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!
Monday, May 30, 2011
Outsnark your competition with fashion
Hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day weekend.
The big news is that last week my sister, Sylvia Acevedo, was sworn in as a commissioner in the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence. It's no secret that Sylvia is the smart one of the family, seeing as she is a Stanford grad with a slew of awards for business and community achievement. Always the forward thinker, at the first meeting of the commission candidates in the White House, she wanted to make sure she stood out from the other hyper-Type-A's. While everyone else wore conservative business attire, my sister had donned an all-white outfit with gold and black piping. And it worked. President Obama noted Sylvia and made it a point of greeting her.
For the swearing-in ceremony by Supreme Court Judge Sotomayor last week, Sylvia upped the fashion game. This time she wore a jacket in snazzy black&white zigzags and finagled her way to the front of the line and made sure she got the best seat front and center as one of the "Wise Latinas." (Some of the other women wore all white, which as so last time.)
And in another example of her cleverness, she had arranged a signal to her partner Janet. An ear tug means: " I'm thinking of you."
And here is Sylvia shaking hands with Judge Sotomayor.
The reception was catered by McDonalds, and my sister assured me there was plenty of good wine and cheese and not one Quarter Pounder or Big Mac in sight.
Writer alert! There's another publisher looking for awesome Sci-Fi novels: Angry Robots Books. Check out their website for titles and guidelines.
We writers constantly tell the wanna-be's that one key to improving your writing is to read...a lot. Sadly, I've been somewhat of a slacker, but I recently plowed through a couple of great books that I wanted to share.
How I Became A Famous Novelist by Steve Hely is the best fiction story I've read about the writing and publishing game. The protagonist, Pete Tarslaw, gets invited to the wedding of his ex and so decides to exact revenge by showing up as a famous novelist and humiliating the bride. Tarslaw studies the bestseller lists for inspiration. He tries writing a genre novel but gives up because it has "too many moving parts" and opts for a literary saga because he can cover the plot holes with "wordy spackle." It's a wonderful tale about an ambitiously clever writer undone by his pettiness and cynicism. Hely is an impressive, insightful writer and his crisp, engaging prose kept tugging me along.
The California Roll by John Vorhaus was a rewarding detour from my usual fare of hard-boiled mysteries and urban fantasy stories. Radar Hovelander is a grifter and such a liar that at times I wasn't sure what he believed. Hoverlander gets pinched in a con that gets murkier and deeper with every chapter. Vorhaus is a masterful writer and has peopled his tale of deception with quirky double-crossing characters who flip-flop loyalties like frogs on hot pavement.
Despite the lies that Jeanne has been passing along about me not posting cuz I was on a bender and waking up in Dumpsters, the truth is I've been on the road, hard at work hoisting the flag for the Biting-Edge (while she slums at Lake Havasu, no doubt sunburned and hung over).
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the South Carolina Book Festival where I rubbed shoulders with some fabulous writers. I presented with fellow Urban Fantasy scribes Sam Morton (L), Faith Hunter, Kalayna Price, with Diana Carr moderating (back).
Each author had more facets than a diamond: Sam has worked as a detective and a professional wrestler; Faith publishes under so many pen names it's a wonder she's hasn't gone schizo and she's a jeweler; Kalayna is an amazing fire dancer.
The festival was crazy busy yet amazingly organized, thanks to the incredibly perky festival director Paula Watkins (L), here with the equally sunny author Signe Pike. In an instance that shows how small our world can be, I'd met Signe last December at a signing in Colorado Springs and here we crossed paths again.
Likewise, wandering RMFW author CJ Box and I also ran into each other--at the open bar, no surprise there--and we traded hats.
I hobnobbed with some fantastic regional authors who charmed me with their class, warmth, and delicious Southern accents. Karen White, who accessorizes with bling and a refreshing Cosmo,
and River Jordan, who proved as deft with poignant advice as she was with fashionable hats.
Signe and River spoke on In Pursuit of Enlightenment: Memoirs & Stories, and each shared wonderful stories about finding grace and a spiritual center. After needing answers about life following the death of her father, Signe quit her job and went in search of faeries and magic. River needed solace to cope with the worry of her two sons deployed to war and decided to turn her thoughts to the world.
That weekend ended with a hop south to Charleston to break bread with pals Rebel Sinclair and Mark Jones of Black Cat Tours. No trip to the Wicked City is complete without a stop at Big John's, where if ladies remove their tops and pin their bras to the ceiling, they drink free for the rest of the night. Such a deal.
Last Friday Manuel Ramos and I kicked off the publication of the YA anthology we're in, You Don't Have A Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens, at the Tattered Cover on Colfax. The book is getting great buzz so support the cause and buy lots of copies.
Well, not really. I'm off to visit with my daughter and her significant other in Lake Havasu. But they have sun and we've seen so little of the sun the last few weeks, it's almost like going to Oz. My hubby and I are ready for a break. Plan to spend lots of time in the pool or on the lake or just hanging out with my favorite kid! She's my only kid but she's my favorite anyway.
Since we're going to be gone until Saturday, I'm taking next Thursday off. But don't listen to anything Mario says about me while I'm gone. Remember, he exaggerates.
In the meantime, I found this review of Charlaine's Dead Reckoning, but I think you should check it out because there's also a very good recap of the differences between TrueBlood on TV and the book series. I know there's always some discussion about it and this serves as a good reminder that they are really two different mediums. Check it out here
See you in June!
PS Any Memorial Day plans? Whatever they are, keep safe!
posted by Jeanne Stein @ 3:35 PM9 comments
Monday, May 16, 2011
Here we go again....
Mario emailed late last night to say he was sleeping off a drunk somewhere in South Carolina and didn't think he could get his eyes open wide enough or his brain clicking fast enough to post something today. At least he's still alive.
He should be back and sober to present at the Pikes Peak Writer's workshop tomorrow, May 17.
GOING GOTHIC: Writing Dark Fantasy
With Mario Acevedo
The always hilarious (?)* Mario Acevedo, author of The Nymphos of Rocky Flats and other Felix the vampire detective novels, joins us to discuss the appeal of dark fantasy and horror writing.
This workshop will cover the sub genres and elements of dark fantasy, the techniques used to create the appropriate mood and settings, and in-class exercises.
He also said Eric Calder of the Independent of Co Springs interviewed him but I'll be damned if I could find the interview. Maybe you'll have better luck. Look for it here
Personally, I think he dreamed it.... Colorado Springs, be afraid. The rapture coming on Saturday will be nothing compared to Mario coming on Tuesday...
posted by Jeanne Stein @ 6:21 AM0 comments
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Rainy Day Thursday
Spent an hour yesterday afternoon with my pal and favorite author, Charlaine Harris. She was here for a signing at Tattered Cover, one stop on her multi-city signing tour. She managed to squeeze in a few minutes with me before heading off to meet her fans. While I was there, Charlaine received the call from her editor, Ginjer Buchanan. Dead Reckoning debuted #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list! That makes how many #1's now? Congratulations, my friend.
Lionsgate and director Gary Ross have set Wes Bentley to play Seneca Crane in The Hunger Games, the film that stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. Crane is the head gamesmaker of the 74th Hunger Games, which pits teens from 12 districts in a televised battle to the death. This is the first of several adult roles that will be cast. Rumored participants include John C. Reilly, as District 12's only living past winner and current drunk Haymitch, but Lionsgate labeled that absolutely false when it came up a couple weeks ago, and nobody lies to Deadline, right? The pic will be released March 23,
Woody Harrelson has landed the latest co-starring role in Lionsgate's The Hunger Games, the adaptation of the Suzanne Collins novel that will be released March 23, 2012. He will play Haymitch Abernathy, the mentor of the lead character Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who Abernathy trains to fight in a televised battle to the death among teen teams. Wes Bentley and Stanley Tucci are among the adults already cast.
Stanley Tucci will play TV host Caesar Flickerman in The Hunger Games, the Gary Ross-directed adaptation of the Suzanne Collins's novel, according to Deadline.com, which also reported that Woody Harrelson has landed the role of Haymitch Abernathy, the mentor of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence).
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Okay, how many Mario Puzo fans out there? Something to look forward to from Shelf Awareness via Jacket Copy
The Family Corleone, an "all-new prequel" to the late Mario Puzo's bestseller The Godfather, will be published by Grand Central in June 2012. Jacket Copy reported that the task of bringing the story, based on an unproduced screenplay written by Puzo, to life was given to author Ed Falco, who "grew up Catholic in Brooklyn; his writing has dealt with violence; the Virginia Tech shooter, who killed 32 people in 2007, was one of his students. And on the more frivolous side, he is the uncle of actress Edie Falco, who starred in the modern-day mafia hit The Sopranos." Falco's previous work includes novels St. John of the Five Boroughs, Wolf Point and a story collection, Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha--all from Unbridled Books--as well as and his most recent book, Burning Man: Stories (SMU Press).
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I'm always on the lookout for good Sherlock Holmes stories, too. Here's a new YA that sounds promising:
Death Cloud: Sherlock Holmes--The Legend Begins by Andrew Lane (Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, $16.99, 9780374387679). "Sherlock Holmes is 14 years old and expecting his father to pick him up from school to go home for summer break. Instead, his brother Mycroft shows up, not to take him home, but rather to take him to stay with an aunt and uncle he has never met. Disappointment turns to adventure, danger, and intrigue. This is a wonderful introduction to a beloved character. We'll all be looking for more of this series!"--Christine Crawford, Epilog Books, Quincy, Calif.
A reminder for Denverites--this is the last week to get in on reduced rates for this month's RMFW May program.
Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness, a one-day workshop
Saturday, May 21 8:00a to 4:00p
Renaissance Hotel, Denver, CO 3801 Quebec Street, Denver
Price: $70 early registration; $85; $95 at the door Phone: (970) 497-6452
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is sponsoring a one-day workshop featuring Kirt Hickman, author of Revising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness. The workshop will be held at the Renaissance Hotel on May 21st. Colorado authors Carol Berg, Jeanne Stein and Betsy Dornbusch will be on-hand to answer writing-related questions or critique the first two pages of your manuscript. For more information please see Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ website at rmfw.org or contact Vicki Law at (970) 497-6452. Price includes continental breakfast and buffet lunch.
After a very dry winter here on the lowlands, Mother Nature is making up for lost time. Two straight days and nights of rain/snow/slush. I have a bird feeding station in my back yard. This is the time of year when mother birds bring their babies and feed them from the perches on the feeder. Unfortunately, the feeding station also attracts squirrels. Now normally, I get really irritated at the squirrels. But for the first time this year, two mama squirrels and their babies have become constant visitors. It's really hard to get annoyed at cute, furry, funny, playful little squirrels!! Now I know they grow up to be big, troublesome squirrels. But for now, I am enjoying their antics. I've been trying to get pictures, but they won't let me get close enough. I'll keep trying.
PS Remind me of this post later when I start bitching about the bumper crop of squirrels I have to keep chasing away from my feeders!!!
And now, it's our pleasure to pimp a regular from the RMFW Colorado Gold Conference and the Mile Hi Con, author Thea Hutcheson.
I caught up with her at the über chic Park & Co where we split a delicious burger and basket of fries.
Biting-Edge: How are you?
Thea: Doing fine but busy. Working three jobs if you include my writing.
Biting-Edge: What's going on with your writing?
Thea: First of all, I write erotica under the name of Theda Hudson. I decided to rebrand myself to emphasize my erotica so that's why I adopted a pseudounym. As for what's going on, I'm excited to announce my short story "Blossom, Cherry," in the anthology Sex In San Francisco coming out from Renaissance eBooks. I also have a magical fantasy short story, "Good Husband," coming in an upcoming issue of Realms of Fantasy magazine. And another short story, "Taking Steps-Stripped Down," is reprinted in Best Lesbian Erotica 2011, trade paperback in September 2011. I've got a steampunk short fiction in Best Lesbian Erotics 2011.
Biting-Edge: What's your definition of erotica?
Thea: To me, erotica is where the central conflict is of a sexual nature with the graphic parts implied. I like it gritty, with no satin or velvet.
Biting-Edge: Why do you write erotica?
Thea: I want to address the issues of sexuality from a sex-positive woman's point of view. I want to combat a lot of stereotypes and misinformation that exists in the media about women and sexuality. But if you ask me, why do I write at all? Because if I don't, I suffer withdrawals.
Biting-Edge: What are the challenges for you as an author?
Thea: Well, there's the big one we writers all face: trying to stay published. I've decided that I won't write for the sake of getting published. I've set my professional bar at a level that I'll write work of such quality that I expect a certain amount of money in return for my efforts. On a personal basis, my first challenge was when I discovered that writing fiction wasn't about stringing a bunch of pretty words together, there has to be conflict and tension. Trouble is, for me, I have a hard time being mean to my characters.
Biting-Edge: What's next?
Thea: I've got four novels that I'm polishing and hope to sell. I have two time-travel romances, an erotic-paranormal, and a science-fiction. At this year's Colorado Gold, I'll be facilitating a workshop, Erotica is More than Plumbing.
Biting-Edge: We like playing with the plumbing. Thanks much, Thea. Keep us posted on your success!
A Kat, A Nook, Star Wars and a new Steampunk convention...
Some good news from my League pals -- First of all, from Kat Richardson who writes the Greywalker series, a walking tour of Harper Blaine's Neighborhood in Seattle. This is very cool
Then in further good news for Kat, from Publisher's Marketplace, her next three urban fantasies in the Greywalker series about a private inspector, who is forced to risk the hard-won love and stability she has finally found in order to protect the world and the Grey, and defend those caught where ghosts roam and magic sings, (was sold) to Anne Sowards at Ace, in a good deal, by Sally Harding of The Cooke Agency.
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Next, a new contract for another Leaguer, Michele Bardsley: Michele Bardsley writing as Michele Vail's THE REAPER DIARIES, introducing a girl who wanted to keep her part in the family zombie-raising business quiet - until her 16th birthday when her boyfriend-to-be dies, she brings him back to life, then finds herself immediately shipped off to necromancy school, where her first assignment is reaping the soul of the very same boyfriend-to-be; and her reaping tutor? the same hot but very angry reaper whose work she undid in the first place - and that's the least of her new problems, to Natashya Wilson at Harlequin Teen, in a three-book deal, by Stephanie Rostan at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency (World).
Beginning in early May, a group of DK's talented Star Wars authors and illustrators will hit the road, visiting bookstores, schools, and libraries for the DK Star Wars 'Attack of the Authors' East Coast Tour. Events will run from May 7th through May 15th, from Massachusetts, all the way down to Florida.
Tour guests include Ryder Windham, Chris Reiff, Chris Trevas, Jason Fry, and Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein (the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars). Co-sponsored by Mimobot and Her Universe, the 'Attack of the Author' events will also feature guest appearances by the costumed characters of the 501st Legion and the Rebel Legion, members of the R2 Builders Club, as well as raffles, giveaways, and Star Wars activities.
A full-sized R2 droid replica will be coming along for the ride, collecting signatures of attending 501st Legion and R2 Builders Club members at each event, which will be raffled off to benefit a national charity organization after the tour. A full list of dates and author appearances can be found here.
A couple of weeks ago I covered Autography , a prototype system for autographing digital books involving an iPad 2. Now Barnes & Noble is about to release an upgrade to the Nook reader that will allow Nook owners to have authors sign their e-books using a stylus . (Presumably via the touch-sensitive color LCD screen portion of the reader.)
Interestingly, eReader (which Barnes & Noble bought) long allowed authors to do something similar using an Easter Egg function of the Palm PDA reader client. I wonder if that’s what gave B&N the idea?
At any rate, for Nook owners this could be a rather better way to do book autographs than the complicated Autography system that would involve social networking and downloading and various rigamarole on the part of the author. Nook owners could just activate the autograph function, hand the stylus over, and get the signature. Just like with a paper book.
Which in turn makes buying a Nook start to look more attractive to “serious” e-bibliophiles. The wi-fi model is becoming available for $80 refurbished now and then, after all…
So how do you Nookies feel about this?
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A nice Steampunk article touting the first ever Southern California steampunk con.... from San DIego CityBeat :
Nancy and James Hay say they’re striking while the steampunk iron is hot. The two are helping program and promote the Gaslight Gathering, the first-ever Southern California steampunk convention, happening at the Town & Country Hotel in Mission Valley May 6 through 8.
“Steampunk has been around since ’87,” says James, wearing a mad-scientist, Victorian-era costume complete with brass goggles and a futuristic-looking time-travel watch. “But it was just kind of a low-lying thing—not really a big part of science fiction. Then, I eventually heard about the first steampunk convention, and I went, ‘Oh, OK, when did it become a movement, and why the heck didn’t anyone tell me?’”
The couple knew the steampunk zeitgeist was strong when talk of it left the fan sites and entered the mainstream. Locally, there was the steampunk art show at the Oceanside Museum of Art and a steampunk-themed fund-raiser at Sushi Performance & Visual Art in East Village, so they figured it was a good time for a convention in San Diego.
The affair will include how-to panels on things like making your own carpet bag and designing vintage shoe coverings, plus literary talks, a masked ball, concerts and tea time.
“Making this an annual convention is the aim,” Nancy says. “And as long as Time magazine doesn’t put steampunk on the cover, then we’re probably OK, because once that happens, it means the thing has peaked.”
More at the link above. Also check out Winona Cookie's site. Some great stuff.
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Okay, sports fans, that's it for this week. What's going on in your world that I should know about? Or that I shouldn't know about. I'm not picky. Anytime you spot an article of interest about a favorite author or book or whatever, let me know. I'm always on the lookout for good stuff. My life right now is butt in the chair, hands on the keyboard as I finish up the eighth Anna Strong adventure. This one is shaping up to being much darker than any of the others. Lots of asses for Anna to kick. Mario really loves that. I have a working title--Haunted--but that may change, Just not sure yet.
Pimping Druids, the Fae, and Kevin Hearne Thanks very much to Jeanne and Mario for letting me hang out here! I’m peppering a whole bunch of League blogs today for my urban fantasy debut, Hounded, and you can see the full list of stuff I’m up to over at my own blog.
I had some Twitter peeps suggest to me that I write about my path to publication, so I decided to do that over the course of a few blogs: the genesis of the idea is on John Scalzi’s Whatever blog in his feature called The Big Idea; my twenty-year epic journey is on the blog of fellow Leaguer J.F. Lewis, and here’s where I’m going to share a bit about queries.
I wouldn’t say my query was the bestest ever. Not even close. I sent it to twenty-four agents and got nineteen form rejections, three partial requests and two full requests. Lots of people get better results that that. Luckily, one of the full requests offered me representation and he sold the series in two weeks at auction. (And that’s a lesson right there: twenty-three agents said no to a manuscript that was quite acceptable to four publishers. Everyone has different tastes and you have to be persistent until you find the right match.)
I had zero contacts in the industry and no publishing credits, so I simply began with the pitch itself—either the story would be interesting on its own merits or it wouldn’t. At the end I put in a word count, hinted I had a series here, and then gave them exactly what they wished for in terms of their submission requirements. Some agents want ten pages, or the first three chapters, or whatever. Read their requirements and follow them! They’re all different on purpose because whether you follow them or not is a big hint about what you’ll be like to work with. Don’t tell them your friends really like it or that it will sell a million copies, or commit any of these other sad (but true) errors you'll find on Slushpile Hell.
Atticus O’Sullivan has been running for two thousand years, and he’s a bit tired of it. After he stole a magical sword form the Tuatha Dé Danann (those who became the Sidhe of the Fae) in a first century battle, some of them were furious and gave chase, and some were secretly amused that a Druid had the cheek to defy them. As the centuries passed and Atticus remained a fugitive—an annoyingly long-lived one, at that—those who were furious only grew more so, while others began to aid him in secret.
Now he’s living in Tempe, Arizona, the very last of the Druids, far from where the Fae can easily enter this plane and find him. It’s a place where many paranormals have decided to hide from the troubles of the old world—from an Icelandic vampire holding a grudge against Thor to a coven of Polish witches who ran from the German Blitzkrieg.
When Atticus hears from the Morrigan that his nemesis, Aenghus Óg, has found him once again, he decides to stay and fight rather than run. In so doing, he becomes the center of power struggle amongst the Tuatha Dé Danann where the sword he stole is the key to a plot to overthrow Brighid, First among the Fae.
Hounded is complete at approximately 82,000 words, and is the first book in a series of urban fantasy novels about the American Druid, for which I am seeking representation. I’ve enclosed a brief synopsis and the first fifty pages for your review. May I send you a copy of the entire manuscript? I have included a SASE for your reply. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Kind regards, Kevin Hearne
This letter didn't include any of the subplots or supporting characters in Hounded that early reviewers are responding to; a query letter can't contain all of that. You have to sell your main plot and hint at the rest if you have the room, but keep it short and enticing. The whole point is to get the agent to request your manuscript, after all, so that they can learn all about your subplots and supporting cast for themselves.
Again, my query letter isn't the zippiest ever. I'm much better at writing books and being a smartass than I am at writing a one-page sales pitch! But it's a necessary part of the biz, and one you have to acquire some competency in if you ever want somebody to read your work. Writing guest blogs during your release week is another necessary part of it. :)
If you'd like to read the first six chapters of Hounded for free, you can click here and find that as well as other goodies. It's available now at all the cool places you normally buy books. Hope you enjoy, and thanks to Jeanne and Mario for letting me sprawl out here! Our pleasure Kevin. Sell tons o' books, then give generously to our bar tab!