Tie Me Up

I got this email today from my brother Tod about my buddy James Kosub, worldwide President of the Lee Goldberg Fan Club:

You’ll be happy to know that the man who once lambasted you for writing
tie-ins, is now trying to get a job…writing tie-ins. I fucking love that guy!

I had to check this out for myself. Sure enough, Jim is sniffing around for tie-in work:                         

I sent an email to a gentleman at Black Flame
today, inquiring about possible work on the media tie-ins his imprint
produces… The way I figure it is this: go where the work is… It’ll be a challenge, I’m sure. It’s always easier to work with
wholly original material than with licensed properties, but it’s a
credit and a paycheck, and that’s what matters.                           

This struck me as an odd switcheroo, coming from a man who once described me as follows:

"For a man who makes his living writing television show
pastiches for those who cannot summon the intellectual wherewithal to tackle
original mystery fiction, he’s painfully full of himself…"

I wish Jim the best of luck in his endeavors to become as painfully full of himself as I am.  If you would like to find out more about the tie-in field,  I invite you to visit the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers and browse through their wealth of articles on the subject.

Burden of the Badge

For the last few months, I’ve been one of the judges reading short stories for BURDEN OF THE BADGE, a new Mystery Writers of America anthology edited by Michael Connolly that will be published next year by Little Brown. My fellow judges and I — Ed Hoch, Marcia Talley, Barbara D’Amato and Bill Crider — read hundreds of blind submissions (the authors were not identified) and picked the following winners:

What A Wonderful World – Paul Guyot

Rule Number One – Bev Vincent

A Certain Recollection – John Buentello

Burying Mr. Henry – Polly Nelson

A Change in His Heart – Jack Fredrickson

Serial Killer – Jon Breen

Such a Lucky, Pretty Girl – Persia Walker

Oaths, Ohana and Everything – Diana Hansen-Young

Congratulations to all the winners!

The Book Millionaire Scam

My brother Tod beat me to the news that Lori Prokop‘s Book Millionaire scam is back… a "reality show" that promises to grant the winner the "lifestyle of being a successfully published author" and  "additional prizes to help achieve the goal of Best Selling and
Celebrity Status."

In other words, Lori will publish the winner through her vanity press ("Bestseller Publishing") and they will get a stack of Lori’s self-published books. Wow. Where can I sign up? And as I predicted, back in April when this scam was first announced, "Book Millionaire" won’t be on any television network…it’s going to be on the web. Videos of the suckers, excuse me, aspiring contestants are up on her site. At least one of them is mortified and wrote to me about it:

I fell for it hook, line and sinker…so of course I sent an email to all my friends to sign up on the site and watch for my audition tape and my really smart lawyer friend found your site and now I want to cry!

Lori Prokop’s scam is so transparent, how could anyone possibly fall for it? So that’s what I asked the lady who sent me the email, and she sent me a lengthy reply. Here are some excerpts:

I was a huge Survivor and Apprentice nut — always wanted
to do one of those shows but did not want to eat bugs or work for Donald
Trump.  I was new in self-publishing at the time I sent in my tape….my passion for this business has become my mission.

I have a circle of amazing friends who are always in the spot light–I thought it would make great television so
thus I believed the concept. I have a friend on the American Inventor Show,  a friend who was
the first person voted off of Survivor and a friend that was on the Today Show…

I have read some best
sellers that I felt where only best sellers because they were marketed correctly and I have read some awesome books that will never be on the best seller because they don’t understand marketing.  So I believed in the concept. Thinking back I was amazed she was also from Wisconsin.

Wisconsin? What difference does that make? Clearly, this aspiring writer wanted to be a celebrity so badly, and was so jealous of her friends who got on TV, that she jumped blindly into this ridiculous scam without bothering to notice that, even if she won, she would get none of the things she was dreaming of. Lori Prokop can’t give anyone  "the lifestyle of a bestselling author" or "celebrity status"…all she can do is offer contestants some of her self-published "get-rich-quick" books, a cheaper rate on leased cars, and tickets to one of her motivational speeches at a Unitarian church.

I have no sympathy whatsoever for the suckers who fell for her scam… they deserve the humiliation and disappointment they are in for. They didn’t think about what they were being offered ("the lifestyle of a bestselling author??"). They didn’t do any research into Lori Prokop or Bestseller Publishing (ten minutes on Google would have been enough). Instead, they gladly deluded themselves because they wanted Lori’s empty promises and outrageous claims to be true…they wanted a short-cut to their dream of being published authors. They have no one to blame but themselves. It’s hucksters like Lori Prokop, who profit on the desperation of aspiring writers, that infuriate me.

UPDATE 4-2-06:  My brother Tod and I aren’t the only bloggers outraged  by huckster Lori Prokop’s Book Millionaire scam. Journalist Richard Cobbett writes:

Is it wrong to hope that people like Lori Prokop wake up one day to find
their intestines crawling with tapeworms?

If she did, she’d try to sell them on the Internet  as "miracle healing tapeworms."


Wit, Grit and Panache

The blurb machine at Crime Fiction Dossier has generated a kudo for THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE.

"Combining humor and suspense together
in a mystery novel is no easy feat, and few writers can accomplish it
with the skill of Lee Goldberg. The Man With the Iron-On Badge
is an affectionate ode to the classic Private Eye novel, told with wit
and grit, and a touch of panache." -Crime Fiction Dossier

"Wit, Grit and Panache." Sounds like a great title for a lousy TV series, doesn’t it? I can see it now…

"Jack Wit is a cop who doesn’t play by the rules, a rogue, a rebel, a loose cannon…Samantha Grit is a beautiful, sexy, undercover operative with degrees in psychology, criminology, and kicking ass… Largo Panache is a mysterious stranger, a thief who can steal anything from anyone anywhere… together they fight crime across the globe. They are WIT, GRIT AND PANACHE."

This is Why The Internet Was Invented, The Sequel

Obviously, there are a lot of folks out there with idle hands. My previous post about Beautiful Agony, a site full of videos of people’s faces as they masturbate to orgasm, got a huge number of hits. So here I am again, taking advantage of your prurient interests to stoke my ratings (hey, I worked on BAYWATCH, it’s not like I’m new at this). Here’s a sequel, a link to Beautiful Agony’s sister site I Feel Myself, which shows fully-clothed people (and naked ones, too) as they behave like writers.


Crime Doesn’t Pay

Variety reports that the ratings for the premiere of THIEF on FX were underwhelming, posting the network’s lowest ratings yet for the launch of a new drama series. This comes on the heels of the poor performance of the similarly-themed HEIST on NBC last week, despite a lead-in from LAW AND ORDER. Both shows track a gang of thieves as they prepare for a major score.

Debut episode [of THIEF] posted a 1.1 national rating/3
share and 1.4 million adults 18-49, putting it behind a new episode of
"The Real World" (1.3/3, 1.7 million). "Thief" tied in the demo with
Discovery Channel’s "Deadliest Catch," which aired at 9.

FX execs remain optimistic, pointing out that ratings for "Thief" are on par
with the most recent season of "The Shield" (2.8 million overall, 1.8
million in 18-49), which was considered a success by all accounts.
Six-episode series starring Andre Braugher as the leader of a
vault-robbing team also earned raves from critics.

Big Day for Two Crime Writers

Variety reports that novelist James Ellroy will adapt Nicci French’s thriller LAND OF THE LIVING for New Line Cinema. Literary agent Joel Gotler will be among the executive producers, presumably for brokering the deal.

Story concerns a promiscuous woman who’s
captured and tortured by a serial killer. After surviving the ordeal,
she has to figure out what happened because cops and even her friends
think she fabricated the story.

Alexandra Milchan brought the book to
Ellroy, who just adapted his own "The Night Watchman" at Paramount.
Milchan is producing that pic with Lucas Foster and Erwin Stoff.

Tit for Tate

For some reason, I've received lots of emails lately asking about Tate Publishing. Here's one:

My daughter (14 years old) recently submitted (through her school) a children’s book that she wrote.   Surprisingly, she received a contract to publish her book from Tate Publishing.  However, they are asking us to invest almost $4,000.  I am simply trying to determine if Tate is a vanity publisher, POD publisher, or what?  I want to support my daughter, but I want to be educated first.  I cannot find much on the internet about Tate Publishing.  Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

I can't imagine why any school or responsible teacher would submit student work to a vanity press, but that issue aside, here's what I told her (which will be familiar to any of you who read this blog on a regular basis):  Legitimate publishers pay YOU, not the other way around. Any publisher that asks you for money in return for "publishing" your book is a vanity press.  If you are intent on publishing your daughter's work in book form yourself, go to Lulu, you won't have to pay a penny out-0f-pocket, or you can create an ebook edition for the Kindle and sell it on Amazon absolutely free.

Here's another email I received about Tate:

What can you tell me about Tate Publishing Co? Unfortunately, I have already invested almost $ 8,000 in 2 books, both of which are now published. I visited their offices twice, met the staff and felt they were legit Christian organization.

I don't know what being Christian has to do with anything. What makes him think that a Christian won't rip him off? I guess he 's unfamiliar with most TV evangelists and their "send me your cash" brand of faith and spirituality. But that's a different issue. 

As far as Tate goes, I told him basically the same thing I told the other person: Tate is a vanity press. They make their money selling books to desperate, naive, and gullible authors, not to readers. You can self-publish your book, for now cash out-of-pocket, elsewhere. But if you are intent on throwing your money away, I'm sure you can find some Christians at another, far less predatory, vanity press who will print your manuscript in book form for much, much less money.  

Updated 2/10/2010

UPDATE 6/1/2012: Those lovely people at Tate are in the news again, this time for firing 25 employees and threatening others who dared to speak about the company's plans to outsource their sleazy vanity press operation to the Phillipines.

Tate Publishing President Ryan Tate said the company is opening an office in the Philippines, but denies there are any layoffs planned. He said the 25 workers who lost their jobs Thursday were terminated for breaching confidentiality agreements in their employment contracts after leaking rumors about the outsourcing.

[…]In a recording of an employee meeting held this week obtained from a Tate employee by The Journal Record, Ryan Tate threatened to sue staff members and file liens against their houses and cars if they violated their employee contracts by talking to the media or sharing information about the company on Facebook and Twitter.

In the recording, Ryan Tate said he would fire 25 production workers after no one came forward to take responsibility for the anonymous email sent out to employees on Sunday that decried the rumored layoffs.

“Good people are going to lose their jobs – it’s not fair,” Ryan Tate said in the recording. “It’s not right, but that’s the reality of the situation. Jesus himself is the perfect mix of mercy, grace and justice. I have probably failed you in that I have been a little too lenient and a little too on the side of mercy and grace and not on the side of justice.”

At the meeting, Ryan Tate then went on to say several employees had already been named as defendants in a $7.8 million lawsuit for breaching their employee confidentiality agreements. A search of state and federal court filings revealed that no such litigation has been filed as of Thursday, a fact Ryan Tate later confirmed. 

My Multiple Bookgasm

The friendly folks at Bookgasm, fans of my most recent DIAGNOSIS MURDER novel, like MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE, too. Among their comments:

Based on a character by Andy Breckman, Shalhoub plays Monk perfectly.
But there’s a little something missing in an hour-long show devoted to
both an intricate mystery and the character’s oddness. There usually
isn’t enough time to explore Monk and why he’s doing what he’s doing.
So enter Lee Goldberg and another excellent TV tie-in book, the first in the series, entitled MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE.
A book-length exploration of Monk is just so much more satisfying
because we get to see more of the detective’s odd little world.

Monk’s house is being fumigated so he must temporarily move in with
his long-suffering assistant, Natalie Teeger. The book is written from
her point of view, a clever shift that allows us to be a voyeur on
Monk’s behavior without the constraints that would come from having
Monk explain his own obsessions. Teeger has an adolescent child and
surprisingly, Monk and the child get along well, even though he notes
to the mother that children are “walking cesspools” of disease. The
child is upset because a local firehouse dog has been killed by some
ax-wielding maniac. Monk takes the case.

And from there, the
case gets progressively weirder, as do Monk’s habits. First, another
body is found, then Teeger becomes romantically involved with one of
the firemen, and all the while, Monk is slowly driving his assistant
crazy with incessant demands and whacked-out behavior. But there is
always a method to Monk’s peculiar madness, and the way he solves
crimes and deduces facts throughout the plot is thoroughly
entertaining. He sees more than we do, because he sees things that are
out of place. We might see a mess, but Monk sees a catastrophe, and
because of that vision, he is able to know when things are not only not
right, but downright sinister.

There’s nothing quite like a strong Bookgasm to start your day.

Kelley Goes to Mars

Variety reports that David E. Kelley is developing an American version of the hit BBC series LIFE ON MARS, about a cop who is in a near-fatal car wreck and wakes up in 1973. Has he really traveled back in time? Is he dreaming it? Or is he dead? Only the creators of the show and David Kelley know for sure. There was an interesting tid-bit in the article, though…apparently, BOSTON LEGAL is "on the bubble" for renewal.