Friday, February 24, 2006

Con Update

So here we are in Dallas (okay, Richardson), where it's cool and rainy. We didn't go out for dinner, just had a hotdog in the con suite. Now it's time to go down for the Opening Ceremonies.

So far one actual blog reader has mentioned that he saw that I'd be here. Shall we try for two?


And speaking of science fiction and fantasy, as I was in the post immediately below, Judy and I are about to leave for Dallas (actually Richardson), where we'll be guests at ConDFW, a regional SF convention. If you happen to be around the Radisson Hotel at Campbell Road and Central Expressway, drop in and say "hey."

Blogging will be light to nonexistent until we return next Tuesday. See you then.

Otto Penzler, Prince among Men

Several years ago, I got a call from my wife, who said that several boxes had been delivered to our door from the Mysterious Bookshop. What, she wanted to know, had I been spending money on? I couldn't remember having ordered anything, so I was eager to see what was in the boxes. Imagine my surprise to discover a bunch of issues of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction from the 1950s and 1960s. Otto Penzler had heard that I was collecting those old digests and had sent me the ones he had in the store. It was a big thrill to go through them, look at the covers, and read some of the stores.

Yesterday, another big box from the Mysterious Bookshop arrived at the door. Sure enough, it contained more issues of F&SF, this time from the late '60s and the 1970s. Otto had found them when moving the contents of the bookshop and wanted me to have them. Wotta guy! Many more hours of fun lie ahead for me as I go through these, and I want to thank Otto here for doing me such a good turn.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mystery*File Update -- A Tribute to Robert Colby

A TRIBUTE TO ROBERT COLBY, by Peter Enfantino: "Robert Colby died last week. A lot of people won’t even recognize the name. That’s a shame, but it’s their loss. Colby was every bit as good a writer as the other Gold Medal authors of the 50s and 60s who’ve found favor among historians and collectors. He just never had one of those million sellers like the other guys did. There was no Death of a Citizen or Hill Girl. Just respectable sales for some of his “adult” titles like Lament for Julie (Monarch, 1961) and Executive Wife (Monarch, 1964). "

Happy Birthday, Captain America!

According the the paper, Peter Fonda is 66 today. Hard to believe. To people my age (frighteningly close to his age), he'll always be Wyatt, an Easy Rider looking for America.

iBooks Down the Tube

A Writer's Life: "I've heard from several authors with deals at iBooks that the publishing company, which was run by the late Byron Preiss, has declared bankruptcy and is folding. This puts many upcoming releases in doubt and quite a few authors I know are very worried about the status of the rights to their unpublished books (not to mention if they will ever see the royalties on their past titles for the company). It's sad news all around."

I was sorry to read this on Lee Goldberg's blog today, mainly for selfish reasons. On Tuesday I got an e-mail from a Japanese literary agency asking about reprint rights to We'll Always Have Murder, the book I did featuring Humphrey Bogart. No way that deal will ever be made now, I guess.

Flash Fiction

If you haven't checked out Tribe's flash fiction site lately, you should take a look. Some good stuff over there. Here's the link:
Flashing In the Gutters

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Some Beautiful Covers to See Here

Division: Pulp Fiction Magazines: "Before we had television, we read pulp fiction magazines.

Frank Munsey revolutionized magazine publishing in the late 1890's, when he made ARGOSY into something totally new: it published only fiction, and was printed on the cheapest paper available.

For sixty years, you escaped your miserable existence (in War or Depression) with vast tales of larger-than-life heroes, fantastic romances, and incredible adventures of people who might just be you some day (when you grew up).

By the early 1950's the Pulp Magazines were all but dead, victims of television and a change in public tastes. But they left an imprint on American (and World) culture that survives to this day.

Here are some for you to look at; and now you can imagine what it was like to read them."

Robert Colby, R. I. P.

I heard from Peter Enfantino this morning that Robert Colby passed away last weekend. Colby was a prolific paperbacker for a number of houses, including Gold Medal, where he published what might be his best novel, The Captain Must Die, a book that I wish Hard Case Crime would reprint because it deserves a wider audience.

Mystery*File Update

Steve Lewis continues to update the Day Keene material. New cover scans, new items in the bibliography, etc. Check it out.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Happy Anniversay to Me

The copyright page says "February 1981." That means that it's been 25 years since the infamous Nick Carter thriller The Coyote Connection was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.

It seems like only yesterday that I thought I'd soon be right up there with Mary Higgins Clark on the best-seller list. Somehow it didn't happen. Still, it's been a great 25 years. I didn't make a million bucks, I didn't get my name in lights, I didn't even get a movie deal. But who cares? I've published 60 or 70 books (who's counting?) under various names including my own, I've done a bunch of short stories, and I've had a lot of fun. What's money compared to that? (That's a rhetorical question. Please don't bother to answer.)

I'm on Mary's Side

New York Daily News - Home - Lloyd Grove's Lowdown: Higgins Clark caught up in copycat fight: "Did rich and famous author Mary Higgins Clark steal the story line for her 29th novel from a little-known Israeli writer's screenplay on the same subject?

Dalia Gal claims in a lawsuit that Clark's book, 'The Second Time Around,' recycled the plot, key scenes and characters, and even character names from Gal's screenplay about intrigue in the drug industry."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Headline of the Day

'Brokeback Mountain' Tops British Academy, with 'Capote' in Line Behind

The Lost Kingdom -- Bernard Cornwell

The Lost Kingdom is the first book in a proposed trilogy about Alfred the Great. I don't read a lot of historical fiction these days, but I like Bernard Cornwell's writing, and George Kelley recommended that I give this one a try. I'm glad I did. Viking adventures have always appealed to me (a long-time favorite is The Long Ships, both book and movie), and this one stacks up well.

The narrator of the novel is Uhthred, captured by the Danes at the age of ten. He grows up as a Viking, but his heart is still in England. Eventually he'll have to make a big choice. Nothing new here, and the novel doesn't break any new ground, but it's good reading, with plenty of historical detail and the "shield wall" and other things. I learned a lot (not that I'll remember it), and had a fine time doing so. The trade paperback edition that I read has over 300 pages, but it moves right along at a fine pace. I've enjoyed Cornwell's first-person narration in other books, both contemporary thrillers like Wildtrack and Scoundrel, and historical mysteries like The Gallows Thief. He's equally adept at it here. If you're looking for a fast-moving historical novel as a change of pace, check this one out.

A Letter from William Faulkner

ABC News: William Faulkner letter auctioned for $18,000: "Feb 19, 2006 — LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A letter by author William Faulkner complaining about a screenwriting contract with a Hollywood studio sold today for nearly $18,000, according to auction house Bonhams & Butterfields.

The two-page, typed letter was written by the Nobel prize-winning author of 'A Fable' and 'Soldiers' Pay' to his agent in August, 1943."

You know what's interesting to me? It's the two novels they chose to associate with Faulkner's name. I mean, if you were going to come up with the titles of two Faulkner novels, would those be the ones?

Of course the price for the letter makes me wonder how much mine are worth.

Okay, I just got off the phone with Bonham & Butterfields. They told me mine are worth four cents each, if the stamps haven't been canceled.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The World Has Been Waiting for This!

A new Anna Nicole Smith movie! Who cares about this year's Academy Awards ceremony? I can hardly wait for 2007, when this will be up for "best picture" and Anna Nicole will be nominated for "best actress." My hometown will be so proud. (Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the tip.)

New York Daily News - Home - Ben Widdicombe's Gatecrasher: Pic gets under Molly's skin: "I adore B- and even C-grade movies, but they might have to add a few letters to the alphabet to do justice to 'Illegal Aliens,' a new spoof starring Anna Nicole Smith and Joanie (Chyna) Laurer.

The plot: 'Three aliens morph into superhot babes and arrive to protect the Earth from the intergalactic forces of evil.'

Laurer, a former WWE wrestler turned reality-TV star, got on the phone to plug her debut as a leading lady (not counting the porn tape she once released with her ex-boyfriend). 'I play a crazy, deadly, psycho bitch alien who wants to take over the planet,' she says.

And how was working with Anna Nicole? 'She's extremely nutty,' says Laurer, who admits that she herself is 'a campy, corny person anyway.'"