What to Wear…or Not

I’ve spent a lot of time tonight trading emails and photos back-and-forth with our two leads — Eric Altheide and Sebrina Siegel — discussing their wardrobe for the film.

Wardrobe is not my strong suit (no pun intended. Okay, maybe intended a little). And it can be awkward discussing what I’d like the actors to wear… or not wear…and what I’d like to see…and not see…in seduction and love scenes. It’s not so hard this time, since we aren’t going to actually see anybody making love, but it’s still a delicate topic, even when the nudity is more implied than seen. So tonight I talked about different kinds of briefs with Eric and the choices in bras, nighties, and the like with Sebrina. It was fine…and they immediately understood what I was going for.

It was more awkward for me when I exec-produced FAST TRACK, a TV movie/pilot I also wrote, and that we shot in Berlin a couple of years ago. In that film, we had two sex scenes…and a key dramatic moment centered on a guy catching his lover as she’s having an orgasm with another man. Discussing what we would see, what we wouldn’t see, and how the seduction and those scenes would be staged, was something new for me. And, to be honest, I worried about how I’d be able to discuss it with the actors.

But I knew exactly what I wanted, and what I needed, in order for the scenes to work dramatically and visually.  And I figured that all I really had to do was convey that vision to the actors, and then the actual details (what to wear or not to wear, what to touch or not to touch, etc.) wouldn’t be so hard to discuss, because they would understood what I was going for, too. And that’s how it went. They trusted me… and I trusted them…and it turned out very well.

I can already tell that the same is going to be true for REMAINDERED.  


Why I Love Harry Whittington

This Pulp Serenade review of PRAIRIE RAIDERS pretty much sums up why I love Harry Whittington’s books. They write, in part:

One of the hallmarks of a Harry Whittington book is a protagonist driven by an all-consuming obsession, a mission that rises above morality, a cause that is more important that their lives. It is characteristic of both his Crime novels as well as his Westerns. In To Find Cora, Joe Byars hunts for his missing wife and eventually finds her in the clutches of another man as fanatical and as himself. In Shadow at Noon, Jeff Clane wasn’t supposed to survive the set-up duel, but he did, and found himself in more trouble than ever—only his thirst for vengeance keeps him going. And men, money and murder can’t satiate Bernice Hopper’s desire for happiness in Fires that Destroy, a title that is the perfect metaphor for many of Whittington’s characters and their desperate pursuits.

[…]A lean 103 pages, Prairie Raiders bolts along with the same force and intensity as Clay Webb. Whittington’s prose is fast and hard, the Western action stirring, and with a strong sense of psychology and character (two of the author’s strongest suits). There’s not a moment or a word wasted in this book. Chalk up another winner to the prolific writing machine that was Harry Whittington.

Should Authors Skip Publishers?

Self-published author CJ West hosts an interesting webradio discussion with authors Joe Konrath, Boyd Morrison and Jason Pinter about whether authors should skip the NY Publishing establishment altogether and take their work directly to the Kindle and other e-book suppliers. David Wisehart's Kindle Authors blog interview with me also gets mentioned (it was funny hearing CJ seethe as he paraphrased my words and when he talked about the MWA not acknowledging self-published writers as published authors).  The show is informative, lively and definitely worth a listen. 

Tied In Ties Up Another Rave

Novelist James Reasoner has given TIED IN a rave. He says, in part:

For someone like me, who’s very interested in the history of popular fiction, the highlight of TIED IN is David Spencer’s “American TV Tie-ins from the 50s Through the Early 70s”, which is almost a book in itself. It’s a fascinating historical discussion of how the TV tie-in novel originated and evolved over the years and touches on many of the books I was buying and reading when they were new. This article really brought back a lot of good memories for me. Along similar lines, also of great interest to me were fine articles by Paul Kupperberg about comic book and comic strip tie-in novels (I read a bunch of those, too) and Robert Greenberger about the connection between pulp magazines and tie-ins.

is available as an e-book right now, with a print edition coming out soon. Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong. It’s informative, entertaining, and a must-have if you have any interest in tie-in fiction. Highly recommended.

Thanks, Jim!

Remaindered Cast

We've cast my short film REMAINDERED, which I wrote and will be directing in Owensboro, Kentucky in early September, thanks to Zev Buffman, Roxi Witt and all the other terrific folks at the RiverPark Performing Arts Center

Eric Altheide is Kevin Dangler, a once-bestselling author trying to get back to the top… 

Resized Bill Spangler shot 3
Sebrina Siegel is Megan, his adoring fan (perhaps too adoring)

Todd Reynolds
And Todd Reynolds is Detective Bud Flanek, Owensboro's answer to Columbo (as he also was in my buddy David Breckman's film MURDER IN KENTUCKY). Robert Denton and Lisa Baldwin play supporting roles. I can't wait to start working with these terrific actors, who were found thanks to the tireless efforts of our casting director Lori Rosas and our producer Rodney Newton.

I'll be keeping you updated on the production of the movie here and on the Remaindered Production Blog...and the Remaindered Facebook group

Mr. Monk and the Meme

The Random Ramblings blog takes part in a Friday meme that quotes the first sentence of book and the fifth sentence of the 56th page. He chose my book MR. MONK IS CLEANED OUT.

The first line is:

Some guys showed up the other day at the house next door, mowed the dead lawn, and spray-painted it green.

And now, for the Friday 56, I present the 5th sentence on page 56.

I also know that anyone who has evidence that could help solve a murder has an obligation to share it with the police, regardless of whether the police have just fired you and your comely assistant.

To be honest, I like both of the sentences.  They aren’t exactly moving the story forward, but I find them amusing and give a great feel for the tone of the book.

Sounds like a fun meme. Speaking of MONK, Ed Gorman gives CLEANED OUT a rave. He says, in part:

One of the things that makes this series so distinctive is the full and realistic portraits we get of Natalie and her daughter Julie. The writing here is especially strong. Lee Goldberg is good at describing the way we live now.

The old wrestling come on “This time it’s personal” applies here because Monk plans to trap, humiliate, debase and defoliate the “dude” (who said Monk is out touch?) who took his money.

A truly artful comedy that has a lot to say about the people who robbed us blind over the past three decades.

Thanks, Ed. Here’s the first line of his book DARK TRAIL.

The cigarette had two or three good drags left and Leo Guild was happy to take them.

And here’s the fifth line of page 56.

“He said that he didn’t know you were a man of honor.”

Those two lines actually do a pretty good job of conveying the feel of his terrific western.

The Prone Gunman

411E10YZTGL._SS500_ Over the weekend, I read a slim, 1981 French thriller, published in the U.S. in 2002 by City Lights, and that I've had on my shelf for years. It's called The Prone Gunman (aka La Position du Tireur Couche ) by Jean-Patrick Manchette and it is a frustrating book. It starts off great, with some of the leanest, meanest prose you'll ever find in a noir… taking the familiar "hitman on his last job" scenario and making it seem fresh.  I fell in love with the prose and the world-view. The hitman, Martin Terrier, is an odd, interesting character…hardly the smooth, self-assured, perfect killer. He's quite possibly nuts. And all of that is wonderful, especially when he returns to his hometown to reclaim his old love. But then, after a short time, the story shifts into a break-neck, almost ridiculous action-adventure, and even that is a lot of fun, before ultimately devolving, inexplicably and disappointingly, into outright farce. It's a shame, because so much of the book works so well. It's as if Manchette lost faith his story, or got tired of what he was doing, and decided that his efforts were worthy only of ridicule, but finished it anyway, using his last few pages to insult himself. The book reminded me of The Four-Chambered Villain, an obscure novel and also uneven novel about hitman that's played perfectly straight, and also of The Eiger Sanction by Trevanian, which was *meant* to be farce but, to the author's dismay, was taken seriously as thriller (as I wrote in my chapter of 100 Must Read Thrillers). At least EIGER was consistent in its tone, PRONE GUNMAN is not. But it was intriguing enough for me to buy Manchette's other book, THREE TO KILL. If I judged the book purely on the first 2/3rds, it would have earned four stars.

I also recently read Angela S. Choi's delightfully subversive Hello Kitty Must Die, sort of a chick-lit DEXTER. It was a nice diversion…and offers a fresh perspective on the sociopathic killer-as-hero sub-genre.

Wheeler On The Kindle

MastersonLegendary western author Richard Wheeler is bringing his classic, out-of-print books to the Kindle…with his acclaimed, Spur Award winning novel MASTERSON leading the charge. 

Here's what Publisher's Weekly had to say about the book, which is available on the Kindle now and earned the Western Writers Of America's highest honor:

Again depicting characters with frailties as well as heroic qualities, the prolific Wheeler's 25th novel (after Aftershocks) is a sprightly romp of revisionist western history. In 1919, legendary gunfighter Bat Masterson is a 64-year-old New York City sportswriter who suddenly becomes worried about the inglorious and mostly false reputation he has endured for decades… The journey is a hoot when the old lawman finds that the public wants the legend, not the truth… This is classic Wheeler, a solid story about real people told with wit, compassion and a bit of whimsy.

The return of MASTERSON on the Kindle is good news, not only for western lovers, but anybody who enjoys great story-telling.

Scribe Award Winners Announced

P7230119  The International Association of Media-Tie-in Writers presented the fourth annual "Scribe" awards, honoring such notable franchises as CSI, Criminal Minds, The X-Files, Star Trek, Stargate, Star Wars, and Dr. Who. Nominees on hand include Alina Adams (As the World Turns), Max Allan Collins (G.I. Joe), Keith R. A. DeCandido (Star Trek), William Rabkin (Psych) Stacia Deutsch (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), Jeff Mariotte (CSI), Nathan Long (Warhammer), and Dayton Ward (Star Trek). The event was hosted by moderator Collins and aw
ards presenter Lee Goldberg (Monk).

Following are the nominated works. Winners are highlighted in bold.


As The World Turns: The Man From Oakdale by "Henry Coleman" & Alina Adams
CSI: Brass In Pocket by Jeff Mariotte
Psych: A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Read by William Rabkin


Star Trek Vanguard: Open Secrets by Dayton Ward
Star Trek: A Singular Destiny by Keith R.A. Decandido
Warhammer: Shamanslayer—A Gotrek and Felix Novel by Nathan Long
Terminator Salvation: Cold War by Greg Cox (Tie)
Enemies & Allies by Kevin J. Anderson (Tie)


Countdown by Greg Cox
GI Joe: Rise Of The Cobra by Max Allan Collins
The Tudors: Thy Will Be Done by Elizabeth Massie


Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs by Stacia Deutsch And Rhody Cohon
Bandslam: The Novel by Aaron Rosenberg 
Thunderbirds: Deadly Danger by Joan Marie Verba 


(pictured: William Rabkin  & Max Allan Collins)