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, August 29, 2012
First of all, thanks to all of you who made the Haunted launch a success--friends, family, old friends and new, the staff of the Tattered Cover. You are all great and I appreciate you more than I can say. To those of you who don't follow me on Facebook, I need to share this little token from my critique group. I'm sure you who can guess who picked it out!
Anna has her gun, I have mine!!
I'm putting the blog up early (or rather late, it's about 11 PM on Wednesday night) because tomorrow I'll be on the road to DragonCon in Atlanta. If you're going, here's my schedule--be sure to look me up!
Title: The Good, the Bad and the Undead
Description: The never-ending appeal of vampires
Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: Centennial I - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: Vampires, Demons and Werewolves--Oh, My!
Description: Paranormal fiction, urban fantasy etc.
Time: Sat 04:00 pm Location: Embassy D-F - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: Heroism and Sacrifice
Description: What's worth facing the forces of darkness for?
Time: Sat 05:30 pm Location: Embassy A-B - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: You Are What You Fight
Description: How heroes identify (or not) with their monstrous foes
Time: Sat 07:00 pm Location: Embassy C - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: Short and Not So Sweet Stories
Description: Help for short story writers from the pros.
Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: Embassy D-F - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Title: The Perfect Blend: Genre Mixing in Urban Fantasy
Description: Urban fantasy has been romantic, mysterious, magical. What makes the perfect blend?
Time: Mon 11:30 am Location: Fairlie - Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
It's an interesting, varied tract and I'm pleased to be included. I'm also looking forward to spending time with pals Carol Malcolm and Derek Tatum and visiting with my special GA fan, Ron Marlar. And Ron, I have some swag for you!
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But enough about me. I have a couple of fun things, too. Colorado made another list--this time it's the Forbe's ugliest mansion list. I always thought the sleeper house kind of cool...
Loved this, too: On what today would have been Bradbury’s 92nd birthday, said Michael Meyer, NASA’s lead scientists for the Mars Exploration Program, “In his honor, we declared the place that Curiosity touched down to be forever known as Bradbury Landing.” Meyer’s announcement was followed by applause for Bradbury, as requested by Pete Theisinger, Curiosity’s project manager.
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Okay--I'm off to bed. See you all next week? Or maybe at D*Con?
I'm just back from Bubonicon 44, another winning con. It's my favorite of the smaller cons as you get to rub shoulders with some of the biggies in today's sci-fi/fantasy literary fields like George RR Martin.
Every con has a certain vibe to it and if I had to choose one for this con, it had to be humility.
Lesson One: Delivered by none other than the ever-witty Connie Willis. She knocked 'em dead as moderator at our presentation, "Worst Panel Ever" which included staged examples of bad panelist behavior. I did my best to be the snarkiest panelist, which was difficult to do, considering Willis' rapid-fire bon mots.
Lesson Two: Warren Hammond and I sat next to each other in the Author Signing room and we renamed our tables Humility Row because we sat beside the long line formed for George RR Martin and the Guest of Honor Author, Brandon Sanderson. It can be dispiriting to see fans carrying milk crates stacked with books for Martin or Sanderson while the rest of us sell onesies and twosies.
Brandon Sanderson took over the Wheel of Times series from the late Robert Jordan and has continued to keep up the momentum for the series' success. He was a great GOH and extraordinarily generous with what he's learned as a professional writer.
Besides the above lessons, I didn't leave the con empty-handed. Some back story needed here. I constantly run into wanna-be writers who talk about their work and most of the time I nod agreeably and walk on. Two years ago I heard how the locals spoke highly of Ian Tregillis so I attended his reading of a work-in-progress and was blown away. I said to myself, "Damn, this Ian can write." So this time around I bought copy of his book, The Coldest War. Check out his ultra-cool website: Ian Tregillis.
Another book I've been waiting to get my mitts on is After The Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn. She has a wonderful way of twisting conventions and creating immensely satisfying characters. This is her take on super heroes and their families. Ever wonder what it must be like to be Lois Lane and suffer the attentions of evil super-geniuses? This book should provide an insight.
Six Days and Counting...
Tonight (Thursday) I'll be at Tattered Cover Lodo to celebrate the kick off of this year's RMFW Colorado Gold Conference. As one of this year's nominees for Writer of the Year, I'll be on the panel to answer audience questions about the exciting life of an author...that's a joke btw. Mostly being an author is isolation, work, self-doubt and a questionable future. But every once in awhile you open an email from Amazon and see something like this: your book offered front and center. One just hopes that buy link gets used over and over!
you looking for something in our Science Fiction & Fantasy books
department? If so, you might be interested in these items.
I should mention that Haunted will not be available tonight. Unfortunately, the publisher would not let TC offer the book before the official drop date of Aug 28. There will be lots of other door prizes though, and you will be able to see my new hair color so that should be some consolation. If you are a friend on FB, you'll know all about how that came about! And next Tuesday, I'll be at the Highlands Ranch TC with plenty of copies of Haunted. So please join me.
I hope I get these bookmarks before the 28th. Aren't they great? I want to use them as door prizes.
Okay, I guess that's all I've got for this week. My nerves are shot. Everyone asks me how I can be nervous about the debut of a book when I've done it so many times before. But it doesn't get easier. The future of any new book hinges on the past performance of your last. So my personal plea is this--buy Haunted early and often!
I'm surprised by the need for people to express themselves artistically, even though as a writer I am one of those folks who's got voices constantly chattering in my head and they won't shut up until I put their stories on the page.
For example, last night I passed a coffee shop where a folk musician was rocking out on a mandolin. Considering the venue, he was probably playing for tips. I'll bet this gig was the high point of his week even if it did zilch to pay his bills.
We see how artists express themselves but we seldom ask why, especially if they do something that seems a bit left field.
Photo credit: Westword
This last week I attended an exhibit at the Art Salon by the graphic artist Alon Paul. He put together an exhibit titled Muse:365, his homage to Madonna (Ciccione--the singer). What Alon had done was create images of Madonna, one a day for a year. I could think of other, more conventional outlets for my art, and the concept of the show seemed a little unhinged for sure.
Then I read Westword's article on Alon and the show, and what I discovered turned my head around. Alon was the son of a single mother. She was only seventeen when he was born, and as Alon wrote, "It was a kid raising a kid." The lack of money was a constant challenge and so Alon grew up in the finest trailer parks, as he put it, of Nebraska and Wyoming. They moved twenty times before his sophomore year. It was a rootless existence and Alon felt adrift, confused, and neglected by society. At the age of seven he discovered Madonna and became inspired by her drive and defiance to critics and popular opinion. She became the compass to his life, and Alon recognizes that his obsession with her is his crazy, but it's a good crazy.
Denver chalk art Larimer Square, 1st Place, credit Facebook Alon Paul
If Alon wanted success then he had to emulate what Madonna has done. Work hard. Focus. Shun the negative. When he decided to honor her with a show, he failed twice at producing work. Alon decided that if Muse: 365 was important, then completing the art became an exercise in discipline and sacrifice, and serves as an example to all us creative types.
For a taste of Alon's vision and Muse: 365 at the Art Salon, check out this YouTube video:
First off, a SoCal pal of mine, Suzanne Lazear, had her launch party for Innocent Darkness at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena last weekend. Wish I could have been there because, besides the obvious, there were cupcakes:
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From National Geographic: Great American Manhunt
Sound intriguing? The series videos are available here
Captain Jack is coming to The CW!
John Barrowman is joining the network’s new fall action-drama Arrow.
The Doctor Who and Torchwood star has signed for a recurring role in Arrow’s debut season. Producers are not saying much about his character, only revealing that he will play a “well-dressed man” who is “as mysterious as he is wealthy … he is an acquaintance of the Queen family and a prominent figure in Starling City.”
Hmmm … one suspects the character is from the Green Arrow comic mythology. Philanthropist Stanley Dover Sr., perhaps? Unless they’re doing a new twist on Brick or the Green Lantern…
Picture credit: AP
I love this guy--I might just have to watch Arrow though to my mind, Justin Hartley IS the Green Arrow.
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A few fun things--
From Flavorwire : Ten Grumpiest Living Writers (Any guesses? No--Mario's name wasn't included.)
From the Houston Press : 10 Hottest Sex Scenes in Literature (Having nothing to do with you-know-what)
From Forbes: World's Top Earning Authors (Following are the top 15)
1. James Patterson ($94 million)
2. Stephen King ($39 million)
3. Janet Evanovich ($33 million)
4. John Grisham ($26 million)
5. Jeff Kinney ($25 million)
6. Bill O'Reilly ($24 million)
7. Nora Roberts ($23 million)
8. Danielle Steel ($23 million)
9. Suzanne Collins ($20 million)
10. Dean Koontz ($19 million)
11. J.K. Rowling ($17 million)
12. George R.R. Martin ($15 million)
13. Stephenie Meyer ($14 million)
14. Ken Follett ($14 million)
15. Rick Riordan ($13 million)
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Well, it's countdown to the pub date for Haunted. On August 28, I'll be at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch to celebrate. Hope to see you there...
Weekend of words and taps to Joe Kubert
Happy Birthday to the fabulous Broadway Book Mall. It's been three years!
So it was no coincidence that last Sunday, the mall presented, not one, not two, but three fantastic authors:
At left, Rebecca Hale, NYT best-selling author of How to Wash a Cat. She read from her newest book, Adrift in St. John.
In the center, Carrie Vaughn, who treated us to the latest Kitty Norville novel Kitty Steals the Show, which just made the extended NYT list. Yeah team!
Balancing the panel and surprisingly fresh-looking despite the long trip from Albuquerque, Stephen Gould, who discussed his books, Jumper, Reflex, and 7th Sigma (a really cool tale about murderous nanobots).
And there was another act to this weekend's literary hulaballo.
Finally, it was Denver's turn to host MWA-University, the Mystery Writers of America's roadshow of writer/instructors who travel these United States to share their expertise on the frustrating task of writing the novel.
The festivities started Friday with a faculty reception at the amazing Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a party brimming with frivolity and libations. Mystery Ink authors Cricket McRae, Linda Hull, and Jess Lourey trade "war stories."
The seminar took place Saturday in the spacious and comfortable Tabor Auditorium of the Westin Hotel in downtown Denver. My head about exploded from all the writerly wisdom.
Meanwhile, MWA Executive VP Larry Light was either doing homework or losing a bid on eBay. Not certain either way but he was sure grimacing at the screen.
After a long day at the lectern, Jess Lourey and Reed Farrell Coleman gossip philosophize over steaks and wine.
Over at LaBloga, Rudy Garcia shares his insights and experience about the editorial process for his forthcoming novel, The Closet of Discarded Dreams.
And the world got a little smaller and darker with this sad news; comic book legend Joe Kubert passed away. One of the artist pillars at DC Comics, Kubert's most famous character was the war-weary but always heroic, Sgt. Rock.
A Little Pimping Music Please...
New Month, New August Releases (including one from yours truly)
Here are some new books due out this month from our pals in the League of Reluctant Adults:
Seawitch by Kat Richardson
Amazon Book Description: Harper Blaine was your average small-time PI until she died—for two minutes. Now Harper is a Greywalker, treading the thin line between the living world and the paranormal realm. And she’s discovering that her new abilities are landing her all sorts of “strange” cases.
A quarter century ago, the Seawitch cruised away from her dock and disappeared with everyone on board. Now, the boat has mysteriously returned to her old berth in Seattle and the insurance company has hired Harper to find out what happened.
But Harper is not the only one investigating. Seattle Police Detective Rey Solis is a good cop, albeit one who isn’t comfortable with the creepy cases that always seem to end up in Harper’s lap. As they explore the abandoned vessel, Harper and Solis discover a cabin containing symbols drawn in human blood, revealing the ghost ship’s grave history.
Blood Bath and Beyond by Michelle Rowen
Amazon Link : Sarah Dearly is adjusting to life as a fledgling vampire, satisfying her cravings at vampire-friendly blood banks. But when her fiance Thierry takes a job with the Ring—the secret council in charge of keeping vampires in line—Sarah’s about to get more than a taste of danger…
All Seeing Eye by Rob Thurman
Amazon Book Description: Picking up a small, pink shoe from the grass forever changed young Jackson Lee’s life. Not only did its presence mean that his sister Tessa was dead—murdered and stuffed in the deep, black water of a narrow well—but the shoe itself told him so. Tessa’s death triggers an even more horrific family massacre that, combined with this new talent he neither wants nor can handle, throws Jack’s life into a tailspin. The years quickly take him from state homes to the streets to grifting in a seedy carnival, until he finally becomes the cynical All Seeing Eye, psychic-for-hire. At last, Jackson has left his troubled past behind and found a semblance of peace.
That is, until the government blackmails him. After Jackson is forced to help the military contain the aftermath of a bizarre experiment gone violently wrong, everything he knows about himself will change just as suddenly as it did with his little sister’s shoe.
A Wolf at the Door by Kari Stewart
Amazon Book Description: Jesse James Dawson was once an ordinary man until he discovered that demons were real, and fighting them meant putting his own soul on the line. His new case is a beauty: Gretchen Keene, a Hollywood starlet who's become an unwitting catalyst in an all-out demon war. It's not her soul Jesse needs to protect, but the two-hundred-and-seventy-six others she's carting around--all the souls sold to spend just one night with the blonde bombshell. That's a lot of baggage, although it might explain her meteoric rise to fame. And it's all up for grabs by the demon world.
All Jesse has to do is keep her safe until New Years. Sounds easy. But darkness is casting a nasty shadow in the California sun--a new unseen enemy is closing in and leaving Jesse to wonder, how do you fight something you can't see coming?
Haunted by Jeanne C. Stein (now where have you heard that name before?)
Anna Strong—kick-ass bounty
hunter and vampire—has made some enemies in her time. But it’s not just her old
foes she should be worried about…
Anna’s shape-shifting friend,
Culebra, ﬁnally opens up to her about his life before owning Beso de la Muerte,
a bar catering to supernatural clientele. As if summoned by the conversation,
Culebra’s past stumbles into his bar in the form of an old buddy cashing in on
Soon Anna, Culebra and her ex,
DEA agent Max, ﬁnd themselves deep in Mexico,
dealing with drug cartel inﬁghting,
old vendettas, and missing girls. Mexico may just
prove to be Anna’s best match
Now for convenience, I have included an Amazon link for each book, but your local indies and/or brick and mortar stores should also have copies available.
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Stephen King was on Craig Ferguson the other day-- Here's the interview!!
Followed by the very last appearance by the Rock Bottom Remainders
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Odds and ends-- the first picture of Mars from the Curiosity Lander. How cool is this?
I was thrilled to get a review of Crossroads from Charles de Lint in the Sept/Oct Edition of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. de Lint is the award winning author of 36 fantasy novels and 35 books of short fiction. He liked Crossroads, ending the review with this:
The prose has a nice cadence, the dialogue rings true, and the characters feel like people rather than constructs on paper. Some of the elements of the plot were expected but there were enough surprises that I was kept guessing about many of the various mysteries right up to the end. When I get a little time I’ll definitely be looking into some of the earlier entries into this series. Wow! Talk about praise from the master. The full review will be up on this website after Sept. 1 One last item of BSP - RT Book Review Magazine gave Haunted 4 1/2 stars! From the review:
...Haunted offers true edge-of-your-seat drama, as friendships are tested and the specter of past deeds threatens to bring danger and death. Buckle up, because megatalented Stein is heading into severely hazardous (and unputdownable) territory! Music to a writer's ear...
Thank you Jeanne for covering for me last week. I was deep in the process of moving into new digs.
Years ago I had moved into Five Points, an area infamous in Denver for crime and urban decay. My son needed to move in with me and besides needing more room, my place at the time didn't allow for pets. So I rented a row house apartment in the 'hood. Little did I know that this temporary layover would last six years.
The epicenter: Five Points, at the corners of 26th, 27th, Welton, and Washington Streets.
Officially, the neighborhood is known as Curtis Park and is the oldest "suburb" of Denver, construction having started here in the late 1870's for a community of middle class workers and the city's nouveau riche.
Sadly, Curtis Park fell into neglect in the late 1910's when the wealthier
residents migrated to the tonier environs of Capitol Hill. Year by year,
the base income dropped. Segregation corralled African-Americans along Welton Street and northward. Redlining limited home
loans which choked the flow of money needed for upkeep. Misguided
attempts by the city at development flattened blocks of historic homes.
Ironically, what saved Five Points was neglect. This part of town
had such a seedy reputation that for decades no one wanted to live
here, and that spared Curtis Park from the infestation of
Despite recent gentrification, Five Points retains its gritty urban feel. The "Jesus Saves" rescue mission is blocks away, a hobo camp at Lawson Park (next to a popular softball field), and itinerant day laborers put you shoulder-to-shoulder with the down-and-out. Party goers flock to the nightclubs on Welton Street and in the mornings you'd find the sidewalks and curbs littered with show flyers and broken bottles of booze (and the occasional condom). Graffiti appeared like herpes and alley Dumpsters were jammed with piles of cheap, broken furniture. I'd been propositioned by hookers at 2PM right in front of my stoop. (I politely declined.) You learned to blank out the many pan handlers.
Over time, I began to appreciate the neighborhood and its urban vibe. The closest Light
Rail stop was only two blocks away. We could walk to Coors Field and LoDo. How cool was that? My favorite urban hike included chichi 17th Avenue through Uptown. Trendy bars and hipster coffee shops mushroomed all around us. While we had our share of ghetto hood rats, they never
bothered us. The nearby Safeway--nicknamed the Not-So-Safeway-- was remodeled and the clerks took care to go out of their way to greet me. One even came around her counter to give me a good-bye hug when I mentioned that I was moving away.
There was a bit of circularity in my experience here. I had my original author's head shot done by the photographer James Glader, who at the time lived and worked in this wreck of a building, the Mathews-Gotthelf Mansion. Like many of the larger homes in Curtis Park, this house had been sub-divided into apartments. Inside, the building reminded me of the derelict mansion that Tyler Durden lived in as a squatter in Fight Club. Then Shazamm! a couple of years later, I lived up the street and the mansion is getting a long overdue make-over.
Now I live in the Highlands, a part of Denver almost as old as Curtis Park. It's a homogenous neighborhood, mostly couples in their early-thirties with young children. Old, tall trees shade the narrow streets. Curtains of ivy and lush flower gardens decorate the houses. Though we live a block from a major thoroughfare, it remains much quieter than Five Points, where ambulance and police sirens were more common than the chirping of birds. No one scavenges our alley trash. There are no crazy people yelling at the corner or couples screaming insults. None of Five Points' character. I miss that 'hood.
"I'm exactly as I appear. There is no warm,
lovable person inside. Beneath my cold exterior, once you break the
ice, you find cold water."
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A couple of weeks ago Mario and I attended a program at the Tattered Cover sponsored by a group called AuthurU. The theme was 11 steps to being a successful author. Among the steps were study others, build relationships and lists, market to those lists, offer free stuff, create joint ventures, etc etc etc. The aim is to build profit streams--not a bad aim for writers who would like to make a living out of their writing. But in all the talk, not one word was said regarding the most important step of all--writing a good book. It seems to most of these "experts" quantity is more important than quality. Keep throwing stuff out there and hope the momentum will build with the numbers. Something is wrong with this paradigm.
Or is it just me?
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From Shelf Awareness:
Focus Features released a new featurette for Anna Karenina, director Joe Wright's adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel. Indiewire noted that the clip "goes behind the scenes of the production, offering up a good amount of new snippets of footage along with interviews with the director and cast." The cast includes Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Johnson, Kelly Macdonald, Olivia Williams, Ruth Wilson and Holliday Grainger. The film opens in the U.S. November 9.
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For you unpublished writers out there: Two contests
Thomas Dunne Books is now accepting submissions for the Minotaur Books/Malice Domestic Competition! Open to anyone who is unpublished who has a completed mystery novel.
Deadline to submit is October 17th. For guidelines and an entry form, send an SASE to:
Malice Domestic Competition, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010 or go here
Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Competition
Deadline is December 17th. Go to above link for details.
This is a great opportunity for mystery writers.
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And still in the news: the Harry Potter Reading Club launches with a virtual visit from J.K. Rowling on Oct. 11. To find out how to join, go here and to read the Reuters article, go here
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Are you watching the Olympics? What's your favorite event????