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 27, 2011
It's been a week of dreadful news.
A horrific earthquake in New Zealand.
Impending civil war in Libya.
More apocalyptic storm clouds over the publishing industry.
Ice cream made from women's breast milk (gathered from free-range moms according to the press release).
But the article that stuck in my craw*...
(* craw - neck, from the Middle Dutch crāghe)
Oral sex can cause cancer. Say it ain't so.
What distressed me was the juxtaposition of oral sex (implying pleasure and wonderful sweetness) against cancer (implying death and all that gruesome ickiness). Yet something else to fret over.
You can dig around for info on the Internet but the news can be distilled that in the U.S., oral sex is claimed to be a leading cause of cancer. The culprit is the Human Papilloma Virus, which is the most common sexually transmitted disease. There are over a hundred strains of HPV, some which seem to do nothing, some which cause genital warts, and the worst of the bunch can cause cervical cancer.
Researchers from Ohio State University found a 225% increase in oral cancer cases from 1974 to 2007 among mainly white men. (Before we clamp on the chastity belts, we need a lot of questions answered. Like, was there a difference between straight and gay men? What about straight women? Lesbians? Different ethnic groups? Vegetarians?) Plus, the more sexual partners you've had, the greater the risk for contracting HPV. The tipping point seems to be five or more sexual partners (I hear a collective gasp from you all) which increases your risk by over 200%.
What a downer. For us westerners, oral sex is a given. The exception is among hardcore evangelicals who insist that since sex is only for procreation, then anything other than vaginal sex is a no-no. Killjoys.
But I wonder. At how much of a risk are we? Though it's anecdotal, I don't know of anyone personally who died of oral cancer. All the men I know who died of cancer were heavy smokers. My sister died of breast cancer and she wasn't sexually active at all. I had a randy grandmother who lived to a ripe old age before succumbing to pneumonia. I have a healthy aunt who's had plenty of paramours and has been married so many times she's the Zsa Zsa Gabor of the family. I'm sure that she is (as my grandmother no doubt was) well acquainted with below-the-belt smooches.
So what can you do? At the most extreme, give up all sexual contact. Including kissing.
As if! Like most cancers, early detection is paramount so protect yourself by getting regular checkups by your doctor and dentist. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Be discriminate in your choice of sexual partners. (As I'm sure you already are. We at the Biting-Edge are all about class.) If the option is available, a circumcised penis is less likely to transmit HPV. Take care of your body, keep your head (har, har) screwed on right, and your risk is very low.
We live in a world full of microscopic critters at the ready to munch on us. Sometimes they win. Most of the time we win. Meanwhile, we humans should continue to munch on each other.
Anna Strong leads the way in Jeanne's debut novel, The Becoming, pages 115-116.
He steps out of slacks and boxers and stands naked, looking down on me.
I reach out, smiling, and caress a muscular thigh.
"Aren't you going to invite me in?" he says at last.
But I don't answer, my mouth is otherwise engaged.
Here it is Thursday and I’m in San Diego getting ready to participate in CondonCon and I realize I got nothing for YOU…
Well, maybe one thing. From publisher’s marketplace last week. Good news for a local Denverite.
Sci-Fi/Fantasy J.A. Kazimer's THE BODY DWELLERS, to save those she loves, a mutant rebel in pink combat boots must decide between the treacherous body dwelling lover from her past, and a mysterious man who promises to change her future, all before her altered cells succumb to a mutant plague destined to destroy her kind, to Melissa Miller at Solstice, by Sharon Belcastro at Belcastro Agency.
Today, off to meet Kevin Gerard with whom I will be conducting writer’s workshop on Sunday. Since we have never met and have no idea right now what our focus will be, it should be interesting. He writes YA and has a very impressive website.
Of course it goes without saying (but I will anyway), if you live in the San Diego area and plan to attend CondorCon, please stop by and say hello.
Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. See you next week, same bat time, same bat channel.
Writing is damn hard work. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar or a crappy-ass writer. In popular media, there's the image of the writer, hammering away at an old school typewriter. The writer is lost in the story, oblivious to the outside world, and in a final dramatic flourish, whips out the finished pages and mails them off. Easy-peasy.
As if. For us ink-stained wretches, getting the words on the page (or the screen) seems like a boxing match with the Muse.
But every once in a while, we get lost in our story and when we look up, the hours have flown by and behold: pages and pages of manuscript. Steven King calls this phenomenon the "Trance," when you're so focused in your work that all else falls away. Athletes refer to it as the "Zone." Some may refer to it as an altered realm of conscious, a Fugue state.
A Writer's Fugue state is a great place to be in, but one that you can't get into by turning a switch. Worse, when you're in a Writer's Trance, and you realize you're there, BANG!, the trapdoor opens and back you fall into reality.
How to get into the trance.
1. Put your subconscious to work. I've learned that when my, as Ernest Hemingway put it, shockproof shit detector goes off, it's my subconscious telling me something is wrong with my prose. The dialog is forced, the scene contrived, the characters don't act naturally (even if they are supernatural). Shake up your narrative. This might be a good time to kill someone (on the page!) Go ahead and dwell on the scene. Take a walk. Make notes. Play with finger puppets. Your subconscious is your friend and loves to have quiet little discussions with your brain behind your back.
2. Jump into it. There is no perfect time to write. We all have busy schedules and even for us professional writers, life has a way of kidnapping our attention. So take advice from another famous author, Chuck Palahniuk, who said:
Thought follows action.
Which seems backwards. But he's right. A lot of writers waste time puttering around for the Muse to show up, however, let me tell you, get to work and she'll plop her bitchy ass on your desk. Grouchy perhaps, but there.
3. Getting stuck. The two places most writers spin their wheels is at the beginning and someplace in the middle of their manuscript. The problem at the beginning is that we're not sure where the story actually starts. Well, refer to #2 above. Get something down. Realize that the first chapter gets the most attention of any part of a manuscript and you'll be reworking it until deadline. The middle of the story, a.k.a., the swamp is a whole different piece of real estate with the plot twists and subplots. If you're a panster writer, this may be the time to consider an outline--a map--to help you march out of the swamp.
4. Turn off the distractions. Like Facebook. Twitter. Email. eBay. News. Porn. Generally, the entire World Wide Web. Hemingway liked the white noise of people doing busy work while he wrote. I play music to mask the distractions.
5. Rituals. I cribbed this idea from someone else, and if it sounds brilliant, I take all credit. These are my rituals. A cup of coffee. Go through my to-do list. Read my emails. Glance out the window to the homeless shambling through the neighborhood. Fight off the cold grip of terror if I fail at this writing gig. Then buckle down and peck away.
6. Bribery. Muses love chocolate cake. And a sugar rush might sling you into the Trance just a bit quicker.
7. A reward. Like a cocktail. Okay, drinking can put you in one kind of altered state, often desirable, but not in this case. Writing can be so much heavy lifting for the brain so one drop of booze is a signal that the work day is over.
There you have it. Easy-peasy. Now get to work.
But wait! Don't go, we have pimpage.
Fellow Leaguer Anton Strout has a new book coming out this week, Dead Water. Check it out and buy lots of copies!
And newbe Urban Fantasy author, Julie Kazimer, is giving away a $20 B&N gift card. All you gotta do is leave some snark on her blog, The Never Never News, your #1 Source for Fairytale News.
Let's Start With A Smile
Lots of stuff this week, but first:
Best Super Bowl commercial
# # # #
Here's the first official trailer for the film adaption of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The initial movie in a planned trilogy, starring Taylor Schilling (Dagny Taggart), Grant Bowler (Henry Rearden) and Matthew Marsden (James Taggart), is scheduled to hit theaters April 15.
A cache of unpublished works by famed writer Dashiell Hammett, often seen as the father of hardboiled detective fiction, has been found and is set to be unveiled in America.
Hammett, whose best-known work The Maltese Falcon was made into a film starring Humphrey Bogart, died in 1961. Now 15 unpublished short stories are to hit the bookshelves after being unearthed by a magazine editor, Andrew Gulli, among the literary archives of the Harry Ransom Centre at the University of Texas in Austin.
Gulli will now publish one of the stories in his crime fiction magazine, The Strand, later this month. He hopes to eventually help publish them all as a collection in a new book.
Syfy had been negotiating for Among the Spirits, a drama series project about Houdini and Doyle solving mysteries in 1920s, with the deal closing at the very time the feature announcement was coming out. "I guess there is something in the air about that whole time period and that very interesting relationship between Houdini and Doyle," said Syfy's president of original programming Mark Stern. (Both Syfy brass and the producers of Among the Spirits first heard about Voices from the Dead from reading our story.)
Mark Stern, Syfy's president of original programming, described the project as " 'a turn-of-the-century Fringe' in the vein of steampunk TV classic The Wild Wild West and Guy Ritchie's 2009 movie Sherlock Homes which put the steampunk genre back into the zeitgeist," Deadline.com noted.
# # # #
Seems paranormal plays well on the small screen. From EW’s Inside TV : Buffy Writers Sell Grimm’s Fairy Tales Pilot to NBC
NBC has picked up another pilot mixing fantasy with a crime drama: The network has greenlit Grimm, described as a “dark but fantastical cop drama about a world in which characters inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales exist.” (Gotta love mining expired copyrights in the public domain!).
The project is from Jim Kouf (Angel) and David Greenwalt (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), with executive producers Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner.
The order comes on top of Battlestar guru Ron Moore’s 17th Precinct, also at NBC, about cops working a town where people have magical powers.
I have a series of books you guys could look at.... just sayin'
# # # #
Good and Bad News from the world of my pal Charlaine Harris:
With DEAD RECKONING, the twelfth Sookie Stackhouse book, set for publication in May, author Charlaine Harris says she is almost finished with the series. "Truthfully, the next two books will probably be the last two books in the series. I still love Sookie, but I'm beginning to want to write something else, and Sookie;s kind of taken over my life. I was able to write other things for the first few years I was involved in Sookie, but then after the start of the television show she took over so much of my time because of my increased publicity obligations that it's been very hard to write other things, and I really need to do that."
Among other things happening in her busy licensing world, CBS has optioned her line of four Harper Connelly mysteries for development as a possible prime-time series. (In the meantime, IDW is developing Connelly as a graphic novel.)
# # # #
A couch I like:
French-Moroccan designer Younes Duret has created the latest sofa design called Ransa. Ransa is a unique sofa equipped with bookshelf. It has a vault that can be made as a place to put books or magazines. The sofa can accommodate two people and for the book is able to accommodate up to as many as 70 books. The bookshelf on the base gives the sofa the impression of levitating above the books.
Doesn’t mention how much it costs or if the red pumps come with. I have a feeling this is one of those "if you have to ask you can't afford it" things....
# # # #
And just because I love HP and think the movies have been pretty darn good, something from the Hollywood Reporter :
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is giving the series an award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema.
LONDON – The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is to dish out an award for outstanding British contribution to cinema to the Harry Potter movie franchise.
Author J.K. Rowling and producer David Heyman will receive the honor on behalf of the long-running franchise during this year's Orange British Academy Film Awards on Feb. 13.
Awarded annually, the nod for outstanding British contribution to cinema was introduced in 1978, presented in honor of Michael Balcon.
# # # #
Okay, off now to get some work done. The sun is shining, the snow is (almost) all melted, the temps are hovering around 60, even had windows open--what a difference a week makes, huh?
Happy Valentine's Day! If there is that one day to get a little naughty, well, we won't judge.
Last week, I asked if during the process of creating, are we playing God?
This week I'm going in the opposite direction by asking: What puts the devil in us? What's the appeal of being inappropriate? Why do we enjoy acting naughty? Why misbehave?
Stealing a cookie.
Sneaking a drink.
Peeking under a skirt.
Why do it?
These questions were inspired, not surprisingly, by Mark Henry's recent visit to Denver for the VooDoo Scorned Lovers Art Show. (If the link acts a little screwy, search Facebook for VooDoo Scorned Lovers Weekend) In fact, Mark was specifically brought in to flaunt his outrageous and blue humor for an erotic reading at the show. (Not that any of us in Denver needed any coaching.) Erotic might be too generous a word as he read from the scandalous Patience.
Quim, Cods, & Organ of Dominion.
You'd think from the cover of the book, you're getting soft-focus romance. Ha! If you read this story, better bring handi-wipes.
Life is too important to be taken seriously.Oscar Wilde
We're all alone, no chaperone Can get our number The world's in slumber--let's misbehave!
Loosening the restraints is way of addressing the pressures of life. A good laugh does a lot more to relieve stress and lift your mood than any pill. Being naughty lets us feel we've got some control in our lives as we thumb our noses at authority.
And who better to thumb its collective nose at authority than the League of Reluctant Adults. We've revamped our blogging schedule, as in, we didn't have one before and now we do. There's a new post every day, so you can get your League freak on all month long.
Having fun doesn't have to be naughty. Okay, maybe some naughty moves.
Which segues into the Big News.
My swing dance instructor at the Mercury Cafe, Tiffiny Wine, won a Westword MasterMind Award. Hoo-Rah! She had asked me for a letter of recommendation, which I did write--not that I have any pull in anything. Check out her moves. Go Tiff!
Mothers, Watch Your Daughters Well, Denverites, you are in for a treat. This weekend Mark Henry will be in town for two--count em--two events.
Friday, February 11, 7:00 p.m. – Mark will discuss and sign Road Trip of the Living Dead at the Broadway Book Mall, 200 S. Broadway, Denver. Copies of his prior (also very funny) novel, Battle of the Network Zombies, will also be available. Brought to us by local author Mario Acevedo, who will do the introduction.
And then, Round Two of Mr. Henry at the Scorned Lovers Art Show. Saturday, Feb 12, 6-9 pm at the Art Salon, 2219 East 21st Street, at York St near City Park. Mark will lock arms with Denver poet Kate Redmond in a special erotic reading that promises to show that nothing is too lowbrow for us.
If you want an idea of what Mark is about, check out his video here on the League of Reluctant Adults.
# # # #
I have had such a good week writing on my book, I'm having trouble coming up with anything intelligible for this blog. Words just flowed...it could have something to do with being snowbound for three days. Or it could be that I'm giving Anna some new choices and making her think about them.
Now, however, the sun is back out and life must go on. I will venture out to run errands and get a haircut and tonight I speak at the Southglenn Library.
I love library groups. I've decided to talk on a subject I'm always asked about--ideas: where they come from, how they get fleshed out from a glimmer to a book. Maybe I'll put together a blog post on that one day in the future.
Anyway, locals out there-- you can catch me tonight at Southglenn and this weekend with Mario at Mark Henry's events. And next week I'll dish the media news. If you'd like to share how you wile away the snowy hours, please do.
I was asked in a recent interview if creating visual art and writing fiction had anything in common. I answered that for me, my painting and fiction writing run on parallel tracks and have little to do with each other except to compete for my time.
I added that our need to create may be a God complex, where we decide to create work in our image as a reaction against the circumstances of our existence. This creation is a means of self-expression and can take many forms: writing, painting, sculpting, music, cooking, knitting, sewing, customizing cars; basically you take some stuff and turn it into something else.
What is this compulsion to create? When I was in college, my dad told me that art was a waste of time and since I personally didn't know any working artists (other than art teachers), I couldn't disagree with him. An office job was what I should aspire to. So I gave away my paints and sketch pads and tried to forget doing art. But I couldn't stop drawing or thinking about painting. I bought another set of watercolors and got back into slinging the paint.
So do my visual art and writing fiction have anything in common? I'll amend my previous
answer because upon reflection, they do. Back in the sixth grade, Mrs. Anderson paired up the students in her English class, with the assignment of writing a book (more of a booklet, about 20 pages). I was teamed with Stuart Williams and we were both crazy about Star Trek (the original series). While the other students were writing and illustrating their books about lost puppies, Santa having his sleigh stolen, what-have-you, Stuart and I got busy creating a science fiction saga. When it was time to turn in the books, he and I didn't have ours. Since Stuart and I were good students, Mrs. Anderson asked what we'd been doing for the last six weeks. We showed her a thick binder filled with drawings, schematics, crew rosters, star charts, uniforms, story boards of battle scenes. Basically, we'd been overwhelmed by what turned out to be a star ship epic. Even though we hadn't completed the assignment, we'd done more work than everyone else, and she gave us A's.
While that binder is probably rotting in a landfill, the story didn't die. I kept turning it over and over in my mind, constantly day-dreaming about the plot and living in a world that was a lot more interesting than life in dusty Las Cruces. I jotted my ideas into a series of sketchbooks, with drawings, maps, and narratives. One time, I invited the preacher's son to my home and showed him the sketchbooks. He told the cute girls at church that I lived in a silly cuckoo land. Bastard. After that, I kept the drawings to myself.
Years later, in critique group, one of our members decided to show us what she meant in her story by bringing out sketchbooks of her fantasy world. I had found my tribe!
I guess like most of you writers and artists, if measured strictly by time spent vs. money earned, we might be better off cleaning carpets or bookkeeping. But God Himself, or Herself, wasn't content maintaining the universe as it was. So there.
Plus! This Tuesday evening, Feb 8, catch Jeanne and me at the Smoky Hills Library, 5430 South Biscay Circle, Centennial CO (303-542-7279).
And now, for the important news: Mark Henry is coming to Denver! Yes, the premier zombie enthusiast and snark stylist will be in the Front Range to flay us with his wit and prose.
This Friday, Feb 11, 7pm, at the Broadway Book Mall, 200 S Broadway, Denver, CO. He'll be signing his latest massmarket release, Road Trip of the Living Dead, and Battle of the Network Zombies.
And then, Round Two of Mr. Henry at the Scorned Lovers Art Show. Saturday, Feb 12, 6-9pm at the Art Salon, 2219 East 21st Street, Denver. At York St near City Park for you locals. Mark will lock arms with Denver poet Kate Redmond in a special erotic reading that promises to show that nothing is too lowbrow for us. Eat special Valentine's cupcakes and browse the awesome artwork. Enchant a new lover or hex a treacherous past amante by jabbing a pin into the giant Love VooDoo Doll. Work out your contempt at broken romance by helping us demolish the Scorned Lovers piñata with the big black Love Stick. It's the other side of love and we've all been there. You be here!
The Wire and Other Shorts
A rather short entry today. My mind is preoccupied with the new book. But I did want to mention a series I just finished via Netflix. If any of you have not seen the series The Wire, run, don't walk to get your hands on a copy of it. It's five seasons of the best television I've ever seen. I'd be interested in your opinions. I'll tell you right now my favorite character is Snoop. If you've seen it, what's yours?
Lionsgate has set a March 23, 2012 release date for The Hunger Games, director Gary Ross's adaptation of the first novel in the trilogy by Suzanne Collins. A cast has not yet been named. Variety reported that Lionsgate "acquired the feature rights in 2009 and set the project up with Nina Jacobson at her Color Force banner with Collins adapting her own novel."
The Madea mastermind will take on the James Patterson-created character, previously played in two movies by Morgan Freeman.
For his next gig, Tyler Perry is losing the wig and donning the suit of detective-psychologist Alex Cross.
QED is mounting a production based on the popular James Patterson character that has already been portrayed by Morgan Freeman in two previous studio movies.
Tyler Perry? I guess I can't see him in a serious role, let alone one done first by Morgan Freeman.
# # #
And if you're a follower, Rick Marshall posted a blog on an interview he did with Dark Horse editor Scott Allie on Whedonverse 2011: Buffy: Season Nine, Dollhouse and Serenity comics. After the ending of Season Eight, I can't even begin to guess what comes next.
Okay, back to the book. I want to thank all of you who had such complimentary things to say about the new headshot...both here and on Facebook. And Mario has posted such thoughtful, intelligent posts the last two Mondays, I'm beginning to wonder if there isn't a doppelganger out there loose. If so, what have you done with the real Mario?
In any case, one of the Mario's will be appearing with me this Tuesday at the Smoky Hills Library, 5430 South Biscay Circle, Centennial CO (303-542-7279). Then on Thursday, I have a solo gig at the new Southglenn Library, 6972 South Vine Street, Centennial CO 80122 (303-542-7279). The library is located in the new Streets of Southglenn Mall so if you haven't yet been there, perfect opportunity to check it out.
Stay warm. I was going to start off with we're freezing our butts off here but it's nothing compared to other parts of the country. What's a high of -4 when there are places out there under four feet of snow? Crazy winter. At least whats-his-name didn't see his shadow....