This Is More Like It

The 2007 Edgar nominees were announced today and, for the first time in years, the TV episodic category wasn’t dominated by LAW AND ORDER (and it’s spin-offs). Instead, the nominees  this year truly reflect the diversity of mystery shows on TV:

The Closer – "Blue Blood", Teleplay by James Duff & Mike Berchem (Turner Network Television)
Dexter – "Crocodile", Teleplay by Clyde Phillips (Showtime)
House – "Clueless", Teleplay by Thomas L. Moran (Fox/NBC Universal)
Life on Mars – Episode 1, Teleplay by Matthew Graham (BBC America)
Monk – "Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink", Teleplay by Hy Conrad (USA Network/NBC Universal)

The committee seems to  have been swayed by character over procedure this  year, since none of the  pure procedurals (CSI, CRIMINAL MINDS, etc) were nominated. But I think it’s an impressive bunch of nominees.

The TV movie and mini-series category is equally impressive and clearly indicates  just how few mystery-themed TV movies and miniseries are being done on the big broadcast networks…but that the genre is thriving elsewhere:

Conviction, Teleplay by Bill Gallagher (BBC America)
Cracker: A New Terror, Teleplay by Jimmy McGovern (BBC America)
Messiah: The Harrowing, Teleplay by Terry Cafolla (BBC America)
Secret Smile, Teleplay by Kate Brooke, based on the book by Nicci French (BBC America)
Wire, Season 4, Teleplays by Ed Burns, Kia Corthron, Dennis Lehane,
David Mills, Eric Overmyer, George Pelecanos, Richard Price, David
Simon & William F. Zorzi (Home Box Office)

Shelf Life

In 1983, I wrote a "My Turn" essay that was published in Newsweek Magazine. Today, almost 25 years later, I got a nice royalty check for a reprint of the essay in the textbook MAKING READING RELEVANT: THE ART OF CONNECTING. This is not the first time the essay has been reprinted. It has actually shown up in scores of textbooks over the years, from MARRAIGE AND THE FAMILY EXPERIENCE to DESIGNING IDEAS: AN ANTHOLOGY FOR WRITERS. And each time it happens, I am stunned. I can’t believe something I wrote in a half hour so long ago has had such a long shelf life.

Proofs as Proof

Novelist John Connolly just got the page proofs for his new book THE UNQUIET:

It’s always interesting to receive the proofs, as it’s the first time
that I get to see the book as it will look to the public, i.e. typeset,
and no longer simply my manuscript. At that point, a transformation
occurs in the way I view it. It is not just something that I rustled up
on my computer. It’s a book, and I judge it in a different way. I
notice elements that perhaps I did not recognise before. I become more
conscious of themes running through it, and I become aware, for want of
a better word, of the ‘feel’ of the book.

I know exactly how he feels. I just finished going through the proofs for DIAGNOSIS MURDER: THE LAST WORD and I felt as if I was reading someone else’s book. It didn’t seem to have any connection to the "file" I emailed to my editor months ago. I was reading it fresh and I was surprised by some of obvious themes that ran that ran through the book…themes I wasn’t even consciously aware of as I was writing it. 

When I read the proofs, I find myself seeing the prose, the characters, and the plot differently than I did in the midst of working on the book. But most of all, reading THE LAST WORD, I was aware of a pace and rythmn to the story that I definitely didn’t feel while I was writing it in bits and pieces, at different times and in different places (L.A., Germany, Palm Springs… and at my desk, on airplanes, in hotel rooms, in waiting rooms, in my car, etc.)

The term "proofs" has a double-meaning to me. Holding the proofs, I have evidence to convince myself that what I wrote is actually a book…it’s the first time the story feels like a book to me instead of work.

Race Track Romance

HelenKay Dimon reports that Harlequin is releasing a line of  NASCAR-themed romance novels in February for women who get hot thinking about race car drivers.

The introductory titles are by Gina Wilkins, Nancy Warren, Debra Webb
and Roxanne St. Clair. The series will consist of four titles every
three months (release dates in February, May, August and November). For
the mathematically challenged – and you know who you are – that’s
sixteen NASCAR titles a year. As I’ve said before, those are likely
sixteen titles per year I won’t read.

Just imagine all the inventive racing metaphors for sex we’re going to see…and clever uses of the words "stick shift."

Forget NASCAR.  I’m waiting for Harlequin to launch the Home & Garden Channel line of romances, where women fall madly in love with hunky guys who never tire of visiting open houses and remodeling homes. My wife will be first in line to buy them.

Half-A-Billion Bond

Nikki Finke reports that CASINO ROYALE has become the biggest grossing Bond film ever, earning more than half-a-billion dollars worldwide ($100 million more than DIE ANOTHER DAY, the previous record holder).

As of Sunday, the new Bond’s estimate is $553.3 mil globally  (int’l $390.7 mil and domestic $162.5 mil). The studio expects Casino Royale to end up with as much as $575 mil theatrically worldwide.

I wonder how all those irate fans (the 007 equivalent of the Colonial Fan Force) who spent months whining all over the web about "the blond Bond," castigating Daniel Craig’s performance (sight unseen), and delighting in his on-set injuries (he broke some teeth in a fight scene) are dealing with this news. 

Ken Levine Is Having Lunch With Everyone

My friend Ken Levine has posted a very funny "hypothetical" rejection letter for a spec 24 script. Among the comments:

When the CTU staff learns that Jack’s daughter Kim has been kidnapped
you have them all cheering. I don’t think they would do that. They
would merely smile knowingly to each other.

I had great lunch with Ken last week. We spent three hours sharing anecdotes about TV and blogging. He also had lunch last week with TV critic Alan Sepinwall, who seems to have had as much fun with Ken as I did. You should visit Ken’s blog. It’s just like having lunch with him, only without the food.

I Wrote a Book and it’s Up for the Nobel Prize in Literature

I’m not a book critic, but even so every-so-often I get hit up by authors or publishers who’d like to send me a review copy of a new crime novel. I received a solicitation today from an author, and his pitch included the following publicity material (the names have been deleted to protect the innocent):

[The Book] has been blurbed by Famous Author #1, Famous Author #2, Famous Author #3 and Famous Author #4.  It’s up for the 2006 Edgar Award for Best First Novel – Famous Author #1 seems to believe it’s a shoo-in to win.

First off, the 2006 Edgars were announced last year and his book wasn’t one of them. He’s actually referring to the 2007 Edgars for books published in 2006. Fine. But it appears that he’s implying that his book has been nominated for an Edgar…which it hasn’t. At least not yet. The nominations won’t be announced until February.

So what he’s bragging about is that his book has been submitted for Edgar consideration. That’s hardly an achievement. Anybody with a crime novel published in 2006 could submit their book for consideration…and probably did. We’re talking about hundreds of submissions.

I  explained this to him as politely as I could and, to reinforce my point, I included the list of about 100 other authors who were "up for an Edgar" in the same category as him. I suggested that he drop the frivolous Edgar reference from his pitch.  What I didn’t say was that bragging that he was "up for an Edgar"  made him look ridiculous. He replied:

thanks for catching that about the Edgars, wasn’t trying to be squirrely — i’d best change it to "it’s in submission for the Edgars."

I cringed from head-to-toe in embarrassment for the guy. I probably should have dropped it there, but I wrote him back and told him that submitting your book for Edgar consideration isn’t an achievement, either. Any author with some postage stamps and a book out in 2006 could do that. What I didn’t tell him was that bragging about sending his book to the Edgar committee would make him look even more ridiculous than what he’d already written.

He may be a great writer but he has a lot to learn about self-promotion.

UPDATE  (Jan 19, 2007) He wasn’t nominated.  So much for being a shoo-in.

Mr. Monk and The Ransom Notes

MR. MONK AND THE BLUE FLU received a rave review from Barnes & Noble’s Ransom Notes newsletter.

While the obvious audience for the Monk novels are fans of the multiple Emmy Award-winning television series, Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu
will appeal to anyone who enjoys lighthearted, comedic whodunits,
regardless of whether they’ve even seen the show. Goldberg’s succinct
writing style — with an emphasis on witty dialogue, laugh-out-loud
hijinks, and nonstop action — will make a devoted Monk fan of anyone
who picks up this surprisingly entertaining read. Rubber gloves and
moist towelettes not included. Paul Goat Allen

My publisher swears they didn’t pay for this. But even if they did, I figure it’s a win-win. Either B&N loved it, which is great… or my publisher is putting some real marketing money into the book, which is also great. So I’m smiling.