Remaindered Raves

Bill Crider has some nice things to say about my short film "Remaindered" on his blog today:.

This twenty-minute film is funny, sharply observed, and very well put together. It might be a low-budget production, but it doesn't look it. The actors are having fun, and Goldberg gets the most out of every shot.

I'm pleased to say he's not the only author who enjoyed the movie. Here's some of the other post-Bouchercon feedback that we've received:

“REMAINDERED is brilliant! Hilarious, suspenseful, with booksigning sequences that induce PTSD… bravo! And the music was great, too,” Barry Eisler, bestselling author of “Hard Rain.”

“REMAINDERED was such a hoot. I loved everything about it and had so much fun. More awesomeness from Lee Goldberg,” Sara Gran, author of “Dope” and “Come Closer.”

“REMAINDERED was so well done on some many levels,” Naomi Hirahara, bestselling author of “Blood Hina.”

“The story was great and the actors were outstanding,” Joel Goldman, author of “No Way Out.”

“I loved REMAINDERED!” Daniel J. Hale, co-author of “Red Card.”

“I enjoyed REMAINDERED immensely,” Hal Ackerman, author of “Stein Stoned” and co-chair of the screenwriting department of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

“One of the highlights of Bouchercon – the world mystery convention – was watching Lee Goldberg's independent film REMAINDERED. If it comes to a film festival near you, don't miss it. It rocked the house,” Julie Kramer, author of “Silencing Sam.”

“A marvelous script. Haven't heard that much out loud laughter from an audience in a long time,” Robert S. Levinson, author of “Ask a Dead Man.”

The short film is not yet available to the public — we've submitted it to a bunch of festivals around the country and are waiting to see how that plays out first. However, if you are a blogger or print reviewer and are interested in receiving a screener, you can contact me at lee AT for a download link or a DVD.

UPDATE 10-24-10: Paul Bishop also blogged about REMAINDERED today and he said, among other things:

"Remaindered is a smooth piece of business – not only crisply directed and acted, but with a sense of humor that resists the temptation to go over the top offered by the film’s content.

Remaindered taps into the nightmare known to many writers, the sophomore slump – when the follow-up book to a bestselling debut novel goes in the tank. In Remaindered, our intrepid author is trying to survive his sophomore slump by schlepping a third novel – this time self-published – through a series of signings in small backwoods venues because nobody else wants to give the book shelf space or attention – nobody else that is except the author’s biggest fan.

Remaindered is a hoot, a low budget production with a big heart and exceptional values. A twenty minute film that keeps you holding your breath until it explodes with laughter.

Thanks so much, Paul!

My Brother Tod is Funny

This week my brother Tod wrote what may be his funniest Letters to Parade column ever.  Here's an excerpt.

…Elizabeth Chambers, hailing from Los Angeles, CA, and presumably reading Parade in the LA Times, as I do, has a question that made me realize that the reason people end up voting for complete fucktards like Sarah Palin is that they don't realize politicians aren't fictional characters. You see, Elizabeth is very curious about that nice young President we have…on THE EVENT:

"Blair Underwood is great as President Elias Martinez on NBC's The Event. Does he have any political experience in real life?" 

Jesus fucking Christ on a bed of wild rice, Elizabeth. Do you really think you somehow missed out on the two terms Blair Underwood spent as a United States Senator? Or what about when he was a Congressman? Or those years when he was Attorney General? Personally, I'll never forget what it was like meeting Blair Underwood when he was just a state Senator –this was during his downtime after his seven year stint on LA Law ended and before he landed his next role four minutes later. I knew then that one day he would eventually either be President or at least play the President in something. He just had that gravity, you know? But then when he was on The New Adventures of Old Christine a few years ago, I was like, whoa, he's just a school teacher in this! Well, he was a school teacher on the show, and, of course, was the Dept. Secretary of Defense, too, but, anyway, I just felt like he was selling himself short. 

For fuck's sake. I mean it. People this stupid shouldn't be allowed to watch television. It's clearly not good for them and thus it's not good for America and, thus, it's bad for the Jews.


I Want to Suck Your Eblood

Draculas01c Joe Konrath, F. Paul Wilson, Blake Crouch and Jeff Strand have collaborated on DRACULAS, an original novel for the Kindle. It's yet another intriguing Konrath e-book experiment. He wrote about it all on the Huffington Post. He said, in part:

"Draculas" will be exclusive on Kindle for a year, as a favor to Amazon since they've been so helpful. But those with other brands of ereaders will be able to buy "Draculas" from Amazon and convert it to the format of their choice with free ebook software like Calibre or Stanza. We have instructions for doing this on our website, We also plan on doing a print release later in the year, using Amazon's CreateSpace.

Since professionalism is essential, we hired a cover artist and an ebook formatter. A publisher providing these services takes 52.5% of an ebook's cover price, and the retailer gets 30% through the agency model. That leaves only 17.5% for the author. By absorbing these sunk costs ourselves, we're able to earn the full 70% royalties and not have to share them with anyone. Though we're splitting the profits four ways, we're each earning only slightly less per copy sold (51 cents each) than we would on one of our own paperback books (64 cents each), and still only charging the reader $2.99.

The book is 80,000 words and also contains 80,000 words of extras, like the 700 emails the authors sent back-and-forth while writing this book in just eight weeks. If the book is a success, which I suspect it will be, it could lead even more published authors to try self-publishing an original ebook…even as they continue to write novels for major publishers. Judging by the conversations I had at Bouchercon, lots of writers are already considering this, seeing it not as an all-or-nothing alternative, but as an additional revenue stream. I'm one of them. But more on that later…

The Mail I Get

I got home from Bouchercon and found this email waiting for me.

Fan of Monk the series, don't care at all for your books. 

What about a spinoff? Randy and Sharrona got married, right.  Why not do a show about them and his new job.  I think this would be a good idea especially with all the special guests.  Randy was a good detective with Barney personality and Sharrona was a good investigator/assistant.  I can see a lot of good shows for them.  Don't forget Benji-Hawaii trip episode. 

Just a thought.

I'm a fan of readers, don't care at all for you or your dumb ideas. What about next time you write to someone, you don't start off by insulting them? Just a thought.


Bouchercon Day 3

Sara Gran, me, Scott Phillips Another lively day at Bouchercon… it started with a panel on the legacy of Robert B. Parker. My fellow panelists were Joseph  Finder, Dick Lochte, Mark Coggins, Declan Hughes, and Russel McLean. The panelists and the audience seemed to really enjoy it.  Afterwards, a guy came up to me and said "You look like the most hated politician in San Francisco… but now that you're standing, I see that you're fatter."

I thanked him.

The panel was  followed by a signing. A woman asked me to sign her program and, as I was doing so, she said "I really enjoyed your books back  when they were good."

I thanked her, too. Oh, these dumb comments remind me of one that came up when I was "in conversation"  with William Link. A guy in the audience stood up and asked Link "When you created COLUMBO, how much were  you influenced by Huckleberry Finn?"

"Not at all," Link said.

"This brings up an interesting question," I said. "When you created MANNIX, how much were  you influenced by CATCHER IN THE RYE?"

Link was still laughing about the Huckleberry Finn question  today when I signed with him after the Parker panel.

After the signing,  I grabbed a sandwich at Boudin and got a little writing done…then hung out in the bar for a while, talking with David Hewson, Bill Crider, Lynn Sheene, Doug Lyle, Christa Faust, Robert Ward, and probably a dozen others throughout the afternoon. 

But the highlight of the day  and the conference for me was the screening of my short film REMAINDERED tonight. The room was packed with authors, editors, agents, booksellers and fans. And they all seemed to love  it. I couldn't have asked  for a better  first screening. It really was the perfect audience for the film. I just wish the cast and crew could have been there to enjoy it with me. 

The screening  was followed by a lively Q&A and then I headed up to the bar, where I talked ebooks and the future of publishing with Penguin/NAL senior editor Sandra Harding…and later with Mulholland  Books editor John  Schoenfeller and agent Josh Getzler. I also caught up with Sara Gran, Scott Phillips, Joe Konrath, Cameron Hughes, Megan Abbott, Allison  Gaylin, and several other authors.

All in all, it was a terrific Bouchercon for me. I'm so glad that I  came up for it. 

(Pictured: Sara Gran, me, Scott Phillips)

Bouchercon Day 2

Starr Highes Goldberg Gagnon I started my day by making a pilgrimage to Kayo Books, one of my favorite bookstores on earth, and spent an hour browsing their amazing stock of pulp novels. I bought some old westerns then walked down to the Hyatt, where I ran into Daniel Woodrell as soon as I walked in the door. The two of us went to the Boudin Bakery and had a terrific conversation over a long, leisurely  lunch. Sourdough and Woodrell, a perfect combo.

After lunch, I spent an hour chatting with various authors before participating in a panel on ebooks. CJ West did a remarkable job moderating, especially considering how big  the subject is, how obnoxious I am, and how many authors there were on the panel…me, Boyd Morrison, Wendy Hornsby, Gary Phillips, Bill Fitzhugh and David Hewson. The audience was very engaged…and I think if the panel had a weakness besides me, it was that we didn't have nearly enough time to field all the questions (I continued answering questions on the topic for much of the afternoon, not that I am any sort of expert). We could easily have filled two  hours on the topic. David Hewson, by the way, is hilarious. 

I didn't attend any other panels. I spent the rest of the afternoon talking to fans and with authors (like Joel Lee david ellis konrath Goldman, Declan Hughes, Jason Starr, Michelle Gagnon, Steve Hamilton, DP Lyle, etc). In the early evening,  I attended the Penguin author party,  where I met Scott Brick, the voice of 1000 audiobooks…and then went  out to a terrific dinner with David Ellis, his wife, and Bill Rabkin at the Empress of China. On the way back, we ran into Dick Lochte and Gar Anthony Haywood and spent the walk back talking about ebooks and what a great guy Steve Cannell was.  The rest  of the night was spent at the Lee Child's Jack Reacher party…where I chatted with Lisa Lutz, Robin Burcell, Vince Keenan, Alafair Burke, Parnell Hall, to name just a few folks.

I'm having a grand time and am looking forward to screening REMAINDERED tomorrow….

(Pictured: Jason Starr, Declan Hughes, me, Michelle Gagnon. And in the other picture, from yesterday, me, David  Ellis and Joe Konrath)

Bouchercon Day 1

I am too tired to write anything…at least anything coherent.  The conference is off to a great start and I'm having a lot of fun.  My "Conversation with William Link" went really well even though I left my notes & questions in  L.A. and had to wing it. And I have  had a fantastic time schmoozing with old friends and making new ones.  Here are some photos…you can click on them to enlarge the images.

Remaindered display1
(It was a nice surprise  seeing two REMAINDERED posters at the registration desk…this is one of them)

Lee and link
(Me with William Link before our conversation)

(Bill Crider, me, and Alan Jacobson)

Lee woodrell
(Me going all fan-boy over Daniel Woodrell)

Lee meg gardiner
(Me  and Meg Gardiner)


Open Up Those Golden Gates

Kevin Signing 4 I am heading up to San Francisco this morning for Bouchercon, the world mystery conference. I’m on a bunch of panels, including one on self-published ebooks and another on the legacy of Robert B. Parker, but what I am really looking forward to is my on-stage conversation this afternoon with COLUMBO writer/producer/co-creator William Link and the screening on Saturday of my short film REMAINDERED. I’ll try to post a few reports from the conference while I am up there.

(Pictured: a screen grab from the film)

Swain is Rolling the Dice on Ebooks

Wild Card James Swain has started to put his out-of-print backlist of terrific crime novels — including THE PROGRAM, WILD CARD, and THE MAN WHO CHEATED DEATH – on the Kindle. They represent a sampler of sorts of his three series for readers unfamiliar with his work… which has won wide and enthusiastic praise (I've always liked this rave that he got from The New York Times:  "Swain uses language with such blunt force he could be hammering in nails”).

I thought this would be a good time to catch up with him and get his views on his career, the publishing industry and the new world of ebooks…

LEE: Your early books — like GRIFT SENSE, FUNNY MONEY, and SUCKER BET — are all set against the world of gambling and cons. Were you writing about what you know?

JAMES: Yes, I was. I’ve been a magician since I was a kid, and used to hang out with guys in New York who cheated in private card games. They’d come into Tannen’s magic shop and blow our minds with their skill. In the late 1970s, I was visiting Las Vegas, and saw a guy switch a card while playing blackjack. It was amazing how skillful he was. I later told a magician friend of mine named Mike Skinner who lived in Las Vegas and knew a thing or two about cheating. Skinner proceeded to tell me how the casinos got ripped off all the time by cross roaders, which is a hustler’s term for people who cheat casinos (it refers to parking your horse at the cross roads in a town in case you need to make a speedy getaway). I started researching the subject, and met a number of famous cheaters, and collected their stories. Twenty years later when I started writing the gambling books, I had a wealth of information to work from.

LEE: You branched off into other series… was that a creative decision (to stretch yourself as a writer), a marketing decision (to broaden your brand) or were sales of the Valentine series tapering off?

JAMES: It was a fluke. The Valentine books were doing just fine, and had been sold in many foreign markets and also to Hollywood. I’d written nine of them, with two more set to be published –WILD CARD and JACKPOT. I needed a break, and wrote a book called MIDNIGHT RAMBLER, which is about a down-and-out ex-cop who helps police departments in Florida find missing people. I didn’t tell anyone about RAMBLER except my wife – it was my little secret, just to see if I could do something else. When I was done, I showed it to my agent, and he called me up, and started yelling how good it was. He showed it to my publisher, and they reacted the same way. The next thing I knew, I had a new contract and a new series, and the Valentine books were put on hold.

LEE: How did you feel about that? Was it hard to see those books put on the shelf?

JAMES: It was gut-wrenching. I loved those books, especially the last two. But it’s difficult to argue with your publisher when they’re throwing money at you. I bit my tongue and accepted it.   The Program

LEE: What's your take on the state of publishing today? If you'd written GRIFT SENSE today, would it get published? Do you think it would receive the same kind of enthusiastic support and wide notice you got back in 2001?

JAMES: To be honest, I didn’t get much support when GRIFT SENSE was published. I paid for my own tour, and did most of my own marketing. The book was purchased by a lovely editor at Pocket Books named Emily Heckman, who was let go before the book came out. There wasn’t much support for it in-house.

The support I did get was from the mystery field, which pushed the book heavily. For example, Otto Penzler gave the book to a customer named Anthony Mason, who’s a newscaster for CBS Sunday Morning. That led to be being on the show a year later, which was a huge break for me.

In 2003, I went over to Ballantine Books, and my editor there purchased GRIFT SENSE and FUNNY MONEY (the 2nd book in the series) from Pocket. Ballantine got behind the books, which led to much of the success I’ve had.

So to answer your question, I really think that publishing today isn’t much different than it was ten years ago when I started. The avenues of distribution have changed, as have the ability to market yourself over the Internet, but at the end of the day, it’s still about hard work and catching some lucky breaks.

LEE: You've recently released a bunch of your books on the Kindle (and other e-formats). What prompted you to do that? And would you ever consider writing an original book directly for the Kindle, bypassing publishers altogether? If so, why?

JAMES: My decision to release books as ebooks was brewing for a while. The two Valentine books I mentioned earlier had reverted by contract back to me. I also had a thriller called THE PROGRAM which my agent had been shopping around, then had to pull when I got an offer from Tor to do a new series. So I had these three terrific books sitting on my laptop, which bothered me no end.

Then I bought my wife an iPad, and to my surprise (and hers), she fell absolutely in love with it, and started reading 4-5 ebooks a week on it. That got me thinking that maybe I should take these books I had, and release them as ebooks.

The turning point was hearing Joe Konrath speak at the Mysteries To Die For conference in Sarasota this past summer. Joe answered every question I had about the process, and gave me the confidence to put these books out. Will I ever write an original book directly for Kindle? The answer is yes. I’m working on a new Valentine novel right now, and plan to release it in the spring of 2011.

LEE: You've gotten some terrific blurbs from authors like Lee Child, Michael Connelly and Randy Wayne White. How important do you think blurbs from other authors are in selling your work to booksellers and readers? Have blurbs lost their punch or are they even more necessary today to rise above all the clutter out there?

JAMES: Blurbs are very important. They set you apart from the rest of the crowd. They can also tell the reader what they’re in store for. I’ve never released a book without one.