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!

Sunday, January 31, 2010
  Making crime pay, by the word

Mario here:

Last week, one of my favorite authors, Robert Crais, was in town promoting his newest novel,
 The First Rule.  It's always a treat to see Crais again.  At his signing, he read the less incendiary emails from readers who chastised him, and his Louisiana public school education, for using "bring" instead of "take."   Crais discussed the emotional development of his main character, bad-ass Joe Pike, and how the influx of foreign gangs into L.A. shaped the creation of this story.

If you missed Robert Crais, fear not.  This week, you have the chance of meeting another author of thoroughly bad-ass hombres and mujeres--Lori Armstrong, who will be appearing at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch, Tuesday, February 2, at 7:30PM.  She'll be signing copies of her new book, No Mercy.  Her accolades include a Shamus, a Daphne du Maurier Award, and a WILLA Cather Literary Award.

I got a nice write-up from Ed Hickok who now writes about local authors for the Denver Examiner.  It's another chance to see pics from my comic books.  Hickok gets paid by the visit so use Chicago voting rules: drop by early and often.  

The big tech news this week was of course the Apple iPad.  I thought it was a large, fancy iPhone.  In his press release, Steve Jobs dissed the netbook yet for me, the netbook uses the computer software I need, mainly for the Internet and writing.  
The iPad does have the Apple word
 processing software but as MS Word is the industry standard, I'll pass on the iPad until later.  Not that I have the moola to buy one soon.  But my older son, Mr. Tech Head, is as crazy about the iPad as he is about his iPhone.

We in the publishing business wondered what new tremors the iPad would bring to the whole epublishing earthquake.  While the iPad did introduce color and a more reader-friendly page access method and a landscape format for periodicals, the big shake was that Apple will use an agency model to sell books.  Meaning: the publisher (the agency) rather than the distributor--and we're taking about Amazon--will set the price of their ebooks.  Which means ebooks will be more expensive (less discounts) but more money will flow to the publisher and the writer.  Down the line, expect content providers to start charging access to their material on the Internet.  However, we at Biting-Edge have made the commitment that we would never ever charge you for visiting.  However, we will accept payola and bribes.  

What say you of a pay-as-you-go Internet?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
  New books, Contests and Firefly--oh my!
A couple of new books due for release this month from our pals at the League of Reluctant Adults:

Battle of the Network Zombies by Mark Henry

Dead Matter by Anton Strout.

Check them out at Amazon or your favorite indie.

And I have a story in a new anthology- A Girls’s Guide to Guns and Monsters.

Book description:

Brilliant, original sci-fi and fantasy stories featuring brave and bold heroines

Stories by Nancy Holder, Lilith Saintcrow, Tanya Huf, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Jane Lindskold, Anton Strout, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Kim C. Hines, Elizabeth A. Vaughan, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Irene Radford, Alexander B. Potter and moi.

Thirteen urban and paranormal tales of strong women, armed with weapons they are not afraid to use, as well as fists and feet of fury, who face monsters and bad guys-and are not above rescuing men in the process.

· Paperback: 320 pages
· Publisher: DAW; Original edition (February 2, 2010)
· Language: English
· ISBN-10: 0756406145
· ISBN-13: 978-0756406141

My story is called Elizabeth and Anna’s Big Adventure. :-)

Speaking of the League, want a chance to win some fabulous prizes? Here’s your chance.

Check the link at Literary Escapism, sign up, read a book from a Leaguer and post a review. Here’s a list of the participating authors. You’ll recognize one or two I’m sure. But the idea is to try someone new. Course that's not to say you can't pimp Mario or me, too. Just sayin'

Mario Acevedo
Stacia Kane
Kat Richardson
Michele Bardsley
Caitlin Kittredge
Michelle Rowen
Dakota Cassidy
Kelly Meding
Diana Rowland
Carolyn Crane
Richelle Mead
Jeanne Stein
Molly Harper
Nicole Peeler
Anton Strout
Mark Henry
Cherie Priest
Jaye Wells
Jackie Kessler
Jennifer Rardin

Full details and sign-up are on the website. Some incidentals below:

The Challenge will run from February 1st through the 28th. All reviews must have a February 2010 date.

The goal is to read up to 5 different authors from the above list. There are 20 different authors, so finding three shouldn’t be too hard.

The idea is to try a new author (it is a New Author mini-challenge), however, if you’ve already read all 20 of them, you can still participant, but don’t re-read a novel. Try something new. Not only is this an excuse to try a certain group of authors, but it’s also a great chance to help promote them.

The prize list is pretty terrific so check it out.

So the news about a Firefly movie is not so good. But there is a new anthology of Firefly stories in the works. From WhedonInfo:

Joss Whedon’s beloved Firefly/Serenity is long gone, but you can’t stop the signal : Fans can look for more adventures of Capt. Mal Reynolds and the crew of the doughty ship in a series of short stories coming soon from Titan Books.

Writer/producer Jane Espenson—who wrote one episode of the Fox sci-fi series but is a longtime friend and colleague of Whedon’s going back to her days on Buffy the Vampire Slayer—told us that she will be writing one of the stories, centering on the characters of Kaylee and Wash (obviously set in a time period before the events of the movie Serenity).

"I’m writing a short story set in the Firefly universe that someone’s putting together," Espenson said in an interview on Sunday in Pasadena, Calif., where she was promoting her upcoming Syfy series Caprica. "Titan Books is putting together a collection written by various of the Firefly writers. But [it’s a] very short story, ... 2,000 words."

She added : "Oh, I just came up with a very clever little short story that involves Kaylee and Wash, two characters that we haven’t seen together that much."

Espenson’s Firefly episode was "Shindig," the fourth episode in the series, which deals with a society dance and a duel. It’s best loved by fans for Kaylee’s appearance in an over-the-top flouncy ruffled dress.

Espenson is an executive producer of Caprica, the Battlestar Galactica prequel series, which debuts on Syfy at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Jan. 22…

Speaking of which, did you catch Caprica? What do you think?

There was a very nice article about Neil Gaiman in the New Yorker. Here’s the link for you fans.

And in case you’re keeping track, Poe’s mystery visitor didn’t show this year:

January 19, 2010 9:23 PM EST
BALTIMORE (AP) — It is what Edgar Allan Poe might have called "a mystery all insoluble": Every year for the past six decades, a shadowy visitor would leave roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac on Poe's grave on the anniversary of the writer's birth. This year, no one showed.

Did the mysterious "Poe toaster" meet his own mortal end? Did some kind of ghastly misfortune befall him? Will he be heard from nevermore?

"I'm confused, befuddled," said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum. "I don't know what's going on.

For you writers out there, The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is on again. From the website:

The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is an international competition seeking fresh new writing voices. One of the great new aspects of the contest is that self-published novels are now eligible. There will also be two categories this year: Young Adult Fiction and General Fiction. One grand prize winner from each category will receive a full publishing contract with Penguin, including a $15,000 advance.

Contest submission period begins January 25th, 2010 at 12:01 a.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) and ends February 7th, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time), or when the first 5,000 entries have been received in each category, whichever is earlier. There is no entry fee.

Information and official rules can be found here.

And here's a local contest for you to check out: the Sandy sponsored by the Crested Butte Writers org.

2010 Sandy Final Judges

Romance - Megan McKeever, Editor, Pocket Books
Mainstream Adult Fiction - Christine Pride, Editor, Broadway / Random House
Suspense / Thriller / Mystery - Mark Tavani, Sr. Editor, Ballantine
Fantasy / Science Fiction - Ginger Clark, Literary Agent, Curtis Brown
Children's & YA - Julie Scheina, Assistant Editor, Little, Brown Books

Some tips from organizer Theresa Rizzo:
1) For putting your entry as an rtf document and other formatting
help, go to "Judging and Entry Tips"

2) Print out your genre's Score Sheets posted on the website and make
sure you've included everything.

3) Read the final judge Bios and interviews to see if they are looking
for a novel just like yours!

4) Take a look at The Sandy Honor Roll--we've got an impressive number
of past finalists who have gone on to get agents and sell to major
publishers--and adding to it all the time!

Entry Deadline & Fees:

•The basic entry fee is $25 for Crested Butte Writer members, fee for all others is $30.

•All entries must be received by midnight February 15, 2010. All entry forms must be signed and snail mailed (USPS) to: Theresa Rizzo P.O. Box 425 Niwot, CO 80544-0425. If living outside the USA, contact Theresa by email for alternative way to submit signed entry form. Any entries received after that date will be returned. Payments must be postmarked by Feb, 15th.

•Entry fees are nonrefundable.

•The Crested Butte Writers reserve the right to return all entries and fees if a minimum number of 8 entries for each category are not received. Entrants will be contacted and will have the option to place their entry in another category before entries are returned.

To finish up this week, a gratuitous video for your viewing pleasure:

PS If you've been waiting, here it is:

Sunday, January 24, 2010
  Czech this out!

Mario here:

Had my first foreign sale. Sold The Nymphos of Rocky Flats to the Czech Republic.  Can't wait to see the book.  How do you say nympho in Czech?

Here's a fresh update on the comic book deal.  IDW Publishing forwarded the Killing the Cobra ad for their upcoming catalog.  Issue #1 will be available with alternating covers, one by Alberto Dose and the other by Pintu.

I finally saw Avatar.  The last 3D movie I'd been to was The Ice Pirates where we wore dorky cardboard glasses to appreciate the very cheesy visual effects.  Thank goodness there was no smell-o-vision.  At least in Avatar we got better glasses and a better flick.

So what did I think of Avatar? It was sorta like a Smurf version of Dances With Wolves.  The forest with all the glowing vegetation reminded me of a 70s blacklight poster.  Not much nuance considering the story lasted almost three hours. 

I was impressed with the amazing CGI effects.  Here's hoping the upcoming John Carter of Mars movie will look as cool.

In case you wanted to look like an revenant bloodsucker but didn't know how, watch this video of makeup and fashion tips.  But for an authentic bloodshot-eyes look, my vampires recommend cheap whisky.

But it's not all glam for the thirsty undead.  This recession has been tough on everybody, including vampires.  So be generous.

Happy fanging.

Thursday, January 21, 2010
  Robert B. Parker

Photo credit: John Earle

Anyone who knows me or has taken any of my classes knows how I felt about Robert B. Parker. He was the master of story telling through dialogue. There was never an extraneous word in his prose—whether he was describing a new client, setting up an action sequence, or describing a rainy Boston afternoon. He was pitch perfect in his execution.

He died Monday at his home in Cambridge, Mass. At his desk. Working on a book. It was sudden, unexpected. The cause was a heart attack. He was 77.

I will miss him. I will continue to read and reread his more than 60 books because I think every serious writer should. If you’d like to learn more about him, follow these links. If you don’t, I’ll see you next week…

Sarah Weinman’s Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.

New York Times Obituary.
Monday, January 18, 2010
  Mystery Writers and Felix Gomez, comic book superhero
Mario here:

This weekend I was in NYC for the Mystery Writers of America board meeting. (I'm the local chapter president.) It was a time for serious work and socializing with a lot of great people.  Last Friday we started the party at a mass signing at the Partners and Crimes Mystery Booksellers in Greenwich Village.

From left to right, Lori Armstrong, Craig Johnson, and Jeff Shelby (spoiling yet another photo).

We spent Saturday in orientation and conducting official business, followed by
 dinner at Bobby Van's Steakhouse.  

Naturally we all took advantage of the open bar, and I helped myself to a parade of Sidecars.

Now for...


Even though I mentioned this in the latest Hollow Fang newsletter, I thought I'd share more details about the comic deal I got with IDW Publishing to do a spin-off comic book/graphic novel of my Felix Gomez vampire-detective series.  

IDW Publishing is based in San Diego and publishes titles that include Terminator, Star Trek, Angel, Lock & Key, Dr. Who, and G.I. Joe with writers such as Clive Barker and Joe Hill.

I've been contracted to write scripts that focus on an aside mentioned in my first novel The Nymphos of Rocky Flats.  Before Felix tangled with the US Department of Energy, he got caught in a rumble with the Han Cobras Chinese drug gang.  This comic book series is Killing the Cobra: Chinatown Trollop.  Issue #1, Deadly Shadows, should be available May 2010.

I've been teamed with a couple of outstanding artists, Pintu and Alberto Dose.

This is a color sketch of the cover, as rendered by Pintu.  Very dramatic and James Bond-ish.

I was curious to see how Alberto Dose would depict the scenes I described in the script.

The pages are first sent as pencil sketches and then black & white inked drawings.  The color, dialog, and captions will be added later.


PAGE 1: 

(the pencil sketch)

Panel One

Present day.  Dusk.  Horizontal view of a harbor with Chinese junks crowded together, basically a squalid floating ghetto.  The lights of Hong Kong blaze in the background.

Panel Two

Another horizontal view, emphasizing the masts, rigging, and electrical wires crisscrossed above the junks.  A blurry image of a man leaping--Spiderman style--in the gap between two of the masts.  Night is getting darker.

Panel Three

High-angle shot of an elderly Chinese woman squatting on the deck of a junk.  She’s surrounded by wash hanging on lines as she washes clothes in a bucket (remember, these people are poor).  She’s looking up, surprised.

Panel Four

Close up of the woman as she continues to look up at the masts.



Full panel. 

Upper left is a drawing of two cobras coiled around the globe.  (It's a beatdown of an undercover DEA agent)

The rest of the panel is the interior of a cabin inside one of the junks.  The view is a low-angle shot behind a man bound to a heavy wooden chair.  The man’s clothes are bloody and shredded and he’s slumped forward.  Two thugs face him.  A muscular brute has his shirt cuffs rolled back and looks like he’s been exerting himself.  Blood dots his shirt.  The other thug, skinny and rat-like, wearing a suit, leers at the man in the chair.  Two more thugs watch in the background.

And in Page 3, we at last see Felix Gomez (on his way to rescue the DEA agent).  Handsome guy, that Felix.


Stay tuned.  I'll post the drawings and a few of the final color pages as they progress.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010
  Seventh Inning Stretch
Okay, I’ll admit I had to stretch for something to write about today. I’ve got a couple of interesting things, like the first page of Jackie Kessler’s Tales of the Vampire—Carpe Noctem. From mtv.com:

Cool, huh?

Then the big reveal that got leaked:

It’s been a strange week to be Joss Whedon. While the writer, beloved amongst sci-fi fans for his personality-driven genre shows like "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly," was wrapping production on the series finale of his Fox show "Dollhouse," word hit the web, spoiling a major plot point in his long-running "Buffy Season 8" comic series published through Dark Horse.

I won’t say anymore than that. If you’re following the comic and you don’t want to know, don’t click here.

And Barnes & Noble is going to offer textbook rental to students.

From BusinessWire :

Students Can Rent Online And Have It Shipped Or Stop by Their Barnes & Noble Campus Store

Barnes & Noble College has made the program easy for students, enabling them to rent their textbooks from the comfort of their dorm or home simply by logging into their campus bookstore’s e-commerce site. They can also rent from their campus Barnes & Noble bookstore. This innovative rental program gives students the added flexibility of paying for their rentals using any form of tender, including campus debit cards and student financial aid…

Rentals are just the newest addition to the list of options Barnes & Noble College is offering students, including digital, loose leaf, custom, new, used, and unbundled textbooks. “We’ve always been about providing our students with convenient, cost-saving textbook options. We think our rental program does just that and has the additional benefit of providing an online solution,” said Roberts.

It’s about time.

But honestly, that’s about it. So to fill up some space, I thought I’d share some of my favorite pics of 2009. I don’t know if the blog will let me post so many pictures, but here goes nothing.

Here's the Legend:

1. David Boop
2. Warren Hammond
3. Ron Jessee
4. Mario & his sis, Sylvia
5. Writing space
6. Anna’s Home
7. DragonCon—Charlaine, Ron & Jeanne
8. Sons of Anarchy
9. Daughter of Anarchy
10. Derek Tatum
11. Sam Reeves
12. Critique Group
13. The Tot and Lady K
14. Spike
15. Jackie, Mark Henry and Nicole Peeler
16. Cover of Retribution

So, how are you coming with those NY's resolutions?

See you next week--

Sunday, January 10, 2010
  Fangs and gadgets for reading geeks
Mario here:

Jeanne complains about our Colorado winters but at least we don't have this Florida cold weather peril: falling iguanas.

It's been so frigid in the Sunshine State that the reptiles are raining from the trees. So far, no reports of anyone being clobbered on the head.

Old school bloodsuckers.
There's a new vampire flick out. Daybreakers, starring Ethan Hawke. No sparkly undead vegans in this movie.

Rotten Tomatoes gives it 63%. Fangs up or down?

I never saw these on Blade Runner.

There's a growing stampede for new eReaders as the publishing world stumbles into the future. Amazon leads the pack with their Kindle. Sony's somewhere in the middle with their eReader. I have no clue about the JetBook.

Here are rival eReaders that are close to being pushed into the market.

From Samsung. 6-inch $399 10-inch $699

The nifty looking Dual Book from enTourage. $490 A combined eReader and netbook.

Audiovox (RCA) Lexi reader. $230 Exclusively from BN.com

The Alex from Spring Design. $399 A six inch screen for reading text. Not limited to WiFi and compatible with most cellular phone networks.

DMC: Copia. Six different models from $199 to $299 Optimized for online social networking.

Last, the Skiff. Price ? WiFi and Sprint. The biggest screen of the eReaders at 11.5" It's not glass but bendable and thin. Just how bendable? Is it Jeanne proof?

Nothing yet from Apple.

I've played with the Kindle and Sony's eReader but I haven't read a book on any device that wasn't made of paper. No batteries. Not exactly bendable but you can sit on a traditional book and not damage any hardware.

Cover art sells a lot of books. How will eReaders affect this? And what about a home library? A Kindle is not as impressive as a shelf full of books.

Any comments?

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