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, November 28, 2012
Post Thanksgiving Blues
Thanksgiving is over. November is over. NaNoWriMo is just about over (I failed miserably in my attempt to finish strong—hell, I failed to finish PERIOD.)
But now we have December to look forward to and the holidays. My traveling for the year is finished. I have a book to write, an idea for another I want to develop, gift lists to finalize and cards to send out. I just learned that a publisher is sending me eighteen (18!!!) books to read in the next month for the Stoker awards.
Yeah. Good luck with that.
I can’t even remember the last time I had a month to relax. To sit on a beach and not be plotting or planning. I sound like I’m complaining. Maybe I am. A little. I know how lucky I am. I have a wonderful family. I’m working at something I love. I’m even making a little money. But just like any other job (maybe even more than most jobs), I’m working. Hard.
I think I need a vacation.
On a lighter note--
Want to see the most popular video on YouTube?
Want to explain to me why this has 152 MILLION views (and counting?) Or am I just being crabby?
What I'm reading: After The Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn.
Trust that everyone had a great Thanksgiving, from the T-day dinner through the weekend festivities. I had family from out of town. We dragged our turkey-stuffed behinds to the Pompeii exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. An awesome and thoughtful hour-by-hour telling of the volcanic destruction of a thriving Roman city. The Apocalypse is a popular subject in modern literature, and after viewing this exhibit, end-of-the-world stories don't come close to capturing the pathos and horror of reality. No zombies in this cataclysm but plenty of plaster casts of the dead caught in the final throes of life. Many died comforting one another. Truly poignant and disturbing.
Afterwards, we watched Argo--the best movie I've seen all year. Exciting, spine-tingling suspense, terrific dialog, some good humor, and plenty of great story-telling. The movie does an excellent job explaining the background to the Iranian revolution that led to the American hostage crisis. Plenty of theatrical touches that put you back in 1979-1980. The hair (porn staches), the clothes (the men wore plaid blazers--not a black suit or power tie in sight), the clunky electronics, teletypes (with that super-cool rapid-fire printing that told you something dramatic is about to happen!). There wasn't a weak character in the cast though John Goodman and Alan Arkin practically stole the show. Ben Affleck played an appropriately cool and understated hero, the real-life Tony Mendez. Bryan Cranston chewed the carpet (this guy is everywhere).
Love the series. Hate the series. Regardless, you can't deny the power.
I'm talking the Twilight franchise.
I know Stephenie Meyer has her detractors, among them Stephen King who publicly skewered her. However, I can't help but taste sour grapes in his famous missive. The goal of every fiction writer is to connect with their audience. Basically, King panned Meyer for delivering to her audience what they wanted craved to read. Sure, most of us get nauseated at the idea of vegetarian sparkly vampires, especially those undead centenarians who skulk around high schools in search of romance. (Maybe in another universe, Jerry Sandusky could've been the love interest in a Meyer novel.) But Meyer nailed her audience--young female romance readers--who frankly didn't give a damn about wussy pedafiliac non-bloodsuckers. Meyer had so connected with her audience that in 2008, she represented 18% of $ales in the American publishing industry and kept her publisher from going under. Aside from Harry Potter, no other YA series has come close to that success. Not The Hunger Games (as good as it was), or Percy Jackson and the Olympians (another excellent series) or the much touted The Night Circus (positioned to be the Next Big Thing). So go out there and connect with your fans and rake in the bucks.
You love zombies? You wanna earn karma points? I mean buckets of karma points. So much karma you could steal from your mother and still get VIP seating in Heaven?
One of those weeks...
This has been one of those weeks that I both love and hate. Love because I accomplished a huge housekeeping task that I'd been putting off since January--converting a basement bedroom that had become the house "junk drawer" back to what I had intended it to be--my book room. My sister is coming to visit which was the motivation to finally getting it done. And I did. But in the process, something had to suffer.
That's where the hate comes in. I fell woefully behind in my writing. I'm supposed to be halfway to the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words--I'm weighing in at about 9,000. Can I catch up? With the holiday and company? Probably not. Will I try? Damn straight!
Also, I had a friend come in to town over the weekend from San Diego. It snowed. I hate driving in snow. Even after seventeen or so years of living in Colorado, I still avoid doing it at all costs. So, Gary, I'm sorry our timing was so off. Sunday morning dawned bright and clear and I figured, great, we can meet downtown, do brunch, a little sightseeing. But for some reason, we failed to make contact. Messages didn't get through. Maybe we'll have better luck next time.
Tomorrow night (I'm writing this on Wednesday afternoon--instead of working on my novel, I might add) Mario and I and the rest of our Pearl Street Critique gang are attending the first signing of one of our RMFW pals--Linda Hull.
Publisher's Weekly had this to say about her debut novel, The Big Bang:
“Hull’s satisfying debut explores the McMansions of Melody Mountain
Ranch, a planned suburb where eating disorders, lesbian affairs, and a
coven of teenage witches are just a few of the outrageous secrets hiding
behind the idyllic facades. Hull deftly handles a multitude of
complicated characters and brings about a conclusion that will leave
readers suitably scandalized.”
Sounds like fun!! Who doesn't like being suitably scandalized!! Since Linda is one of the Hand Hotel Writers, I can't wait to share this evening with her. There's nothing like an author's first signing. If you'd like to share in the festivities, too, Linda will be signing at the Tattered Cover (LoDo), 7:30 PM, 1628 16th Street, Denver, CO 80202.
Don't be shy. Come on up and say hello. Mario might bite, but I don't.
What I am reading: The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
I have to admit a desperate fight against the green-eyed monster when I
attended the Lighthouse Writer's Studio with Junot Diaz. What writer
doesn't dream of filling an auditorium with an audience who have paid
money to see him? As people crowded into the theater, I waited, stewing
in jealously, to find out just how good Señor
Diaz could be. His short fiction has been published in The New Yorker, African Voices, O. Henry Prize Stories, etc., etc., etc., His The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He teaches creative writing at
M.I.T. (really? I thought the school was nothing but techie geeks.)
Besides a boatload of the expected awards (Guggenheim, PEN/Malamud,
etc., etc., etc.,) Diaz recently won a MacArthur Fellowship--the
"Genius" award. I wanted to hate him!
After a gracious introduction by Lighthouse directors Michael Henry and
Andrea Dupree, a subdued Diaz took the stage. He didn't
bring anything to read from and asked the audience for a copy of his
most recent book, This Is How You Lose Her. (I was one of the few among the hundreds without any of his books.)
Let's get past the foreplay.
Diaz was amazing. His reading was a model performance. It wasn't simply a
reading but a theatrical presentation--plenty of eye contact with the
audience, dramatic inflections, gestures with his book--nothing hammy,
just a guy excited to tell you a story. What every author should do but
we're too dense to learn how. His story knocked me flat with its voice,
suspense, and humor. The man is a master of narrative immersion and plot
twists. Afterwards, he dazzled us during the Q&A. At the end, I was
no longer envious but inspired and humbled by his charm, smarts, and
And now...for the 2012 Lisa Nowak award: Paula Broadwell.
You've no doubt heard plenty about the resignation by Gen. Petraeus for
reasons of adultery. This torrid affair shoved the Biting-Edge Irony
index into the red. And we writers love irony. Irony One. Broadwell's adoration of Petraeus is what wrecked his career. His number one fan became his femme fatale. Irony Two. Although we don't have mug shots of a disheveled and
disgraced Broadwell (as with former astronaut Nowak), the otherwise
perfect Broadwell morphing into psycho-bitch when she threatened another
woman is what eventually brought the FBI into the picture. Irony Three. Thanks to news leaks, we have the image of Broadwell
and Petraeus' scholarly chats devolving into porn scenes with sex under
the desk. Brown Chicken Brown Cow. Until now, the two of them could've been the gooder-than-good heroes in a Vince Flynn novel.
I'm sure that as we learn more, the ironies will continue to pile up like discarded undergarments.
But don't cry too hard for Ms. Broadwell. Like they say, there is no
such thing as bad publicity, and Broadwell's adulatory bio of her
four-star booty call, All In, is tearing it up on Amazon. But some snarky reviewers have dismissed the book as "A Valentine" and "Pillow Talk." Ouch!
A Little Pimping Music Please...
I've been reading a lot of YA lately--comes with being a judge for the Horror Writers' Bram Stoker Awards-- There's a lot of really good stuff out there and it happens that two of our Reluctant Adult buddies are among the new additions to the category. So let me introduce you.
Written by Michele Vail (aka Michele Bardsley) Undeadly premieres November 20. Description from Amazon:
The day I turned 16, my boyfriend-to-be died. I brought him back to life. Then things got a little weird… Molly Bartolucci wants to blend in, date hottie Rick and keep her zombie-raising abilities on the down-low. Then the god Anubis chooses her to become a reaper—and she accidentally undoes the work of another reaper, Rath. Within days, she's shipped off to the Nekyia Academy, an elite boarding school that trains the best necromancers in the world. And her personal reaping tutor? Rath.
Life at Nekyia has its pluses. Molly has her own personal ghoul, for one. Rick follows her there out of the blue, for another…except, there's something a little off about him. When students at the academy start to die and Rath disappears, Molly starts to wonder if anything is as it seems. Only one thing is certain—Molly's got an undeadly knack for finding trouble….
And next, from the incomparable Mark Henry writing as Daniel Marks, Velveteen. I'm in the middle of this one now and I love it!
Available now. Description from Amazon:
Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that's not the problem. The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it's not a fiery inferno, it's certainly no heaven. It's gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn't leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what's really on her mind. Bonesaw. Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she's figured out just how to do it. She'll haunt him for the rest of his days.
It'll be brutal . . . and awesome.
But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen's obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she's willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.
Velveteen can't help herself when it comes to breaking rules . . . or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.
It's always a treat to come across new books and authors. I hope you give these two a try.
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And speaking of books, Audible now has all eight of the Anna Strong Chronicles as well as three anthologies in which I have stories available for your listening pleasure. And right now you can try Audible and get a free book! It's the chance to experience Anna's adventures in a new way. Just click on the link and search for Jeanne C. Stein.
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About 7000 words into NaNoWriMo. Not exactly burning up the track, but it's a good way to keep the momentum going. And after the last few months when travel and/or conferences/signings took up about half my time, it's really nice to be home. I've even enjoyed getting back to the gym--wonder of wonders.
So it's onward and upward on the new series. I hope to attend some of the NaNoWriMo write-ins at the Panera bread shops. It's fun and inspiring to be in the company of other writers. What about you? Any favorite places to write?
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Thank you Google for reminding me...Bram Stoker's 165th Birthday is today!
What I'm reading: The Alien Years by Robert Silverberg.
It's NaNoWriMo. Do you know where your Muse is at?
One popular question for writers is, "Where do your ideas come from?" It's a tough question to answer because for us fiction writers, ideas come from everywhere. It could be from a wedding veil lying in a deserted alley, or a man in a business suit running down the street, or from overhearing an argument in a posh restaurant. I guess the seed for a story is that detail that sticks out from its surroundings, the proverbial What if?
Maybe the veil was tossed by a jilted bride. The man running down the street has left his mistress' panties in his luggage, which his wife will soon unpack, and he's racing to catch a cab home. The argument could be over a house a couple is about to buy, which is actually a fight over the fact that he hates her mother.
Once we get these ideas, we have to weave them into a larger story. Some ideas can be scenes within the story, and others can be drivers for the plot. How people interact on the subway can add nice texture to a scene. I once read an article about how corporations are buying fresh-water rights all over the world and used that as a plot theme in the Undead Kama Sutra, a tale about alien gangsters and vampires.
I'm surprised when other people--normal people I suppose--aren't constantly letting themselves get lost in the narrative threads around us. Then I suppose normal people aren't trying to write fifty thousand words in thirty days.