How One Survivor Survives

Somehow I missed this news item in the holiday rush. It turns out that Jenna Lewis, the 27-year-old single  mother of handicapped twins and one of the original SURVIVOR castmembers, tried to X-tend her 15 minutes of fame.Jennalewis_survivorallstars_240_002

Back in May, Jenna and her new male-model husband made a hard-core video tape of their  "honeymoon
adventures" for "personal use" — only to be stunned when it "disappeared."

"I ran around the house crying, screaming, so angry and upset that
day," she told reporters at the time. 

And she was "fighting mad" and out-raged when the tape showed up for sale at $40-a-copy on a website. Her biggest concern, she said in a press release, was the impact the tape might have on her 8-year-old daughters. The people who did this were despicable scum.

Well, surprise surprise… it turns out she is the despicable scum.  The New York Daily News discovered in December that Jenna Lewis and her manager own the website that’s selling the tape… and they have made $100,000 in sales so far.

It’s a shame. Lewis came across as so genuine and grounded on the original SURVIVOR. Seeing what fame has turned her into is truly sad…and sickening.

(For more details, check out Steve Rogers’ article at RealityTVWorld)

Who Needs Religion If You Have Tivo?

The multitalented Mark Evanier is a man who loves his Tivo.

It’s odd — and yes, I know it’s probably not healthy — to have an
emotional connection to a product. I think TiVo is the best thing to
happen to television since Chuck Barris retired. If nothing else, I
find it so liberating that I never have to fret about being home on
time to watch a certain show or to hassle with setting the VCR. I can
go about my life, comfortable in the knowledge that the latest
broadcast of The Daily Show will always be there to watch when
I’m ready to watch it…and I can pause it or rewind it or watch part
and then stop and go get lunch and watch the rest tomorrow. It makes
you feel like you own your TV instead of the other way around.

He offers users this link to get in line for the priority software upgrade that will allow you to  record a show on your TiVo and then transfer it to your PC. 

I look forward to this upgrade but a tiny part of me resents having to
wait in line. I owned one of the first TiVos made, and have continually
upgraded and purchased new models, and I think they should cater to
"charter subscribers" before they service Johnny-come-latelys to the
wondrous world of TiVo.

I’ve got my first-generation Tivo hooked up to a GoVideo DVD burner/VCR combo, so I can easily off-load whatever I record to DVD or video.  For the time being, that’s enough for me.

How I Write

My next DIAGNOSIS MURDER is due in March. I have the broad strokes of the story…. but that’s it. The broad strokes. The equivalent of  book jacket copy. I’ve still got to come up with the actual story.  I’ve
been able to procrastinate by doing research on the period, which has given me some plot ideas, but I’ve still got to figure out the  murders, the clues, the characters and, oh yes, the story.

This  is the hardest part of writing… the sitting around, staring into space, and thinking. This is writing, even if you aren’t physically writing.  A lot of non-writers have a hard time understanding this. Yes, just
sitting in a chair doing nothing is writing. A crucial part, in fact.
It can be hell,  especially when you are on as short a deadline as I am.  Everyone has their own method… this is mine:

Want to find out more? Check out my article at The Mystery Morgue.

How Not To Sell A Series

I received the following email this morning.  I’ve deleted the name and phone numbers, but otherwise I haven’t changed a thing…

My name is X, im am 16.
I have an idea of a drama tv show and I was want to sell it, so I was wondering
if you want it, or if you know a producer that will. My phone number is XYZ.  Thank you so much.

If this was written by a 16-year-0ld, it doesn’t say much for the quality of education in our country…

Who Is To Blame?

Western novelist Richard Wheeler starts off his new blog by tackling the demise of the mid-list and the declining paperback market, hot-button issues that have been discussed a lot in the publishing biz. But Wheeler points the finger of blame where it has never been pointed before. Not at publishers. Not at distributors. Not at bookstores…

Is it possible that authors are largely to blame for the sharp decline in
fiction? Most authors would vehemently say no. Most would argue that fiction is
better than ever, well done, vivid, rich and compelling. It’s not the fault of
authors. Not the fault of all those mid-list people who have been bumped and can
no longer get contracts.

And yet, I wonder. The decline in readership of
novels has been going on for years, and began long before the upheavals that
affected the mass market distribution system. There was a time when this country
had literary lions. A time when an author was a celebrity. A time when a
best-selling novel sold in the millions. A time when even genre fiction sold in
the hundreds of thousands. Are we, who create the stories, who fashion the
product, ready to say that it’s not our fault that we sell in the tens of
thousands if we sell at all?

He believes that, by and large, books aren’t as well-written these days, that they are "technically elegant" but lack any real character.

I think ever since the 1970s fiction has been in
trouble, and that if we authors are aware of what factors are making us less and
less readable and compelling, we can, in our own unique ways, write more
compelling literature and win back some of our lost readers.

He promises to discuss these ideas in more depth in later postings. I, for one, will be eager to see what he has to say…


Veteran novelist & ghost-writer James Reasoner weighs in on the Michael Gruber debate and, as it happens, has a point-of-view that I share…

I don’t know the details of the
contract(s) between Gruber and Tanenbaum, but if Gruber agreed that he
wouldn’t reveal he was writing the books, then he shouldn’t have
revealed it. I understand the frustration he must have felt — I once
ghosted a book that got glowing blurbs from big-name folks who never
would have blurbed a book with my name on it — but a deal’s a deal.

He also talks about the unspoken rules about writing series novels under the publisher’s "house names."

Of course there are varying
degrees of secrecy on these things. Some of my house-name Western
contracts say that I can’t publicly claim authorship but that I can use
the books as professional credits within the industry.

I’m sure it’s common knowledge in publishing circles that folks like Margaret Truman and William Shatner, for example, don’t write their own books and that editors are well aware of who really does do the work… but I doubt most readers know when, or if, they are reading ghosted books. I’m sure there are readers out there who think Don Pendleton writes all those EXECUTIONER novels…

Speaking of James Reasoner, mystery fan Aldo Calcagno raves aboutthe author today on Ed Gorman’s blog.

Reasoner may be one of the most underrated writers
around today. TEXAS WIND is a classic, but how many people have had the
opportunity to read it (Thankfully PointBlank has republished the book).

The Perfect Set-Up for Mystery Novel

The New Yorker reports that the world’s leading Sherlock Holmes scholar, Richard Lancelyn Green, was found dead under "mysterious circumstances."

He had been investigating the whereabouts of an archive of Conan
Doyle’s papers, which he believed had been stolen. At the same time, he
hinted that there had been threats to his life and that he was being
followed; soon afterward, he was found garroted in his room, surrounded
by Sherlock Holmes books and posters, with a cord around his neck.

Now the "subculture" of Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle scholars are trying to deduce how Green was killed.

It’s an odd situation, detective-story enthusiasts
trying to solve a real-life mystery.

Not in TV-Land.  This week, Hallmark starts a new series of TV movies about a mystery bookstore owner who solves murders.

I’m Baaaack!

I’m back from Hawaii… where it rained non-stop for 9 out of the 10 days that we were there. Ah well, it was still nice to get away from L.A. for awhile.

Many thanks to my brother Tod for keeping the blog lively in my absense… and doing his best to get me into trouble (again!!) with the fanfic community. 

(Note to Tod… as you proved here, and during your guest-hosting stint at Elegant Variations, you’re a natural blogger. When are you getting a blog of your own??)