Saturday, March 24, 2018


...Some authors swear by it.
I'm not talking the chemical version, though some authors (one of them that guy up in Maine who wrote The Shining), have admitted to swallowing speed in order to boost productivity levels. I'm talking about one's natural ability to write a lot of good to great content and do it fast, or faster than the average author who maybe puts out one book per year. Prolific is the word I'm going for here.

Don't write so much

In the past I've written about agents and/or editors who have asked me to slow down, take some time off, don't put out so much material...whatever. While they might have defended their position by going on to say that time off would be good for me, I now realize they were more or less watching out for their own best interests. Publishers and agents can't wrap their brains around high volume clients.

Dean Wesley Smith who's published 400+ books knows the true meaning of being prolific

Pulp writers wrote and wrote and got rich

The writers of the Pulp generation (the 1920s-1960s) were able to write lots of words and do so everyday, day in and day out. Some of these authors made millions for their bank accounts. They weren't writing with speed necessarily, but their output was steady, consistent, and they did it knowing that the more good work they produced, the more they would get paid.

Writing school discourages speed

Back in writing school, one of my profs wrote and published a novel in 1975, and never published again. I overheard another one telling a fellow student, "I don't make any money from my writing. I train dogs for that." Yet another wrote only when the he felt inspired and another told me to my face that in the course of his lifetime, maybe he would write five or six very good stories. Huh? I guess that's why these people were teaching. Not for love of the game, but for the payday. I've always made my money from putting words together (discounting my days in the construction business). It takes discipline and it takes speed. These were things that were not taught in writing school. If anything, writing school taught me to write slowly and in some cases, not at all.

Writing as exercise

Writing for me is like exercise. If I don't do it on a daily basis...if I don't work hard...I don't feel right. It's as if my soul left my body and went on vacation for a while. So I write, everyday. Many people think I'm fast. I'm not (I still type with two fingers). I'm just consistent. This isn't a hobby. It's my work. My livelihood. 

Listen, if I listened to every agent or publisher out there who told me to slow down, I'd be broke. But then, there was a time not so long ago, prior to the indie revolution and hybrid publishing (I'm a hybrid guy, meaning I publish traditionally and indie), where I was dependent upon these same agents and publishers who told me to slow down. Take your time, they said. Meanwhile, they would maybe take months upon months going over one of my manuscripts. If and only if, it were taken on by a publisher, it would then sit around for another year or more before pub date. My advance, even if it was large, would be quickly swallowed up by the agent, the tax man, and the daily bills, not to mention those pesky credit cards many of us writers had to live on while we were taking our time.

 Independent writers

We were slaves then, at the mercy of the process. And the process people, was very, very, very fucking slow. Death by a thousand cuts. Not anymore. Now I can write what I want, when I want, and as much as I want. I can put the material out there for the world and my readers can buy direct. Oh, and I get paid once a month. Doesn't mean I don't work with traditional publishers because I do. It's just that I'm not dependent on them anymore. I'm free. Independent. No longer at the mercy of others.

Speed, it doesn't kill. It frees.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Books signings suck...

A fun place to sign: Thriller Fest in NYC. Yup that's Diane Capri and Lee Child
...unless that is, you're an angry celebrity politician like Hillary or a witty cable television news anchor like Gutfeld or Sleepy Eyes Chuck (sorry, couldn't help it). A few authors can still command a decent audience at book signings. Lee Child, and of course, JK Rowling. Maybe if you write children's books you can gather a tribe of school kids who love your books. Some romance authors maybe. EL James and all her "Shades of Grey."

I do maybe one or two signings per year, and it usually takes place in Manhattan. These are usually quiet affairs but fun nonetheless as we like to make a night of it, no matter how many people show up (or don't). I guess I'm known mostly for my eBooks, but naturally, all my work is available in print and audio too (shameless plug).

This about sums it up...

Bad book signing memory: I show up to my signing and an old dude is standing in my place at the very front of the store as you walk in. I recognize him as a local news anchor who's penned a tall-all about the local Albany news scene. The book is published by the bookstore owner. When I enter the bookshop, I'm told to "Go to the back of the store. There's a table set up for you there." This is back when an earlier edition of The Remains was published (sloppily I might add) by a small press. I sign maybe 12 books in the hour I spend there, and then I walk out, tossing my pen in the garbage.

I never went back to that store again. Why should I? Writers have power now in this the new golden era of writing and publishing. We no longer have to be bullied and trampled on by stores, publishers, or agents who think we need them more than they need us. Hit the road Jack...

But The Remains would go on to be sold to a major publisher (Thomas & Mercer at Amazon Publishing) and overall I believe it's sold 200K units over the course of its two editions. Not bad for a guy who was pushed to the back of the store not that long ago.

Even now, I can promo my books online and sell hundreds if not thousands while doing something else, like writing new fiction for instance. Because after all, I'd rather be writing than standing like a dope in the middle of a bookstore. However, that doesn't mean I don't love meeting my fans. It's just that book signings no longer need to happen at bookstores. They can happen at conferences, bars, eateries, book clubs, you name it.

Yesterday, I told around 2K books while whooping it up in a bar for St. Patty's Day. It was a hell of a day, let me tell you. A home run kind of a day. Not all days are like that, but every now and again, you need one both for your bottom line and your head.

I love bookstores, especially those that sell rare editions. They're not going away anytime soon, or so I hope. But unlike the old days, I don't feel the need to come crawling to them in order to "move the units." When I sign live and in person, it's just more of a fun, interactive kind of thing. Bottom line: I'm happy to sign books for anyone who wants one. But it may not happen at a brick and mortar bookstore. And why should it?


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Who's afraid of flying?

Buy the ticket, take the ride
According to the stats, the overwhelming majority of US travelers the world over are afraid of flying. The rest of us just lie about it. Back in the early 2000s, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) concluded that with the proliferation of cheap, mass-transit airplane travel anticipated for the 21st century, we should expect one major crash per week. The fact that crashes are not that frequent tells us that safety boards can be wrong when it comes to statistics, which is a good thing. But then these are the same folks who tell us flying is the safest mode of transport there is, statistically speaking. 

However, when you consider most fatal tragedies are caused by gross human error, or some orange bearded terrorist who attempts to blow a plane out of the sky, or a country at war who mistakenly fires a ground-to-air missile at what they naturally assume is an enemy aircraft, you begin to understand the relative crap shoot that can be modern air travel.

Enter the sky marshals. They also work for the NTSB. They are the unsung heroes of the friendly and unfriendly skies. What's fascinating about these guys and gals is that you don't know they're there. They simply board a plane like any other working class stiff who's shoved into a sardine can, fed dog food, and issued nasty looks by the flight attendants. You don't know they are there, but trust me, they are there, ready to tackle an on board emergency like a skyjacking or a sudden fire or a an unruly passenger who is hell bent on opening up the emergency exit at 30K feet above the Atlantic Ocean.

This guy ain't Sam Savage, but they are definitely pals...

These guys are brave because once the shit hits the fan in mid-flight, there's nowhere to run. No wonder one of the latest sky marshal action adventures stars Liam Neeson. He's a bad ass mofo too. So is Gerard Butler or Bruce Willis. Just two more action and adventure actors I had in mind when inventing Sam Savage Sky Marshal. He's a bad ass who is also prone to falling in love with a pretty lady who might be traveling alone. He might be all about serving and protecting while flying the turbulent skies, but he isn't afraid to offer said pretty lady membership into the Mile High Club also. What a guy.

His first short read is now available from my very own, Bear Thrills label, and it's called Dead Heading. Grab it and be thrilled for a half hour or so. It's a cool read. I'm currently writing more of these little gems and when I have three or so, I'll bundle them up into a book which will be available in eBook, paper, and audio. What's cool about these stories is, because Sam works for the NTSB, he can be made to work not only in the skies, but on Amtrak or even a Greyhound bus. So the amount of action and adventure tales I can write about this character are infinite. For now there's just the one, so grab up a ticket and take the ride.


It's only 0.99 for a very limited time.

While you're getting your thrill on, snatch up the brand new full-length thriller, THE DETONATOR!
"It doesn't get any better than this!"--Book Reporter

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Finish the damn book...

Miller loved the word count but he loved the "broads" too
Henry Miller, the romantic middle-aged bon vivant of 1930s Paris who gave up a career as a tailor in Brooklyn to become one of the most experimental authors of his or any other generation, is often thought of as being slovenly, free-spirited, drunk, and just generally a believer in the life of the starving artist. It might surprise your to discover that he was anything but.

Pay the writer 

Miller was actually very neat and organized with his life. He drank moderately, and he was an early believer in exercise as a palliative to the physical laziness that often rots our brains as much as our hearts. Mens sana in corpore sano is the Latin for this, I believe. In any case, Miller would ride his bike all over Paris and the countryside that surrounded it. And despite his Bohemian lifestyle, he was a big believer in being paid for his writing. Something in these the days of the democratization of the written word, is becoming more and more paramount.

Classic Harlan Ellison: Pay the fucking writer! You listening publishers? As usual, I digress...

The writer/lover with the work ethic

Miller, the cafe frequenter, the arm chair philosopher, the prolific lover and tail chaser (see Anais Ninn, and also read her diaries, they are amazing...), was also a hard-as-hell worker. He adhered to his own strict set of rules to follow as a professional author, one of which was "Finish the damn book." Miller believed that one of the fastest ways not only to burn out as a writer, but to stifle your productivity altogether, was to start other stories before you finished the final draft of the story that came before it.

I've always tried to write one book, novella, or story at a time. But now, because I have so many options on how to publish (and publishers for that matter, including my own label), I find myself writing more than one story at a time. While it's okay and probably even a necessary thing in the 21st century to keep a couple projects going at once, so long at they are in varying stages, I would caution against writing too many at once.

Finish what you write

Like Miller said, if you're at work on a full-length novel of 60K-plus words, you're going to want to get it to a point where the first draft is complete before moving on to something brand new. That way you can work on the new words for the second project in the morning when you're fresh, and in the afternoon after lunch when you're more tired, work on edits for the first novel-length project.

You with me here?

 Scenes from the steamy if not erotic, Henry and June (1984)

But by all means, finish what you write before putting it to the side in order to begin something else. Otherwise, it will get stale, and you will lose your momentum or even interest in the project.

I currently, have about 15 projects either on the boards or in one stage of editing or another (I have a Skype meeting with my editor later on to discuss this mountain of words). Admittedly that's too many and because of it, the spinning plates are falling to the floor and shattering. But as of today, I'm shifting gears in order to clear my desk. That means finishing everything I've started before going on to a new idea.

Don't listen to those numbskulls who are always bragging about the 3K or 4K per day word count (they're not writers but typists). Okay, I too am guilty of this, but I'm the first one to admit, I write 3K per day when I'm writing new words. I don't write new words everyday. Some days are filled with edits, and others simply chasing down ideas. Some days are rest or travel days. Some days you just say Fuck it and go to the bar (and chase some tail...haha).

Writing for other outlets too

Don't forget, you're going to be writing for other outlets as well, including your blog. This too takes time. So take Miller's advice, and finish what you write before starting in on something new. I realize that publishing these days is more like standing before a big buffet or moveable feast of possibilities. Take it slow, if not methodically, producing one good, finished product after the other. Only when it's done can you enjoy your just dessert in bed with champagne (Okay, I'm stretching the metaphor here, but I wanted to end on that line, and besides it's my blog...).



Sunday, March 4, 2018

Dating sucks in a politically polarized America

I'm a traveler not a dater
Dating sucks. At least as far as I'm concerned. If there's one thing my most recent ex and I agreed on it was not liking the dating game. We weren't daters. We were stickers. We met one another, liked one another, and we stuck it out (twice). I'm not sure if it's a matter of my not having the patience, or the mindset, or the cash (yeah, I'm a writer don't forget...sometimes the lady has to pay. At least in the old days). Whatever the reason, I just don't like it.

Dating sites

So yeah, I've been on some of the dating sites, and they suck too because it's the same people on the same sites, looking at the same faces with a different digital background. All its good for is running into old "friends" or "flings" you might have had a while back. You send a few get reacquainted notes to one another (because she knows that you know that she knows you're looking at one another) and sort of shy away after that because the elephant in the room is screaming the obvious: "You're fucking middle-aged and all alone. Nice going!"

The dating pool

It's no secret that I'm back to bachelorhood  at the ripe old age of 53 and have been for a while now. I've dipped my arthritic big toe into the dating pool just a tad to see what's out there. I think in the six months since I got the official Hit-the-Road-Jack, I've gone on maybe two dates. Three perhaps. Nice girls, good times, safe and friendly experiences in all ways imaginable. I guess I could try harder and go on more dates, but dating ain't what it used to be even eight or nine years ago, back when I was still sewing my post-pubescent oats, so to speak.

Dating is political now

The world has changed a lot since 2008. We've become so politically polarized that we are on the verge of a second civil war. And I don't jest when I say that. You've got the right on one side and the very far left in the other, and individualists (Independent perhaps verging on Libertarianism) need not apply. I read some of the profile write-ups on the dating sites that belong to attractive successful women who are about my age, and I think, Oh there's a possibility. Then, inevitably, there will be something about her being liberal and "if you're conservative or for Trump don't even attempt to contact me."

Dating the individualist

Like I said, I'm an individualist. I can't be defined by any one political party. I'm a proud gun owner and an advocate for the 2nd Amendment, but I don't belong to the NRA nor will I ever, and this has nothing to do with those terrible school shootings (which I believe is a product of mental illness...guns don't just pick themselves up and shoot people). I believe in Jesus, but I rarely go to church (I'm lazy). In terms of politics, I prefer conservative candidates over liberal ones because I believe in the smallest government possible and minimal regulation. However, I'm entirely for saving the planet, saving the whales, and the air, and the free green spaces we all enjoy so much. The mainstream media is hard left. Don't deny it. I'm a pro-lifer who believes a woman has the right to choose what she wants for herself. I'm a free market capitalist who hates the idea of the welfare state and socialism. Yet, sometimes, people who are down and out need a helping hand. It's all about common sense, people. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Common sense dating    

That's the problem with the dating world now. Common sense doesn't come into play. What if you find someone you genuinely get along with? You go on a couple dates and then suddenly politics comes up and she begins to suspect you voted for Trump when she's a die hard HRC supporter. I guarantee you it's not only, Date Over, but any hope for a relationship is over too. Good God, consider yourself lucky if she doesn't scream.

I dated a visual artist for a while not all that long ago. She was super smart and super talented and we got along swimmingly as the Brits like to say. She was very liberal, and I was what I am, and it was no problem whatsoever. We might have had a heated political discussion a couple or three times, but it was always "friendly" and respectful. We exercised common sense and maturity. We recognized that people are entitled to their opinion, and identity politics had yet to take hold of our culture the way it has over the past nine years. And let's face it, who is more politically fucking incorrect and proud of it than yours truly? Yes, the Washington Redskins should remain, the Washington Redskins. Period.

No choice but to keep on dating

So I guess, I'll continue to date, because who wants to enter into the final third of one's life all alone? But mark my words, the dating pool for me will be far smaller and shallower being an individualist living in New York State (and an overly polarized USA). Imagine a rugged individualist like Mike Cernovich hooking up with Elizabeth Warren? Or Matt Drudge with Kirsten Gillibrand? Not to be crude, but nowadays that's like trying to stick a square peg into a round hole. Ten years ago, however, those pairings might have worked.

Maybe I should create my own dating site for individuals who fall somewhere in the middle. I'll call it, Common Sense Dating. More than likely, I will have no choice but to date myself.


Grab my new short story collection, Pathological:  Collected Short Reads of Sex, Lies and Murder for just 0.99 for a very limited time.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Five action flicks I can't get enough of...

This week, the New York Times published this namby pamby piece that was, in part, about how terrible it is boys always seem to be expected to swallow their emotions, bottle them up until it either hardens their hearts or maybe they go off and do something terrible like climb a tower and start shooting random passersby. Lucky for us, the former is more often the case and the latter is the result of batshit crazy mental illness.

But as for boys being boys, I believe that being emotionally tough is what makes us men. Masculine men. Men who are brave, and chivalric, and ruggedly handsome. Big chested, big bicep-touting men who aren't afraid of a fight, and men who can be looked up to as heroes. The precise kind of man who plays the lead in some of Hollywood's most classic action pictures.  

Speaking of Hollywood. Hollywood not only loves macho leading men, they also love guns, and violence, and shoot'em ups of all varieties because bullets are good business. That's a good thing for people like me who loves him some Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Vid (I rarely go to the movies because a hellish movie watching experience is other people). Some of my favorites movies are action thrillers. You know, one brooding man up against it all, and he's got to find a way to blast his way out of it. I'm talking Bruce Willis, Sly Stallone, and of course, Arnold. The big three of the action-one-liner-anti-politically-correct flick. Entertainment for entertainment's sake, fuck you if you don't like a little tits and ass to go along with it, thank you very much (My guess is I'll never be invited to appear on The View).

So, I thought I'd share with you five favorite rugged individualist macho action hero movies:

1. Die Hard. I already mentioned this beauty in a previous piece, but Bruce Willis is at his best here.

2. Die Hard II. Just as good if not better than the first.

3. The Terminator. "I'll be back." Fucking classic. Arnold rocks.

4. Predator.  "I ain't got time to bleed." And oh my Gawd, that scene where Arnold is the sole survivor, and he's backwards crabbing away from the monster? Fughetaboutit. Oddly enough I couldn't find the trailer to the original 1989 picture, so here's something about the Predator remake (No Arnold won't be in it, but he is in a new action flick called Aftermath)

5. The Expendables I. The first of these 21st century action flicks brings all the 1980s heroes together in a kind of super group that shoots, scoots, and slips their way in and out of danger zones. A bunch of middle-aged guys who don't do soy, and who still hit the weight room on a daily basis. Just like me. Think of it as getting your high school football team back together.   

 So these are just five of my faves. They are, in part, the reason why I wrote a novel like The Detonator which was released this week by Polis Books. It's non-stop action from the start. It's got brains but it's also got brawn, and men who are masculine, women who are feminine (and tough), and some of the most bad ass action scenes I've ever penned. If the book doesn't make you sweat, it ain't doing its job. In terms of food, the heat in this novel is three alarm and it most definitely ain't gluten free.

The Detonator
"Don't get bombed!"

In NYC this Thursday? Stop by the Mysterious Bookshop, grab a glass of wine or a cold beer, and I'll sign you a first edition hard-cover of The Detonator.



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Who doesn't love Die Hard?

"Yippee ki yay, mofo!"
I know I do. Who can forget Bruce Willis, aka John McClain, fighting the bad guys in his bare feet after they'd hijacked the Nakatomi (sp) Towers in LA? Or in Die Hard 2 (Die Harderer, or something like that), being blown out of a fighter jet after pulling the eject lever? You just couldn't kill the guy no matter what you did to him.

I wanted to write a book like that. Something explosive and pyromania-like. But I also wanted my main character, Ike Singer, to be human, with a nice family, who had the will to live when evil unexpectedly arrived at their doorstep. In this case the evil takes the form of an attractive young blonde scientist, Dr. Allison Darling, who builds nanothermite bombs, knows how to use them as a weapon of terror, and has one very major grudge against Singer.

With that I give you The Detonator which is released today in hardcover and eBook from Polis Books. If you start reading it and find you can't stop, I will have done my job. It was constructed as a page turner and an attention grabber. These days, writers have to compete with everything from Twitter posts to Netflix. We have our work cut out for us.

Get The Detonator

--Publishers Weekly

"Only author Vincent Zandri can make readers understand the meaning of revenge, hate, greed, betrayal and the dangers of getting involved with bombs, pipe bombs, and being a Master Blaster. This book would really hit high ratings on the WIDE SCREEN!"
--Sam Freene