Put Another Script on the Barbie

I got this email today… from Australia. I can’t imagine why this person’s script hasn’t sold… can you?

This is a plea for help. A plea for someone to PLEASE read my script and help me with producing it – or even forwarding it on to someone for them to have a look at it.

I sent a re-make of "Grapes of Wraith" which I spenf AGES writing to Nicole Kidman – only to have her Agent replying back "Send to someone else – we dont deal with this" – I thought – yeh thanks for your help.I havent seen another Nicole Kidman movie yet. This was around two to three years ago.

Please, Please Lee – Can you please Help

Walla Walla

When I was a kid, I used to spend two or three weeks each summer in Walla Walla, Washington… a dreary farming community in middle of nowhere where my Mom was raised. As much as I loved visiting my grandparents, as I got older, the visits became more and more boring. There was nothing to do in Walla Walla.

Now, twenty-five years later, the LA times says that  Walla Walla is trendy… more than that, it’s a vacation spot.

A $53-million revitalization of its once-dying downtown core helped Walla Walla
to win a 2001 Great American Main Street award from the National Trust for
Historic Preservation. A year later, the trust chose the city as one of
America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations, or "pockets of serenity amid the
sprawling clutter and homogenization that have overwhelmed so many American
vacation spots."

Last December I decided to have a look for myself. I
found a bit of Americana with a lively arts scene and three colleges, a
community that wears its pride on its sleeve, calling itself "the town so nice
they named it twice." And nice it is, with first-rate restaurants and
accommodations, art galleries and wineries.

It almost makes me want to go back and visit… though only a few members of my family still live there… and it’s still in middle of nowhere.

Walla Walla, just north of the Oregon border in southeastern Washington, isn’t
the easiest place to get to, but locals say that’s part of its charm and helps
to ensure that it won’t become an overtrodden Napa Valley. Horizon Air (a
subsidiary of Alaska Airlines) has three daily flights to and from Seattle, a
50-minute hop, or it’s 260 miles away by car on U.S. Highway 12.

When I was a kid, we used to fly into Portland… a good four-plus hour drive from Walla Walla… or, in later years, we’d arrive  in Pendleton.  I don’t remember how we got to Pendleton, but it was still an hour or two from Walla Walla, if my memory is correct.

My grandparents lived in Walla Walla for fifty years, most of the time in an unusual looking house on Division Street, near a park and a hamburger stand.  Later, they moved to the country club, and another unusual looking house (though more contemporary), which meant we could tool around in their golf cart and pretend we were driving a car.  I did a lot of reading in Walla Walla,  and bike-riding, and a lot of writing, too, on my grandmother’s portable typewriter that printed  in cursif.  I still have all the "novels" I wrote as a kid in Walla Walla in a box in the garage. One of these days, I’ll have to open the box up and take a look at them…

Postage Due

Bestselling mystery writer Diane Mott Davidson told the Richmond Times Dispatch that she has an unusual method of staying in touch with her characters.  She writes letters to them… and they write back to her.

"The way that I get into the voice of Goldy is to write, ‘Tell me what happened when you went into the law firm and found the body.’ Then she writes  back. It just helps me immensely, I guess because I love to write letters

She’s been keeping up with her characters this way since her first mystery, "Catering to Nobody" The latest, "Double Shot," has been on the New York Times’ best-seller list for three weeks. It’s the 12th in the series that features a  caterer as the amateur sleuth.

But don’t get the wrong idea about Diane’s letter writing: We’re not talking
about some kind of mystical channeling here. It’s simply the way she pays
attention to her characters and lets them lead the way through her books.

It’s also the way Diane, who went to boarding school in Charlottesville,
connects with her characters’ emotions. "You can’t manipulate that. I know as a
reader myself that if I feel manipulated, if a character just doesn’t ring true,
I’m not going to read the book.

"I want to get inside a character’s head, but I also want to get inside a
character’s heart. When I’m writing a book, I need to know: ‘What’s in your
heart? What are you feeling?’ A letter is such an intimate way to find out. It’s
even more intimate than talking to someone in person, I think. Because you’re
not looking at them, you can let your heart spill out.

"This will sound funny, but Goldy has even written me letters that say, ‘I
don’t want this in the book.’"

I’ve never heard of that novel-writing method before. It seems to me like she’s doing twice as much writing as necessary… but hey, whatever works. And it certainly has for her.

I wonder if she actually mails the letters back and forth, just to add that touch of realism to the experience…

“Make My Man a Mommy”

…that’s the name of a site dedicated to uniting the fans of  mpreg fanfic.  Some brave soul named Mr. Anonymous  sent me the link. Naturally,  I had to check it out.  Here’s what I found:

This is the official fan listing to Mpreg

What is Mpreg? it stand more Male Pregnancies. Usually due to  magic, aliens, or its just normal in the fan authors world. This   fan listing is to unite people who read or write Mpreg stories,  whether its from a anime, book, game, tv show or whatever.

Gee, I wonder who they had to see, and what they had to do, to make this site  "official."

MpregKindly Mr. Anonymous also directed me to the Pregnant Men website, which offers one-stop shopping for mpreg fans.

Thank you for visiting Pregnant Men.  This  site is dedicated to everything related to the idea of men being  pregnant.  Whether it be stories, movies, real life news,  or  anything else.  If it pertains to men being pregnant, you can be sure to find it here.

They even have a newsletter. I’m thinking of getting my brother Tod a subscription for Christmas. Don’t tell him, though… I want it to be a surprise.


Through the Back Door

My brother Tod  , in his weekly Las Vegas Mercury column, wrote about all the things he had to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. This one made me laugh:

Words of wisdom I am thankful for: From Toni Bentley’s transcendent memoir (note to publicists: please use that as a jacket quote for the paperback release) Surrender,
her tale of enlightenment via anal sex, "My ass, knowing only him,
knows only bliss. The penetration is deeper, more profound; it rides
the edge of sanity. The direct path through my bowels to God has become
clear." One day, when I’m older and more versed in midlife crises
nonfiction, I hope to avoid needing this kind of enlightenment.

Get Well Soon

The "Diagnosis Murder" fans are the greatest…

P1010596_1 They’ve been sending me "Get Well Soon" cards every day from all over the world… and a collection of stuffed animals with bandaged right-elbows. You can see a few of the animals in the picture on the left (click on the image for a larger view). I’ve arranged them on the bookshelf near my desk so they can nag me to keeping working on the next book!

Back in March, when I broke both my arms, I was inundated with cards and letters… and I can’t tell you how much it lifted my spirits. I’m lucky to have such thoughtful and caring readers…and I think about them every time I sit down at the computer to murder someone.

I mean that in a nice way, of course.

…though my wife does tell people if she dies before me, whether its natural causes or not, she wants a full investigation.

"My husband spends every day committing perfect murders," she says. "Some times I wonder if maybe, just maybe, it’s practice…" 

More Bad Writing

A few days ago, in a post about Clive Cussler, I mentioned that I’d read a bestselling thriller that was riddled with cliches. I didn’t mention the name of the books because the author is a friend of mine.

So, on the heels of finishing that book, I picked a mystery off my shelf written by another friend of mine, a buddy who has many books to his credit, though he’s yet to crack the best seller lists (this is the first book of his, though, that I’ve read). I’m 200 pages into his latest book… and I am astonished by how lazy his writing is. These cliches appear on just one page

  • "He has a rap sheet as long as his arm."
  • "When his father died, he went right off the deep end. It took him a while to get his act together. For the past few years, though, he’s managed to keep his nose clean."
  • "He didn’t have a leg to stand on."
  • "I should never have stuck my neck out."
  • "He’s a real piece of work."(by the way, what does "he’s a piece of work" really mean? And is it that bad to be a real "piece of work" as opposed to just your run-of-the-mill, ordinary "piece of work?").

Like I said, this litany of cliches was on one page.  You can imagine what the rest of the book has been like. One cliche line after another, mostly in dialogue. It’s relentless.

This book was written by a friend of mine. I am tempted, as a friend, to point these cliches out to him and tell him he should really be more careful. 

Then again, this book was published and was a big success (if not a best seller). Who the hell am I to criticize him? He certainly didn’t ask for my advice. Am I being more of a friend by keeping my opinion to myself?

Publish America

The book industry trade publication Publishers Weekly is outing Publish America as the scam we all know that it is… it seemed only the desperate, aspiring authors who "sold" their books to the publisher couldn’t see it.

Until now. 

A group of authors wronged by the vanity press have mounted a grassroots campaign to garner media scrutiny of Publish America’s business practices.

Led by Dee Power and Rebecca Easton, the authors’ group is mounting a campaign to alert the media about PA. A release with more than 100 e-mail addresses of aggrieved authors was recently sent to the press, and, after a story ran in PW NewsLine last week, PW heard from more troubled authors. The enterprise, said authors, is in many ways worse than a vanity publisher, because of how the house positions itself. "If they would just say, buy your books up front and pay X amount and we’ll give you X, Y and Z, then that would be one thing," said author Kate St. Amour, who wrote a spiritual thriller called Bare Bones. "But they don’t tell you those things when you sign up with them."

The authors said the goal is as much public awareness as restitution. "We hope to spare other people, perhaps thousands, the frustration and problems we’ve had with this deceptive company," Power said in her letter.

The authors allege that Publish America doesn’t edit the books they publish, they don’t pay royalties, and they make little or no effort to get their books into actual bookstores.  The article says that Publish America doesn’t charge for printing the books, but they do require authors to provide a list of friends and family, which the company then hits on hard to buy books.

I don’t remember Penguin/Putnam asking me for my Christmas card list…

Publish America’s Executive Director Miranda Prather told PW that all the claims against the company are unfounded and maintained the fiction that they are a "traditional publisher." 

As for marketing to the author, Prather said, there’s "no pressure on our authors to buy their books. That would make us a vanity press." She declined to identify the company’s CEO and, unlike a traditional house, said that the company does not edit for content, only for grammar and spelling.

Uh-huh. Most "traditional publishers" aren’t shy about identifying their CEO…nor do they take out half-page ads in the New York Times courting authors to sign with them and make their dreams come true. But hey, what do I know?

UPDATE: More on "A Writer’s Life" about PublishAmerica:








How Not To Get Your Book Published II

I had this email exchange today.  This exchange is verbatim, I haven’t corrected or changed any of the spellings, grammar, etc:

Dear Mr Goldberg

I was wondering since you published a few books do you know any good traditional publsihing companies? I translated my father’s book and I am looking for a publsihing company. Please let me know.

I replied that there are many publishing companies, but that she’d be better off finding an agent first. She responded as follows:

Dear mr. goldberg

if it’s not a problem can you please give me the names of some traditional publishing companeis you contatcted with.

Thank You

So I sent her a list of publishing companies. And she replied:

Dear Mr Golberg,

I am sorry to bother you thrid time in one day. I was wondering if any of those publishing companeis will agree to at elast conscider my manuscript can I tell them that you refered me to them or you don;t want me to? Do you know if you are going to be on any book signings in IL soon? Thank You

Can you believe the chutzpah? I sent her back a terse note telling her that NO, she could not use me as a reference since I didn’t know her and haven’t read her book. But judging by her emails, I don’t have a lot of faith in her translating skills…