Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Smart Chicks in San Diego!

The Smart Chicks Kick It Tour came to the gorgeous Encinitas Library last night! The library is ten minutes from my house (yes!) and the panoramic ocean view can't be beat.

In the hall outside the auditorium, the amazing MYSTERIOUS GALAXY, sets up tables and tables of books! Authors at the Encinitas stop were Melissa Marr, Alyson Noel, Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, Rachel Vincent, Carrie Ryan, Margaret Stohl & Kami Garcia, and yours truly.

Let the fun begin! And we did have fun. The fans were awesome and we absorbed their energy! Ha! As you can see below, Margie Stohl absorbed a little extra! Down, Margie, down!

The fabulous Kelley Armstrong explains one of the games we will play with the audience. Yes, we played games! They involved marrying, um, "kissing," and very steep cliffs! But everyone survived.

And there were giveaways! Melissa Marr is about to announce which lucky fan will be killed or kissed (or something else?!) in the Smart Chicks short story collection, Highway to Hell, that will be out next year!

And then it was time to sign and talk to fans. The blurriness of this picture really shows the energy level of this event. The audience was awesome!

Besides signing books, fans brought posters for us to sign that they printed out from the website

And sometimes they even had us sign other things--like their skirts!

For the giveaways, Librarian Goddess Jennifer Lawson, made this zombie to give away with Carrie Ryan's books! Yes, those are screws in its head. That has to be the most adorable zombie I've ever seen.

Anyway, this is just a glimpse of the tremendous enthusiasm from readers, booksellers, librarians, and the authors too! It was totally amazing to see so many people so excited about books and reading.

Oh! And I can't forget the wonderful Vania who has been on the tour too and photographing the events. Here I got a shot of HER for a change! Thanks for all the fun photos Vania! (and all the times you surprised me on the sly ; ) You can find more photos that Vania took on tour here on her twitter page.

And one more thing. Remember how I said that sometimes fans would have "other things" for us to sign? Well, at the LA stop this young man (who was accompanied by his mother) apparently had nothing else for us to sign so he requested that we sign his abs. That's right, ABS. I know I had a really dumbfounded look on my face (it was definitely a first for me) but his mom was smiling and said it would really make his day. So . . .

And down the line he went . . .

I wonder if he showed off his abs at school the next day? Maybe for extra credit in his English class?

Tonight the Smart Chicks Tour is in Naperville, Illinois at Anderson's BookShop. One thing I know for sure is that fun and craziness will reign. If you are anywhere near Anderson's, go!

Thank you Smart Chicks for including me on this tour and for the unforgettable time we had! And thanks to all those who came out to share the fun!



If you've been to a Smart Chicks Kick It tour event so far, well, you already know why I'm saying WOW. It's just been a delight, a party, a traveling circus and a deeply felt connection, all at the same time (at least from my side of the table, and considering the screams and laughter we get from the audience, I think it's the same on that side).

I just finished my last event of the tour - I did Austin, Los Angeles, and San Diego, and each stop was phenomenal and special and wonderful. So many people and so much enthusiasm! You Smart Chicks (AND Smart Guys!) who came out to see us were just amazing - and I know many, many more wished they could have been there but time, distance or life got in the way.

I could gush like the fangirl that I am about what a total delight it was hanging out with these lovely authors ... especially the ones I just met for the first time on this tour. About how delightful it was to see so much passion and enthusiasm from everybody who came out to root us on. About how the booksellers and librarians were so enthusiastic, too, and so patient at handling such overflow crowds.

Most of all, though, I have to save my greatest love note for the founders of this tour: Kelley, Melissa, and Alyson. They're the Iron Women, attending every date, organizing everybody else, and making sure nothing is left undone. They are super authors, and super people, and it's been my great privilege to be part of this inspiring, wacky road show.

As one lovely lady noted to us along the way, it's great for us to be seen supporting each other and enjoying each others' company, because we're showing our fans that we support, help, and cheer each other on -- and hopefully, aspiring artists and fans out there will do the same for each other, too, enriching us all.

So, thank you, fellow Smart Chicks, for the marvelous experience on my stops in the tour. I hope to continue to enjoy your travels for the rest of the stops, at least virtually!

-- Rachel Caine

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


With temperatures topping 110 degrees, Smart Chicks Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, Alyson Noel, Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, and Kimberly Derting were (more than) warmly welcomed by nearly 300 fans who cheered, asked fabulous questions, and even wore sparkly tattoos.

And check out these awesome purple cowboy boot cookies!

Melissa surprised one lucky reader with a brand new, never-before-offered ARC of her upcoming release DARKEST MERCY. Holly wowed the crowds with her Lightning Round (in which the Smart Chicks were forced to answer audience questions at the speed of light). And Sarah dazzled when she showed off her fencing moves…in her skirt and heels.

And in case you missed it, Smart Chick Jackson Pearce even put together a video montage of the event:

We just want to thank the Poisoned Pen Bookstore, the Scottsdale Public Library, and everyone who came out to see us…YOU WERE ON FIRE!!!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Smart Chicks Video Diary

It's The Smart Chicks' video diary! I'll be posting videos from *almost* every tour stop, including bits of the Q&A sessions, backstage shenanigans, and car ride antics. Check back here or on the YouTube page to see the latest video diary entries!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Smart Chicks in Jackson, Or Sarah Shames the Smart Chicks Forever

So ladies and gentlemen, finally the curtain is drawn back and you see a typical day in the life of the Smart Chicks!

… Well, that was the intention.

After our lovely event in Houston (and to the lady who gave me chocolates, thank you!) Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong and I had a flight at six a.m. to Jackson, Mississippi. Six a.m. is not a time that I am at my most coherent, but Kelley intelligently directed me to my new friend, a cinnamon sugar donut.

After communing with my new, delicious friend, I was able to form intelligible sentences. (It hadn’t been going so well before that.)

SARAH: I’m so excited to be going to the proper deep South!
MELISSA: Why so, mumbly cinnamon Sarah?
SARAH: Because I love the South.
KELLEY: But you have never been.
SARAH: But I love Gone with the Wind, and True Blood. So I know what to expect.
MELISSA: So you expect… hoop skirts covered in blood?
SARAH: Yay, Jackson! Can’t wait.

Melissa and Kelley looked sad for me. Sometimes that happens.

Then we arrived in Jackson, and went for brunch. I poured maple syrup on my bacon and used this brain food to come up with an Incredible Idea.

SARAH: You two should co-write a book.
KELLEY & MELISSA; Weeeeell….
SARAH: You could write a romance! Kelley should write the boy’s point of view and Melissa should write the girl’s.
MELISSA: Hey, I can write boy point of view.

I have every faith that she could, but the important thing is that it would be awesome. Support my random crazy ideas: keep asking Melissa and Kelley when they will write their book! I call it the Kellissa book, and speculate that it should involve a sensitive werewolf boy and a biker bar.

Then Holly Black and Cassandra Clare arrived, as is their way, with a troubled tale of automobile accidents and plane chases. We went for a little swim to calm their nerves.

I had not brought my bathing suit. ‘Oh, that is no problem,’ I said airily. ‘I shall simply don some plain black undergarments, and nobody will know the difference!’

Readers, people knew the difference. We were swimming about, and occasionally people dropped by to make slightly puzzling remarks. We thought nothing of it, except that people in the South were friendly.

SOME LADY, EVENTUALLY: I thought you should know that people are staring at you through that big stained glass window. I would not want everybody staring at me if I was in my underthings. Which clearly, young lady, YOU ARE. And EVERYBODY IS.
SARAH: … oh dear.
SECURITY GUARD: So hey, there’s a whole crowd of people watching you at the window. Some are complaining! But I say you can swim around here anytime you like.
SARAH: Yeah… Imma get out of the pool now. Oh my gosh, you guys, have I shamed the Smart Chicks?
HOLLY AND CASSIE: *almost drown laughing*
SARAH: You two are no help.

‘My God!’ you may be saying at this point. ‘What kind of children’s author tour is this? All undergarments all the time, and what about the bookshop event?’

After we told Kelley and Melissa about how I had Shamed the Smart Chicks Forever, we figured it was about time we went to the bookshop.

MELISSA: You have atone for your shame by taking the seat in the back.
SARAH: Are you saying this is the ho chair?
SARAH: Don’t start the car yet, I haven’t done up my ho seatbelt.

We arrived at our event venue, greeted by the lovely Emily of Lemuria Books, who was in charge of us, and by our fellow Smart Chicks authors Alyson Noel and Jessica Verday. Immediately Cassandra ‘Heartless’ Clare regaled Alyson and Jessica with the story of my shame.

Then it was out to our lovely audience, where we celebrated the fact that Cassandra, Alyson and Jessica had all just hit the New York Times bestseller list, Melissa, Kelley and Cassandra gave out prizes, and we were asked all manner of excellent questions!

HOLLY: Five years. I wasn’t sure how to plot a story, so in the first draft the faeries just kind of sat around drinking coffee and experiencing ennui.
ALYSON: Fifteen years.
SMART CHICKS: *collective heart attack*

MELISSA: Write your passion. It’s the only thing you can do, and besides, you research the things you love for fun.

JESSICA: My favourite author is L.J. Smith.
SARAH: Oh my God I love L.J. Smith!
CASSIE: Jane Austen.

Everyone was stealing my favourites. Unfair!

HOLLY: Well, you always have to think about what a character wants.
CASSIE: Holly’s example for this is Voldemort. She always says ‘Voldemort has a two-pronged plan. Kill Harry Potter, take over the world. Two prongs!’
SARAH: Also you have to plan your way out of getting stuck in the middle, otherwise you end up with scenes in the drawing room with Muriel saying ‘I think I’ll be daring and have another scone’ and then ninjas attack because you got bored.
HOLLY: What? Scones? Ninjas? What? You’re not making any sense.

Maybe so, Holly. But I feel that Mississippi understood me.

After that we all signed: Holly was super excited to get to sign copies of the Unicorns vs Zombies, an anthology she edited that is out early, and to meet Rachel and Brianna, who were both Team Unicorn. And I got to talk to lots of people one on one, and ask them if they secretly preferred good characters or bad characters. I have to say Team Evil won by a landslide.

Thanks for having us – thank you to everyone who came - we all had a blast!

Now the Smart Chicks… RIDE ON. Stay tuned for our next adventure. (Hopefully one containing less mention of undergarments.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tour Store Signing Policies

It's Kelley.  I was planning a big tour launch, "let's get excited" blog today, then went on the site of one of our tour stops to check something...and discovered a signing policy we hadn't been made aware of.  Checked another, and found another signing policy.  So my fun blog has turned into business, again.

These are taken directly from the store websites.  For stores not listed, I'd like to think that means you're clear, but I'd suggest calling and checking before bringing a bagful of books from home.  And if you are allowed to bring a bagful, please do try to buy some new books from the store.  We need to make this worthwhile for them or they won't want us back!

For general event FAQ, check out my blog here.

BookPeople, Austin
Customers can get the books they brought from home signed as long as they buy one event related book for every book they bring from home. For example, if you bring 2 books from home, you need to buy 2 books (by one or two of the lovely 'Chick' authors visiting that day). 

Blue Willow, Houston

You may bring books from home, but in order to get in the signing line, you must purchase at least one of the author’s books from Blue Willow Bookshop.

Lemuria Books, Jackson

For every book bought from Lemuria that you get signed, you may get TWO books from home signed.

Vroman's, Pasadena
This is actually a "good news" change.  Last week, we'd been advised that the store was taking very limited registration for this and was fully booked.  However, after some discussion, we decided we'd rather hold it outside on the Vroman's Paseo, where attendance is NOT limited.

Anderson's,  Naperville/Chicago
(This one we did know about and have had posted on the site for months) To receive an event ticket to this exciting program, purchase at least one of the authors’ books (OR pay $5).

Okay, so, um, now we can get excited?  Yay, tour!  It's finally here.  Over a year of planning coming to fruition with the first big event in Austin tomorrow!
Tomorrow...?  Oh, crap, I need to go pack...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Confessions of a Hopeless Fangirl

My name is Jackson Pearce, and I am a fangirl.

Not just the kind of fangirl who says “Ooo, I love those books!” I’m a midnight-release-party-going, fanpage-visiting, squeal-because-a-new-book-just-released fangirl.

I know of at least one author who has gotten in trouble for this. She blogged along the lines of “omg FAMOUS AUTHOR X knows my name!” and someone from her publishing house gave her the internet version of a sweet smile, then said “You’re a real author now. That means no more gushing. It looks unprofessional.”

And maybe it does. Maybe I’m not supposed to jump up and down over the people who, essentially, are my colleagues. It probably isn’t professional to make shirts out of book covers and proudly wear them to the bookstore (although I think my Mrs. Potter shirt I wore to the final Harry Potter release was pretty fantastic anyway).

But I can’t help it, professional or not. I get excited about books, and I get excited about the authors behind those books. I’m excited to see people line up at midnight to read. Excited to know that me and thousands of other people around the world, people whom I’ve never met, have common ground in our love for a book. How awesome is that I could travel across the country, drop into a strange town, and probably easily find someone who also stayed up all night to read MOCKINGJAY in full? (Which, by the way, WAS IT NOT AWESOME? Say it was awesome. You know it was.)

If anything, I’ve only become a more pronounced fangirl since being published, because I understand the months of writing, revising, the soul crushing need to delete favorite scenes, the seemingly endless revisions letters. I’m eager to support the author hardcore, because I get what she went through. How relieved she is to see the book on shelves, finally. How can I not get fangirly over someone accomplishing what I am always trying to accomplish with each new novel (a great book)?

So yes, I am a fangirl. I will squeal right along beside you over books I adore, and professional or not, I’m pretty proud of it. I like being giddy over stories, being delighted over the product of an industry I’ve worked so hard to be a part of. But mostly, I just really, really, really like awesome books.

Fangirls, unite!

-Jackson Pearce

Friday, August 13, 2010

We have a CafePress Store!

I'm interrupting your regularly scheduled blog for a "business" announcement.  As some readers may have heard, we're having t-shirts made up as tour prizes.  Readers had asked about buying them at venues.  That won't be possible, so we've created a CafePress store. Everything from tanks to tees to hoodies there.  If you buy one and bring it to a tour stop, we'll have permanent markers, so the authors can sign yours (if you want!)

You'll find the store here:

Below are a few samples, modelled by the lovely and talented Chick, Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

For the Love Of...Paranormal Romance

Hello Smart Chickadees!

It's Melissa de la Cruz here, author of the Blue Bloods series! I've enjoyed reading the posts below and hearing from my fellow authors on this awesome tour, the celebration of all things supernatural ('Supernatural Buffet' I think is my new favorite term) and today I thought I'd talk a little about a theme that's found in all of our books.

What IS it about paranormal romance? Why is an undead/zombie/demon/angel/vampire hottie so appealing right now? To answer this question I'd like trace my own relationship with romance.

When I first started writing, I was very young and arrogant and had very high-falutin' ideas about writing. I believed romance cheapened a book, I had very "literary" ideals, and so I wrote books without any hint of love, books about girls who wanted MORE than to end up with the guy. (Because you know, strong girls are girls who don't need boys, right?)

But for some reason no one wanted to publish these books, much less read them. They were boring, without conflict, and hard to relate to. I stewed and sulked. WHY GOD WHY was I not being published?

As I grew older, as a person and as a writer, I finally admitted the truth, that in fact, I *loved* a good love story. That I was WRONG about the dreaded 'R-word'. In fact, the romance and the love stories were my FAVORITE parts of my favorite books. Hermione and Ron for instance, are the reason why I love Harry Potter so much. And I love Lord of the Rings because of Aragorn and Arwen, even though in the books she only appears in the epilogue. Dune? My favorite series of all time? Was dear to me because Paul and Chani have such a tragic love story.

So if I loved the love stories so much--why wasn't I putting them in my books? That was my Oprah 'Aha!' moment. That I could write books with strong and smart girl characters who could fall desperately in love, sometimes even with the wrong boy. And sometimes they might make silly decisions about love and that was okay, because people certainly make silly decisions when they are in love all the time. (For instance, I get a lot of reader mail about how 'weak' Schuyler is in Revelations because she's so blinded by love. In the Dark Tower series, another of my favorite fantasy series, Roland is so blinded by love for Susan that all these tragic things happen, including her death. I loved that idea--that love, even true love, could result in tragedy and weakness in a strong person.)

So, why paranormal romance then? I think because in a paranormal romance the stakes are so much higher, the love is so much more tragic, dramatic, passionate and all-or-nothing. It makes a good story. It's a story of opposites attracting, of forbidden love, of taboos, of forever love, paranormal romance heightens the classic romance to epic heights.

Love stories, romance, is the center of our humanity, it's what makes life worth living, it's the story that defines our lives. How did you meet? How did he propose? How did you know he/she was the one? And in my opinion, a love story that involves magic, or the end of the world, or a dangerous curse, is even better.

We're looking forward to sharing our stories with you and meeting you on the road! What's your favorite kind of love story? Forbidden? (We cannot be togethah!) A friendship that grows to more? (BFF to BF) A battle between two former antagonists? (I hate you now I love you.) Share!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Short 'n' Sweet, plus how YOU can be part of our worlds

Hey there! Welcome to the armpit of the calendar--or as I like to call it, “August.” I hope you’re finding fun ways to keep cool, preferably involving beaches, mountain lakes, or at least an air-conditioned house. (If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s winter, can I come stay with you? I’ll be very quiet, and I’ll even walk your dog.)

Brief intro: I’m Jeri Smith-Ready, (aka “Who?”) author of the YA urban fantasy SHADE and next May’s sequel, SHIFT. The SHADE series takes place in a world full of ghosts only the young can see. The main character, Aura, would love to make them all go away—until her boyfriend dies and becomes a ghost. I’ve also written seven adult books in various fantasy realms. I am way too fond of parentheses.

Today’s blog is part topic, part news!

During this fall’s Smart Chicks Tour, many of us will literally be taking to the road (8.5 hours from Cincy to Toronto isn’t that far to drive overnight, right? Please say yes.). Inspired by the love of said road, many authors on the tour will be writing short stories for a Smart Chicks anthology, coming next fall from HarperCollins!

Each story will have a road trip theme, but that’s not the exciting part. Wait for it…okay, no more waiting.

Attendees at Smart Chicks Tour stops can enter a drawing to have a character from one of our short stories named after them! In science fiction/fantasy land, this is known as “Tuckerization” (after some guy named--well, you can figure it out).

As a reader, I love short stories. They introduce me to a lot of new/new-to-me authors, or show me an unexplored corner of a world I already adore.

I recently read a collection of YA vampire stories called ETERNAL: LOVE STORIES WITH BITE, edited by PC Cast (not a random reading choice--I have a story in the second volume, IMMORTAL, which is subtitled, shockingly, MORE LOVE STORIES WITH BITE).

Two of my favorite stories were by Smart Chicks authors (no surprise there). Rachel Vincent’s “Binge” takes place in her Soul Screamers universe, but with entirely new characters, with different powers than her bean sidhe. It stood on its own apart from the series but showed the conflicts her characters face when dealing with humans. In Rachel Caine’s “Dead Man Stalking,” we get to see the Morganville Vampires world through the eyes of Shane Collins.


Um, where was I? And why is there--eww, is that drool?


This story collection also introduced me to the heart-pounding writing of Nancy Holder (yes, I’m such a n00b to have not read her yet, but I’m working on it!), prompting a book-buying binge from which I may never recover.

As authors, short stories give us the chance to invent a new world, or further explore our current worlds--either through brand-new characters or characters whose heads we’ve always wanted to climb into. For my Smart Chicks story, I’m going to let Logan Keeley show me firsthand what it’s like to be a ghost. I expect it to be weird, with lots of loud music.

Here’s the first paragraph, as it stands in the rough draft:

Everyone knows Elvis died in the bathroom. Thanks to the internet, most people know that I did, too. But at least I was wearing pants.


Do you seek out short stories by authors you love? Do you consider stories to be a crucial piece of a series, or are they more of an “icing on the cake” experience? Have you ever discovered a new author through a collection or anthology? And of course the obvious question: do you enjoy short stories at all?

Everyone who comments below by this time next week will be entered to win their choice of a published book by any Smart Chicks author. (If you choose SHADE, I’ll autograph and personalize it for you and even give it a hug. If you’re into that sort of thing.)

I hope to see many of you in Cincinnati and Toronto this September! Until then, stay cool.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sisters Are Doing It For… Practically Everybody, Including Themselves

I have returned to you, oh Smart Chicks blog! They could not KEEP me away!

I was actually a bit unsure what to blog about, until I read the fair Kelley Armstrong’s super informative post last week! There was one particular bit of information that I found very inspiring.

Q: Who are the Smart Chicks?
A: Not us. Well, not me anyway. It’s a tip of the hat to both our characters and our readers. We feel that all the authors on this tour write “smart chicks”—not necessarily kick-ass girls, but capable ones, and that’s what counts. And, of course, a love of reading always improves grades, so we consider all our readers “smart chicks,” too.

I am so glad I am not meant to be a smart chick. While our tour has some very, very intelligent ladies in it, I have to say, anyone who has seen me read a map had good reason to question my brilliance. (Imagine someone with all the sense of direction and cool reasoning capability of a panicked weasel, trapped in a wardrobe.)

But I am also terribly glad to see the celebration of capable ladies!

Have any of you guys heard the song Short Skirt, Long Jacket by Cake? It goes like this: ‘I want a girl with a mind like a diamond. I want a girl who knows what’s best.’

That is basically my theme song when I read books. Not for me, the lady who says ‘Count Squarejaw, I have every faith you will protect me from the ravening alien werepredator. I’ll be upon the fainting couch, waiting for you to answer the really important question of this book: if you like me, circle yes or no.’

Not for me either, the lady who says ‘Yuck, other girls. They’re all so much girlier than me.’ So a lady scorning Miss Swoonhilda won’t work either.

I like girls in books to be awesome in a variety of ways! And the more awesomeness and more variety I see, the more I like it.

Now, some of the Smart Chicks Tour authors have written some of my favourite capable ladies. I mean, really, really awesome heroines. Lots of really, really excellent ladies. But I fear I would seem to be simply bragging of the lovely company I find myself in if I discussed them.

So here are some heroines written by writers who are not in the Smart Chicks tour, but who I think exemplify the Smart Chicks way…

Sophie, the heroine of one of my favourite books, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

SOPHIE: Today an evil witch stormed into my hat shop and enchanted me to be eighty years old.
SOPHIE: Some people would be annoyed. I have decided to take matters in stride and appoint myself the housekeeper of a flying castle owned by the evil wizard Howl, who eats hearts.
HOWL: Uh – I guess – uh-
SOPHIE: All shall look upon my broom of fury, and despair!
SOPHIE: Must clean up bathroom, including all of the evil wizard Howl’s beauty products.
HOWL: Woman, you made my hair turn pink! PINK! It is time for an epic magical tantrum!
SOPHIE: You look silly with green slime on your face.
HOWL: How can I be the most powerful wizard in the land, when even my housekeeper does not fear me?
SOPHIE: Silly man, don’t take it personally. Nothing stops me. Not spells to make me old or wizard’s messy castles or attack by demons or creepy animated scarecrows. I AM A HOUSECLEANING FORCE OF NATURE.
SOPHIE: Just say ‘Yes, Sophie.’
HOWL: … Yes, Sophie.

Kate Sutton, from Elizabeth Marie Pope’s book The Perilous Gard.

KATE: My little sister has got me in trouble with Queen Elizabeth I and now I have been banished to a creepy faraway manor where the daughter of the house has disappeared and her young, handsome, troubled uncle lives in a Hut of Shame and Guilt. Someone needs to get to the bottom of this!
KATE: Seems the young lady has been kidnapped by faeries. And now her Hot Uncle Christopher has traded himself for her safety. Oh lord, nobly sacrificing heroes. I must see to this!
KATE: Being undercover as a servant to the faeries is very tiresome. Faeries keep making personal remarks about humans’ looks and gracefulness. Or lack thereof.
KATE: How’s it going, Christopher? In order to keep up your spirits before you get sacrificed, let’s think about farmland and ditches!
CHRISTOPHER: I know I’m a noble romantic hero, but actually talking about ditches really soothes me.
QUEEN OF THE FAERIES: Kate, I’d like to offer you a nastily tempting faerie bargain.
KATE: Oh Queenie, have you paid no attention to this book at all?

Kate Daniels (Kate is a clearly a good, capable name!) in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, beginning with Magic Bites.

KATE: Dear Diary, my to-do list for the day:
1. Avenge godfather’s death.
2. Insult king of shapeshifters.
3. Do battle with vampires.
4. More battle with vampires.
5. Strangely good kiss with king of shapeshifters.
6. See to serial killer.
7. Must tame city out of control.
8. Better see to plague.
9. Adopt street child, solve her mother’s murder.
10. Rescue werewolf sidekick.
12. Seriously, king of shapeshifters kisses like a minx.
13. Take part in crazy supernatural tournament fight to death.
Pretty much your average day. Could use a lemonade. Kate out!

Ellie Spencer from Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead

ELLIE: I think the handsome mysterious boy in class I have a crush on is hiding magical secrets from me! And so I am going to punch him in the face.
ELLIE: Got to save best guy friend from being made a love slave.
ELLIE: Uh-oh, matters have spiraled out of control, and now I must save NEW ZEALAND. This is going to call for more than face punching. There will have to be some roundhouse kicks in there as well.

Attolia from Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series, starting with The Thief.

Attolia’s Guide To Royal Etiquette

ATTOLIA: What do you do when your fiancé insults you? Poison him.
ATTOLIA: What do you do when a courtier plots treason? Starve him to death in a cage in the town square. (Plus: Makes everyone else reconsider treason!)
ATTOLIA: What do you do when you catch an insolent thief? Throw him in your darkest dungeon.
ATTOLIA: What do you do when you catch an insolent thief again? GET CREATIVE.
GEN: Uh, as the hero of these books, I’m going to have to ask you to be gentle with me.
ATTOLIA: Queens don’t DO gentle.

These are all very different ladies, with one thing in common: in a crisis, they tend to keep their head (just about, anyway. Usually. Just enough.) They have their own very strong views on things, and when they act, they act practically and decisively, using all the weapons they have to hand (brains, brawn, magic) to the very best of their ability.

Another thing they have in common is that I really, really love them.

So, thank you so much to all the lovely smart chicks who commented on my last post, and congratulations to shaideneuse, who my random numbers generator has declared to be our winner! Please email me at with your address, and I will send your prize.

And for everyone else, to win a copy of any book (which is already published, that bit is important!) by one of the Smart Chicks tour authors – I thought it would be nice to have a Smart Chicks Festival! So comment here (or link to a blog post of your own, if you find yourself with just too much to say) with thoughts about your favourite smart chicks in books, who they are, what they do, and why you love them.

And feel free to talk about the Smart Chicks tour authors’ characters, even though I did not. Because: wow, those are are some really, really excellent ladies.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

And Now A Few Words From Your Co-Coordinator

It’s my blog slot this week.  I only have one, so this should be easy, right?  Except…well…I don’t blog.  I’ve tried and I always end up begging readers to let me tell them a story instead.  That means, after two fun and interesting blogs, you’re about to get some dull business from one of the tour coordinators.  But stick around and I might have something fun to give away at the end.

Questions, questions, questions…

We’re starting to get them, so I’m going to devote my blog slot to answering common ones.  And, no, “Why aren’t you writing a fourth Darkest Powers novel?" will not be one of them.  I do believe I’ve answered that one a few times.  Or a few hundred.  I’m now sticking my fingers in my ears and pretending not to hear.  Today, it’s all about the tour.

Q: Can you tell me how these events will work?
A: You show up.  You sit.  We talk.  We answer questions.  We sign books.  It’s going to be a standard format for all of them.  For more specific details, keep reading.

Q: Will we need tickets?
A: At this point, the tour isn’t a ticketed event for any venues. That may change.  If it does, you’ll find it noted on the Schedule page of our website here.  If any are ticketed, there will be no charge.  More likely, some stores will give out tickets for places in line, but not to restrict admission.

Q: Can I bring books from home?
A: That depends on the store.  We’ve asked them to provide details of any signing policies, which we’ll also post on the Schedule page here.  Some stores only allow you to get books signed if you purchased them there.  Some will allow a certain number of books from home for each one purchased.  If you are allowed to bring books, we know the stores would appreciate it if you bought a couple at the event.  It’s those sales that make signings worthwhile for them!

Q: How many books can I get signed?
A: We aren’t limiting the number per author.  However, to keep the line moving, we’re going to ask that you limit it to three items per author per trip through the line.  In other words, if you have more than three for one author, you can get three signed, then go back through the line for more.

Q: Can I get my picture taken with an author?
A: Yes, but it’s a little tricky.  We’re hoping the tables will be set up so you can come behind for a shot.  If not, we can lean over to be in a picture with a reader.  However, to avoid authors stumbling over one another—never a pretty sight—we won’t be able to come out from behind the table or do multi-author photos.

Q: Can I videotape or audiotape the event?
A: No.  At these events, we sometimes give away spoilers or advance news that we really don’t want showing up on YouTube.  It’s happened before, so we’ve instituted a “no taping” policy.  What happens at the events, stays at the events J

And a few general tour questions…

Q: Who are the Smart Chicks?
A: Not us.  Well, not me anyway. It’s a tip of the hat to both our characters and our readers.  We feel that all the authors on this tour write “smart chicks”—not necessarily kick-ass girls, but capable ones, and that’s what counts.  And, of course, a love of reading always improves grades, so we consider all our readers “smart chicks,” too.

Q: Why isn’t the tour coming to my town?
A: We had a huge wish-list of stops and an even bigger list of requests.  Some possible stops didn’t work out, either for the location or the timing.  And at twelve stops and nineteen authors, it’s already a massive tour.  Any more and we'd be too tired to write for the next six months.

Q: Why isn’t (insert author here) on the tour?
A: Pretty much the same answer as above. Some authors we hoped to have join us couldn’t make it, due to their own busy schedules.  And we had authors on our wish-list that we didn’t get a chance to invite.  Nineteen is a huge number to juggle.  Most group tours have three or four authors!

Okay, did you make it through that list?  Then you deserve a prize.  Or a shot at one anyway.  We’re in the midst of getting tour T-shirts printed and I’m going to give away two.  To enter, you can take the skill-testing route or cheat.

Skill testing: how many books can you take through the line, per trip, per author?

Cheat: Don’t want to actually read all the Q&A?  Ask a question not on the list (yeah, that means you kinda have to at least skim it first…)

Post your answer or question in the comments to enter.  On Sunday I’ll draw two names and notify the winners.

I'm a little late drawing winners, but I've done that and notified them (Louisse and ParanormalBites)  Now I'll answer the additional questions...

Q: Do authors mind signing something other than a book, such as a print-out of a collage of their book covers?
A: They won't mind.  We're very flexible.  I've signed everything from Kindle covers to body parts myself.

Q: Will you be available for any interviews with media and/or bloggers?
A: If it's arranged in advance and fits our schedule (which varies by city) we'll do our best.  Get in touch with us at

Q: How long approximately do these events last?
A: It depends on the size of the crowd.  We answer questions for 15-30 minutes, then sign.  If you're near at the front of the line, you can expect to be out in an hour.  At the may take a while.  If the line will be huge, the store often hands out tickets etc, so you can leave, grab a coffee, etc.

Q:  how many total books do all of you have published, if you add them all up?
A: Eek!  I'd embarrass myself if I guessed and got it wrong.  Many of us have multiple series, which makes it really tough.  I'll say "a lot." As for me, my 18th book just came out (today, actually!)

Q: Will the authors sign any books from their other series? Like Is Kelley A. only going to sign books from Darkest Powers, Or will she also sign books from her books Women Of The Other World? Also, If You take a picture with them, will they sign the picture? 
A: We'll sign anything with our name on the cover.  Yes to photos, too. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In which Rachel Caine gushes like the fangirl she is.

(Just an introduction for those who may not known me: I am the author of the Morganville Vampires series, which is about a town that is owned and operated by vampires, and the humans who live there, mostly because they can't leave. The series is action, adventure, romance and snark in approximately equal mixture, and if you haven't tried it yet, there are eight books out and another four still to come. So pick up GLASS HOUSES, the first book, and see what you think.)

(And if Morganville isn't your cup of tea, I assure you that you will fall in love with the great stories being told by other Smart Chicks authors, so check out all of us! Don't miss out!)


Hi, everybody -- I honestly can't believe that I've been asked to be part of the Smart Chicks Kick It tour, which is surely the coolest damn idea EVER. Or that I've been generously invited to blog as well. Because look, just LOOK at the people on this tour! It is definitely going to be the loudest, craziest, most insane party ever held in a bookstore (or, in many cases, offsite, because they already know how nutty this will get).

Are you excited yet? I am!

I'm an great fan of just about everyone on this tour, and the few whose work I haven't had the chance to read yet are in my iPad just waiting to be read prior to the tour ... and I have absolutely no doubt that I'll love them, too. One of the most incredible things about becoming a professional writer is that you get asked to go to conventions and gatherings and conferences where you meet other writers you love ... and this is like that, only much, much bigger.

I'll say it now: this is the San Diego Comic-Con of tours, and it's going to get loud.

For myself, I'm going to be on the Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego stops, but trust me, everyone there will be more exciting than me. (Although I promise to wear something weird, like maybe my purple witchy shoes.) While I can't promise to have early hardcover copies of the next Morganville novel, GHOST TOWN, I'll bet that I may have some cool giveaway items you can't get anywhere else but at Smart Chicks events.

So, as a little previously unreleased preview here for Morganville fans from GHOST TOWN:

Shane went first, and then Claire; the ladder felt rickety, but it held just fine. She hopped the last couple of steps down to land on the cave floor. Michael had turned on the tunnel lights, so there was no risk of walking into an ambush by . . . whatever, but she was still wondering what he’d seen, exactly. If he wasn’t just yanking Shane’s chain, of course. He never got tired of that.

No sign of trouble all the way to the big cave, and Michael hit the main switch there to turn on the banks of lights. The machine—Claire hated to call it a computer, really—was sitting exactly as she’d left it, screen showing normal readouts. Nothing wrong at all.

“Okay, I need to put in a password,” she said. “Hang on a second.”

She thought about it, and tried Myrnin’s name at the keyboard. No, the red light stayed on. She tried Amelie’s. The red light stayed on.

She tried putting in Ada’s name.

The red light stayed on.

Claire blinked at it. Myrnin didn’t have more than three passwords. He couldn’t even remember more than one at a time. He didn’t have a birthday he could remember; he didn’t have any family; what could he possibly use for a password?

Ah. She had it.


The red light stayed on. Claire frowned at it. “Seriously? Now you get security conscious?”

“Problem?” Michael asked.

“No. I’ll get it.” She tried Bob, for Bob the Spider. Bob was busily spinning webs in a fish tank near Myrnin’s chair. Myrnin fed him a steady diet of crickets and flies, which seemed to make Bob happy. That qualified as a pet, right? People liked to use pet names for passwords.

It wasn’t Bob either.

She tried, in desperation, Oliver. Not it. She plugged in the names of every possible vampire she could remember, including Bishop.

None of them worked.

“At least he didn’t put a lockout on it,” she muttered. She’d tried at least thirty passwords, without success. “Come on, I built you, you stupid piece of junk! Give me a break!”

“How about pulling the plug?” Shane asked. “Just turn off the power.”

She thought about it, but shook her head. “I don’t know what everything does in here. I could shut down something vital. Or destroy something we can’t rebuild easily.” She sighed. “He won’t be happy, but I’m going to have to ask Myrnin for the password.”

Michael’s head suddenly turned, but before he could speak, a rich, slow voice from the darkness said, “Ask Myrnin what, precisely?”

That was Myrnin’s voice. His hunting voice. Claire had heard it before, and it gave her immediate, life-threatening chills. He stepped out of the dark. The cheerfully neon Hawaiian clothes were gone. He was dressed in elegant black, with a bloodred vest, and his long hair was freshly combed and rippling in waves down to his shoulders, very old-school Gothic vamp. He was smiling.

Not in a nice way at all.

“Visitors,” he said, still using that creepy, oddly soothing voice. There was something about it that made Claire feel a little sleepy. A little . . . relaxed. “So lovely to have visitors. I get them so seldom. Especially here.”

“Myrnin,” Claire said. He was steadily coming toward her, without looking like he was moving at all. His large eyes were fixed on her, luminous, fascinating. She couldn’t blink.

“Yes, my dear. How surprising that you know.”

“Know what?” She felt stupid, almost drugged. He was close now, gliding up to her. She felt the cool brush of his fingers on her cheek.

“My name,” he said. “How surprising that you know my name. Perhaps you should do me the courtesy of giving me yours.”

A rush of adrenaline spilled into her body. He didn’t know her. Or Michael. Or Shane. He was acting like they were strangers.

To him, they were intruders.

She licked her lips and said, “Myrnin, I work for you. I’m Claire. Remember? Claire.”

“Nice try, sweet one, but I already have an assistant. Maybe I’ll save you for her. She’d like you.”

Ada. Claire’s heart thumped painfully as she took it in. Myrnin had been sucked under by the machine, and he thought Ada was still here. Still alive.

“You’re talking about Ada,” she said, and tried to keep her voice calm and even. “She’s not here, Myrnin. She’s not coming back. Ada’s dead.”

It was kind of cruel to say it like that, but she needed to snap him out of it, and that was the verbal equivalent of a hard slap.

Myrnin pulled up short, dark eyes gone cool and unreadable, and then he slowly smiled. “I’d know if she was gone,” he said. “Can’t you feel her? She’s here. She’ll be back. I know she’ll be back.”

“Claire?” Shane said. He started to move toward them, but Myrnin suddenly moved, backhanded him, and sent him rolling toward the wall.

“No interruptions,” he said. “I’m talking!” He was suddenly, terrifyingly angry. “Why would you say something like that, I wonder? Unless you’d done something to Ada?”

“Stop,” Michael said urgently. “Claire, come over here.”

Myrnin made an exaggerated, annoyed motion with his hands and turned to face Michael. “I said no interruptions! Oh—you’re not human, are you? Hmm. One of Amelie’s latest, I take it. I thought she’d sworn off of new fledglings, after that last disaster.”

Michael grabbed Claire’s arm and pulled her close. “Yeah, well, I’m Amelie’s, and this one’s mine. That other one, too.”

Shane, Claire thought, would punch him for that one. When he finally got up.


Please join us at a Smart Chicks event near you! :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How I Stopped Worrying And Learned to Love the Undead

Hello, my name's Sarah Rees Brennan, and I'm a vampire addict.

It all started when I was very young. It was tragic, really. I was about eleven, and my mother had just finished a book called Interview with the Vampire. 'Best not to read this one, honey,' she said thoughtfully. Which obviously translated as 'Wait until I leave the room, then leap on it like a frog on a lilypad!'

Look, I don't make the rules.

I read the book, and then I read the sequel, The Vampire Lestat. And then I wrote some truly embarrassing stories about two vampires starting a rock and roll band with a child vampire who really liked purple silk dresses.

... I was young, okay? And when I watched the movie, I wanted to marry Tom Cruise.

(Unlike Katie Holmes, I grew out of that one.)

When I was fifteen, I read the Dark Visions books by L.J. Smith, which starred a psychic vampire called Gabriel. What's a psychic vampire, I hear you cry? He drank thoughts instead of blood, or something! But the important thing was that he still had to put his mouth on your neck! And he was snarky, and he was delivered to psychic summer camp in a Dangerous Juvy Van, and he accidentally killed his last girlfriend and... well, it's clear that I can't judge anyone for Twilight fever.

If they'd made a pillowcase with Gabriel's face on it at that point in my life, I don't know what I would have done. I can only be glad I wasn't exposed to that sort of temptation.

And yet I admit I did judge people for Twilight fever, the same way I judged people for Harry Potter fever when I was eighteen and until I picked up Prisoner of Azkaban and tore through the whole series. When something is crazy popular, some people (such as my judgy self!) often dismiss it as if a lot of people liking something means you shouldn't like it.

I mean, sometimes you won't like something a lot of people like. I don't like reality TV. But on reflection 'Other people like it!' doesn't make a lot of sense as a reason not to like something. For instance, a lot of people like chocolate. I have not decided to be an edgy, broccoli-lovin' rebel because of this.
So, judgy little me went 'Oh, vampires, I'm so over vampires.' And then I was on a panel about vampires at a convention, and someone said 'You have read more vampire books than anyone I have EVER MET.' 'Ahahaha I just like reading okay,' I replied, cleverly. And then I realised that all of my TV viewing involved vampires. (The Vampire Diaries and True Blood. Vampires... and the South! But we all knew the South was awesome, given Kami Garcia and Margi Stohl's Beautiful Creatures.)

Before Twilight, there was Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Before that was Interview with the Vampire. This eighties movie called Lost Boys. Back in the mists of time, there was a little book called Dracula you may have heard of. Even before Dracula there was a craze for a vampire series called Varney the Vampire. (1845. See me, looking up stuff for your edification and delight!)

Despite people talking about 'what will be the new vampires' the evidence suggests that vampires are not going anywhere. 1845, man. Vampires are immortal.

(Yeah, I'm sorry about that. I had to do it, but if it helps, I'm ashamed of myself.)

And I have no problems with vampires sticking around. My favourite character in Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series is a geeky young vampire. Rachel Caine rocks her vampire town in the Morganville Vampires series, and Melissa de la Cruz has a unique take on vampires as well.

I also don't think that the YA genre is going to be completely swamped by vampires anytime soon, when we have heavy hitters like Melissa Marr (Team Faerie), Becca Fitzpatrick (Team Angel), Mary Pearson (Team Robot), Jennifer Lynn Barnes and Jackson Pearce (Team Werewolves), Holly Black (Team Magical Conmen) and Carrie Ryan, the Zombie Queen. Not to mention writers like Kelley Armstrong and the aforementioned Cassandra Clare, who have vampires as a side dish to an array of werewolves, necromancers, warlocks, and I know not what. (Team... Supernatural Buffet?)

(This is all looking pretty tragic for Team Demon, guys. I'm starting to get very worried about my team.)

In summary: vampires are awesome, and clearly here to stay. YA is not all vampires, and the rest of it's pretty awesome as well.

And I have been delighted to make my inaugural post on the Smart Chicks blog! To celebrate the Smart Chicks (and because after my little vampire cheerleader routine, I may be escorted away from the blog by my fellow Smart Chicks and never allowed back on again) I wanted to do a giveaway!

Simply in these comments mention which one of any of the books by the Smart Chicks: Melissa Marr, Kelley Armstrong, Alyson Noel, Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Rachel Caine, Rachel Vincent, Becca Fitzpatrick, Melissa de la Cruz, Kimberly Derting, Mary Pearson, Kami Garcia and Margi Stohl, Jackson Pearce, Jeri Smith-Ready, Jessica Verday, Carrie Ryan and your humble servant (Sarah Rees Brennan) you'd like to receive. (EDITED TO ADD AN IMPORTANT NOTE: Books that are already out, you guys. I have no spare copies of Beautiful Darkness, Clockwork Angel or Crescendo!)

And say which Team Preferred Supernatural Creature you are. Team Supernatural Buffet is a totally valid team. I am of course staunchly Team Demon, but Team Supernatural Buffet would always be my second choice... and I'd always have a dab of vampires on the side of my plate.

Like vampire dip.

Friday, June 25, 2010

We Have A Blog!

Welcome to the blog for the Smart Chicks Kick It tour!  Our tour schedule is set and, come September, these chicks are hitting the road.  You'll find our complete schedule here:

The tour is now full.  We have our authors.  We have our cities.  We have our schedule.  And there's no room for more.  Not this year anyway ;)

If you have any suggestions for other aspects of the tour, though, we'd love to hear them.  This is our tour for our readers, and we want you to have a say.  Just make suggestions in the comments and we'll read them all and do what we can.

Oh, right.  You probably want to know who's on this tour.  Well, let's see...  Easiest way to do this is to show you what we write.  Our covers are more recognizable than our names!

Appearing at Every Stop

Appearing at Selected Stops