Psych coverHere's a sneak peek at the cover for A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO READ by William Rabkin, the first in a new series of original novels based on the TV series PSYCH. The book comes out in January from Obsidian, the fine folks who published the MONK and BURN NOTICE tie-ins. (You can click on the photo for a larger image).



Aaron Sorkin imagines in yesterday's New York Times what it would be like if Barack Obama had a sit-down with President Jed Bartlet. It begins like this:

BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a
300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail
waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to
face with former President JED BARTLET.

BARTLET Senator.

OBAMA Mr. President.

BARTLET You seem startled.

OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.

I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep
who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call
it even.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET Come on in.

Me on Me

Writer/producer/screenwriter David Simkins (DRESDEN FILES, BRISCO COUNTY, ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING, etc.) and writer/producer/author Marc Scott Zicree (TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION, MAGIC TIME, SLIDERS etc.) came over to my house and interviewed me for their on-going podcast conversation about tv, movies, and sci-fi.

Lee Goldberg's resumé reads like a TV what’s-what for the last twenty years. He’s
staffed shows, ran shows, written, directed and produced them in the
U.S. and Europe. And if that’s not enough, he’s also a published
novelist. Next up: splitting the atom. Listen in.

Under their intense interrogation ("Hello, Lee, how are you?"), I don't shut up for an hour-and-a-half.

Lee & Tod at Barnes & Noble

My brother Tod and I signed our new books (MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY and BURN NOTICE: THE FIX) at Barnes & Noble in Calabasas today. It will be our last event together until Men of Mystery in November. I'll let Tod tell you about the Really Stupid Conversation he had with an aspiring author…I have no doubt at all that he will be blogging about it in excruciating, and hilarious, detail. I practically bit through my tongue so I wouldn't laugh.

The store is a block from my house, so a lot of my neighbors showed up, which was nice, and so did actor Matt Kaminsky (who I have killed once on DIAGNOSIS MURDER and once on MARTIAL LAW), TV writer and blogger Lisa Klink, B&N's  West Coast Regional Community Relations Director Jan Lindstrom (who treated me to a lovely lunch), KTLA's Stephanie Edwards, and my sister Linda, who took this picture (I don't know what looks worse, letting my bad arm hang at my side or hiding it behind my back, where it looks like I am scratching my ass. If I was smart, I would have just put my hand in my pocket).

We sold a bunch of books but there are still plenty of signed copies on hand if your travels take you to Calabasas, or if you are one of the TMZ or tabloid photographers who hang out in the parking lot 24/7 waiting for Jessica Simpson, Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Aniston, Adam Sandler, Angelina Jolie, or any of the other stars who shop at The Commons.

The Worst Bond Theme Ever

Here's "Another Way to Die," the main title theme from QUANTUM OF SOLACE, performed by Alicia Keys and Jack White. I hate it. The Los Angeles Times likes it more than Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name" from CASINO ROYALE, but that's not saying much.

Any hooks by the song are provided by riffing on the instantly
recognizable Bond theme, not by anything new offered in the song. And
Keys, usually a relatively bold, in-your-face R&B singer, seems
oddly tamed here, her voice not meshing well with White's yelled
warble. In her defense, it's hard to not sound silly when you sing,
"Suit 'em up, bang bang!" And there's some odd, out-of-place sudden
electronic textures here and there, resulting in an overly-crowded song.

This song is so hideous it almost makes Ah-Ha's "The Living Daylights" and Lulu's "Man with the Golden Gun" seem like classics by comparison.  "Another Way to Die" is much more suited to a Coke Zero advertisement than James Bond main title, as you can see for yourself:

The Mail I Get

This email is so stupid, that I have to wonder if it was sent as a prank:

I realise you will get this quite a lot and are probably sick to death of people asking but I have completed a novel about Adrian Monk and wondered if I could send you the synopsis. I wouldn't presume to step on your toes but I have four great plots and have worked them into what I believe is an entertaining thriller.

I know this isn't the usual protocol of approaching people about a manuscript and I should probably go through an agent so I appreciate that I may not recieve a reply. You may also have the sole rights to the Monk novels either way thank you for your time reading this and if you do take a chance and want me to send the synopsis I am sure you will not be disapointed.

Although I have my doubts that the email is legit, I answered it as if it was. Here is what I said…

Why on earth would I, the author of the MONK novels, be interested in reading your MONK novel? Would you send a spec Spenser novel to Robert B. Parker? A spec Inspector Rebus novel to Ian Rankin? A Harry Bosch novel to Michael Connelly? Not that I am comparing myself to Parker, Rankin or Connelly, I am not in their league…I am just trying to make a point about how idiotic your request is. I can't imagine how you could have thought that it was  a good idea.

Then again, I can't imagine why you would write an entire novel on spec about a character you didn't create and don't own. I didn't create MONK, either…nor did I write a MONK novel on spec. I was hired by the creator of MONK and Penguin/Putnam to write MONK novels for them ..and now I have a multi-book deal that makes me the exclusive author of the books for several years to come.

I recommend that you write original novels that are NOT based on any pre-existing movie or television property. Tie-ins novels are assignments given to established writers by publishers who have licensed the characters from the studios…you don't simply send in a spec HOUSE or THE CLOSER novel to a publisher and hope for a sale.

On top of that, why would you send a novel to another author in the hopes of getting a job (not just any job, but his job)? Authors don't hire authors, publishers and editors do.

An Unethical Affaire

The folks at Affaire de Coeur are blogging about the controversy I sparked by rejecting their positive review of my book and outing the unethical conduct at the magazine . They write:

I don’t know whether I like this blogging business. It seems that
anyone can say anything they feel like, whether it has an iota of truth
in it or not. And, if you have something to say, say it, but please own
it. What I’m finding, however, is some of the people who write on blogs
use noms des plumes because they don’t want anyone to know who they
are. I have to ask: How valid is a person’s comment if they’re not
willing to stand behind it.

For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, AdC was
attacked by a writer on his blog. Lee Goldberg accused AdC of selling
reviews and ratings vis a vis ads. He, himself, had received a five
star review from us, and neither he nor his publisher has ever taken
out an ad with us. He didn’t bother to explain this inconsistency.

I didn't say that all the reviews in AdC were bought…or that Penguin bought the rave review that the magazine gave me. What I said is that reviews and editorial content at AdC are for sale…and the price is an ad. This is from Affaire de Coeur's ad pitch:

To compliment your ad and review we also offer interviews or articles.
If you would like an interview let us know 3 months in advance so it
will go in the same issue as your review and ad.[…]Book cover ad.–This is the cover of the book that goes right beside (or above or below) the AdC review of your book.[…]We do not review books after publication unless it is done in association with an ad.

It doesn't get much clearer than that.  I also accused the magazine of a blatant conflict of interest. The facts speak for themselves:

Light Sword founder Linda Daly’s DOVES MIGRATION and REBEL DOVES both
got four star reviews, one from “Lettetia Elasser” and the other from
“Inez Daylong” . Linda also got a cover story. That sort of coverage is
hardly a surprise given that Linda’s partner Bonny Kirby, vp of sales and promotion
for Light Sword, is also Affaire de Coeur's advertising director (and a reviewer for the magazine). This conflict of interest was, of course, not disclosed to readers.

Patricia Guthrie’s book IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY was reviewed by
“Kimberly Swan,” who gave it five stars and made it a Reviewer’s Pick.

“Kimberly Swan” gave CJ Parker’s FUGUE MACABRE: GHOST DANCE four and a half stars.

And “Lettetia Elasser” gave Alexey Braguine’s KINGMAKER three-and-half stars.

So most Light Sword titles get four stars or better from ADC…only KINGMAKER got slightly less. But the favorable treatment doesn't end there. That's just the beginning.

A reader emailed me jpegs of four Affair de
Coeur covers in a row. Lightsword co-owner Linda Daly and/or Lightsword
authors were on three out of four of them.

Sept/Oct 2007 – The cover features the jacket of Lightsword author CJ Parker’s FUGUE MACABRE and a photo of Linda Daly.

Nov/Dec. 2007 – There’s another photo of Linda Daly on the cover.

March/April 2008 – Linda Daly IS the cover story and so is her book Lightsword book DOVES MIGRATION.

But I am sure all of this attention for Linda Daly, and the rave
reviews for Lightsword Books (four out of five of them got four stars
or better), had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that
Bonny Kirby, the co-owner of Lightsword Publishing, is also the vp of
advertising and a critic for Affaire de Coeur. No sir. It’s just one of those happy coincidences when good things happen to good people.

It's clear that Bonny Kirby engaged in an unethical conflict-of-interest. But the ultimate
responsibility for all of this mess rests not with Kirby but with Sneed, who
is the publisher. She clearly has no respect whatsoever for her readers
or the journalistic integrity of her magazine. If she did, she would
have fired Kirby by now, issued an apology to her readers, and
instituted reforms to make sure such a blatant and unethical
conflict-of-interest never occurs at her magazine again. Instead, she misses the point…or pretends to:

To put this issue to bed, I ended up writing an editorial. I also did a
side bar on how we review for those who want fact rather than hearsay
and innuendo. Finally, I have a spreadsheet on the correlation between
ads and the number of stars a review received. (There is none). So
maybe read the editorial and the sidebar and scan the spreadsheet and
then, if you still have questions about how we review, shoot!

I'd love to read this editorial, and the rationalizations it contains for unethical behavior, but I can't find Affaire De Coeur on any newstands. So if you have a copy, please send it to me at PO Box 8212, Calabasas, CA 91372