My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready to Go…

I am off today for Berlin, where I will be staying until FAST TRACK is finished, which will be some time in mid-July. It’s going  to be a busy and exciting time…and I will try to share it with you whenever I can.

We have offers going out to some American actors on Monday and casting for the other principal parts continues in Germany, France and the U.K. over the next week or so. And, of course, there’s all the prep work that’s still on-going to make our May 23 start date.

In the midst of all of that, I have to finish my fifth MONK novel, MR. MONK IN OUTER SPACE, and come up with the plot for MONK #6 (don’t be surprised if it ends up being MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY) and teach another Writers Room course for Action Concept & MediaXChange in charming Lohr. At least all of that activity will keep me so busy that the weeks without my family will pass quickly. My family is joining me in mid-June and after the movie wraps, we will probably go to France for a couple of weeks to visit my in-laws.

So consider this my last state-side post for a while…

Saturday at the Festival

Tod_and_laura_lippman It was a beautiful day for book-browsing, book-buying, and schmoozing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  I vowed not to buy any books, so of course I bought so many I had to make three trips back to the car. Among my signed book purchases: YOU SUCK by Christopher Moore, KIDNAPPED by Jan Burke, KISS HER GOODBYE by Robert Gregory Browne, LOS ANGELES NOIR,  and THE DAYS IN THE HILLS by Chris_and_leeJane Smiley. I chatted with lots of authors, including Joseph Wambaugh, T. Jefferson Parker, Cara Black, Laura Lippman  (that’s her on the left with my brother Tod), Jan Burke, Jerrilyn Farmer, Steve Cannell, Denise Hamilton, Terry Erdman (author of the "Official MONK Episode Guide") Kevin Roderick, Barney Rosenzweig, Ron Hogan, Eric Lax, Brett Battles, Robert Gregory Browne, and I stalked Daniel Woodrell some more. Laura Lippman admitted to me that when she met Woodrell on Saturday, she turned into a complete "fangirl" and couldn’t speak (my brother Tod, who witnessed the encounter, confirms her account). I saw Mike Farrell Mike wandering around — the way he looks now, he could play Jimmy Carter in a TV movie. Sean Penn was roaming around, too. I spoke to an actor who has played villains in lots of TV shows, including some of mine, but I couldn’t remember his name. I saw Phil Rosenthal, creator of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, standing in line at the Green Room buffet behind a guy who won the Nobel Prize and a Los Angeles Times Book Award last night.  Tod thought it was tacky of the Nobel guy to mention his prize in his Book0102068384000 Award acceptance speech. If I won the Nobel Prize, I’d find a way to bring it up in every conversation, even in the drive-thru line at McDonalds ("Of course I’d like to supersize that Quarter Pounder meal…I won the Nobel freakin’ Prize"). I ended my day with a signing at the Mystery Bookstore booth with Christopher Moore, who shared with me some of his Hollywood misadventures. Tomorrow I head back to Germany for three months to shoot FAST TRACK…


Todwoodrellleee_3 Last night was the kick-off to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The festivities began at the Mystery Bookstore party in Westwood, where I caught up with Craig Johnson, Reed Coleman, Gary Phillips, Denise Hamilton, Chris Grabenstein,Victor Gischler, Sean Doolittle, Jason Starr, Gregg Hurwitz, Chris Rice, Mark Haskell Smith, David Corbett and Teresa Schwegel to name a few. Then it was on to the Book Awards and the after-party, where I ate lots of shrimp and yakked with Lee Lankford, Dick Lochte, Aimee Liu, Tom Nolan, Les Klinger and Aimee Bender, among others. But the highlight of the night for me was finally meeting Book Prize nominee Daniel Woodrell. I have been an admirer and penpal of his for years, but this was the first-time we met face-to-face. Galleycat’s Ron Hogan was kind enough to take a picture of my brother Tod, Woodrell, and me. Today I’m signing at the Mystery Bookstore booth with Steve Cannell and Christopher Moore, another long-time penpal of mine who I have never met. More on that later…

One of my all-time favorite emails

I got this email today from someone who read DIAGNOSIS MURDER: THE LAST WORD and wasn’t too fond of it:

The reason why I like reading DM is because I enjoyed the television series.  I, too, did think your recent book was a little "dark".  I personally would prefer no changes and enjoyed reading about the one demensional tv character Dr. Sloan solving cases.  If I wanted to read a novel, I will buy James Patterson.

Getting Tough

This morning the board of Mystery Writers of America, on which I serve, approved tough new guidelines for approving publishers (and, by extension, accepting books published by them for Edgar consideration and their authors for active membership). These rigorous new standards are the result of a lot of hard work by the membership committee, on which I also serve. I will be posting a link to these new standards soon, but I can say that they will result in an immediate end to the "case by case list of approved publishers." A publisher either meets our standards for professionalism… or they don’t. It’s that simple.

These changes were long overdue and I believe will do our industry and our membership a service by alerting authors to thinly disguised vanity presses, companies with a history of unprofessional conduct and/or serious conflicts-of-interest…and denying those companies the legitimacy of our implied endorsement. As any reader of this blog knows, this is a subject that I am passionate about.

But I want to stress that these new standards will in no way change the current membership status of any writers who became members as a result of being published by a company that falls off the list.

I Can Finally Stop Running from Police For a Crime I didn’t Commit…

From the Times-Herald Record in Middletown, NY…

Man surrenders in break-ins, copper pipe thefts

Over the winter, Lee Goldberg, 24, broke into 23 bungalows at the former Lake House Hotel on Lake House Road in Woodridge, said Fallsburg police.

Cops say Goldberg ripped out copper piping from each on the bungalows, doing between $80,000 and $100,000 in damage. They say he got between 300 and 400 pounds of pipe, which he sold at Weinert Recycling in Liberty for a total of about $2,000.

Police say Goldberg also broke into another colony nearby, taking about 50 pounds of copper pipe, which he also sold.

Police said they’ve been looking for Goldberg for a while, and on Tuesday he turned himself in at the Fallsburg police station.

He was charged with 24 counts of third-degree burglary and single counts of third-degree grand larceny and second-degree criminal mischief, felonies. He was also charged with 23 counts of petty larceny, a misdemeanor. Goldberg was arraigned and sent to Sullivan County Jail without bail, pending an appearance in Fallsburg Town Court.

Police said more arrests are expected.

It’s going to be nice not to have to live in fear any longer.

Edgar Winners


The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)


The Faithful Spy by Alex Berenson (Random House)


Snakeskin Shamisen by Naomi Hirahara (Bantam Dell Publishing – Delta Books)


Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson
(HarperCollins – William Morrow)


The Science of Sherlock Holmes: From Baskerville Hall to the Valley of Fear
by E.J. Wagner (John Wiley & Sons)


"The Home Front" – Death Do Us Part by Charles Ardai
(Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company)


Room One: A Mystery or Two by Andrew Clements (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)


Buried by Robin Merrow MacCready (Penguin YR – Dutton Children’s Books)


Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure by Steven Dietz (Arizona Theatre Company)


Life on Mars – Episode 1, Teleplay by Matthew Graham (BBC America)


The 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)


The Departed, Screenplay by William Monahan (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Wheeler Life

I received this email today from Phil Hawley:

Having learned about Richard S. Wheeler during a visit to your blog, and after reading some of his wonderfully rich and vivid stories of the West, I wanted to write and find out if you k51ip53amuql__ss500_new about his recently published literary memoir—An Accidental Novelist If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest that you order a copy (the publisher is Sunstone Press).  Mr. Wheeler’s memoir is a gem.  In fact, I’ll send you a check for the cover price if you’re not delighted by his  noble story.  He is candid in his portrayal of personal failures; ironically, it’s these stories that put his courage and insight on vivid display for the reader (though I’m certain he wouldn’t use these words to describe himself).  His earnest and humble nature are evident in every anecdote, but it’s his incredible fortitude in the face of wrenching setbacks that pulled me into this book (while I should have been working!).  His insights and perspectives about the writer’s life, the publishing industry, and genre fiction are fascinating for fledgling novelists like myself, but I suspect all writers will enjoy reading the remarkable story of this man’s literary career.

I didn’t know that Richard Wheeler had written a memoir. But now that I do, and being a big fan of both the man and his work, I’m ordering a copy right away.

Writer Beware!

I got this email today from an aspiring screenwriter. I’ve removed the names:

My name is X. I am a writer.  Producer Z has been corresponding with me via email concerning one of my screenplays.  He asked me to email to him the first 10 pages of my script.  Before sending it I Googled him and found that he appeared to be legit.  After receiving the 1st 10 pages he emailed his phone number and asked me to call him.  During our conversation he said that he liked the script but because I am a new writer it would take a lot of time, effort and phone calls to get it produced. He then asked for $1, 500 up front or whatever I could afford.  I said to him that even though I am a novice writer, a producer asking for money upfront is a red flag and that I didn’t expect that from someone with his credentials.  He seemed a little embarrassed and backtracked on his request saying maybe I could pay him 15% of the sale.  He asked me to send the entire script to him via email and fedex because he is interested.  Please inform me of any encounters that you have had with Mr. Z.  Is he legit?  I am EXTREMELY hesitant.

You’re right to be uneasy. Producer Z is a notorious scumbag — don’t be fooled by the fact that he has some legitimate credits in his distant past. Asking you for money is highly unprofessional and tremendously sleazy. Do not send him your script or communicate with him any further. And you should register your script immediately with the WGA just to be on the safe side.