Thursday, April 28, 2011

SHIFT Blog Tour - Deleted Scene Guest Post with Jeri Smith-Ready

I'm so excited to have Jeri Smith-Ready on the blog today as part of her SHIFT tour. Jeri will be around the blogosphere plus there's daily prizes & a grand prize too! Last year, I fell in love with SHADE and have been dying (no pun intended) ever since to read SHIFT. The combination of love, music, a unique spin on a supernatural world (should I mention a hottie with an Irish accent?) had me hooked. Take it away Jeri!

Thanks to Mel for hosting me today on the SHIFT blog tour! After the post, check out your chance to win books and a special prize.

I’m insane about revising. I don’t just revise or even rewrite a book—I dismantle it and rebuild it from the ground up. A first draft is just a guess.

That means that when I delete a scene, it’s usually because I’ve changed the story. Sharing it requires lots of explaining. (“Um, okay, imagine that instead of a ghost in the woods, they meet a shotgun-toting survivalist with a pack of dogs consisting of two deerhounds, a beagle, and a Jack Russell Terrier. She holds them hostage and demands they make her a baby to replace the kid she lost in a government siege.”)

So I was stumped as to which scene I could share with you. Then yesterday, someone on Twitter told me how much they loved SHIFT’s first chapter. I was thrilled to hear this, because I rewrote that chapter approximately a million times. It seemed like the perfect choice for a deleted scene.

So this was the original opening for SHIFT, from Logan’s point of view (warning: if you haven’t read SHADE, this contains a subtle spoiler, but nothing you can’t figure out from reading the back cover of SHIFT):

I. Intro

While I was a shade,
I could see everyone
And no one.
An empty eternity of souls,
Alive, dead, crying, laughing.
I thought I saw her face
But it was devoured by the dark.

While I was a shade,
I went everywhere
and nowhere.
Following the shrinking shadows
Like stepping-stones across a rising river.
I thought I found her bed,
But it was lost in the light.

While I was a shade,
I heard everything
and nothing.
All sounds in the world,
Whirled inside me at once.
I thought I heard her voice,
But it was swallowed by the silence.

Until now.

Later, Logan has two interludes, the non-spoilery parts of which I’ll include here:

Interlude #1

While I was a shade,
Aura started sleeping
On her right side
On the right side
of the bed,
So she couldn’t see the empty space
where I used to lie.

Now that I’m a ghost,
she still sleeps on her right side
on the right side.
So I lie here talking to the back of her head
Until she sleeps.

Then I walk the streets of Dublin
or New York
or Washington
or even here in Baltimore.
But it’s not the same as before,
when I knew I’d return to her side.
Now I’m just killing time,
Since time can’t kill me.


Interlude #2

While I was a shade,
my family pictured me in hell.
I wasn’t, not really.
But that didn’t stop some of them
from trying to join me there.

I watch Mickey and Siobhan
walk across our high school stage
where we once performed.
The adoring crowd whistles and claps.
But my brother and sister
hold no instruments
and sing no songs.
They collect their diplomas
and stride into the future,
on a path I can never follow.

Why did I originally include these?

  1. The book needed more Logan than I had scenes to give him. Though he’s dead, he brings loads of life and energy to the story.

  2. In the first draft, SHIFT’s scenes were clustered into three time frames: Spring Equinox, Prom, and Summer Solstice. The interludes summed up the events occurring in those six-week gaps.

  3. The interludes give SHIFT a three-act structure and a musical feel, which fits with the drama and themes.

  4. I just plain liked them.

Alas, none of my early readers really got what I was going for. They thought the
interludes were Logan’s poems or songs, not realizing they were part of the narrative, just told in a different voice and style. When I explained them to my editor, she felt that SHIFT should be consistent with SHADE and keep to Aura’s point-of-view, to avoid confusing readers.

She was probably right about that. A writer creates expectations with the first book, and the sequels should fulfill or exceed them, not totally mess with them.

The bigger issue: the story’s time gaps. The events Logan mentions in the interludes— the spoiler-y parts I cut out for this post—deserved to be shown, not just summarized. I had to smooth out the transitions between those chronological “lumps of action.”

Ultimately, those “between times” ended up being some of my favorite scenes. I made Logan part of the action, not just an observer. I made Aura live through the post-Prom pain in person.

In short, I made the book better. That’s what rewriting is all about. While it was tough to cut these pieces that I loved in themselves, it was definitely for the best. I’m so glad I could share them with you today!

P.S.: For more of Logan’s lyrical musings, check out the short story “Bridge,” in the upcoming ENTHRALLED anthology, out September 20.

What do you think of this deleted scene and my decision to cut it? (For comparison, the final version of Chapter One is on my website . In general, do you enjoy reading deleted scenes and hearing the stories behind their “disposal”? Do you watch the deleted scenes section of DVDs?

Also, do you agree that each novel in a series should have the same feel, or is it okay for authors to “color outside the lines” and try new things with each book? What about when an author starts a new series—are you disappointed or excited when it’s a little different from what they’ve done in the past? What is it about a series or an author that keeps you coming back? Inquiring minds are dying to know!

Answer one or more of these questions, or ask Jeri a question, in the comments below to enter today’s drawing. There will be two winners.

The Prizes:

Winner # 1 gets a signed copy of SHIFT, plus a Keeley Brothers button (autographed on the back), courtesy of Jeri.

Winner #2 gets an unsigned copy of SHIFT, courtesy of Jeri’s publisher.

Additionally all commenters will be entered into a draw to win the Grand Prize - annotated copies of SHADE and SHIFT, an early copy of SHIFT (book three of the series, of which there will be no other ARCS) and an iPod Shuffle!

Open to international entries! Winners will be drawn after 24 hours.

Author Bio: Jeri Smith-Ready’s next release is SHIFT (May 3), the second in the YA ghost trilogy that began last year with SHADE (which just came out in paperback April 5). She loves to hear from readers, so please visit her at, or better yet, on Facebook ( or Twitter (@jsmithready),where she spends far too much time.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Signings & Ebooks...What Do You Do?

With the emergance of ebooks and ereaders, I have been humming and hawing over the switch. I'm an old dinosaur and still love holding my books, love looking at all the books on my bookshelf. After considering all the pros and cons, at this point I'm still not convinced the ebook is right for me. One thing I hadn't even considered though was book signings! I just came across this blog post by Scholastic: The digital future of autographing books

So what do you do if you are attending a bookish event and have the ebook? If it's all about the convience of having the ebook ready in an instant, do you also buy the hardcopy? If not, would signed swag make up for it?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Do You Know About the CCBC? Win a Membership!

I only recently became aware of a wonderful not-for-profit organization, Canadian Children's Book Centre (CCBC) that supports & promotes reading, writing, illustrating and publishing of Canadian children's books. If you are a teacher, librarian, bookseller or even a parent, I urge you visit where you can find a plethora of information including books by theme, suggested titles by age groups, award winners and what to look for when choosing books for kids. It's like an untapped goldmine focusing on Canadian literature!

Are you interested in learning more about the Canadian book scene? Canadian Children’s Book News is a quarterly magazine that gives you that and more. Inside you will find reviews for recommended books, author and illustrator interviews, award winners plus profiles of publishers and bookstores. The quarterly magazines as well as an annual Best Books for Kids and Teens are available to members. With your support, CCBC can put books into the hands of over 500,000 kids and bring authors, storytellers and illustrators into over 400 schools and libraries each year! Individual membership price is only $60 or $30 for students/seniors in which you will also receive an invitation to the Annual General Meeting each June and invitations to special events hosted by the CCBC throughout the year. Very cool!

My love for literature keeps growing every day, especially now that I have two kids to share my passion with. Having a dedicated organization like CCBC is so heartwarming. Only last year in a conversation with my son's teacher did I know that some kids don't have any books at home! I was flabbergasted to say the least. TD Grade One Book Giveaway Program, organized by CCBC, provides every Grade One student across Canada with the gift of a free book, in either English or French. Over 500,000 free books have been distributed annually since 2000:)

I am very fortunate to have an opportunity to spread the love of CCBC. One lucky winner will receive an one-year membership! **throws confetti** Contest is open to Canadian mailing addresses and winner will be randomly selected on Friday April 29th at 9 AM EST. Entry is simple, leave a comment below with your email address and tell me who/what you love about Canadian literature. (My answer: memories of reading Dennis Lee's Jelly Belly over & over, laughing time and time again. I now share this book with my kids who love it as much as I do!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Hardcover, 338 pages

Released: March 22, 2011

Publisher: Philomel Books

ISBN13: 9780399254123

Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously—and at great risk—documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.
My Rating: 4.5 / 5

My Thoughts:
This is the heroic tale of Lina, her younger brother Jonas and mother Elena whose life was changed one night when he NKVD came to take them away. With simple writing, Ruta balances the atrocities with compassion and humanity. Through flashbacks, we see the stark contrast of what life was like at home, the time that her biggest worries where boys and admission to art school. The journey is captured by Lina through art and letters, there is always the assumption that this was only temporary and they would be reunited with their father and back home. Without having something like faith to hold onto, what was left? With no material objects, living conditions deplorable, life became all about survival and keeping that hope alive. The biggest irony is that they had to become the thieves and prostitutes that they were originally, falsely accused of being, out of sheer necessity.

Ruta Sepetys has written about a horrific, historical time that is hardly talked about. The beauty in the book is the hope, strength and compassion shines that through, making the depressing subject that much more bearable to hear. We have all been taught about the evils of Hitler, but he was not the only one. Having my maternal grandparents live through something similar (they were Latvian and Estonian) I was familiar with this tragic past. Be ready to have your eyes opened, this took place only 70 years ago!

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? April 11, 2011

It's Monday! What are you reading? is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week. Feel free to join in this weekly event if you'd like as well as use the picture above. Thanks Sheila for hosting!

Last week:

I reviewed Red Glove by Holly Black. Such a great book, exactly what I was hoping it would be like!

In preparation for City of Fallen Angels, I finished City of Glass by Cassie Clare. What an addicting series, I can't wait to dig into City of Fallen Angels but have a few books that need my attention first.

This week:
I started Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. My maternal Grandparents lived through this. My Grandfather is Estonian and but finds it too hard to talk about and my Grandmother was Latvian. This book is one that will be pull at my heart strings.

What are you reading?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Review: Red Glove by Holly Black

Hardcover, 320 pages

Release date: April 5, 2011

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

ISBN13: 9781442403390

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe's world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she's human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila's been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila's love is as phony as Cassel's made-up memories, then he can't believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel's oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can't trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

My Rating: 5 / 5

My Thoughts:

This book is full of win! If you read my White Cat review, you will understand how excited I was to read this. White Cat's world building took to long and my attention waned until the last third of the book, but wowzers what an ending!

Cassel is a con you'll love. In Red Glove, he is dealing with issues that stem from family and love. His mom, an emotion worker, is out of jail and itching to work. His oldest brother Phillip, is found murdered. His other brother Barron, the memory worker, acts like the past didn't happen and is eager to move on. But more importantly, two Feds and a mob boss are trying to recruit Cassel. Meanwhile Lila, the love of his life, can't stay away from him and his self-control is being put to the test. Armed with notes from the Fed, and only a picture of a female wearing red gloves, Cassel is on the hunt for Phillip's killer. He was brought up in a con family, family loyalty no mater what, blood is thicker than water...but is it? As Cassel searched for answers, he questions where his family's loyalty lies and the future of his.

In Cassel, Holly Black has created the ultimate con man and has worked her magic to balance his character. Let's face it, he's a killer con man (although not 100% aware of it at the time), a self described jerk, the school bookie and the con is only life he's ever known. But Holly has also given him a soul and in Red Glove we witness his internal struggle. Add in a little snarkiness, the appearance of confidence and you can't get enough of this bad boy. Red Glove is one of those books that break out of the gate and just keep going strong. Like a game of Clue, Holly keeps you guessing.

Black Heart, the next book, is set for release next April. Lila is next the character I can't wait to break out.