Thursday, September 7, 2017

Summer 2017

Summer, 2017

Begins with Central America.
Food poisoning, blood oozing from places nature and God never intended.
Caves drowned in frigid crystal clear water, dead bodies hundreds of years old, and I'm shivering.
Tall temples devoted to the Gods, but I see aliens landing here. Everyone laughs.

Hiking in the Adirondacks.
It's a nice, warm reunion for she and me.

Back home. Reality. The daily grind.
Up early to write. 1200 to 2000 words per day.
New words.

Book sales steady. Not bad. Not great.
The valley after the peak. The cycles of life.
Making a living. No complaints.
I carry on with that negative capability they pretended to teach you in writing school.

A best friend from grade school stricken with cancer. Another good friend in NYC now fighting stage 4 lung cancer. My own lung cancer scare of a few months back proved to be just that.
I refused anymore tests.
It rains, and rains, and rains.
Missiles and Nuke tests in NOKO by a laughable clown of a kid.
ANTIFA smashing windows and breaking heads.
History wiped out by lefties, ISIS style.
Right wing creeps.
Civil war.

We lose Sam Shepard
I lose Sam Shepard.

Find solace in my Jeep, trout streams and lakes.
Daily two hour workouts.
My feet hurt. Feel hobbled. 
Lanies Bar.

Two kids grown up, one going back to school. One about to enter Junior High.
The time she flies.

Two father figures die unexpectedly. It upsets the balance, even if the passings are a part of that great cycle of life. Hallmark bullshit.
Other things dying.
The summer being one of them.
The summer that never was.

The cool weather arrives early.
Cold mornings, even colder nights.
Cold stares, one from the other.

Still the writing gets done.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Michael Schein's Inc. Mag publishing article is fake news

Michael Schein

This is not to shine a poor light on Inc. Magazine's Michael Schein (haha). It's merely to point out how his recent article, Why Self-Publishing Is A Terrible Idea (Here's What You Should Do Instead), is not only misguided, but sort of dangerous considering half the title is devoted to dishing out advice to would-be writers. 

Normally, I'm so busy with the daily word count, that I don't have time to respond to articles like these. After all, everyone is entitled to an opinion and we're still sort of a free country. But I actually wrote a comment and attempted to post it in the comments section of the piece, but Inc. is one of those online mags that makes you sign up or take out a subscription in order to leave a comment, so my words got lost in the ether that is the internet. 

Read the article, and you'll see why I think it's way off base if not fake news. But if I were to focus on one important aspect of the piece, it would be this. Mr. Schein speaks of the advances major publishers dole out which are supposed to help a writer really make his or her manuscript shine. This is hilarious considering the average advance these days is about $5K and even then you get maybe $2K up front. That pays for maybe a couple of weeks worth of time away from the salt mine or where ever a traditionally published author must find work these days. 

He also states that having Simon & Schuster or some other big publishing house printed on the spine will add a certain cred to the publication. Sure, I get that. Everyone wants validation, especially in this business. But Dear Mr. Schein, no one gives a shit who publishes the book, the reader only wants a good story or their needs fulfilled (as in the case of nonfiction). I've got a bunch of books with major publisher monikers on the spine and they don't do nearly as well as the books that bear the moniker of my personal indie publishing company, Bear Media.

As a hybrid author, I am now no longer at the mercy of a big publisher. Up until recently, I relied on big advances to pay my way. If I didn't get an advance, I was in trouble for the year. It's a hell of way to live, let me tell you. It's the life of a slave, or an indentured servant at base. You see, a major publisher can make or break a book. If it wants to propel it to the top of the lists, it can. But if it gets bored with a title, or the marketing team doesn't like the title, or if there's a major staff shift at the publishing house prior to publication (this has happened to me twice and in both instances the novel tanked), the title will be DOA. 

But today authors have a choice. We can publish traditionally or independently (this is not to be confused with vanity publishing which is criminal). Or, like me, we can do both. Used to be I would put out a story or a short novel via Amazon KDP and it was sort of a fun sideline that made me a few bucks per month. I was more of a traditionalist back then. But now things have been reversed. Traditional publishing has become more of the sideline, while the books published under my own label provide me a nice living. 

Come February 2018, I'll have a new hardcover thriller released to the world. Sure, I'll get the reviews, I'll be in the bookstores, I'll do the signings in NYC, and it will all be fun. I might even get a movie deal out of it. As a writer, I will be validated. Hopefully I'll earn out my advance. But like the old days, I won't lose sleep over earning it out. Financially speaking, the books I own all the rights to are doing the heavy lifting. Have I mentioned rights argument yet? I'll save that for another piece.

I imagine Mr. Schein's argument might revolve around the following: It's a terrible idea to self publish a business book. But that's not what it says in the article header. Fake news! But then, we live in an age where lies are considered truths and truths are reviled. 

For an article on why crime authors are going indie click HERE!



Sunday, August 6, 2017

Uber: It's Just Easier

A few words about Uber...

I've never used it, nor have I downloaded the app on my smartphone. But I know at least one person driving for them, and judging by the amount of cash he appears to be bringing home from this part-time gig, it seems like a great gig for a self-starter. It's an easy job, and a no brainer.

Up until very recently, I'd never met anyone who used the service. But these people described their experience as a Godsend.

"Why drive when you can use Uber?" they asked.

The question, as unanswerable as it is, made me feel like I was living under a rock. I like driving my Jeep. I like it a lot. But why do I feel like in the very near future, I will be the sole human driver on the road while Uber driverless cars cart family and friends around town?

It's coming, believe you me.

Yesterday I delivered a lecture at a conference for Writer's Digest University and their second annual Mystery and Thriller Writer's Conference. I didn't have to fly to another city, or drive hundreds of miles. I didn't have to shell out for an expensive hotel room. I didn't waste hundreds of dollars on meals and drinks. I simply delivered my lecture with the help of Power Point, answered a whole bunch of questions, and later on fielded emails from attendees who appreciated the lecture. I also recognized an uptick in book sales.

The conference was a success and I never had to leave my writing studio. It was easy.

Amazon now owns Fresh Market. You can do all your grocery shopping online, have your stuff delivered right to your door. Easy peasy.

Some single friends of mine no longer date using It takes too much work. They use Tinder. Just find a suitable mate who is probably occupying the same space as you are...a bar for instance. Let he or she know you're interested. No fuss, no sweat. Easy.   

I wonder when I'll be selling books right off my website directly to my list of dedicated fans? That time is coming. No publisher required. No bookstore. No library. Not even an online distributor like Amazon or Kobo. Just direct sales. It will be so easy.

I woke up this morning to see that Eric Bolling of Fox News fame has been accused of sending lewd pictures to some of his female colleagues at the network. The accusers remains "anonymous." It brought to mind all the professionals who have been accused of wrong doing at Fox recently. Roger Ailes (R.I.P.), Bill O'Reilly, Charles Payne, and even Sean Hannity. Is there a pattern emerging here? The Deep State going after conservatives and Trump supporters? Whatever is happening, these accusations always seem to be backed up by anonymous sources.

I guess it's easier that way. 


Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Embalmer: A Steve Jobz Thriller

I've been working with gritty PIs Dick Moonlight and Jack Marconi for so long, I thought it was time to bring another dude into the fold. His name is Steve Jobz, which is short for Jobzinski (it got cut off at Ellis Island when his relatives arrived from Poland back before the war). 

In word, he's what my late grandfather would have referred to as a "pisser." You know, one of those guys who's always getting into trouble, can't seem to get much right, but whom you can't help but like or even love. He's not the biggest guy in the room, but he's got a big heart. Plus, he's got no choice but to bear the burden of having a name so very similar to one of the most successful individuals who's ever lived. His first novel is called THE EMBALMER and it too is a pisser.  Think, Better Call Saul meets The Rockford Files.

Without having to reinvent the wheel, here's the synopsis as provided by the KDP page:

"The Embalmer is dying to meet you..."

From New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Overall No. 1 Bestselling Thriller and Shamus Award winning author Vincent Zandri comes a brand new private detective series that combines wry humor with some serious hard-boiled action, adventure, and romance. For fans of Don Winslow, Charlie Huston, Vince Gilligan and cable TV series like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

You might think that a guy with the name of Steve Jobz would be one lucky man. That he'd be rich and have the world at his fingertips. But instead, Jobz is barely making ends meet at the New York State Department of Unemployment Insurance Fraud. A former cop who was forced to retire early after shooting a young man of color during a convenience store holdup, Jobz has since resigned himself to wasting away his days in a four-by-four cubicle inside an office space that's more boring than watching the paint dry.

But when his overbearing boss calls him in on a job that the Albany Police Department is heading up, Jobz has a chance to get out of the office for a while. But what he doesn't realize is that he's about to come face to face with a serial killer who embalms his victims alive. What he is also about to face down, is his own worst nightmare come true when that serial killer turns out not to be a stranger. 

Here's hoping you take advantage of he special $2.99 pricing that will be around for the launch weekend only.  Grab The Embalmer HERE!


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Monthly Writing Challenge

The new series is dying to meet you...
I'm always pumping out the words, but this month I've taken on a new challenge. I'm writing a new episodic erotic noir novel inspired by some of the edgier cable TV shows we all love to binge. It's called The Handyman.

Thus far, I've completed two of the episodes which contain about 15k words each. I've also started on the third episode. I'll be releasing each episode, one per month, soon under my own Bear Noir label. In the end, I'll collect them into one single book.

At this point I'm not sure if I'll do more than three episodes before I begin releasing them, but first I'd like to see the response from my fan base. 

In the meantime, I'll have a new novel coming out every 60 days from this point forward for the rest of the year including January when Polis Books publishes a new standalone thriller, The Detonator (which is getting a lot Hollywood play, I should tell you. More on that at a later date).  Scratch that. By the looks of things, I should be putting out a new novel every 60 days for the next year and a half.

Clearly, I'm a roll here...creatively speaking.

Let me tell you about another author who is on a roll of his own. This past spring I interviewed New York City novelist Lee Matthew Goldberg for the prestigious, Fiction Writer's Review, about his new novel The Mentor, which is getting great praise from the critics. Lee is both a friend and a screen writing partner. Grab the interview HERE.

I'll soon be starting on the second novel in Steve Jobz series. Thus far the pilot novel, The Embalmer, has turned out to be my most successful pre-order to date, and that includes my 9 Thomas & Mercer novels. Go figure. So if you want to pre-order a copy now for a special price, click HERE.

I'm still a hybrid author, but have you noticed that I've been doing more and more indie publishing as of late? I'll be curious to compare the statements from my traditional publishers with my indie data later this month. My guess is my indie numbers are, for the most part, better, if not far better. Food for thought.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Pieces of Mind

Fiction isn't my only shtick. I've been writing non-fiction and essays since I first picked up a pencil. The topics I've covered over the years range from fly fishing, to travel, to architecture, to hunting, to coping with a loved one's depression. I've also written about writing.

So many books exist on the Amazon shelves dealing with how to become a bestselling author or how to game the system that it's impossible to hear yourself think over all the noise. But few books actually deal with the what it's like to be a writer, how it affects your relationships, what it's like to be alone all the time on a day to day basis, making a living by making stuff up.

My new book (errr one of my new books), Pieces of Mind: Fictional Truths & Non-Fictional Lies about Writing and the Writing Life, is one of the only ones out there that not only attacks the subject of "on writing," but that also deals with the "writing life." Here's the official product description: 
Brand new from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Vincent Zandri comes a non-fiction volume that will hold special appeal for those writers, new or established, who've enjoyed books on writing by Stephen King, Charles Bukoswki, Scott Nicholson, Chris Fox, Wayne Stinnett, and more.

Featuring a brand new introduction by the author on how he willingly gave up his birthright as the heir apparent to a multi-million dollar commercial construction firm in order to pursue his writing passion, Pieces of Mind contains essays on topics as diverse as lost love, sex, divorce, coping with a child's severe depression, experiencing Carnival in Venice, to sharing a first beer with your teenage son. But every word is delivered under the umbrella of a full-time fiction writer and freelance journalist trying to make sense of the lush world that surrounds him.

You'll also find "how to" pieces on going indie, staying traditional, and even hybrid authorship. You'll discover how Zandri sold 100,000 books in a single month, and how to keep on writing when you don't even want to get out of bed in the morning. Originally featured in publications such as Conor Friedersdorf's Culture 11 Magazine, Literarily Speaking, Writer's Digest, and other now archived pieces originally written for The Vincent Zandri Vox, these essays will make you laugh, cry, cringe, and think. Most of all they will want to make you drop everything to write your own story, be it fiction, non-fiction, or a fictional truth.

From the ITW Thriller and PWA Shamus Award Winning author of the No. 1 Bestselling novels, THE REMAINS and EVERYTHING BURNS, as well as new bestsellers like THE ASHES, ORCHARD GROVE and THE EMBALMER, comes the first in a series of books ON WRITING.

If you love short, sharp vignette style essays that get right to the point, while kicking aside political correctness, you'll love Pieces of Mind.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Amazon giveways, food poisoning, and a new release: Just another day in the life

Three weeks ago I was lying on a bare mattress with only a ceiling fan to cool my sweat-soaked body. I was suffering from the effects of food poisoning which I attributed entirely to my own carelessness. You don't travel to a third world country and eat as many street tacos as humanly possible and expect to feel well. What I'm about to tell you is not for the weak stomached nor it is for the kids, so skip a bit if you must. But at one point, nature was not taking it's normal course, rather, I was bleeding out.

The fixer for my research trip explained that a hospital might be in order, but together we gazed into one another's eyes, and the answer seemed obvious enough. Better not to go to a hospital in Guatemala than to willingly go. In the end he suggested I just allow the disease to take its course. "Oh, and we leave for the six hour overland drive at four in the morning," he added.

I wanted to die.

Here's a bit of video shot as I was beginning to recover the dreaded disease...

So now I'm back in New York and facing other more business related challenges that also make me feel like I'm bleeding out. One of these might not seem like a big deal to some, but I utilize Amazon Giveaways as one of my primary marketing tools. But for some reason, Amazon won't allow me to giveaway any of my titles as of this past Friday. Now you might think there would be a quick fix to this, but after spending countless hours and days on the phone with everyone from KDP to Kindle Retail and back again, no one can figure out what the hell is going on. It's almost like someone or something is tossing a wrench into the Zandri publishing works.

You'll also recall that I was unceremoniously removed from Kindle Select a few months ago without warning. Hmmmm, not that I subscribe to conspiracy theories, but things are beginning to smell a little bit. Or maybe my overactive imagination is playing tricks on me again. In any case, I've spoken to some very nice people at the firm and they are working the problem, even if they are doing a lot head scratching in the meantime. Hopefully, my giveaways will be up and running soon, and you dear fans, will be able to take advantage of some new free book offers.

Speaking of books, I have a new series starting up in July. The PI series will feature Steve Jobz (get it?). It will combine some wry humor with all the action, romance, and suspense you might expect from a Zandri crime novel. The pilot novel in the series is The Embalmer. In a nut shell, it involves a serial killer who enjoys embalming his victims while they're still alive. "Where do you come up with this shit?" a doctor once asked me. So there you have it.

Please pre-order now at a special low price!!!

I have quite a few new projects on the horizon including a brand new full-length Chase Baker action/adventure novel, the first in the Young Chase Baker YA series, and even a new erotic noir series. The latter will most definitely not be for the kiddies but Mature Audiences only. Now that the journalism is all but entirely paused, I'm putting out as many fictional words as possible everyday. It's what I love to do. And I hope you love to read them.



Sunday, June 4, 2017


Boats, rain forest, and food poisoning. What's not to like?

The crash of thunder and lightning woke from my first sound sleep in nights. The lightning was so close you could hear the quick “click” that occurs a split second or less before the massive crash of thunder. The thunder rattles my little bungalow in the middle of a Rio Dulce tropical forest. "Bungalow" is pushing it since it’s really just three and a half walls, the other made up of screen. There’s a ceiling fan for ventilation but mostly it just pushes the hot humid air around. That means the torrential downpour, despite the rattle, hum, shock and awe of thunderclaps, is a welcome friend down here in central Guatemala. 

It’s the rainy season, so I expected nothing less. 

From what my fixer tells me, it’s hot and humid in these parts, 365 days per year. It’s still a much sought out destination for wealthy sailors and less than rich adventurers who wish to moor their boats for a while. It's even becoming a much sought out exotic destination for Americans who wish to retire to a place less expensive that Florida. Think Key West or Havana circa 1925. 

What I didn’t quite expect coming down here is the food poisoning I contracted forty eight hours ago back when I was still residing in modern civilization. That is, Antigua. I had very good wifi in Antigua so another writer friend of mine accused me of being on vacation. Bastard. Tell that to my gut! But with the help of Cipro antibiotic twice per day and enough Imodium to block me up for months, I’m doing my best to get through it all.

I fell in love with South America, especially Peru and the Amazon some years ago while researching what would become Chase Baker and the Golden Condor. Now, I’m back in jungle/tropical rain forest territory to research what will become a Chase Baker action/adventure centered somehow around the Mayans and magnificent ancient civilizations like Tikal. I had originally planned on heading into El Mirador, arguably an ancient lost civilization older and much larger than Tikal, but the trip was cancelled by the adventure company I use. However, my guide down here tells me he can take me in at a later date to be determined. It’s two days hike in, one full day at the site, and another two day hike out. For now I’ll have to settle with what I’ve got, which is an overland view of Guatemala, Belize and the Yukatan in Mexico. It’s a lot of traveling, a lot of early mornings, a lot of bug spray, but I’m always up for the challenge.

What’s the old saying? Reporters gather facts. Writers gather experience. I’ve been a freelance reporter, and even a photo journalist, but I was never entirely comfortable in that role, as the facts are not always enough to peek my interest. Where’s the drama? I’ll expand upon the rule: reporters ignore the drama. Writers crave drama.

Soon I’ll be taking a boat upstream to an island village, Livingston, made up of West Africans, displaced Hondurans, indigenous Mayans, Guatemalans, and who knows what. For now, I’ll be taking a hike through the jungle that surrounds this compound. Maybe I’ll see a monkey, or an anaconda, or a croc. Yesterday I came upon a peacock that must have been five feet long from beak to tip of multi-colored tail. It was quite the thing to see. I’m surrounded by the sights, sounds, heat and humidity of the jungle. Despite my stomach, I’m soaking it all in. Craving the experience, the way a real writer should. 


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Central America First Stop

That plume of smoke way beyond is a live volcano...
Quick check-in now that I've been hanging out in Antigua, Guatemala for a few days. Lovely colonial town with an unspoiled feel. Two and three-storied stucco-covered buildings, some of which are as old as the forested mountains that surround it. A live volcano watches over the place like a benign ruler with a loaded gun in his hand. You see the smoke rising up from its peak during the daylight hours (that is, the cloud cover isn't obscuring it) and you see the glow of hot lava at night.

Now how cool is that, travel lovers?

There's the usual smog and pollution from the many cars and trucks that motor across old cobbled roads that are an absolute bitch to walk. I've jogged them a couple of times which means I'm begging for a broken ankle or at the very least, a broken toe. Such is the stupidity of the author.

But this is a place of happy natives who, unlike NYC for instance, smile at you when you pass by on the street. The temperature is relatively cool for a tropical lowland/highland geography, but the humidity high. It rains every night since it's the rainy season. The smell is a combination grilled meats, roasting chocolate and coffee, and exhaust. The sounds are motorbikes, cars, church bells, fountains, and laughter. I don't think I've witnessed a single person in distress.

A writer can live here in a nice house, hire staff, and live very well for maybe $30K per year. Makes one think. But this is the easy peasy part of my journey which truly begins on Friday. So I'm enjoying my little calm before the storm, eating some tacos, washing it all down with Gallo Beer. From paradise into the jungle I go to the lost city of Z. Zandri that is. 


Yesterday I hired a tuck-tuck to take me around the place. Note for solo travelers. Don't feel like paying a whole lot of dough for the mega tour including an all you can eat buffet lunch? Just hire a taxi driver and pay him extra for his services. You be surprised how accommodating he can be.

Here's a video snapshot:

Vaya con dios amigos...


Monday, May 29, 2017

Layovers and Tiger Woods

We all mess up now and again...
I've been up since 2:30 am, so if this seems like a bunch of garbled words, well it probably is. Add to that a couple shots of Jamesons, plus a Valium, and you get the idea. I'm heading down to Central America to research yet another Chase Baker pulp action thriller. Since the latest Chase Baker just arrived on the scene a month of two ago, Chase Baker the Dutch Diamond, and there's also one waiting to be edited, Chase Baker and the Spear of Destiny, this one will not be released probably until early '18.

I'm also close to 20K words into the first Young Chase Baker novel. It's a YA novel. My first. What a joy it's been writing in the teenage adolescent Chase voice. In some ways, it's much more of a challenge than the contemporary takes since the period is not only different (1979), the voice is different. Obviously, Chase isn't as slick, experienced, or as educated as he is now. But he is ballsy, if not too ballsy, and he is, as always, in trouble with the ladies. What's also interesting, is that his dad is alive in this series. In fact, his dad is younger than the contemporary Chase is now, yet he refers to him as his "old man."

Right now, the working title is Young Chase Baker and the Cross of the Last Crusade. A bit of a mouthful, but so what. It's my book, my show. In the meantime, my newest release is a new novella in the PI Jack Marconi series. Arbor Hill. Released this past Friday, it's already killing it, so grab a copy at any distributor from Kobo to Amazon, while it's priced to sell. Tomorrow, the price normalized.

Time for me to pack up the laptop and head down to the gate, with maybe a pit stop at the bar for one more Jamesons. Then a nap on the plane to Guatemala. And what the hell is this I hear Tiger Woods got busted for a DUI (dee wee)? I leave for a few hours and the whole world goes to hell. Well, poor Tiger is living proof that greatness is not immune to the occasional screw up. I wish him well, and that he gets his shit together fast, which I'm sure he will. Watch for the media to blow this whole this out of proportion. Oh, well, the mainstream media outlets gotta keep moving those Pampers and Budweiser Beer...

Thanks God I'm not driving.

See yah next stop...



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Keeping Up the Promised Pace

This year I committed myself to putting out a piece of fiction every month. At the very least, a short story, more than likely a novella, and on occasion, a full-length novel. I've also produced another Chase Baker Boxed Set, but that doesn't count. And of course, all this is separate from the novels my traditional publishers put out on my behalf. Which means I've been a busy little bee, and so has my editorial/art team.

On Friday, the 6th Jack Marconi PI story, in this case, a novella will be released. It's called Arbor Hill and came to me in the form of a story a buddy of mine told me last month over a beer. A poor soul went on a date with a woman, a dentist mind you, who took him for $10K on his credit card. Oh, and she would not have sex with him with a condom on. Naturally she pulled the, "I think I'm pregnant" thing on him a week or two later.

Jeeze, I'm not sure if I should feel sorry for the poor sap, or slap some sense into him. Such is the dilemma Jack Marconi PI faces now that said poor soul has hired him to get his money back.

You can still pro-order this one at a very special price (on Amazon that is):

Amazon US

Amazon UK

But you can buy it now at


Barnes & Noble


It's a killer story and you can read it one sitting or over the course of a couple of nights.
BTW: As a hybrid writer, I can now confidently report, that I am making double and in some cases triple/quadruple the sales on my indie books than I am my traditionally published efforts. Which leaves me feeling conflicted. Do I pursue more independent opportunities with my own label, Bear Media, or stay true to hybrid authorship?

Time will tell.    

Friday, May 12, 2017


Sorry...I'm not talking about the kind of discipline that involves black leather, riding crops and chains. So mind of out of the gutter pronto.

This is the kind of discipline that leads to freedom. If you're a writer, what you're working for in the short and long run, is freedom. The freedom to do whatever you want when you want to do it. But just like the freedom we enjoy as Americans, it don't come cheap nor does it come without a lot of hard work. It takes discipline to pull your butt out of bed everyday and sit yourself down at the writing desk to pump out five or six pages of new work, day in and day out. Discipline takes strength but it also takes desire and self-motivation.

Working for yourself is a goal most working stiffs and corporate slaves only dream about. What's the point of putting in all that schooling, all those loans, if you're only signing up for two weeks vacation per year?

One of the best things about being a full-time author (or freelance writer for that matter) is being your own boss, setting your own schedule, building a passive income that will not only take care of you and yours in the present tense, but will supply financial security for future generations. But it all takes discipline.

So how do I go about applying the writing disciple in my everyday life?

The answer is in the Vlog (nice face huh?):

 THE REMAINS, the No. 1 Overall Amazon Bestselling, is just 0.99 for a Limited Time! "Beware the Woods!"


Saturday, May 6, 2017

You got what it takes to be a full-time author?

My very first novel back in the day of big advances ...
I've been doing this writing gig for a long time now. Full-time. Some years have been spectacular. You know, those years when I'm scoring big contracts and winning some prestigious awards, and hitting all the lists.

Then there are those years where all I hear are crickets, the bank account is dwindling, and the passengers are jumping ship.

Most years, however, fall somewhere in between the highs and the lows, and that's actually a good place to be. Because in the writing business, things are never as good as they seem, nor are they as bad.

The only thing you can control is the writing. At least, that's what my first editor at Delacorte Publishing, Jacob Hoye, used to tell me. And he was spot on. So long as you're true to your craft, everything else can go to hell.

Now, with further ado, you got what it takes to be a full-time author?

Today THE REMAINS is just 0.99...
Grab it and be thrilled...


Friday, May 5, 2017

Who Doesn't Like a Threesome?

We all want more.
More food, more booze, more sex, more sleep, more fun, more action, more adventure, more romance, more life...Now you can get a whole lot more of action/adventure hero and Renaissance man, Chase Baker in the newly released Chase Baker Trilogy II. Included in this collection, three of the more recent bestselling Chase Baker paranormal romance adventures:

1. Chase Baker and Lincoln Curse
2. Chase Baker and the Da Vinci Divinity
3. Chase Baker and the Seventh Seal

No.'s 2 and 3 were researched on-site. The former by motorbike at the little town of Vinci in Italy's Tuscan countryside. The latter was researched in Jerusalem and all of Israel last June. I take pride in my research efforts which have taken me from Mt. Everest to Machu Picchu and from the Great Wall to Red Square. In three weeks, I'll pack up the backpack, slip on my hiking boots, store my malaria pills, and head down to the jungles of Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico to research what will be Chase Baker no. 12. 

What's that I hear? You're not commenting on research for the Chase Baker and the Lincoln Curse. Well, that one takes place less than a mile up the road fro my home. The story comes courtesy of my first wife who grew up in an old house that once served as the home for Major Henry Rathbone who, along with his wife, Clara Harris, shared the Presidential Box along with Abraham Lincoln on the night he was fatally shot by John Wilkes Boothe at Washington's Ford's Theater in April 1865. When Lincoln dropped, he fell into Clara's lap. Her bloodied dress was said to have been haunted by the spirit of Lincoln. It was allegedly stored behind a brick wall in the house and it was said to have caused both the Major and Clara to go completely insane. There's a lot more to the story, but then you'll have to grab the book and read it.

The good thing about The Chase Baker Trilogy II is that it's totally bingeable. It's sort of a damp, cool weekend here in the northeast. The perfect weather for lighting a fire, and curling up with some Chase Baker. Get this one in eBook or Paper for a special low price for a very limited time.

Buy The Chase Baker Trilogy II:




Barnes & Noble/Nook


Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Emily Phillips: She was born, she blinked and...
I read recently about a Florida woman, Emily Phillips, who wrote her own obituary. It went something like this. I was born, I blinked, and it was over. It hit me hard. Because I could entirely relate. Luckily or by the grace of God, I'm not writing my own obit at present, but for certain, I was born, I blinked, and I turned 50. Or 52. How the hell did that happen?

I look at writing projects on my table. Some stuff I've been thinking about for years. More than ten years. Back when a man or a women entering the workforce or even writing their first stuff was still in kindergarten. In some ways, life is better than it's ever been. I feel better, because I work out like crazy and I don't abuse myself like I once could. Was a time I could party all night and get up and bite on the nail. That no longer holds true, so I don't abuse myself. It just isn't worth it anymore.

But there are scares that, dare I say it, come with age. The doctors tell me I have too much plaque on the arteries. It's genetic for the most part. But now I'll need to take medication to keep the cholesterol down. The bad stuff. I have to cut out certain foods. No more red meats or butter or bacon double cheeseburgers. Oh well. You do what you have to do. You're lucky to be here.

There are those who are not so lucky. People who have been friends for ages. For life in some cases. They are sick. Gravely sick. You never imagined the possibility let alone probability, that they would one day be gone from your life, so you put off seeing them for a while because life is getting in the way. A while turns into years, and years, and more years. And then you find out they aren't well. You do what you can to help them, but it will never be enough. You failed them a long time ago. You were selfish.

Look at yourself in the mirror. You might not realize it, but the life is racing by. Make the days count, the hours, the minutes. I know you've heard it before, but don't sweat the little things. Live the life the way you always imagined it. Buy a plane ticket...Now.  A ticket to anywhere.
Because one day you'll blink, and it will be over.


Friday, April 28, 2017

The Blank Page

A familiar sight...
The difficult thing about being a fiction writer, is having to make it all up, day in and day out. You can borrow on what's happening all around you, if that makes it slightly easier. The crime, the politics (if you're so inclined), the cultural pulse, and so on. But always, you are are still left facing the same blank canvas.

There are mornings when I wake up, having no idea what I'm going to write or how I'm going to write it. All I know is that it, whatever it is, must be written. It's what I do, how I define myself, and and my reason for living.

Some days it's easy. Other days, it truly is like biting on the nail, as someone far more famous than me described it a long, long time ago. But always, I do it. No matter what's happening in my life, no matter my physical or mental condition, no matter the day, no matter the weather. If a nuclear attack were imminent, would I still get the word count in?

As absurd as that question is, the answer is obvious enough for me.
But what about you?


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The 'But(t)' Sentence

The most famous butt in the word, errr...
We don't always accept stuff at face value. Not if we're being smart. We weigh the pros and cons, often carrying on an internal dialogue in our heads. I.E. "Hmmmmm, that chocolate frosted donut sitting all by itself in the case looks delicious. But maybe I should eat something healthier. Like a banana. But I'm not crazy about bananas. I could always have cereal. But all I have is Cheerios and Cheerios suck. Now how about that donut. But my clothes feel like they're shrinking lately..."
And so on, and so forth. BTW: You probably end up eating say half the donut and therefore the calories don't count.

But I digress.

So one of the tricks of the writing trade...fiction that is, but it can be applied to the nonfiction stuff the infamous But Sentence. I say infamous only because it sounds good. The But Sentence is used not only to propel a paragraph along, but also to help flesh out a character and/or situation more fully. It also keeps the reader more subconsciously interested in the text since But Sentences provide a specific rhythm to the story. Think of these little gems as paradiddles for words.

"Kim hated her long dark hair. It was dirty and unkempt. But then, she liked the way it made he blue eyes seem even bluer. Or her eyes weren't blue necessarily, but more like baby blue with a little gray in there. Actually, they were brown. Now she could always cut her hair. But she didn't have the money for a decent beautician. Instead she could cut it herself. However, she could never trust herself with a pair of scissors. Clearly, Kim, had herself one hairy conundrum."

Or something like that. But hey, I'm making this up as a I go.

The point of the illustration is to demonstrate that a But Sentence doesn't always begin with a But, rather, it can begin with an "Or," or an "Instead" or a "However," or even a "Clearly." You get a sense of the back and forth, the teeter-totter rhythm of the graph. You don't even have to care all that much about Kim's problem, but you keep reading because of the rhythm, the back and forthness of it all.The Buts are not only the glue that holds the thing together, it's the drumstick coming down on the snare drum, the bass pedal beating the bass drum.

Practice a few But Sentences on your own today. It's a fun exercise. Or maybe I'm just fooling myself. Of course, I'm one of those geeks who sees Kim Kardashian's big butt on a magazine cover and has to write a story around it. A long story. But then, that's my job.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Marketing: The Time Suck

I work all the time. In fact, I'm sometimes like the crotchety writer dude played by Jack Nicholson in that movie from the late 1990s, As Good As It Gets. There's a scene in which he tells Helen Hunt, "I work all the time." The point being, Don't bug me. Writers are a funny bunch in that they don't feel right unless they are putting words on a page, good words or bad words.

But lately, I feel like despite the stellar word count, the marketing has been getting in the way. The social media, the interviews, the setting up of promos, the website updates, the newsletters, the compiling of subscribers and, if you're like me, answering as many fan emails as you can possibly answer without your fingers falling off from all the typing. I like my fans. They support me. Therefore, I like to give them the personal treatment.

Now, marketing your work doesn't apply only to your independently published books and stories. It also applies to the traditional stuff. In some cases, I find myself pushing the traditional stuff more, since the publishers just don't have the time or the budget to keep pushing Zandri books, especially the ones I can't even get my own mother to buy.

Some authors rely on Amazon ads or Facebook ads. They pour a bunch of money into the ad budget then create numerous ad-sets and forget about it. But like I intuited in a previous post, these ads can be a money suck if not monitored closely enough. Some authors hire virtual assistants to handle the marketing overflow. I've done this in the past and it never really works out, because you lose control over your messaging when someone else is producing it. Some authors do nothing. Their marketing is boiled down to consistent output. Write, publish, rinse, repeat. There's that rule again. The more books and stories you create, the better chance you have of making a decent monthly and semi-annual profit.

I believe that making more words is the inevitable answer. Writing stories day in and day out without hesitation. But how can one keep up with that kind of grueling pace? you ask. Simple. Some people never miss a day of work in a forty year career, minus vacations of course. Why should a writer be any different? Here's how I do it. I tell myself I'm working for a Hollywood studio, like Fox or Disney. They give me a room and a typewriter, and my boss tells me, "I want a story on my desk by the end of the week, or no paycheck." See, it's not so difficult when you look at it from that POV.

Anyway, this was supposed to be about marketing. But it all comes down to the writing, doesn't it?
Write, publish, rinse, repeat.
Everything else is secondary.

Grab my new novel THE ASHES