Mario Acevedo's Blog, page 7

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
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Published on December 20, 2012 04:38 • 35 views

December 16, 2012

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

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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Published on December 16, 2012 18:03 • 30 views

December 12, 2012

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: <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Times New Roman"; panose-1:0 2 2 6 3 5 4 5 2 3; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:50331648 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} h3 {margin-right:0in; mso-margin-top-alt:auto; mso-margin-bottom-alt:auto; margin-left:0in; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; mso-outline-level:3; font-size:13.5pt; font-family:Times;} table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-parent:""; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} </style><i><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal;">Indie Publishing in 2013: Why We Can't Party Like It's 2009  </span></i><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal;">in which she lays it all out. Read it <a href=" .</span><br /><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal;"><br /></span><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal;">Then be prepared to be as conflicted as before.</span><br /><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal;"><br /></span><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal;">Coming up:</span><br /><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal;"><br /></span><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal;">Mario and I are at the Boulder Barnes & Noble on Friday -- noon to 4 PM.</span><br /><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal;"><br /></span><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-weight: normal;">On Saturday, look for me with Lizzie T. Leaf at the </span>Barnes & Noble at Sheridan and 92nd in Westminster from about noon to 3 PM.<br /><br />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.<br /><br /><br /><div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;"><img border="0" src="" /></a></div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>
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Published on December 12, 2012 18:49 • 48 views

December 9, 2012

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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Published on December 09, 2012 19:55 • 52 views

December 5, 2012

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, 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.
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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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Published on December 05, 2012 16:49 • 19 views

December 2, 2012

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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Published on December 02, 2012 19:04 • 43 views

November 28, 2012

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?

Now want to explain to me why this has 152 MILLION views (and counting?) Or am I just being crabby?

Wow. I DO need a vacation. Or another helping of leftover turkey. I think I'm having tryptophan withdrawals![image error]
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Published on November 28, 2012 14:14 • 27 views

November 25, 2012

Mario here:

 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). [image error]
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Published on November 25, 2012 18:53 • 20 views

November 22, 2012

To you and yours!

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Published on November 22, 2012 05:47 • 25 views

November 18, 2012

Mario here:

What I'm reading: Women by Charles Bukowski

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? 

Then check out this KickStarter project from ace cinematographer, Alexandre Phillippe. The man who gave us documentaries such as The People Vs. George Lucas and now asks the driving question: Why do we love zombies? in his new project Doc of the Dead.

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Published on November 18, 2012 19:15 • 44 views

Mario Acevedo's Blog

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