where the writers are

A few weeks ago, a sunny, bearably warm day in NYC, I was walking through Central Park, talking with an editor about a story. Suddenly the call waiting buzzer started going off, incessantly, and "message waiting" signals were blinking away. I hung up on the editor to learn that hackers had gained control of my gmail account and sent an email to the hundreds - or thousands - of contacts in my address book, begging for money in my name, with a story that I was penniless in London and needed money to get home.

I'd seen these emails before, from other hacked friends, and wasn't unduly alarmed, until I realized the poor Nigerian bastards (gmail indicated the remote access was coming from Nigeria) had erased my entire email history and well as my contacts (hence my "hundreds - or thousands -" since I no longer no how large my contact list actually was.

 During the course of a few panicky, sweaty hours, I was able to wrest control of my gmail back from the hackers, and yahoo soon shut down the fake yahoo account they set up to receive replies from my friends. But not before my brother had tried to wire $2000 to them via Western Union, and another friend, a DC source with national security connections, had also tried to send money (the former very heartwarming, the latter makes me a little worried about our security apparatus, but whatever, still nice to know who will cough up dough for me in a pinch).

In any case, the hackers have now read, if they cared to, every piece of email I received or sent since 2006. Maybe they have my birthdate, credit card numbers, names of friends and bosses, and certainly they have my home address.

They also have a piece of my Amanda Knox book, the one that will be published next year.

So, if you see half of "The Dream Cottage" on sale anywhere before June 2011, accept no substitutions!  

And, send no money, unless you want to patronize my efforts at spec novels and screenplays.

 More on my adventures in the land of identity theft as they occur.