Month: June 2011
More Good Stuff
My short story REMAINDERED is now available as a standalone on the Kindle and the Nook…and this special edition includes a link that will take you to a private, streaming video of the movie version of the tale:
Kevin Dangler is a once-famous author desperate to regain his lost glory while traveling the back-roads of middle America, selling remaindered, fifth-editions of his first book out of the trunk of his car. When he meets a woman who loves his work, he believes she might be his salvation…or perhaps his nightmare.
This story was an Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine Readers Choice finalist and has previously appeared in the anthologies "Three Ways to Die" and "Top Suspense."
But wait, there's more…
DIE LOVER DIE, a Top Suspense short story, is now available on the Kindle and the Nook for just 99 cents. It's 10,000 words of non-stop action, violence and sex…a wild ride like nothing else you've read before…from twelve masters of suspense, who teamed up to write this rollicking story 250 rapid-fire words at a time, tag-team style, without an outline, without knowing what was coming next. The result is a pure, literary adrenaline rush:
Lauren Blaine is on the run…fleeing across the country, pursued by a pack of ruthless, skilled, and psychopathic killers. That's because she's dumped her husband and he hasn't taken it well. Of course, he might have taken it better if he wasn't a major drug dealer with a gale-force temper… and if she hadn't run off with all of his cash. Now she's marked-for-death, a moving target for every mercenary, hitman, and sadist in the midwest. What they don't know is that Lauren is nobody's victim… she's a resourceful, brave, and cunning woman who won't go down without a fight.
We Are Family
My brother Tod wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal today about what it's like being part of a family of writers…and the dymanics that have shaped us into the authors were are today. He says, in part:
the truth is that I didn’t really grow up surrounded by writers as much as all the people I grew up with – my older brother, Lee Goldberg, and my two older sisters, Karen Dinino and Linda Woods, who often collaborate – all became authors. We are separated by nine years, oldest to youngest, yet we managed to end up in the same place, at least metaphorically speaking.
My brother was first. His debut novel, .357 Vigilante, a slim men’s action adventure written under the absurd pen-name Ian Ludlow, was released in 1985 after he got a book deal through his writing teacher at UCLA. I would follow fifteen years later with my first novel and then my sisters, writing as a team, published their first book in 2006. Combined, we’ve published 50 books, hundreds of short stories, essays and features and, in my brother Lee’s case, written or produced 26 different television shows.
[…]We had a difficult childhood, all of us: our mother was dying for most of our lives, the victim of both lupus and cancer, though she’d actually live for 73 years, but that specter hung over us, along with her propensity towards madness. And our father was simply gone, long before he was actually gone. We each escaped into words from an early age. That’s the sad truth that lives under the happy result. The “how” is easily revealed: we enjoyed the escape so much that it became our physical world.
For more, check out the article. You'll know more about us afterwards than you'd ever want to.
(Pictured: l-r Linda Woods, Lee Goldberg, Maddie Goldberg, Valerie Goldberg, Tod Goldberg, Wendy Goldberg, Karen Dinino, and Jan Curran)
Mr. Monk and the Sunday Paper
My short story "Mr. Monk and the Sunday Paper," an excerpt from my book MR. MONK ON THE COUCH, appears in the current issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. You can read a free excerpt from the story here.
Also in this issue, they announce the winners of the 2010 EQMM Reader's Choice Awards. I am proud to say that my story, "Mr. Monk and the Seventeen Steps" was the fourth-place finalist.
All the Cars I Have Owned
This is not a collection that's going to make Jay Leno, or anybody else, envious.
1. 1978 Chevette (My first car. Later burst into flames at Big Bear Lake in 1982 and had to be sold for scrap)
2. 1982 Sentra (I later gave it to my sister Linda, who once saw gang members using it for cover during a shoot out in Venice. I think my brother Tod may also have owned the car for a while.)
3. 1987 Honda Accord (A fine car. I'd only owned it a few months when I was rear-ended in a traffic jam by a Swedish diplomat without a driver's license or insurance. My front and back end were smashed, since the force of the impact slammed my Accord into the car in front of me. The Swedish guy immediately proclaimed that he had "diplomatic immunity" and was not responsible for the damages. He was right. My insurance company covered the costs).
4. 1988 Corolla FX (my wife's first car in the U.S. She's from France. I learned to drive a stick with this car)
5. 1990 Miata (I still own it. Only 60K miles on the odometer, since we only drive it a few times a month, usually on weekends, when its really nice out. The car looks as good today as it did then. But I just had to replace the transmission, which was inexplicably fried despite the low miles.)
6. 1984 Mercedes SL (I bought this from my grandfather in 1992 with only 30K miles on the odometer. It was a Christmas present for my wife, who coveted my Miata. We still own it and it's in mint condition. Just crossed 100K on the odometer. It's my car now. My accountant would like me to get rid of it…thinks it costs way too much to maintain. But we have a huge sentimental investment in the car)
7. 1995 Volvo 960 Wagon (We bought this when my daughter was born, since all we had were two two-seat convertibles and no place for a third person…)
8. 1999 Mercedes SLK. (…so, naturally, I got another convertible. For a while, we had three convertibles and one station wagon. For a family of three. How dumb is that? It was the most troublesome car I've ever owned. Everything went wrong with that damn car. After three years, I sold it to my sister Karen, who later sold it to her sister-in-law)
9. 2000 Mercedes ML (It replaced the Volvo. We still own it and have 175K on the odometer. Still looks and runs great. This is my wife's car now — by her own choice — and she loves it. I've inherited her SL)
10. 2004 Lexus ES (I leased this for three years so we'd have more than one "family" car instead of an SUV and two 2-seat convertibles. I loved it but it spent more time in the garage than on the road since I was mostly working in Canada and Europe during the lease period, so I let it go).
Our next car will probably be something for my daughter, who turns 16 in July…or we'll give her the ML and buy a new "family car."
Locke Cracks Million Mark
Amazon announced today that John Locke has become the first self-published author to sell one million ebooks on the Kindle, joining a very select group: Stieg Larsson, James Patterson, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Charlaine Harris, Nora Roberts and Suzanne Collins.
“Kindle Direct Publishing has provided an opportunity for independent authors to compete on a level playing field with the giants of the book selling industry,” said John Locke. “Not only did KDP give me a chance, they helped at every turn. Quite simply, KDP is the greatest friend an author can have.”
“It’s so exciting that self-publishing has allowed John Locke to achieve a milestone like this,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President of Kindle Content. “We’re excited to see Kindle Direct Publishing succeeding for both authors and customers and are proud to welcome him to the Kindle Million Club.”
John Locke, of Louisville, KY., is the internationally bestselling author of nine novels including "Vegas Moon,” "Wish List,” "A Girl Like You,” "Follow the Stone,” "Don't Poke the Bear!" and the New York Times bestselling eBook, "Saving Rachel." Locke's latest book, "How I sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months," is a how-to marketing guide for self-published authors.
Hocking on Hocking
There's a great interview with self-publishing superstar Amanda Hocking in the New York Times today. She comes across as very natural, likeable, and surprisingly level-headed about her success, which came to her surprisingly fast once she put her books on Amazon:
…Hocking uploaded “My Blood Approves” to Amazon and, about a month later, to Smashwords, a service that makes her books compatible not only with the Nook but also with less popular devices like BeBook and Kobo. (When, in October 2010, it became possible to self-publish directly on Barnes & Noble’s site for the Nook, she did so.) It’s a surprisingly simple process in each case — much like signing up for Facebook. She took the e-leap because she thought that even if she sold her vampire books, there was going to be a reaction against them before they made it into stores.
The first day, she sold five books. The next, five more. “I took screen shots a lot,” she said. Then she uploaded another novel and sold a total of 36 books one day in May. “It was like: 36 books? It’s astounding. I’m taking over the world.”
Soon she started selling hundreds of books a day. That June, she sold 6,000 books; that July 10,000. “And then it started to explode. In January, it was over 100,000.” Today, she sells 9,000 books a day.
Hocking is at a loss to explain the phenomenon. “I’ve seen other authors do the exact same things I have, similar genre, similar prices” — like many self-published authors, she prices her books radically below what traditional publishers charge; typically hers cost between 99 cents and $2.99 — “and they have multiple books out. And they all have good covers. And they’re selling reasonably well, but they’re not selling nearly as well as I am.”
The problem is, now everybody thinks they can be Hocking…or John Locke…and don't seem to realize that they are exceptional cases.
Rerun: 25 Random Things About Me
(From January 2009)
I've lost count of how many people have tagged me for this "25 Random Facts About Me" meme. So here goes:
1. When I was a pre-schooler in Oakland CA, I ran away from home, showed up at the door of the Mormon temple, and asked if Shirley could come out to play.
2. I'm a Lee Hazlewood fan.
3. I had a girlfriend who was an editorial assistant at Playgirl. I honed my skills writing sex scenes by writing fake "Letters to the Editor" for $25 each.
4. My favorite BBQ place is It's In the Sauce in Ventura, Ca.
5. When I'm sick, I like to lie in bed and watch old episodes of "Gunsmoke."
6. I wrote my first novel when I was ten. It was about a superspy from the future who was born in an underwater sperm bank. I don't know why it was underwater, or how you made deposits, but I thought it was pretty cool.
7. I love Nacho Cheese Doritos.
8. My favorite James Bond movie is "Goldfinger."
9. I've broken all but one limb…so far.
10. When I was five or six, I used to tell people my name was "Lee Beaudine." I don't know why.
11. When I was a kid, I once threatened to send my little sister Karen to prison for picking apart my Nerf ball. She was so terrified that she gave me all the money in her piggy bank to buy her freedom. I still feel guilty about that.
12. My middle name is Brian.
13. The ugliest city I have ever been to is El Paso, TX.
14. Until I was about 25, I spent two weeks every summer at Loon Lake, Washington.
15. I love the theme to "It Takes a Thief" but I can't hum it.
16. I had a crush on Linda Carter when I was a kid. She was my Wonder Woman.
17. I think Harry Whittington is one of the great, unappreciated authors of noir.
18. When I was a kid, I used to collect Wacky Packs. I thought the cards were hilarious.
19. One of my all-time favorite books is "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry.
20. I've seen Roger Moore naked.
21. I like to read Motor Trend and the National Inquirer on airplanes. This embarrasses my wife.
22. I can't spell marriage, similar, or envelope.
23. I wrote two episodes of "The New Adventures of Flipper."
24. I once flagged down a cop on Jefferson Blvd. to alert him that a homeless man was "playing a twisted game of Russian roulette" by running into traffic. The cop actually asked me to repeat that without imitating the ABC announcer's voice.
25. I owned a Chevy Chevette.
Tsunami of Swill Makes News
The Los Angeles Times reports today about something I've been talking about for months…the tsunami of self-published swill washing over Amazon. The article refers to bad self-published books, but mostly discusses rip-offs of other people's work and books cobbled together from public domain sources.
Spam has hit the Kindle, clogging Amazon.com Inc.'s top-selling e-reader with material that is far from being book-worthy and threatening to undermine the company's entry into publishing.
Thousands of digital books, called e-books, are being published through Amazon's self-publishing system each month. Many are not written in the traditional sense.
[…]These e-books are listed for sale — often at 99 cents — alongside more traditional books on Amazon's website, forcing readers to plow through many more titles to find what they want. Aspiring spammers can even buy a DVD box set called Autopilot Kindle Cash that claims to teach people how to publish 10 to 20 new Kindle books a day without writing a word.
This new phenomenon represents the dark side of an online revolution that's turning the traditional publishing industry on its head by giving authors new ways to access readers directly.
[…]In 2010, almost 2.8 million nontraditional books, including e-books, were published in the United States, while just more than 316,000 traditional books came out. That compares with 1.33 million nontraditional books and 302,000 conventional books in 2009, said Albert Greco, a publishing industry expert at Fordham University's business school. In 2002, fewer than 33,000 nontraditional books were published, whereas more than 215,000 traditional books came out in the United States, Greco noted.
"This is a staggering increase. It's mind-boggling," Greco said. "On the positive side, this is helping an awful lot of people who wrote books and could not get them published in the traditional way through agents."
But Greco listed downsides. One problem is that authors must compete for readers with a lot more books — many of which "probably never should have seen the light of day," he said.