Sunday, May 31, 2009

DIK's...It's the Whole Man

Born and raised in the Southeast, award-winning author Patrice Michelle gave up her financial calculator for a keyboard and never looked back. Thanks to an open-minded family who taught her that life isn't as black and white as we're conditioned to believe, she pens her novels with the belief that various shades of gray are a lot more interesting. She's a natural with a point-and-shoot camera, likes to fiddle with graphic design and, to the relief of her family, strums her guitar to an audience of one.

Please give a warm tropical island welcome to Patrice Michelle! *the crowd goes wild*

I wanted to thank Tracy for inviting me to guest on the DIK blog. As I was thinking about the blog post I wanted to write, I considered the range of subjects that have probably be discussed before on DIK…from, the men to…well, the men, and of course, we can’t ever forget about the men. ;)

Personally, I read my romances for the hero. Sure I want to like or at least be able to relate to the heroine (and I want to feel she’s a great match for the hero and visa versa), but really, I read to fall in love with that super sexy, irresistible guy, right along with the heroine!

I’ll be the first to admit that irresistibly sexy is always a plus, but when it comes down to it, what makes a book a keeper for me is the little things the hero does for the heroine that make me fall for him. Sometimes it’s a particular line of dialogue, whereas other times, it’s something much more subtle…like a gesture or a look.

My ALL TIME favorite dialogue scene is from the movie The Village by M. Night Shyamalan.

In this scene, Ivy is very forthcoming with Lucius when he comes to her rescue that night. (She's blind and is left behind in the chaos that overtakes the crowd, who run to their homes for safety when they learn that a creature has broken their town's perimeter. Ivy's frightened and is walking around calling for help, reaching out her hand...and Lucias grabs it). At this point in the story, Ivy realizes he cares about her and she's trying to get him to tell her how he feels. Marriage has never been discussed or mentioned. Lucius’ character is a very quiet, still-waters-run-deep type of man and that’s why this scene really grabs you.

Quotes below are credited to The Village by M. Night Shyamalan…

Ivy Walker: When we are married, will you dance with me? I find dancing very agreeable. Why can you not say what is in your head?

Lucius Hunt: Why can you not stop saying what is in yours? Why must you lead, when I want to lead? If I want to dance I will ask you to dance. If I want to speak I will open
my mouth and speak. Everyone is forever plaguing me to speak further. Why? What good is it to tell you you are in my every thought from the time I wake? What good can come from my saying that I sometimes cannot think clearly or do my work properly? What gain can rise of my telling you the only time I feel fear as others do is when I think of you in harm? That is why I am on this porch, Ivy Walker. I fear for your safety before all others. And yes, I will dance with you on our wedding night.

Beyond dialogue and bigger actions, I’ve tried hard to include the “little things” that will make a hero desirable in my own stories. One example is a scene in my book COLT’S CHOICE, where Colt and Elise have just have had a sexually charged battle of wills and Colt walks out. In the very next scene, Colt and Elise get in his truck without speaking. Then Colt reaches across and puts his hand on her thigh. No words are exchanged, but Elise knows by the look in his eyes that he’s apologizing.

Another scene that pops in my mind is a scene from SCIONS:RESURRECTION, where Ariel realizes that Jachin had kept an earring of hers, even when he’d been willing to give her up…by that small action (of him keeping a part of her close to him), she realized just how much she meant to him.

Now that I’ve shared a few examples, what particular scene/dialogue/look/gesture, etc has a hero done in a book that has made that particular hero/story a DIK for you? Share and tell us why, and at the end of the day tomorrow (5pm EST, June 2nd), I’ll draw a name from those who’ve commented to win a signed copy of my print book ANTICIPATION AND SEDUCTION. (must be 18 years of age or older to win this prize)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hero Draft

Alright time to pick our new hero. Once we have gone thorugh the list we will reverse and pick our second hero. This time we will start with the lovely:

Here's the rules thanks to CJ:
Step 1. Find your name. That is the order you choose in.
Step 2. When it's your turn, “Call” ONE hero in the comments. (Anybody from all of literature, but you can’t have somebody who is already picked!

Who will you pick? Lisabea gets to start. LB, leave your hero’s name in the comments. Then Jen gets to go. And so on. After this round, everybody will have one hero, and draft round 2 will start.
At the end of 2 drafts, everybody will have a group of 8 heroes to bring.
Yes, trades are permitted.
Don't worry about obsessively monitoring this thing.
If you don't call your hero in 24 hours, we'll skip you.

• No picking out of order. Once the woman above you has chosen, it’s your turn. (Not before!)
• Trades are permitted, but be clear about announcing the results in the comments or email so your host doesn’t have to play sleuth.
• If it’s your turn and we don’t hear from you for 24 hours, sorry, you’re skipped. But you can email your host ahead of time with your pick.
• Latecomers: SORRY, we wish everybody could play, but there has now been a moratorium placed on add-ons, due to the record-keeping nightmare this will soon become.

Alright let's begin:
Lisabea - Vishous from Lover Unbound by JR Ward
JenB - Callum from Laird of the Mist by Paula Quinn
Naida - Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean
Tracy - Jack Travis from Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
Katie R - Acheron from Sherrilyn Kenyon's books
Lesley - Raphael from Raphael by D. B Reynolds
Katiebabs - Lieutenant Howard “Six- Pack” Paxton Trial by FIre from Jo Davis.
Sarah - Jake Romero from With Caution by JL Langley
Wave - Finn Barret from Lovers and Other Strangers by Josh Lanyon
Thea - Bigby Wolf, from Bill Willingham's Fables
Aymless -Illium aka Blue Bell from Nalini Singh's Angels' Blood!
MaryKate -Vic Savian from Beth Kery's Wicked Burn
Tumperkin - Bowen MacRieve from Kresley Cole's Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night
Kim - Raphael from Nalini Singh's Angel's Blood
Ana - Jake Hawkins from Demon Bound by Meljean Brook
Carolyn Jean - Nicholas Brisbane from Deanna Raybourn's Silent in the Grave
Bridget - Jace McKenna from To Tempt A Wolf by Kate Steele
Ciara - Rhis Vanur from Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair
Shannon - Charles Cornick from Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs
KristieJ - Gabriel from Broken Wing by Judith James
Sarai - Harry Dresdan from Jim Butcher's series
Sula - David Cooke from Happy Ending by LB Gregg

Alright once Alys has picked her hero we will reverse the list and Sula will pick her second hero.
Sarai - Clay Bennett from Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh
Kristie - Ian Mackenzie from The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Shannon - Wraith from Passion Unleashed by Larissa Ione
Ciara - Rupert Carsington from Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase
Bridget - William Jackson from Breaking the Silence by Katie Allen
Carolyn Jean - Jason Andrews from Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James
Ana - Kvothe from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Kim - Reaver from Larissa Ione's Demonica Series
Tumperkin - Nardi St Villier from Bliss by Judy Cuevas
MaryKate - Riley Kincaid from Branded by Fire by Nalini Singh
Aymless - Rainier vel'En Daris aka Rain Tairen Soul from the Fading Lands series by CL Wilson
Thea - Sheftu from Mara: Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Wave - Bones from Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series
Sarah - Belimai Sykes from Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale
Katiebabs - Alejandro from Demon Forged by Meljean Brook
Lesley - Vayl from the Jaz and Vayl series by Jennifer Rardin
Katie R - Jack Culver from Now You Die by Roxanne St. Claire
Tracy - Callahan O'Shea from Too Good To Be True by Kristan Higgins
Naida - Logan aka Wolverine from X Men
Jen - Wynn Collier from Nailed by Amie Stuart
Lisabea - Robin Hood (Russell Crowe version) from ballads starting back in the 15th century

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Alright Ladies here's the list

This is the order that we will discard of our heroes. Once a hero has been discarded we move on to the next. After everyone has given up a hero we will move on picking our new one. We will begin picking our new heroes as soon as everyone has given up their hero!

Okay let's begin:

Thea - you're up first!
Little Alys
Bridget Locke
Carolyn Jean
ShannonC not participating
Ana - Gave up all of her heroes but one. She is golden!
Kim - she only has 6 men so doesn't need to dump any
Katie Reus

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Julie James: Why I Love A Good Comeuppance

In yesterday’s blog, I focused on men and why I love the way they love their cars. Today I thought I’d spent some time talking about women, specifically two ladies who, in their own ways, inspire my writing.
Jane Austen and Drew Barrymore.
Probably not every day that you see those two linked in a sentence, right? I’ll explain.
Six or seven years ago, I was toiling away as a trial lawyer, working hard toward my goal of making partner. The desire to write was just a glimmer in my eye—something I thought I’d do “one day.” I was (and still am) an avid reader and a film buff, and I started a book club with some lawyer co-workers and several other riends. At one of our book club meetings, I mentioned that I hadn’t read anything by Jane Austen, and said I was curious to read Pride and Prejudice. I still recall my tough, no-nonsense-lawyer-friend Ami’s reaction:

“Ahh... Mr. Darcy.” Ami sighed, her face taking on a dreamy, far-away look.

“Um, I don’t really know who that is,” I said.

“Oh, you will. You will.”
Uh-oh. I just realized that I’m focusing on the men again, or at least one man in particular... Darn it.
Anyway, with great anticipation after my friend’s cryptic lead-in, I dove into Pride and Prejudice and, not surprisingly, was instantly enthralled. I loved the book from the beginning, but it was The Scene—that scene where Elizabeth Bennet gives the arrogant Mr. Darcy a whole lot of what-for and tells him exactly where he can stick his marriage proposal—that had me:

You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode
of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared
me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you
behaved in a more gentleman-like manner.”

She saw him start at this, but he said nothing, and she continued,

You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any
possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.”

Again his astonishment was obvious; and he looked at her with an
expression of mingled incredulity and mortification. She went on:

From the very beginning, from the first moment, I may
almost say, of my acquaintance with you, your manners impressing me
with the fullest belief of your arrogance, your conceit, and your
selfish disdain for the feelings of others, were such as to form that
ground-work of disapprobation, on which succeeding events have built
so immoveable a dislike; and which I had not known you a month before
I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be
prevailed upon to marry.”
Go on, girl. Oh, Mr. Darcy— did you ever have that coming. (P.S. I realize the above picture is not the actual proposal scene, and also sadly is not from the brilliant BBC version, but it was the only image I could find of Lizzie and Darcy in conflict.)
That scene between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy not only moved and entertained me, but it got those writerly wheels in my head spinning... and I realized how much I love a good comeuppance.
Okay, now don’t laugh at me here, but another example that comes to mind of a good comeuppance is in the movie Ever After with Drew Barrymore. (Yes, I’m a total sucker for this movie.)
There’s a great scene where the heroine, played by Drew Barrymore, tells off the hero—gasp—the Prince of France (who happens to be ridiculously arrogant) in front of his entire court. And he’s stunned, of course, because he’s probably never had anyone speak to him that way before, but we also see this amused expression on his face, and we know that he kind of likes being sassed by the heroine. Hey, it’s refreshing.
And again, those wheels in my head started spinning, faster this time... Hmm... an arrogant hero who thinks he owns the world... a saucy heroine that could care less... A couple years later, when I finally put pen to paper and wrote my first screenplay, a romantic comedy about a lawyer from Chicago who catches the eye of the biggest movie star in Hollywood, that was the theme I went with. (That screenplay ultimately turned into my debut novel, Just the Sexiest Man Alive.)
I continued the comeuppance theme in Practice Makes Perfect. Actually, the book has several comeuppances. Here’s one where the hero has to apologize—most reluctantly—to the heroine, who he *thinks* he doesn’t like:

J.D. cleared his throat and pushed the button on the intercom.

“Uh, Payton, hi. It’s J.D.”

Dead silence.

Then another crackle.

“Sorry. Not interested.”

Cute. But J.D. persisted. Again with the button.

“I want to talk to you.”


“Ever hear of a telephone, asshole?”

Okay, he probably deserved that.


“Listen, I’ve been standing out here for fifteen minutes.
What took you so long to answer?”


(Annoyed sigh) “I was about to get in the shower.”

J.D. raised an eyebrow. The shower? Hmm... he liked the sound of
that. Wait a second— no, he didn’t.

Bad J.D.
Now, in fairness to both genders, the heroine in Practice Makes Perfect is just as strong and confident as the hero, and she makes her fair share of mistakes, too. Which means, well, you know what they say: what’s good for the goose... I won’t say anything else, except that the battle-between-the sexes leads to a certain mishap in a courtroom with some high-heeled shoes and is probably the scene I had the most fun writing.
I think my affinity for comeuppances is that I like strong characters, but often those characters think they have everything in life all figured out. How much fun is it to see them thrown completely off their game; to realize that no matter how invincible and confident they appear on the outside, on the inside they have the same vulnerabilities and fears and uncertainties as everyone else?
But enough from me... I’d love to hear what you think. Do comeuppance stories work for you? Got any recommendations of other books or movies that involve this theme? Or how about a favorite comeuppance scene (either in a film or a book)? One random commenter will win a $10 gift certificate to either Borders or Barnes & Noble (of his or her choosing.)
And since this is my last day here with the DIK Ladies, I just wanted to say how much fun I’ve had! Thanks again for inviting me!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Julie James: Does the car make the man?

As an author, I’m a plotter. Before beginning a new book, I draft detailed outlines of the plot (my last one was over 20 pages). I use these outlines as a starting point, and also as a way to tell, going in, if I have enough of a story to sustain an entire book.

What’s strange, though, is that I don’t do detailed character sketches. Actually, I don’t do character sketches at all. Sure, I know the basics: the heroine and hero’s personalities, their professions, what they look like, and the key parts of their backgrounds as they relate to the story, but that’s about it. Going into a new book, I couldn’t tell you my hero’s favorite color or whether he sleeps on the right or left side of the bed. I also couldn’t tell you my heroine’s favorite food or her best childhood memory. I learn these things—if they become relevant—as the story progresses. I like the freedom that comes with not having my characters cast in certain molds going into a book. And through the writing process, they often think, feel, and do things that surprise me as I uncover more about them.

There is, however, one characteristic that I spend a fair amount of time thinking about early on in the writing process: the kind of vehicle my hero drives. I’m not exactly sure why this is—I don’t know much about cars myself, as my husband would surely tell you. Particularly after that time I drove our car into the garage wall. Twice.


I think the fascination with my hero’s vehicle has to do with the fact that so many men are obsessed with cars. I find anything that gets the majority of the male species so revved up to be. . . intriguing. For me, researching the hero’s choice in transportation is a great way to get into his head. Essentially, it’s an easy way to start thinking “like a guy.” And oddly, the trick works every time. Once I have the car, I feel like I have big piece of his character locked down: whether it may or may not be true in real life, the cars that my heroes drive say something about them.

For example, the hero in my first book, Just the Sexiest Man Alive, is the biggest movie star in Hollywood. He’s confident, larger than life, and what I like to think of as “amusingly arrogant.” His car of choice? An Aston Martin Vanquish.

Okay, so I might not be a car girl, but hot damn that’s a nice-looking vehicle.

One thing I like about men and their cars is how possessive and protective they get of them. Kind of sexy, that whole “Hands off, this is mine”-thing an automobile can bring out in a guy. Take this scene in Just the Sexiest Man Alive, when the heroine (who drives a PT Cruiser) asks to drive the hero’s car:

As Taylor followed Jason out to his car, she tapped him on his shoulder. “Hey—can I drive the Aston Martin?”


“But isn’t that what friends do?”


Jason opened the passenger door for her and walked around to the driver’s side. As he got in the car, Taylor glanced over.

“My, my, you’re awfully grumpy today... Is something wrong?”

Jason looked at her, sitting by his side. Actually, it was the best he had felt in the last two days.

He grinned as he fired up the Aston Martin.

“Buckle up, sweetheart,” he told her. “This ain’t no PT Cruiser.”
Then there’s J.D. Jameson, the hero in my second book, Practice Makes Perfect. J.D. is a driven, ambitious, confident lawyer from a wealthy family. But he separated from his family’s money and chose to make his own way. He’s proud of his success and not afraid to show it. His car of choice is a Bentley Continental GT.

Whew. And like Jason, J.D. is a tad protective of his car (and who can blame him?), as shown by his assessment of the heroine’s home the first time he visits her:

Standing aimlessly on her front stoop with nothing else to do, he looked around, checking out the neighborhood. There were several row houses on the block, including the one that presumably belonged to Payton. The tree-lined street had a quaint yet urban feel to it.

He liked it. Not as much as his downtown high-rise condo with a view of the lake, of course, but he found it an acceptable place to leave the Bentley parked on the street. And for J.D., that was saying a lot.

With my third and upcoming book, however, I found myself in an interesting predicament... the hero in this book doesn’t make the same kind of money as my two previous heroes. And none of the cars I tried out for him seemed to fit. So I decided to go a different route with him, and as soon as I tried this vehicle on for size, I knew I had it:

A Triumph Rocket III. Granted, I don’t know a lot about motorcycles, but 132 horsepower sounds like a lot of muscle to have raring between a man’s thighs. But I won’t say anything else, for now, about the man who rides it. You tell me, ladies—what would your first impressions be of a man who pulled up to your door riding this? What does it say, to you, about him? One random commenter will win a signed copy of either Just the Sexiest Man Alive or Practice Makes Perfect (of his or her choosing.)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Julie James has arrived!

((Shannon runs in breathless))

Oh man. I am SO sorry.  I'm late again.  I swear I will be late to my own funeral.  This is really a habit I need to break.  I will work on that... later.

Right now I want to say that I am incredibly excited to welcome a fabulous author and local gal, Julie James!  ((Jumps up and down, does a little dance, and pass a glass of full bodied slightly spicy red wine))

First of all, let me start by saying how thrilled I am to be here, hanging out with the DIK ladies for the next three days. My first time on the island! Okay, so here's the basics on me:

Favorite Reading Position: In the bathtub with a glass of red wine.

Best love song: I'm kind of partial to "It Had To Be You," the Harry Connick, Jr. version from "When Harry Met Sally."

If you could be in one book/series/world which would you pick: Since it's one of my favorite books, I'll say Pride and Prejudice. I'd love to be a part of that world-- for about a week or so. Then I'd miss my modern comforts, like television, hair dryers and Reese's peanut butter cups, and I'd have to come home.

Author everyone loves but you don't: Ernest Hemingway. I've tried and tried, and I know I'm not supposed to admit this, but he does nothing for me. My friend, an English teacher, convinced me to give Hemingway another shot with "The Sun Also Rises" (she raved about it), so I did and... meh. We got into this big debate when she asked me what I thought, and I may or may not have had a couple of glasses of wine at the time, and I also may or may not have told her that I thought the book was "dull as sh-t." Whoo-ee, did that comment ever cause quite a bit of an uproar...

How old is your inside voice: Thirty

Favorite sex song: "Know Who You Are At Every Age" by Cocteau Twins

What heroine would you like to be: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But in my version, I would find a way to get rid of that sex-curse Angel had going on, and we would ride off into the sunset together (in some way that doesn't burn him to dust, seeing how he's a vampire and all).

If you could be a hero who would you be: Indiana Jones

Boxers, Briefs, boxer briefs, kilt, commando: Boxer briefs. With commando, I can't help but think there might be some chafing of the bits. And that's not good for anyone.

What heroine is most like you: When my first book came out, Just the Sexiest Man Alive, my friends joked that they pictured me as Taylor, the heroine, while they were reading it. Apparently, they see a lot of similarities between me and that character. But I don't know about that... I really doubt I would have my act together one-tenth as much as Taylor if I ever met the biggest movie star in Hollywood. I suspect there would be a lot more stuttering, and possibly some drooling, on my end. Personally, I think I'm more like Payton from Practice Makes Perfect-- her views on working at a large law firm are very similar to mine and we've even got the vegetarian-thing in common.

What hero is most like your significant other: A less conservative version of J.D. Jameson from Practice Makes Perfect.

What hero would you like to be your significant other: Well, of course I wouldn't choose anyone other than my husband... and that answer has nothing to do with the fact that he may be reading this, he-he... But if my husband didn't exist, and I just HAD to choose someone else... hmm... Okay, I could say Roarke, but he's almost too obvious, so let's suppose in this universe neither my husband nor Roarke exists... I'd pick Gage Travis from Sugar Daddy. I know I might be in the minority on that one, because there are a lot of Hardy Cates fans out there, but something about Gage just did it for me. The moment he walked onto the page, I thought, "Oh yeah--sold."

Favorite book set on a tropical island: [embarrassed pause while I try to think of books set on a tropical island] Um... can I pick a favorite movie set on an island? Otherwise, Lord of the Flies is going to win by default. If we include movies, I'd pick The Swiss Family Robinson because I was obsessed with that movie when I was younger.

If you were stuck on a desert island what 3 things would you bring: (1) An unlimited supply of red wine, (2) my Kindle, (3) some kind of newfangled laptop that runs on solar power.

Favorite drink to bring to the DIK party: a bottle of Zulu Cabernet from Stellenbosch South Africa.

Thanks Julie!  Everyone give her a huge DIK Ladies welcome.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Jeri Smith-Ready and another special guest

And the winner of signed copies of Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone is...Amy! (Comment #30 on Monday's blog.) Congrats!

Amy, please send your mailing address to me at jeri AT jerismithready DOT com by Friday. If I don't hear from you, I'll draw another name Saturday.

Thanks for all the great comments!

As promised, I have another guest-guest blogger with me today: the hero of my vampire novels Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone, Shane McAllister. Shane's been online a lot lately: he has his own Twitter account, plus a page on the WVMP Radio site, complete with a playlist that gives a sample of his radio show.

(Also, unbeknownst to him, his "origin story" was posted to my website a few weeks ago. Shhh.)

Here he is:


Since Jeri is busy writing about other people today, I've been asked to say a few words. It's not often I talk about anything other than music or sports, so I asked my girlfriend Ciara what I should write about. It went something like this:

She looked up at me, all bleary-eyed from studying for her accounting final (which is tonight, so go wish her luck).

Ciara: Readers don't want to hear about your theories on the evolution of punk, and they don't want to hear you gloat about the Steelers or bitch about the Penguins. Tell them how you've changed and grown as a hero between the two books.

Me: That's a little touchy-feely, isn't it?

Ciara: Have you seen the photos on that blog? Either discuss your feelings or take off your shirt. Your choice. Now get me another macademia nut brownie. (winsome smile) Pretty please?

I did as she asked, because like most women (most = 99.999%), she's wiser than her mate.

So how have I changed and grown? Well, I learned to drive stick shift, for one. That might seem minor, but we vampires tend to get really stuck in our ways (yeah, I still wear flannel and say, "kickin'").

Most of the other DJs at WVMP are cluless about new music, but I've started checking out new bands from this decade and actually liking what I hear. Like the White Stripes, or the Killers, the Strokes, Dead Confederate. Last week, I even accidentally tapped my foot to a Justin Timberlake song.

Whoops. I wasn't supposed to talk about music.

Let's see...feelings. Uh, well, back when the book takes place, I was going through a mess of crap about my family. My dad had just died, and the Control wouldn't let me go home for the funeral or even call my family in Ohio, because they (the Control) thought it would blow my cover as a vampire.

See, I was 39 but still looked 27. Not a big deal, but if I'd gotten back with my family after twelve years, they'd want to draw me back in, and so what happens in another ten years when I'm supposed to be 49 and I still look 27? I could see their point, but man, it killed me to add to my family's pain like that.

So I was kind of in a dark place (yeah yeah, darker than usual for a vampire) when Bad to the Bone starts.

On the other hand, I had the smartest, sexiest girlfriend in the world. We were getting along great, and once the nights got longer as winter approached, we could actually spend serious time together without her having major sleep deprivation.

So to paraphrase Charles Dickens and Bill & Ted: it was the most excellent of times, it was the least excellent of times.

And then things got interesting.


Since Shane also has a Blogger account, he can answer your questions without any mediation from me. But be aware that he needs to sleep between noon and 6, since he has a show tonight.

Thanks to the DIK Ladies for having me on the island again, and to everyone for making me feel so welcome!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Jeri Smith-Ready and Heroes With a Bite

Hello again! Since last year I devoted Part Two of my guest-blogging adventure to Shane McAllister, the hero of my WVMP Radio series (Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone), this year I’ve decided, like yesterday, to do something a little different.

Introducing Dexter. He’s a dog. But not just any kind of dog. Sure, he lacks the pedigree of those fancy pooches at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, and he lacks the cuteness of Marley, and he lacks the brains of Lassie, and he lacks---

OK, I’ll stop, before he gets a complex.

Dexter is special because he’s a vampire. No, really.

Basic stats:

  • Age: Unknown and irrelevant, because like all vampires, he’s immortal
  • Hair: black, short, patchy in some spots
  • Eyes: brown, except when they glow red
  • Height: 30” at the haunches (big dude)
  • Weight: 220 pounds (did I mention he was big?)
  • Hometown: Unknown, but if the town had tracks, he’s from the wrong side of them
  • Distinguishing Marks: a network of badass facial scars
  • Education: None. He would flunk any obedience class by eating the other dogs.
  • Astrological Sign: Taurus maybe? (he’s stubborn but sweet, slow to anger, but once you get him really mad, look out!)
  • Likes: getting hour-long belly rubs, sniffing fire hydrants, drinking a bowlful of dog blood (it’s okay—they have blood banks for dogs, too!)
  • Dislikes: anyone who messes with the woman he loves (our heroine, Ciara Griffin). Oh, and landlords.
So how in the world does a dog become a vampire? Good question! And the obvious answer (he gets bitten by a human vampire and then drinks the human’s blood) is way incorrect. In fact…ew.

In my universe, vampirism is species-specific. The human vampires can only sustain themselves on human blood (so no point in going to the local butcher for a meal), and canine vampires can only live on dog blood (and as I mentioned above, there are blood banks for dogs, so he doesn’t need to tap the neighbor’s poodle).

Near as Ciara can figure, Dexter was born a regular dog, had a hard-knock life (hence the scars) and was later turned into a vampire in the laboratories of the Control, the paranormal paramilitary organization that oversees vampire/human relations in the WVMP world. (“The Control” is short for the International Agency for the Control and Management of Undead Corporeal Entities, so as to distinguish it from the agency of the same name in GET SMART.)

Then, according to the Control’s database, Dexter was a washout as a vampire dog, due to “low aggression levels.” He was scheduled to be euthanized when…he disappeared.

Here’s how Ciara found him, an indeterminate time later (from Bad to the Bone Chapter Three):

We stumble through a thick copse of trees—or more precisely, David and I stumble. Shane and Jim have the coordination and night vision of natural predators—not that their blood donors ever provide much of a chase.

We come to a small clearing at the base of the cross, about fifteen feet in diameter. It’s almost completely dark, since the patriotic spotlight sits on the ground on the other side of the trees.

I sweep the flashlight beam across the clearing. “So where would a translator—”

Two glowing red eyes stare out of the darkness.

“What the—”

In front of me, Jim halts and holds out an arm. “Whoa.”

A hunched black shape slouches in front of the white structure. The clank of a chain rises over the sound of the wind in the trees. A low growl stops my breath.

Suddenly the creature roars and leaps forward. I jump back, squealing like a little girl. The chain rattles, then jerks tight.

Shane grabs my arm. “It’s just a dog.”

Can’t be. The noise it makes sounds like a cross between a rabid cougar and a locomotive.

“I’ve never seen a dog like that.” David looks just as scared as I am.

“Don’t worry.” Shane moves a little closer, stepping sideways. “It’s tied up.”

I gesture for David to stay back, then follow Shane. The barking grows louder but higher-pitched. Finally the flashlight fully illuminates the dog, and I let myself relax.

It probably weighs twice as much as I do, and my head might fit inside its mouth, but its tail is wagging, and it’s play-bowing and clawing the ground at the end of the chain.

“It’s okay, buddy,” I murmur. “We’re here to help.”

The dog’s bark turns to a whimper as I approach. My light reveals ribs and hip bones showing through patchy black fur. Its head is square, but its legs are long, lending a mismatched, rangy look. Huge eyes reflect the light with a green glow.

When I’m a few feet away, the dog drops to its belly, then rolls over, pawing the air and rubbing its—wait,
his—back on the gravelly dirt.

“Looks friendly enough,” Shane says.

“It could be a trick.” David’s voice gets fainter as he backs up behind me. “It could be luring you in, looking all innocent.”

“Dogs are a lot of things, but they’re not con artists.” I kneel near the dog, still out of range of the chain. He stops groveling and gets to his feet, then shakes off the dust with a horse-like shudder of his hide.
“You’re all right now.” I keep my voice low and even, my gaze on his shoulder instead of his eyes as I extend my hand, palm down and curled, for him to sniff. He licks my fingertips, his tail whipping back and forth like a puppy’s. “What a good boy. You’re someone’s pet, aren’t you?” I examine his huge black face, crisscrossed with faded gray scars. “Or maybe bait for a pit bull trainer. You’re too nice to be a fighter yourself.”

“You know what’s freaky?” Jim says. “He’s not barking at me.”

As if to prove the point, the dog wags his tail at the hippie vampire. Jim laughs and sings the first line to Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog”—off-key, as usual. The pup wags harder.

“Whoever put him here doesn’t deserve him.” I stand and dust the dirt off my knees. “So we should take custody.”

As you can probably tell, I love dogs. I love living with them, talking about them, and writing about them. Here’s a picture of my own cutie pie, Meadow:

She’s not the least bit badass (unless you’re a rabbit).

So to enter this week’s contest for a pair of signed books (Wicked Game and the upcoming Bad to the Bone, and if you already have Wicked Game you can substitute one of my other books):

Tell me about your pets, or about another animal that’s been a hero to you, or that you’ve been a hero to (if, say, you rescued them from a shelter or a bad situation). Feel free to link to a photo of your favorite furry friend.

All the commenters from today and yesterday will go into a drawing tonight at 11:59pm. (You can comment on both posts—in fact, I encourage it!)

I’ll announce the winner of the drawing tomorrow, when I’ll talk a little more about Bad to the Bone, and Shane himself will be available for examination—I mean, questioning.

P.S.: I'll be at a book event most of the day, until about 4 or 5pm Eastern time, but I'll try to answer comments when I get home. See ya!

Monday, May 4, 2009

I'm baaack! With a guest of a guest, no less

Hey, everyone! I'm Jeri Smith-Ready, your debut victim author guest blogger last year. I hung out with you for three days and developed such a case of Stockholm Syndrome had such a blast that I begged Tracy to let me come back.

I figured y'all might get a leeetle suspicious and deja vu-ey, though, if I just copied and pasted my posts from last year. So I racked my brain using a rigorous workout of chocolate-covered espresso beans jumping jacks to come up with something fresh and fun.

Tomorrow I will still do a hero's post, on the brand-new Boy (pictured here on the cover) in my upcoming release, Bad to the Bone (release date May 19) sequel to Wicked Game and second in my WVMP Radio series. And the real hero, Shane McAllister, whom I detailed deliciously last year, might stop to chat as well.

But for today, instead of the standard About Me introduction (which you can read, if you're so inclined, by clicking on that link), I decided to try something new, something different. Something a little less, oh, what's the word...WORK.

See, I have a deadline this Friday. If I don't get a rough draft of my next book to my critique partners by then, they will march up to my house with torches. And then I will definitely not make my June 1 editor deadline, because I'll be too busy calling the insurance company and police.

If I learned one thing from Corporate Life in America, it's that when you have too many tasks on your plate...delegate! So for today, I will let you be entertained by my very own real-life hero, Christian Ready. Feel free to ask him any questions about me, or questions about anything at all. He's used to that, as you'll see.

Everyone who comments on today's or tomorrow's posts will be put in a drawing to win signed copies of both Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone (if you already have Wicked Game, you can substitute one of my other books). I'll pull a random name at 11:59pm Eastern time Tuesday night, May 5. International entries welcome. Good luck!


Hello People Who Like to Read,

My name is Jeri Smith-Ready's Husband. Some call me Chris. As you are probably already aware, Jeri writes. A lot. That's a good thing because it makes her happy, except for when she’s cranky because she has a deadline. Jeri has a deadline for this coming Friday. I love my wife very much and I hate to see her unhappy, mostly because I work from home.

So I offered to write her guest blog for her so she wouldn’t have to take time away from her deadline without feeling guilty for not honoring her guest-blog commitment. I thought my offer alone would remind her of what a loving, devoted husband she has, and that in the grand scheme of things a deadline and guest-blog conflict pale in comparison to what’s really important in life – love, happiness, and a partner to share that with.

Instead she called my bluff.

Jeri thought it might be a nice change of pace if I offered my perspective on what it’s like to be married to a full-time writer; a sort of meta-perspective on what she does. I hope that you will find this interesting and insightful, and that I won’t have to sleep on the couch. Here goes.

Jeri works harder at her job than anyone else I know works at theirs (especially me.) The downside is that she’s always working. I know she cannot help it, partly because there is always a looming deadline, but also because creativity is not something you can stop at 5:00 PM and expect to resume the following morning.

That said, she’s very good about stopping to make dinner or feed our dog and cat. But this also means that Jeri has to stick to a tight schedule in order to make deadlines. Over the years, I have learned how to tactfully tell friends that we cannot meet for dinner because Jeri has a deadline. In four months.

Taking road trips with Jeri is always a pleasure, because she lets me listen to the Grateful Dead channel on Sirius XM radio. I’m a lifelong Deadhead. Jeri hates them. But she does this because she knows that I am driving and wants me to be happy in our travels wants to write scenes out in her notebook and the Dead's music is just boring enough to her to allow her to think. And yet there she is, as beautiful as the day we were married, glancing out the window as the landscape passes us by. Our conversations while traveling often go like this:

ME: "What are you looking at, honey?"

JERI: "Shut up, I'm thinking!"

But perhaps the most unusual part for me is the questions I have been spontaneously asked over the years. You see, when Jeri writes, she thinks about a lot of things, but isn't always sure of some of the specifics. Of course, she could go to Wikipedia or Google for answers, but that would involve getting on the internet and wasting important writing time. So she'll ask me, often while hollering from the other room. Here are some actual questions I have been asked:

"Hey hon, what's larger, a Regiment or a Battalion?"

"How far is it to the Moon?"

"If you decapitated someone while standing behind their right shoulder, would the head roll to the right or to the left?"

What am I, the Great Kreskin?

But you know what? I wouldn't trade any of this for all of the tea in China.

I hope this gave you a little glimpse into life with a writer. Or at least, my life with Jeri. It's now time to retire for a nice quiet evening of the sound of her laptop's keyboard clicking away in a distant corner of the house.


Isn't he the cutest thing? *swoon*

Feel free to ask me or Chris questions about what it's like to be or live with a writer (I won't even edit his answers. Much.) Or heck, you can even comment on my Favorites post from last year (just be sure to comment here, not there, so I'll see it and enter you to win). I'm easy.

Have a great day, and thanks for having me back on the island!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May Babies Hope you have a good one


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