Mom with Celebs

I spent Thanksgiving day sorting through boxes of my Mom's photos, figuring out which ones we wanted to keep and have digitized. It was actually a great way to spend the day. There was a lot of laughter and good memories. 

My Mom was a newspaper "society editor," which is a fancy way of saying that she got paid to go to parties and write about them. It was the perfect job for her. So we came across quite a few pictures of her with celebrities over the years. Here's a very small sampling.



The Mail I Get – The MFA Cult Edition

I got this email today from Ian Poole:

Dear Mr. Goldberg

I work for Hillary Rettig, a productivity coach, workshop leader, activist and author, and wanted to send you her article on MFA Programs. It can be found on her website at

Thank you very much for taking a look over it, and I hope that you will share it with your readers.

There is lots more information on her Website, including a free ebook on overcoming procrastination and writer's block, so please check it out.


Ian Poole

Rettig has been working very hard to create as much attention for her overwrought Huffington Post article, "A Million Exploited MFA's: How James Frey Benefits from MFA Programs' Willingness to Sell Out Their Students,"  as she can so that you'll also check out her books, articles, lectures, coffee mugs, t-shirts, fragrances, tampons, breakfast cereals and whatever else she's selling. Her effort has reached comical proportions as this video, which I also received today, makes hilariously clear:


PublishAmerica Wants Your Money

The latest scam from PublishAmerica is pretty ballsy — charging writers $99 to enter Amazon's FREE screenwriting contest. Yeah, you read right —  PublishAmerica is trying to convince authors that it makes sense to pay them to enter someone else's free contest. The frightening thing is, there are probably some suckers who will fall for it.  An incredulous, and outraged, P.N. Elrod broke the story on her blog over the weekend.  Here's the PublishAmerica pitch, with her boldfacing & annotations:


Dear Author: has done it again. Now they have started Amazon Studios, and they want to see if your book's manuscript is their (and Warner Bros. Pictures'!) next movie. 

Basically, Amazon is now also entering the movie business, and they are crowdsourcing it, shopping among original story tellers like yourself. They have given Warner Bros. the right of first refusal. 

From Tuesday's Amazon Studios announcement: 

"We are excited to introduce writers, filmmakers and movie lovers to Amazon Studios […]  It is the goal of Amazon Studios to produce new, full-budget theatrical films based on the best projects and it will give Warner Bros. Pictures first access to the projects Amazon Studios wishes to produce in cooperation with an outside studio."

The Amazon Studio deals include rights payments of $200,000 for winning submissions, and a $400,000 bonus "if the movie makes over $60 million at the U.S. box office". It also awards prizes of $20,000 for the two best scripts in a month even if they don't become a movie.

See for all details    (No, don't, please don't.)

Here's how it works: Together with you we'll rework your manuscript a little (That's a red flag, kids!), then we submit it to Amazon Studios for their contest, following their guidelines. They award prizes monthly. (And PA collects 99.00 courtesy of your high interest rate credit card.)

 Activate your entry for Amazon Studios today: go to, click Add to cart, (NO-NO-NO–DON'T!!!) choose a shipping option to start the activation. In the Ordering Instructions box be sure to mention the title of your book. If your book has not yet been released, add "Pre-release!"

By activating your book's submission to Amazon Studios you authorize PublishAmerica to act on your behalf and you agree that this constitutes your consent in writing. (NO-NO-NO-NO-NO!!!)

After we have received your activation you will be contacted about adding your book's list of characters and a film synopsis. 

See you in Hollywood!  (See you in hell first, PA.)

–PublishAmerica Bookstore


When she's done skewering PublishAmerica over their scam, she also takes Amazon to task for essentially hijacking the copyright on every script that's submitted. Which just goes to prove, nothing is ever really free.

Giddy Up!

Pulp Serenade, one of my favorite blogs, is going to host a marathon of reviews of classic, Gold Medal westerns.  Today, they offered a peek at the books they are going to be featuring (most of which I own but have only read a few):

Stretch Dawson by W.R. Burnett (1950)
The Desperado by Clifton Adams (1950)
A Noose for the Desperado by Clifton Adams (1951)
Red Runs the River by William Heuman (1952)
The Man from Riondo by Dudley Dean (1954)
Some Must Die by Gil Brewer (1954)
The Name’s Buchanan by Jonas Ward (1956)
Home is the Outlaw by Lewis B. Patten (1958)
Wyoming Jones by Richard Telfair (1958)
Day of the Gun by Richard Telfair (1958)
Buchanan on the Prod by Jonas Ward (1960)
Gunswift by T.V. Olsen (1960)
Texas Fever by Donald Hamilton (1960)
Yellowleg by A.S. Fleischman (1960)
Desert Stake-Out by Harry Whittington (1961)
Lawman by Clay Randall (1964)
High Gun by Clay Randall (1965)
The Rare Breed by Theodore Sturgeon (1966)
Iron Men and Silver Stars edited by Donald Hamilton (1967)
The Lawmen edited by Bill Pronizni and Martin H. Greenberg (1984)
The Railroaders edited by Bill Pronizni and Martin H. Greenberg (1986)
Wolf Moon by Ed Gorman (1993)
The Sharpshooter by Ed Gorman (1994)

Tie-In Synergy


The Los Angeles Times has an interesting piece on the shrewd way that Hyperion has handled publication and cross-promotion of their CASTLE tie-in novels. They said, in part:

Publisher Hyperion, which had success with similar projects connected to sister company ABC’s soaps “One Life to Live” and ” All My Children,” decided to bypass a traditional TV tie-in and instead go with a Richard Castle-authored book after seeing the greenlit pilot. Castle’s name alone appears on the books, without any nod to a real-life scribe. “The main character’s a writer! How perfect is that?” says Gretchen Young, an executive editor at Hyperion and its editorial director for ABC Synergy.

[…] The show plays with fiction and reality: On it, Castle has talked about his upcoming publication commitments with his agent (yes, Hyperion will be publishing two more) and played poker with real-life mystery writers James Patterson and Stephen J. Cannell, who died in late September.

In an upcoming episode, “Heat Wave” — a novel written by a fictional television character — has been optioned by Hollywood. “It gets very meta in the show,” Marlowe admits, laughing.

And in person. As part of Hyperion’s release last year of “Heat Wave,” Fillion appeared as Castle at two Southern California bookstores.

It’s not a new idea. The MURDER SHE WROTE books are written by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain, and she was a mystery novelist, too. But the producers didn’t integrate the tie-ins into the TV series as cleverly as the CASTLE folks have (or at all, if memory serves). But now that HEAT WAVE has become a bestseller, you can expect more TV tie-ins to follow their example…

!@#$ My Brother Says

My brother Tod and author Ross Angelella have create BeforetheWWW, a new Twitter feed/blog that they are hoping will become next big, bestselling book and a bad CBS sitcom. The schtick is tweets from the past, like these:

  • Sacagawea never pronounces her name the same way twice, which is annoying, but Lewis thinks it's cute. #ThingsClarkReallyThoughtAboutLewis 8 days ago
  • Next time we go looking for the Northwest Passage, I'm leaving this pussy Lewis at home. #ThingsClarkReallyThoughtAboutLewis 8 days ago
  • Listen, I'm going to stick with my pager and keep it clipped to my belt. This cell phone thing is just a passing fad. But you do you. 8 days ago
  • Adios, matronly VHS. Hello, sexy LaserDisc. 8 days ago
  • I am so excited to see Howard the Duck when it premieres. This film is going to give Big Trouble in little China a run for its money. 8 days ago
  • This Bonkers! is the best chewable rectangular-shaped candy with a fruity outside and an even fruitier filling inside. Just like Elton John. 8 days ago
  • Hanging out by grassy knoll, waiting for the prez to roll-up. Clocktower says he's running late. #ThisClassFieldTripSucks 8 days ago
  • My buddy Ernest Hemingway wants me to show him how to shoot, so we're gonna drink a few and cap some shit. 8 days ago
  • Man, Jerry Brown has fucked up this state. His political career in California is over. 8 days ago
  • This talking snake is making a lot of sense. 8 days ago

    The Name is Book, E Book.

    The Ian Fleming Estate has realized what so many other published authors already know — that if you own the digital rights to your backlist, it makes more financial sense to publish the ebooks yourself.  So the estate is publishing the digital versions of the Bond novels themselves, cutting out Penguin, which still has the entire series in print. The London Telegraph says that this move could be the beginning of a wave of established authors choosing to self-publish the digital versions of their highly successful franchises.

    The books industry could lose out on millions of pounds because publishers have failed to sign up the digital rights to authors, who are expected to bypass traditional publishing houses in favour of Amazon or Google.

    Industry insiders suggested that blockbusting authors including JK Rowling, Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie would be looking at the deal closely.

    The digital versions of the 007 books will be published by Ian Fleming Publications, which administers the rights to the Bond books.

    […]There are many authors still working that have not signed away the digital rights to their books, allowing them to cut out their traditional publisher if they chose to. Agents said they had grown increasingly irritated by the low royalty rates offered by publishers for digital rights.

    This development doesn’t surprise me at all, especially in light of the sobering news from Publishers Weekly this week about the plunge in “paper” sales and the incredible surge in digital in September.

    As sales in the traditional trade segments plunged in September, e-book sales jumped 158.1%, according to the monthly sales estimates released by the Association of American Publishers. Sales for the 14 publishers that reported e-book sales hit $39.9 million in the month, and were up 188.4% in the first nine months of the year to $304.6 million. In contrast, sales in the three adult trade segments, adult hardcover, trade paperback and mass market paperback, all fell by more than double digits with the adult hardcover segment experiencing the biggest decline with sales down 40.4% at the 17 publisher who reported sales to the AAP of $180.3 million. The only other segment to post a significant sales gain in September was downloadable audio with sales from the nine reporting companies up 73.7%, to $7.7 million. Sales of audio CDs fell 42.6%, to $11.6 million, in the month at the 22 reporting companies.

    Established authors with a large back-list, whether the titles are in print or not, could see significant increases in their revenues putting the digital versions of those books out themselves. And the news is getting around. Look for a surge in 2011 of established authors self-publishing the digital versions of their backlists.

    This has agents scrambling for an approach on how to get a share of this potential income. I’ve already heard that some agents are talking about inserting clauses in their new agency agreements with authors that grant them commissions on the digital self-publication of any books for which they negotiated the original print deals. It will be interesting to see how that goes over.

    Mystery Scene is Tied In

    TiedInCover2 The current issue of Mystery Scene magazine (with Dennis Lehane on the cover) includes a rave review of  TIED IN: The Business, History and Craft of Media Tie-In Writing and some photos of vintage tie-ins. Reviewer Jon Breen says, in part:

    If this is the Golden Age of anything in the popular fiction field, it may be the tie-in novel […]There have always been formidable writers doing tie-ins, but they have generally been dismissed, not unreasonably, as quickies tossed off for a fast buck. That image has been improved somewhat by the quality work of editor Goldberg, the late Stuart Kaminsky, Max Allan Collins, and some of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers members contributing to this volume. […] With it’s helpful how-to tips and articles, the book is primarily directed towards other writers, and established pros at that. But many fans and scholars will enjoy the inside-the-business stuff.

    Breen goes on to single out chapters by David Spencer, John Cox, and Max for praise. I hope this will give a jolt to sales of the book, proceeds of which go to support the IAMTW. Lee