after all.

An interview with Jeri Smith-Ready (And a Wicked Game giveaway!)

The Squee

First, let me state: Jeri is a good friend of mine. However, I don’t squee about books that aren’t squee-worthy. I might tell you she’s a nice person, I’m excited to present this interview, I love her hair, or that I loved rooming with her in Pittsburgh. I might tell you any number of nice things, but if I didn’t love Wicked Game, there would be no squeeing.

Wicked Game

The best part about being an author is that I get to read books early that I would line up to buy. Wicked Game is one of those.

Jeri reinvents vampire mythos and she manages to make them grim, scary as hell, yet still sexy. Ciara and Shane are a fantastic couple with serious conflict. I loved the way the relationship develops; it felt natural to me. And the plot? Amazingly fresh.

As if that’s not enough, Wicked Game has some of the finest writing and characterization it’s been my privilege to read, ever. No spoilers, but certain scenes gave me chills. I just can’t tell you how much I love this book. But don’t take my word for it; Kresley Cole and Rachel Caine love it too. Now check out this blurb:

Recovering con artist Ciara Griffin is trying to live the straight life, even if it means finding a (shudder!) real job. She takes an internship at a local radio station, whose late-night time-warp format features 1940s blues, ’60s psychedelia, ’80s goth, and more, all with an uncannily authentic flair. Ciara soon discovers just how the DJs maintain their cred: they’re vampires, stuck forever in the eras in which they were turned.

Ciara’s first instinct, as always, is to cut and run. But communications giant Skywave wants to buy WVMP and turn it into just another hit-playing clone. Without the station — and the link it provides to their original Life Times — the vampires would “fade,” becoming little more than mindless ghosts of the past. Suddenly a routine corporate takeover is a matter of life and undeath.

To boost ratings and save the lives of her strange new friends, Ciara rebrands the station as “WVMP, the Lifeblood of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” In the ultimate con, she hides the DJs’ vampire nature in plain sight, disguising the bloody truth as a marketing gimmick. WVMP becomes the hottest thing around — next to Ciara’s complicated affair with grunge vamp Shane McAllister. But the “gimmick” enrages a posse of ancient and powerful vampires who aren’t so eager to be brought into the light. Soon the stakes are higher — and the perils graver — than any con game Ciara’s ever played….

The Interview

What book have you read the most? How come?
Alice in Wonderland. There was something about the way it made me feel as a kid—that ANYTHING could happen, and you’d never know what would be around the next corner. I wished so hard for my very own rabbit hole.


What’s your favorite drink, alcoholic or otherwise?

Ginger beer, the hotter the better. I like food that hurts, probably because of the endorphin rush.

What was your favorite book as a kid?
DOGSBODY by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s about the Dog Star Sirius who is punished by the gods (I can’t remember why) by being forced to come to earth and live the life of a stray dog. It combined my love of animals with my passions for astronomy and mythology. Because of that book, Sirius became my favorite star forever (not to mention my eventual choice in satellite radio).

Who do you think is the coolest writer who ever lived? (This can be anyone, living or dead. Of course you have to tell us why. You don’t need to have personal experience of this person.)
Neil Gaiman. Not only is his work amazing on so many levels, he’s an incredibly nice and funny person, and so generous with his time and self. Back in the days when he was merely Big and not OMG MF’ing ROCK STAR, I stood in line for ninety minutes to get a book signed by him. It moved so slowly because he spoke with each reader for at least five minutes. Even now at signings he’ll stay behind long after everyone else to make sure all the readers get to speak with him.

If you could transform into any animal, what would it be? Why that?
I think a dolphin would be tons of fun. Swim around and eat fish all day, but still be smart enough to appreciate life. And hey, sharks are afraid of them. You can’t beat that.

Your rabid fans have proclaimed you the best writer in the world. Defend your title!
The words I hear most often to describe my work are “original” and “unique.” This is flattering, but sometimes it worries me, because conventional wisdom says most people gravitate toward the familiar and aren’t really looking for something different.

But readers should buck the conventional wisdom. Prove the experts wrong! Besides, every mega-author was once original and unique. You can’t stand out and become an OMG MF’ing ROCK STAR by writing the same stuff as everyone else.

What’s one mistake you see in books that drives you nuts? (This can be grammatical, research errors, whatever skeeves your gentle heart.)
It really bugs me when a vampire bites someone in the carotid artery. No. That’d be like drinking from a fire hose. The blood would usually end up on the ceiling and all over the walls, but let’s say, just for yuks, that it actually got into the vampire’s mouth. It would totally come out his nose. Ooh…blood-snarfing—sexaaaay!

Pie or cake?
No contest: Pie! Cake, for the most part, is not worth the calories. Too dry. I like my sweets rich and moist. That being said, if someone wants to send me cake, I wouldn’t turn it down. Though I might x-ray it first.

Pirate or ninjas?
Ninjas are so freaking cool!! They’ve got stealth, balance, strength–they’re like human cats.

Could there be pirate ninjas? Or ninja pirates? Hmm, probably not. I think there are basic philosophical and tactical barriers between the two camps.

Who is your imaginary celebrity boyfriend?
Seth Green. He was at New York Comic Con a few weeks ago, as was I. I had this nutty fantasy he would show up at my book signing saying, “I read about your book in Publisher’s Weekly. Vampires DJs—awesome.” Alas, he did not.

What’s your favorite book, among those you’ve written?
WICKED GAME

That one? Really? How come?
It made me so happy to write it. I’d be in the car listening to music, and a song would come on that resonated with one of the characters or a part of the story. It was so much fun to write and to think about even when I wasn’t actually working on the manuscript.

On the opposite end of the happiness spectrum, VOICE OF CROW is my other favorite novel, because it was the Book That Almost Killed Me. It was my first attempt at multiple POVs, and it drove me crazy trying to balance the “screen time” among all the characters. The rewrite was hellish, but it ultimately turned out really well (I think). So VOICE OF CROW is like that troublesome kid who earns a special kind of love.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
For more about Wicked Game, including the entire first chapter, check out www.jerismithready.com/wicked-game. To visit the DJs and listen to a sample of their shows, go to www.wvmpradio.com. Jeri and her heroine Ciara can also be found on MySpace, though mysteriously never at the same time (www.myspace.com/jerismithready and www.myspace.com/ciarawvmp).

You can win a copy of this awesome book for commenting. Ask Jeri some questions or comment on her work. You don’t want to miss this!

Cyclone Nargis Contest Winners

jackpot
Without further ado I bring you… the winners!

Grand prize (150 in book money) =

Lisa Kessler

Bonus prize (50 in book money, funded by Alessia Brio) =

Will Nobilis

Bonus prize (50 in book money), funded by Lauren Dane) =

Jolene

Congrats! I need you three to email me with your information. If you want an e-gift certificate from your favorite bookstore, I’ll just need the email you want us to use and your full name. If you want a gift card mailed to you from somewhere like BN, then we’ll need name and mailing address.

Thanks so much for pitching in. We raised nearly 3K, and I’m so thankful to have such great folks reading my blog.

Stay tuned for another contest tomorrow, and an interview with an author who is made of awesome.

Cyclone Nargis Contest

Cyclone Nargis Contest

Dear Ann,

Thank you for your donation to Save the Children’s response to the Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. With the support of friends like you, brighter futures await children and families in need who are benefiting from your support.

Transaction ID: 31003151
Date: May 7, 2008
Name: Ann Aguirre

Now I’m going to sponsor a contest to get you to do the same. Over at Smart Bitches, Sarah has bridged the subject of where to donate your dollars in order to help a people who are really struggling, both with natural disasters and poor leadership. The juntas in charge are actively preventing people from acquiring visas, people who just want to help.

I strongly recommend making sure the charity you donate to has people already in the country. I don’t want our money going to the military who may not use it for relief, but there are a number of organizations already working in Myanmar, so we can make a difference. If you don’t want to go to Smart Bitches, you can find the info here.

Here’s the deal. You pick a charity and donate some money. I don’t care how much. Send me an email with a transaction number, showing that you gave to disaster relief (even just a buck), and I’ll enter you in a drawing for free books. (Note: the prizes have changed. I started at $150, but Alessia Brio is adding $50 to the pot. Lauren Dane is now kicking in $50 as well.) Now we’re looking at three winners total. We wanted to spread the love around.

The new prizes:
$150 gift card to any bookstore
$50 gift card to any bookstore
$50 gift card to any bookstore

If you tell me how much you donated in that email, I’ll give you another entry. I’d love to track how much we raise. I’ll include my own donation in the tally. Next, post a comment as a secondary tracking system for me, so I don’t lose any entries. I’ll be updating the tally in the sidebar as we go along.

The winner can pick the store where he or she spends his loot. I’ll do Amazon, B&N, Powells, wherever you want. I know contests are usually free, but even small donations will help people who are starving and homeless. A little might make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

I’m going to run this a week, so it will wrap up at midnight on May 14, and I’ll announce the winner on May 15th.

The contest has ended. Winners posted!