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!
Hi all-- Sorry for this-- I'm in San Diego and at a place with limited web access. So==I promise to make up for this next week.
in the meantime, remember-- go to this link
Vampire: Undead Kama Sutra
Anthology: Many Bloody Returns.
Mario and I appreciate it.
el bandito vampiro
Being a writer has lots of ups and downs and this week I'll share one of the ups.
I was invited to sign at the HarperCollins booth at the American Library Association mid-winter conference. Held here in Denver so that made my travel arrangements from the publisher super easy. I had no idea what to expect even though it was held in the cavernous Denver convention center. This shows you how big and sophisticated the show was (and they still invited me anyway!).
The ballroom was so crowded I had to hunt for HarperCollins even though it was one of the larger booths.
I was supposed to sign for an hour but people kept stopping by so I stayed until the convention staff booted me out at closing time. I met plenty of wonderful people including Stephen who runs a quirky and most-cool blog that you can get to at this LINK
My first novel, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
, is being translated into Spanish. Stay tuned, amigos.
Hi all-- This is something different for us, I know. But I was very impressed with this story. It's by writer L.G. Vernon
. She has a book out, too, The Wilderness Road, which I haven't read yet, but would like to. I understand it's out of print. The story is posted with the permission of the author.
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved
I see them.
The dead come—came—with the territory, and have never left. They don’t tell you about that at the academy. Oh, they tell you about death, all right. They just don’t tell you about the dead. And even during the darkest, most drunken moments of those off-duty, late-night choir practices, no one ever says, “Hey guys, I see the dead. Do you see the dead?”
But we all see them.
I haven’t worn a Sam Browne in years. Probably couldn’t buckle on the one that hangs in the back of my closet if I wanted to. It’s dusty with age, like me, and the leather’s dry-rotted. I used to keep it spit-shined—back when I wore it. I used wadding polish on the brass of the keepers, and on my badge and on my nameplate. Now the kids I see in uniform—all of them look about nine to me—use Velcro keepers to hold their gear in place, and most times it’s not even leather; it’s that nylon stuff that’s become so popular.
They don’t wear real badges anymore, either. They’re sewn on. Embroidered. Seems kind of candy-assed to me. It’s hard to read them, sometimes, when I get close enough to a cop to look. But when I scan past the newfangled uniforms, the shorts, the bicycles, the fancy equipment, the sewn-on badge, and the tiny, tapered, politically correct baton, and look into their eyes—really look—I know they see them, too.
Resignation, not fear, is what stares back at me.
Once in a while I talk to a cop. He or she’ll size me up at first. Oh, I know what they’re thinking. Old, shriveled. Couldn’t know a thing about what I do. But then we mesh. We know the same neighborhoods, know that kick of adrenalin at the sound of a siren, speak the same lingo; we’ve both felt the tingling intuition that tells us the nice mama with the two kids we just talked to would kill us if she could. Putting on the suit changed us both forever. We walk into a room the same way—looking at hands, waistbands, ankles, faces, and exits. We size people up, skeptical of every story, every excuse, every bulge, every twitch.
We laugh and joke, like cops often do. Then, soberly, we shake hands and we know. We’re often closer than kin as we exhale regret.
The dead are always with us. Even when we’re wrinkly-assed and gray, and not cops anymore.
First in line—my line, anyway—are two ladies. Blue-hairs we called them, then. You know what I mean: Sixty-five, carefully curled hair, bulletproof stretch pants and striped tank tops. They were walking with their husbands who, after forty-five years on the job, had retired the previous week from the same factory. The two couples had been friends for life. It was just past dusk and they’d been down the highway to a coffee shop for dinner. The four of them were strolling back to the RV park and the brand-new, identical, motor homes they’d just bought, when a couple of big Dobermans lunged at the junkyard fence they were passing. The ladies jumped away—into the street and into the path of a Camaro—and were killed instantly.
I was twenty-one, and probably looked about nine to the husbands, if they even noticed. What got me most were the shoes. Both women had been knocked right out of their canvas low-cuts. Impotently, I picked up the pink sneakers and handed them to one of the husbands. He stood there, clutching them, then silently gave one pair to his buddy. At that moment, I felt about nine. What do you say? How do you make it all go away?
Those old ladies—probably younger in death than I am now—smile at me. It’s all right, officer. It wasn’t your fault.
Next is the young Northsider. They call them gang-bangers, now. He was sprawled on the floor of his apartment, leaning against the wall next to the sofa. He’d been stabbed twice in the chest. Tiny holes. Not a drop of blood. An ice pick lay on the threadbare carpet. I knelt next to him. He was breathing, talking, alert. I called for an ambulance and started taking notes.
“Who did this?”
“Fuckin’ Eastsiders, man, who else?”
“Did you know them?”
“How many of them were there?”
“Two of them. I’ll kill those pinche’—”
“—Who stabbed you?”
“Ramon . . . Ramon Cisneros.”
“From over on Third—that Ramon Cisneros?”
I scribbled, then talked on my radio, telling dispatch to put out the APB. “Was he in that old brown Pinto he drives?”
“I don’ know, man. I was here, asleep. I wa . . .”
And, just like that, he was gone. The ambulance arrived right about then, and they started CPR on him, but there was no bringing him back. Later, at the post, I learned that the ice pick had torn the bottom of his heart, his aorta, actually—just a tiny tear, but big enough for him to die while I was getting what I needed to put his killer away for a very long time. Not that it did him any good. He ambles along in his gray corduroy pants and his wife-beater, right behind the ladies. He smiles at me, too. There’s a tattoo on his left chest—a bleeding heart, with the name Amelia underneath. Pretty ironic, if you ask me.
Anyway, those were my first three. Then comes the drunk who hanged himself when he arrived home and found his wife had had enough and split. His fourteen year-old son found him. The kid had come by after school to tell his dad that he wanted to stay with him, not his mother.
There are probably a dozen or more heroin addicts who tripped south from LA to get some 'good' stuff in our border community and died in their cars, in restaurants, one in a phone booth, and often, very often, in bathrooms—because the smack was just too good. It hadn’t been cut with baby powder or corn starch or any of a thousand other products it gets stepped on with as it makes its poisonous way to the City of Angels.
And so they died, with belts around their upper arms and syringes still stuck in their flesh, gasping their last in the tiny spaces of gas station bathrooms—writhing in the urine and the toilet paper incumbent with such pristine surroundings.
There are children, wives, husbands, and parents—killed by the ones they loved. There are accident victims and croakers—elderly who died of natural causes in their homes, the police who found them their only mourners. There are drunk drivers and their passengers along with the others they took with them all in the name of a good time.
There are six teenagers, still in their tuxedos and poufy formals. They’d left the prom for some late night kanoodling and were speeding down a dirt road in a station wagon when the driver lost control and the car ended up on its top in an irrigation canal. Their parents reported them missing in the middle of the night but it was daylight before we spotted the car, its wheels sticking partially out of the water. The kids tried to get out. They really tried to get out. But the car was wedged, side-to-side. They couldn’t open the doors.
You don’t want to know the rest.
There’s a beautiful baby girl, two months-old, who has a place in line. It was an early Christmas morning when I got that call—a frantic mother couldn’t awaken her only child. The door to the apartment was ajar, but there was no crowd. No one. Just a young Mexican woman standing quietly in her nightgown in the middle of her low-income living room, waiting for someone to come. A secondhand crib dominated the space. “Ayudame’, por favor,” she whispered. Help me, please. She gestured toward the crib.
I was across the room in two steps, and knew immediately I was hours too late. The infant drowsed in death, a tiny knitted cap on her glossy black hair, her fat little fist still against her mouth, her eyes half open. But first rigor had already set in. There was nothing I, nothing anyone could do. I think telling that poor woman—whose husband was far away in the Central Valley working in the fields—that her first child was dead, was the hardest thing I ever did. She had no one. No one. And was too devastated to do more than stroke that baby's hair. No tears. No wailing. Just the subtle movement of her fingers. I called the Salvation Army, but there was no answer. It was Christmas Day. Babies weren’t supposed to die on Christmas; babies weren’t supposed to die, ever. I finally got hold of Father Curzon over at St. Mary’s. He came and I left, but the baby, a SIDS baby—well—I see her every day.
There were countless others over the years: A young father of two little girls, gunned down by his wife and her lover for the insurance; a gay man, shotgunned at point-blank range for making advances to the wrong hitchhiker; a wife bludgeoned to death by her eighty year-old husband because, as he put it, “I got tired of her mouth.”
And there are other cops. Friends. Guys who had my back more than once when the stuff got deep. I wonder sometimes how the fates picked them and not me. But they smile, and shake their heads, their badges glinting. Shit happens, they say. You know that.
I’m old now and I really thought all this would have left me over time. That the anger, that the impotence, that the sense of loss would have dissipated. That I would have been allowed to forget the dead. That, after years of service—after years of seeing them, day after day—I’d be granted a reprieve. But no. They’re all still here, walking somnolently through these rooms of mine. And along with this daily communion comes the knowledge that soon I’ll be in someone else’s head, myself—standing on someone else’s line. A specter, a memory, one of a million horrors about which no cop speaks.
So now I wait, here in my house with the big trees out front. Just me and the dead. My dead. I mow my lawn, barbecue on the weekends, watch football with other retired cops—and I wonder whose line I’ll be in when it’s over. Will it be the officer I talked to down at the Stop and Rob on the corner who finds me dead in my bed? Or will I croak over in the yard and some poor rookie’ll get the call and have to help the ambulance guys drag my fat ass onto a gurney? Am I going to topple over in my dining room and lie there for a couple of weeks with the sun streaming in the south windows like it does, until the only things alive here, besides the cop who gets the call, will be the maggots doing the conga in and out of my eyes?
Who will I haunt?
Whoever it is, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
First things first: Best wishes, Mr. President, and all good fortune. So say we all...
Mario told me yesterday that Urban Fantasy Land is having a reader’s poll and some of our books are nominated. To wit:
Best Anthology: Many Bloody Returns
Best in Vampires: The Undead Kama Sutra
Best in Shape Shifters: Legacy (must be the werewolves—or Daniel Frey though he didn’t play such a big part in this one. Anyway, I’m grateful for the nomination)
So, the deal is to click on the link
and vote. Thank you.
End of paid political announcement.
Except, not quite. I’m going to be in San Diego next week to speak at Cuyamaca College. Great poster, huh? The event will be held in the Digital Theatre on Campus, 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway El Cajon, CA 92019 at 6 PM. The event is free and open to the public. If you’re in the area, please call: 619-644-7454 X 3138 for more info. My writing career actually started on this campus. In the late 70’s, when I decided I wanted to write mysteries, I took criminal justice classes here.
In other news, by now most of you know that Monday was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe. Was in the post office yesterday and saw the stamp. It’s official—we’ve gone poe-stal. (I hear the groans, out there, so watch it.)Fox
is canceling Prison Break. I liked this series but how long can these guys keep getting screwed over by the authorities? Final episodes kick of April 17.
And another bit from the Ausiello Files
: Question: Thanks for telling us that True Blood started shooting its second season last week, but could you tell me when the episodes will start airing? -- Katie
Ausiello: This summer, which means season 2 will air roughly eight months after the conclusion of season 1 -- a lightning fast turnaround by cable standards. "Alan Ball is a very fast writer," explains an HBO source. In other True Blood news, I caught up with Sam Trammell (Sam) at the Globes and he teased that his new love interest (played by The Bold and The Beautiful's Ashley Jones) is up to no good. "I don't know the whole storyline, but I've read the first three episodes, and it's going to be really twisted and dark and exciting. She's got some serious secrets and questionable intentions."
To read complete articles for the above—you have to scroll down to Jan 13.
And for all of you sharp-eyed viewers out there—yes, it was SMG in a cameo in Dr. Horrible. It was a spontaneous thing. She happened to be visiting the set and took a seat. Kewl…
Yikes—a new application for the iPod. From the UK Telegraph
A new application has been launched for the iPod touch to help gun users line up a clean shot at their target.
The BulletFlight app, which costs £6.99 to download from the iTunes store, has been developed by Runaway App to turn the iPod touch into a ballistics computer which the company says can provide “quick solutions in the field”.
Users can mount their iPod touch to their rifle, and then use the iPod’s touch-screen to tap in details about the wind conditions, ammunition type, distance to the intended target and even the wind speed.
I mentioned last week that I spoke to students at South Park (yes, that South Park) High in Fairplay, CO. Teacher Lynde Iozzo sent me some pics. The class was terrific and I hope to keep in touch with some of these future authors.
Student Callie Edwards, me, teacher Lynde Iozzo
Thanks again, Lynde.
In memoriam: Actor Patrick McGoohan
passed away on January 13th. The Emmy-winning actor who created and starred in the cult classic television show The Prisoner, died at the age of 80 after a short illness.
I have a special treat for you. Tune in tomorrow to read a story by author L.G. Vernon
. I didn’t want to include with today’s post because I think it deserves special attention. Thank you, Linda, for letting me share it.
I was voted the president of the Rocky Mountain
chapter of the Mystery Writers of America
. As a chapter president I'm also on the national board. One of the perks is that we're brought to NYC, all expenses paid for the board meeting and orientation.
Well, I was impressed. We were put up in the Roosevelt Hotel, three blocks north of Grand Central Station, for the weekend.
Friday night we attended a mass signing at the Partners in Crime mystery bookstore in Greenwich Village (much wine), followed by a loooong dinner at Sammy's Noodle Shop (much beer and mucho mas Chinese food--ugh, I was about to bust), followed yet again by more boozin' back at the Roosevelt. Saturday was a work day, complete with a three ring binder full of official stuff. That night we were treated to more schmoozing at the swanky steakhouse, Bobby Van's, where I ate a filet mignon the size of a big fist (see photo). Followed of course by more boozin' at the Roosevelt. But the food and drink were only second to the great folks that I met.
The last few recent times I've been to NYC were in the late spring or summer. Not surprisingly, this visit the city was cold, like Denver freeze-your-privates cold. Thought you all would enjoy this typical Manhattan view of the street from the conference board room.Me? A smart ass?
Decide for yourself in this interview in Illiterate Magazine
. Go to page 109.In passing:
Two of my all time favorites have left us.Ricardo Montalban
made his final casting call at the age of 88. Here he is as Khan Noonian Singh in Star Trek's Wrath of Khan
, in a role where he brilliantly out-hams the master ham, William Shatner.
American realist Andrew Wyeth
put away his paint brushes at the age of 91. Wyeth was a master watercolorist and egg tempera painter who defied decades of criticism. Here's one of my favorite of his works: Wind from the sea.
I know there must be all sorts of interesting things that have gone on in the last week, but honestly, they’ve gone on without me. I’m deep in the rewriting phase of book five. I’m supposed to have the manuscript to my editor the end of the week and I do believe I’ll make it. The credit in large part goes to the weekend I just spent in Fairplay. Three or four times a year, a bunch of us take over the Hand Hotel and get treated like the kings and queens we are. The manager, Michael, cooks fabulous meals for us, pours us wine, and lets us pad around in our jimmies and slippers if we want. No TV, no telephones in the room. We do have wireless now, though, and it does make it easier to keep in touch. I swear, if I lived there, I could write ten books a year.
I’ll speak more about the weekend at a later time. I will mention, though, one of the highpoints was visiting with Lynde Iozo and students at South Park High. Their enthusiasm, the thought they’d put into questions, the warmth of their welcome is something I’ll remember for a long time.
Thank you Lynde and kids!
The few newsworthy items I’ve managed to pick up along the way are:
Golden Globes—Didn’t watch but checked on winners. Slumdog Millionaire won best pic, director, screenplay and score! Excellent. Anna Paquin won for True Blood (yay) and of course, Heath Ledger for Batman (for once, a posthumous award that was well deserved). Any thoughts?
Book store news: Murder One in London is closing
. Visited that shop once years ago. It’s been around 21 years so it’s a loss. The owner, planning to retire, evidently couldn’t find a buyer.
Locally, Tattered Cover
, our most famous Denver Indy is not closing, but was forced to lay off 10 employees. Owner says she hopes to be able to rehire some of them eventually.
Good blog post here: Ten Stupid Things cops do in books by Robin Purcell from the Kill Zone site
. I should probably have a contest to see if anyone out there caught the HUGE glaring gun mistake I made in The Watcher. In fact, I will. A $25.00 Amazon gift card to the person who first replies with the mistake and sites the page number. You have until next Wednesday to find it.
I will end with something fun: A cartoon. Anne Rice’s Vampires Read Twilight. Click on the link
or on the cartoon itself to be able to make this big enough to actually read.
I'm adding a PS-- Happy Birthday, Jay!!!
The Devil Duck claims another victim
I did a reading last Saturday with CHAC
at their Poets & Mas. I raffled a Devil Duck and (fantastic metarealist) artist Stevon Lucero
won. Or did he? We all know the curse of the DD. Should he be smiling?FYI:
I'm the new president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America
. RT Lawton (retired DEA and prolific short story author) was the previous president, 2006-2008, and we thought he deserved a special plaque for putting up with us for so long. Here we are at the Denver Press Club: me, RT, and Bonnie Ramthun
(previous president). I would note left to right but I thought it was obvious who was me and who was Bonnie.
Check out fellow noir writer Warren Hammond's great review in La Bloga
.The reviews are trickling in:
Check out what Harriet Klausner wrote at Genre Go Round Reviews
comes out Feb 25 so if you need something NOW for your undead corpse fix, then go to Mark Henry's Zombie Chow
Over at Richelle Mead's blog, she announced that her Vampire Academy series is back on the NYT bestsellers list
. Who-rah! Is this German cover awesome or what?
Happy 2009 greetings to all—
It’s good to be back in the normal routine, isn’t it? I’ve been working, working, working on revisions for book five—Retribution—and getting a start on book six—Chosen—so I’m especially glad to be done with the holiday disruption.
Saw my first movie of 2009 – Slum Dog Millionaire
. Highly recommend it. The star, Dev Patel, is wonderful. The credits at the end make you want to stand up and dance. Great stuff.
Some articles about this and that:
Here’s one about TV and how it’s pushing the science boundaries. Dollhouse
And coming soon, Serenity
in Blu-ray for all you techies.
Battlestar Galitica returns on Jan. 16. In the meantime, there’s a series of webisodes you can watch to fill the gap between parts one and two of the current season. Writer Jane Espenson says
: The Webisodes, which will conclude on Jan. 12, just before the television series returns, are a self-contained murder mystery set aboard a small spacecraft that has been separated from the fleet. But they also expand on the “Galactica” mythology, through flashbacks, and flesh out major characters. Fans who had wondered whether Lieutenant Gaeta (Mr. Juliani) was gay found out in Episode 1 of “Enemy.” Or they thought they did, until his close encounter with a Cylon 8 (Ms. Park) a few episodes later clouded matters.
Watch them here
Something different—a music video
brought to my attention by friend Derek. Kewl…
From Publisher’s Weekly: Amazon Launches Author Stores
by Craig Morgan TeicherAmazon
has added a new way of finding books to its site, which the company is calling Author Stores, single pages that feature all books from a particular author, plus, in many cases, an author photo and some related content, such as a biography, message board and streaming video.
Wonder when mid-list authors (like me) are going to get their own page? ☺
Sad Passing: Donald Westlake
, award-winning mystery writer, died of a heart attack on New Year’s Eve. He was 75. More than 15 of his 100 books were made into movies. In addition, he wrote a number of screenplays, including “The Grifters,” which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1991. He wrote everyday on a manual
typewriter. His next novel, “Get Real,” is scheduled for release in April.
Something fun—Neil Patrick Harris hosts Saturday Night Live
this Saturday (Jan 10) Wonder if he’ll wear his goggles?
The Damn—I missed it file: From the New York Times
: Puttin’ Off the Ritz: The New Austerity in Publishing. Never did get wined and dined now I may never be! Frankly, though, I’m thankful to have a contract.
Can I say Ick???? If you’re eating, be warned, or there are children about, cover their eyes. Here’s the Polish cover for Many Bloody Returns. Yikes.
Better is the cover for the trade paper edition
scheduled to be released next month—which is just like the hardcover…but softer and cheaper.
This weekend I’m off to Fairplay
for a writer’s retreat. I've also been invited on Monday morning to speak to some students at the local high school. I'm looking forward to that. I plan to pick their brains, too. Find out just
what they like in a book... Now, it’s the second time I’ve attended this retreat but the first time I’ve made the trip in winter. Wish me luck!!!
Okay, in the spirit of the season I’m finishing up with resolutions I DIDN’T make this year:
Lose ten pounds (Doesn’t EVERYBODY make this one?)
Add an extra gym day (DITTO)
Eat better (Damn it, I LIKE my chocolate)
Watch less television (Then how can I know what new forensic wonders are out there? It’s research)
Read more nonfiction (Why?)
I’m sure there are others, there always are. Now it’s your turn—what resolutions did you NOT make this year?
Back at it
I was busy this past holiday, writing and, thankfully, reading.But first:
Last Saturday, fellow author, Laura Reeve
, had a signing of her debut novel, Peacekeeper
. Before she wrote science fiction thrillers, Laura was a missile officer in the US Air Force (with her finger on the nuclear trigger).My reads:
I'm a contributing editor for the International Thriller Writers. Check out what I wrote for Irish author, Derek Gunn
, and his new novel, Vampire Apocalypse:Descent into Chaos
, in the January issue of The Big Thrill
. An excerpt of my review:"Derek Gunn didn't reinvent the vampire novel. Instead he stripped it back to its roots, in the process tearing away the pretensions other writers have used to humanize the fabled bloodsucking monster. His books are not comforting paranormal romances; they are violent and visceral supernatural thrillers."
When you go to writer conferences, you get a lot of free books. At the last BoucherCon, I got this freebie by Laura Lippman (naturally, since Baltimore is Lippman's home town). Hardly Knew Her
is a collection of Lippman's short stories. Each is a gem. Each is written with Lippman's sharp eye and crystal prose. And each is a tale of cold-blooded murder, usually centered around revenge. There's a woman drive to bankruptcy by an unscrupulous ex, a matronly femme fatale who is seriously underestimated by a pornographer, and an opportunistic girl who solves her weight problem with cocaine and murder.Wait, there's more:
Ask me about one of my favorite reads and I'll tell you, Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer
. Connelly's written a sequel, The Brass Verdict
. I wasn't crazy about the title until I got to the end of the book. The title makes total sense. Criminal defense lawyer, Mickey Haller, is on the rebound after a drug addiction and letting his personal and professional life unravel to tatters. A colleague is shot dead and Haller is assigned his clients, including a ruthless Hollywood mogul accused of murder. The street-wise Haller finds out he's the fall guy in a gruesome conspiracy.Alert!
We all know that Jeanne Stein has a major Joss Whedon crush. So I'm scamming the Whedon news by telling you all that his Dr. Horrible
Sing-Along blog was noted by National Public Radio
as the most innovative and best media program for 2008. Points, Mario.Homework:
Share what books you've read recently or are on your TBR pile.