Archive for June, 2008


“China Lake” makes splash in U.S. via U.K. King

June 29, 2008

Over at Amazon’s book blog,, Jeff VanderMeer interviews American author Meg Gardiner about the circuitous route her novels took finding a U.S. publisher, and reveals some interesting insight into today’s editorial mindset.

Meg Gardiner, China Lake, and Stephen King: The Complete Story
by Jeff VanderMeer on June 24, 2008

Meg Gardiner’s China Lake was released earlier this month by Obsidian Mysteries after a convoluted path to U.S. publication. It’s a firecracker of a novel featuring Gardiner’s trademark character Evan Delaney. In this first of a five-book series, Delaney gets deeply involved in a murder mystery after her ex-sister-in-law Tabitha joins the religious group called the Remnant. The writing throughout is taut and exciting, and I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series, which Obsidian will release shortly. I recently interviewed Gardiner via email about the novel…

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A Palm Springs conference movie

June 27, 2008

People ask, When’s the next Palm Springs conference? Short answer is, I don’t know — go bug Wes about it. But speaking of Palm Springs, the SCWC*PS is the only conference where we featured a total-immersion track for screenwriters, one in which we workshopped an idea for a short film on Friday afternoon, scripted it Friday night, cast and shot it on Saturday, then spent ’til around Sunday noon piecing together a rough cut of the movie we made.

The last one we did, “The Hit Me,” is just-finished and available for viewing for a limited time to SCWCers on the blog. Watch it here and let us know your thoughts. Compressing the movie into a manageable size for online has made it a little darker than I’d prefer, but we’ll get that fixed.



The art of reading at work

June 26, 2008

Okay, this is just cool.

Go ahead. Click the link. It’s worth it. And, it’s … technically … safe for work. Well, as long as you’re not on UNIX or a Mac, but that’s a slender portion.



The strange and delightful life of a bookstore clerk

June 20, 2008

Leanne Shapton's Sketchbook, In the wake of this year’s BEA and Paul Constant’s meandering reflections on booksellers and the state of the publishing industry, let us enjoy some levity, or perhaps Zen vacuity, with Leanne Shapton’s Sketchbook, “Shop Talk“, presented by the New York Times:

While you’re browsing the ailes of your local bookstore, someone is reading you. Bookstore clerks are the quiet gatekeepers of literature—they know what you like and they hear how you ask for it. The illustrator Leanne Shapton recently went behind the counters of some of her favorite independent bookshops in New York to ask a few questions: Have you ever kicked anyone out? Do you correct customers’ pronunciation? What’s the strangest thing anyone has left behind?

Good times, good times.



The view from down there from up here

June 19, 2008

From Larry King’s back yard to Staples Center, Paul Constant brings us a view of this year’s BookExpo America. Reflecting on celebrities and booksellers, the demise of Book Sense and the embarrassment of its successor, Amazon’s Kindle, the strangeness of major publishing houses and the warmth of the smaller outfits—even his thoughts on nuclear holocaust—and … oh, yeah, the perpetual demise of the publishing industry, The Stranger‘s book critic offers the kind of perspective you might well expect from an acerbic weekly alternative tabloid out of our great northland.

Er … um … did you get all that?


The publishing industry has been “dying” for decades. As with every year, there are fresh signs of imminent demise. Publishers Weekly, the industry standard magazine for reviews, recently made the shocking decision to cut freelancers’ pay by exactly half—from $50 a piece to $25—and newspapers across the country are cutting their book sections either drastically or entirely. To certain people this is a sign of the End Times, but it’s really a kind of corrective measure. The book-reviewing community had allowed itself to shrink, lazily, into a boring, self-reflexive subindustry with little value to a general-interest reader. But good reviews, well-written ones, are published on blogs and websites and in other alternative news sources now more than ever. These are places that, unlike newspaper book-review sections, actually treat book reviews like pieces of writing with value unto itself, more than just your standard buy-this/don’t-buy-this gloss. Nevertheless, people in publishing point to what’s happening in PW and major-market newspapers as yet another sign that the industry is about to disappear.



A Broad wins awards

June 18, 2008

Our good friend and longtime conferee Dodi Cross reports that her book, A Broad Abroad in Thailand: An Expat’s Misadventures in the Land of Smiles was awarded the Silver Medal in the Humor Category at the recent BookExpoAmerica, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The win was extended by ForeWord Magazine‘s Book of the Year Awards.

Dodi also nabbed First Place in the National Indie Excellence Book Awards, 2008, for Best Autobiography and placed as a Finalist in the Humor Category for A Broad Abroad in Thailand.

Way to go, Dodie! And to think that it all began with her SCWC award win at our very first Palm Springs conference.



Robin Hood … Again!

June 18, 2008

Question: How long has it been since the last Robin Hood remake?

Answer: Obviously, it has been too long.

Writer Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Conspiracy Theory) is on board with screenwriters Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff (Kung Fu Panda) for the newest Robin Hood production, entitled Nottingham. Sir Ridley Scott has signed on to direct the flick, planned for 2009, with Russel Crowe cast as the Sheriff of Nottingham and Sienna Miller as Maid Marian.

This film, as its title might suggest, takes a different perspective than most. According to Variety:

Universal earlier bought the spec script by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris, creators of the Showtime series “Sleeper Cell,” in an auction for seven figures. Crowe was attached at that time.

Crowe stars as the Sheriff of Nottingham in a revisionist take on the Robin Hood tale, with Nottingham as a noble and brave lawman who labors for a corrupt king and engages in a love triangle with Maid Marion and Robin Hood.

According to Miller, though, the looming actors’ strike threatens the production: “[It’s] not 100% sure that it’s going to be made,” she told the BBC, “but it’s looking pretty certain.”

We can only hope for the best. Or, in this case, something better than the excessively cast 1991 blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

(Okay, okay … it’s a Costner thing, really, and as long as Bryan Adams isn’t on the soundtrack ….)



Three Cheers: Gayle gets a deal!

June 13, 2008

(Updated: See below.)

Congratulations to our good friend Gayle Carline, who sent us the following announcement:

I just accepted an offer by Echelon Press to publish my very first novel, Freezer Burn. It’s a murder mystery, set in my hometown of Placentia. Briefly:

Peri Minneopa has traded her housecleaning career for a private investigator’s license. Her timing seems perfect, especially when she cleans a former client’s freezer and finds a severed hand inside, wearing an expensive ring.

We’re waiting on any further details, but for now it is enough to simply cheer—


    You go, girl!

    Knock ’em dead, kid!

—and all that sort of thing.

Good show, Gayle!

And let us not leave out Karen Syed and Echelon Press, who are good friends of the SCWC. Perhaps we are a bit biased, but picking up Gayle is definitely a good move. Personally, I can’t be doing any drinking tonight, but rest assured I’ll be raising a glass to both the first opportunity I get.

So hip, hip, and hoo-ray Gayle, and do let us know when you have a release date!

Update: The deal apparently was reached without agent representation, but Gayle did mention—and we certainly must acknowledge—the efforts of her editor, the inimitable Jean Jenkins.



Former CityBeat editor releases novel

June 13, 2008


Well it’s starting to look like being my friend is a good luck charm for having your book published. My good buddy, and former CityBeat/SLAMM editor, Troy Johnson, has just released his debut novel, Family Outing, on Arcade Publishing – making a total of three pals who have released books on big time publishing companies and two of them coming from the SLAMM/CityBeat family.

Basically, Family Outing is about a teenager who, to his utter dismay, learns his mother is a lesbian and how he responds to it both emotionally and intellectually.

Here are some quotes from his first review on

“Johnson tells the absolute truth about what having a gay parent was like for him: It was kind of a train wreck.”

“…you will laugh all the way through Family Outing. But be warned: Sometimes your laughter will be the horrified kind. Funny or not, this book may just piss you off.”

“There’s really no way to summarize what’s brilliant about Johnson’s memoir.
Anyone will enjoy it because it’s hilarious, but gay parents and potential parents really ought to read it.”

Troy will read from his novel on June 19 at 7PM Borders in Mission Valley

and June 20 at 9pm at Whistle Stop (book release party)

Read the rest of this entry ?


March book sales down

June 12, 2008

AAP reports March downturn for domestic book sales.

Book sales in March declined 11% to $462.1 million, based on data from 79 publishers as reported to the Association of American Publishers. Sales for the year to date rose 1.3% to $1.71 billion.

Stronger categories:

E-books rose 58.9% (with sales of $4.4 million).
Children’s/YA paperbacks were up 9.1% ($51.3 million).
Adult paperbacks sales rose 6.2% ($138.5 million).
El-Hi basal and supplemental K-12 gained 3.9% ($153.3 million).
Children’s/YA hardcovers increased 2.4% ($48.1 million).

Weaker categories:

Audiobooks fell 44% ($11 million).
Adult hardcovers were down 25.9% ($103.1 million).
Religious books decreased 25.5% ($47.6 million).
University press paperbacks dropped 14% ($3.7 million).
Adult mass market declined 10.9% ($67.4 million).
University press hardcovers fell 5.7% ($5.9 million).
Professional and Scholarly books were down 4.6% ($46.8 million).

Read full article.