Thursday, October 4, 2012

E-Books and Libraries: What the Big 6 Doesn't Get

                                           "Wow that Dick Moonlight is really something..."

Maybe JA Konrath read my last post "Libraries Get It" or perhaps it's a coincidence that his newest post is titled, "E-Books in Libraries: They Still Don't Get It."

Whatever the case may be, the libraries actually do get the future and the important impact inexpensive E-Books can make in a lending library all too often frequented by good reading folks who have no choice but to watch every single penny earned. But as usual the Big 6 and the American Association of Publishers (AAP) are fighting progress for a number of reasons, some of which they hide behind legal smoke-screens like "anti-trust suits," etc.

Now I'm not going to pretend I know the in and outs of the publishing industry, both commercial and indie, like Konrath does or have my finger on the pulse of the American library system such as it is. But after reading Joe's post, I'm gathering that what it all comes down to is this: The Big 6 just don't want libraries competing with their already dwindling returns.

In any case, click on Konrath's link and you can get the story, which is actually a guest blog. It's written by an individual in the know: a librarian and a "published author," who shall go unnamed, and who works in the South Carolina library system. 

His life is books, and passion drips from his fingertips....

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Libraries Get It

The great Alexandrian Library: "Believe it or not, one day, the scroll will be replaced by something called a mass market paperback book..."

I'm week three into the re-release of five novels along with the release of two new novels: BLUE MOONLIGHT and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GRACE. The former by a major, Thomas & Mercer of Amazon Publishing and the latter from an indie, StoneHouse Ink. While the "Blue" E-Book edition, especially Kindle, is being pushed in a major way, it's also available in paper and audio, etc. For the time being however, "Grace" is available in E-Book only. In the meantime the new editions of my five previously published novels are moving like crazy. In E-Book primarily.

You see where I'm going with this...

In the past three weeks I've moved more units of my novels than I did in an entire first year with Delacorte. No lie. Much of that has to do with the tremendous author support I am lucky enough to enjoy from Amazon Publishing (They are so good, they even push my independent books, if you can imagine that...), but it also has a lot to do with the changing nature of publishing. E-Books have been and are now becoming the most popular way by which we read. The mass market paperback is quickly disappearing. So is the hardcover while the trade paperback takes over the roll of both.

This leaves me in a bit of a conundrum. I find myself wanting to do some in-person promotion of my books, aside from the stuff I do at several writerly book conferences every year (I never sell many books at these things anyway since they are attended primarily by other writers and all we do is have fun eating and drinking together). But approaching brick and mortar bookstores with the prospect of a book signing in support of paper being published by their major competitor is probably a road I want to avoid. And besides, book signings are always a gamble anyway. In short, they suck.

But there are other avenues to explore. Schools, universities, and hell, even book signings at coffee shops and my favorite, the local corner gin mill. And then there's the holy grail of book venues: the library. I have always been a fan of libraries and the fact that no matter what happens in terms of the evolutionary/de-evolutionary business/retail aspect of writing, the library will always withstand the test of time. A place to store many volumes, both ancient and new, as well as a place to share and exchange ideas. From Socretes to Stephen King, the library has always been a refuge for the intellectual, for the hopeful, the creative, the thinker, and the dreamer.

That clearly in mind, I contacted the head rep for my local library system, the Albany Public Library and asked her about setting up an event much like the one we did for Moonlight Falls back in 2010. This one would be in Dec/Jan in conjunction with yet another new Thomas & Mercer novel, MURDER BY MOONLIGHT, a fictional take on the infamous Porco axe murder case which hit New York's Capital region some years back. She was happy to hear from me for more than one reason. I played drums in her band a while ago, and we are friends. She was delighted to set up an event for "Murder." But just as I was about to tell her how great the trade paperback version of "Murder" looked, she said, "We're really pushing E-Books these days."

I must admit, I was taken a bit back. Me, the king of E-Books.

Libraries pushing E-Books...What a concept.

That said, my library event will more than likely be about the E-Book version of my brand new book and it will take place inside the hallowed halls of an institution older than even the world's most ancient cathedral. But then, E-Books are becoming far more popular than paper and libraries recognize this. Doesn't mean they are about to give up their paper. Just means they are adapting. Can't say the same thing about bookstores. But something tells me they'll get it eventually. Hopefully before it's too late.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Dick Moonlight Series in its Proper Order

The newest Moonlights have now been released by Thomas & Mercer of Amazon Publishing, the most powerful publishing house in the universe...The Dick Moolights have been coming at you at a pretty hot and heavy rate lately. That's a lot of dick (Ha!). And understandably, a lot of fans, or would be fans (fingers crossed), are asking me to place them in order so that they might start from the beginning of this very remarkable and uniquely Zandri series (I'm shaking my head and rolling my eyes for you...).

So here goes:
1. Moonlight Falls
2. Moonlight Mafia
3. Moonlight Rises
4. Blue Moonlight
5. Murder By Moonlight (Coming December 18, 2012)
6. Moonlight Sonata (Coming Spring 2013) 

So that's the run down peeps....Also, check out the new covers on Moonlight Falls Uncut and Moonlight Mafia which have been updated by StoneGate Ink in order to reflect the fine art the team at Thomas & Mercer did on all the other Moonlight novels.

Happy reading...and to order your Dick Moonlights....Go to:


Thursday, September 13, 2012

"The 5-Star Dilemma" by Guest Blogger, Author and Book Promoter SB Knight

Now that the whole world knows about the Amazon Review cheating scandal that has wreaked havoc on the fiction  industry, and in particular, the indie fiction industry, it seems that a day doesn't go buy when another author and/or institution isn't exposed for writing fraudulent reviews. The newest cheater in a pool of cheaters is a bookstore whose staff wrote and posted 1-Star reviews for authors like myself who were kicking ass in the Kindle charts.

A bookstore?

Well, I guess it makes sense. They don't want people to buy online. I don't have a whole lot of 1-Star reviews, but there are a few that I possess in which the "reviewer" went out of his or her way to be a complete jerk, picking apart my pose pronoun for pronoun. Oh, well, as the world turns.

Today my guest blogger, SB Knight, author and book promoter, gives us his unique take on a unique situation that is only now, blowing up in the faces of those who feel it necessary to cheat in order to get by.

The 5 Star Dilemma 

I believe by now everyone has read the articles about John Locke, Stephen Leathers, and RJ Ellroy. I also believe many are as confused as I am at the fact that these well known authors would stoop to such practices. It is another example of what some would do in the name of fame and fortune. Was it worth it? I would imagine the three above would answer yes before they were caught…now it would be a resounding no as their writing careers hang by a thread over a cliff.
We have heard the responses of bestselling authors such as Vincent Zandri, Anne Rice, and many others who oppose and reject these underhanded practices. With every published article, post, and letter their anger is clear and concise. However, I am what you would call ‘green’ or an amateur author. My debut novel released in March and my second novel releases in October. What does all this business about fake reviews and attacking competitors have to do with me? I mean, I’m trying to climb the ladder and reach the same level as Zandri, Rice, and King. Did I mention I’m only on the first rung of that ladder? So I ask again, what does this business mean to me? It means everything.
You see, the bestselling authors are angry about this and they should be but the new authors out there like me, we feel something different. Make no mistake, anger is there but so is despair, fear, and concern. While bestselling authors can rely on name recognition, to a certain degree, new authors have to establish their name first. Reviews are a key element in achieving that recognition; plus it helps generate word of mouth promoting.  Of course this goes without saying that you need the skill to craft a solid, compelling story. New authors go to great lengths to find people and/or reviewers who will agree to read and review their work. Trust me on this; I don’t see Stephen King having a problem finding people who will review his latest novel. Now you throw in a handful of well known, established, and successful authors who chose to pay for stellar reviews, write their own reviews, and/or write poor reviews for their competition and where does that leave us? What if Amazon states that you can only leave a book review if you purchased the book from Amazon? A lot of reviews would be instantly eliminated. New authors would be hard pressed to convince a reviewer to purchase their book and not all of us have the budget to purchase a copy so a reviewer can review it on Amazon.
There is another aspect to this that impacts all authors, new and established, and that is perception. At this moment my debut novel, Born of Blood, has ten reviews on Amazon – eight, five star reviews and two, four star reviews. I should be thrilled by this but a small voice in the back of my mind is asking – will people think I bought these reviews or had my friends write these reviews? At times I wish I would get a bad review so it would validate the good reviews. Think about that for a moment; I should not want a bad review. The posted reviews should stand on their own but, thanks to a handful of authors, it has come to this. It almost seems like the 5 star rating has been tarnished.
What is the solution to this problem? I have no idea. I do know that I will keep writing and asking for honest reviews, be it good or bad. I also believe that each author will be held accountable for their own actions and decisions.
It’s tough trying to establish your name in the harsh publishing world but we have authors like Zandri, King, and many others to look at as examples. They made it and each has a war story to validate their journey. They didn’t resort to fake reviews or bashing other authors either.

SB Knight is the up and coming author of Born of Blood, Drago’s Revenge (October 12), and Demathia Rising (March 13). He is also the creator of The New Author blog and co-owner of Premium Promotional Services. You can learn more about SB Knight and his novels at Also be sure to join SB Knight on Twitter and Facebook.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Release Me...Let Me Go!

I had six books released five days ago.
I'm still trying to wrap that number around my finger...get a grip on it.

Two of those titles are brand new releases...Well, scratch that. One of them, Blue Moonlight, is brand new. The other, The Concrete Pearl, is almost brand new, having been published originally about a year ago with hot indie publisher, StoneGate Ink....

The other books are as follows (click on the website link below if you want buy some):

The Remains
The Innocent
Moonlight Rises....

All of the books are doing great right out of the gate and I'm not surprised. My new publisher is Thomas & Mercer of Amazon Publishing. While my agent could have accepted similar deals in terms of advance money from other, more traditional publishers, I would not even entertain the thought of it. I've been published by the traditional majors in the past and trust me when I say you are pretty much on your own when publication date arrives. They put your out to sea in a rubber raft. If you happen to make it to dry land unscathed, they gladly take credit for putting you on the right course. If you drift in circles and die from starvation, then well, it's your own damned fault. 

Not so with Amazon Publishing. Just yesterday I received an email from my marketing staff, detailing (in bullet form) their initial marketing plan. That's right, "initial." In the words of one of my peeps at T&M, "We are on fire for you!" That's the kind of enthusiasm and support that takes my breath away. And the numbers show it. While "Pearl" is closing in on the top 500 in overall Kindle sales, "Blue" is edging its way towards the top 1000. And the others are holding their own nicely. Paper and European/Asian sales are also beginning to happen as well.   

When I think back to where I was just five years ago after having published two books under two Random House imprints and how dreadful an experience it was, I shake my head and shiver. It's a new world and the new publishing model is quickly dismantling an old system that worked for only a few, very wealthy people, while writers were considered a necessary evil.

I'm embracing it. Are you?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Cheater

I've done enough ragging on major publishers and other old guard traditional establishment types in this blog so perhaps it's time to take a look at what's going on on the other side of the tracks, so to speak. Today it came to my attention via The New York Times and a great fist-to-the-face blog by my colleague Rob Kroese in his New Wave Authors (of which I'm a contributor) that self-publishing sensation John Locke paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars to people who would provide him with 5-Star Amazon reviews. Mr. Locke who has literally written the book on the subject of selling books--e-books in particular--has conveniently kept his secret hidden for quite some time.

Until now that is.

One suspects that one of these "for hire" reviewers probably entered into some kind of blackmail scenario in which he would expose Locke, or else pay up. And perhaps Locke, having consulted with his lawyers, just decided to fess up about the whole mess. Or maybe this is just the conspiracy-minded novelist in me coming out.

Whatever the case, Locke's credibility is now about as worthless as Facebook stock. In turn, Amazon is left with an interesting dilemma on their hands. What to do with phony reviews and even more important, what to do with cheating authors who "game the system" looking to cash in on trickery and not talent.

Writing is a business that takes talent for certain, but it also takes a mammoth amount of blood, sweat, tears, and self-sacrifice. In my case, it has even taken tremendous sacrifice on the part of my ex-wives and children, who even today are sometime a bit melancholy about the price we've all paid for "Vince's fucking career." It has been a struggle, but also a wonderful journey which is only now bearing the fruits of countless hours of labor.

I still recall all those years ago when I would wake up at dawn in order to write before work. I recall writing school and two years full-time intensive study and writing. I recall penning my first big novel in the library and the family so broke we were living on loans and whatever I could make from freelance writing. I recall the happiness we felt when my first big, six-figure contract came through and the near back-breaking sadness we experienced when the publisher was swallowed up by another in a corporate merger leaving me no choice but to start all over again. From scratch.

It cost me more time, more tears, more sweat, and even a second marriage, but I was determined to be a success at an art that takes hard work on top of talent. Now when I hear of swindlers and cheats and gamers, I just want to shake my head, pull in the sails and guide my life away from theirs. The bell tolls for all of us writers when one person decides to cheat. Especially an indie who, until now, was so revered for his efforts.

I'm not sure what's going to happen with John Locke or anyone else who believes they can get ahead by cheating. Writing is a religion, an art, and a life passion, and it must be treated with the greatest respect and sensitivity in this, the post-literate world. Anyone or anything that cheapens it should be discarded and forgotten about as quickly and expeditiously as possible.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Google's "Glasses" Will Change the World Forever

"Google has its eye on the future..."

Wondering how we'll be reading and even writing our books in the very near future? Hint: you won't need a hand-held device nor will you require a laptop...Just don't forget your glasses....

Google's "Project Glass" has already developed the prototype to the world's first pair of eyeglasses that delivers and transposes real-time information before your eyes. Its applications are mind-boggling, especially for readers and writers.

Feel like reading a book on the train without having to utilize that cumbersome, and now very old fashioned E-Reader? Just put on your glasses

Want to write another chapter of you new novel, but don't feel like sitting inside a cramped writing studio? Head on outside and transcribe the action to your new glasses while you walk.

Sportsmen and women looking to land that big trout can put on their glasses and get real time data on precisely where it's hiding and what kind of fly it wants to eat.

Travelers won't need to juggle a smart phone when trying to find their way around a foreign city or for that matter, a busy airport.

Speaking of airports: Just put on your glasses and your identification, profile, boarding passes, and seat assignment will all be taken care of...And once that's done, you can phone the wife and kids at the same time while using both hands to eat your lunch.

I can see the future...The many gadgets we now plug into our electrical wall sockets on a daily basis...the Nook or Kindle, the Smart Phone, the I-Pad, the's all going bye-bye in the blink of an eye, now that Project Glass has its eye on a new world with 20/20 super vision.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

D is for Dumb Ass

"So you're a new writer huh? Wow, good fuckin' luck. You're gonna need it."

Sue Grafton is the latest in what's basically a handful of dinosaur writers who try to crap on indie and self-published authors. The famous "Alphabet"author believes that if you are self-publishing you are not willing to put in the hard work required to be published by one of the antiquated Big Six publishers. In other words, you're not willing to be a slave.

I've put in the hard work and earned hundreds of thousands in advances from the Big Six. I've also put in the hard work and earned hundreds of thousands in real sales from indie and small publishers. I've put in the hard work and just recently self-published my first book: Permanence, a literary thriller/novella that was first published traditionally by a small press back in 1995 and went nowhere fast. Now it's doing very well and sold more in the first week in e-book format than it did in its entirety as a small press offering.

I put in the hard work everyday. I write up to 2,500 words per day. It often leaves me exhausted. It gets in the way of my spending time with family and friends, and I am often alone. I work even when I travel. And I travel a lot. But I make sacrifices in order to put that word count out day in and day out. Its because of those sacrifices that I make sure never to attach myself to only one kind of publishing. Be with a major, an indie or via my own Bear Media label.

V is for Vincent but it's also for Victorious.
S is for Sue and for Simply so arrogant some poor young writer out there will no doubt listen to her garbage and end up never publishing a single book. Not because it isn't good but because Sue said no to publishing with anyone but the money changers on the hill in NYC.

Don't allow other authors, critics, editors, agents, or anyone else dissuade you from your dream. R is for Readers. Let the readers of the world decide if you have what it takes to be a great writer. They're your audience after all. You will live and die with them. Not with Sue Grafton.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Survivor Man

This blog was originally featured this week at bestselling crime author, C.J. West's Suspense. Creativity. Action.

The year was 2005 and I was at my wick’s end.
What had started out as a stellar literary career of writing crime novels for a Random House imprint to the tune of 200K a pop in advance money, went south due to a corporate merger. I had published two books that were going nowhere and, at the same time, gotten involved in a ghost writing project that, while sending me around the world on a fact finding mission on the client’s dime, nearly drove me towards a nervous breakdown when it came time for the actual writing. Imagine writing for someone who is constantly telling you, “You can’t write that piece of dialogue. My friend George Bush won’t like it.” That’s the kind of vice tightening madness I was up against.

I was broke from a protracted divorce, without a home I could call my own, no money in the bank, considerable debt, no book contracts, no work, nothing. I had recently remarried and it was not going well. Instead of being a good and decent husband, I spent most of my nights staying up until the wee hours, stressing, plotting, but mostly just feeling sorry for myself. Things got so bad, my wife asked me to move out. I loved her more than any woman in the world. And because I loved her, I did what she asked of me. I moved out.

A couple of months later I woke on a cold Christmas morning. The kids were already up, but I decided I didn’t want to have a Christmas that year. So I stayed in bed until everyone had opened their gifts. When I finally emerged from my bedroom sometime that late afternoon, I went immediately to the refrigerator and cracked open a beer. I also lit up a cigarette. I stood there at the sink, staring at the beer and the blue smoke rising up from the cigarette. I knew I had reached a pivotal moment in my life. I could either slide down that slippery slope towards certain protracted death. Or, I could somehow make the effort to get my life back together.  
I’m not sure what came over me at that very moment in time, but I put out the cigarette and dumped the beer. I apologized to my family over missing Christmas and then I put on my running clothes and went for a long jog on that cold December afternoon.

The next day I went back to work. Since it was going to be a while until I could manage another book contract, I went back to the beginning, so to speak. I went back to the same kind of freelance journalism and freelance writing that had originally sustained me back when I was just starting out. It took some time, but I eventually scored gigs with some global publications. I worked so hard at it day in and day out, that within the year I was working for RT, Russia’s English speaking 24 hour global satellite news network. I found myself writing news pieces, professional blogs and photographing in places like West Africa, Moscow, Italy, Paris and other destinations. I also secured some much needed bread and butter work with some trade journals that specialized in architecture, building, and design. Suddenly, I was paying my rent and putting some money away. I’d even managed to pay up most of my debt. Not bad considering when I moved out of my house my wife loaned me fifty bucks in order to start a checking account.

I wasn’t only writing journalism at the time. I was also stealing an hour or so a day to work on the new novel that would become Moonlight Falls. To my surprise, an agent willingly took it on, and while I was still more or less blackballed by the majors for having not earned out my original $250K advance, she secured a contract with a small publisher. I couldn’t have been happier. I was not only back as a professional writer and journalist, I had a new book coming out.

I was so encouraged by my humble but serious success that I started taking even more time out to write fiction. That next year I wrote The Remains, The Concrete Pearl, and then Moonlight Rises. Those got picked up by one of the hottest indie publishers in the business. In the meantime, my agent managed to re-acquire the rights to my Random House books, The Innocent and Godchild. My new publisher agreed to republish them also. By the fourth year of my career rebuilding and re-commitment to excellence, I had sold more than one-hundred thousand copies of The Innocent and nearly the same for Godchild. The Remains would go on to sell at least as many. Almost all of these sales were e-book sales, which meant the books would never go out of print. In the end, I sold so many books I would have earned out my Random House advance.

Enter year six. With my new sales record and the income that was coming in along with it, I found myself with a new agent. That agent was able to repackage Vincent Zandri and acquire an eight book, “very nice deal” with arguably the hottest and potentially most powerful new major publisher on the block: Thomas & Mercer of Amazon Publishing. I had come full circle.

It took six full years to overcome the hump, or slump if you will, that began with a simple corporate restructuring. No matter what you call it, it still resulted in my having been served a crap sandwich. But there’s a major lesson to be learned here. As bad and personally directed as it all seemed at the time, my situation wasn’t unique. This business is fraught with disappointments and stumbling blocks too numerous to mention here. It’s not a matter of avoiding them since you can’t possibly avoid them all, but a matter of positioning yourself so that you can deal with them without having to take too many steps backwards.

Sure I have the major deal again but unlike the last time, I have set myself up so that I am never without a writing income, should one of my sources go south. How can you do the same?

--Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. If you’re a journalist and/or freelance writer, try and maintain a client or two, even if your books are making you a nice living. The money will be welcome, and it will keep your journalism skills sharp.
--Don’t rely on one method of publishing. Acquire major, traditionally-based independent, and self publishing contracts. This is an ever changing business and what seems like an awesome major contract today can become a real dog tomorrow.
--Ally yourself with a very good agent. He or she will secure you work should you need it. And of course, they will sell your movie, TV, and foreign rights.
--Take care of yourself. I still like to drink beer and wine, but I never again touched another cigarette after that one dreadful Christmas day nearly seven years ago now. I run and lift on a daily basis and I love to cook good food.
--Travel. See the world and write about it. This will re-energize the batteries and give you a global perspective, the least of which is this: the world and the universe does not revolve around you.
--If you’re in bad relationship that prohibits your making a success of yourself as a writer, get out of it. My second wife saw the destructiveness of our relationship and she made the difficult decision to end it while we still had love for one another and even a friendship. Today, I have my life back together and we are once more a couple. But this relationship is so different from what we had before, that she seems like an entirely new woman to me. And as for me, I’m an entirely new man. I’ve learned from my mistakes and turned a disaster into a success. More importantly, I’ve grown up. And in doing so, I survived the slump. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Red Pill

Swallow the red pill and discover how deep the rabbit hole goes.

It's the moment I've been waiting for, for nearly ten years now.
The moment 5 of my my in-print books and 3 brand new books get republished with a really big house that knows how to sell books (and that's saying it rather lightly). It's the moment I've worked for since my split with Random House. The moment I've honed and sharpened in my mind with each book I wrote and each publication that rose up the charts with some really great small presses and indie publishers like my brothers and sisters at StoneHouse/StoneGate Ink.

I've put up with empty bank accounts, broken relationships, too many sleepless nights, ugly book signings, and at times a hopelessness and an anxiety so profound it was crippling. But then I've also had the great fortune of having enjoyed a creative well that is at present 7 years deep and doesn't show any signs of drying up.

I've enjoyed some nice relationships, met a bunch of new friends, traveled to some distant and exotic lands both as a journalist and novelist, and even been blessed with being reunited with the same woman who inspired me all those years ago. I've seen my bank account refill and I've watched my books go from selling hundreds per year to selling hundreds of thousands.

Next year at this time, I will have sold more than a million copies of my in-print hard-boiled novels. That to me is mind boggling, but a reality nonetheless. A new kind of surreality.

So life has changed for me. And now, in this hinterland between past and future, I await a brand new life filled with publishing possibilities and creative works I never would have dreamed up a dozen years ago when I signed my first major contract. I no longer think on a local level. I think globally and I write for a global audience. My books will never go out of print. The antiquated system of returns means nothing to me now that my novels are being published not only in paper, but ebook and audio.

It's a new world I'm about to enter into. I've swallowed the red pill, and I'm passing through a new doorway that will show me where the rabbit hole goes. 

Listen up on September 4th 2012 when the long pause becomes the big bang!


Sunday, July 15, 2012


"Wendy, I'm home..."

A gifted writer who attended my panel discussion on "balancing life with work" at this weekend's ITW-sponsored Thrillerfest in NYC made a startling admission. As a collaborator/writer for one of the most popular authors in the world, she's been finding herself working seven days a week, taking time out only to eat and, in her words, "catch some MSNBC." An attractive 60-something woman with lush graying hair, her knees trembled as she spoke. I took her admission of obsession as a serious cry for help.

Let's face it, the writing game can become an obsession if you allow it to be. We all suffer from it at one time or another. Some authors have even turned their obsession into some memorable fiction.
Stephen King comes immediately to mind. Remember Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrence in The Shining?

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." 

Ernest Hemingway admitted his obsession also in one of his many letters to his then editor, Charlie Scribner, Jr.

I've also found myself becoming so obsessed with writing novels and stories that I will write myself into an exhausted state. I neglect my friends, family, and my reading. In a word, I neglect life.

My advice to this woman and others like her: If you write full-time, it's best to treat it like a job.
--work only Monday through Friday if possible.
--work 9-5
--take plenty of time out for breaks and exercise.
--take days off to go hiking; to hit a movie; to do nothing
--don't work on holidays
--don't work on the weekends unless striving to make a deadline

...The point is to have a life. And while we're gifted and lucky for being able to write full-time, it doesn't mean we must beat ourselves up by spending every waking hour with fingers glued to the keyboard. There's no reason to feel guilty about your place in life, no matter how fortunate.

How are you balancing your work with your life?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sleeping "in" the Job: How I Create a Story

That ain't me catching flies...

I work a lot.
I write nearly everyday.
When I'm not writing, I'm still writing.
Sort of.
Often times, people lie in bed and worry about stuff: The dwindling bank account...Paying off the student loans...Is the wife cheating on me?...My boss sucks...Looks like I'll never make it Spain in this lifetime...That sort of thing.
But when I lie in bed, or close my eyes some place else like a on transatlantic flight somewhere, I think about stories. Plots and characters and story lines. If I hit upon something that really excites me, I feel a physical twinge in my body, much like a short, sharp electric sharp (I'm not making this up). I open my eyes, feel a smile form on my lips. I've created a new novel in my head. I've written without having typed or penned a single word.
How do you write when you aren't writing?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Your Worst Nightmare

What's your worst nightmare?
Is it being all alone, hopelessly lost in a dark and cold place?
Maybe it's snakes crawling all over you?
Maybe it's being hunted down by a psychotic killer in the deep woods. A devil. A demon.
Or perhaps, just perhaps, you are afraid of the demons that reside inside your head.

If you are afraid of all these things, then you know exactly what it is to be Jude Parish,
former violent crimes detective turned bestselling true crime author.

Jude is being hunted by a video game designer who is also a serial killer.
And before the hunter finishes the violent game of cat and mouse he starts with the entire Parish family in the deep, unrelenting Adirondack woods of Lake George, New York, he will catch their screams.

SCREAM CATCHER: The New Psychological Suspense Thriller from the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon Kindle Author, Vincent Zandri.  


"Vincent Zandri and Scream Catcher are Champions!!!! CMash  |  4 reviewers made a similar statement  "The writing is excellent with vivid descriptive writing that will make you feel the powerful emotions of the story. M. Vasquez  |  3 reviewers made a similar statement  "Suspense lovers, I highly recommend this book! ReviewsByMolly  |  4 reviewers made a similar statement

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Russo's War

The new one from Russo, in paper edition only...

Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo is trying to stop progress or, said another way, reverse recent history. He's decided to boycott the ebook edition of his newest collection of stories (You can get the exciting story here) in favor of only paper versions (Go to hell all you trees!). Russo feels that in doing so he will become the savior of the ever failing independent bookstore. Hey Russo, where were you when the behemoth Barnes and Nobles and Border's bookstore giants were crushing the itsy bitsy independents? Oh, you were doing book signing tours for them, right? Course you were.

In any case, Russo claims that lots of authors will eventually give up their ebook editions in order to follow his crusade. Wow, Richard, we're all holding our breath. I wonder how many paper copies Russo will sell regardless of giving up ebook sales? I can bet it will be a lot. Certainly more than the average mid-list author who usually won't earn enough back on paper sales to make up his or her advance. But now with ebooks being all the rage, and having great books available at affordable prices to young people who are devouring them on their e-readers, many authors can make a good solid living again. I know, I'm one of them.

Sure, all my books are published in paper, audio, and e-book, and yes I publish with a major publisher (Thomas & Mercer) and with at least two, small, independent publishers (including StoneHouse and StoneGate Ink). Like a writing professor of mine once said, "I lust publishing." Me too! Heck, if there were a way for a book to be published over a smart phone, I would lust that too. Oh, wait, you can get all twelve of my in-print books on a smart phone. You can read plenty of Russo's books that way too.

I wonder if the entire literary intelligentsia is going to jump on the Russo, "Let's go back to the olden days when authors had to struggle to be published and hardcover books cost $30 a piece?" I wonder if the MFA programs and the literary wanna-be NYT newspaper reporters will join in? Not likely. Then they'd have to stop the electronic versions of their papers appearing on their Nooks and Kindles. I wonder if the bookstores Russo is trying to save will give up the antiquated old fashioned system of book returns or stop pulling new books from the shelves after only six weeks? I wonder if they will give up their Internet connections, their Google searches, their smartphones, their Pandora and their Sirius radio in order to support musicians who want to see a return to vinyl records and cash for each single played on the air?

Ok, my point is made.

Mr. Russo, I have the utmost respect for your talents, but please don't encourage other authors who have not won a Pulitzer to follow in your footsteps. Instead encourage them to sign the paper editions of their books at their local independent bookseller. Not since the 1920s have authors enjoyed so much freedom to publish however and wherever they want without having to suffer horrible humiliation at the hands of the corporate media giants. And make no mistake about it, the untalented ones will fail and the talented ones will persevere and sell, just like always. It's not how the words are published, Mr. Russo, it's the fact that they are being published and that people are reading them again at an affordable price.


Monday, June 25, 2012

The Worst Writing/Publishing Advice I Ever Did Get

It seems like every author I know is blogging about the best and worst writing advice they ever got. My colleague Stant Litore just published his in a very cool blog at ZOMBIE BIBLE, and I thought I would do the same here. Only difference with my little piece is that I am including publishing advice as well as some other gossipy juicy tidbits.

1. If you write five good stories in your life, that's a lot.

Source: Creative writing prof at MFA school. What a douche.

2. It's image that propels a novel, not plot.

Source: Creative writing prof at MFA school. I actually did my thesis on this huge pile of steaming MFA-writing-style dog shit. Ok, there's some veracity to it, but if you don't have a plot in your novel, than you might as well, ummmmm, teach at an MFA program for a living.

3. If it isn't literary it's sub-par.

Source: MFA school in general. For the most part I write in the hard-boiled genre and my sentences are at least as good as some stuck up literary stiff who wouldn't know a plot if it got undressed in front of him.

4. "When I begin to read violence in a novel, I toss the book across the room."

Source: That's a direct quote by an MFA prof of mine who spoke with a faux French accent and had written one novel about working as a used car salesman like thirty-five years ago, and nothing ever since. That's because he considers himself such a great writer that putting words on a page, not to mention words that convey violence, is beneath him. Again, total fucking douche.

5. "You can write on the side while you work for your family business."

Source: I can't tell you but it's a direct quote. Enough said about that topic...But sill, if I were to translate it would be, "You can be miserable and trapped like the rest of us or you can write and have a great life."

6.  "You will never get another major deal again."

Source: A local independent bookstore owner who is supposed to be a pillar of society. Two months later I proceeded to sell a couple hundred thousand copies of The Innocent, The Remains, and Godchild, which lead to my signing a "very nice deal" in an 8 book acquisition with Thomas & Mercer at Amazon Publishing (and yes my agent had other offers from some of the traditional Big Six houses which we turned down. Gladly!). I was definitely thinking of that bookstore owner while hanging out at the T&M publishing party in NYC during the BEA two weeks ago, along side some reporters from The New York Times,  the Wall Street Journal, etc.

7. "Write one true sentence."

Source: Ernest Hemingway. Papa I love you man, and if it weren't for you I probably would have done the family business thing the unmentionable source wanted me to do. But you lost me on this one...

8. Once you strike the major deal, you got it made.

Source: other writers, most of them from MFA school. Most times, after you sign the major deal and secure the first portion of the advance, you find yourself in trouble. You have no idea how to market yourself so you leave it up the marketing team. Usually, you end up selling nothing. Getting the major deal doesn't mean you've got it made. It means  they are giving you a chance to sell some books. Writing isn't only an art. It's a business. Don't blow your chance to be a success.

9. E-Books are a fad.

 Source: That bookstore owner....Ha, ha, hahahahaha....

10. Social media doesn't sell books. Traditional book signings sell books.

Source: Some author who still listens to cassette tapes in his car and who still misses Borders Books.

11. You need an MFA in Writing.

Source: MFA teachers who depend upon you for their paycheck.

All this said, what's the best advice I ever received?

1. Write what you like to read.

Source: Vincent Zandri, bestselling noir author.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Brazill Connection: Noir Author Paul Brazill Speaks Out

 "Hey barkeep, give me another and make it a double. I just read another Zandri novel."

It's amazing how small the world is becoming, and how with the advent of social media and digital publishing, like-minded people (oh shit, I mean "Peeps" in the vernacular of the historical present) are now able to gravitate together to form a kind of family. Noir author and hard-boiled writer Paul Brazil is a member of my family or tribe, even though I have never met him in the flesh and he is an Englishman who lives in Poland. He is a brother/sibling, along with the likes of Heath Lowrance from Detroit (actually, I think it's possible that Heath and Paul are the same man, but I have no way of verifying this), Les Edgerton from Indiana, Ben Sobieck from Wisconsin, Enzo Body Cold and Alessandra Bucheri from Rome (Ok, I've had the pleasure of meeting the latter two this past Spring), and so many more. 

Paul has been responsible for putting together some great collections of short hard-boiled fiction, not the least of which is the popular Drunk on the Moon series and Brit Grit. He is an award winning novelist and short story writer and just an all around great noir afficianado and dude knows way more about the dark world I try to inhabit everyday through my little books and stories than I ever will know. Today he speaks to us about TV. Gritty crime dramas coming at you from both sides of the big drink (Atlantic Ocean, that is). Admittely, I haven't seen any of them since I rarely do TV, but now that I've read the blog that follows I am going to make a point of taking a peak. Who knows, I might actually find something here that's as good as the old Rockford Files series. It's got to be good of Paul Brazill recommends it.

Guest Blog: U S Grit – In Praise Of Southland
by Paul D. Brazill
There’s been a lot of talk about Brit Grit recently- usually from me - and, more specifically, Brit Grit television - edgy, realistic crime drama such as  Cracker, Gangsters and Luther.

The US has also been deservedly praised for producing great crime shows like The Wire and Breaking Bad, of course.
But one show that I think is due more praise and attention is surely TNT’s Southland – a cinema verite look at the rough and tumble lives of a group of LAPD police officers that was created by Emmy Award winning Anne Biderman.

I’ll admit that I only discovered Southland quite recently. I’m a fan of the film director Allison Anders, so I sought out a couple of the shows that she directed.

And it was great, raw, fast paced – and yes, gritty -stuff. Despite a slightly cheesy voice over at the start, as in other sharp American crime shows – like Justified - there was more of human life packed in one breathless 40 minute episode than most series.

But like most great television, you need to see more than the occasional episode. You need to get into it. To let it ferment.
And of late I was lucky enough to see all of Southland Season Four. And beaut stuff it was too.

Heart in the mouth tension. Realistic characters and situations. Sharp dialogue. Great performances – particularly from Michael Cudlitz, Regina King and C. Thomas Howell. Lucy Liu even guested and showed herself to be a cracking character actor.

So, if you want a short, sharp shock of US Grit, check out Southland. You won’t be disappointed.

Bio: I was born in England and now live in Poland. I started writing flash fiction and short stories at the end of 2008.  

I've since had bits and bobs published in various magazines and anthologies, including CrimeFactory, Burning Bridges, Action, Beat To A Pulp, Needle, A Twist Of Noir, Radgepacket and The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime 8. 

I've also had two short but perfectly formed collections published -13 Shots Of Noir (Untreed Reads) and Snapshots (Pulp Metal Fiction).  

Oh, and I've edited two anthologies - True Brit Grit – with Luca Veste -(Guilty Conscience) and Drunk On The Moon (Dark Valentine Press). Times.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Does Size Really Matter?

I was recently asked by the ITW Thriller "Roundtable" if, as a an author, I thought a thriller had to be played out only on a large canvass or if an intimate setting might suffice. Here's my neither right or wrong answer:

I believe an intimate story can thrill as much as a story played out over a large canvas. As always it's what the author brings to the story...the tone, the pace, the setting (even if it's a cafe table occupied by a man and a woman in conflict), the dialogue, the ability to use flashbacks as a devise to shift the setting from the intimate to the large.

I'm reminded of that famous writing exercise in which the student is asked to write a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an ending and the only character will be a piece of fruit. But the trick is, the true identity of the fruit can never be revealed (You can't start the story out by writing, "I'm an orange"). It can only be described. I'm also reminded of a movie I watched recently on Netflix about a contractor working in war-torn Iraq who has the misfortune of waking up inside a coffin buried in the earth. All he has on him is a cell phone and a lighter, and it's either call for help or die. The story in particular was far too claustrophobic for me to endure the entire ninety or so minutes, but it was certainly thrilling.

There are no real rules for writing thrillers (Okay, who disagrees with this statement?). Traditionally speaking, as both a writer and a reader, I prefer a pile-driving plot with an eclectic and rich cast of characters, and a story that takes my protagonist on the trill ride of his or her life. I have some novels, like the forthcoming Blue Moonlight, that has my main character, detective Dick Moonlight, chasing after a zip-drive that contains sensitive nuclear secrets in New York, Florence, Italy (Yup, there's a Hitchcock-style chase scene between Moonlight and a leather-clad Russian thug on top of the Duomo), and back again. But I also have a new offering called Permanence, that although taking place also in the US and Italy, involves only a man and a woman in serious, if not dangerous conflict. I consider both thrillers, but while the former might please a large variety of readers, the latter is more suited to an audience that might enjoy a more ummmm, gasp, literary style psychological suspense read.

In the end, if an author really wants to break out of his shell and come to realize his true story-telling potential, he needs to experiment with different types of stories, different forms of writing, different POVs and certainly, different canvas sizes.

As an author, what kinds of risks are you willing to take?