Saturday, July 16, 2005

Sheriff Rhodes Marches On

The next Sheriff Dan Rhodes novel, A Mammoth Murder, will be out next March. Yesterday I signed and mailed a contract for two more (untitled) books in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series. If all goes as planned, this means that there will be Rhodes books in 2007 and 2008. After 2008, however, all bets are off. The sheriff and I will be pretty old guys by then, and readers might be tired of us. Publishers might be tired of us, too. So I'm not going to look that far ahead. I'll just try to get these two books done and see what happens.

THE FABBAGIRLS ::- Abba Tribute Band

-:: THE FABBAGIRLS ::- Abba Tribute Band - ::

I couldn't resist. And they sound pretty good.

Friday, July 15, 2005



This is a great site, especially if you're a Texan. Man, oh, man. What memories.

Groovy Joe Poovey Again

Bill Crider's Blog: Groovy Joe Poovey

Click on the link and read the great comment from one of Groovy Joe's fellow DJs back in the old days. I love the Internet!

More on Self-Publishing

STLtoday - Business - Story: "Need a book published? Do it yourself"

I know, I know. You usually count on Lee Goldberg to bring you all the articles on self-publishing. But I couldn't resist. This is another "feel-good" story, and it has a link to another article of tips for self-published writers. The only warning comes in a short paragraph at the close of the story. It makes self-publishing sound a lot more profitable than most writers find it, I think.

Bad Money -- Ed Gorman

Ed Gorman & Friends:: "I've got a new noir western out from Berkley called Bad Money about how one of the deadliest weapons (used by both sides in the Civil War) was counterfeiting. This is about a guy named Dev Mallory who was a Yankee spy who was tasked with two things during the war--overseeing the destruction of Southern train rails and overseeing the passing of millions of dollars in Bad Money. It has the grimmest love story I've ever done and a whole lot of business about how you seduce and then blackmail an engraver at the U.S. Treasury into helping you.

One of the old-timers I always see at a small branch library read it last week and when I walked in the door yesterday he said 'I liked it a lot but when're going to write a REAL western.'"

That's what Ed Gorman says about his new novel. Having read it, I can tell you that it's a fine job. I liked it a lot (and not just because of the dedication, so stop saying that!). Maybe the reason I like Ed's westerns so much is that they aren't REAL westerns. They're different and intriguing, and you never know quite what to expect from them. You need to get to your local bookseller and check this one out.

The '60s Week by Week

Mr Pop History

For those of you who've forgotten the '60s (or for those annoying young whippersnappers who weren't even around yet), this is a great resource. Not every week is covered, but there's a ton of 'em. Tells you what movies were playing and what TV shows were on (with plot summaries). Naturally politics are covered, too. New weeks added every Tuesday, according to Mr. Pop History. This is nostalgia nirvana. (You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader .)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Now on the Photoblog

See! J D Rhoades get mushy with Jason Starr!

See! Bill and Judy on their honeymoon!

See! A gay bar in Toronto!

And a whole lot more, all on the photoblog.

Harry Potter by Various Hands

Guardian Unlimited Books | Special Reports | Dumbledore's death: "
The alternative Potter: Dumbledore's death"

Picked up this link at Incoming Signals. Since a major character is supposedly going to die in the new Harry Potter book, The Guardian has been running a sort of fanfic contest, where people write a death scene for Dumbledore in the style of another writer. You've got Conan Doyle, Anne Rice, Hunter S. Thompson, and many more to chose from.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Buy This Book!

Several years ago I got a call from Clyde Wilson, a famous Houston private-eye. He wanted me to write a book about his cases, of which there were many. Clyde was, for example, Ivana Trump's investigator when she divorced The Donald. (The story's in the book.)

So naturally I was interested. I went to his house, met him, and we hit it off. I then started taping his tales, and eventually shaped them into a book. I thought it was great. I told Judy that it was going to make us rich.

Guess what. It didn't. New York, according to my agent, wasn't interested. So the book languished. Every now and then I'd make an effort to sell it to some regional publisher. One editor told me, "We can't publish this. We'd get sued."

Finally a guy named Mike Cochran agreed to write an introduction to the book. He knew the owner of Eakin Press in Austin, and his name on the cover was enough to put the book over with her. I never thought it would be published, but tonight I went to a Barnes & Noble in Houston and saw copies of Where the Hell is Addis Ababa? for myself. Clyde was there for the signing, and we sold exactly 100 copies. The store manager said that Newt Gingrich had been there a couple of weeks ago and sold 85 copies. So at least we beat The Newt. The crowd was a real gathering of the rich and semi-famous: TV anchors, lawyers (Racehorse Haynes was there), doctors, cops, and other private-eyes.

This book is the real thing. Trust me. And you can order it here. Get several copies. Clyde and I can use the dough.

A Night for Screaming -- Harry Whittington

The other day Lee Goldberg asked me which of Harry Whittington's novels was my favorite. That's an impossible question for me to answer, since I like so many of them. Certainly A Night for Screaming is right up there, so I decided to re-read it. It's the story of Mitch Walker, ex-cop, on the run from a murder he didn't commit, who winds up in Kansas, working on a huge farm that's run like the prison camp in Cool Hand Luke. The complications include Walker's relentless pursuer, the beautiful but nutjob wife of the farm's owner, the owner himself, the brutal overseers, and more.

One thing Whittington can do about as well as anybody ever could is begin the book with a tense situation and then dial up the tension on every succeeding page. He can put his protagonist into a situation that seems as bad as it can get, and then he can make it worse. And after that, he can make it worse still. In this book he takes a seemingly simple situation and complicates it more with every chapter, throwing in a few reversals and surprises along the way. If you ever run across a copy of A Night for Screaming, don't pass it up. You'll be sorry if you do. It's a dandy story, and it has a great cover, besides.

Another Sequel

Estevez Talks "Breakfast" Sequel (July 12th, 2005) - Dark Horizons: "Emilio Estevez has signed on to appear in a sequel to cult John Hughes Brat Pack movie 'The Breakfast Club', despite missing out on joining his castmates for a MTV Movie Awards reunion last month due to a family emergency reports Contact Music.

Estevez urges fans of the film not to take his no-show as a sign he's not interested in a planned sequel. He adds, 'John's got an idea for a sequel - mature aged students at college, all doing time again - for some reason or another.

'The twist would be that we're all the polar opposites of how we were in the original. Judd Nelson for instance, would now be the straight-laced one. I'm definitely in. If it happens, I'm there.'"

Countryman -- Willie Nelson

I'm listening to Countryman, Willie Nelson's new CD. It's reggae. Willie does some of his own numbers ("One in a Row") and some well-known reggae songs ("The Harder they Fall"). And you know what? I like it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Screaming Memes

J D Rhoades called me out on this one. It’s a meme, whatever the hell that is. I’m supposed to answer some questions. Here goes.

1 - Imagine it’s 2015. You are visiting the library at a major research university. You go over to a computer terminal (or whatever it is they use in 2015) that gives you immediate access to any book or journal article on any topic you want. What do you look up? In other words, what do you hope somebody will have written in the meantime?

Well, first I’d check to see if James Reasoner had written novel #500 yet. I’d check TV Guide to see if there was an all CSI all the time channel yet, or maybe an all Law and Order channel. I’d check a newspaper to see if Jeb Bush was president and if the war in Iraq was over. I’d check the movie section to see if they ever made that fourth Indiana Jones movie. I’d want to read the latest Spenser novel.

2 - What is the strangest thing you’ve ever heard or seen at a conference? No names, please. Refer to “Professor X” or “Ms. Y” if you must. Double credit if you were directly affected. Triple if you then said or did something equally weird.

I’ve been to plenty of weird conferences. I’m a lapsed academic, remember? I’ve been to conferences where I walked by an open doorway and seen a speaker reading his paper on obscure Renaissance sonneteers to an empty room.

I, myself, have never done anything at all weird, ever. Not at a conference, not anywhere.

3 - Name a writer, scholar, or otherwise worthy person you admire so much that meeting him or her would probably reduce you to awestruck silence.

J.D. Salinger.

4 - What are two or three blogs or other Web sites you often read that don’t seem to be on many people’s radar?

I stick with the popular stuff, like all the people I’ve linked to over on the right. Check ‘em out. For something a bit more obscure, I sometimes read sports blogs like DoubleRods. It’s Houston sports, though.

And now I'll call out James Reasoner to see if he'll come through. Hey, maybe he's not even reading this. How about Sarah Weinman? Anybody passed this to her yet? If not, it's time. And Vince Keenan. All those people have plenty of time.

Road House 2

'Hollow Man,' 'Road House' sequels in works - Yahoo! News: "'Road House 2' centers on a graduate student who must run his uncle's bar and fight to maintain control as a local crime boss tries to take it over. Johnathon Schaech has an offer to star, and Scott Ziehl ('Cruel Intentions 3') is in negotiations to direct. An August shoot is being eyed."

It just won't be the same without Patrick Swayze.

Why Does Victor Gischler Post So Seldom?

Some have wondered why Victor Gischler seldom updates his blog. I think this issue of Natural History has the answer.

Bourbon Steet Beat

So last night I watched Bourbon Steet Beat on what used to be the Goodlife Channel, but which I believe is now called the American Life Channel. Not that it matters. Bourbon Street Beat lasted about a year, and it starred Andrew Duggan and Richard Long as a pair of New Orleans private-eyes named Cal Calhoun and Rex Randolph. Their office is located right by the Old Absinthe House, which you may have seen, or maybe even patronized, if you've ever walked along Bourbon Street. They're assisted by Melody Lee Mercer (Arlene Howell), who has a penchant for entering beauty contests, and Kenny Madison (Van Williams, who later went on to star in Surfside Six and The Green Hornet. Kenny doesn't enter beauty contests, but he's pretty cute.

The real fun of watching these old shows is partly the goofy plots. Last night's involved $75,000 missing for forty years and supposedly hidden on an old paddlewheeler. People search for the money by doing things like opening bureau drawers and looking under mattresses. Gimme a break. Cal Calhoun comes up with the idea that the money might not be hidden in the room of the man who had it but in the room next door. "You been takin' genius pills, Cal?" says Kenny.

Then there's the woman dressed in a man's suit, wearing hat and tie. "You never asked me why she was dressed like a man," says guest star Mary Moore (later better known as Mary Tyler Moore) in her best sultry southern accent. So when Cal asks why, Mary says, "She had a lot of hard work to do, searching for that money." Naturally when a woman has a lot of hard work to do, she dresses up in a man's business suit and puts on a hat and tie. You gotta love it.

But plot aside, part of the fun of these shows is seeing who'll turn up. Mary Tyler Moore is always a treat, especially when she's in the slammer, unjustly accused of murder.

And the cars. It's great to see those big old hunks of American iron, looking the way cars should look, forty feet long and covered with chrome. And Cal's old Chevy convertible is a sight for sore eyes.

I wish there had been a few more shots of New Orleans. It would have been fun to see what the city was like all those years ago.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Happy Birthday, Tab Hunter

OK, here's some more cheerful news. It's Tab Hunter's birthday. He's 74. I, for one, am looking forward to reading Tab's autobiography (being written with film noir expert Eddie Muller), in which he tells all.

Frances Langford, R.I.P.

Actress/singer Frances Langford dies: "MIAMI — Frances Langford, whose steamy rendition of 'I'm in the Mood for Love'' captivated soldiers when she was part of Bob Hope's USO tours during World War II, died Monday at the age of 92. Langford had been ill with congestive heart failure and died at her home in Jensen Beach, said her lawyer, Evans Crary Jr."

OK, even I have to admit that all the obits lately are getting a little creepy, but Frances Langford's name means something to an Old Guy like me. I heard her on the radio when I was a kid, often with Bob Hope. And of course I remember her as half of THE BICKERSONS with Don Ameche. Another great voice gone.

Big Al Downing, R.I.P.

Singer 'Big' Al Downing Dead at Age 65 - Yahoo! News: "NASHVILLE, Tenn. - 'Big' Al Downing, a singer-songwriter and pianist who had success in country, rockabilly, rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll and even disco, has died after suffering from leukemia. He was 65."

When I saw this news, I was immediately transported back to 1959, when Big Al released his version of "When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again." I loved that song when Elvis did it, and I loved Big Al's version. I might be the only person in the country who remembers Big Al for that song, but I thought it was great. I'm sorry to hear he's gone.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Bryon Preiss, R. I. P.

Diamond International Galleries presents... PULSE | Comic Books News, Reviews and Criticism

Around noon on July 9, 2005, writer-editor-developer-publisher Byron Preiss was involved in a fatal auto accident as he drove to his synagogue in Long Island, New York-and American popular culture lost one of its most productive and visionary champions.

I read about Byron Preiss's death at Mark Evanier's blog News from Me, which also links to this article. I met Preiss only once, at an Edgar Dinner years ago, probably around 1988 or 1989, when we were seated at the same table. He seemed like nice guy, and I told him how much I'd enjoyed some of the books he'd been involved with. Later on I wrote a novel for iBooks, and it was about as much fun as anything I've ever done. While I never talked to Preiss during the work on the project, I was grateful for the opportunity to do a book about Humprey Bogart, one of my favorites for many years. His death is quite a loss to the publishing world, and I hope some of his projects (like iBooks) can continue.