MASH Memories

Ken Levine proves, once again, why his blog is a must-read for anyone who loves television, writing, and a good laugh. You don’t want to miss Part One of his latest M*A*S*H memory…the story of how he and his partner got their first assignment on the show. Next, I want him to tell us all about JOE & SONS…the complete series is sure to come out on DVD any day now.

This made me laugh

From Fleshbot:

No matter how far away you get, Keira Knightley, no matter how thick
you think your shirt is, no matter how private you think that beach is,
no matter what the resolution on the orbital telescope being used to
track your movements around the globe … we can still see your nipple.
Not that we’re obsessed with it or anything, we just thought you should

This is a great time to be alive if you are a TV Geek Like me

TVShowsOnDVD reports that the complete series of the 70s sitcom BRIDGET LOVES BIRNEY is being released on DVD in September for $29.95. Then again, the complete series of ROAR, BOOK OF DANIEL, and COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF are coming out, too… so it’s clear this whole TV Shows on DVD business makes no sense at all. But it gives me hope that such forgotten classics as, ahem, SHE-WOLF OF LONDON and MURPHY’S LAW will some day show up on the shelves at Best Buy.

Booksigning 101

My friend Joe Konrath offers some detailed advice on doing bookstore signings. I agree with a lot of what he has to say but he mentioned something that absolutely stunned me:

I did an event last Saturday, and sold 40 hardcover books in 6 hours.
The week before I did 40 books in 8 hours (store wasn’t as crowded).
Week before, 60 books in 8 hours. My record is 120 in ten hours.

to Leave. How long you stay is up to you. I think four hours is
minimum, and if the store is really busy I’ll stay for six or more.

He’ll stay in a store for eight hours?  Geez, at that point, he might as well get a job there. I wouldn’t stay eight hours. I think at that point he crosses the line from dedication and enthusiasm into… well, something kind of scary. I even think four hours is pushing it.

I’ve been at this a while and most authors I know, from those just starting out to the most wildly successful,  will stay at a store for two hours tops, unless it’s some kind of special event (which usually includes other authors). Four hours minimum? I don’t think so. It clearly works for Joe  but I think for most authors it’s overstaying your welcome.

Shamus Award Nominees

The Private Eye Writers of America have announced the nominees for the 2006 Shamus Awards (for works published in
2005). Needless to say, I was thrilled by their choices…though I fear I don’t stand a chance against Crais, Connelly, and Mosley. But wow, it sure is nice to be included in their company. The awards will be
presented on Sept. 29, 2006, at the PWA’s 25 Anniversary Banquet in
Madison, WI, which will be held during the Bouchercon World Mystery

Best Hardcover

Oblivion by Peter Abrahams  (Wm. Morrow), featuring Nick Petrov.

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown), featuring Mickey Haller.

The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais (Doubleday), featuring Elvis Cole.

In A Teapot by Terence Faherty (Crum Creek Press), featuring Scott Elliot.

The Man with the Iron-On Badge by Lee Goldberg (Five Star), featuring Harvey Mapes.

Cinnamon Kiss by Walter Mosley (Little, Brown), featuring Easy Rawlins.

Best Paperback Original

Falling Down by David Cole (Avon), featuring Laura Winslow.

The James Deans by Reed Farrell Coleman (Plume), featuring Moe Prager.

Deadlocked by Joel Goldman (Pinnacle), featuring Lou Mason.

Cordite Wine by Richard Helms (Back Alley Books), featuring Eamon Gold.

A Killing Rain by PJ Parrish (Pinnacle), featuring Louis Kincaid.

Best First Novel

Blood Ties by Lori G. Armstrong (Medallion), featuring Julie Collins.

Still River by Harry Hunsicker (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Minotaur), featuring Lee Henry

The Devil’s Right Hand by J. D. Rhoades (St. Martin  Minotaur), featuring Jack Keller.

Forcing Amaryllis by Louise Ure (Mysterious Press – Warner), featuring Calla Gentry.

Best Short Story

“Oh, What a Tangled Lanyard We Weave” by Parnell Hall. Murder Most Crafty (Berkley),
featuring Stanley Hastings.

“Two Birds with One Stone” by Jeremiah Healy.  Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Jan/Feb 2005, featuring John Francis Cuddy.

“The Big Road” by Steve Hockensmith. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, May 2005, featuring Larry Erie.

“A Death in Ueno” by Michael Wiecek. Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine,  March 2005 featuring Masakazu Sakonju.

“The Breaks” by Timothy Williams. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September/October 2005 featuring Charlie Raines.

Daniel Woodrell

The Ones You Do. Under the Bright Lights. Give Us A Kiss. Woe to Live On. These are just a few of Daniel Woodrell’s wonderful books. This man should be a bestselling author, held in the same high regard as Michael Connelly, T. Jefferson Parker, George Pelecanos, and Dennis Lehane. But while he’s well-reviewed, he’s not well-read (the same fate befell Ang Lee’s excellent RIDE WITH THE DEVIL, the movie version of Woe to Live On… it went unnoticed by audiences and tanked at the boxoffice). Hardly anybody is aware of him despite the fact he’s one of the best crime writers today…hell, he’s one of the best writers out there in any genre.  My brother Tod pointed me to an interview with Woodrell in The Independent. Among his quotes:

"I just really like the verve and muscle of good crime fiction,
the narrative punch of it. The underlying principle of good crime
fiction is an insistence on a kind of root democracy. I’ve always
responded to that notion."

Beyond the Beyond Sale

As I mentioned here before
, I’ve got hundreds of copies of my book BEYOND THE BEYOND that I need to unload to create room in my garage for my Mom’s stuff. In the last few days, I’ve donated books to the New Orleans Public Library as well as Better World Books, among others. But I still have plenty left.

I’ll be glad to send you a signed copy for $9.99, which includes media mail postage to anywhere in the United States. 

BEYOND THE BEYOND is about ex-cop Charlie Willis, who handles “special security” for Pinnacle Pictures. His job: to protect the studio and its stars, to stop scandals before they explode, to the
keep the peace in the land of make-believe. How he does it is up to him. In this book, a sequel to “My Gun Has Bullets,” he has to protect the president of a fledgling TV network from an assassin, an A-list screenwriter from his homicidal agent, and the cast of a cult TV series from its legion of rabid,
homicidal fans.

Here’s a sampling of the critical praise for the book:

“Goldberg uses just about everything he can think of to send up the studio system, fandom, Star Trek, Trekkies, agents, actors… you name it, he’ll make you laugh about it.” Analog

"An outrageously entertaining take on the loathsome folkways of contemporary
showbiz,"Kirkus Reviews

“Mr. Goldberg has an observant eye and a wicked pen!” Washington  Times

Beyond the Beyond reads like a modern-day Alice in Wonderland set against the venal world of the TV industry. It’s wonderfully revealing and uncannily accurate,” Vancouver Sun

"Stingingly funny! B+" Entertainment Weekly

"Some of the easily recognizable actors, agents and producers who are mercilessly ribbed may find
it hard to crack a smile at the author’s gag-strewn prose. Likewise those seekers after politically correct entertainment. But the rest of us should have no trouble….the novel’s satiric slant is strong enough to have an effigy of Goldberg beamed into outer space at the next Star Trek convention," Los Angeles Times

And yet, there were still 600 copies that didn’t sell. Even with a giant penis on the cover. Can you imagine that? If you’d like to buy one of them for $9.99,  just click on the button below:

Box of Books

Today I received my author’s copies of MR. MONK GOES TO HAWAII. I’ve seen the book in bound galleys and I’ve seen the cover… so technically it’s not like I’m actually seeing it for the first time. Even so, it’s always a thrill when that box of author’s copies arrives. Duane Swierczynski knows what I mean. He got a few boxes full of bound galleys THE BLONDE of his third book today…

Anyway, there’s really no thrill like seeing your novel in bound form
with a kick-ass cover (designed by the mega-talented Kathryn Parise)…
times one hundred. God help me when the actual hardcover arrives in a
few months. It’s a thrill that will never get old. And if it does, then
it’s probably time to me to retire and weave baskets, or something.

The Thrill of Sexism?

The International Thriller Writers has enjoyed nothing but success, praise and enthusiasm since it was co-founded by Gayle Lynds & David Morrell two years ago…until now. On the eve of ITW’s first convention in Phoenix, Author Elaine Viets has criticized the organization’s inaugural list of Thriller Award nominess:

It’s tough to define an award-winning thriller, but the new International Thriller Writers has succeeded:

It’s anything written by a man.

That’s not what it says on the ITW Website. That tells us,
"Thrillers provide a rich literary feast – the legal thriller, the spy
thriller, the action-adventure thriller, the medical thriller, the
police thriller, the romantic thriller, the historical thriller, the
political thriller, the religious thriller, the high-tech thriller, the
supernatural thriller. The list goes on and on, with new variations
being invented constantly. This openness to creation and expansion is
one of the field’s characteristics."

Unfortunately, the plums at this literary feast are served to men
only. For the first ITW Thriller Awards, every single novel nominee is
a man.

Best Novel – five men.

Best First Novel – five men.

Best Paperback Original – five men.

And the winners of these Thriller Awards?

No surprise there: They’re all going to be men.

So is the recipient of the first ITW Life-Time Achievement Award.

The judges were men and women. So was it sexism…or did men simply write the best work this year? You tell me. I didn’t check, but how many Jews were nominated? Jews write lots of crackling thrillers. Hmm.

UPDATE 6-23-06: Novelist Joe Konrath calls Elaine Viets "a troll" and ITW co-founder Gayle Lynds reponds to her charges. Gayle wrote, in part:

As an author (not as a woman who has spent her life battling sexism), I
could complain that no women were nominated. At the same time, I could
also complain that no people of color were. I’m not sure whether any
Muslims or religions other than Christian or Jewish were nominated, but
I think they weren’t either. There also might be a preponderance of
nominees from one section of the United States, which could be taken as
a prejudice favoring that area.

As long as awards are given in
whatever field, there are always going to be those who say, "I wish it
were otherwise. And because it isn’t, it’s prejudice."

The only
time there’s really an institutional problem, at least in my mind, is
when there is a history of one group of people being disenfranchised.

Since this is ITW’s first year, the organization can have no track record of institutional prejudice.

The Perils of Signing

Author Barry Eisler signed THE LAST ASSASSIN at a small, independent bookstore in the mid-west and then left and signed stock at two nearby big chain stores in the same town.  Barry reports that this did not sit well with the independent bookseller, who wrote:

stock at chain stores signals to the people who did take the time to
come to your [our independent bookstore] event and support you that
their effort was not necessary. More importantly, calling attention to
that fact that you need to leave to do such a thing is insulting to
your hosts. If that was something you felt compelled to do, you
probably should have done so without drawing attention to yourself. I
chalk it up to you not understanding the dynamics of the situation.
Other booksellers may not be very forgiving. Some in particular that we
know would simply stop carrying your books without comment.

[…] Like many of the key independents, we’re in the business of selling
books and we also produce author events. In order to drive the
publicity for an event, particularly for genre fiction, there has to be
a unique quality to the experience we’re offering. Part of that
uniqueness is the opportunity to meet the author and purchase a signed
book. If someone can go anywhere in town and purchase a signed book,
then that unique aspect of the event marketing is lost.

Is the independent bookseller over-reacting or did Barry make a  mistake? Barry doesn’t think he did:

I can’t apologize for signing stock at chains, my friend. They’re
important distributors in my business, and I can’t make a living
selling through independents alone (nor would I have been able to build
my business as I have without the backing of independents). If I
insulted you by doing I see as best for my business, I regret it, and
am somewhat surprised, as it’s not a reaction I’ve run into before.

If you’d like to have me back for another event, I would be delighted,
as you, along with other key independents, have done a tremendous
amount to get me where I am, and where I hope to go. You also run a
first rate signing and seem like good people. But whether I do a
signing with you or not, you should know that I’ll also sign stock at
as many chains in town as I can. This is a business decision for me,
not at all personal, and you shouldn’t feel insulted by it.

What do you think? Was Barry right or was he wrong? I’m not in my friend Barry’s league, but I can see both sides of the argument.

I know one independent bookseller who was very upset to find out that a week before they were hosting a signing for A Big Bestselling Author, signed copies of his book were being sold at the Costco two miles up the street (he’d signed thousands of copies at their distribution center) and he’d signed stock at the Barnes & Noble  less than a mile away a day earlier.

After the signing at the independeant bookstore, the Big Bestselling Author made sure he stopped by the nearby Borders, too. The independent booksellers were pissed…but there wasn’t much they could do about it. They still sold a lot of his books, just not as many as they could have sold if they weren’t undercut by the much cheaper signed books at Costco and B&N.

On the other hand, people who came to the independent bookseller’s event got to meet the author…something they couldn’t do at Costco, B&N or Borders. And they presumably were willing to pay a little extra for that priveledge.  I do believe the indie offered something unique that the other stores couldn’t, and that the people who’d buy the signed book at Costco aren’t necessarily the same customers who’d attend an author signing.  One doesn’t necessarily cancel out the other.

Like I said, I can see both sides.

I wonder how the independent feels about authors who do signings at another indies in the same city? I know it happens all the time in L.A. area and authors are very upfront about it.  Mystery/thriller  authors frequently sign at Mysteries to Die For the same day as Mystery Bookstore and Book’em… and even ask for directions (as Barry did, asking the indie how to get to B&N). If the indies here mind, they haven’t said anything about it that I know of…