Welcome to Biting-Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein. We’ll cover urban fantasy, vampires, pop culture, and all things Joss Whedon. Unlike other fantasy blogs, we don’t insist on body cavity searches (unless you ask politely). Snarkiness is most welcome...though we won't promise not to bite back!
The Yin & Yang of Writing
Aw, the writing life. I had the best experience ever this weekend. Walked into a Barnes and Noble
and there was my book on the shelf. I didn’t expect it, because the lay down date was 11/28, which of course was yesterday (Tuesday). Anyway, I put on my promo hat, thinking of Mario and our pal Jeff Shelby who never miss an opportunity, and asked for the manager to introduce myself. She was terrific. Not only had me sign the books but took a picture for the store scrapbook. What a thrill!!!!
So the not so good part was my “non review” in the Denver Post. I met the sci/fi reviewer, Fred Cleaver, at MileHiCon. He’s a very nice man who was kind enough to have brought my arc along with him to the con to have me sign. He also said he was reviewing my book for his column and that he liked it. I was extremely pleased and excited. So, when the column appeared on Sunday, I eagerly sought out my review. Unfortunately, it was obvious that the column had been cut and what had been cut was the “review” part of my review. So, the cover was there, a two paragraph incomplete synopsis, but the most important part, whether he liked it or didn’t, was omitted. I guess now I’ll never know!
On Monday night, I attended Janet Lane’s
first signing for her debut novel, Tabor’s Trinket at the Tattered Cover in Denver. Talk about setting the bar for such events, Janet had live music and a quartet that performed a “singing synopsis.” It was great! I’m looking forward to reading her book and I wish her all success. She’s a class act.
Other fun things: Here is a link
to some info about the “eighth” season of Buffy coming in graphic-novel form in March. Even includes sample panels. I'm excited about this!
Mario was named one of the ten Latino
authors to watch. Congrats, Mario!
A blog reader, Richelle said about the new James Bond: Yeah, I dug this too. Scruffy Bond turned out to be incredibly hot, and seeing him drive the economy rental Ford was the best thing ever.
I responded something about I thought it was a Shelby GT, thereby forever relegating myself to the ranks of the seriously uniformed as far as cars go. I guess I was too busy looking at Daniel Craig to notice what he was driving. At the time, I was thinking of the scene where he crashed. And then, I'm told, he was driving an Aston-Martin. You can tell I'm NOT a car person!
So what else is new? I’m growing more nervous with every passing moment. Have to sell books now and it’s a daunting prospect. Anybody have some new and interesting promotional ideas to offer? I’m open to all suggestions!! Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone to sing my plot at my first signing here in Denver next month. Maybe somebody out there would like to volunteer???
The Writer's Life, on film
Why are writers in the movies such insufferable twits?
I saw two DVDs this weekend with writers as the protagonists, Sideways
and Swimming Pool
. In both movies, the writers were these thin-skinned, angst-ridden creatures.
Miles (played by Paul Giamatti) in Sideways
at least had an excuse. He was a literary writer and we know what tender souls those saps are. He and the other characters talked about what a life-changing event getting published would be. Get real unless there's an advance of a bizillion dollars. Like many fledging writers, Miles totes his manuscript with him. When love-interest Maya asks to read his story, Miles whips it out. All 700+ pages! No wonder he couldn't sell the damn thing. (That said, I did like the movie a lot. Plus Miles likes to drink, a great foundation for any writing career.)
However Sarah Morton (Charlotte Rampling) in Swimming Pool
was beyond intolerable with her snooty, precious ways. And she's supposed to be a mystery writer? Every genre hack I've met has a skin like leather and eager to party and drink, er, I meant socialize. Then again I've never had my editor offer her French villa for me to overcome writer's block as Morton's editor did for her. Maybe when I'm rolling in the dough, I'll be transported to this alternate universe where we writers are treated as special people (and I don't mean the little, short bus kind). Didn't help that the end of this movie made no sense which outweighed the shots of topless women.
What's your favorite movie or novel about writers? (nekkid or otherwise)
The Great Pumpkin
Had a great Thanksgiving and stayed with good friends who own the ranch that inspired the setting for Casa Dracula
. When I woke up yesterday morning, the satellite connection to the internet was down, but the landscape was stunning, the fields white with the season's first frost.
We had our first heavy rains of the season, and I'm particularly fond of reading while I hear rain pounding on the roof. But I like reading anywhere. My memories of my favorite books are connected to places: Ian Fleming novels
on the balcony of an Italian villa (they were the only books in English there); Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter
on a chaotic trip to Palm Springs; To Kill a Mockingbird
in a tent in the redwoods; The Portrait of a Lady
sitting on the floor of my dorm room...Do you remember where you read a favorite book?
Casino Royale ...Spoilers
Be warned: If you haven’t seen Casino Royale and you plan to, stop reading now and come back after you’ve seen the movie…
Okay—Here we go. I LOVED it! Now the action scene at the beginning of the movie and the very last scene were not in the book. The villain has been updated from the financier of SMERSH (extra points if you remember what that was) to the financier for some shadowy terrorist organization. The locale in the book was, of course, Monte Carlo and has been relocated to Montenegro. But that aside, this is a very human Bond, with all that implies. He still has a certain disdain of women that falters when he falls in love. He’s edgy, arrogant, brave. There are no high tech gadgets (well, a couple, but nothing that stretches belief). All in all, Daniel Craig has taken the Bond role and made it his own. The last line in the book, “The bitch is dead,” is not the last line of the movie. They stuck an epilogue of sorts at the end. Still, Craig when he does deliver that quintessential Bond line, does it perfectly. I, for one, hope the Broccoli’s plan to redo the entire series.
The big news this week was News Corp’s decision to cancel the O.J. book and Fox TV special. I say hurrah—not that I expect it was done for any altruistic motive. Rather, so many bookstores said they would not carry the book, that if the project went ahead, the publisher ReganBooks stood to lose a bundle. The big question is why it was ever considered in the first place.
Also read an interesting blurb about one of my favorite TV shows, Heroes. Seems the head writer, Tim Kring, is the “seat of the pants” type who didn’t even plot out the entire first season. So far, letting each episode go where it will has worked. BUT how long can a story continue if the writers don’t know what’s going to happen? I know how that works for me in my writing—IT DOESN’T!!!
Okay, time to go stuff a turkey. Hope you and yours are enjoying a safe, happy, warm holiday.
I spent the weekend in Hilton Head, SC.
I had to make the visit because book three of Felix Gomez's adventures is set on HH. I know I shatter your illusions about the glamourous life of a novelist when I tell you that I took the red-eye from Denver to HH (via Las Vegas and Charlotte), a ten plus hour flight (departing at 9:24PM and arriving at 8:53AM). Figures the only sleep I tried to get was when I was squeezed next to a nice but wide man (1 1/2 seats wide).
CJ Lyons, the pen name of a pediatrician turned thriller writer, took time from both her writing and condo remodeling to act as my guide. We walked the island and noted the details where my characters get shot at, tortured, and killed. Fun stuff!
On the way to my opulent digs at the Comfort Inn ($42), I had to hike past signs like the one above. HH has lots of ponds and sloughs, all of them the residence of alligators. (These guys are big!) The island is also home to rich retirees who have no qualms about walking their little poochies as gator bait. I expected to read about an alligator lunging from the mud and munching on Fido but, apparently, that hasn't yet happened.
This weekend I finished my homework assignment, which I did at the airport, on the airplane, and in my motel room. Kensington Publishing had sent two manuscripts for me to blurb. I was honored that they asked. Story one, The Devils' Mambo
, by Jerry Rodriguez
, was an over-the-top, super-hard-boiled novel delving into white slavery and child porn. Yikes! Reading this manuscript was like getting my ass kicked and coming back for more.
Story two was Succubus Blues
, by Richelle Mead
. This was a fun, witty, and very sexy read. Richelle did her homework tying supernatural myths into Bible stories. I won't tell you more for now except to put this book on your must buy list.
What myths and supernatural tales would you like to see woven together? And what would you think about living next to alligators?
What a Turkey
My second novel, MIDNIGHT BRUNCH
, is going into copyediting and the cover is being finalized. Everyone thinks that authors choose their covers and cover copy.
Authors have very little to no control over these elements. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Authors are verbal; covers are visual.Scary things afoot
: Thanksgiving is coming up. I've been wondering why, if Thanksgiving food is so great, we only eat it once a year. My offspring, when three years old, observed one Thanksgiving, "This is the worst chicken I've ever had."
If turkey was really so great, we'd have turkey pizza, turkey tacos, stir-fried vegetables and turkey, all the American favorites. But nobody actually likes turkey -- we're all just being polite and thinking, "Well, at least they didn't serve vulture at the first thanksgiving."
It's a lot of elaborate and expensive to-do for a meal that is eaten in 15 minutes and makes everyone feel sleepy and sick. And there is that awful parade on television with the frightening giant balloons. Then you have arguments with your relatives because everyone is out of sorts and you drive home in an awful storm. If anyone has a way to make this holiday less of a horror show, please tell me.
Anyone else looking forward to seeing the new James Bond movie
opening on Friday? Casino Royale is the first of Ian Fleming’s
Bond books. I loved the originals. His writing was taut, fresh and full of the flavor of the 50’s, including a rather misogynistic view of women. Still, the Fleming stories were so much more interesting than the Hollywood versions made of them. I think I heard or read somewhere that the intention is to follow the book on this one. I hope so. I’d love nothing better than to see Sony remake the entire catalogue with less flash/bang special effects and more attention to the human element. I have every Fleming book and then all the sequels written first by John Gardner and later by Raymond Benson. The only thing I’m having trouble with is a blonde Bond. The books always talk about that unruly “comma” of dark hair—the teasers I’ve seen show a very blonde Daniel Craig. And he’s shorter than the other Bond’s, too. I know through the magic of Hollywood any actor can look tall, but Connery, Brosnan and Moore were all at least 6’. Craig is 5’11”. Oh well, maybe I’ve given this entirely too much thought.
My good friend Margie Lawson and I had lunch this week with author-extraordinaire Joan Johnston.
Here’s a woman who has over 10 million books in print and has been on national best seller lists more than fifty times. She let us pick her brain about the writing life, including marketing and promoting. She is a dynamo. We had great steaks and great conversation and I appreciate her taking time with this fledgling. To top it off, she’s a Bronco fan, too. The woman has it all.
Finished reading Charlaine Harris’
newest, GRAVE SURPRISE. If you haven’t discovered this series you’ve missed a treat. Her protagonist, Harper Connelly, was struck by lightning and left with the ability to find corpses. She and her half-brother, Tolliver Lang, make their living from finding the dead. Grave Surprise follows last year’s debut book GRAVE SIGHT and picks up where that story left off, including a surprise connection between that case and Harper’s new assignment at an old cemetery on a college campus. Charlaine is another dynamo—award winner, best seller many times over, and all around great gal.
Where's the time?
A common lament I hear from my fellow writers is: where do I find the time to write my novel? Even at Bouchercon, from bestseller writers, I heard the same complaint. Very few novelists support themselves from their writing. It's the day job that pays for the roof over our heads and also unfortunately, takes up a lot of our most productive brain time.
My strategy was to hurry home after work to get at the keyboard and pound at my story. However, life gets in the way. For example, this last week on Monday night I attended a First Monday Art Talk (support your local artists and they'll support you), Tuesday was critique group, Thursday was Mystery Writers of America meeting, and Friday dinner with my fellow writers. (If you don't socialize, don't expect people to show up at your signings.) If I didn't get started by 6 PM, I'd soon fade. Believe me, you have to wring the words out of your brain. It's hard work!
So I adopted a new schedule. I get up at 4 AM and get two hours of writing in before heading to work. The advantage is that no matter what happens during the day, I've worked on my story. The drawback is that I'm always about to crash. This last Thursday at the monthly Mystery Writers meeting, during a lively and graphic talk by Lt Priest, chief homicide investigator for the Denver PD, I fell asleep. And I'm the Vice Prez! (The beer and vodka martini didn't help)
My deadline for vampire book three is March 2007. My goal is to have the first draft done by the end of December. I've got the story plotted out and am halfway there with the word count. As Truman Capote said, When God hands you a talent, he also hands you a whip. (I'm not sure about my talent, but I've got the whip part down pat.)
Speaking of talent, congratulations to fellow mystery writer, Troy Cook
, author of 47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers
Not only has his book gone into its second printing, but the film rights have been bought by Film Colony. Think The Bourne Identity, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown
. You have my permission to be jealous.
The question of the week is: How do you cope with your busy life and the lack of time?
Thank You to Our Own Veteran
First, a Veteran's Day shout out to Biting Edge's very own vet, Mario, who served as a helicopter pilot in the Army and also writes about a vet in his Rocky Flats novels. And let's also take a moment to give our appreciation and thanks to all veterans -- which means I'll be calling my dad, a proud paratrooper.
Of course, supporting our vets shouldn't be limited to one day; we should also support legislation
that helps them and their families.
On to vampire topics. Jun Ji-hyun, a So. Korean actress, will star in Blood Vampire
, the live-action film of the Japanese animated movie
. The character hunts demons in post WWII Japan. Who knew?
I wonder if she will have a sidekick as endearing as Willow Rosenberg.
A blogger asked me why I thought vampires were appealing as heroes. That's easy: the traditional vampire is rich, handsome, he doesn't talk much, he doesn't bother you in the day so you can get things done, and he has formal attire for romantic occasions. Sure, he smells like rotting flesh, but did I mention rich?
What qualities would a dead person have to have for you to invite them to your house for a party?
Did you vote? Hope so. It’s important. They make it so easy—I love the early voting thing. No crowds, no waiting, and you walk out with one of those cute little “I voted” stickers.
Signed up for next year’s Romantic Times Booklovers Convention
in Houston. I’ll be on one of the vampire panels again. It’s such a big conference, I hope I run into some familiar faces. Charlaine Harris
will be there, I know. I met one of my new favorite people at last year’s RT. Vicki Pierce
not only has a family, but she’s an actress and an aspiring writer. She joined Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
and jumped in with both feet, offering to take over the job of newsletter editor. She gets a big attagirl for that! It’s one of the strange and wonderful facts of life that the busiest people are always the first to volunteer for the toughest jobs.
Thursday our local MWA chapter is hosting a program with the commander of Denver PD’s homicide unit. I love programs like this, especially when they promise a “wonderful, gory” slide show. I know how that sounds. Like I’m a little crazy (maybe more than a little.) But one of my favorite all time speakers was a homicide detective from San Diego who showed slides of real crime scenes. Now this program was probably twenty years ago, but I remember one particular slide like it was yesterday. A man had committed suicide by sticking a shotgun in his mouth. His brain flew across the room and landed on his IRS tax form…couldn’t help speculating if that wasn’t what had driven him to suicide in the first place!
Tonight our writer’s group gets together. One of our members, Sandy Meckstroth, just got back from an extended vacation in France. Can’t wait to hear the stories. She’s also promised us chocolate. Don’t know if it will be French chocolate, but you know what they say. The worst piece of chocolate I ever had was wonderful. Or was that something else?
Any Halloween spooks scare you last week? It was very quiet in our neighborhood. The fact that it was about 30 degrees probably had something to do with that….
Faith, the Dog!
I just returned from the West Virginia Book Faire in Martinsburg, WV. And Faith, the Dog
, was the most amazing sight I saw all weekend. She pranced on her hind feet like a character from Star Wars. Her owner, Jude Stringfellow, explained how Faith was born missing one front leg and the other atrophied and had to be amputated. Jude taught Faith how to lift her little puppy head. One day the other family dog bit Faith, who got so angry she jumped on her hind legs to chase the other dog. Jude gave a presentation on the inspiration and power of faith.
Besides a two-legged dog, I also met many wonderful writers: the industrious wife-husband writing machine known as Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
, (having published sixteen novels and five non-fiction books besides numerous screenplays); Natalija Nogulich,
actress/playwright (whose screen credits include Star Trek, The Next Generation, Nip/Tuck, The Practice).
Putting in a subdued appearance was our own pirate lady (and romance-fantasy author), Rebel Sinclair
, from wicked Charleston, SC.
The fair ended with a wonderful schmoozefest banquet capped by a touching speech by Homer Hickam
, author of Rocket Boys
, the genesis for the movie, October Sky
Given all that great talent, the question is: what do you think of Faith the Dog?
I'm at a Kinko's in Pasadena for reasons too complicated to go into. But the good things are that I had a terrific time at the Steinbeck Institute's Authors Table fundraiser in Monterey last weekend. The best part of the event -- well, it was all good, but I really enjoyed meeting other writers. More on that when I'm not paying by the minute for net access.
I stopped by Vroman's
, which is the oldest and largest indie bookstore in SoCal, and signed several copies of Casa Dracula
. Of course, I couldn't leave without buying some books, too.
After this I have a break from doing events, and I'll be kicking back with my huge pile of books to read. Of course, I'm picking up a copy of Jeanne's The Becoming
for my vamp fix.
I love her new cover. "Covers are everything
," booksellers will tell you. We're still working on the cover for my next novel, Midnight Brunch
. How do you convey humor, the paranormal, and whatnot graphically? Humor is the toughest to show in a cover, I think. I'm sure they teach this in design school, though. They say, "Put a banana peel on it." Or "Add a fake nose and glasses. That's hilarious."
Gotta say that some of my favorite books have dreadful bookcovers. And I often find myself being attracted to the same covers over and over, even though I may not be interested in the book. What's your favorite cover? What attracts you, and what makes your skin crawl?