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!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
  Happy Birthday Elmore Leonard!

Two milestones..Not only is Elmore Leonard's 44th novel, Djibouti (jih-BOOT-ee) scheduled to be released October 12th, but that just happens to be his 85th birthday. Morrow has created a birthday card for fans to send him here .

85 and still publishing...I'm in awe.

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Two books out this week from our League pals:

Double Cross by pal Carolyn Crane

(Which reminds me, Carolyn has her very own line of greeting cards for writers. Check them out here )

And the mass market paperback of J. F. Lewis: Revamped

(If you didn't catch this one in Trade, look for it now. You gotta love a man-eating Mustang.)

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Speaking of pals, two other Leaguers are nominated for best cover on an October release...

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler


Something Wicked by Michelle Rowen

Contest is running now over at BittenByBooks and since you get two votes, you don't have to feel conflicted!! Go here

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Want to see the coolest wedding video ever? Dakota Cassidy married this week in Vegas. Sorry I can't download the video itself, but I'll give you two links to check out. If you know Dakota, you know she couldn't have chosen a more perfect venue for her wedding. Congratulations to you and Rob.

One link here

Mp4 link here

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This from WSJ Sept 27 --

Elderly Zombies Win the Undying Loyalty of Their Fans
Cast of 'Night of the Living Dead' Recall the Gory Days

WSJ by Clare Ansberry 9/27/10

Like many of the original zombies, now in their 70s and 80s, Mrs. Streiner never imagined that a few minutes on a grainy black-and-white film would, decades later, bring her requests for autographs and other trappings of near-celebrity. But that's show business.

To mark the film's 40th anniversary in 2008, she and the other zombies were invited to a Living Dead Festival in Evans City, Pa., where the movie was filmed, and met with fans from all over the country. It went so well, they gathered again last year. One loyal movie fan came from France.

FORTY years!!! No way...

The full article here (I hope--some of these long links seem to get broken)

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Okay...think that's it for this week. I've been working diligently to finish a novella, averaging 2-3000 words a day. You writers know, that's a lot of words!!!

What's with this freaky weather...120 in LA!! You know the apocalypse is near when it's hotter there than in Phoenix. Susi, (and anyone else trapped in hell at the moment) how are you doing?

And caught Hawaii-Five-0 finally. Saw the first two episodes and since they haven't found James' body, we have hope don't we all you Whedonistas?

And should probably add I'm teaching an online class at Writers Online next month. I've taught this class two years now and basically, the info is the same but I've tweaked the lessons, included new stuff, etc. Here's the breakdown if you're interested:

1. What is Urban Fantasy? Description, Author List, Examples

2. Where do you start? Setting and World Building

3. How do you write for the UF audience? Some “rules”

4. Character development – inserting paranormal characters

5. Story Structure – Inciting Incident

6. Conflict – What is it? Why is it important?

7. How do you create and maintain suspense?

8. How do you keep a reader engaged?

9. How much Sex? How much romance?

10. Common Mistakes

11. The Market – Big Press, Small Press, Self-pub’d

Full info at the link above

Let me know what's going on in your world.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010
  Women! An award, a machete, and a Frog Prince. Plus Paul Newman.

Mario here:

We Celebrate!

Fellow Leaguer Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy was chosen as the Best Teen Series at the Canadian Teen Read Awards in Toronto. Go Richelle.

Your help is needed. Another Leaguer, Carolyn Crane, has embarked on a "manly" challenge. Five pull-ups. Who-hah! Drop by her blog The Thrillionth Page and post your support as she charts her success on the Blue Bar of Progess. 

Learn her secrets for making coconut soup, which involves a machete. Crane is obviously a woman who likes to express herself physically. Don't forget to put her next book, Double Cross (due Sept 28) on your shopping list. Read a review on The Literate Kitty.

Our intrepid Jeanne Stein with our Mystery Writer peeps (Becky Martinez, Beth Groundwater, and Mike Befeler) at the Mountain & Plains Independent Booksellers Association Trade Show. As expected, the show was a great opportunity to meet regional booksellers and renew contacts. But in a sign of the times in the book biz, the big publishers displayed about half the wares they've usually brought before and were a lot less forthcoming with freebies.

Everybody lusts for something, and if you lust for one of us scribes (and you should), here are 15 Reasons to Date A Writer on Datingish.com. Number 5, I'm all over that one.

But we ink-stained wretches know that while the outside world sees our life at the keyboard as one of unfettered imaginative bliss, reality (as it so rudely does) smacks us daily on the head with petty distractions and necessary chores. LA Times Television Critic Mary McNamara shares her tribulations as a working mom as she struggles with the manuscript in her essay A Working Mother's Guide to Writing A Novel.

The Denver Public Library runs the Fresh City Life program and I'll be teaching a workshop for them, Be Creepy ! How to Write Scary Stories that really Scare. October 5 and 19, 6-7:30 PM at the Fresh City Lounge. 

Dancing pal and fellow writing wretch, Elle Lothlorien, has gone the self-published ebook route with a wonderful humorous romance, The Frog Prince. Get your copy HERE.

It's been two years since the passing of one of my heroes, Paul Newman. Anybody have a favorite movie? Mine was Cool Hand Luke. Here's to show that in his prime, Newman was a choice piece of eye candy. Go for it, girls.

Another cultural icon, this one skewered for your pleasure.  

See you again this Thursday.

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010
  Home at last!!
Spent such a nice weekend in San Diego—with my sis, Connie, my cousin, Ed, my good friends, Ron and Louis, and all the wonderful people who showed up at Mysterious Galaxy for the Saturday signing. There was standing room only at the bookstore. It was such a rush. I can’t thank everyone enough for the support you’ve shown me – Chosen has had a terrific launch.

Now it's back to the real world and work...

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It's the 120th anniversary of Agatha Christie's birth.

From Shelf Awareness :

HarperCollins has reached an agreement with the estate of Agatha Christie to become the author's exclusive worldwide English language publisher, the Bookseller.com reported, noting that "Penguin and St. Martin's Press had been publishing Christie in the U.S. Collins has published Agatha Christie since The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was first published in 1926."

Victoria Barnsley, CEO and publisher, HarperCollins U.K. and International, said, "Agatha Christie has now become a global brand, embodying a certain quintessentially British style. In this the 120th year since her birth, in a rapidly changing world, we are keen to publish her work in all formats, everywhere in the globe, to consolidate her position as the world's most popular author."

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The Writer's Digest 11th Annual Short Short Story Competition

We're looking for fiction that's bold, brilliant...but brief. Send us your best in 1,500 words or fewer.

But don't be too long about it—the deadline is Thursday, December 1, 2010.

First Place: $3,000 and a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City
Second Place: $1,500
Third Place: $500
Fourth Through Tenth Place: $100
Eleventh Through Twenty-Fifth Place: $50 gift certificate for Writer's Digest Books

* The names and story titles of the First-through Tenth-Place winners will be printed in the May/June 2011 Writer's Digest, and winners will receive the 2011 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market and Agents, Editors, and You: The Insider's Guide to Getting Your Book Published. Plus, all First through 25th place winners will receive a free copy of the 11th Annual Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection.

Go here for rules and entry forms.

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For the amateur detectives among us a true story to offer inspiration! My relentless pursuit of the guy who robbed me— Check it out here .

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By now we all know J A Konrath's story of choosing to epub his books himself from now on. Well, read this and we writers will all be asking ourselves if we're crazy not to follow his example.

From Publishers Lunch: JA Konrath updates his periodic reports on his ebook sales, saying that he has now sold over 100,000 units across all of his titles. Seventy-five percent of his sales are from the Kindle store--and 6 books account for 75 percent of those sales. As in previous reports, he credits low prices ($2.99) with driving sales volume on his ebooks. "When I began this ebook odyssey, back in April 2009, I had no idea the market would get so big so fast, or that I'd make so much money."

He gives details here .

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So what's your take on the new television season so far? Any hits? Any misses? I haven't had much chance to sample any of the new shows so I'd like your opinions.

One sad note, Urban Fantasy writer Jennifer Rardin past away unexpectedly this week. She was the author of the popular Jaz Parks series. She was only forty-five.

Sunday, September 19, 2010
  Easy as 1,2,3...Vampires, Booze, and Sex

Mario here:

1. There's often talk that vampires have run their course. We scoff at such heresy. At the Biting-Edge, it's always:

Friday and Saturday, Sept 24-25, Jeanne and I will spread the undead gospel at the Mountain & Plains Independent Booksellers Trade Show at the Marriott Denver Tech Center.

The Biting-Edge can never get enough vampires, and we especially dig the old school, creepy pre-sparkly kind such as Frank Langella, the urbane and dashing Dracula. "No drugs! It will pollute her blood." Spoken like a true gentleman in a 70s do.

We even appreciate Frank Langella's thespian license when he steals the show as Skeletor in Masters of the Universe

(watching this movie helps if you have a thing for Meg Foster as Evil-Lyn.)   

On the subject of goofy, sci-fi/fantasy-related videos, check this out:

2. We're riffing here, so follow the drops of Saurian brandy to this classic piece on Space Trek Sousing in Modern Drunkard. Spoiler alert, the author despised the politically correct Star Trek TNG.

3. And there's this great news from Publishers Lunch:

Lorelei James's next two BLACKTOP COWBOY novels, involving a sports therapist and her hard-riding cowboy patients, to Kerry Donovan at NAL, by Scott Miller at Trident Media Group.

If you want to learn more about what makes Lorelei James such a smoking hot author of erotica, sneak a read of Book 5 of the Rough Riders series: Rough, Raw, and Ready.  Warning: This book contains unbelievably explicit sex, including multiple cowboy/cowgirl/cowboy ménage scenes, juicy, hot, male on male action, a bucketful of politically incorrect situations and true Western ideology.

And the San Francisco Bay Area thinks it has a lip lock on such pervitude.  Yee-ha to South Dakota!

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010
  Thursday From The Road
I'm in San Diego getting ready for my signing on Saturday at Mysterious Galaxy (visit website for details) and spending a couple of days with my darling sis, Connie. Much talking, laughing and consuming of Mexican food is ensuing. I also found out that Saturday Margaret Coel is signing right ahead of me so it's Colorado author day at MG....

Too late for this season but here’s Flavorpill’s Official True Blood Drinking Game!
Mario, this one’s for you:

An updated version of Flavorpill's Official True Blood Drinking Game for last Sunday night's finale was released because "the entire show is about drinking. Vampires drink from humans. Humans drink from vampires. And don't even get us started on the werewolves.... So we wondered, if literally all of the characters are drinking something, why aren't we?"

At least no one screamed at the end of this one…

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First video of the day-- I may have already posted this but can you ever have too much HP?

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USA Today says:

How about a publishing contract with St. Martin's Press? It's yours if ... Starting today, the publishing house is sponsoring "The Jeffrey Archer Presents" short-story competition, and Archer will pick the winner. Deadline: Oct. 1. So, what's he looking for? "The great thing about a short story is the ending. You have to have a twist. You have to have something that shocks in the last paragraph or sentence. You take the reader through as long as you can and then bop them on the nose," says the British writer, whose story collection And Thereby Hangs a Tale arrives Tuesday. "So I'll be looking for someone who can lead me along, then bop me!"

Details here .

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Second video of the day—Stake it Off (Twilight Spoof) Really cute!! Thanks to Karen Duvall of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers for turning me on to this….

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Here are a couple of pics of Laura Reeve and I signing at the CoGold Conference Author Fest on Friday night.

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Mark Your Calendars! Mario and I are appearing in the 2nd Colorado Authors Series Vampire Nite.. Details below!

Sunday, September 12, 2010
  I love my junk

Mario here:

Big report on the 2010 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold conference. But first:

The winner of the Hailey Lind drawing is Barbara E. Congratulations!

Another Colorado Gold conference has come and gone. This was my fourteenth. It was a great time to hook up with old friends like YA mystery writer pal, Bonnie Ramthun and hubby, Bill.

...and make new ones. We had a fantastic crop of newbie attendees like Mireyah Wolfe. She found the Gold conference via the League of Relunctant Adults blog.

Our 2010 Writer of the Year, Holt Medallion winner and Willa Finalist Pam Nowak, gave the Kickoff Speech.

The Keynote Speaker was NYT and USA Today bestseller Brenda Novak (L), who wowed us with her speech about the need to pace yourself and not give up in spite of the odds or the competition. That, and don't piss off a female mountain biker.

The Closing Speaker, the entertaining and irreverent (and multiple Hugo and Nebula-award winning) Connie Willis (R). Best bit of advice: Write a television screenplay so you can watch soap operas and it's research.

Small world. Jeanne and I were singing the praises of a certain leaguer when long-time RMFWer Sharon Mignerey (L) said, "I know Nicole Peeler (R), she's my MFA professor at Seton Hill." 

Jeanne and Laura Reeve signing at the book sale.

Seeing as this was a writers' conference, most of the action happened...where else? Around the booze. The hospitality suite party used to be more of a wine and beer schmooze. A few years back I suggested that we add Margaritas, which meant I was the designated operator of the blender. The next year we switched to Daiquiris, the following year, back to Margaritas. Last year we offered a full bar, and this year we had pretty much any kind of hootch with which to punish your liver. Most requested cocktail? The vintage and potent, Tequila Sunrise.

My work station where I served as the Ambassador of Happiness.

Not surprisingly the crowds have migrated from the hotel bar ($$$) to the hospitality suite (free likker) with the commensurate amount of ribaldry. Here's some of the drunken shenanigans in play before hotel security arrived to warn us about the noise. Damn writers!

The bar conversation of every con seems to circle a theme, in this case the discussion spiraled back to: I love my junk.  You're free to guess the topic.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010
  The week after...
a book release is a nerve-wracking time. To writers and readers, it's a new book. To the publishing world, it's business. The bottom line above all. Well, it looks like Chosen is doing well enough to have made #16 on the bookscan list for fantasy. A nice beginning and a reflection on the loyalty of Anna's readers. I thank you all.

I'm still in promo mode. DragonCon last weekend was fun but exhausting. I came down with a head cold the day after I got back and since I have two more trips and signings coming up, I'm laying low this week.

Friday at 7:30 Mario and I will both be signing at the free open-to-the-public Colorado Gold signing fest. It's held at:

Renaissance Hotel
3801 Quebec Street
Denver, Colorado 80207 USA

Then on the 13th, I'll be at the Broadway Book Mall at 7PM:

WhoElse! Books
200 So. Broadway, Denver CO

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If you are interested in dissecting writing styles, Margie Lawson, teacher extraordinaire, used Chosen as her deep editing analysis for the week. Check here . If you are an aspiring writer, subscribe to her newsletter. She knows her stuff.

Something else you might want to look into-- Writer's Digest 101 best sites for writers.

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I'm part of an anthology entitled Whedonistas--women who love the Jossverse--along with Elizabeth Bear, Sharon Shinn, Emma Bull, Nancy Holder, Jackie Kessler and more. Whedonistas will be out March 2011 via Mad Norwegian Press, but is available for preorder now at Amazon . I love this cover!

The contest is still going on over at Larissa's Bookish Life. Check it out . Contest runs until September 10th.

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Media stuff. From Shelf Awareness this morning:

Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment will adapt Stephen King's Dark Tower novels into a film trilogy and a network TV series. Deadline.com reported that the project, which had been in discussion last spring (Shelf Awareness, May 4, 2010), "will be creatively steered by the Oscar-winning team behind A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code. Ron Howard has committed to direct the initial feature film, as well as the first season of the TV series that will follow in close proximity. Akiva Goldsman will write the film, and the first season of the TV series. Howard's Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer will produce, with Goldsman and the author."

Deadline.com compared the project--which will use "a major studio's film and TV platforms simultaneously to tell a story"--to Peter Jackson, who "directed three installments of the Lord of The Rings, back to back, so that they could be released in three consecutive years."

This will either be very good or a disaster.

I'm watching Wiseguy-- the series starring Ken Wahl created by Stephen J. Cannell in 1987. Got it on Netflix and I love it as much now as I did when it first came on. Have any of you seen it? Television at his best.

Oh, and one last thing. I'm still waiting for someone to explain the ending of Clooney's new movie, The American.



If his handler wanted him dead, why did he kill the girl BEFORE she shot him? WTF??? My husband and I left the theater shaking our heads. We should have gone to see Machete. Danny Trejo is who Phil thinks would make a great Culebra.

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Sunday, September 05, 2010
  The return of Annie Kincaid and Hailey Lind

Mario here:

Last week, Jeanne had the inaugural signing for her newest book, Chosen. In her usual classy style, Jeanne gives a silent retort to my many witty comments.

PJ Brown of Heroes Only Comics and Games in Cheyenne, Wyoming, graciously invited me to his store for a signing.

I was asked what books I was reading. An interesting question because I'm currently reading this...

And coincidentally, we at Biting-Edge are proud that we scored this exclusive interview with one of the authors of Arsenic and Old Paint, the Julie half of the writer-sister team known as Hailey Lind. Carolyn (L) and Julie (R).

CONTEST! Post a comment by Saturday, Sept 11, midnight, Pacific Time, and you could win signed copies of Brush with Death, Shooting Gallery, and Arsenic and Old Paint.

Q The last book in the Art Lover’s series, Brush with Death, left us with Annie Kincaid partnering with the art thief Michael X Johnson to start an art retrieval business.  What can we expect with Arsenic and Old Paint?

As Arsenic and Old Paint opens, Annie and Michael-the-thief have opened an art assessment business – an endeavor that has the blessing of the FBI art squad, since Annie and Michael are passing on information about suspicious types naïve enough to contact them for information regarding stolen art.  Since Michael is still on probation for an earlier, he’s supposed to be making up for his earlier wicked ways.  Unfortunately, he’s gone AWOL when the book begins, leaving Annie to wonder whether he’s gone back to thieving -- and more importantly, whether she should turn him in to the FBI.

Annie has been a fun character to write, because she’s evolved so much over the course of the Art Lover’s series.  In the first book, Feint of Art, Annie was trying to keep a low profile as a faux finisher in San Francisco, fearful that her past indiscretions -–she was arrested for forgery as a teenager-- would be made public.  By the time Arsenic begins, Annie is using her rare knowledge and underworld contacts to succeed in the art world – and ultimately to solve the mysteries she’s entangled in.

Q The Annie Kincaid series was first published by Penguin.  The fourth book, Arsenic, comes from Perseverance Press.  How did that happen?  Did you pitch to them or did they come looking for you?

As you know the publishing industry is hard to predict.  Though Feint of Art was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel and developed a strong reader fan base, there simply weren’t enough bulk sales for Penguin to continue the series after the third, Brush with Death.  By the time I found out they wouldn’t be continuing the series, though, I had already written a good chunk of the fourth manuscript. 

I was disappointed that the series was canceled, of course, but turned my attention to other writing projects…until a reader suggested I talk to Perseverance Press, which specializes in continuing series books.  I realized I knew some other of PP’s authors, all of whom loved their experiences with the press.  They’ve been very professional and put out a great product – my editor, Meredith Phillips, was especially wonderful.  I was so happy to be able to finish the book and re-visit with Annie Kincaid and her gang. 

 Q Will Annie Kincaid disappear after Arsenic?  Will she make a cameo appearance in one of your paranormal stories?  If this is the last book in the series, what about love interests: Michael X Johnson, landlord Frank DeBenton, and Josh the contractor?  Are these love triangles (or is it a love square) going to keep developing or will you tie up the loose ends of her romantic life? 

It’s not yet decided whether there will be more in the series – I’d love to write more (I have plot outlines for two more) but it depends on time and, I’m sorry to say, money.  Right now my paranormal books are selling really well, so I’m writing furiously in both of those series. 

After all, we all have to make a living ;-)  Besides, I love writing the paranormal mysteries – what could be more fun than spending one’s days investigating and writing about witchcraft and ghosts?  Still…returning to Annie and her gang was like visiting with old friends, with all their quirks and charm. And I adore the weirdness of the art world…I guess it’s obvious that I’m undecided! There’s just not enough time in the day.

 In Arsenic and Old Paint, Annie does make a lot of progress with the men in her life. I created a romantic triangle entirely by accident – originally Michael, the art thief, was an obvious romantic lead; but Frank, Annie’s rather formal landlord, was not.  When he and Annie started sending up sparks, however, Frank became a more three-dimensional character.  At the same time Michael was proving himself to be less and less reliable – a quality that might be sexy at first, but gets wearisome over time.  I’ve enjoyed having readers weigh in on who they think Annie should end up with – most people are distinctly “team Frank” or “team Michael” ;-)  In Arsenic, Annie does make a decision… but then she finds that not all is at what it seems to be.

 Q That you’re a very observant writer shows in the wonderful job you do weaving small details into the story that add life and texture to the scenes and characters.  Do you keep a journal or a diary?  Make notes on the fly?  Or do these details simply stick in your mind?

I was trained as an anthropologist, so I usually attribute my skills of observation – some might call them my inability to mind my own business – to that profession.  But then there’s a “chicken and the egg” argument – did I become an anthropologist because human behavior fascinates me, or the other way around?  In any case, I think anthropologists and writers have a lot in common – we are constant, compulsive, observers of the world around us.  I don’t keep a journal per se, but I do write down descriptions all the time – while I’m on the subway (public transportation of any kind is great for this sort of thing) or standing in line at the grocery store, hanging out at the local café…. People are quirky, odd, and idiosyncratic.  I could never sit at my computer and dream up the weirdness that people display every day.  In fact, most of the strangest bits in my books are real, lifted directly from the world around me, or from news stories.

Also, I worked as an artist for many years—basically, I had Annie’s day job painting faux finishes and murals in rich people’s houses. So I use a lot of those specific details in my books, to increase the authenticity of the story. Everyone’s daily life – the stuff that might seem mundane and dull to us-- is usually fascinating when viewed from the outside.

Q You are known for completing your manuscript right at deadline, maybe even fudging a few days.  Do you workshop any part of your manuscript?  If so, with whom?  Do you participate in a critique group? 

 I love the idea that I’m “known” for something!  Unfortunately, I do tend to work up to the very last minute.  I think I do well under pressure and often need it in order to buckle down and commit to the words on paper. Sadly, that sort of schedule leaves very little time to ask for other people’s opinions -- though when I’m working with my sister I do get her feedback often.  Also I have a couple of good writer friends that I bounce plot ideas off of, and I will occasionally ask for feedback on scenes that are particularly difficult.  But I don’t belong to a critique group, so at this point most of the nitty-gritty back and forth is between me and my editor at the publishing house.

Q While authors labor hard at turning in a perfect manuscript, in truth, they all cringe at the thought of the infamous “revision letter” from their editor.  What are your “revision letters” like?  Are they short or do they require a significant rewriting of your original manuscript?  Do you and your editor go back-and-forth several times during the revision process or is it a one-shot deal?

 Maybe it’s because of the above, but I’m one of those writers who *loves* being edited! No matter how careful a writer is, we all need help with issues of continuity and those unconscious writing quirks – using the same words or patterns in our writing—that only fresh eyes can see.  By the time I turn over a manuscript, I always dislike it and lose the ability to even “see” it anymore.  That’s where those fresh eyes come in. All that said, I think I get off pretty easy since I’ve worked with some great editors, and I’ve never been asked to do any really drastic changes – like transforming a character’s motivation or background. 

In my last manuscript, the first in the new Haunted Home Renovation series, the editor did ask me to change a trip out of town in order to keep the character closer to the renovation job she was working on.  So I had to think of a way to accomplish the character development and serve the plot’s forward motion while keeping her closer to home. By then, though, I was excited to be back working on that novel –I’m fickle that way—so I actually enjoyed revisiting it.  The hardest part, in that case, was shifting gears from the book I was then working on –one in the Witchcraft series-- and back again.

Q What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far as an author?

 To always have a sense of humor and roll with the punches.  The publishing industry is quirky, readers are fickle, trends are unreliable…you just never know what will happen next. Moving between series has taught me to be flexible and responsive to my publisher’s interests.  At this point, for instance, since my witchcraft books are doing so well it’s possible my original publisher will re-issue my backlist, and perhaps publish more of the Art Lover’s books.  So you just never know what will happen.

Plus, rely on the support of other authors to help maintain a sense of perspective.  And when all else fails, martinis go a long way toward easing the pain ;-)

You’ve got another two series written under your other pen name of Juliet Blackwell: the Lily Ivory witch mysteries, and the haunted home renovation mysteries.  And there’s a woman fiction novel in the works.  The writing, revision, and promotion for your books must overlap and create a lot of tension (a good thing in a narrative, not so good in real life).  How do you handle those competing deadlines and obligations?

I really am fickle –whenever I’m working on one project I start thinking about the next, so to some extent shifting from one to the other keeps me excited and on my toes.  The hardest thing for me, by far, is the time and energy spent promoting the books.  I hate sales in general, and trying to sell myself can be excruciating. I do love meeting people, and traveling, and talking (as anyone who knows me can attest!) but setting up events and cold calling and going from one couch or hotel to another can be exhausting.  There are periods of time when I pretty much forgo having “a life”, and have to limit time with loved ones.  As a matter of fact, even as I write this I’m with a group of friends at a river cabin –they did all the food shopping and meal prep and all I had to do was show up – so we ate, drank, slept, swam, and now they’re all in the hot tub while I’m working on my book.  I’m extremely fortunate to have such understanding friends!

Q The proposed women’s fiction story is a departure for you.  What is your interest in such a project?

It’s exciting to ponder writing a novel that’s not explicitly a mystery.  I say explicitly because I think most stories are mysteries in the deepest sense:  will she or won’t she?  How will he live without an income?  How long can a person stay angry at family members?  Etc.  But genre mystery readers have certain expectations about how a story is presented and resolved, and while I love writing genre mystery and urban fantasy, I’m excited to see whether I can rise to the challenge of an entirely different kind of fiction writing. 

Also, I have a great idea for a story told from multiple perspectives, one that deals with love and betrayal and personal connections. And while I call it “women’s fiction” – because that is what publishers have called it – I have to point out that “women’s fiction” is a strange title for this kind of book.  Why don’t we call books written by and about men “men’s fiction”, for instance?  Especially considering the fact that women buy the most books, I think it’s funny that the industry still insists on labeling novels as “women’s” stories.

Q You’re on Twitter and Facebook; any thoughts as to their utility to you as an author?

 Unlike some people I know, I’m not particularly pithy and clever so keeping up with Twitter and Facebook isn’t easy.  I welcome any and all cyber “friends”, but I’m not connected every day, or all day.  I try to check in at least every couple of days, but there are periods when I disappear for weeks at a time. For me the greatest utility lay in the immediate connection I can have with readers and other writers and reviewers. 

Twitter has been called a virtual “water cooler” -- great for those of us who work at home and don’t have a lot of interaction with others during our working hours.  It’s fun to check in with Twitter and “chat” with friends for a few minutes before returning to work.  It can be a distraction, though – recently I had to move my computer into a writing nook that is not wired, so I can keep myself from checking in obsessively. 

Facebook fan pages are great because not only can I communicate directly with people who enjoy my books, but they can interact with each other.  As one fun example, my neighbor’s cat Oscar (who serves as partial inspiration for my witch’s familiar in my witchcraft books) has his own fan page on Facebook, and a bunch of my readers have migrated over to join his fan page.  That sort of thing cracks me up.

Q If you had one wish for your life as an author (other than a monsoon of money), what would it be?

 Someone to do promotions for me!  I also wouldn’t mind some kind of job security – knowing you’d have contracts for five or ten years down the line, for instance.  I think all artists live in unsure circumstances, which might keep us on our toes, but it’s tough.

Q In Arsenic, Annie visits a sex club. You have mentioned that you visited a local sex club. What was the experience like? What surprised you? What did you learn that you couldn't from the internet, books, or an interview?

Yes, I wanted to get an eyewitness account of a particular sex club in San Francisco.  I had read accounts of it on-line, but as we all know there’s no substitute for real hands-on research…so to speak.  And I am nothing if not dedicated to my craft ;-)  Seriously, though, I decided that if I was going to include the scene it needed an air of authenticity, and how often does one have an excuse to research a place like that?  I asked a friend, who is very tall and buff –and the sweetest guy in the world-- to take me.  He agreed, and my friend Mary (tall, blonde, lovely, ex-goth—she’s in the books) insisted on accompanying us.  When we showed up, Chris was dressed in a black leather jacket, jeans, and a scowl.  He looped one arm around each of us women, and glowered at everyone who dared come near us.  It was an interesting evening; much like I wrote it in the book, though, it was fascinating but not particularly sexy in any way.  At least not for me.  Then again, if I hadn’t been with an overprotective gay man and a girlfriend, maybe my experiences would have been different ;-)  You never know .  Guess I’ll have to keep that for my next book.

Q Now about the cover art for Arsenic. Was that a painting you had already done or did you paint it especially for the cover?

I painted the picture specifically for Arsenic and Old Paint.  A lot of people might recognize it as a take-off of The Death of Marat, by David, a painting that figures prominently in the book. I wanted to give readers a mental image of the painting that is discussed in the story.  Ever since I began writing these art mystery novels I wanted to paint my own covers, since I –like Annie Kincaid--  like to paint in a classical style and make things look “old”. When the series moved to Perseverance Press, I mentioned this to my editor, and she was enthusiastic about the idea.  Her only caveat was that she was concerned the painting would look too much like the original, possibly courting copywriting issues. So I changed the scene to look more like the one discussed in the story, but still made it recognizable.

It was a special pleasure for me to be able to combine two great loves-painting and writing this book! 

Thanks Hailey!

Thanks so much for having me on your blog!  I know from experience that you’ve got a great readership, so I appreciate the chance to guest on the Biting Edge.  I hope folks will stop by my websites, www.haileylind.com and www.julietblackwell.net, and come visit on Facebook (as Hailey Lind and Juliet Blackwell) and on Twitter (@julietblackwell). 

If you're curious what Julie (as Juliet Blackwell) sounds like, enjoy this video. 

Don't forget to enter the contest!

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