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!
There are quite a few things you might expect to find at the
bottom of a pond. Garbage. Discarded firearms. Dead bodies weighted down with
cement. But even if I kept that list going for another two hundred entries, I’m
pretty sure I still wouldn’t have reached the “Dalek” entry. But a Dalek is
exactly what volunteers cleaning up a British pond stumbledupon a few months ago. Don’t worry, though…now that it’s back on dry land,
I’m sure the dead bodies will be forthcoming.
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I am going to do something now that I don't think I've done before. I'm going to give a personal reply to a blog written by one of my former critique members. I want to note that this is MY opinion and not necessarily that of Mario or any of the other members of a group that's one of the most successful in Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' history.
This person left our group recently and in a blog post wrote that a critique group was the worst place to go for advice about your writing. That while well-intentioned, and I'm quoting here, " if you don't weed out the BS, your writing will suffer."
Huh???? He also comments "know your craft..." That's about the only thing I agree with in his comment and the one thing, ironically, he failed to grasp. You have to know your craft which is more than just knowing rules. You have to read your genre to understand it. You have to know what readers are looking for. That's not to say write for the market, which coincidentally he tried to do over and over again. But you have to know and understand what constitutes a good book. Specifically, well plotted out, interesting and sympathetic characters, and a voice readers can relate to.
We in our group write commercial fiction. We read everything. We are professional, multi-published, award-winning authors who take our craft seriously. We are both traditionally and independently published. We have no ax to grind, and our comments were always well intentioned and honest. That he found nothing of value in those comments reflects more on him than the group. And I think our successes speak for themselves.
So, I suppose this is in defense of critique groups. Like so many other things in life, you get out of them what you put in.
What I'm reading: Koontown Killing Kaper by Bill Campbell.
We writers obsess about story-telling and are ready to nitpick any plot that come our way: books; TV shows; movies. So it's a treat when someone does it right. Like in the new Star Trek movie.
I'm definitely old school when it comes to Star Trek and resent the retooling of the mythos. I prefer my Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, and Scotty shrink wrapped in nostalgia. My verdict then, of Into Darkness?
Simply: photon torpedoes and phaser banks locked on target and Fire! It was that awesome.
The story clipped along at Warp speed. Hollywood thrillers tend to clobber us with the lynch pins of plot development--the inciting incident, the lock in, the reversal, the main culmination, the third act twist--and we tend to process the unfolding story like a stale joke. This Star Trek movie wove the plot with seamless precision that advanced the story at full throttle. Although the screenplay reworked the Star Trek universe, it managed to snag enough of the necessary tropes (like Scotty's snark and the Vampire pinch!) to keep both veterans and recruits satisfied.
Moving forward: The best free entertainment in Denver. Ever!
The second Denver Noir@Bar. Miss it, and we'll come calling with brass knuckles and lead pipes.
8PM. Thursday, May 23. Juanita's Eat. 32 S Broadway, Denver.
We're hoping for another evening worthy of low life excursions from previous Noir@Bars: NYC, LA, St. Louis.
This, That and T'other...
Using this week to catch up on a lot of media stuff I've collected over the last few weeks. In no particular order:
From Shelf Awareness:
Sue Grafton's forthcoming Kinsey Millhone mystery, her 23rd,
will be titled W IS FOR WASTED, which will be published by
Putnam on September 10. Grafton made the announcement after inviting readers to
guess the title, which she explained to USATODAY: "they enjoy trying to outwit me, so I thought, let's just give
them a chance to participate."
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Will Wheaton on Why it's Awesome to be a Nerd-- something I think even Sheldon would approve of:
Netflix’s new horror series Hemlock Grove. The
show’s new trailer positively glories in the lack of content restrictions. “The
following trailer is restricted to Mature Audiences only by Netflix Inc,” reads
the opening card, “for Mild Fornication, Fellatio, Heavy Cocaine Use, Lesbian
Necrophilia, and Violent Hemorrhaging.”
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The latest brouhaha seems to be over the "genderizing" of covers. Huffington Post's Maureen Johnson gives some examples of "coverflip".
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One of my favorite (imho, best) of the police television dramas may not be back next year. Southlandconsistently presented police work in an honest, factual, unflinching way that reminded me of The Shield. If you missed it, find it on Netflix or Hulu or whatever and hope, the way I do, that the powers-that-be bring it back.
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Cooper to the right, back row
When I was growing up, my mother loved her "stories." She got me hooked on The Young and the Restless and no matter how many episodes I missed because of school or work or any of a dozen different reasons, I could turn it on and be caught up with the residents of Genoa City in a matter of minutes.
Jeanne Cooper played Katherine Chancellor for forty years. When she passed away last week, I felt as if I'd lost a friend. I'm sure my mom would have felt the same, though I have a feeling if there is any kind of after life, she and Jeanne are probably discussing story lines right now!
For those of you not hip to the Biting-Edge jive, Jeanne and I belong to the League of Reluctant Adults, a cabal of literary delinquents so secretive and powerful that we make the Illuminati look like impotent hermits. Our tendrils span the globe but mostly where ink-stained wretches tend to gather, such bars and pie shops (especially if there's free WiFi.)
And to further our dominance of the world, the League unleashes a double whammy of awesomeness not seen since the explosion of Mount Krakatoa (our doing, by the way).
Plant your feet, take a deep breath, and gird your loins. Check out Jaye Wells' newest urban fantasy, Dirty Magic. Trust me. No one does this kind of dirty like Wells.
Unless we're taking about Nicole Peeler. Her latest Jane True novel, Tempest Reborn(book 6 in the series), is also worth girding your loins for.
When you've caught your breath and ungirded your loins, don't forget to mark your calendar for the next Denver Noir@Bar. Thursday, May 23, 8PM, Juanita's Eat, 32 S. Broadway, Denver. Wear a raincoat for the blood spatter.
Life after a BIG con...
Romantic Times BookLovers Convention is one of three big cons that I attend each year. The reasons are many: interaction with fans, lots of good panels, a hopping "bar con" and the chance to visit with other authors I see only at events like this.
This year RT was held in Kansas City. It seems I left Denver in snow and brought the storm with me.
The view from my hotel room.
But since one rarely ventures out of the hotel, and we found the KC has this wonderful "link" system between hotels and various points of interest in the city, it hardly mattered what was going on outside.
I know Mario and I have mentioned the League of Reluctant Adults often in our blogs. We were well represented! These pictures were taken at Pierpont, a restaurant in the old Union Station.
From L-R: Molly Harper and her mom; Liliana Hart, Jaye Wells
As you can see, there is a lot of talent in those two snapshots!
Jaye and I hamming it up (there is a fair amount of alcohol consumption at these things.)
Two more of my favorite author friends: Kat Richardson and Lynda Hilburn
Angie Stanton, successful Indie author who sat next to me at the signing and shared some words of wisdom about indie pubbing.
Display that I set up pimping both the Anna book and upcoming new series. Gave away about 500 cards.
Wonder what authors talk about when they get together like this? No matter the degree of success, the topics are always the same: Will I get another contract? Should I try self-pubbing? Why doesn't my publisher do more for me? How can I better market myself? We exchange ideas, sympathize with career obstacles, celebrate career successes. Just being in the company of so much talent revives the spirit.
Now I'm back home and the galleys of Blood Bond arrived so that's my project for today. I want to thank the 1200 of you who downloaded Cloud City last week!!! I hope you'll let me know what you thought of the novella.
Jeanne is away at RT 2013 doing something scandalous. Not sure what except that it involves the, you know, wink, wink.
When I'm around other writers and the conversation turns toward our favorite and most influential authors, I get a little embarrassed in that I'm often not familiar with many of the names mentioned. Since I've been published in Urban Fantasy, i.e., speculative fiction, people tend to assume I'm well read in horror, fantasy, and science fiction. But apparently I'm not. Sure I recognize Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Issac Asimov. Starship Troopers remains one of my favorite books. And I loved Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars series. I deliberately stayed clear of horror so I never developed an appreciation for Stephen King. When I wanted to read about people doing nasty things to one another, I turned to history, especially the Nazis.
I credit my dad for enlightening me to books beyond what I'd get from the library or the local used bookstore. His hand-me-down pulpy, thrillers included James Clavell, Leon Uris, Frederick Forsyth, Michael Crichton. But there was another author whose books I devoured. John D. MacDonald. My best friend Ron Zapien and I traded copies back and forth from wherever we could lift them. Travis McGee became my hero and I dreamed of an invitation to a gin-and-tonic blowout on his houseboat, the Busted Flush. The titles alone take me back to lazy afternoons sprawled on the sofa. A Tan and Sandy Silence. The Quick Red Fox. One Fearful Yellow Eye.
Besides my fiction homework for the week, it's with added pleasure that I'm going through The Red Hot Type Writer: The Life and Timesof John D. MacDonald by Hugh Merrill. MacDonald's reputation looms huge over the mystery genre with seventy novels and over five hundred short stories published in his career (on a typewriter! He's the Paul Bunyan of scribes!) To more ardent MacDonald aficionados, this biography is a rehash of what they already know. But to me, most of what's on the pages is new. One telling shortcoming is the absence of photographs. I would've appreciated seeing MacDonald with his wife, his days as an insurance salesman pounding out queries and receiving rejection letters, as an Army officer in India during WWII, drinking parties with his fellow hacks, of the novelist MacKinlay Kantor who goaded MacDonald into penning his breakout book The Executioners (later adapted into the movie Cape Fear).
A big lesson and inspiration was MacDonald's discipline to both writing and the development of his craft. He would write almost daily from 8am to noon, a lunch break, and hit the keys again 1-5pm. Then relax, usually with a drink. Years later he reflected, "It wasn't until my habits were firmly embedded that I discovered that writers tended to work a couple of hours and then brooded about it for the rest of the day."
So crack that whip. It's time to work, you slackers.
Today is the first full day for me--a panel at 10 (Vampires we Love to Hate) and an ebook signing from 2-6. Tomorrow, panel at 10 (Anything Goes in Urban Fantasy) and a Vampire Meet and Greet at 3:45 - 4:45. Saturday is the Book Fair. Fun and games for all.
A huge thank you to all who have downloaded Cloud City on Amazon. Free days are today thru Sunday, so it's not too late to get in on the fun. Check it out here .