Mr. Monk and the Nice Reviews

Mr. Monk und Mr. Monk

Now that the paperback of MR. MONK IN TROUBLE has come out, I've been getting a second wave of nice reviews for the book. For instance, here's a sampling of what Dana Mentink had to say on her blog

This book is a combination of satisfying mystery, hilarity and a shade of poignancy which is the flip side of Monk’s OCD. The reader is made aware every so often, that Monk’s gifts do not come without a price and at the core he is a lonely, frightened soul. Because he has Natalie, we can enjoy the fact that he cannot cut a pizza unless he’s brought along his string, compass, T square and level.

The fine folks at Gelati's scoop like the entire book series and say, in part:

The nice part of the novels for me is that Goldberg allows us to get inside the mind of Natalie as she helps Monk through the crisis du jour. Stottlemeyer, Disher, Natalie, & Monk take us on adventure after adventure through the course of the book series. Monk has gone to such locations as Hawaii, France & Germany. I found those installments to be some of Goldberg’s best work with the characters. Monk rarely leaves San Francisco, so I enjoyed the situations the cast of characters endured as Monk was being Monk, going on planes, trains and staying in different hotels (even numbers are a must). I think that through his narrative, Goldberg not only continued the characters’ story lines for us, but enhanced it and made them more enjoyable, believable, likeable and endearing.

And there's this rave of the German edition, MR. MONK UND MR. MONK from Swabian Touring Theatre. He says, in part and roughly translated:

When I heard this book was going back to 1850s, I was a little worried about how it would work. I should not have been. The flashbacks fit in seamlessly with the story and adds a whole new level of humor to the events. As always, the characters are sharp and the humor is wonderful. I laughed loudly and repeatedly. Nevertheless, there were some subtle character moments that made me really see things in a new light.

Thanks to all those bloggers for the great reviews!

Pardon My Interruption

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging as much lately. The last month or so has been very busy for me. I finished writing a MONK book (MR. MONK ON THE ROAD), wrote an episode (with William Rabkin) of the new A&E series THE GLADES, came up with the story for my next MONK, did a polish of my adaptation of Victor Gischler's GUN MONKEYS for the Big Name Star who is now attached, edited a book of essays by a dozen authors on tie-in writing to be published by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, and I prepared for a number of pitches, two of which still may pan out.

On top of that, I wrote an adaptation of one of my favorite western novels (and it looks like the financing for that might be coming through) and have been preparing to write & direct a short film in Kentucky in September based on my short story "Remaindered" (more about that later). 

Amidst all of that, there was the post-surgery physical therapy three-times-a-week for my arm (that's finally over). 

So blogging has fallen by the wayside and may remain so for a while. But at least I'm not alone… my brother Tod, who used to blog several times a week, hasn't posted anything new since May 23rd.

Tripping Through My Past

Thanks to John Zipperer's blog, I've been able to time-travel into my past through the articles I wrote for STARLOG magazine in the 1980s. John has been cataloging every single issue of STARLOG's run. Each of his blog posts inevitably brings back memories. There are many interviews that I've done that I've forgotten all about, like the one above with screenwriter W.D. Richter on the set of Big Trouble in Little China and one that I did with George Lucas (how could I forget that?). I am also astonished by how hard I worked. I often wrote three or more articles per month. For instnace, in one issue, I had interviews with  Kurt Russell, Martin Landau, and director Tobe Hooper..and in another I interviewed Bob Gale, Ray Bradbury, and Kim Cattrall. It's also interesting to see the wide assortment of people I talked to… directors, actors, producers, screenwriters, novelists, special effects experts. But it's clear to me that I was more interested in the writing of the movies and TV shows that I covered than anything else. No surprise there. It's also amusing for me to see how many of my UCLA Daily Bruin buddies (William Rabkin, Brian Lowry, Marc Weinberg), girlfriends (Karen E. Bender), and family members (my mom!) I talked into working for STARLOG, too.  

Trouble with Mr. Monk in Trouble

I have heard from dozens of readers today that there are some blank pages in some copies of the paperback edition of MR. MONK IN TROUBLE. So I ran out to my local B&N and, sure enough, the copies I saw were partially blank on the copyright page, and pages 9, 20, and 33. Before you buy the book, be sure to double-check and make sure you don't have those blank pages! 

I have alerted my publisher, so hopefully they can recall those bad copies and get new ones out to the affected stores right away.

Wiley Royalty Grab

An important warning from The Authors Guild:

Wiley's Deceptive Letter to Bloomberg Press Authors: "We are pleased to inform you" that we will be slicing your royalties up to 50%

John Wiley & Sons acquired Bloomberg Press, the books division of Bloomberg, in March. At the end of April, it began sending a letter to hundreds of Bloomberg Press authors purporting to inform them "about a few differences in the accounting systems of Bloomberg and Wiley that it will be helpful for you to know about." 

While this sounds innocent enough, it isn't. If signed by an author, the letter is actually a contract amendment that will materially and adversely affect the royalty rates of many Bloomberg Press authors. 

Among other things, this contract amendment would: 

1. Change royalty rates based on retail list price to rates based on net receipts. We've reviewed several Bloomberg Press contracts. All provide for royalty payments based on the retail list price (although we understand that there may be many based on net receipts). The Wiley letter misleadingly presents this to the author as good news: "We are pleased to inform you that we will be paying your royalties on the net amount received…" This change will, for many authors, effectively slice royalties by up to 50% for some book sales. Wiley's letter fails to disclose that. 

2. Empower Wiley to keep an author's book in print with a lowball print on demand royalty of 5% of net receipts. (Bloomberg Press had no print on demand program.) The contract amendment, which provides no threshold level of sales for a work to be considered in print, essentially grants Wiley a perpetual right in an author's book for a pittance. The 5% of net receipts royalty rate for print on demand editions is as low as we've seen. 

We've asked an independent royalty auditor to review the affects of these contractual changes on royalty income. The royalty auditor found reductions of 24% to 43% using actual sales figures and applying Wiley's amendments. (The precise affect of the amendments will vary by title, depending on particular categories of sales of the work.) 

The Authors Guild strongly urges Bloomberg Press authors to not sign this letter without careful consideration. If you have received this letter, consult your agent or a publishing attorney or contact a lawyer in our legal department so you understand precisely how this amendment would affect your rights and royalties. Important: if you have already signed the letter and returned it to Wiley, contact our legal department immediately. Non-Guild members are welcome to contact us as well. All communications will, of course, be held in confidence. 

This is no way to do business. The letter is shocking from a publisher of Wiley's stature. In our view, Wiley should tear up any signed letters it has received and start over, forthrightly explaining to its new authors the contractual changes it is seeking and how this may affect their income and their right to terminate their publishing contracts. 

Read Me a Story

Lee-Cole-Tod Every author should be lucky enough to hear their story read by a professional actor. It makes you appreciate nuances of character, and feel the "beat" of the story-telling, in ways that sometimes doesn't come across on the page.  It's one reason I enjoy listening to the audiobook versions of my MONK books — they feel new to me even though I wrote them.

Tonight I went to WordTheatre's presentation of three short stories: TC Boyle's Three Quarters of the Way to Hell, James Salters' Such Fun, and my brother Tod Goldberg' s Walls. Gary Cole read Walls, Carla Gugino read Such Fun, and Gugino & Adrian Pasdar read Three Quarters of the Way to Hell. Cugino was the stand-out of the three actors, truly enlivening and enriching what she read, particularly in Boyle's story (where she was much stronger than the material she was reading). I am too close to Tod's story to be objective about it, but I thought Cole made some interesting choices, not all of them successful, but he still illuminated aspects of the story that I hadn't seen in the quite same way before, either when I read it or when I'd heard Tod read it. 

That's me, Gary Cole, and my brother Tod in the picture (you can click on it for a larger view, though it's hard to imagine me or Tod any larger than we already are). Cole and I chatted about a bit about MIDNIGHT CALLER — he can't understand why the show hasn't come out on DVD yet. I said there's no logic to how those decisions are made… if there was, utter shit like Dom DeLuise's flop sitcom LOTSA LUCK wouldn't be on DVD. Is there anybody who wants to see Dom DeLuise for God's sake?

Naturally, Michael DeLuise was sitting right behind me.

Antiques Roadshow – Behind The Scenes

47122533 If, like me, you're a fan of the Antiques Roadshow, Marsha Bemko's book provides a fascinating peek behind-the-scenes. And even if you're not a fan, but simply love antiques, Antiques Roadshow: Behind the Scenes is full of great anecdotes and tips that will help you in your collecting. And if you aren't a fan of the show, or an antique collector, but are a student of television, you'll find this book packed with interesting producing info on the making of a reality series. There aren't many books about TV shows that can satisfy on so many levels and also be a pleasure to read — but this one succeeds.

The book is written by AR's executive producer, who tells you how the series evolved, what you should (or shouldn't) bring to have appraised, how they decide which cities to visit and which appraisals they will put on the show. But that's not all. Bemko gives you deep background on all of the popular appraisers… and, as a bonus, gets them to share some tips on how to hone your own collecting skills. No book about AR would be complete, or satisfying, without a recap of some of their most memorable moments — fleshing out what happened before, during, and best of all, after the appraisal. This is a breezy, informative and highly entertaining must-read for Antiques Roadshow fans.

Murder on the Boob Tube

41MvsvCsbML._SS500_  I love TV reference books, but John William Law's MURDER ON THE BOOK TUBE is, to put it bluntly, terrible in every way, factually worthless and devoid of any fresh information or thoughtful insights. The listings are superficial and generic to the point of uselessness and riddled with typographical errors and inept sentence structure.

Here are some examples from his listing for MANNIX. The typos are his, not mine:

"The show started off one one path, but changed courses after the first season and never strayed much after that."

"With less than spectacular ratings in season one, the changes were hoped to bring new live to the fledgling series"

"The showed featured an unsolved MANNIX case and use flashbacks of the original series along with present day Mannix back on the case"

And here's another example of his poor writing and proofing skills from his listing for IRONSIDE. Again, the errors and lack of punctuation are his, not mine:

"While the original series took place in San Francisco, little of the show was actually filmed there with some early location filming of the actors in popular locations and the footage would be intersperse through-out the season."

And, finally, here's an example from his listing for ELLERY QUEEN:

"At one point there were rumor's the younger Hutton might reprise his father's most famous character for a TV movie, but the closest he came was as the star of his own mystery series based on another famous detective when Timothy Hutton starred in A NERO WOLFE MYSTERY in 2001-2002."

The author hasn't done any meaningful research, hasn't interviewed anybody, and the "rare photos" he uses are merely amateurishly cropped, black-and-white scans of TV Guide covers. It's embarrassing and not worth $1, much less $14.95.