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!
Out With the Old
I once stayed at a friend's villa in Italy, and her father, who was a Neopolitan, looked forward to New Year's when it was the tradition to throw all your stuff out the window. At least that's what he told me. I suspect he just liked to throw things out windows. He had a penchant for dropping eggs on passersby.
Since I live in a one-story house, throwing things out my window has less dramatic effect. I am gathering usable item and taking them to Goodwill. I have a much harder time with paper.
How many versions of old manuscripts do I need to keep? How many years worth of tax information and receipts? I've been to estate sales and seen the homes of people who never gave up any of their old stuff. It's depressing. I'm going to be ruthless and rid myself of old paper. My handy new cross-cutting paper shredder will help.
Happy New Year to you all. You can start fresh with a new name. The Vampire Name Generator
will give you one. Mine is Josette le Bousier, which sounds like a tarty third-rate French "art" actress.
Short but Heart Felt!
See you on the flip side of 2006!
Ho, Ho, Ho. The day is finally here. How is everybody?
In case you haven't heard, we in Colorado got the big dump of snow last Wednesday. Two feet of the white stuff. What a mess. Shut the metroplex down. Travelers are still stranded at the airport.
My dog wasn't too happy about the cold either, as here she is waiting to get let in after doing her business.
I survived the blizzard by listening to 89.3FM, Denver's Jazz Oasis in the City
. Check them out.
The white Christmas brought us all a special present: Jeanne Stein
made the Denver Post bestseller list for paperback fiction. Go Jeanne.
But today is not all tinsel and hot chocolate. James Brown
"The Godfather of Soul" passed away this morning.
Now in James Brown's honor, everybody hold hands and let's sing the traditional carol of funk: I Feel Good.
A Toast to the Holidays
notes that there's now an award for the best Hispanic-American Wine Literature. This year's winner was a chronicle of Pisco Punch, a cocktail invented in San Francisco. I had this legendary cocktail once and vaguely recall it as tasting weird. Not the good weird either. Who knew about this award? I could have submitted my novel.
You still have time to get a book shipped overnight to you for a Christmas gift. Bookreporter
has selections by categories. However, since they recommend potato-headed Bill O'Reilly's Culture Warrior
as a current events book, I wonder how much eggnog they drank before writing this list. For the teen book, they recommend Kathy's Book
, written by two men who got paid to put product placement in the book. Because teenagers who read might be missing out on valuable advertising. Agh.
Last night, I wrapped all my gifts. Many of them were books. I bought the husband The Middle Sea: A History of the Mediterranean.
Yeah, I know. Andy Ross, the former owner of Cody's Books
, recommended it. He was staffing the info table when I dropped by, and he took the time to give me terrific gift suggestions. The bookseller in the teen section helped me find two books for a young friend of mine. Both are gothics. I started reading one and didn't want to stop. Can't remember the name right now and it's wrapped up. You know the bookseller recommendations are good when you want to keep the books for yourself.
Now if you want a really good list of books to buy as gifts, I'd check out Cody's Recommends
. I'm happy to see Debra Ginsberg's Blind Submission
here. Debra's an acclaimed memoirist who also works as a freelance editor. She helped me with my original manuscript. Her darkly humorous novel that takes place in a literary agent's office has gotten lots of raves. A fun read, especially for the aspiring author who wants the inside dish on literary agencies.
Of course, if you need a vampire gift, you can buy one from Boutique Du Vampyre's Christmas Collection
Have yourself a merry little Christmas!
Happy Holidays etc.
First off, Happy Holidays to all. Hope you and yours are warm, safe, and if not together in body, than in spirit.
A couple of interesting tidbits came across my computer this week. The first is an item being offered on E-bay
for an honest-to-God 19th century vampire killing kit. Includes, among other things, a wooden hammer, four stakes, garlic, incense, a "secret" potion and, of course, a wooden cross. It is believed to have been put together by a Romanian monk from Transylvania sometime between 1835-1845. Bidding closes today so if you haven't yet found my perfect Christmas present, this will do nicely. Thanks to Mario for sharing this.
Next, some book stuff. These are from Kirsten Nelson's
blog (she's a Denver agent and sold 21 books this year). She says: for 2006 she read and responded to 20,800
queries. Of that number, she requested and read 54
full manuscripts. The number of new clients accepted: 8
. Getting an agent is a little like getting hit by lightening. The odds are stacked against you. My point, of course, is not to be discouraging, but rather to congratulate any writer who manages to beat those odds and lives to tell about it.
Last, an article about reviews. This
was from a loop I'm on and I think it's funny because--well, you read it and tell me. The name of the article is: Reviewer slams book that was never written. Most of us have trouble getting books we have
written reviewed. Go figure!
Best of all good things to you out there. Thanks for tuning in.
A lot of X-Mas Cheer
I got my Christmas present. My oldest son, Alex, graduated this weekend from New Mexico State University with a BA in Business Administration with a minor in Marketing. Tears of pride welled in my eyes when I read his name in the program and noticed all his awards. Honors, Crimson Scholar (Dean's List), Honors Certificate Program. 3.94 GPA. All this while working 40+ hours a week. What makes him so smart is that he's got an antenna growing out of his head.
Four years ago I loaded his stuff in a U-Haul that I towed to Las Cruces behind my pickup. Sink or swim I told him. And he swam. Now to find the career job. He's an experienced closer and King of the Cold Calls (see the antenna).
For gifts, my sister and I gave Alex token amounts as deposits on his first million. We would've given him the million but felt that the money would mean more if he worked for it. And what's a party without a cake?
Everybody have a Merry Christmas!
Back in the USSR!
Congrats to Jeanne for her sale to a German publisher. I got good news, too, from my editor. The Russian rights to Happy Hour at Casa Dracula
in hardback and paperback have been sold to the same company that publishes bestselling author Tess Gerritsen's
Christmas is almost here and that means that I have some serious book buying to do. I like to give books as gifts, but I try to pick books that my friends and family will really enjoy. I put more research into this than I ever did into college term papers. I analyze interests, past reading history, free time, etc. I check reviews, prices, availability.
I try not to buy the predictable book, or one they already have, or the hot bestseller. No one on my list will be getting a book by or about Borack Obama.
I get beautiful hardback books from my friends. I put them on my shelves and they look very nice there. Sometimes I even read them. But the sad truth is that, even though I love giving books to people, I don't like them as gifts. I like to pick out books myself. I spend hours browsing in bookstores, pulling out contenders to read. I tug them out a bit, so I can find them later. Sometimes I go back and can't find what I'd been looking at. My neck gets a crick from holding my head sideways.
I wander in all sorts of strange aisles. I might go to the cookbook section to try and memorize a recipe by Jaime Oliver
instead of paying for the expensive hardback. I'll check the health section to see if I can diagnose an acquaintance's apparent insanity. I'll look up plants in the Garden area, and go to the spec fiction aisles trying to find a book that isn't hopelessly geeky, which is how I discovered Connie Willis
and Octavia Butler
. I'll then loop around to fiction and check the shelves that are ignored -- XYZ authors, or books on bottom shelves.
How do you choose books for gifts? When you think about the holidays, do you think "comic vampire fiction"? I hope so.
Pre Holiday Gifts
I think I’ve just spent the best four days that a writer could hope for.
First in San Diego with family and friends and a signing at Mysterious Galaxy
. The crowd was warm, receptive and generous. It was a holiday party and the second guest author, Victoria Laurie
, has a half dozen books featuring Abby Cooper, P.I. and psychic intuitive. Victoria is a real psychic herself so I was a little nervous sitting right beside her! Not because I don’t believe, but because I DO.
Then Monday here at The Tattered Cover
. If ever there was an incentive for a writer to keep at it, it’s being the guest of honor at a signing in her hometown. The Tattered Cover is more than a brick and mortar bookstore. It’s a Denver icon and I was honored beyond the telling of it at the warmth of the reception I received. The RMFW crowd, my writers group (including our own Mario and Jeff Shelby
who made the trip from Texas!!) friends, old and new, locals and out of towners (Shannon Baker from Arizona), and the staff at TC—all were wonderful. I’m still glowing. I can’t thank you all enough.
A little news: we’ve sold the three books to Droemer for publication in Germany as mass-market originals. Of course, I’m using the “royal” we—it’s all my agent, Scott Miller’s work and the great people at Trident Media.
Now, I’m off to work on the galley for Blood Drive. I hope I can concentrate….
Fee Fi Fo Fum I want a bloody Christmas plum
It's that time of the year again. X-mas!
Actually I like the Holidays. It's a great excuse to goof off, go to parties, and drink too much. What I hate is the message to buy! Buy! Buy!
Don't get me wrong, when I was a kid I loved to get a mountain of presents. I remember buying my cousins the kind of gifts I wanted, mostly model airplanes that I would build for them.
Of course it's a pretty Commie thing to say that we don't need all that consumerism crap. We already have everything worth buying. Storage rentals and those driveway containers are in great demand because our houses and garages aren't big enough to hold all our stuff. Since in our society it's all about money, we think we can buy our way to happiness.
We need a spending cap on gifts. Give books, bottles of wine, handmade breads. However, if you must spend money, I'll bend my rules this once and you can buy me a car. Maserati Mario sounds pretty good.
What are your thoughts on the whole present giving thing?
PS Congrats to our own Jeanne Stein
. Her book, The Becoming
, was no 7 on the Barnes & Noble mass market SF&F!
Shelving the Matter
I just learned that it is National Novel Writing Month
. Almost 80,000 people have gotten together online and each will try to write 50,000 words this month. I guess that's one way to approach writing, and a good approach for people who want to tell that one story.
Publishers Weekly ran my piece on marketing and categories
this Monday. The Wall Street Journal had an article about books shelved by race that got a lot of buzz on the net. Author Monica Jackson
blogs about this and provides comments and a link to the WSJ article.
You want your books to stand out from the pack, but do you really want them segregated by race/ethnicity? I'm not the only one to find this disturbing. It's as if the booksellers are saying that a novel by a writer who is "other" couldn't appeal to anyone else. The twist to this is that books shelved out of the mainstream fiction category do have a better chance of selling more, simply because they don't get lost in the crowd.
Good news: Latinidad
newsletter named Happy Hour at Casa Dracula
as one of the best reads for 2006.
Bad News: Sony is pushing its eReader.
Yes, I know the tech people who don't like books anyway have been looking for a way to eliminate books. So you pay over $300 for a flat screen that can store up to 80 books. Can you drop this in the tub, grab it out quickly, wipe it with a towel and continue to read? Can you dog-ear a corner, then shove it in your jacket pocket? Can you swat an annoying fly with it? If the answer to any of these questions is "no," then why bother?
So when some non-swattable bug in the system wipes out the 80 books you paid for and downloaded, and you're on the phone for an hour with some tech support person in another hemisphere who calls herself "Tiffany" trying to fix your eReader, don't complain to me.
For those of you not in the writing biz, BSP stands for Blatant Self Promotion. This is going to be (thankfully) short because I'm on my way to San Diego to sign at The Mysterious Galaxy
, San Diego's premier independent book store. Then back here to sign at Denver's finest, The Tattered Cover
. In the meantime, Ive been stopping at Barnes & Noble
stores in the area and the reception has been fantastic. At the B&N on Arapahoe Road here in Littleton one of the managers, Judi, and a clerk, Bryan, even asked me to personalize a book for them. I can't stop being thrilled by this. I just have this feeling that I'm so excited they probably think "what a geek" when I leave.
Oh well, I'm a published
More next time.
The Look of the Future
Here's the creepist development I saw last week. The Transportation Security Administration, those folks who go through your luggage and underwear at the airport, have unveiled the latest boondoggle to screen passengers: the X-ray viewer. Apparently, making you walk around in your socks and getting felt up to ascertain that your underwire bra isn't a hydrogen bomb each aren't enough of an intrusion into your dignity. Now the world can see you stripped down to your undies (or less): love handles, spare tires, and all. Susan Hallowell, one the head techies at TSA responsible for this nightmarish idea, volunteered to show the public just how benign that gizmo is.
See, what's the big deal? There's a reason Hallowell's name reminds me of Halloween.
To show how effective this X-ray device is, the TSA released photos demonstrating how hidden objects such as pistols can now be discovered. Nevermind that all these guns could be found by a metal detector. So common sense is as foreign an idea to the federal government as is the concept of dignity.
What's to keep your flattering X-ray picture from winding up on the Internet? Why, the straight-faced assurances of the TSA.
The same day I read this article, I also read how Homeland Security, the parent organization of TSA, is being audited for not being able to account for millions of dollars. Considering that governments have been keeping records since the time they invented money, the TSA is telling us to trust them on the high-tech stuff while they can't handle basic arithmetic. (Remember how the VA lost the laptop with millions of veterans' private info?) So this week's question is: How long after the X-ray viewer is put into operation will it be before we see photos of major celebs (or you) on the Internet? I'm taking bets.
Congratulations in Order
So congratulations to Jeanne on the official release date of her novel, The Becoming
. I'm sure she'll be able to scare up some talented friends to entertain and convince guests at her book launch that they need MULTIPLE copies.
And congratulations, too, to Mario who was named one of the top ten Hispanic authors to look out for. My Stanford alum, Daniel Olivas
, was also on this list. Daniel, a talented fiction and freelance writer, has also done amazing work promoting and supporting other writers.
Now that the holiday season (agh, agh, agh) is open us, we are being bombarded by a zillion messages to spend money in order to buy happiness for ourselves and others. I always thought that books brought happiness, and they're relatively inexpensive. The problem is: how do you choose a book for someone else? The husband usually writes down the titles of books he wants on scraps of paper. I collect them when I want to buy a present for him.
But I think the best way to choose is to select a book that someone else wants -- not the book that you think they should want. A gift book should not be medicine; it should be a delight.Bookseller Chick
has an entertaining rant
on the season in her blog.
Speaking of gift books, my pal Nancy Levine's
new book, Letters to a Young Pug
, has just been released. Nancy is a very funny writer, performer, and photographer. We all love to dress our pets in silly costumes, but Nancy's figured out a way to do this professionally. Her pugs, Wilson andHomer, are the stars of her photography stories about a spiritual master and his student. Talk about pets earning their keep...
Biting News: I just found out that the great William Faulkner wrote a VAMPIRE SCREENPLAY
while he was destroying himself in Hollywood. I'm hoping that someone will produce it without messing too much with Faulkner's writing.