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!
I barely survived this year's Bubonicon (yes, named after the bubonic plague, and the mascot is Perry the Rat). Con number 42. The first one was held in 1969. Where were you then?
Unfortunately for us, the hotel was undergoing renovation, which meant the restaurant and the bar were closed. Horrors! But the local contingent of Trekkies sailed to our rescue. Details further on down.
The Guest of Honor was Peter David (left), comic book guru (Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk) and grand poopah of geeky popular culture (screenwriter for Babylon 5; Star Trek novel author). Here David is speaking with science fiction legend Ben Bova.
Jeanne decided to show her appreciation for Bova's work by giving him a lap dance.
Other luminaries included the acclaimed fantasy author Daniel Abraham.
While we had plenty of exciting panels, the main action was on the second floor of the hotel. Thanks to the NCC-62001 Anasazi, and crew member Phillip Dillard, we had enough booze to survive any Romulan siege. Jeanne kept herself well fueled with Cape Codders for those lap dances.
I'm looking forward to this weekend--spending time with Mario even. Since I've spent the last two days sending out postcards announcing the release of Chosen, I need some R & R. And we know Mario is always good for a laugh.
Speaking of R & R, a trailer for Season Two of Vampire Diaries. I've been watching this on reruns this summer and I do like it.
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Ever wondered who makes the most money in this crazy business? Forbes tells us. Here are the top ten:
James Patterson ($70 million) Stephenie Meyer ($40 million) Stephen King ($34 million) Danielle Steel ($32 million) Ken Follett ($20 million) Dean Koontz ($18 million) Janet Evanovich ($16 million) John Grisham ($15 million) Nicholas Sparks ($14 million) JK Rowling ($10 million)
No real surprises.
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Got this from Shelf Awareness-- I love it.
Medieval DRM? An antiquated anti-shoplifting device?
The blog Got Medieval noted that during the Middle Ages, "book owners were so worried about theft and damage to their property that they often included what is known as a 'book curse' on the inside cover or on the last leaf of their manuscripts, warning away anyone who might do the book some harm."
One example: "Should anyone by craft of any device whatever abstract this book from this place may his soul suffer, in retribution for what he has done, and may his name be erased from the book of the living and not recorded among the Blessed."
Think we could come up with something for e-pirates???
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New York Times Bestselling YA author Ellen Hopkins has been in the middle of a storm of controversy over being “uninvited” to the Humble Independent School District’s 2011 Teen Lit Fest. Seems there was a faction that found her books “unsuitable”. It’s a story that’s been circulating for the last week and now, after one author after another pulled out in protest, the entire festival has been canceled. For a recap, go to the Humble Observer article here .
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Next stop on the blog tour: Book Lovers Interview here . Prizes and a chance to learn the truth about me and dogs...no animals were hurt in the making of this interview.
Thanks to Margie Lawson for featuring Chosen in her newsletter this month. If you'd like a sneak peak, go here . She includes teasers!!!
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Something to lighten the mood--a South African airline with a sense of humor.
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We will finish with a bit of celebrity gossip-- Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer tied the knot!! I'm waiting to hear if Charlaine went to the wedding...come on, spill. Celebrity Gossip has some grainy pic is you're curious here .
This pic from ComicCon is a bit more tasteful than the Rolling Stone cover!
Not as Lucky as Mario...
But there was lots of news floating around this week. I’m not even going to touch the Barnes and Noble debacle. You’re all probably sick of it by now. B & N is supposed to be going into a new local shopping mall at Southglenn but I think that project is on hold.
Writer’s Digest is hosting their popular short story competition. There are five categories:
Some word from the Jossverse. The Avengers movie, which Joss is directing, starts shooting in February. Based on the Action Comic Book, it chronicles the formation of the super superhero team the Avengers, consisting of Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Ironman and others. Stars already on board are Robert Downey Jr.., Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson. More here .
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How good are you at identifying famous books by their covers? Try your skill here .
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How many of you have discovered the BBC series Being Human? I just did and I love it!! Seems the set is haunted. From The Mirror: BAFTA-nominated supernatural drama Being Human has been thrown into chaos, after real life ghosts started haunting the set.
Cast and crew are scared silly after a cup inexplicably leapt off the table just before cameras started to roll, smashing into a monitor. The incident was seen by at least 30 team members working on set at the BBC Three hit show.
Being Human revolves around a flat sharing vampire, werewolf and ghost from Bristol and has won dozens of awards.
But assistant director Mike Gallivan said since moving the set to a converted bus depot in Wales, real ghosts were now trying to get in on the action on screen
"We've been shooting here for four weeks and already we have seen three ghosts on shot," he said.
Although the Swedish version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is out and has received critical acclaim, an English language remake is in the works. From USA Today:
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Newcomer Rooney Mara has landed one of the most-coveted roles in Hollywood, co-starring alongside James Bond star Daniel Craig in the English-language remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Sony Pictures announced Monday that Mara, 25, will play Lisbeth Salander, a fearless genius tormented by a terrible childhood, in the crime thriller based on the first book in Stieg Larsson’s best-selling series.
Craig is portrating journalist Mikael Blomkvist, who teams up with Lisbeth to delve into a string of decades-old murders.
Dragon Tattoo is directed by David Fincher, who cast Mara in The Social Network, a drama about the founders of Facebook due in theaters Oct. 1…
Dragon Tattoo begins shooting next month in Sweden and is due out Dec. 21, 2011.
I’ve got the original on my Netflix queue. They say I have a “long wait” but hopefully I’ll get it before this one comes out.
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Entertainment Weekly showcased nine photos from Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, which is scheduled for a November 19 release. See the complete galley here .
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Next something I'm not sure how I feel about. What do you think of this Rolling Stone Cover?
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Okay friends, ten days and counting until the release of Chosen. Am I nervous? Scared? Full of dread? You bet. Only YOU can make it better... no pressure though. None.
But first, can a Sunday morning get any better than zombies at the coffee shop? These undead beauties from the Denver Roller Dolls were on their way to a publicity shoot and obliged me a photo before they tried to eat my brains.
We'll start with Ernest Hogan, the most unknown Chicano author. Hogan was "discovered" by acclaimed science-fiction author Ben Bova and started out with his cultural mosaic futuristic novel that mishmashes border Spanish with Nahautl in Cortez on Jupiter. Follow his tribulations in literary obscurity on La Bloga, interviews Part 1 and Part 2.
Who got lucky?
I got lucky...
this weekend when I met Deborah Coonts, author of Wanna Get Lucky, her debut novel. Coonts is getting scorching hot reviews about the Las Vegas adventures of Lucky O'Toole, the snarky head of customer relations of the Babylon hotel. Somebody falls to death from a helicopter into the pirate's lagoon at Treasure Island, kick-starting the action that shoves Lucky into characters from a swingers convention, an Adult Film Industry award's banquet, and a brothel, of which her mother is the madame. Naturally. And her best friend is a female impersonator, who decides that (s)he wants to be more than chums with Lucky. A host of handsome studs put Lucky's libido in overdrive and her judgement in reverse. Lucky doesn't feel too lucky but you will reading this story.
Beth Groundwater (left) and Deborah Coonts at the Rocky Mountain chapter of the Mystery Writers of America summer pot luck.
Groundwater was nominated for an Agatha Award for her debut novel, A Real Basket Case, followed that with: To Hell in a Handbasket; a sci-fi novella, The Epsilon Eridani Alternative; and is set to release the first of her Rocky Mountain Adventures series, Deadly Currents, in March 2011. She proves that luck is often disguised as hard work.
The luck continued at breakfast with NYT bestselling Richelle Mead and her hubby Jay, in Denver on family business. Here she is with our own Jeanne Stein, still astounded by my amazing parking skills.
Terry Odell shares the luck, and the love, in her newest romance Nowhere to Hide.
Writing is a crazy business. It's fraught with anxiety and self-doubt and stomach-turning worry about how your new book will be accepted. Sales-figures turn your hair gray. Reviews (or lack of them) turn you into a raving lunatic. Your family and friends learn to tiptoe around you in the weeks before a release.
Then you have an evening like last night.
Good friend Pat Andreatta hooked me up with aspiring writer Rhonda Skallan. The three of us met for drinks and conversation at YaYa's-- a great place in Greenwood Village. For three and a half hours, we talked about writing. Rhonda's enthusiasm and determination to follow a dream reminded me how I felt when I was starting out. She reminded me of how wonderful it was to have achieved (even modestly) what I set out to do when I took those first steps on the path to becoming a published author. She reminded me of the passion.
I want to thank Pat and Rhonda for something I'd almost forgotten in the furious flurry of activity before a new release--I love what I'm doing. If Chosen turns out to be the last book I ever write, I DID it. My books are out there in the world. I'm very lucky.
And that brings me to another writer pal whose book was just released. Kat Richardson's Labyrinth, Book Five in the acclaimed Greywalker series, is available now on Amazon or at your favorite book store. Check it out.
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On to other stuff.
Main book news this week was Dorchester's decision to go all digital. Here;s a good summary from Publisher's Weekly:
Dorchester: Digital, or Desperate?
Dorchester Publishing has switched to subsistence mode, though they have tried to sprinkle some digital fairy dust over the move. The mass market publisher has struggled for some time, now. At the beginning of the year they sold both frontlist and backlist titles from many of their top authors to Avon--an imprint of their distributor, HarperCollins. Earlier this summer, the Romance Writers of America reportedly cancelled Dorchester's participation in their annual conference because the company was "past due in fulfilling contractual obligations to some of their authors." And company president John Prebich confirmed to the media last Friday that their retail sales fell 25 percent in 2009 (before they sold off top properties.)
So the company is giving up on functioning as a traditional print publisher. In a last-ditch effort to subsist, they will now issue all titles to the trade as ebooks only. Dorchester has laid off their sales force of seven people, and will work with Ingram Publisher Services to distribute POD versions of some titles. Romance titles have been successful for years in ebook form, so the company may find some strength there. But for now this a story about a genre mass-market publisher retreating rather than a bold digital initiative.
Hard Case Crime owner Charles Ardai tells the WSJ he may move his imprint's distribution as a result, which makes sense. "It's been a good run, but if they aren't publishing mass market paperbacks, we'll have to decide what to do."
Delacorte Books announces its 29th Annual Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel. First prize is a book contract with $1,500 cash and $7,500 advance against royalties. You’re eligible to enter if you haven’t previously published a book-length work or young adult fiction. Enter the complete manuscript of a contemporary novel suitable for readers aged 12 to 18. Manuscripts should be between 100 and 224 typewritten pages. Entries must be postmarked after October 1 but before December 31, 2010. Find all the rules here .
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Ever heard of motion comics? I hadn't. Here's a definition I found:
Motion comics look like traditional comic books, but incorporate voice acting and a musical score. And only certain elements of the “page” are animated: a zoom-in, a pan, someone raising their arms.
And an example from Angel: After the Fall:
New trend? What do you think? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
You'd think that with all the free time we writers have--breakfast in bed, three martini lunches, afternoons at the spa, working on our tans, evening cocktails, the occasional public brawl--we'd have plenty of time to read. Especially during the summer. But no. We have to carve our spare minutes out of the clock. Each of us has a TBR stack tall enough to kill if it toppled over at the wrong moment.
This last month I played a little hooky from my deadlines to attack that pile. I finished two classics and a new book. I was familiar with the first two stories through their movie versions though in both cases, the books were much richer.
Like most readers, I've seen at least a couple of the many film adaptations of this story. For some reason, people think Beau Geste is the fort (Actually Fort Zinderneuf), when it's the name of the protagonist, Michael Geste, an orphaned English boy who grows up to serve in the French Foreign Legion. He's enlisted because of reasons to save his aunt's honor as their family's finances deteriorate. Unlike the movies, the book doesn't romanticize service in the legion and author Percival Christopher Wren details a legionnaires' miserable existence in the African desert--constant headaches, thirst, madness caused by the heat, and the terror of ambushes and seiges. The story is intricate and meaty with an intriguing, satisfying ending though the language is somewhat dated. For example, instead of "said" Wren often uses "ejaculated."
Breakfast at Tiffany's
I decided to read the book and enjoyed it as much as I have the movie with Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. On film, much of the story's contemporary texture has been smoothed over, eliminating references to marijuana, cocaine, pornography, homosexuality, and interracial sex. Truman Capote's elegant prose is deceptively breezy as shown in this example when he introduces Holly:
"She was still on the stairs, now she reached the landing, and the ragbag colors of her boy's hair, tawny streaks, strands of albino-blond and yellow, caught the hall light. It was a warm evening, nearly summer, and she wore a slim cool black dress, black sandals, and a pearl choker. For all her chic thinness, she had an almost breakfast-cereal air of health, a soap and lemon cleanness, a rough pink darkening in the cheeks."
The book is sixty years old and yet Holly Golightly can still out-sass anyone else you'll find in literature. Here Holly gives counsel to Mag Wildwood:
"Well. Does he bite?"
Mag dropped a stitch. "Bite?"
"You. In bed."
"Why, no. Should he?" Then she added, censoriously: "But he does laugh."
"Good. That's the right spirit. I like a man who sees the humor; most of them, they're all pant and puff."
Mag withdrew her complaint; she accepted the comment as flattery reflecting on herself. "Yes. I suppose."
"Okay. He doesn't bite. He laughs. What else?"
Mag counted up her dropped stitch and began again, knit, purl, purl.
"I heard you. And it isn't that I don't want to tell you. But it's difficult to remember. I don't d-d-dwell on these things. The way you seem to. They go out of my head like a dream. I'm sure that's the normal attitude."
"It may be normal, darling; but I'd rather be natural." Holly paused in the process of reddening the rest of the cat's whiskers. "Listen. If you can't remember, try leaving the lights on."
"Please understand me, Holly. I'm a very-very-very conventional person."
"Oh balls. What's wrong with a decent look at the guy you like? Men are beautiful, a lot of them are, José is, and if you don't even want to look at him, well, I'd say he's getting a pretty cold plate of macaroni."
A Bad Day for Pretty
Though not yet on the big screen, Sophie Littlefield's book holds its own with the two previous titles. A Bad Day for Pretty is the sequel for Littlefield's award-winning debut, A Bad Day For Sorry, which introduced us to Stella Hardesty, a middled-aged widow who goes on a vigilante mission to punish men for abusing women.
The unique premise is made even more engaging by Littlefield's narrative voice that braids humor, empathy, and pathos in a demolition-derby of action and violence. Here's a sample that illustrates her animated writing style when describing the havoc wrecked by a tornado:
"The other set of bleachers hadn't disappeared, but it looked as though the twister had yanked it out of the ground, crunched it up in its twirling jaws, decided it didn't care for the taste of aluminum, and rudely spit it back out."
Littlefield gives substantial dimension to her characters. The protagonist Hardesty is more than a woman seeking revenge but a complex individual who buttresses her friends while she yearns for romance with Sheriff "Goat" Jones.
And this just in from Publishers Lunch:
"Sophie Littlefield's next two untitled paranormal young adult novels, following her zombie novels BANISHED and UNFORSAKEN, to Stephanie Elliott at Delacorte, in a two-book deal, by Barbara Poelle at Irene Goodman Agency (NA). Foreign: Baror International"
Genius, the movie
We're soon going to see Sean Penn's interpretation of that giant of American literature, Maxwell Perkins, editor to icons such as Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe. It'll be interesting to see the drama played out in a story that doesn't involve monsters, gun fights, and CGI.
This last weekend I spoke at the Rocky Mountain Book Fair on the panel: From Stoker to Stephanie: Evolution of the Literary Vampire. I raffled an ARC of X-Rated Bloodsuckers, won by Sarah Blaylock, here flanked by fellow urban fantasy authors and panelists, Stephen Graham Jones (professor of creative writing at UC Boulder) and Lynda Hilburn.
A step not backward but to the side:
It's become a cliché to assume that you'll find writers in coffee shops pecking at their laptops and surfing the Internet. Now a few coffee shops are turning off the wifi and discouraging the laptop. Why? The L.A. Times gives the scoop. Reason one, to keep folks from camping out for hours at a time while nursing a single cup of joe and discouraging better-paying patrons. Reason two, people on laptops are focused inward while a coffee shop used to be known as a place for conversation and entertainment. Switching off the wifi--good idea or does it matter?
As it gets closer to the publication date of Chosen, I'll be posting more links to interviews and contests with the aim of promoting the new release. It's not my favorite thing to do, but necessary if I hope to sell books. And believe me, in this business, that's what it's all about. But this week, it's really something fun. Bitten By Books has a poll up where you get to choose your two favorite UF covers of 2010. Chosen was nominated! So take a minute, go here and vote--hopefully one of those votes will go to Chosen. Since I'm not above bribery, here's the deal. If you vote (and I'm trusting you here that you'll vote the right way) and spread the word on your own blogs and Facebook pages, tell me and I'll choose from those who participated in a random drawing for a prize!!! Poll and contest end on Sunday at midnight.
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A friend sent this-- Nathan Fillion at ComicCon reading a sex scene from "Castle's" book. I think you'll enjoy this.
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My publisher is celebrating seventy-five years in the business. If you'd like to learn more about the evolution of the Penguin, Shelf Awareness did a nice issue here .
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Have I already mentioned Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy is going graphic? Here’s the cover for the first:
And a nice mention in Shelf Awareness: Richelle Mead, author of the Vampire Academy series, announced that in summer 2011, she will launch graphic novel adaptations of the books--published by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. The novels will be illustrated in full color by Emma Vieceli and adapted by Leigh Dragoon, with Mead overseeing all aspects of the graphic novel editions. The original series will conclude on December 7, 2011, with the sixth and final installment, Last Sacrifice.
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For aspiring writers, there'a a new spot to go if you have publishing questions. Six Questions For.. gives you a chance to ask editors, publishers, agents, educators and writers anything-- at least according to the press. Try it here
Writer's Digest puts out a newsletter, too, that always has good stuff. No need to subscribe to the magazine to get in on the newsletter. Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
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This went out over Facebook and was picked up faster than a rabbit gets...well, you know.
Anne Rice, the “Interview with a Vampire” author, who wrote a book about her spirituality titled "Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession" in 2008, said Wednesday that she refuses to be “anti-gay,” “anti-feminist," “anti-science” and “anti-Democrat.”
Rice wrote, “For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian ... It's simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”
Rice then added another post explaining her decision on Thursday:
“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me," Rice wrote. "But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”
I think I agree with her. What about you?
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And because I cannot resist anything Spike, one of our colleagues, Brad is running a hottest vampire series . He also says, "We need funny contributing writers. If anyone's interested, shoot me at email@example.com "
I don't know, anyone who can caption a picture of Spike with "I need carbs and protein" is a pretty funny guy all by himself. Spike is perfect, Brad, perfect. Do you hear me????
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More dear reader news. Here's Suzanne at RWA National with her comments on the picture:
I am convinced that fellow Lolita Leanna Renee Hieber is my long lost sister–and not because people get us mixed up. She was nominated for not one, but two Prism awards. There were a few jokes since she wore all black and I wore all cream. Does that mean one of us is the good sister and one of us the bad sister?