Saturday, January 23, 2021

I Thought Covid Would Kill Me

 No exaggeration. I thought Covid-19 would kill me. It all started out so innocently, as so many little seasonal colds and flus do. I went skiing on a Wednesday, but by Thursday evening, I was enjoying a beer in one of my locals after a day of writing, and I started feeling not quite myself. Rather, I could feel a fever coming on, and get this, my lungs ached right down to the ribs. I knew something was wrong, but I pretty much shrugged it off and said to my friend, "Think I'll grab some NyQuil at the supermarket before I head home." Every year I get a little something, and usually all it takes to kill it is a couple good night's rest with the help of some night time cough medicine. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, as my grandmother liked to say. 

But I suffered through that first night while the fever not only intensified, my entire body went into some kind of toxic shock that took the form of aching joints, muscle, and bones. It was a chore just heading the few feet to the bathroom, and all the while I was there, I was shivering with fever. The next morning, I called my doc and she told me to get tested, pronto. Since that would take a few days, she suggested I isolate myself anyway, and take plenty of fluids. I did as she told me. This wasn't an easy thing for me. Even though I work at a desk in my bedroom, I run and lift heavy weights day in and day out, and simply staying still in my bedroom all day was going to prove more difficult than it seemed, even being sick. Still, I did as I was told. 

The next day, I was tested and the day after that, the results came back in the form of a text message all in big red letters. Positive for Covid-19. Naturally, I tried to figure out where I could have contracted it. So did New York State who promptly called me, gave me my beginning and end dates for quarantine, and then proceeded to trace my movements. Like I said, I'd been skiing, I'd been to a couple locals that had been practicing safety precautions, and of course, the local mega-mart. Other than that, I'd been to the dentist, and a physical therapy session for my lower back. In the end, we never really could figure out where I got the dreaded bat disease. All I knew is I had it and had it bad. 

Now, I know of handful of men and women about my age who have had Covid. None of them were necessarily in good shape, and one of them in particular had been using a cane for severe lower back problems and was even in the hospital for bad kidney stones. Yet, his Covid case was a mild one. His symptoms were like a cold. That's it. Yet, what I contracted, kept getting worse and worse, almost like I had underlying medical conditions. Case and point: after around day 4, I started developing a severe bronchial cough. It felt like I was tearing my ribs out with every gut wrenching cough. 

Around day 5 or 6, I started coughing up blood. As I watched my blood circling the toilet drain, I pictured myself being dragged to the ER and immediately transferred to ICU. A nurse would turn to a co-worker and tell her to "Get a priest." That's the stuff that was swimming through my mind while I felt like I was dying. I called my doctor and she took charge, putting me on a steroid for the lungs plus a heavy duty cough medicine with codeine. It seemed to help. 

Other little things occurred. I didn't lose my sense of taste or smell, so much as food tasted like salt, and liquids like orange juice tasted flat and old. And boy did I sleep. Even though I did my best to keep up with my work schedule, I slept pretty much from 8PM to 8AM, and then again, 1-3PM. And even then, I had to tear myself from my mattress. But like the doc said, the only real cure for the disease is constant rest, and the inner hope that the virus doesn't start winning the war being waged inside your body. 

Now it's been well over two full weeks, and I am happy to report I'm definitely on the road to recovery. I'm even back to light workouts and short jogs. It's important to build up the strength in my lungs again. But it's sad knowing there are people out there who are getting this awful disease who will not make it. It will be too strong for them. It will attack their organs and make their lungs into so much toast, and it will kill them. As for me, I might have dodged a bullet with this one, but I've also learned a lesson. Life isn't cheap, but it can be fleeting. Despite Covid restrictions I made immediate plans for an adventure to the Middle East in late May, and I will make plans to be in Italy for most of the Fall. After that, I will finally make the move to a place that suits me and my work perfectly. Or who knows, maybe I will just keep traveling the world since I can work from where I want, when I want. 

I'm immune to this thing now, so they say. For how long, I don't know. But I will be vaccinated as soon as possible. I don't want a rematch with it. Facing a grim reaper in the form of a manufactured foreign born virus once in a lifetime was enough for me. 

I hope you stay safe, and avoid Covid-19 like the  plague. 


For a one week more you can grab THE GIRL WHO WASN'T THERE in eBook for just $1.99 as a part of a Kindle Monthly Deal. Grab yours!!!!







Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas America (Are We Dead Yet?)

A few years back, Xmas in Rome.


Yes, I'm writing on Christmas morning, but that's not my choice, it's sort of my duty. A long time ago when I was studying and writing at The Breadloaf Writer's Conference, the novelist Tim O'Brien kindly took me under his wing, personally critiqued a short story of mine which was then called Portrait, and which later became the novel, When Shadows Come (a novel that was orphaned prior to its release from Thomas & Mercer when the editor jumped ship--something that happens a lot over there. But as usual, I digress). 

In the middle of going over the story, sometimes line by line, he with red pencil in hand and trademark Boston Red Sox baseball cap on his head, lit cigarette between his lips, suddenly asked, "Hey you don't happen to have any coke on you?" 

I was sorely disappointed I didn't. 

In any case, when we were through he said...and I'll never forget it..."One day, you're going to be more famous than you are now. You will have fans, and they will expect a lot out of you. They will, in some cases, become more needy than your wives (yes, he used the plural), and you will need to put out for them. That means you will be writing on your birthday, when you are sick with the flu, when you are happy, and when you are depressed. You will be writing ON CHRISTMAS DAY, whether you like it or not." 

So there you have it, readers. It's Christmas and I will spend my day or most of it anyway, working on novel edits. But let me say, Merry Christmas to you all. Some might find that offensive but I'm not woke, and shall forever remain asleep, metaphorically speaking, I guess. 2020 is about to come to an end and let's hope the door slaps it on the ass on the way out. 

I still recall standing inside a bar in Lake Placid last New Years Eve as a blizzard was blowing outside. I had a pool cue in hand, and was watching the wall mounted TV while my GF was beating me at pool. The report about a virus outbreak in China sent a chill down my spine. At that point it was still a small story in the grand scheme of things, but I recall saying half under my breath to said GF, "This is going to be bad. This is going to be very, very bad." And bad it became. 

I'm not fond of the Grateful Dead, and in fact, I hate their music (I prefer old punk rock), but I'm reminded of their song that goes What a Long Strange Trip it's Been. It's raining outside my window. I had planned on skiing today (sorry Tim), but the grass outside my writing studio looks like a putting green. There's hardly any planes in the air and many fewer cars on the road. Carbon emissions are way down. Why isn't it snowing AOC? But again, I digress. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, it doesn't feel like Christmas. In fact, the whole year doesn't feel like we've progressed, but if anything, regressed into this population of fenced in individuals who are slowly going insane with boredom, loneliness, financial ruin, and despair (BTW, my profound thanks to the US government for pulling through with stimulus for normal everyday folks who will visit the food lines today instead of enjoying a nice Xmas dinner. The US government is broken and you only have yourself to blame...You know precisely who you are. Enjoy your ice cream, Nancy. And Mitch, I hope you're sipping only the best Kentucky bourbon today with a big fat cigar stuffed in your mouth. You both should be drawn and quartered in public...once more, I digress). 

But it almost feels like we've actually succumbed to the disease and simply don't know it yet. Like a person who's suddenly dropped dead and sort of hangs around for a while as a ghost. Or maybe we're all in purgatory. Who knows? But then, election fraud was real, not that anybody cares. The rent is still due, and the price of chicken has doubled if not tripled in just just a few months. These things are reality. 

So than, I can bitch and moan all I want, but on the other hand, I am thankful for my health, my relative youth, my publishers (Yet another notable outfit approached me the other day and said they would love a Zandri novel in their catalogue, God bless them...I remember when I couldn't find a publisher to save my life. Now they come to me in some cases), my family, my kids, my mom, my life (which is blessed in every sense of the word), my God, my travels, my country (as busted up as it is), and what lies in store for the future. It's got to be better than this. My hopes are that very, very soon, all us dead folk will be resurrected. 

Today, you can get my brand new release, CHASE BAKER AND THE ARK OF GOD for special intro price. You can also get my brand new big 4.8 star thriller, THE GIRL WHO WASN'T THERE there also for a special holiday price. Last but never least, THE EMBALMER, the pilot novel in the Steve Jobs PI series is just 0.99 since it's a Bargain Booksy promo for 24 hours. 

It's Christmas morning so no doubt you'll want to fill up that new Kindle eReader you just unwrapped. 

A very Merry Xmas to you all, and a Happy and prosperous New Year. 





Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Remember Not to Write for Free (Pay the Writer!)

Interestingly enough, I have been flat out the past three months. I've been working for an "influencer" firm out in LA that has been feeding me steady work in the form of blogs. It feels good to be blogging professionally again, rather than adding content to a meat grinder like Medium or any number of sites where they don't really pay the writer. That's the kind of thing that truly pisses me off. If only writers wouldn't be so willing to work for free, we wouldn't have this problem. In the meantime I'm finishing up two novels, plus blogging at the Vox (I pay myself in beer). 

While we're on the same topic, the twice annual book royalty statement time is coming up. I know it's been a rough year for publishers, but I'm working with at least three publishers right now, one of them a major (they pay once per month so they're good), but I'll be interested to see the numbers. For my indie stuff, I've had one of the best years in ages. Probably because people are stuck at home and looking for some good, if not cheap entertainment. But we'll see what's been working and what hasn't been working when the statements come through. I'm pretty sure, I earned out my advance for The Girl Who Wasn't There, but then that wasn't a huge advance. So we'll see. 

In the meantime, I'm waiting for a little snow up here in Upstate New York. Come Friday, I'm going skiing come hell or high water. If I can't fish, I feel the need to ski. 

Hope everyone is staying safe and getting ready for the holidays. Don't forget, you can grab a first signed editions of The Girl Who Wasn't There at The Mysterious Bookshop. They'll be happy to drop it in the mail for you. Also, it's a great time to pre-order my biggest psychological thriller since The Remains, Paradox Lake. Look for it in May. Also look for the new Chase Baker, Chase Baker and the Lost Ark of God, in a week or so. Late next month, the brand new edition of Moonlight Falls will be issues by Down & Out Books. Can't wait for that one, plus the reissue of all the Thriller and Shamus Award winning Dick Moonlight PI Thrillers. 

Tomorrow will mark the 9th year since my dad's sudden passing. Funny how time flies. He wouldn't recognize the world we live in now. I'm not sure he'd want to be living in it either. Who knows. 

Pay the writer! Miss you too Harlan!!!!



Friday, December 11, 2020

Advice for New Writers

Hunter was a new writer once

I've been asked by New York Times bestselling mega author Cheryl Bradshaw to contribute to her new nonfiction book on writing. She asked me what advice I have for new and/or young newbie writers just starting out. That said, I thought I would get my thoughts in order by first writing it down here. So here, goes. 

New Writers Should Read a Lot

In their genre, that is. If you're going to write action/thrillers, read and watch a whole lot of action/thrillers. Forget the crap they make you read in the English classes in high school. Chances are they choose books that are "woke" and inclusive and, even if they're good, it's not the stuff you should be reading. Unless you want to, that is. Read what you love, and one day you will love what you write. 

New Writers Should Write a Lot

That means ass in the chair time. What did some genius surmise about mastering one's art? You need 10,000 hours of practice until you can perfect your craft. That's of course, a bunch of BS, but it sounds good. But the fact remains, writing is a like a muscle. You either use it or lose it. You need to write everyday, no matter what comes your way. COVID-19, war, famine, divorce(s), sick kids, piles of bills that haven't been paid, Christmas, your birthday, whatever. Like Picasso said to his buddy when said buddy asked him why he never spent more time with his kids. "Because I never would have accomplished anything," Picasso responded. 

New Writers Shouldn't Chase Trends

I'm partially guilty of this by doing things like putting "Girl" in one of my titles, The Girl Who Wasn't There. But that's as far as I go. If you're already telling yourself you're going to write the next Harry Potter, well, that ship has sailed, my friend. Remember the vampire bandwagon? And chick lit? I just kept on writing what I loved to read, which in my case is crime and psychological suspense, among other genres. This keeps me writing everyday, and enjoying my job. If you chase trends, chances are, by the time you've finished your book, the trend will have passed. That's why they're called trends. 

New Writers Should Publish Independently and Traditionally

The old ways of publishing are dying not a slow death, but because of this horrid pandemic, a rapid death. I predict that within a couple of years, the majority of major authors will be selling directly to their audience rather than going through a publisher. Or, like me, they will do both (I put out so much material no way a single publisher could handle it all, unless they want to pay me millions which they don't). Speaking of advances: since there are currently only 4 big publishers left, advances will be getting smaller and smaller and smaller. I started out with a quarter million dollar advance from Delacorte in '99. I've had a bunch of nice and very nice advances since then, but nothing that big. Small advances are the wave of the future which means, look forward to creating multiple streams of income. 

So there you have it. Some advice for the new writer. It's not everything you need to know. But it's food for thought from a 25 year veteran of the professional writing and publishing wars. Take it or flush it. It's up to you. But one thing is for sure, once again, the times are changing, and changing fast. 



Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Where's Vince Been?

Signing first editions at The Mysterious Bookshop last month. 

It's been way too long since I've blogged. But starting now, or in the new year at least, I'll try and get back to a much more regular schedule. Suffice to say I've been busy finishing up the biggest novel of my life, American Crimes, and at the same time, freelancing, and promoting my newest thriller, The Girl Who Wasn't There

There's been some signings, and radio, but for the most part Covid has kept a appearances at a bare minimum. Distribution was a little wonky at first too. Later on I found out that this pandemic has caused three of the world's major printers to go belly up. Taken along with the consolidation of yet another two major publishing houses and I see the rapid destruction of traditional publishing happening right before our very eyes. 

My recent visit to NYC to sign books at the Mysterious Bookshop took my breath away. Nothing but, For Sale and For Rent signs, boarded up buildings, and lots of vagrants in the street. When it takes you only about 7 minutes to get from 34th and 7th to the Battery (or close to it anyway), you know something is drastically wrong. 

But I still have hope we will all bounce back from this thing one way or another. But the world, the publishing world for certain, will be very different. I think it will become much more of a writer sells directly to consumer kind of thing. One bookstore per week is going out of business on average. At this rate, there won't be any left if congress doesn't step in an do something. 

I'm not holding my breath. 

Merry Christmas all!!!!


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

A Stunning Political Irony

By now you would have heard the POTUS, a Republican, has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his recent Israel/UAE peace deal. At the same time, rumors abound that the radical left portion of the Democratic Party is promising major acts of violence come election day should Biden not win by a landslide. How strange. I'd always thought of the far left as the peace, love, and understanding flower children, while the far right were the war mongers, the gun nuts, the skin head Romper Stompers. 

Oh how times change.

Radical outfits like the George Soros sponsored Move On, are said to be organizing and pumping money into their Antifa militia in preparation for what will almost surely be a contested election, no matter which side wins. Says one police force friend of mine, law enforcement is already preparing for the worst. The worst being nothing short of a civil war on behalf of the far left and the far right. Sounds like November is going to be one hell of a month. 

Could get real ugly, real fast if we don't have a landslide winner on election night folks. 

Whether you're on the left or the right or like me, a a registered Indie, no one can deny the violence that has plagued major cities like Portland and New York in the midst of the crazy defund the police movement (and in New York, the absolutely insane 'catch and release' no bail law). 

As for me, I'm stocking up on ammunition. The least I can do is protect home and hearth should the "Brown Shirts" (dressed all in black) come marching in. 

BTW: The last US President to actually win a Nobel Peace Prize was Barack Obama back in 2009. He hadn't done anything specific to win it. It was just assumed he should be awarded the prize for his ability to "cooperate with people."  

I think it safe to assume I will never will a Nobel Peace Prize for my cooperative efforts, or lack thereof, with anyone.

That's all for now, folks. 

Check out my newest thriller, The Girl Who Wasn't There


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Gaining Strength During Severe Pandemic


I've always been a weight lifter and a cross trainer. But it seems like over the past few months I've been really hitting the weights hard. With the gyms being shut down, I turned my living room into a full free weight gym, complete with a flat/incline bench, squat rack, dead lift station, dumbbell rack, and even a boxing/heavy bag station. 

And I've been making some gains to be sure, even at my ripe old age of 56. At the same time, I recorded a few YouTube videos displaying my efforts (my grunts and groans) to share with you also. Here's three of them: 




By the way: some of you might be wondering where my website, ran off to. Turns out the domain host went belly up and some Asian outfit snatched up my address and now want thousands from me to get it back. I don't negotiate with intellectual property thieves. 

Instead I'm using this as an opportunity to build a new website (long overdue), and changing my domain to the much easier to spell,'s still a WIP but it will be live, hopefully, by the end of the month or sooner. 

In the meantime, don't forget to check out my new Thriller (which debuted at No. 2 at Barnes & Noble and stayed in the top ten for weeks), The Girl Who Wasn't There. It's presently enjoying a 4.2 rating on Goodreads, which is pretty incredible. Look for the hardcover debut on October 13.

Get Zandri Thrillers HERE