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, February 28, 2010
  Undead Thrills for you
Mario here,

This week, the Biting Edge gives you plenty of opportunities to get your urban fantasy freak on. 

First, over at the League of Reluctant Adults, Nicole Peeler feeds the YA buzz with authors Courtney Allison Moulton and Victoria Schwab.  

Mark Henry will slice into your funny bone with razor-sharp filthy snark in his newest offering, Battle of the Network Zombies.  Publishers Weekly says the book is: "Clever, fast-paced, and so delightfully trashy that it should have been written on Hefty bags..."  Tell me that ain't a great line.

The brainy fashionista Cherie Priest tears it up with Boneshaker, which was nominated for a Nebula for Best Novel! (And competing against The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi.  Who to root for?)

Jackie Kessler gives a sneak at her Buffy story in Dark Horse Comics.

Moving on.  There's Seth Grahame-Smith, a.k.a. the luckiest freelancer in the world, with his newest offering: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Grahame-Smith wows us with prose such as when the bad guys flash into vampire mode, zero to sixty: "His eyes turned black in the space of a single blink, as if the inkwells in his pupils had suddenly shattered..."  

If you're ready to share your literary fix, Electric Spec is always looking for shocking good short works of science fiction, fantasy, and the macabre.

We're in the short count for the unleashing of Felix Gomex book #5.  Next week, March 7, at 3PM, I'll have the first signing for Werewolf Smackdown.   See you at the Broadway Book Mall, 200 S Broadway, Denver. 

And finally, a preview to my comic venture with IDW Publishing.  Check out my interview with editor Chris Ryall.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010
  Support A Starving Writer (Or Four)

The Argyle Sweater Cartoon by Scott Hilburn
Denver Post 2/20/10

Feb. 23 was a big day for four of our good friends over at the League Of Reluctant Adults. It was Release Day!! Here’s the list:

Blood of the Demon – Diana Rowland

Dead Matter - Anton Strout

Demon Possessed – Stacia Kane

Battle of the Network Zombies – Mark Henry

All four will satisfy your cravings for a good read and in the process, you’ll bask in the warmth that comes from knowing your support saved another writer from standing on a street corner with a sign “Will Write For Food.”

Remember, we’re all just one book sale away from unemployment.

It’s back again:

From Shelf Awareness: J.K. Rowling's name has been added to a lawsuit that alleges she stole ideas for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire from a 1987 book, The Adventures of Willy the Wizard--No. 1 Livid Land by the late Adrian Jacobs. The Associated Press reported that Jacobs's estate "also claims that many other ideas from Willy the Wizard were copied into the Harry Potter books." 

Although the lawsuit was filed last June against Bloomsbury Publishing, Rowling's name was added more recently when it was discovered that "the statute of limitations to sue her had not run out, as previously thought," the AP wrote.

Rowling’s Reply:

"I am saddened that yet another claim has been made that I have taken material from another source to write Harry," said Rowling. "The fact is I had never heard of the author or the book before the first accusation by those connected to the author's estate in 2004; I have certainly never read the book. The claims that are made are not only unfounded but absurd."

From Abe Books:

Be careful what you use as a bookmark. Thousands of dollars, a Christmas card signed by Frank Baum, a Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card, a marriage certificate from 1879, a baby’s tooth, a diamond ring and a handwritten poem by Irish writer Katharine Tynan Hickson are just some of the stranger objects discovered inside books by AbeBooks.com booksellers.

Lots of story ideas here! The creepiest one is from Sandra at Nan’s Book Shop in Ill.

“Inside an old children's book, I found a green card; on one side was written in a child's print: “I love you, do you love me?” The answer was written on the reverse: “ I hate you and nobody loves me.” There were several additional cards saying "Nobody loves me."

Anyone seen Wolfman yet? What’d you think?

The finalists have been named:

Worm Hunters, Nazi spoons vie for odd-book prize

LONDON – Worm hunters, lethal robots and Nazi spoons are in the running for Britain's quirkiest literary award, the Diagram Prize for year's oddest book title.

The six finalists are "Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter;" "Collectible Spoons of the Third Reich;" "Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots;" "The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease"; "Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes;" and "What Kind of Bean is This Chihuahua?"

The shortlist, announced Friday, was narrowed down from 90 entries, including "The Origin of Feces" and "Bacon: A Love Story."

The Diagram Prize was founded in 1978 and is run by trade magazine The Bookseller. The winner, decided by public vote, will be announced March 26.

Previous champions include "Bombproof Your Horse" and "Living With Crazy Buttocks."

Gotta love those titles!!

Still more remakes:

From the Hollywood Reporter

Benedict Cumberbatch (Holmes) Martin Freeman (Watson) Rufus Sewall (Aurelio Zen)

BBC Worldwide and PBS' Masterpiece Theatre will co-produce a remake of "Upstairs
Downstairs," as well as new series based on Sherlock Holmes and Aurelio Zen novels.

The announcement takes a page from the big broadcast network playbook, giving PBS a trio of popular titles, with two that tap into the crime procedural genre.

"Sherlock" will present a 21st century spin on the classic detective stories and stars Benedict Cumberbatch ("Atonement,") as Holmes and Martin Freeman (U.K.'s "The Office," "Hot Fuzz") as Dr. Watson.

"Upstairs Downstairs" will air in 2011 and be set in the same house as the original in 1936, during the period leading up to World War II. "Upstairs Downstairs" won seven Emmys during its run on "Masterpiece Theatre" in the 1970s.

And finally, Rufus Sewell ("The Eleventh Hour") will star as Italian detective Aurelio Zen in three episodes based on the mystery novel by Michael Dibden. The series is being shot in Italy.

"I'm so proud of this particular group of programs," says "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton. "These three series say everything about what 'Masterpiece' aims to be: iconic, rich with wonderful actors, witty, literate and timeless. I can't wait to see them all."

"Upstairs Downstairs" is a BBC/Masterpiece co-production; "Sherlock" is a Hartswood Films and Masterpiece co-production; "Aurelio Zen" is produced by Left Bank Pictures for the BBC in association with RTI (Mediaset Group), Masterpiece and ZDF.

Caption for pic: Benedict Cumberbatch (Holmes) Martin Freeman (Watson) Rufus Sewall (Aurelio Zen)

For you writers—a couple of contest you might want to check out:

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers

Writer’s Digest Annual Contest

A market newsletter with lots of good info: Cindi Myers Market News

And if you follow these things: 2009 LA Times Book Prize Finalists

PS Mario asked me to remind our fellow Denverites that he will be appearing at:

Schlessman Library
2PM February 27, 2010
100 Poplar St
Denver, CO
Sunday, February 21, 2010
  Protect your family and country!

Mario here:

I have terrifying news, the truth behind the Undead Threat to America.

But first,

Eric Matelski, painter, impresario, art pimp, and social devil has a new title to add to his resume:  MASTERMIND...really.  He was given the much-deserved award by Westword for his tireless pursuit of his art and the selfless efforts he's done promoting other artists (hence the art pimp).

Also, this last Saturday, debut authors Shannon Baker (L) Ashes of the Red Heifer, and Janet Fogg (R) Soliloquy joined Carol Berg Spirit Lens for their Denver signing at the Broadway Book Mall.  Afterwards, we scarfed...ahem, rather politely helped ourselves to the delicious food at the post-signing party at Mona's up the street.

Janet has produced this beautiful book trailer for her novel.

We here at Biting-Edge encourage the weird and quirky and what lacked from our programming was a Miss Klingon contest.  Well, we upped the gain on our pop culture radar and found this line-up of alien cuties from last year's Dragon*Con:

More news on the book front and BSP.

The reviews for Werewolf Smackdown are trickling in:

4 1/2 Stars! Romantic Times
"...perfect vacation read." Publishers Weekly
"...an excellent adventure..." Fresh Fiction
And this rather nice write-up at Bookgasm.com

And now, starring the MASTERMIND himself...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
  (Insert Clever Title Here)
Because I don't have one...

Love the WWI vintage poster:

Lots of ground to cover today but first, I made a mistake last week. Hard to believe, I know, but alas, true. I gave the old address for Who Else! Books. Saturday’s signing for Shannon Baker and friends will be held at 200 So. Broadway, Denver, 80203, telephone number 303-744-2665. The shop is located at the corner of Broadway and Cedar. The signing is at 3 PM—at least I got that right.

From Shelf Awareness:

HBO has picked up Mildred Pierce, a five-hour miniseries based on James M. Cain's classic noir novel. The project, starring Kate Winslet and directed by Todd Haynes, was adapted by Haynes and Jon Raymond. "Casting for the other roles is under way, with production on the mini slated to begin in April in New York," the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

I don’t know about this. Kate Winslet?

Joan Crawford won an Oscar for her performance in the title role. Watch the original movie trailer and you decide which actress fits the bill.

On to the movies:

Alexandre Dumas's The Three Musketeers will be getting "the Sherlock Holmes treatment," Variety reported, noting that producer Lionel Wigram, "the creative force behind helmer Guy Ritchie's take on Arthur Conan Doyle's sleuth, has tapped screenwriter Peter Straughan (The Men Who Stare at Goats) to update Dumas's swashbuckling tale to appeal to young, contemporary auds."

With a Holmes sequel already underway, Wigram envisions "similar franchise potential in The Three Musketeers," according to Variety.

Hmmm.. I have to admit I haven’t seen SH yet. Since he’s one of my favorite sleuths and he’s gotten since wonderful movie treatment from others (The Seven Percent Solution, Murder by Decree and the splendiferous Young Sherlock to name just three) the idea of a broad farcical adaptation turns my blood cold.

There does seem to be a trend toward remakes. I saw a trailer for the new Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe. I don’t know…he looks like he’s been rode hard and put up wet.

And another Clash of the Titans is in the works.

Followed by: Frankenstein Rises Again

From Variety:

Ralph Winter and Terry Botwick are developing a 21st century Frankenstein, acquiring feature rights to Dean Koontz's "Frankenstein" through their 1019 Entertainment banner.

Project places the doctor -- a socially prominent and successful businessman -- and his super-human original creation Deucalion in modern-day New Orleans. Winter and Botwick are aiming to launch a franchise. "These books have enough twists and turns to keep the public coming back to the theaters for many years to come," the duo said.

Which brings me to Avatar—okay, went, saw it in 3-D was majorly underwhelmed. Too much hype, I guess. I was expecting more. I figure I’m probably in the minority here so you fans can let me have it. And be happy because according to producer Jon Landau, James Cameron is on board to pen an 'Avatar' prequel novel.

Speaking of novels, George RR Martin’s new book, the fifth volume in the Song and Fire series is 1261 pages and still not finished. He sent his fans an email telling them, in so many words, not to get their panties in a bunch. It'll be done when it's done.

Okay, this is the handiest guide to genre distinctions I’ve ever read. Kudos to Jay Lake.

Genre: Distinguishing Characteristics

General Fiction: Nothing to explain

Literary Fiction: If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand it anyway

Mystery: Explain what happened

Thriller/Technothriller: Explain how it happened

Romance: Explain who it happened to

Western: Explain what lily-livered varmint gone and done it

Horror: Explain what’s about to happen

Science Fiction: Explain everything in technical detail

Fantasy: Explain everything in nonsensical detail

Magical Realism: Explain nothing

Surrealism: Go fishing for ice cream

(Permission is granted for redistribution or reproduction under a noncommercial Creative Commons license. © 2003, 2010 Joseph E. Lake, Jr., writing as "Jay Lake")

Another writing legend passes on:

From Shelf Awareness: Dick Francis, author of more than 40 novels set primarily in the world of thoroughbred racing, died Sunday. He was 89. His Los Angeles Times obituary noted that Francis "made it a point of honor to satisfy fans with one book a year for most of his career.... A modest and reserved man, Mr. Francis took quiet pleasure in his success as an author."

And for a little BSP:

The official announcement of Mario’s graphic novel:

Mario Acevedo's KILLING THE COBRA, a new five-part comic book series featuring a vampire private detective, to IDW, by Scott Hoffman at Folio Literary Management (world). Film/TV: Julie Kane-Ritsch at the Gotham Group

And the not so official announcement that Anna will soon be coming to a Turkish bookstore near you. Turkish rights were sold for the Anna Strong Chronicles.

Now for a spur of the moment contest: A copy of A Girl's Guide to Guns and Monsters to the reader who can identify The Black Dragon.... GO!!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010
  Hearts to you. And Alec Baldwin's big hairy belly.
Mario here,

Happy Valentine's Day.  A topic circulating this week among the League of Reluctant Adults was book covers that deserved to be remaindered.  One of the Leaguers, the fashionable and demure Dakota Cassidy, offered one of her own and well, the agreement was near unanimous.  

We're not sure what intent the cover was meant to project.  One opinion was that the woman in question really enjoyed pap smears to cure her headache.  The literary theme may have been the adventures of a shirtless gynecologist.

It's easy to pick on bad covers for romance books and Booksquare.com comes to their defense.

And if you have any examples of bad book covers, in any genre, please share.

Having dimmed your expectations of romance and beefcake, Biting-Edge turns the heat back up with this awesome example of manly macho manliness.  

I saw It's Complicated.  Recommend you at least put it in your Netflix queue.  Meryl Streep proves her comic chops, again.  Steve Martin gives a surprisingly subdued performance where his character shows a bit of spine.  Alec Baldwin practically steals the movie with his oily charm.  Had his nude scenes been in 3D, they would've rivaled anything in Avatar.  And John Krasinski adds a bit of loopiness that in earlier movies had belonged to Steve Martin.

Middle-aged folks searching for love makes for fine drama but what really gets the corporate juices going here at Biting-Edge is a first rate Japanese gore fest like Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl.   View the trailer HERE.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010
  Valentines and The Year of the TIger
Another of those slow news weeks. Lost is back (want to bet who Sayid has become?)and I like that. I’m working on book seven which now has the working title Crossroads (thanks critique group) and the edits for Chosen are in the bag.

One other little bit of trivia: All five books in the Anna Strong series are available today at Audible books. The narrator is Dina Pearlman. If you’d like a sample, click here.

You can’t make this stuff up. Seems there’s a prize for everything. The Bookseller magazine has announced the longest ever longlist for its annual Diagram prize for the oddest book title of the year. A few examples: Bondage for Beginners, the Origin of Faeces (which is the British word for yes—you guessed it—feces), and my personal favorite, Father Christmas Needs a Wee. Click here for more.

Another friend with a debut book—Shannon Baker and Ashes of the Red Heifer. If you are in the Denver area, she will be at Who Else Books on Feb 20. The address is 200 So. Broadway, Denver, CO 80203, 303-744-2665. Time for the signing will be 3 PM. Carol Berg and Janet Fogg will also be signing. Let’s turn out and make Shannon’s first signing one to remember.

So what are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Which happens to coincide with the Chinese New Year. Year 4708. Which happens to be more interesting to me than wine and roses and chocolate—well, maybe not more interesting than chocolate. But close. Anyway, regardless of what you’re celebrating, any plans?
Sunday, February 07, 2010
  The Little Man of Gold, Kat Richardson, and Commerce City

Mario here:

It's time for the Oscars!  For best pic we have:

A Serious Man
An Education
District 9
Inglorious Basterds
The Blind Side
The Hurt Locker
Up in the Air

While I thought the Avatar story had holes big enough for a starship, it was entertaining and
 that's what movies are all about.  The Hurt Locker is getting lots of good press but I'm sure the vote is going for the big blue people.  My choice is Inglorious Basterds which I loved for its noir-ish elements and intriguing plot.  Sadly though, not one zombie or vampire flick got nominated (But Avatar and District 9 do have aliens).  At least I hope that Christoph Waltz gets the nod as Best Supporting Actor for his role as the self-effacing yet creepy Nazi Colonel Hans Landa. 

Any faves for your Oscar picks?

A really cool thing about being a professional writer is that you get to meet so many great people.  High on my list is that brainy and mysterious lady from Seattle, Kat Richardson.  Here she is doing what she does best (besides scribbling awesome dark prose)...molesting lesser life forms like this cute little goat! I lifted the incriminating pics from Astres Live Journal. PETA will hear about this.

I also get asked about books I'm reading.  Here's my current list for Mind Meld over at SF Signal.

This Tuesday I'll be at the Lakewood Library to talk to their Book Group about my first novel, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats. Drop by to say hello.  I think there will be free cookies.

Colorado is a vacation playground.  Denver, as the largest city in the state, gets a lot of press which unfortunately overlooks the local suburbs.  One jewel among these treasures is that mecca of business and trade and the great American way of life, Commerce City.  But don't take my word for it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010
  February—month of roses and romance and love.
Did I just say that?

Monday Mario mentioned our friend Lori Armstrong coming to town for a signing. Our critique group turned out en masse. We had dinner beforehand with Lori and her charming husband, Erin. Erin’s in the gun business so even Mario behaved. Lori’s new book, No Mercy, is out now. Check it out. I know I’m looking forward to it.

And speaking of new releases—February is a banner month for the League of Reluctant Adults. Besides Mark Henry’s Battle of the Network Zombies and Anton Strout’s Dead Matter, we have three others for your consideration!

Diana Rowland’s Blood of the Demon- Feb. 23

Stacia Kane’s Demon Possessed

Dakota Cassidy’s Accidentally Demonic

All are available at Amazon or your favorite brick and mortar store.

For a complete list of February releases, click over to SciFiGuy...he's got everything, including the anthology I'm in, A Girl's Guide to Guns and Monsters (hint-hint).

Also, click here to read Jackie Kessler's first installment in Dark Horse's Tales of the Vampire.

Now onto the publication controversy of the week: Amazon vs. Macmillan.

Most of you know by now that Amazon pulled all the buy buttons from Macmillan’s inventory over an ebook pricing. The stand off lasted about two days before Amazon capitulated. Here’s the summary from Shelf Awareness:

The announcement came in classic Amazon style: via a letter to customers posted on its Kindle Community page. Amazon said that "ultimately" it had to capitulate "because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles," forcing Amazon to sell its titles "even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books." Amazon concluded, "We don't believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan" and called it likely that "many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative."

"Ultimately" may be a key word in the statement. As of this morning, the famous "buy button" had not been restored for any Macmillan titles Shelf Awareness checked. This also explains Macmillan CEO John Sargent's cautious statement last night made on Publishers Lunch: "We are in discussions with Amazon on how best to resolve our differences. They are now, have been, and I suspect always will be one of our most valued customers."

Remember Catcher in the Rye?

JD Salinger dead at 91

From the NYT obit:

Mr. Salinger’s literary reputation rests on a slender but enormously influential body of published work: the novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” the collection “Nine Stories” and two compilations, each with two long stories about the fictional Glass family: “Franny and Zooey” and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction.”

(Catcher’s) allure persists to this day, even if some of Holden’s preoccupations now seem a bit dated, and it continues to sell more than 250,000 copies a year in paperback. Mark David Chapman who killed John Lennon 1980, even said the explanation for his act could be found in the pages of “The Catcher in the Rye.”

From Shelf Awareness & Wrap:

New Line's attempt to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit to the big screen has run into trouble again. The Wrap reported that the movie, "which had been slated to premiere in December 2011, won't hit theaters until the end of 2012 at the earliest. The two-part prequel to New Line’s mega-successful Lord of the Rings franchise has Peter Jackson signed on to produce and Guillermo del Toro enlisted to direct."

While previous delays were due to "haggling between author J.R.R. Tolkien's estate and New Line over Lord of the Rings profits," the latest glitch involves financing, the Wrap added.

From the who would have thunk it file:

Air Force Academy Gives Pagans, Druids and Wiccans Place to Worship

DENVER The Air Force Academy has set aside an outdoor worship area for Pagans, Wiccans, Druids and other Earth-centered believers, school officials said Monday.

A double circle of stones atop a hill on the campus near Colorado Springs has been designated for the group, which previously met indoors…

Lt. Col. William Ziegler, one of the academy's chaplains, said designating the space is part of theschool's effort to foster religious tolerance and to defend the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.

"It's about our commitment as airmen to protect freedom and defend freedom. To me this is a freedom thing," he said.

Full article from The Huffington Post here .

Before you get to the fun stuff, two videos that I hope will make you laugh, a reminder about a couple of contests still going on.

League challenge still going on over at Literary Escapism.

RomCon FF& P forum featuring moi today. Leave a comment for a chance at MORE prizes, including a paid up registration to the conference in July right here in Denver.

(The site is up--hopefully for the rest of the day--if you want to play, go on now)

Founding of Barnes & Noble--how it might have been:

Disclaimer about the dangers of reading from Unbridled Books:

Unbridled Books P.S.A. from Unbridled Books on Vimeo.

PS To you newletter subscribers-- sorry about the glitch with the border. My terrific webmaster Jay called me last night and said he was reissuing it without the hearts...that's what I get for trying to be clever. Thank you, Tez, for bringing it to our attention. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, walk on over to the website and subscribe. NOW.

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