Mad Max

Ed Gorman posted an appreciation of novelist Max Allan Collins, co-founder of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, on his blog today:

I wouldn’t be blogging today if it weren’t for Max Allan Collins.
Twenty five years ago, I made a cold call to him to tell him how much I
enjoyed his novels…

… Naturally,
we talked about writing and why I, who’d sold a lot of short stories to
magazines of varying repute, hadn’t ever written a novel. I told him l
I’d started about a hundred of the damned things but that I always got
stuck at some point and started backtracking and then just gave up. He
gave me the single most useful piece of writing advice I’ve ever ever
received. Don’t look back. Finish the first draft straight through and
then go back and do whatever needs to be done in the revisions.

Ed also talks about advice he’s gleaned from other writers… all of it worth taking to heart.

Grey’s Blog

The writers of GREY’S ANATOMY have their own blog. The latest post from Krista Vernoff tells the story behind her "Christmas" episode:

here’s a funny thing: we were never going to do a “Holiday episode” of
Grey’s Anatomy. Shonda, in particular, (though many of us agree) is not
a big fan of Santa Claus in the E.R. and elves in the operating room
and the kinds of things you most often see on medical show holiday
episodes. So, the mandate was: we can have a tree, we can acknowledge
the holiday, but we’re not doing a “holiday episode.” And then Harry and Gab walked into the writer’s room and pitched this: “A cranky, angry little boy needs a heart transplant because his heart is TWO SIZES TWO SMALL.”

Come on. That’s brilliant. The Grinch boy? How do you not make a holiday episode now? So that’s how this episode was born.

She goes into much more detail, but I especially enjoyed this observation:

I don’t know why I’m telling you all this… Maybe because I’m so often asked “How do you guys come up with this stuff?” The
answer is, we come up with it in a largely convoluted, fabulously
meandering, highly collaborative way where bad ideas lead to good ones
and good ideas lead to other ones and nothing is set in stone until
about a week before you see it on TV. Which is why I love working in TV.

This new trend towards blogs (eg CSI:MIAMI, SCRUBS) and podcasts (eg LOST and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) from  the writers room of TV shows isn’t just great PR and fun for the fans — it’s an incredible opportunity for aspiring writers, offering an inside look at how TV series episodes are conceived, written and produced.

Ships That Passed in the Night

I spent way, way, way too much time last night browsing through Mark Evanier’s remembrances of old Los Angeles restaurants that are no longer around, like Ships, Chasen’s, Zucky’s, and Bit O’ Scotland. He doesn’t include one of my old favorites (unless I missed it in my bleery-eyed haze) The Cock ‘n’ Bull, the upscale buffet on Sunset that is now a Jaguar dealership…but I’m sure he will get around to it.

Book Club Pick

MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE is a January pick of the Mystery Guild, which is offering members a hardcover edition of the book. When I was a kid, I was a member of the Literary Guild and the Mystery Guild and couldn’t wait for the new catalogs every month. And when those boxes of books arrived, it was like Christmas. Of course, now I collect first editions and I’m not interested in book club editions, but back then it was the only way I could afford new, hardcover titles.

Writers Digest

There was a time when Writer’s Digest offered useful tips on breaking into writing and sustaining a career in the biz… but over the years they have become a worthless shill for the vanity press industry. I’ve been getting countless emails from Writer’s Digest, hyping one vanity press or another as a way to break into publishing and get your book on the shelves which, of course, is bullshit. Here’s the latest "very special message" from Writer’s Digest pushing Outskirtspress, which makes iUniverse look like Random House by comparison.

Tired of rejection letters?
Disillusioned by the lack of marketing
Concerned about the out-of-control pricing of printers?

The publishing industry has come a long way
since the Gutenberg Press. New York publishers no longer call the shots. You
do! The future of book publishing is here…

* No minimum print
* Non-exclusive contracts!
* You keep all your rights!
* Your
book is published and available for sale in about 13 weeks!
* Online listings
with Barnes & Noble and are included!

Everyone wants a short-cut. This one will cost you from $199-1000 and get you nowhere.  If Writer’s Digest was a real magazine, they would publish articles exposing the pitfalls of vanity presses and warn writers against throwing their money away.  But Writers Digest sold out a long, long time ago and now exists to promote and legitimize an industry that preys on the desperation of aspiring writers. It’s not Writers Digest any more — it’s Vanity Press Digest.

A Slan Dunk

Novelist and IAMTW member Kevin J. Anderson has been asked by Lydia Van Vogt, widow of author A.E. Van Vogt, to  complete the manuscript
for SLAN HUNTER, the sequel to SLAN.  A. E. Van Vogt
began the book in 1984, but was unable to complete it due to Alzheimers disease. Anderson received 100 pages of draft manuscript and outline.  Tor will publish the completed
book, with David Hartwell as editor.

The Omen Lives Again!

David Seltzer’s novelization of his screenplay for the 1976 movie THE OMEN, which starred Gregory Peck and Lee Remick as the unfortunate parent’s of the devil’s son, is being re-released in May to coincide with THE OMEN 666, the latest movie in the franchise, which includes three theatrical films and two TV movies (one of which was a pilot for a weekly series).  This news is worth reporting because it’s not often that novelizations get re-released — certainly not thirty years after they were last in print. The shelf-life of a novelization is even shorter than most mass-market paperbacks and usually disappear as soon as the movie its based on falls out of theatrical release…if not earlier.

(Thanks to Bookgasm for the heads-up)

Names is for Tombstones

There’s been a lot of talk lately about mid-list writers adopting other names to get their books sold and keep their careers going. Author Tim Cockey has enjoyed some success with his HEARSE series of light-hearted mysteries — now he’s launching a new series under the name "Richard Hawke." He recently sent Bill Peschel an email touting his "debut":

I get this sorta-spam e-mail today with the subject line of YOU LOVE
MYSTERIES! The name "Richard Hawke" sounds fishy, but there wasn’t an
attachment and it didn’t look like it wanted to lengthen my penis, so I
opened it.

I prefer emails that will lengthen my penis, but that’s another story. Anyway, the spam went something like this:

Okay, I happen to know that you’re a reader and that you like mysteries
and/or thrillers. Don’t ask me how I know this, I just do. It’s my job
to sniff out folks like you.

So here’s the question: In the glutted world of mysteries and
thrillers, do we really need yet another new series to take up space in
our To-Be-Read pile? Well, the answer is yes, but only if it’s any good.

I’ve got one for you. And since it really is such a glutted world of
too many books, I thought it’d be wise for me to get to you directly
and let you know about it.

It didn’t lengthen Bill’s penis, but it did get him curious about the author. Cockey, as Hawke, has already won raves from PW and Kirkus for his new book. Makes you wonder why he bothered using another name…