I’ve Been Used

Author Nichelle Tramble shares this common Author Nightmare:

A couple years ago I read an interview with an author who said his
worst experience after publishing his first novel was finding a signed
copy of the book at a garage sale. The book wasn’t simply signed with a
signature but personalized to someone he thought was a close friend.
His feelings were hurt but he never had the nerve to confront the
friend about the discarded book. After awhile he convinced himself that
the book was donated by his friend’s wife or one of his careless
teenage sons.

I’ve had this experience, only worse.  I went into a used bookstore in L.A. and found a signed copy of one of my books with a heartfelt, personal  inscription to my friend…who had provided one of the cover blurbs! Try rationalizing that. And no, I never confronted the guy.

Dick Van Dyke is Back

Dick Van Dyke, 80,  is returning to television in “Murder 101,” a series of  movies for Hallmark in which he plays “a criminology professor who is less than brilliant when it comes to everyday tasks though incredibly smart when it comes to solving crimes. He bumbles through life not knowing where his keys are, but when he gets involved in a case his mind is a steel trap." His son Barry will co-star. The movies premiere in January.

The Candyman Can

Won1We Fc4ab593just got back from taking my daughter to CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY…
I much prefer the Gene Wilder version. Does that make me a stodgy old coot?

Update 7-23-05: Screenwriter Paul Dini shares my view. He blogs:

…Wilder’s Wonka seemed like an adult who had never lost a child’s
perspective of adults, and therefore knew how to skillfully parody them
while walking among them. He dressed in the clothes a child might
choose to give himself an air of wealth and worldiness among grown-ups,
and even spoke to them on a semi-intellectual level until it dawned on
the mystified adults that what they heard was an earful of nonsense and
veiled insults. Yet Wilder also made Wonka an obsessive workaholic who
saw human relationships as an impediment to his creative genius. It
wasn’t that Wilder’s Wonka disliked children (though he clearly didn’t
care for the four out of five he invited in) but he had simply created
a world where he had no time to have any kids of his own.


Diversity or Die

Mysteries have  thrived, author Richard Wheeler says, because the
authors, editors, and packagers have embraced diversity and allowed the genre to evolve in new directions. But westerns are dying because editors and packagers refuse to let the genre evolve…even if it means deceiving readers.

subgenres were allowed to flourish nor were any unorthodox stories
packaged truthfully. The packaging was often a lie, intended to deceive
the buyer. The novel might be a mining camp story about a gambler, but
the cover would be a cowboy with a gun. The novel might feature an
Indian warrior opposing western expansion, but the cover would likely
be a cowboy with a gun.

It’s a shame, because I think a lot of people who enjoy dark, gritty, mysteries would also embrace westerns if they could see past the cowboy covers (and they can’t). The westerns I’ve been reading lately are as noir as it gets (like Ed Gorman’s WOLF MOON and H.A. DeRosso’s GUN TRAIL). Scott Phillips’ COTTONWOOD, if it had been creatively and aggressively marketed, could have drawn noir lovers into the western fold…but, sadly, that didn’t happen.

I think the answer is to scrap the cowboy covers altogether. Aggressively market westerns not as westerns, but as novels. Forget they are westerns altogether. Banish the cover cliches of the genre…and reach for something different,  images and designs that reflect the tone of the book and the unique story being told. 


The Mail I Get

I got this long, rambling email today.  Here are parts of it (I’ve removed the title of the book as a courtesy):

I am curious. As a published author myself, ("XYZ" Available at
http://www.lulu.com/XYZ and in stores in September) I was under the
belief that derivative works are the copywriter of the orginating copyright
holder. That basically Atlantis ASV belongs to Amblin/Universal
Entertainment. So my question is this: being the writer of seaQuest (which by
the way I happened to like, althought the final season was
disapointing)i found it odd that you gave them permission to continue with
their copyright infringment…

.. I am in the process of creating a similar work on the world in which
‘XYZ’  takes place. It will deal with animosities from a regime
change and a country that patrols the seas. The ships will be similar to
seaQuest (actually to the tech difference they are actually closer to Deep
). Since my work is for profit, I don’t want to appear like I am
palagrising seaQuest, its derivatitve Atlantis or Deep Angel...

…So to wrap this long winded question: Where would you draw the line. How far
from preexisting story do I have to be to outside your window?

Here is how I replied. No offense intended, but you are a self-published author… that
is very different than being a "published author." That said, the rights to
SEAQUEST belong to Universal Television/Amblin. I didn’t give anyone permission
to do derivative works based on the series, nor could I, because SEAQUEST
doesn’t belong to me. 

The author of Atlantis can’t publish and sell his work without getting a
license from Universal, otherwise he faces the likelihood of legal action
against him by the studio. If your book is based on SEAQUEST, you would presumably face the
same risk.

I got this email from him in reply:

Thank you for your response. I know that the publishing world
mostly considers self publishing to be ‘vanity’ publishing. That don’t
bother me. And no it isn’t. My sub can fly in space because the tech level
of the world is more Babylon 5/Star Trek than seaQuest.

Huh? I have no idea what he’s talking about. I didn’t reply to this one, because it would obviously be a waste of time. But I find it fascinating that his  frame of reference for his original work is the technology of other science fiction TV shows (or fanfic based on the TV shows). What is the "tech level" of BABYLON 5 vs  STAR TREK vs SEAQUEST Fanfic? And why would anyone care? If you’re writing an original sf novel, it exists in its own world, the one you’ve created.


I got this email today. It’s so, um, unique that the only way to do it justice is to reprint it in full.

Dear Mr. Golberg,

If you don’t delete this e-mail like I probably would,
I would like to ask you a question.

I have just completed my first book.
I Started this project with absolute unhappiness concerning a turn of events in
our society, and my idea to write about that unhappiness was helped along with
the encouragement of a friend of mine, and now it is a book. My original
intention was to do what the book suggests, but I found myself 1-million dollars
short of it happening.

To make a long story short, I was beyond words
unhappy with the unsettled massacre of Nicole Brown Simpson, and her boyfriend,
Ronald Goldman. I have written what I believe is the closest thing the world
will ever appreciate concerning justice in this matter.

I of course do
not know what your opinion of this matter is. You may think O.J. Simpson is
innocent. If that is the case, please stop reading this e-mail now, and continue
having a great life.

If on the other hand, you feel like I do…that
this injustice should not be forgotten, then continue reading. I have written a
book that is about 99% complete. It may have some subtle redundancies, and need
some fine-tuning, but I have worked over a year and a half on this book…24-7.
I usually got up at 3:00 am to go into work early to complete it, to my soon to
be ex-wifes angst. I guess few people understand writers…nuff said.

just do not know what to do with it. I understand your writing skills, and I
believe you understand obscure fiction. I have just ordered a copy of your book,
"The Walk" and I am sure from the description I have read that you are one of
the few people who may understand my writing style. I have recently submitted my
manuscript to LULU.com for self-publishing.

My question is this; I do not
have the resources to find a literary agent at this time, and I want this book
to be published before O.J. dies, which would in essence be a tragedy as far as
the book is concerned. Can you suggest a literay agent to me that I may offer my
manuscript to that would appreciate this form of vigilante justice? It is
pseudo-psych0-fiction, and hard to explain. I would be honored to send you my
entire book to take a look at if you so desire. I guarantee you you will not be
Thanks for your time.

Why do I get emails like this? I have to say, I am a loss as to how to respond to this one. Any suggestions?

Hypocrisy 101

Robin Reid writes Real People Slash fanfic — fictional stories about real people having homosexual  sex (like, say Ashton Kutcher and Leonardo DiCaprio) and posts it on the Internet.  She doesn’t think it might be offensive or embarrassing to the real people involved or to their  spouses, children, family and friends.  Nor does she care. 

On the other hand, Robin thinks that quoting her biography, the one she posted publicly on the JACK website, is an invasion of her privacy and harassment. Honest to God. I’m not making this stuff up:

Luckily I’m a great big girl with tenure and academic freedom and publication
credit of my own, and I do not think anything that they are putting on the
internet about me is going to cause me problems. I’m pretty much "out" in major
ways on my campus mostly through the medium of my academic writing. My
department hired me, tenured me, and supports Academic Freedom, bless their
collective hearts.

However, I want to state that in principle what Lee and Paul Ziggy and Co.
are doing is invasion of privacy and harassment, simple and clear.

Let me see if I have this straight. Writing a story about two real people having sex and distributing it on the Internet isn’t an invasion of privacy or harassment… but quoting a publicly posted biography is.  Can someone please explain her "principles" to me? Because I don’t get it.

(Thanks to "Anonymous" for the heads-up).

Am I Blushing?

I’m flattered to say that Ed Gorman has given THE PAST TENSE, the latest DIAGNOSIS MURDER novel, a rave review on his blog.

Goldberg’s sardonic voice informs every scene and that’s what makes his people
work…This is Lee Goldberg’s best Diagnosis Murder novel yet. Serious when it needs to
be-and he does have a lot of wry things to say about LA-but unflaggingly
entertaining all the way through. I’m looking forward to the next one, THE DEAD
LETTER, which is previewed in the back of this book. And yes, in case I
didn’t mention it, he can plot with the best of them.

You can see the rest on his blog, where he also heaps praise on Terrill Lee Lankford’s newest novel (as have author James Reasoner and critic David Montgomery).

Thank you, Ed!