Mr. Monk and the Audio Book

I'm delighted to report that that MR. MONK IS MISERABLE is now available as an unabridged audiobook from BBC Audiobooks. You can find it at the iTunes store, Amazon, and from Audible.com. I've heard a few hours of it and Laura Hicks does a great job channeling Natalie and capturing all of the other characters. She wisely doesn't try to imitate the actors from TV series and makes the characters her own. I especially enjoyed her, as Randy Disher, singing "I Don't Need A Badge." I was stunned that she actually did her homework and sang it to the tune from the episode where the song first appeared. That's dedication!

They Do Things Differently Down Under

Did you know that if an Australian publisher reprints a foreign title within 30 days of it's release anywhere else in the world, there's a copyright law Down Under that requires Australian bookstores to only sell the Australian edition? I didn't either, until I read an article in The Guardian about prominent Oz authors protesting a Government review aimed at perhaps rescinding the law.

This can mean that books are more expensive – and harder to get hold of – in Australia than they are elsewhere, but also allows the country's local publishing to flourish, rather than forcing it to compete with a flood of cheaper-priced editions from overseas.
[…]Booker prize-winning author Peter Carey argued against making any changes. "As long as we have a territorial copyright our publishers have a commercial argument to support Australian literature," he said. "They will battle for the sake of our readers and our writers, even if their owners have no personal commitment to the strange loves and needs of Australian readers, or the cultural integrity and future of the Australian nation."

Rewording Press Releases Just Isn’t Enough Anymore…

Are the Hollywood trade papers on borrowed time? Reuters reports on the precarious state of Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, both of which stopped practicing anything close to genuine journalism years ago:

For more than 75 years, Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have battled to be the movie industry's top newspaper, but recent layoffs due to the recession and competition from Internet blogs has Hollywood wondering if it will soon become a one paper town.
Publishers of the showbusiness newspapers say advertising has plunged, even during the current Oscar season when movie studios pay well to hype their films with cover page ads.
Moreover, the papers face increased competition from bloggers providing a daily diet of Hollywood news and gossip, such as Nikki Finke's DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com, Tina Brown's TheDailyBeast.com and David Poland's MovieCityNews.com.

There's no point to subscribing to Variety any more. Nikke Finke's blog reports more genuine news in one day than Variety does in a year…and without their blatantly biased "reporting." 

25 Random Things About Me

I've lost count of how many people have tagged me for this "25 Random Facts About Me" meme. So here goes:

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1. When I was a pre-schooler in Oakland CA, I ran away from home, showed up at the door of the Mormon temple, and asked if Shirley could come out to play.

2. I'm a Lee Hazlewood fan.

3. I had a girlfriend who was an editorial assistant at Playgirl. I honed my skills writing sex scenes by writing fake "Letters to the Editor" for $25 each. 

4. My favorite BBQ place is It's In the Sauce in Ventura, Ca. 

5. When I'm sick, I like to lie in bed and watch old episodes of "Gunsmoke."

6. I wrote my first novel when I was ten. It was about a superspy from the future who was born in an underwater sperm bank. I don't know why it was underwater, or how you made deposits, but I thought it was pretty cool.

7. I love Nacho Cheese Doritos.

8. My favorite James Bond movie is "Goldfinger." 

9. I've broken all but one limb…so far.

10. When I was five or six, I used to tell people my name was "Lee Beaudine." I don't know why. Lee_hazlewood

11. When I was a kid, I once threatened to send my little sister Karen to prison for picking apart my Nerf ball. She was so terrified that she gave me all the money in her piggy bank to buy her freedom. I still feel guilty about that. 

12. My middle name is Brian. 

13. The ugliest city I have ever been to is El Paso, TX. 

14. Until I was about 25, I spent two weeks every summer at Loon Lake, Washington. 

15. I love the theme to "It Takes a Thief" but I can't hum it. 

16. I had a crush on Linda Carter when I was a kid. She was my Wonder Woman. 

17. I think Harry Whittington is one of the great, unappreciated authors of noir. 

18. When I was a kid, I used to collect Wacky Packs. I thought the cards were hilarious. 

19. One of my all-time favorite books is "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry. 

20. I've seen Roger Moore naked. 

21. I like to read Motor Trend and the National Inquirer on airplanes. This embarrasses my wife. 

22. I can't spell marriage, similar, or envelope. 

23. I wrote two episodes of "The New Adventures of Flipper." 

24. I once flagged down a cop on Jefferson Blvd. to alert him that a homeless man was "playing a twisted game of Russian roulette" by running into traffic. The cop actually asked me to repeat that without imitating the ABC announcer's voice. 

25. I owned a Chevy Chevette.

You Don’t Pay Agents

Author Alison Kent tipped me to this terrific blog post from Jennifer Jackson, her agent:

Just in case there is someone out there reading this who doesn't already know: Reputable agents work on commission. Commissions are based on selling your work. They make money if you make money. It's a motivational system.

This is something every aspiring author needs to know. Any agent who asks for a reading fee, a submission fee, or any other kind of fee is a fraud.

Harvesting More Suckers

Brien Jones is at it again…the vanity press huckster is offering to sell your self-published book to Hollywood using all of his amazing connections (which, translated, means he's going to attend "The Great American Pitchfest" like hundreds of other wanna-bes).  Victoria Strauss at Writer's Beware has the scoop on Brien's pitch, which sounds an awful lot like the scams run by Bookman/Airleaf, his former employer, which I first blogged about back in 2005.. Airleaf has since been shut down by the Indiana Attorney General.

Mr. Monk is Proofed

I am currently proof-reading the galleys for the paperback edition of MR. MONK IS MISERABLE. If you have spotted any typos/missing words, etc. in the hardcover edition, please let me know by February 7th so I can prevent the mistakes from being repeated.

No End to Vanity…or Stupidity

The New York Times reports that print-0n-demand publishers are flourishing…even if their customers are not.

As traditional publishers look to prune their booklists and rely increasingly on blockbuster best sellers, self-publishing companies are ramping up their title counts and making money on books that sell as few as five copies, in part because the author, rather than the publisher, pays for things like cover design and printing costs. 

[…]“It used to be an elite few,” said Eileen Gittins, chief executive of Blurb, a print-on-demand company whose revenue has grown to $30 million, from $1 million, in just two years and which published more than 300,000 titles last year. Many of those were personal books bought only by the author. “Now anyone can make a book, and it looks just like a book that you buy at the bookstore.” 

[…]Author Solutions estimates that the average number of copies sold of titles published through one of its brands is just 150.
Indeed, said Robert Young, chief executive of Lulu Enterprises, based in Raleigh, N.C., a majority of the company’s titles are of little interest to anybody other than the authors and their families. “We have easily published the largest collection of bad poetry in the history of mankind,” Mr. Young said. 

It's sad that there are so many suckers out there. That said, the New York Times piece should be required reading for anybody thinking about going to a vanity press…and is a sharp counterpoint to Lev Grossman's inane opinion piece in Time Magazine this week.

(Thanks to Daniel Powless for the link)

More Retro TV News

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Fox has reshuffled the creative team behind it's big screen theatrical remake of THE A-TEAM. Director John Singleton, who previously bungled the SHAFT remake, is out and Joe Carnahan is in. Ridley Scott is now on board as producer, along with Stephen J. Cannell, who created the original hit series.
Carnahan will also team up with screenwriter Brian Bloom to rewrite Skip Woods' current draft of the script. The studio hopes to get the movie into production in June for a Summer 2010 release. Variety reports that some tweaks are being made to the series concept:

In the original, four Vietnam vets convicted of armed robbery escape from military prison and became do-gooder mercenaries.
The Middle East will replace Vietnam as the place the four did their tour of duty, but Carnahan said the origin story is the jumping-off point.
"This was a coveted property, and reimagining a show that I remembered as a kid was tough to turn down," Carnahan said. "Fox hired me to make it as emotional, real and accessible as possible without cheesing it up."