Columbus Sets Sail with Riordan

HARRY POTTER director Chris Columbus has found his next movie project — mystery writer Rick Riordan’s first children’s fantasy novel THE LIGHTNING THIEF. Columbus will direct and produce the movie. No word yet on who the screenwriter is. Rick is probably best known among mystery fans for his terrific Tres Navarre PI series.

Review Copies

I’ve received a limited number of review copies of MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS (July 2007) and DIAGNOSIS MURDER: THE LAST WORD (May 2007). If you’re an established reviewer and would be interested in receiving copies one or both books, please send me an email as soon as possible at with the name of your publication/website and your mailing address. I can’t promise that everyone who asks for one will get one…but I will do my best.

The First Word on The Last Word

Mark Baker, a frequent visitor here and an Amazon top reviewers, has given his eOpinion on DIAGNOSIS MURDER: THE LAST WORD, the final book in the series. He says, in part:

About a quarter of the way into it, I was getting bored and wondering where it was going. Then things really took off and I was hooked for the rest of the book. And those events from the first quarter? Absolutely essential to what comes next.

[…]Not only does this book close out the book series, but it also serves as a finale for the TV show. Yet it leaves the door open for further adventures. Frankly, I’d love to know what happens to these old friends next.

This is a book for the fans. Anyone looking for closure for these characters should read it. I’m definitely going to miss them. I just hope that something changes and we can get more adventure with these characters at some point in the future.

The book officially comes out the first week of May, but I am already getting emails from people who pre-ordered it and have received their copies.

I Love L.A.

I am back in Los Angeles for three days of casting on FAST TRACK…and to get my life in order before returning to Berlin again next week for most of the summer (shooting starts May 23). So, naturally, I am hammered by jet-lag. I went to bed last night at 9 and woke up at 3 this morning…though I am not worrying much about my odd hours. In fact, I can probably keep these hours until I leave without causing any real problems in my life and it gives me time to work on my next MONK book without much distraction. Plus I can keep in touch with the production team in Germany.

Being a TV geek, I am busily downloading shows from my Tivo onto my iPod to watch on my flight to Germany and in my free time there (did I tell you that I got my iPod back?). While I am away, I’m going to miss the finales of HEROES, BOSTON LEGAL, LAW & ORDER SVU and THE SOPRANOS…but they will be waiting for me at home when I return in August.

Elaine Viets Update

Great news — Elaine Viets is on her way home today, only a week since suffering a stroke. I told you she’s a fighter! Here’s the latest update from her friends Kris Montee and Barbara Parker:

Nobody thought this would happen so soon, but if you know Elaine you know she wasn’t going to sit still for this for long.  When Barbara asked her where she was going, she said "Home, then I-Hop."

[…] She’ll need home nurses for a while, but Elaine Viets is definitely on her way back. Elaine is very tired, but there are no signs of paralysis, and physical therapy is scheduled to begin Monday.

[…] Elaine’s her main concern — and she has expressed this herself — hooray! — is that her new Dead End Job mystery, pub. date May 1, will fall flat without her being available to promote it.  (She was scheduled to tour for it, but that’s out of course). So, instead of buying food or sending flowers, we’d recommend that everyone contact his or her local independent bookseller and order two copies of MURDER WITH RESERVATIONS, and encourage everyone they know to do the same.  The best present in the world for Elaine would be a spot on the NYTimes bestseller list.

Ghost Stories

There’s a lot of talk about ghosting going on this weekend. Our friend Sarah Weinman inaugurates her new, web-only column for the Los Angeles times with reviews of several books written by ghosts under their own names. And the ever-present David Montgomery is quoted in an Arizona Republic article on ghosting:

The franchising of Tom Clancy books goes back more than a decade, and ghostwriting is probably as old as Homer. But when even the names of the “collaborators” are accruing value, we appear to have entered a new era in the branding of best-selling authors.

The poster boy for this 21st-century phenomenon is James Patterson, who had eight of the 100 most popular books of 2006, according to USA Today, and is scheduled to release six novels this year – that’s one every two months. The majority of his books are written by “co-authors” who take a detailed outline and flesh it out, then turn it back to Patterson for edits.

[…]Judging from the best-seller lists, however, most readers don’t mind – if they even pay attention. Bibliophiles who devour three novels a week probably have a sense of how the publishing industry works, but casual consumers who pick up the occasional best-seller for 40 percent off at Sam’s Club may not understand that a “collaboration” isn’t 50-50.

“I don’t think any of this matters much to readers. They just want a new James Patterson book,” said Montgomery of “Whether or not this is completely honest on the part of the publishers is another thing.”


You’ve Got to Love The Hypocrisy

I got this email from Penny today:

I recently discovered your website while looking for information on fan fiction
and copyright law.  I was extremely interested in your views and the dry wit
with which you describe the fan ficcers that you have encountered.  One aspect
of your site which particularly interested me was your reference to plagarism
within fan fiction communities. […] I came across this community where fan ficcers "name and shame" those who are found to be
"plagiarising" their creative exploits.  It really does take hypocrisy to a
whole new level.
It certainly does. The site is called "Stop Plagiarism: Investigation into and Condemnation of Plagiarists." These fanficcer plagiarism vigilantes don’t have a problem with people who steal the characters, ideas and worlds of original authors, just those who steal from the intellectual property thieves. The hypocrisy is really quite astounding…and, sadly, all too typical of the fanficcer mindset. Here’s an example of one of their  "investigations" :

On the 20th and 22nd February 2007 respectively, Jabri uploaded the two RPS fics
‘A moment in time’ and ‘I Just Called Him "Love"’ to her LJ. It became apparent
that these were in fact close copies of the two fics ‘Afterglow’ by Melly (loopy_1981),
published on LJ on the 22nd February 2005, and ‘Ya Wanna?’ by Mouse, published
on and last modified on the 22nd August 2002.

In both
instances the only fundamental changes to the fics were to make them fit JM/DB
slash – ‘Afterglow’ being JM/NB and ‘Ya Wanna?’ not being RPS at all, but in
fact Spike/Angel slash. Apart from this the structure and majority of the
content was the same in both. Jabri’s fics were clearly recognisable replicas of
Melly and Mouse’s, and for this reason her actions appeared to be

Jabri deleted her LJ on the 23rd February 2007. I contacted
her on the 28th February, but have yet to receive a response. I informed her
that if she did not respond we would assume her to be guilty, and so I shall now
be adding her to the list of plagiarists on the information page.

thanks to all involved in this case!

My favorite part these "investigation" reports is the bit where they find someone "guilty" and add them to The List.  Funny stuff!