Blog Spamming

This takes some chutzpah. S.G. Kiner is trying to promote her self-published book by spamming the comment sections of blogs all over the Internet. Take, for instance, this comment that she left on author Laura Caldwell's post at The Outfit:

"The Hong Kong Connection" is a legal thriller about a gutsy female attorney who takes on high ranking International officials. It's a taut, rollercoaster of a ride from New York to Palm Beach to Washington D.C. to Hong Kong. The plot is expertly woven, the characters persuasive, and the dialogue snappy and spot on.

This comment, of course, had absolutely nothing to do with the subject of Laura's post. It is, however, an example of inappropriate and stupid behavior by an aspiring author. First Kiner was dumb enough to fall for the Strategic Publishing scam (the latest incarnation of Robert Fletcher's infamous Writers Literary Agency). Now Kiner is compounding that mistake by ineptly trying to leach readers off of another author. The only thing she's succeeded in promoting is her own rudeness and ineptitude. 

Tod Answers Burning Questions

34519484My brother Tod talks at BiblioBuffet about writing the BURN NOTICE books, the latest of which, "End Game," just came out:

It was hard at first. I re-watched all of the first season (this all came about in November of 2007, so the first season had just concluded), read all of the scripts, talked to Matt about how he created the characters, their motivations, fears, etc. because I really wasn’t comfortable stepping into an established character. […] I essentially decided once I started writing that I’d treat the books like a band doing a cover song. I wasn’t going to get it exactly right and I really couldn’t hope to. It wasn’t going to be the same as the show, because, uh, it’s a book. You want a different thing from a book than a television show. But it would be pretty close and I’d put my own spin on it.

Heading Home

I have one more meeting this morning for tea and then it's off to Heathrow for my flight home. It has been a very busy and productive week of "get-to-know-you" meetings in London with top level executives at various networks and production companies. I believe that my agent and I accomplished exactly what we set out to do here this week — introducing people to me and my work and establishing relationships that will lead to writing & producing opportunities in the future. 

All the meetings went well and I made some great contacts, so I am feeling very optimistic. I am eager to get home and foll0w-up on everything (sending thank you notes, pitch treatments, etc.) I get home late Saturday and that gives me two days to conquer  my jet-lag before a week of pitching and staffing meetings.

You probably know what a pitch meeting is, but if you aren't in the TV biz, you  might wonder what I mean by "staffing." Now that the network schedules have been announced, everybody (me included) is running around trying to land one of the few available writing staff jobs. It's an intense, competitive and exciting time…full of big emotional ups and downs.  I try not to get my hopes up on any particular project…but I do anyway. I never learn. But I guess enthusiasm and optimism in this business is actually a plus…even if it it inevitably leads to some disappointments.

It wasn't all business in London. I had great dinners with screenwriter & novelist Stephen Gallagher and author James Swallow, browsed lots of bookstores, stocked up on DVDs of UK TV series, and even squeezed in a show of STAR TREK at the BFI Imax theatre. And I won't tell  you how many times I ate chicken pot pie at Square Pie at Selvridges…but the sales clerks and I got to know one another on a first-name basis.

But I am eager to get home and see my family. For some reason, it feels like I have been away much longer than a week.

Interceptors, Immediate Launch!

Gabrielle_Drake I may be psychic. Or perhaps Stephen Gallagher is. Or perhaps the two of us combined are. Last night, Stephen took me to dinner with his daughter Ellen at a terrific Chinese restaurant in Soho. Among the many things we talked about how much we enjoyed the cheesy, silly 1970s Gerry Anderson series UFO (I absolutely love the Barry Gray score). So I was a bit startled to discover the  news today that Robert Evans  is developing  a theatrical remake of UFO. The script is being written by Ryan Gaudet and Joseph Kanarek.

The Robert Evans Co. has a first-look deal at Paramount, which will be first stop for the project. "We know the importance of the 'UFO' series brand to ITV Global, and we will work closely with them to build this into a franchise," Evans said.

This is not the first time a revival of UFO, either for TV or film, has been attempted. I believe the last one was for MGM and would have been shot in Australia. I wonder if they will keep the women with the colored hair…and the secret government base under a movie studio…and the Interceptors that could only fire one missile.

Breaking In

Screenwriter, producer, teacher, novelist and bon vivant William Rabkin has written an excellent article on Storylink about what a newbie writer has to do to break into television. You've still got to write an episodic spec script, but…

Your spec can’t simply be a good episode. It’s got to be bold, audacious, and big. It has to go places no one has ever thought of going before and do things no one has imagined doing. And it’s got to do it on the first page. Hell, on the first half page, because your reader may not bother going further than that. You’ve got to grab your readers right away and force them to keep reading.

In short, you need a gimmick.

No, typing your script in 3-D and including polarized glasses isn’t going to do it. What I mean by a gimmick is a transformative approach to storytelling that allows you to retell the series’ underlying narrative in a way that makes it seem new again. It’s a stylistic or structural element that shows that your vision is so intriguingly different that showrunners will fight to bring it to their series.

In London

The big news here are the ridiculous expenses claimed by MPs for taxpayer reimbursement…everything from flat screen TVs to sacks of horse manure.  Its ridiculously entertaining stuff. Last time I was here, just a few weeks ago, the scandal was some underling of Gordon Brown's who was planting fake, salacious news about political adversaries with bloggers. I must say politics are a lot more fun and sleazy here than at home. 

My first day of meetings went very well. The hardest part has been finding my way from one corner of London to the other but I've been managing all right. Today may be a bit more difficult…I've got a bunch of meetings all over town and I understand from the news this morning that there are lots of troubles/closures on subway system, so it should be even more challenging to get around.

I have been learning more about the UK TV biz…and how it constrasts with how biz is done in the U.S. and Germany. I may have more to share about that in a future post.

Dishing on Disher

Disher and Lee2 I'm sure glad I recuperated in time to meet author Garry Disher today.  I arranged to pick him up at his hotel and take him on a quick visit to Santa Monica before his 6 p.m. signing at the Mystery Bookstore. 

When I met him at the hotel, he handed me a copy of his new book BLOOD MOON and said "I dedicated this to you." I smiled and opened the book, assuming that he meant that he'd signed it for me. And he had, right there on the title page:  


This one is for you, with thanks and admiration. 

Garry Disher

I thought that was a very nice thing to say.  And then I turned the page and was stunned to see this:

For Lee Goldberg

Holy Crap! He actually did dedicate the book to me. I hadn't done anything to deserve such an honor. I honestly didn't know what to say, so I mumbled a thank you and then rambled on about something stupid for the next five minutes as we drove towards the beach. And then I thanked him again, properly this time, by letting him know how surprised and honored I was. 

I'm still not sure why he did such a wonderful thing for me, but I am very, very flattered.  It's the second time a book has been dedicated to me –Max Allan Collins floored me a couple of years ago by dedicating a CSI novel to me. That's two more dedications than I deserved.

We had a very nice conversation over the next two hours. I learned about his writing life and methods, his family, and some of his signing mis-adventures. I also learned something about the Australian book business  – did you know authors get additional payments from book sales to libraries to take into account the books that aren't sold as a result of loaning? And there's good news for Disher fans: there's finally a new "Wyatt" novel coming in 2010. I enjoy his Inspector Hal Challis books very much, but I love Wyatt, sort of the Aussie equivalent of Donald Westlake's Parker. There's even a western version of Wyatt in one of Disher's short story collections (which gave me the inspiration to do a western version of Monk, which you will see in December). 

His signing at the Mystery Bookstore went well. He was followed by Laura Lippman, who came along with her husband David Simon, creator of THE WIRE. So I finally got to meet David, who I've admired for years. It turns out that he's a fan of SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION WRITING, the screenwriting book that Bill Rabkin & I wrote. I told David how much I love the "f-word" scene from season one and use it often when I teach and he shared some anecdotes about how the scene came about.

Garry will be speaking & signing with Laura at M is For Mystery in San Mateo on May 16.  

If you're in the Bay Area, you should go see them. He's also speaking at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley that same day.

After his Westwood signing, I took him to dinner at Jerry's Deli next door and did the fanboy thing of having him sign all the books of his that I've collected over the years.  

It was a great day and I hope I can make it down to Australia some time to see Garry on his home turf.

By the way, Garry will also be speaking & signing at the Velma Teague Library in Glendale AZ on May 19, the Poisoned Pen in Scotsdale on May 20, at Murder By The Book on Houston on May 21, and at the B&N in Reston VA on May 22. He'll also be signing with Cara Black at Mystery Lovers Bookshop on May 23 and at the Scituate Massachusetts Town Library on Tuesday, May 26. Those are just a few of the events on his national book tour…I can't seem to find the rest in one spot on the web, so check out your local independent, mystery bookstore to see if he will be coming to your area this month.