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, December 30, 2012
  Time for the new
Mario here:

What I'm reading: The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

It's that time of the year. I'm not much on resolutions, believing that if you have to commit to something, then do it now. However, it's good to reflect on what we're doing, measure how well things are going, and if necessary, apply a mid-course correction to the tiller.

One of my ongoing "resolutions" is to read more, and for the last few months I've averaged about a book a week. The books I selected were either recommended to me or I plucked them from those "Best of" lists. Most I enjoyed and cribbed from for my writing classes. Others...I couldn't see what the fuss was about.

This past year we've been bombarded with advice on promoting ourselves and using social media. Twitter and FaceBook yourself to fame and fortune.  Joe Konrath offers a review of his resolutions, starting with 2006, and we can see the evolution of his musings regarding the publishing industry and how to nurture a writing career. He distills his hard-earned advice into this nugget: The best way to find success is to write a good book.

Which begs the question: What is a good book?

Here's my take: One that people want to read.

My reading this past year showed me that there isn't one single key to what makes a good book. No formula. No templates. Some stories were funny and acerbic tirades, lacking in plot but loaded with wit. Others steamrolled you with a plot so engrossing that the lack of lyricism didn't matter. And yet others set up a premise in a setting so compelling that I had to devour every word. If you have any favorite reads, please chime in.

Happy New Year!

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's snowing outside and I'm curled up watching Manhattan Murder Mystery (the second of a Woody Allen marathon-- Annie Hall was first) and suddenly it hit me...It's Thursday. Blog day. And I haven't blogged...

Sorry. But it's been a wonderful holiday and I've done absolutely no work except those end of the year things--sorting, organizing, cleaning out cupboards. The kind of chores that make you look forward to the new year because you're READY for it!

And I am. I love the beginning of the year. It's so full of promise, of adventure, of new horizons. It's what I wish for all of us--the feeling that anything is possible. And for we writers out there, it really is. If you want to reach an audience, now is the time to get out there and do it.

Here's to 2013-- in many respects, Year One!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012
  For Xmas--My Next Big Thing
Mario here:

What I'm reading now:

Factotum by Charles Bukowski

I got tagged a couple of weeks back by Scott Browne who was trolling for victims for The Next Big Thing blog meme. I mean, this multi-level marketing approach to pimping our books was certain to go viral and get us scads of publicity. Yes!

My Next Big Thing? The University of Doom.
Where did the idea come from for the book?

Am not sure. Like most of my ideas, it materialized from the fog of a hang-over. Or while I was speaking in tongues.
What genre does your book fall under?


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie

A cross between an adolescent Boris Karloff and a young Cantinflas.


 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Young Alfonso Frankenstein battles the evil James Moriarty to save his middle-school ass. And his dad's.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The gods will decide.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Much too long.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Frankenstein (duh!), Lord of the Flies, and anything by Tim Dorsey and Tolstoy.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

Utter and complete desperation. That and the voices in my head.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

If you love robots, monsters, and middle-schoolers reanimating the dead, this is the book for you.

Below are the people I tagged. All great writers and worthy of gold-plated pimpage.

Aaron Michael Ritchey is a writer and inspirational speaker from Littleton, Colorado. He belongs to several writers organizations and will be the emcee of the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April 2013. Thank you for letting him share his stories.

About Jaye Wells. After several years as a magazine editor and freelance writer, USA TODAY Bestselling author Jaye Wells finally decided to leave the facts behind and make up her own reality. Her overactive imagination and life-long fascination with the arcane and freakish blended nicely with this new career path. Her Sabina Kane urban fantasy series is a blend of dark themes, grave stakes and wicked humor. Jaye lives in Texas with her saintly husband and devilish son.

Rudy Ch. Garcia’s noir detective story LAX Confidential appeared in Latinos in Lotusland, Bilingual Press (’08). His Southwest fantasy, Memorabilia (honorable mention in Writers Digest competition) appeared in Needles & Bones, Drollerie Press. A SF-fantasy flash fiction piece A Grain of Life is viewable at AntiqueChildren.com (’09), and a humor-fantasy-horror, Weird Ronnie, took first place in an AlternateSpecies.com competition in Britain. The fantasy story Mr. Sumac published in AQC’s journal Kingdom Freaks & Other Divine Wonders, Spring 2012. His SF short Last Call for Ice Cream was accepted by Rudy Rucker, Sr., for his Flurb webzine #13, 3/12. Garcia is a quasi-ex-member of the Northern Colorado Writers Workshop, holds a B.A. in writing from the University of Colo.-Denver and works as a Denver-area bilingual elementary teacher. He is a founder-contributor to LaBloga.blogspot.com, a Chicano literary website.

Feliz Navidad, amigos!

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Well, it's almost here. One day before we all disappear in a ball of cosmic dust. 
Or not.

If this was your last day on earth, how would you spend it? Would you think of all the things you wished you had done? There was a wonderful series on television a few years ago called Dead Like Me. Wikipedia has a rundown, if you're interested. Anyway, one of the most poignant episodes had to do with the reapers sorting the last thoughts of mortals. Know what most of them were? Regrets. Regret for a love that was never expressed...for a trip that was never taken...for a dream not pursued because of fear.

I don't expect the world will end tomorrow. Or the day after. But maybe it's good to be reminded of the threat every so often. Maybe it's a catalyst to take inventory of what's important in our lives.  To make sure we take that list of things we plan to do and turn them into a list of things we do.

I'm taking my own advice.  I've already started my list. Oh, and on Friday, I'll be spending the evening with my critique group. Our annual holiday get together. If the end does come, I'll be in good company. I hope you are, too.

PS Both graphics are from Facebook - The first,  by Josh Davis via Tea Party Standup.
     The second, a photo shared by Jdc
Sunday, December 16, 2012
  When life takes the punchline away.
Mario here:

I was planning to post my turn at The Next Big Thing, a Q&A of what's up with my writing. Maybe next week, after the Mayan Apocalypse.

For the last six years I've sent out a special Xmas mailer, and this year I limited myself to this simple card. It was supposed to reflect my disappointment in big projects that still haven't panned out.

But in light of a couple of tragedies, I'd be a callous lout to pretend my little tribulations really matter in the grand scheme of the universe. So except for the few cards that were mailed last week, there will be no Mario Acevedo Xmas card this year.

First, we had the shooting in Newton, CT. That news flattened what was supposed to be an upbeat weekend. My only connection to the place was that long ago I had interviewed for a job in Newton, but this senseless rampage still put a hole in my heart.

I wasn't the only one whose humor backfired. Last week the Onion published an article depicting President Obama as a paranoid gun nut. The story wasn't that funny to begin with, and with the horror at Newton, the joke was bitterly insensitive.

Then I found out that a friend and fellow instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop, poet Jake Adam York, died Sunday of a stroke. He was 40 years old.

I guess the best we can do is hang the Christmas lights, pay our respects, and continue to count our blessings.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012
  Writerly Curiosities
Seems everyone's in a flux over what to do with their writing careers. Came across a couple of very interesting articles to muddy the waters even more. Well, actually, Mario sent the link for the first one. This is for anyone who has gotten rejected and is feeling alone. The title is Literary Rejections: Best Sellers Initially Rejected from a website called Literary Rejections.

This is the most poignant (and ridiculous):

“The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.” Perhaps the most misguided literary critique in history. With a further 15 rejections, there remained little hope her personal thoughts would see the light of day. Eventually, Doubleday, bring the translation to the world, and The Diary of Anne Frank sells 25 million.

Hard to believe, isn't it? Kind of puts our rejections in perspective.

Then, what's really going on in the publishing world? Should we throw our fate to the wind and take the self-publishing plunge? Or continue to hold out for the traditional route? And what are the pros and cons of each?

Anne R. Allen writes a clear, concise blog entitled: Indie Publishing in 2013: Why We Can't Party Like It's 2009  in which she lays it all out. Read it here .

Then be prepared to be as conflicted as before.

Coming up:

Mario and I are at the Boulder Barnes & Noble on Friday -- noon to 4 PM.

On Saturday, look for me with Lizzie T. Leaf at the Barnes & Noble at Sheridan and 92nd in Westminster from about noon to 3 PM.

To all my Jewish friends, Happy Hanukkah. I think the Festival of Lights is one of the simplest and most beautiful ways to celebrate the holiday season.

Sunday, December 09, 2012
  Watch your back!

Mario here:

What I'm reading this week: The Gods of Greenwich by Norb Vonnegut.


Don't forget. This Friday, Her Highness, Jeanne Stein, and I will be signing at the Boulder Barnes & Noble as a fund raiser for the Longmont Theater Company. Jeanne posted the details last week and you'll find them here.

And this Thursday, it'll be a literary beat down with writer pals, Warren Hammond and Cort McMeel, at Noir@theBar. 8 PM. Juanita's Eat. 32 S Broadway. Pack heat and bring bandages.

It wouldn't be the holiday season without someone playing Grinch. In this case, that shame goes to one of the NY Big Six, Simon & Schuster, who teamed up with the notorious Author Solutions to screw unsuspecting writers. Basically, S&S has gotten into the vanity press business and has hired Author Solutions to fleece the unwary scribe's pockets. Knowing that it's a tough gig to get published and make money at it, Author Solutions dangles the promise of a publishing contract with S&S and then pulls the old bait-and-switch, and you're out thousands of bucks paying for over-priced self-published books no one wants. And worse, they use fake people (via Facebook) to sing the praises of their services. Sad, so sad, that a major player in America publishing stoops to scams that would make a Nigerian banker say, "Why didn't I think of that?"

People are going schizo with this Mayan end-of-the-world paranoia. Believe what you want but at least get the details right.

This is the infamous Mayan calendar.

This is an Aztec calendar.  It looks like a bar coaster. It does not predict the end of the world but it does note the best times for Happy Hour.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2012
  Longmont Theater Fundraiser
On Friday the 24th,  (Cripes-- it's the 14th of course) Mario and I will be at the Boulder Barnes & Noble taking part in a fundraiser for the Longmont Theater Company. From the theater website:

Book Fair Fund Raiser - December 14 - 19, 2012 

Help support live theater, by shopping for books! (And games, and CDs, and DVDs, and cheesecake, and Nooks, and...) In Store, Dec 14: Join us at the Barnes &. Noble bookstore in Boulder (or ANYWHERE in the U.S.) on December 14, 2012. 

At the Boulder story, while you shop, you can enjoy caroling from our singing group, SRO, story reading, writing letters to Santa, and appearances by many local and national authors. When you check out, use code 10866499, and Longmont Theatre will earn a share of the proceeds. 

On line, Dec 15 - 19: You can also shop on-line, at barnesandnoble.com, December 15 through 19, 2012, and use the "Book Fair" code 10866499 when you check-out. 

You'll find the Boulder B&N at 2999 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80301

And you'll find Mario and I there between about noon and 4 PM. Check out the Facebook page for a complete listing of authors and hours. 

This is actually the first time I'm signing in Boulder. Hope to see some of you there.

#  #  #  #

In other bookstore news, Mystery Writers of America announced the winners of the 2013 Raven Awards, which recognizes "outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing." There are two this year, the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstores in San Diego and Redondo Beach, Calif., and Oline Cogdill, who has been a journalist for more than 25 years and is the mystery columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Now most of you know, Mysterious Galaxy is one of my favorite bookstores. They have always been supportive of the writing community and hosted me in signings from the release of the very first  Anna Strong Chronicle. I'm happy to see them recognized.

Other MWA Edgar nominees can be found here.

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I posted this on my Facebook page this week, but I think it's worth reposting. From the Denver Post:

ZAROZJE, Serbia—Get your garlic, crosses and stakes ready: a bloodsucking vampire is on the loose.

Or so say villagers in the tiny western Serbian hamlet of Zarozje, nestled between lush green mountain slopes and spooky thick forests. They say rumors that a legendary vampire ghost has awakened are spreading fear—and a potential tourist opportunity—through the remote village.

Read more: Vampire on the loose in Serbia?

Seems the locals think if the Romanians can profit from Dracula, why shouldn't they?

Why indeed!!! It's what I've been trying to do since 2004!


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Sunday, December 02, 2012
  Best TV ever

Mario here:

What I'm reading: Alchemystic by Anton Strout.

One star reviews, what to do about them? Over at the League of Reluctant Adults, we take our most blistering one-stars and secretly repost them on our list group, where we gleefully jeer the reviewer. Our comments range from ridiculing the reviewer's poor English skills to speculating on their sexual proclivities and moral failings. But what about responding to the reviews on Amazon? I've read two different philosophies. Elle Lothlorien says to reply to the reviewers directly as a form of customer service. Another successful writer, Collen Collins, takes the opposite approach. She explains that you don't even click on a one-star review because Amazon tracks every click (who doesn't on the Internet?) and the more clicks a review gets, the higher its profile in the search algorithms. She goes on to explain how to "undo" a click.

At the last MileHiCon, CJ Henderson complained that modern television was a waste of time. Melinda Snodgrass jumped back at him; her rebuttal was that television programing has never been better. I have to agree with her. Today's shows benefit from bigger budgets, improved technology, and a lack of editorial restraints that hobbled earlier programming. Who wouldn't want to see an episode of the The Dick Van Dyke Show where the writers could've cut loose like Seinfeld or The Big Bang Theory?

Like many of you, I've gotten hooked on the great serial dramas offered by cable. What we fiction writers can learn from these shows is that they are all essentially soap operas. We are drawn into the lives of the heroes and villains and we tune back every week to catch up on the foibles of our favorites.

The Sopranos is over and done with. We hold our breaths for the absolute final season of Breaking Bad. In the meantime, what show should I sink my chops into? Despite the recommendations, I couldn't latch onto Battlestar Galactica or Dexter. The Walking Dead...meh. Mad Men lost me. I enjoy historical pot-boilers but was disappointed by Magic City. The premise is great: vice and corruption in Miami during the Rat Pack years. Visually, the show has a beautiful Mid-Century aesthetic and it hits the right historical notes. However, the gangster tropes repeat every mobster movie that I've seen. Boardwalk Empire is another series that I'm tepid about. Again, the set design and costumes...amazing! The historical backdrop...ching! ching! ching! But the character focus is too scatter shot, the plot complications too Byzantine (to the point I feel the need to take notes), and the narrative lacks much urgency.

So what's at the top of my Netflix queue? Hell on Wheels. It's an engrossing and unflinching look at life during post-Civil War America. We know the railroad was built across this country but do we realize that every foot of rail line was originally laid by hand? It's obvious if you think about it, but you have to see these teams of men hacking at the ground with pickaxes and sledge hammers to appreciate the effort. Every character brings a rich backstory: poor-mouth Irish immigrants, freed slaves smoldering at the humiliations they're forced to endure, former rebel soldiers traumatized by defeat, Native Americans about to get buried by ruthless "progress," camp prostitutes who clutch at dignity. What draws me into the show are the textured moral ambiguities in a lawless land. The show rubs our face in the ugliness and brutality of life on the frontier: a black man gets lynched; the Cheyenne braves are anything but noble; the hero of the show, Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), plays the most flawed bad ass ever. My complaints about the series are the lack of regular frontier women other than Lily Bell (Dominique McElligott)--not every woman out west was a whore. And I can't believe that men back them could be so cruel to one another. The men in this Hell don't form friendships but alliances.

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