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, January 29, 2012
The Big Apple and Me
Before we start with our regular programing, let me first pimp Jason Heller (again), who really doesn't need help from the Biting-Edge, as he's already all over the place.
Though I've been back from NYC for a couple of weeks now, it's taken me that time to settle in and collect my thoughts for this blog. This was my most recent haj to the Big Apple, a benny for serving on the national board of the Mystery Writers of America. The trip was bittersweet as I'm in between contracts, as it were. While there, I reflected on the times I've been to New York and my writing career, the ups and downs, on the fortunes of those in my circle of writers--some of which are international and NYT bestsellers, one snagged a major movie deal--and others, like me, paddle about on the murky waters of uncertainty. I'm not complaining, in fact, I have a lot to be thankful for. Five books from a major NY publishing house, three audio books, was a national bestseller, (plus my books were offered by both the Science Fiction Book Club and the Quality Paperback Club--how cool is that?), a graphic novel, short fiction in several anthologies--I've gotten way past the wanna-be stage. But still...there's much to do with no time to rest on my hairy laurels.
The first time I was in in New York City was during the summer of 1973. My hotel was a block from Times Square and I'd never been to a more filthy and disgusting place, even in the seediest parts of Juarez. I was fresh from the dirt-street barrio of Las Cruces and expected better. This was Times Square, the heart of the greatest of America's cities, and it was rife with hookers and the homeless, grifters, thieves. Porn on an industrial scale. Skin flicks! Stroke shops! The drinking age in NY then was 18, I was 17 but no matter. The titty bar had a two-drink minimum, at five bucks a pop. That made it ten $ to watch a skank dance in front of a smeared mirror above the bar. It wasn't sexy, just creepy even for a hormone-obsessed vato like me. Barkers out front practically grabbing your sleeve and dragging you into the nudie shows. You waded through garbage as you passed block after block of graffiti and broken windows. The city was emblematic of the decline of the American urban center. Trashed out. Impoverished. No way to go but down.
I didn't return for over twenty years. In the meantime, New York didn't give up on itself. I kept up with the news as one mayor after another attacked the decay in campaigns of quality-of-life and gentrification. My family visited one crisp November. Well-versed in popular culture, my sons expected public Mafia hits, bodies floating in the Hudson River, street corners infested with prostitutes. Instead we encountered wave after wave of smiling locals. A Times Square that was clean and family-friendly. A city that truly welcomed us nobodies (and our dollars).
Several years later I finally got published. This time I returned to the Big Apple on business. Publishing business. I visited my agent at his then address in the Garment District. Then the first of many annual pilgrimages to 53rd and Madison Avenue, the home of my publisher, HarperCollins. It was a pinch-me moment, and I tried not to act like a star-struck yokel. My editor, Diana Gill, and I met, chatted, she gave me the nickel tour and I made the effort of thanking everyone for their help. The offices were quiet and decidedly utilitarian. I never once saw the infamous slush pile. Afterwords, Gill and her assistant, Will Winton, took me out for the celebrated fancy-schmancy author-editor lunch. Normally, someone else is footing the bill for grub and drinks, I stuff my gut and pour the free booze down my throat. This time I ordered club soda, and as I felt a little daring, asked for a slice of lime. Our conversation was me tripping down a list of questions I'd written in a spiral notebook. I tried to act cool but was nervous. Gill and Winton have palled around with the millionaire Kahunas in the book business, and this was just me, some lucky scribe from Colorado.
Fast forward to another trip, and a lesson on publishing ranking. Nymphos sold out its first print run within a few weeks after the release and was a national bestseller. This trip I got not only my fancy-schmancy author-editor lunch, but also a special cocktail reception at a tres cool Manhattan watering hole. Later, dinner in Greenwich Village with the head of Rayo, my publishing house. I felt so special, so in the fold.
Jump to another trip. My editor and I had lunch first, then a work meeting in her office. That evening, rather than return to my hotel, I detoured to Times Square and watched Batman Begins. After the movie, I wandered about Times Square, amazed at how awesome it was. Eleven at night and crowded with families. Children. Tourists from all over. A sea of happy faces lit up by the ginormous Times Square signs. Who in the 70s would've believed this was future New York City? Suddenly, from the north, fireworks. Why, it wasn't the Fourth of July? So what, I pretended the festivities were for me.
Jump again. The recession wiped out Rayo and took with it a lot people I knew at HarperCollins. Gill and Hinton survived, fortunately. During this last trip to New York I felt like I was walking through the wakes of my previous visits, and I expected to run into myself. Not sure what that meant but New York is there. I'm still here. Writing.
The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America have announced that Connie Willis will be honored with this year's Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award for her contributions to the literature of science fiction and fantasy. Willis is the author of 15 novels and more than 50 short stories and novellas. Her many prizes include seven Nebulas, eleven Hugos and four Locus awards. The award will be presented at the 47th Annual Nebula Awards Weekend in Arlington, Virginia, May 17-20, 2012.
Connie is not only talented but friendly and a wonderful speaker. Some of you might remember her from a RMFW conference a year or two ago. The award is well deserved.
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I had never seen this YouTube video before. I was stunned. Then I was proud.
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From Shelf Awareness: Jack McKeown's presentation of the Verso Digital survey of consumer purchasing behavior was a highlight of the Winter Institute and reinforced the sense among indies that there are plenty of opportunities for bricks-and-mortar bookstores in the post-Borders, digital era.
Among items covered in this interesting survey was how readers find out about books.
Readers find out about books mostly through personal recommendations (49.2%), bookstore staff recommendations (30.8%), advertising (24.4%), search engine searches (21.6%) and book reviews (18.9%). Much less important are online algorithms (16%), blogs (12.1%) and social networks (11.8%). These results "reaffirm the power and necessity of bricks-and-mortar stores and traditional marketing efforts," McKeown commented.
Among other topics of special interest to writers are Indies vs. Chains, the Borders effect on book buying, E-readers and E-books, E-book Piracy, E-Book/Print Book comparisons, pricing of E-Books. It's definitely worth a look.
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I don't know why I feel so reflective lately. Maybe because it's the beginning of a new year, maybe because it may be our last year (kidding, I don't really believe this even if that conservative sect of the Mormon religion posted those repent or get damned letters), maybe because I'm getting old(er)--I find I'm questioning a lot of things I took for granted. Does that mean I'm getting wiser (finally) or just accepting that there are thing I'm never going to change in this world?
Or does it mean nothing at all? I'm feeling the effects of the solar flare? Or the planets are misaligned? Or the moon is in some weird house?
Our friend Mario is attending a wedding out of state so while he's off sipping champagne and flirting with bridesmaids, we have to stumble along without him. I'm sure he'll be back next week with lots of stories we may or may not believe. In the meantime, Happy Year of the Dragon to you!!
I think I can, I think I can
Maybe it's because it's January, there are all sorts of blog posts and videos about motivation floating on the Internet. I'm as susceptible (or as neurotic) as the next but these two were pretty good. See if they don't light your fire.
Tuesday night Mario and the rest of our critique gang went to the debut book signing of Jason Heller'sTaft 2012 at The Tattered Cover on Colfax. Jason was funny, charming and as erudite as one might expect. Can't wait to read his book and if you missed his book trailers, scroll down to BE Monday Jan. 8 and check them out. The best I've seen. Hell, I'd vote for Taft. BTW, I'm sure TC has signed copies if you're interested.
Three other pals of the Biting Edge have books out this week--
SUNDAY, JANUARY 22, 2:00 – Carol Berg will discuss and sign The Daemon Prism, the 3rd in her Collegia Magica series. Consumed with despair, the blind necromancer Dante seeks refuge in a magical puzzle -- a puzzle that supposedly fulfills one's utmost desires. But it's actually a seductive trap, threatening to unleash the very cataclysm he fears.
SATURDAY, MARCH 3, 3:00 –
Cindi Myers, The Woman Who Loved Jesse James - Jesse was a dangerous puzzle: a loving husband to Zee and a father who kept his “work” separate from his family, though Zee heard the lurid rumors of his career as a bank robber and worse. Still, she never gave up on him. And he earned her love, time and again.
J.A. Kazimer, Curses! A F&%#ed-Up Fairy Tale - Definitely "not" for baby's bedtime reading, this hilarious and irreverent take on classic fairy tales--think "Shrek" for grown-ups--combines humor, mystery, and characters only a fairy godmother could love.
And in other author news, our Seattle contingent, Richelle Mead, Mark Henry, and Kat Richardson (among others) find themselves in unfamiliar territory--they have snow!! Lots of snow. Snow that probably should be here. If your friends with them on FB or Twitter, you've already heard how they're coping. All I can say is...
better them than me.
That's it for me. Off to the gym. If you're wondering why this is posting so late or even if you're not...the fucking power has been off for two hours. No explanation. No weather problems. No construction in the area. Why would the power go off? You tell me.
One more editorial comment. I know the anti-piracy bill(s) may be flawed...but I have one question--when did stealing become acceptable or a right of free speech???? I just don't get it.
Late post because I spent the weekend in NYC to attend the Mystery Writers of America national board meeting as I'm the President of the Rocky Mountain Chapter. One of the perks of the job though the rest of the year they get their money's worth out of me.
Besides official business, it's a chance to reacquaint myself with old friends and meet new ones.
Among the reacquaintances: The funny (and closeted pervy) Jess Lourey, one of my favorite writers and the author of the satirical Murder-by-Month cozy Mysteries featuring librarian amateur sleuth Mira James.
Gary Phillips, he of the booming voice, President of the Southern California Chapter, and all around pal of everybody in the mystery-writing business.
..and the new friends. Greg Herren, President of the Southwest Chapter, a funny funny guy, and scourge of America's youth as a "gay pornographer." He and Jess spent an hour at Saturday's dinner critiquing New Orleans Mardi Gras costumes (and bodies) on his iPhone album.
Tim Broderick, president of the Midwest Chapter, another funny guy (humor helps in the noir murder business), and prolific graphic novelist.
On Wednesday, January 18, I am one of the featured artists at The Lobby (2121 Arapahoe, Denver), exhibiting along with Greg Marquez and Zoe Tessier, Artists' Happy Hour, 5-7PM, curated by Art Pimp extraordinaire, Eric Matelski.
There is supposed to be a video here and I have no idea why it's not showing up...a blogger mystery!
January 11th: National Clean Off Your Desk Day
Monday was National Clean Off Your Desk Week. So, how's your work space? Send us a picture (before and after if you'd like) and let's see who has the messiest desk and whose cleaned up best.
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Photo credit: National Western Stock Show Photos
Denver's holiday season extends well in January with The National Western Stock Show. The mutton-bustin event where little kids try their luck on little sheep is a favorite of everybody. I think even the sheep have fun with his one!
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Let's see--by now most of you have heard who has been cast as Lee Child's Jack Reacher in the upcoming movie. In case you haven't, follow this link to an article in the WSJ and tell us what you think. All I can say is...huh?????
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Ah, a puppy bookmark. Isn't he cute? From Buzzfeed
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From Flavorwire : 25 Greatest Epigraph's in Literature
The epigraph is a funny literary convention: excerpting lines of someone else’s work — or quotes, adages, lines of verse, lyrics, snippets of conversation, etc — to put before your own...They may seem a trivial part of the work they come attached to, but we think, if done properly, they can be very illuminating.
Here are my favorites:
Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. — G.K. Chesterson (from Coraline by Neil Gaiman)
Lawyers, I suppose, were children once. — Charles Lamb (from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
Behind every great fortune there is a crime. — Balzac (from The Godfather by Mario Puzo)
Have you ever used an epigraph in your writing? Want to share?
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What happens in a book store at night? (I seem to have lost the credit for this one. I apologize.)
A presidential retread and those pesky his and hers
Two years ago I had the good fortune of meeting fellow scribe, Jason Heller, who writes for the AV section of the local Onion and was a contributor to Westword. Heller's a long time critic and raconteur of popular music and culture in general and a thoroughly funny guy. So who better to pen the story of former-president William Howard Taft running for the White House (again)? Heller's novel, Taft 2012 is getting excellent notice and his publisher is sparking up the buzz with these super book trailers.
Another FOBE (friend of Biting-Edge), J.A. Kazimer is sponsoring a Goodreads giveaway for an ARC of her newest book, Curses, A F*cked Up Fairy Tale. It's a great parody of the paranormal mystery genre, and here's your chance to score a copy.
Fellow Leagurer Carolyn Crane expounded recently about Some writing/reading things that she thought she'd never do but now does all the time. She discusses how Twitter has forced her to LOL and ROFL. And her beloved Roget's Thesaurus has been displaced by online versions. Like her, my dogeared thesaurus gathers dust next to the recycle box. It's so much easier to google *word* synonym. But progress brought an unexpected treat--the Merriam-Webster online dictionary's videos.
You get to see and hear brainy (and easy-on-the-eyes) librarian types pontificate on topics such as the pronunciation of troublesome words, flat adverbs, and the stinkeye. A favorite video addresses the whole clunky his or her construct. If you've ever had your hand slapped for writing "Everyone must bring their coat" because it's supposedly more grammatically correct to write "Everyone must bring his or her coat" then guess what? Vengeance is yours. Don't let the pinheads bully your use of the indefinite pronoun. And this video tells you why.
Most everyone begins a new year with the goal to start fresh, reorganize, simplify. Here's one way to get rid of some dead wood...from Topless Robot : Ten Collecting Fads Worth Next to Nothing Today... good place to start. Time to get rid of all those Pogs, Beanie Babies, Homies and Cabbage Patch Kids.
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Coming January 20-- Kate Beckinsale has always been my secret favorite to play Anna on the big screen. What? I can fantasize, can't I?
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Johnny Depp talks Dark Shadows:
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From Shelf Awareness:
Author of the DIARY OF A WIMPY KID series Jeff Kinney filed a lawsuit Tuesday in a Boston federal court alleging that DIARY OF A ZOMBIE KID, published by Antarctic Press, "blatantly infringed [Kinney's] intellectual property and diluted its trademarks."
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Now here's a story that if you put it in a book, no one would believe it:
Train hopping couple buried alive:
A young couple hopping railroad cars across the country was found dead under a mound of coal at a Florida power plant.
As the AP reports, officials at the plant are not sure if the couple was sitting on top of the coal when another load dropped, or if they were in a railcar that was dropping its payload. But they do know that Artes died from asphyxiation--meaning that he was likely buried alive. Hendershot died from blunt force trauma to the mid-section, meaning that she likely died from falling or by having coal fall on her.
Hmmm....seems they should have seen this coming, right? And why ride on top of a car full of coal? Can't have been very comfortable. Am I being too critical? Am I missing something?
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Okay, I think that's it for this week. What's new with you? How is the beginning of the year treating you? It has been surprisingly easy to get back into a routine. In fact, I'm enjoying it. I just wish I wasn't so HUNGRY all the time!!!
For you writers, I like this blog: 25 Things Writers Should Stop Doing (Right Fucking Now) Despite the colorful title, a lot of good advice here . Check it out.
And pal Jeff Shelby, writing as Jeffrey Allen, has a new release: Stay at Home Dead.
And I finally got off my duff and posted the official 2011 Hollow Fang newsletter. What was supposed to be a monthly, or at least quarterly, offering got preempted by this blog, MySpace (which croaked), and Facebook. This issue of the Hollow Fang provides updates on vampiric doings and some helpful ways to augment your cash flow.
You'll need those pennies as you count down to the Apocalypse, December 21, 2012. Not sure what it will be. Earthquakes, financial Armageddon, our favorite--zombies!--or the 1% clearing real estate by unleashing a Doomsday machine.