Sunday, January 14, 2018

38 minutes to live...

We got inbound...38 minutes to live..

What if you suddenly found yourself with just 38 minutes to live? Residents of Hawaii were faced with this very dire question just last week when their Emergency Broadcast System sent out an alert warning residents that a nuclear armed ballistic missile was incoming from North Korea. That this was not a drill, the message said. It was in fact, the real deal.

People who were going about their day suddenly found themselves dropping everything and taking shelter, or trying to get home to family, or just plain panicking in place. In the words of one resident who was home at the time, I didn't know of the proper protocol. I guess I had no choice but to sit there and wait for it.

So what would you do if you suddenly had just 38 minutes to live? How would you react to knowing you were about to be vaporized into oblivion? I can still recall the duck and cover drills of the early 1970s.  It seemed like sci fi to me then because I was just a little boy, and I suppose it still sort of seems like that to most people now.

But we are vulnerable, our species. Never was that more apparent this week when some knucklehead working for the Emergency Broadcast System apparently, and I quote, "hit the wrong button" and sent out the message giving Hawaii only 38 minutes to exist on this planet. Imagine if Rocket Boy suddenly hits a wrong button?

The fact that we're ill-prepared to defend ourselves against a nuclear attack has become painfully apparent. The fact that when faced with just 38 minutes to live, I wouldn't know what the hell to do, is even more apparent. What's for sure is I'll keep on keeping on in the mean time.


Friday, January 12, 2018

The most important thing in my life is...

A little smoke in Cairo...

A few months back my most recent long-term relationship came to a sudden end because, and I quote, "Your writing and traveling come first." This is not to come down on the relationship or the person I shared it with, because I have nothing but fondness for the time we spent together (countless weekends in NYC, weeks in California, Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, ...). We had fun, spent a lot of money, and spoiled our daughter (we used to be married and this was our second time around as a couple, this time unmarried). It was worth ever minute and every penny.

But like many relationships, this one started going south when my partner started feeling resentment towards the time I spent writing and traveling (I'm gone on average three months per year searching for literary inspiration). I'm sure there are a million other little justifiable reasons too, but for the sake of this piece lets concentrate on the writing/traveling thing.

I found this notion that I would put any one thing first so perplexing that I asked her on three distinct and separate occasions. "Are you sure this is what you want?" The answer I consistently received was not only the same, Yes, but also the reiteration of the writing coming first thing. Fair enough. But my response was also always the same too. Not only do I not think of life in linear terms where something like work can be equated with the human objects of my affection, I also don't consider life a zero sum game, at least when it comes to divvying out attention to loved ones.

I don't have a notepad upon which is written "Important things in my life in descending order..."
1. Writing
2. Traveling
3. The significant other...

Life for me doesn't work that way. If I keep a list it is very short, because all the things that are important to me are both first and last. So what comes first to me? Everything. Everything carries equal importance. NOTE: Of course, when it comes to a loved one's health and well-being, naturally you gotta drop the pen and paper and come to that loved one's rescue. Don't confuse my philosophy for a lack of priorities. But I think you get my point by now.

Burano, not so long ago...

Sometimes people wonder why their lives never change. Why they're not living the life they wish they could be living. Why the grass is greener across the street. Why they are always tired, or sad, or sick, or not looking forward to tomorrow. Why the weight never comes off, why things always stay the same, why they need Ambien to sleep at night. It's important first, to take responsibility for your life (that's a given). But it's even more important to make decisions and stick to them.

Don't sell yourself short. Don't take that low paying job just because it's easy. Don't date the ex just because it's comfortable and easy. Don't use people. That's selling yourself way too short, and it's the stuff that bleeds the soul.

Way back when, when I decided to become a full-time author, I was laughed at. Laughed at by some of the people closest to me. To them, it was an impossible dream (Some are still laughing after close to a million books sold, hitting the major lists, winning the Thriller Award and the PWA Shamus Award...). On top of that, I was the heir to a perfectly good construction company that would make me a millionaire. But it would make me miserable and fat in the process. That said, I pursued my dream. I did it because it was hard. I did it because it was impossible. I did it because staying in the construction business would have been the easy way out. I did it and I succeeded (In terms of being satisfied, I'm not there yet, and I probably will never reach an end to my literary journey, but that's for another essay). I did it, because I made it my number one priority while balancing other number one priorities. 

If you want to be a writer, even if you have no idea how to go about it, then make the decision and get to work. Make it one of the most important aspects of your well-rounded life. If you want to travel to exotic distant lands, then buy a plane ticket and worry about the money later. Make it a priority. Don't listen to the naysayers or the worriers. Don't listen to your sig other if he or she doesn't like it. Travel, even if it means you break up. It's important to get out of the house, sometimes for weeks or months at a time. You will thank yourself on your deathbed that you decided to sleep in the Sahara beside a pack of camels, or that you nearly drowned while swimming in the Ganges, or how freezing it was deep inside a cave in Belize. Sure it cost you a relationship or two, but you lived your life the way it was meant to be lived.

If you want to be rich, find different sources of passive income that make you money while you sleep. This is the Internet age and there's no excuse for not making money these days. Don't depend on others. If you want to be in love, find the right person for you. Someone who shares your passions, your belief system, and encourages you with your goals (you must do the same for him/her). Make all these things the most important thing in your life.

Life is all about challenges but you must first make the decision to meet those challenges head-on. Not cower under a blanket in your bed for days on end. Because you have a finite number of heartbeats, you owe it to yourself to make many things come first. Your work, your love(s), your God, your travel, your dogs, your house, your fill-in-the-blank____________________.

Only when you come to realize that life isn't about someone else putting you first, but instead, you putting you first while putting others first, will you begin to realize the great possibilities that exist everywhere and in everything (Yah, you might have to read that last sentence two or three times before it sinks in...).


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I hate being sick because...

I think I look a little pale...

Okay, well, who actually likes being sick? So the title of this is sort of dumb I guess. But cut me some slack, I'm sick.

Sick with the flu.

I'm one of those dudes who's in denial about even the slightest cold so that nothing comes in the way of me and my routine. By routine I mean, my daily word count, my daily cardio and strength training programs, my travel, my Jeep, my hikes, my drinks at the bar, my big dinners, my general attitude of  life is way to freaking short so you'd better enjoy the most out of everyday (I'm getting to the age where I'm wanting to enjoy every minute, but you get the idea).

So I go into denial until the fever kicks in, or the headache and chills, and the post nasal drip, the burning nasal passages...You know the deal. We've all been sick and we will be again. But I don't often get sick, unless that is, it's my own fault. Attempting 52 street tacos in Guatemala within three days comes immediately to mind. But that's another story.

In order to combat the sickness or more specifically in this case, a virus, I try to maintain as normal a schedule as possible. I try and go for a short jog since I'm a big believer in sweating out the bug (this actually works...Google it). I'll put in a light lift. Nothing that's gonna make me sicker, but enough to let the virus invading my body know who's boss. But on the other hand, I'll try and get as much rest as possible. Last night I slept on and off for eleven hours. That's not a watershed of sleep for me. That's a geyser.

But I will also work. Work shall not only set you free, it takes your mind off the fact that you're sick, and therefore, you just might recover that much quicker (sorry about the work shall make you free reference, but it simply came immediately to mind...).

I'm eating a lot of Sudafed and Advil's, but I'm also hydrating and eating chicken soup. If I can do another eleven hours, I just might be on the upswing tomorrow, and my daily routine will once again be my bitch. #FUFLU



Sunday, January 7, 2018

Dear President Trump, please call me a phony pretty please...

A POTUS endorsed bestseller whether Trump likes it or not

You have to be living under a very large rock not to know about President Trump's ongoing war with the media, especially the left leaning media, which he labels fake news. These includes print/online outlets like The New York Times and television networks like NBC, as well as cable networks like MSNBC and especially CNN. More recently, a book called Fire and Fury by journalist Michael Wolff was released four days earlier than expected just this week precisely because the POTUS labeled it trash and phony news written by a hack and a fraud.

It's quite the battle royale going on and on and on, and it's as juicy as all hell. Yet there's an amazing phenomenon occurring every time the President lambastes his media enemies. They sell more products and in turn, they make boatloads of casheshe.

Until Trump came along, the New York Times was indeed failing, as a business entity anyway. CNN and MSNBC always lagged behind Fox News in the ratings, and a book like Fire and Fury, which would have been just one "tell-all" book among many, might have enjoyed its few weeks on the Amazon bestseller list then faded into relative obscurity. Instead the book is killing it and, I suspect, already into its second print run (print runs these days, even for major publication events, are not what they used to be even five years ago).

All of these media darlings who slam Trump and in the process gain his undivided attention and even earn themselves the prize of prizes: a furious Trump tweet and a nickname to go with it (former campaign chair Steve Bannon is now Sloppy Steve...Lucky him) ought to be sending the POTUS a fruit basket thanking him.

That said, I hope the President picks up one of my novels and declares, "What a bunch of bull..." and then I hope he takes to Twitter. "Phony Vince Zandri." I will instantly become major league credible among the masses. My book sales will skyrocket and I will buy a new house. Mara Lago is awfully nice this time of year.



Thursday, January 4, 2018

Why I hate phone calls and texts...

When my phone rings, it's never a pleasant experience. I'm not one of those types who looks forward to phone calls from his guy friends, or even girlfriends. Girls talk on the phone, incessantly. Guys don't. Girls talk about guys. The talk is usually centered around why so-and-so is being a dick, but on occasion, it might be about the great sex she had the night before.
Guys don't call other guys to express such things. They either keep it all inside, or shoot the shit with their buddies at the bar. Girls and guys are different. Anyway, I'm getting off topic.

Just the sound of the phone ringing raises my pulse rate, makes my heart beat faster. Maybe this is a condition that connects back to my days when I was a broke writer with not much going for him. The bill collectors would call, and I would ignore them. Or maybe it goes back even farther, to when I was kid, and the phone would ring and my mother would assume a stressed, tight-faced expression. If an argument ensued with the person on the other end of the line, my fears would be justified. Maybe the other person on the line would be a teacher at my school who was reporting about an incident I was involved in. A fight maybe. Or maybe I was failing math. Anyway, I'm suspicious of phone calls. Other than the occasional call from am agent with a deal, it's never good news.

Texts aren't much better.
Not that I don't get pleasant texts from friends, but kids nowadays rarely call. They text. And usually the text revolves around something they need, be it transportation, money, food, whatever. Hey, if I were a millennial, I would no doubt do the same thing. The tree doesn't stand far from the apple.

I could go into emails as well, but emails come with warnings in the form of subject headings. They can be easily deleted.

So try not to call me. Chances are I won't answer.
Instead, send me a letter in the mail.

Buy my books ....


Friday, December 29, 2017

Goodbye 2017: Don't let the door slap you in the ass...

The researcher in Guatemala
Okay I jest.
2017 was actually a good year for me professionally, not in that I hit any particular home runs with any one or two books like year's past, but damn, did I put out the word count or what?

I published both traditionally and indie starting with The Corruptions in hardcover back in February (Polis Books), and then onto Chase Baker and the Spear of Destiny, a new Marconi, Arbor Hill. There was The Handyman Series, the pilot novel in the new Steve Jobz series, The Embalmer, my first collected non-fiction Pieces of Mind, the first Young Chase Baker YA novel, Young Chase Baker and the Cross of the Last Crusade (coming in March '18), a new stand-alone which is currently with my agent, plus the first draft of another stand-alone that will soon be with my agent, and I'm finishing up the year with 20K words on a new Keeper Marconi, Sins of the Sons. And did I mention the short stories that I published in Pulp Metal Magazine that are now available on my own site and of course, Amazon, Nook, and Kobo?
I could offer links to all these products but you know where to go to buy them.

New for 2018 will be a brand new short story, HEAD. HEAD will also be included in a new short story collection called Pathological: Collected short reads about sex, lies, and murder. In February The Detonator will be released in hardcover (Polis Books), and I'm very excited about it since it's getting great reviews in PW and Booklist. After that will come the aforementioned Young Chase Baker, then in April, the new Steve Jobz, The Flower Man. In May I'll release the new Marconi, Sins of the Sons. By then I'll know who's taken my new stand-alone, The Doctor Will Kill You Now. I will also have finished up the second stand-alone, No Good to Her Dead. In between these publications look for more short stories and new Handyman episodes.

Okay, that's production side of things. But like I said, this was the first year in which I didn't hit any particular home runs like I have in the past with books like The Remains which went to number 1 overall, or The Innocent which did pretty much the same or Everything Burns which killed it. I attribute this to one, Book Bubs are nearly impossible to get nowadays and two, Amazon KDP seems to have changed up their algorithms again. It means that any books that suddenly spike in sales look suspect and they sometimes will strip you of your rank, dooming the momentum of the book. It's good that Amazon is cracking down on the schemers, but bad for us nice, hardworking folks just trying to make a living.

But if I've learned anything about this year, it's this: slow steady growth is the only tried and trusted path to be on. Anything else is just smoke and mirrors. Those writers who consistently put out good to great content will be rewarded with an ever expanding audience and sales. On the marketing side of things, building your subscriber list has never been more important. I've also hired a marketing crew to handle my AMS, FB, and Book Bub ads and so far they have been doing a fine job. I'm also setting up my own store on my website. What's the address again? WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM

2017 was the year I started going from writer, to writer running a business, and I've learned a lot. I pour just about all my money back into the business, but said business is growing, and I can see myself making a passive income in short order that would rival at least a mid-management position at some downtown firm. Imagine that.

On the personal side of things, it's been a bit of a shit show. There were more deaths of friends and family than I care to count, not to mention Sam Shepard. There were more reports of illness, the sudden and unexpected discovery of my own potentially fatal ailments (don't worry, they're under control, but it did get me to thinking about my own mortality), a totally unexpected breakup, a move back to an apartment and other things too banal to mention here. But it was also an exciting year for traveling and adventure, from caving in Guatemala, to fly fishing in Belize, and of course eating my favorite rabbit dish in Italy. The food poisoning in Guatemala was no fun, however.

Sure, life comes at you hard sometimes, but hey, I could be six feet under and that's no fun. The point is to live a great life while you have breath in your lungs and happiness in your heart and soul.

Back to the books...


Sunday, December 24, 2017

It's a real Hank Moody day, let me tell you...

A real Hank Moody moment...
It must be the holidays, because yesterday I consumed ten chicken wings, a plate of greens and beans, prosecco, red wine, beer, and a shot of Jameson. This morning I am miraculously up and at 'em at my laptop, pounding out the words, even if the electrical signals from brain matter to typing fingers are a little slow. It's a real Hank Moody day, let me tell you. See what happens when you're a full-time author and you suddenly find yourself single again?

First off, Merry Xmas and Happy Holidays all around. 2017 was a stellar year for me in terms of word count, book and story publication. It was also a year where I made a sort of dramatic shift from making traditional publishing my priority with the independent side of things being a fun sideline, to quite the opposite.

I now consider the indie publishing method of primary importance. That doesn't mean I'm giving up traditional. Not at all. I'm still a hybrid. But this year I became entirely enamored not only with the freedom of indie publishing, but also the financial, passive income possibilities and the lack of industry volatility. IE: I have had two editors from traditional world either yanked from their jobs or decide to quit just prior to a book's publication, dooming the title, at least in the short term (one of these titles actually went on to sell a couple hundred thousand copies...ten years later). Such totally-out-my-control issues becomes non-issues in indie world.
My kind of Xmas!

The thing about indie, it's a matter of content. While my traditional publishers could never nor would ever take more than one book per year from me (sometimes they decide not to take any!), I can, under the guise of my own publishing label (Bear Media), publish as much material as I wish. The more the better, and my true fans are happy to have the new material as fast as I can write it (and have it edited, of course).

It's a matter of math. If one of my indie books/stories earns me $2.07 per day (sounds paltry doesn't it?), imagine what 100 will earn me, per day? This is a passive income that is entirely separate from the royalties earned on traditional agented projects. But you get the idea. The more I write, the more money I make. And what's even better, I own 100% of my rights. I also get paid once per month. Which means, in years to come, it will be my children who get paid once per month and their children, and so on. 

What I foresee in the future (in fact, it's already in the works), is all of my novels and stories being available not only in all commercial markets but also in a store at my website WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM where the thousands of readers and fans who subscribe to my "For Your Eyes Only" newsletter can purchase what they want, when they want it, directly. Not everyone believes in shopping at Amazon and not every Amazon customer even considers buying a book from Kobo. Not everyone wants to get in the car and go to the bookstore, that is you can still find one that hasn't become a toy store/coffee shop. But they can always come to my store, even if they're in bed, totally butt naked. It's always open. This is the eventual journey indie publishing will take us. The inevitable destination.

One of these indie projects is my Handyman series. Tagline: Would you commit murder for art's sake?  This steamy, noir thriller is as graphic as it is suspenseful. But don't take my word for it. I'm just the author. As of today, the entire first season is collected in one single handy bundle. It's called, appropriately, The Handyman: Season I...If you're into this kind of graphic romantic noir, this is totally for you:

Buy The Handyman:Season I in the US

Buy The Handyman: Season I in the UK

"Merry Christmas you old building and loan!"