Our FAVORITE KILLS

Favorite Kills

We're back.

We hope you're sitting down, and that you've finally caught your breath from Top Suspense, our first bestselling anthology. You're about to take another screaming thrill ride with twelve master storytellers. Each Top Suspense Group author is an award winning, highly acclaimed pro whose compelling and unforgettable tales have been published all over the world—and, in some cases, have even become blockbuster movies and TV shows.

For Favorite Kills we've collected our very best short stories. All major prize-winning tales and personal favorites, each one a knock-out punch of suspense.

So hold on tight my friend, or better yet, tie yourself down. You're in for another breathtaking wild ride of seething sex and unexpected twists, dark humor, and certain death. And when it's all over, and you're sitting there spent and satisfied, soaked in a flop sweat of terror and exhilaration, we're gonna be right there to bring you even more.

The authors in Top Suspense are… Harry Shannon, Bill Crider, Vicki Hendricks, Naomi Hirahara, Stephen Gallagher, Max Allan Collins, Paul Levine, Libby Hellmann, Dave Zeltserman, Lee Goldberg, Joel Goldman, and Ed Gorman

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The Early Word on “McGrave”

I've already started getting some terrific reviews for McGRAVE, my new action-adventure novella for the Kindle. Post Modern Pulps says:

McGrave is that perfect blend of action, humor, gratuitous violence and ludicrous hyperbole that fueled so much of my adolescent reading materi…oh, who am I kidding?  It's still the bread and butter of the printed pages I read. […]  This book is the literary equivalent of buffalo wings and boilermakers.  

Author James Reasoner says, in part:

Goldberg pulls off a very neat trick, producing a yarn that's part serious, part satire, and all action. It seemed like I had a grin on my face the whole time I was reading it. I loved it.

Gary Mugford over at Mugshots says, in part:

Lee Goldberg has answered one of my prayers. A new lawman-in-new-territory series[…] McGrave is everything I've been waiting for. The L.A. detective ends up across the pond, bringing American bravado to the streets of Berlin[…]this a first-rate, one-night read. For me it's a five-star implementation of a five-star idea.

And author Mel Odom says: 

The story is a blistering read from page one to the gut-wrenching ending. There’s not much room for examination of character or How The World Truly Works in this one. It’s pure actioner […] McGrave is one of those palate cleansing reads. Not because it’s deep and emotionally uplifting or anything like that. But because it sucks you in, yanks you through the story at a vicious pace, and leaves you sprawling, gasping for air at the finish line.

And Bill Peschel says:

“McGrave” was designed like a high-performance car, intended to go fast and scare hell outta people, and Goldberg’s an old-school TV producer and the author of the “Monk” novels, so he knows how to design a story. There’s detection scenes and chase scenes and clashes with authority, and McGrave rumbles through it all knowing exactly what to do next. He doesn’t hate authority or paperwork or his bosses. What he does hate is crime and criminals with a childlike simplicity that would be endearing except to those who get in his way, especially on the road.

Thanks so much for the great reviews!

The Action Behind “McGrave”

 

0553 Lee Goldberg McGrave_2

My new novella McGrave is an experiment for me.  I set out to write something specifically for the Kindle that would take advantage of the way people read on the device…but that would also capture the pure, escapist fun of watching an action movie.  I thought these were very compatible goals. 

With a Kindle,  readers are swiping/clicking your way through a story.  And because font size is adjustable, pages aren't really relevant any more..

A lot of people are using their Kindles to read on subways, buses, and planes.  They are moving from one place to another as they are moving through a story.  So I wanted to give them a story that they could finish in a single journey…and tell that story in such a way that they'd be swiping or clicking their way through it as fast as they could.

To help me pull that off, I chose an action adventure…which by nature has to move at a breakneck pace…and I eliminated chapters altogether, breaking the story into scenes, adopting a style that's closer to a screenplay than a novel (akin to the style Don Winslow adopted in his book Savages).  I thought that would keep the story moving…and the reader moving through it.

You'll have to tell me if I succeeded.

Here's the story…

Los Angeles cop John "Tidal Wave" McGrave is an unstoppable force of nature who always gets his man…even if it means laying waste to everything around him, including his own career…which is exactly what happens in his pursuit of Sebastian Richter, the ruthless leader of an international gang of violent thieves. When Richter flees to Berlin, McGrave chases after him…even though the cop doesn't know the language, the laws, or the culture. But McGrave doesn't care…he speaks the universal language of knee in the groin and fist in the face…and he won't let anything get in his way.

What follows is, I hope, a wild, action-adventure that captures all of the fun, excitement and pure escapist pleasure of the Dirty Harry, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard movies…and if it works, I'll write some more of them.

Scammer Still Scamming

Pity poor Brien Jones, the veteran vanity press sleazo behind Jones Harvest…who preyed on old people, taking their money on the false promise of "publishing" their books, getting them into bookstores and into the hands of Hollywood producers. Scores of people, most of them elderly, lost thousands of dollars to this unrepetent scammer…and now he wants you to feel sorry for him…and write another check. In a letter to his suckers, republished on the Jones Harvest Fraud Victims blog, he writes, in part:

I tried to sell [BOOK TITLE] and the rest every way possible—more ways than you ever heard about. As with 99% of our titles I failed. It’s hard. And if you ever try selling somebody else’s book (or even your own) to bookstores you’ll find it’s also unpleasant.

By 2010 I spent half my day listening to bookstores hang up on me and the other half listening to authors that paid $950 to publish (usually less than we spent on the print run) complain about lack of sales. I have to admit I don’t feel very bad about giving up on some of those clients.

I do feel bad about you. You were one of the few that even acknowledged our website was free of vanity publishing information or that we had a bookstore. Most of our clients never noticed. I kept on trying anyway. 

Astonishing, isn't it? One moment he's talking about taking $950 from authors to "publish" their books and ignore their calls…and the next he's taking pride in the fact that he never disclosed on his site that he was running a thinly-disguised, nickel-and-dime vanity press that primarily preyed on the elderly.  And by his own admission, he failed to sell books 99% of the time… a fact I'm sure he never mentioned when he was sweet-talking some grandma out of a thousand bucks.   

Jones then has the audicity to recommend to everyone that he bilked that they go to Accurance and write another check for $850 to actually get their books "published" this time  (What do you bet he gets a commission on each of those "sales"?)

Bill Earle, a huckster for Accurance, then sent a letter to the Jones Harvest suckers, breaking the news that, despite all the money they gave to Brien Jones, their books were worthless and unsaleable. In other words, they threw their money away. Here's an excerpt:

Right now, we are concentrating everything on the Jones authors who were published with Jones. Those ISBNs are dead now so those books are no longer for sale. Even if sales were poor in the past for whatever reason, you don't have a chance at even one now. 

Our Jones Publishing Package, is fast, high quality, as affordable as is possible, and most importantly – complete. Right now, the book you had published with Jones is no longer valid. The ISBN from Jones for your book is a dead account. We are honored to be able to offer you the fastest way back to the market for just $849. 

It's so nice that Bill is "honored" to offer the Jones Harvest suckers a chance to throw their money away again. 

I have no sympathy at all for anyone who, after already being screwed over by Brien Jones, would now take his advice and write another fat check to yet another vanity press. 

The "deal" that Accurance offers is a rip-off…just like everything Brien Jones has ever been associated with. A non-Jones author could get exactly the same services from Accurance for $500 (I wonder where that extra $250 is going?). But wait, it gets even worse. As Bonnie Kaye, founderof the Jones Harvest Fraud Victims Blog notes:

And guess what—if you take this route, you don’t even have a publisher. Accurance isn’t a publisher—it’s a set-up company that brokers you out to companies like Lulu, where you are your own publisher.

In other words, you could just go to Lulu yourself and cut Accurance out entirely. And you know what it would cost you to get your book published?

Zero.

Now that's a deal.

The fact is, in today's new world, you'd have to be a brain-dead to pay anyone $900 to publish your book, whether it's Accurance, Tate, DogEar, Author House or anybody else.

Why?

Because you can publish for FREE digitally (on Amazon, B&Nand in print (with CreateSpace, Lulu, etc). Amazon, Lulu and CreateSpace take their money as a very small cut of your royalties. They make money when YOU make money. You don't have to pay a dime up front, to say nothing of $850.

You can even avoid the minimal cost of having your work formatted for ebooks by using Smashwords, which will also distribute your book to scores of online retailers. You can even make a cover yourself using your own artwork and a basic photo editing program.

It's time for aspiring authors to wake up and stop being carrion for vultures like Brien Jones. 

UPDATE: 1-3-2012: Adding insult to injury, the notorious sleazo Brien Jones is now sending letters to the authors that he swindled, offering them the "opportunity," if they hurry and act right now, to buy all of the existing, unsold copies of their books back from him for $5.99 each…oh, and be sure to make the checks out to him personally, not his pseudo publishing company (hmm, do you think he could be trying to evade creditors like, for instance, the same authors he's trying to screw now?). 

Giving it Away

0316 Goldberg ecover JUDGEMENTLooking for some action? The Kindle edition of JUDGMENT, the first book in the JURY SERIES, is free for the next five days on the Amazon store. Here's just some of the critical praise for my first published book, originally released as .357 VIGILANTE back in the 1980s…

"This is straight-up men's adventure material {…] So look out, folks! Here comes justice with a big freaking gun!Bruce Grossman, Bookgasm 

"Judgment  has an amped-up, neon-bright,'burning rubber down the main drag doing sixty while blaring Motley Crue so loud you can't even think' sort of quality. And that's how I like it." –Post-Modern Pulps 

"Generous helpings of sex and violent action, along with some smart-aleck dialog. But if you're a fan of Robert B. Parker, Dirty Harry, or the Die Hard movies, you'll have a very good time,"  –J.A Konrath, author of THE LIST and AFRAID 

"Lee Goldberg's The Jury Series serves vengeance hot with loads of action and plenty of suspense to keep you turning the e-pages. Vigilante justice was never so much fun,"  –Joel Goldman, Bestselling author of "Motion to Kill" 

"As stunning as the report of a .357 Magnum, a dynamic premiere effort […] The Best New Paperback Series of the year!" West Coast Review of Books 

This is a really entertaining thrill ride of a story with plenty of sex, violence, humor, social commentary, and great action scenes. Highly recommended. –James Reasoner, bestselling author of "Dust Devils"

The Mail I Get

Matt-on-Madeline-IslandMost of the time, I use this regular feature of my blog to make fun of people who send me really stupid emails or solicitations. Or I use it to answer a good question someone has about publishing or screenwriting. This time it's different. Apparently, I've inspired a very talented writer to hatch an insane scheme. Here's an email I got from author Matt Forbeck:

Just wanted to let you know how you helped inspire me to set off on an insane plan for next year called 12 for '12, in which I plan to write (and then self-publish) a novel a month for the entirety of 2012. I've been sitting on the fence about this for a while, but watching your progress toward self-publishing has been nudging me off.

It finally took the emergence of Kickstarter to shove me over. I set up a drive to help fund the first trilogy of books by taking pre-orders for them. It's going well so far, and I'm looking forward to one hell of a ride for the rest of the year.

Anyhow, thanks again for advocating for authors looking out for themselves and trying new things.

Clearly, Matt is crazy. But maybe it's a healthy insanity, if there is such a thing. I can't imagine writing 12 novels in 12 months by myself ( the Dead Man monthly series that I'm doing with Amazon's 47North imprint is being written with a dozen other writers)

Matt has already raised over $6000 on Kickstarter, which is more than most publishers are offering as advances these days, so he maybe he is really on to something. And considering how prolific and versatile he is, if any writer can pull this off, it's him.

You Are a Billion Dollar Multi-National Publishing Conglomerate

Unlike in paper, where an author needs a distribution partner to cost-effectively reach a mass market of readers, in digital a lone author has exactly the same ability to distribute as any New York-based, billion-dollar multinational conglomerate.

In that single, succinct paragraph, my buddy Barry Eisler makes it clear why publishers are becoming increasingly irrelevant for authors…and why guys like me are turning down book contracts, even on successful series, from big six publishers in favor of self-publishing and/or publishing through one of the Amazon imprints

That paragraph is an excerpt from Barry's terrific guest post at Writer Unboxed — an essay that should be required reading for authors, editors, publishers, and aspiring writers. Here some more of his sharp observations about the digital landscape.

In digital distribution, legacy publishers offer zero value. An author can distribute one-hundred-percent as effectively alone as she can with a legacy publisher. In other words, in digital distribution, an author has no use for New York. For more, see this guest post I did at J.A. Konrath’s blog, A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing (a blog you should absolutely be reading regularly).

Note that I’m only talking about distribution and I’m only talking about digital. I didn’t say that New York publishers have no value to offer in paper, in, editing, or in other areas. To me this is obvious, but I’ve learned to include this sort of disclaimer to make it marginally more difficult for dodgers, denialists, and dudgeon demons to avoid actual thought in favor of straw man arguments and other mischaracterizations of what I’ve actually said.

Third, and flowing from the first two: in a digital world, the primary value a publisher can offer an author is direct-to-consumer marketing. This is why Amazon is so strongly positioned to succeed in digital publishing: its book business is built on its ability to reach tens or even hundreds of millions of readers directly by email. Amazon marketing is both exceptionally focused (book buyers) and exceptionally broad (tens or even hundreds of millions of customers). Entities that can offer authors compelling direct-to-consumer marketing value will be in a good position to take a cut of the profits. One recent example is the L.A. Times. Think of entities that fit the bill, and you’ll be able to predict tomorrow’s publishers.

Interestingly, there’s one particular group of companies that lacks any meaningful direct-to-consumer marketing ability. That group is New York publishing. Draw your own conclusions.

But he's got more to say than just that…go read his post. You won't be sorry. 

Sucker Country

With the launch of Book Country, Penguin is the latest major publisher to open a "self-publishing" division aimed at taking advantage of the desperation and naivete of aspiring authors and charging them outrageous amounts of money for useless publishing "services."

Joe Konrath,  David Gaughran, and many others have done a terrific job of outing Book Country for the enormous rip-off that it is.  Here's how Joe sums up their "service:" 

For $549 they will format your ebook and print book, and then upload it to retailers.

Or for $299 they will let you do your own formatting, and then upload the book to retailers.

Huh?

Formatting ebooks and paper books is tricky, but Rob Siders at52novels.com is less costly than Book Country, and Rob does an incredible job.

After formatting, you should upload your books to Createspace,KindleNook, and Smashwords on your own (takes about an hour) for FREE and you're done. You're published. That's all there is to it.

Why would you pay Penguin to upload your titles? That's the easiest part of the self-publishing process.

But wait, there's more. Penguin also keeps 30% of your royalties.

So not only do you pay them, you also keep paying them. 

It's a con job aimed at people too naive to know how badly they are getting screwed…usng the same playbook as scammers like Authorhouse (the vanity press that Harlequin and Thomas & Nelson partnered with for their "self-publishing services")

The one smart thing Penguin has done is make it very clear that this "service" has nothing to do with their esteemed publishing division, thus avoiding the big landmine that Harlequin stepped on when they initially announced their own division aimed at gouging aspiring authors.

If you click on the Penguin logo at the bottom of the Book Country site, you get a disclaimer, which reads in part:

Book Country, LLC is a subsidiary of Penguin Group, a Pearson company. Though owned by Penguin Group (USA), Book Country is a separate entity, both legally and practically with full-time Book Country staff members. 

In other words, they've erected a Chinese wall between their reputable, classy publishing imprint and this sleazy, vanity press-style cash-grab from aspiring writers.  

They are being careful not to potentially tarnish their brand, provoke the ire of their established authors (who don't want their work associated with a vanity press), or face possible delisting by the major, professional organizations for writers.  

But that doesn't make Book Country any less of a rip-off. Shame on Penguin.

Get on The Fight Card

FF1Bill Rabkin and I aren't the only ones who had the idea of reviving the "men's action adventure series" on the Kindle. The incredibly versatile Mel Odom has teamed up with several of my good friends to launch not one, but two original ebook series… the western Rancho Diablo (with James Reasoner and Bill Crider, all writing under the pseudonym Colby Jackson) and now  Fight Card (with Paul Bishop, both writing under the pseudonym Jack Tunney).  

The series is inspired by the "fight pulps" of the 30s and 40s, which are totally unknown to me and, I am guessing, most readers out there. And that's a good thing, because Fight Card doesn't handily fit into any particular existing genre, with the possible exception of "damn good fun," which makes it unlike anything else out there for $2.99

Here's how Paul Bishop describes Felony Fists, the first book in the series:

Los Angeles 1954

Patrick “Felony” Flynn has been fighting all his life. Learning the “sweet science” from Father Tim the fighting priest at St. Vincent’s, the Chicago orphanage where Pat and his older brother Mickey were raised, Pat has battled his way around the world – first with the Navy and now with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Legendary LAPD chief William Parker is on a rampage to clean up both the department and the city. His elite crew of detectives known as The Hat Squad is his blunt instrument – dedicated, honest, and fearless. Promotion from patrol to detective is Pat’s goal, but he also yearns to be one of the elite.

And his fists are going to give him the chance.

Gangster Mickey Cohen runs LA’s rackets, and murderous heavyweight Solomon King is Cohen’s key to taking over the fight game. Chief Parker wants wants Patrick “Felony” Flynn to stop him – a tall order for middleweight ship’s champion with no professional record.

Leading with his chin, and with his partner, LA’s first black detective Tombstone Jones, covering his back, Patrick Flynn and his Felony Fists are about to fight for his future, the future of the department, and the future of Los Angeles. 

How can you possibly resist that? I know I can't. The second book in the series, The Cutman, is also available.  

(My one piece of unsolicited advice for Mel and Paul is to rethink the covers…the series title is buried in tiny type under an armpit and is totally unreadable in thumbnail, which is how most ebook buyers are going to encounter it.)

Doing the Unthinkable

0383 Lee Goldberg ecover King City_14There was a turning point when I realized that I’d completely shaken free of all of my previous, deeply held perceptions and beliefs about publishing….and fully embraced an entirely new publishing model.

It wasn’t when my out-of-print backlist, which the publishing industry deemed played out and worthless, started pulling in $70,000 a year for me in ebook royalties.

It wasn’t when I signed a 12-book digital, print and audio deal with Amazon’s 47North imprint for The Dead Man, a monthly series of original books that Bill Rabkin & I created, and that we are writing with a dozen incredibly talent authors, and that we began in February as a self-publishing venture.

And it wasn’t last week, when I agreed to a two-book digital-print-audio deal with Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint for my new novel King City and a sequel.

It was Tuesday, when I delivered Mr. Monk is a Mess, my 14th Monk tie-in novel to Penguin/Putnam and informed them that my 15th book, the last in my current contract and due this coming May, would also be my last book in the series.

In other words,  I quit.

They were surprised, of course.

I am walking away from a hugely successful book series, one published in multiple languages around the world, and from the certainty of another three-book contract and an increase in my advance.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the idea of ending a hit book series, in hardcover, with a major publisher would have been inconceivable to me and just about every author I know.

But the publishing world has completely changed.

The Monk books, like the Diagnosis Murder novels that I wrote before, were licensed tie-ins. That means I was hired for an advance, and given a tiny royalty, to write books based on characters that belong to someone else. I was a hired hand…albeit one paid very well by tie-in standards.

I had a great fun writing those books, took enormous pride in them and, until recently, considered myself very fortunate to have the gig.

And in that old world, I was.

But now, in this new world, my attitude has completely changed.  0460 Lee Goldberg Dead Man Series_V2_3

I am still very proud of the books…which is why I find it incredibly frustrating that I have written 22 novels that I dearly love but that don’t belong to me.

They belong to studios.

It’s frustrating because if they belonged to me, I could be earning so much more money from them now…and, more importantly for my family, in the future.

I won’t make that mistake again.

Instead of writing two books a year for Penguin/Putman, I will be writing that many books… or more…for myself that I own.

Some I will self-publish, others I will write for Amazon’s imprints.

But they will be mine.

I know what you’re thinking. What about those books for Amazon? Haven’t you just traded one master for another?

Every aspect of  the deals that I have with Amazon’s imprints on The Dead Man series and the King City books are far, far, FAR more author-friendly and potentially lucrative than anything I ever had before…as are my chances at success with such a savvy partner, one who, incidentally, operates the biggest and most successful bookstore on the planet.

And I own King City. If I end up writing 15 books in that series, all of those books, now and in the future, will be mine.

Ah, but what about all those writers who are doing The Dead Man books for us? Aren’t we exploiting them? Aren’t they making the same mistake I’d have made if I’d signed to do more Monk books?

Nope.  

That’s because unlike the old school publishers (and, let’s face it, publishers are what Bill and I have become with The Dead Man), we have thrown away the old rules of doing business with writers on licensed properties.

In fact, what we are doing is revolutionary in the tie-in world.

We are splitting all of the publishing royalties from digital, print, audio, and foreign translations on The Dead Man books 50/50 with the writers.

Our success is their success…and vice-versa.

We’ve made them our partners.

(And publishers of tie-ins should follow our lead…or there won’t be any tie-ins anymore, because it won’t make any financial sense for writers to write them).

The Dead Man series relaunched on Oct. 24th and is already doing amazing business. Our next book comes out later this month.

And King City is coming in May.

It’s a bold, exciting new world for authors and I haven’t been this excited about writing since I was a teenager.