Wank Fic

DuesouthThe new, living definition of  "pathetic":  someone who searches the Internet for masturbation fanfic:

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to search for wanking fic? I mean, are
there any useful search terms to use? Googling "masturbation" and
"fanfic" turns up things from Lee Goldberg and his ilk, with the yadda yadda
about how it’s all some poor, unimaginative substitute for … no, I’m not going
to go there.  At any rate, OMG, rec me some fanfic with masturbation in
it. Any fandom. It just needs to be hot and to involve someone touching themself
in sexy ways.

After "MarytheFan" posted her fervent plea on LiveJournal, someone enthusiastically recommended DUE SOUTH masturbation fanfic.

I haven’t read them in a while, but I recall there being a few damn hot ones in

I wonder if they include the dog.

(Thanks to Tig for the link)

Sex Sex Sex

Sex_1Novelist Tess Gerritsen talks about the difficulties of writing sex. She offers a lot of great advice, but the bottom line is:

Ask yourself, as a writer, what your love scene is supposed to accomplish. If
it’s just to show that your hero is a normal guy having sex, that’s about as
interesting as watching him eat bologna sandwiches. No, the best sex scenes are
those that accomplish something far more profound. They offer us a deeper
understanding of character, or show us emotional awakening or healing.

I agree with her. She was brave enough to share an example from one of her books to prove her point, so I will, too. This one comes from MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE:

I guess
something I learned from “Mannix” was true. Being a private eye really is an
aphrodisiac to women. Carol had never attacked me like that before.

I’m afraid the surprise and excitement were too much, because I came in about three minutes. But I
don’t think Carol minded; it calmed me down and allowed me to concentrate real
hard on getting her off. And believe me, it took my complete attention.
Pleasing a woman, especially Carol, isn’t easy and with me, at least, there’s a
lot of potential for embarrassment and humiliation.

She rewarded me for all
my hard work with a nice, squealing, writhing orgasm that nearly broke my nose
on her pubic bone, but I didn’t mind. I even jumped in, literally, to enjoy the
last few squeals of it with her.

It was so dark, and things happened so fast, she never saw my cuts and bruises, so she mistook my
occasional groans of pain for pleasure.

Carol fell right to sleep afterwards.

Between the sex, the pain, and the things on my mind, I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have
liked. But I get laid so rarely, I’m willing to sacrifice just about anything
for it, especially sleep, when I usually dream about having sex anyway.

While the scene is explicit, more by implication than actual description,  it’s not about the choreography or body parts. It’s about attitude and character — or, at least, I hope it is. To me, that’s how you get around the pitfalls of writing the sex scene, unless the point of the scene is to arouse the reader.

By the way, I’ve written my share of awful sex scenes. I honed my "craft" in college. My girlfriend was an editorial assistant at Playgirl and she got me a gig writing sexually-explicit  "Letters to the Editor" for the grand sum of $25-a-letter (Gasp! You didn’t know they were fake? You probably think Penthouse letters are real, too).  I actually had a lot of fun writing them (often in class, which got me some strange looks from the people around me)  and it helped me learn to write in different voices for different characters. Plus the letters got my girlfriend all excited, but that’s another story…

Blog Suicide?

A few days ago, author Sandra Scoppettone  blogged about her editor, Joe Blades, leaving Ballantine and her anxieties about it.  This prompted an anonymous commenter to warn her that her very candid blog posts could be damaging to her career. Sandra angrily fired back. Soon, the ugly little argument spilled over to  other   blogs. Now Galleycat has picked up on the catfight, so-to-speak, and it will mushroom from there…

Unfortunately, it illustrates that even someone who’s been in the
business as long as Scoppettone has (and whose influence on two
different genres continues to be felt) can sometimes let things go all
too haywire. And it further illustrates the power of blogging in the
publishing world — because you never know who’ll be out there reading,
passing judgment, and jumping to conclusions.

The blog skirmish brings up an interesting issue — how honest should you be on your blog? I have to admit I cringed a bit at some of Sandra’s posts, and at my friend Paul Guyot’s surprising candor about the ups-and-downs of his pilot experience, and at my cousin regularly trashing her employer. Sure, it makes good reading and can be cathartic for the author  — but is it self-destructive? I don’t know. I just know I don’t want to find out for myself.

I’ve been very careful here not to talk about the shows I am working on (except to hype them when they air), or the executives and producers I am working with (or hope to work with), or authors/writers I work and socialize with (unless it is to hype their latest work).  I  rarely name individual producers, writers, editors or executives. I talk in general terms, for the most part, or about personal experiences that are safely in the past. 

I’m clearly not shy about expressing my opinion — but I’m careful about it. I don’t hesitate to criticize fanfiction, self-publishing scams, the RWA, or people searching the Internet for Lindsay Lohan’s nipples  — those are safe. But, for example,  you won’t see me trashing a producer, a studio, a network, or a major publishing company.

I think some bloggers forget that they aren’t writing a private diary — it’s like a column in a newspaper. You have no idea who is reading it or how your words are being passed around. Blogging is fun, but my career is far more important.

Post-Partum Depression

I just completed my 7th DIAGNOSIS MURDER novel, "The Double Life," which will be published in Sept. 2006, and delivered it to my agent. While it’s a great feeling to finish a book, it also leaves this big void. The book has been such a big part of my days, and my thoughts, for the last few months that it’s strange not to have it there any more. But I’m not taking much time to  rest. I delivered this DM early — 30 days ahead of my deadline — so that means I’ll have a little more time to plot and write the 3rd MONK novel, "Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu," and can enjoy the holidays without having to worry about scrambling to finish a book.

Jetting to the Jet City

SeattlespaceneedlerestaurantMy brother Tod and I are heading up to Seattle tomorrow. I’ll also be speaking about becoming a writer to the students at
Jackson High School in Mill Creek, where my Aunt Britt Barer teaches,
on Friday. That night, you can see Tod and I sitting court-side for the
Sonics game doing our best Jach Nicholson impersonations. On Saturday, Dec. 3, we’re doing some booksignings  — at noon at the Seattle Mystery Bookstore and at 3 p.m at the Barnes & Noble University Village.

The Writing Adventure

Poseidon_poster_2_2In both Paul Gallico’s original novel THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE and Irwin Allen’s movie version, the doomed ocean liner was tipped upside down by a freak tidal wave. In the recent NBC mini-series remake, the ocean liner was tipped over by terrorist bombs. Reviewers weren’t kind to the mini-series and criticized what they seemed to think was an unnecessary change. Screenwriter Bryce Zabel, who wrote the mini-series, explains on his lively blog the creative reasons for substituting terrorists for the tidal wave:

Poseidon purists (or critics looking for something to criticize)
seemed to feel that, somehow, the freak tidal wave from the 1969 book or the
1972 film should have sufficed. They got their life jackets in a bunch over the
NBC version where it’s a terrorist attack in which only one of two explosive
charges detonates and that causes an imbalance in the ship’s metacentric height
and capsizes it.

The reason for making the choice to add a terrorist sub-plot is really pretty
simple. Understand that I was writing a four-hour mini-series version (which
later was edited down to three hours for NBC), not a two-hour feature version.
In a movie theater, the audience has already paid admission and, generally
speaking, is going to stick through the entire film, especially a
Poseidon, knowing the boat’s going belly up eventually. Television is
different. People have their hands on the remote practically all the time and if
something isn’t happening right now, they can, and will, change. This reality
effectively means that simply waiting for an inevitable tidal wave isn’t a
sufficient stake in the TV version: the characters can’t behave differently
because, after all, they don’t know it’s coming.

I didn’t see the mini-series, so I can’t say whether the changes worked or not — but as a writer, I can certainly understand why he felt he had to do something to amp-up the pre-disaster conflict. That said,  THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE is a disaster movie classic — an icon of genre. Everybody knows it’s about a boat tipped over by a tidal wave, so perhaps changing the central concept of the story wasn’t the right choice. 

Abandonment Issues

Galleycat reports that editor Joe Blades is leaving Ballantine — and publishing.

Why? Though Blades hadn’t responded to email queries as of this writing, burnout
seems to be the biggest issue, according to a recent post by
one of his authors
. Though Blades isn’t certain what his next move will be,
it won’t have anything to do with the publishing world.

Blades was especially known for editing mystery and crime fiction, and his
author list included Anne Perry, Sandra Scoppettone, Terrill Lee Lankford,
Rochelle Krich, Mary Logue, Gillian Roberts and William Bernhardt. It remains to
be seen how many of these folks will be kept on by Random House, but Blades will
be meeting with various RH brass to discuss which editors get custody of which

It’s very scary when your editor, often your biggest champion at the publishing house, leaves. When one of my editors left, on the eve of publication of my non-fiction book,  any interest in  me or the book within the company just vanished… the book was orphaned. There was no effort made by the sales force to sell the book or by the PR department to promote it.  Sandra Scoppettone, one of Blades’ authors, is worried this might happen to her:

What worries me is the new book, Too Darn Hot, which will be published in June. 
Even if a new contract hadn’t come my way, this editor would’ve still been on
top of things and moved the book as much as possible.  As the book is finished
and there’s nothing for a new editor to do on it, it’ll lie there like a lox. 
Unless there’s a new contract and then it’ll be different.  At the moment my
book is an orphan.


I don’t blame her. I’d be worried, too. On the other hand, losing an editor doesn’t always mean doom for his list of  authors.  I’ve been extraordinarily lucky at Penguin/Putnam/NAL on the DIAGNOSIS MURDER and MONK books. I’m on my third editor so far  (the first was downsized out of a job, the other left for a richer offer) and they’ve all been wonderful… supportive, enthusiastic, and totally committed to the books.

Hijinks on The High Seas

No, I’m not talking about yet another revival of THE LOVE BOAT.

HIJINKS ON THE HIGH SEAS is  a mystery-writing cruise on March 24-27th to Mexico put together by Joan Hansen, the wonder woman behind the wonderful MEN OF MYSTERY event (and she’s the winner of this year’s prestigious Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America).  Speakers hosting on-board seminars include yours truly, my brother Tod, and Matt Witten among others. For more information, call  (562)
595-6905. Call Now! That’s (562)
595-6905. Operators are standing by! (562)


The Vagaries of Variety

Variety today "analyzes" the demise of ALIAS, putting the blame for the cancellation on "the vagaries of television." Well, duh. That’s what passes for probing analysis over at the trades these days.

ABC has announced the end of the line for "Alias," which will conclude its
five-season run in May. Skein,
which stars Jennifer
as CIA agent Bristow, earned critical raves through the
years but struggled this season on Thursday nights.

And that’s all they had to say about those pesky "vagaries" —  great buzz but low ratings. I don’t think I’ve ever read a more revealing, probing analysis of the demise of a show (except, maybe, from those stories about ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, which fell victim to those same pesky "vagaries," and they’ve got bunch of Emmys, too). 

Surely there’s a real story behind the cancellation of ALIAS, one that might actually be interesting and reveal something about how network televison works, but far be it from the so-called reporters  at Daily Variety to bother digging any deeper than the press release.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the trades experimented with some geniune reporting once in a while?

(This isn’t exactly a new rant for me. Check out The Journalistic Integrity of Variety Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)