Edge

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I took my wife and daughter to the mall, and while they were shopping, I settled down in the food court with a tattered, yellowed, paperback copy of the first EDGE western by George G. Gilman. I’d bought the book  — okay, the whole series of fifty titles in a super-cheap lot purchase on eBay — back in June after reading a post on Bookgasm ("These books have no first gear – they’re all in fifth and overdrive") and on a recommendation from western author James Reasoner.

I read the slim book in one sitting and, despite the absolutely gratuitous gore, I really enjoyed it. The writing is crisp, the action swift, and the hero refreshingly sadistic and amoral. I’m glad I got the whole series at once…because I’m obsessive about collecting ALL the books in a series after I read one that I like…and I can see that I am going to gobble these up.  EDGE is the perfect quick-read for airplane trips, and it looks like I am going to be traveling a lot in the coming year. 

Mr. Monk and the Blue Review

Overview
The friendly folks at The Monk Fun Page, the Monk fan supersite, kindly gave MR. MONK AND THE BLUE FLU a detailed, rave review. Here’s a small excerpt:

The Monk books just keep
getting better. Better than the TV series? I won’t fully commit to that, but
the novels have what the show sometimes isn’t even aiming for: well executed
fair play whodunit mystery plots. The complex story, abundance of colorful
characters and high body count in Blue Flu may demand a little
more concentration than the show or even the previous two books. It’s too
delightfully long and complex for an episode, but trimmed down it would make a
great entry in the series, just as the first novel (Mr. Monk and the
Firehouse
) did when it was adapted for the fifth season episode
“Mr. Monk Can’t See a Thing.

I’m also hoping that Andy Breckman, the creator and executive producer of MONK, will  consider BLUE FLU for an episode… even if it means Monk has to be deaf, speechless, or paralyzed in this one!

Change is Good

My brother Tod and I were talking the other day about certain authors we know who burst onto the scene with a great book and have been replicating that same novel ever since with ever-worsening results.  It’s a dangerous rut for writers to get into, as bestselling author Tess Gerritsen points out.

Selling a book is just the first step in your career as a writer.  Look
at all the first-time novelists who later vanished from the publishing
world.  They discovered a very painful truth: to make a career in this
field, you’ll have to do a lot more than just sell one book[…]

If the books you’re writing aren’t finding an
audience, maybe it’s time to write a different kind of book.  In my
case, I first moved from romance to thrillers.  I loved writing
romance, but I just couldn’t write fast enough to make a living at it.
Writing for Harlequin was fun and satisfying, and I loved the genre,
but when each book was only earning out around $12,000, I knew I’d
never send my kids to college on my earnings as a writer.  As it turned
out, I had a great idea for a medical thriller (HARVEST), which was my
debut novel on the New York Times list.

But four books later, I could see that my medical thriller sales
were flat, and even starting to decline.  By then I had a crime
thriller in mind, one that I couldn’t wait to write.  With THE SURGEON,
I launched the Jane Rizzoli series.  And my sales have increased since
then.

If Harlan Coben had stuck with his Myron Bolitar books instead of shifting to standalone thrillers, would he be the international success that he is now? And if Michael Connelly, Ed McBain, Robert B. Parker, Richard Stark, Laura Lippman, Lawrence Block and Robert Crais hadn’t stepped away from their long-running series to write other books (and other series), would their writing have remained as fresh? I don’ t think so. I believe one of the reasons they’ve been so successful is because they’ve branched out into other areas  (of course, there’s always folks like Sue Grafton, Lee Child, Barry Eisler, and Ian Rankin who do just fine without leaving the confines of their series).

It’s why I’m glad I had the opportunity the last couple of years to alternate between writing the DIAGNOSIS MURDER and MONK books…they are two very different kinds of writing, even though they are both mystery series. DM is written in third person and is essentially a drama. MONK is written in first person and is primarily a comedy. 

Shifting between genres is also one of the pleasures of screenwriting. I’ve written, for instance, about lifeguards (Baywatch), private detectives (Spenser For Hire, Monk), werewolves (She Wolf of London), clever dolphins (Flipper), cops (Hunter), FBI agents (Missing), cross-dressing comics (Dame Edna), and just this week I wrote a pilot about urban street racing.

I like to think that the challenge of writing in different genres, characters and voices — and doing so in books and TV — keeps me and my writing fresh.

(updated 1.1.07)

A Clear Head

On Christmas Day, I emailed my pilot script to the studio… even though I knew nobody was there to read it. The script is due at the network next week, so I wanted to make sure it was delivered in time for me to get notes on Monday, do a quick revision, and still make our deadline.

Over the last three days, I did something I haven’t done in months: I didn’t write a thing. I didn’t even think about writing (ie plotting the next book or script).   I didn’t even write anything for this blog.  I couldn’t even summon the interest to read a book or watch a movie or catch up on all the TV shows cluttering my Tivo.

I wanted nothing to do with story.

It felt good.  I think I could probably use two more weeks like that, but it’s not going to happen. I have a very busy couple of months ahead of me of writing and business-related travel (to New York, Germany, Seattle and Sweden).

And yet, I also felt strangely guilty… as if I was playing hooky or being irresponsible. Afterall, it’s not like I don’t have more work to do and looming deadlines to meet. But there was nothing pressing on me, not like the deadline for my last MONK novel or for this pilot script. I had the wiggle-room to give myself a couple of free days. 

So I cleaned my office, did some errands, and took my family on a spur-of-the-moment trip up the coast to Morro Bay and a first-time visit to the Hearst Castle.  I didn’t bring my laptop. I didn’t even bring a paperback book (then again, it was only a day or so, hardly a big sacrifice).

And now I’m back, procrastinating here on my blog, before starting to write again tonight. It’s only been three days and yet, I’m feeling rusty, as if I’ve lost my momentum. 

Silly, isn’t it? I have got to learn how to relax a little bit.

Double Takes

DIAGNOSIS MURDER: THE DOUBLE LIFE has been getting some very nice reviews from some very kind bloggers. Bill Peschel notes:

Fans of the “DM” series will know exactly what to expect: fast-paced
storytelling, some humor, and a nicely observed interaction between
Mark and his son, a homicide detective struggling to establish himself
away from his father’s accomplishments. It’s to Lee’s credit that, in a
genre that demands neat and tidy solutions, the personal conflicts
never get truly resolved, just as in real life.

Dm7a_1While the ScifiChick observes:

Goldberg weaves a complex mystery full of murders and puzzles. As
always, he gives Dr. Sloan so much depth, emotion, and humor that you
can imagine Dick Van Dyke playing the part on TV. Goldberg has proved
once again that he is a master of writing whodunits.

Chris Well says you don’t have to be a DIAGNOSIS MURDER fan to enjoy the book:

Goldberg does an excellent job of building on the
characters we know and love. He also displays a knack of creating
mysteries within mysteries, much like a puzzle box: no sooner do you
have one thing figured out than you discover it’s actually hiding
something even more sinister. As such, The Double Life is not just an excellent continuation of the series — but an excellent mystery novel.

And apparently Chadwick Saxelid didn’t take it personally that I killed him off in this book:
Dmlastword_1

Lee Goldberg has concocted a mystery concept so unnerving, it would even give veteran medical thriller writer Robin Cook the willies.

I want to thank all four bloggers for saying such nice things about the  THE DOUBLE LIFE, which leads directly in to THE LAST WORD, the final book in the series, which comes out in May. The cover for the book just showed up on Amazon (Click on the picture for a larger image).

Googled

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Things are always a little slow here over the holidays, so this post is for all those accidental visitors who come here searching for a peek at Lindsay Lohan’s nipples or nude pictures of Angelina Jolie, Brittany Spears, Rush Limbaugh, Jennifer Aniston, George Bush, Scarlett Johanssen or Paris Hilton… or for fanfic sex between Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, Brittany Spears and  Paris Hilton, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, Brad Pitt and George Clooney, Justin Timberlake and Orlando Bloom, Monk and Sharona, James Spader and William Shatner, or Spongebob Squarepants and Jimmy Neutron… or in a desperate longing for information about Tarzan+Gay Slash+Fanfic, Teens with big breasts, Dykes, bootleg videos, TV Main Titles, TV Theme Music, Diagnosis Murder+Fanfic+Jesse+Steve, uncontrollably+horny, sexy+porn, Travis McGee+wisdom, Cindy Garvey, Blog Suicide, Danny Estrada, Caroline Laurence+Nude, What Makes a Good Novelist?,L Word slashfic,Pernell Roberts+unprofessional, infomercial scams, horny+13-year-olds,make my man a mommy,grandfather eulogy,dicks and dykes,surgeons with god-like complex,angry self-published authors,sexy porn, methods of jerking off,women who watch Queer as Folk, Tom Selleck, Nippledrop Pearls,mpreg+Star Wars, and my personal favorite search-of-the-day: Lee Goldberg Nipples.

They’re Watching

You never know who is reading your blog. I was stunned when my post about Dean Koontz’s racist rant at Men of Mystery showed up as a story in the Los Angeles Times. And I’m sure my friend Ken Levine felt the same way when the Los Angeles Times yesterday used some of his blog posts  as the basis for a story on comedy writers who hate STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP.

Take Ken Levine, a seasoned writer who has worked on "Frasier,"
"Cheers" and "The Simpsons." His blog, By Ken Levine, has become the
hub of an online community of viewers who loathe "Studio 60," thanks to
his running commentary on the first several episodes.

"After watching Episode 2 of ‘Studio 60’ I must let you in on a little
secret. People in television, trust me, are not that smart," he wrote.
"And they keep talking about how unbelievably talented that Harriet
[Sarah Paulson] is. Have you seen evidence of it yet? I haven’t. But
then again, I’m not that smart."

One week later he was less forgiving, writing, " ‘Studio 60’ is like
the Rand Corporation Think Tank doing a late night sketch show."

It’s easy to forget that blogging is publishing, and that what you post can have a life beyond the blog. It’s made me slightly more cautious about what I say here…but not much.