Sunday, April 1, 2018

Writing short stories isn't worth the effort...



...I hate to disagree with the premise of the title, but in truth, they are still very much worth it. Many authors have discounted shorter works, or what's known in indie/hybrid world as "short reads," altogether since they make squat when it comes to Kindle Select/Unlimited. But I still write and publish short stories for a variety of reasons, not all of them having to do with making actual cash.

 Presently I have maybe a half-dozen short stories for sale under my own label, Bear Pulp. These include Dog Day Moonlight, Pathological, and Bingo Night. All of them not only sell a few copies every month, the majority of them also appeared in various magazines and journals, or were a part of an anthology published by the likes of Down & Out Books. These little devils are a great little marketing tool and also provide a nice creative outlet between novels and novellas.

Still think you can't make money with them?

Let's do the maths (as the Brits like to say).

Setting aside the 50 bucks or so you might receive as payment from a journal for the privilege of publishing your story, say you have 10 stories for sale on KDP. If you price them at $2.99, you make $2.09 per copy sold (I always add a substantial free sample from a novel just to offer up a little more value for the reader and to further market my longer stuff). Say you sell five copies of each throughout the month. That's $10.45 per story, or a total of $104.50 for the month. Doesn't sound like a whole lot, but multiply that times 12, and you get $1,254. That, my author friend, pays the rent for the month (depending upon where you live). 

This is a numbers game. Write 20 stories and you can easily double that $1,254. Write 30 stories, and, well, do the maths again. Some authors like Dean Wesley Smith, who is a strong proponent of the no-luck/no-big-ass-promos-required method of indie/hybrid publishing success, has maybe 400 short stories published. An old timer like Harlan Ellison has 1,200 and counting. Both writers are millionaires.

Admittedly, I spend most of my time writing novels and novellas. But short stories most definitely have their place in my canon. By creating short story collections, like my Pathological: Collected Short Reads of Sex, Lies, and Murder, I'm also able to create a book-length product that can also generate lots of reads on Kindle Unlimited. Make the collection available in paper, eBook, and audible and you begin to realize the enormous possibilities short stories still offer up in this new century.

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM
 

     

Monday, March 26, 2018

Father of Orlando nightclub shooter worked for FBI...



Papa Mateen preparing a report for his boss, James Comey




Still drooling over the Stormy Daniels double-D nonsense the mainstream media is shoveling into your insatiable gullet? Multiple media outlets and journalists (most of them independent) are reporting that Seddique Mateen, the father of the Orlando terrorist at the Pulse nightclub, served as a "confidential source" for the FBI from 2005 up until and including 2016. A search of his residence has apparently produced receipts for money transfers to both Turkey and Afghanistan. And guess when just such a transfer occurred? Only one week prior to the shooting. 

Mateen, whom you can see prominently seated behind Hillary Clinton during one of her 2016 campaign rallies, was apparently cleared by Comey and Mueller when it was determined that he bore no terrorist connections. Really? Perhaps they need only look to his son for that. Now, the FBI is nailing Mateen's daughter in law, a Muslim, with conspiracy to commit mass murder. Something rather fishy is happening with the FBI and it's a hell of a lot more important than some porno bimbo spewing forth about banging Trump and being paid to shut up about it.



But in my humble and rather non-expert opinion, I see something rather nefarious in the works. A strange pattern emerging, if you will. Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nik Cruz was setting off alarm bells and red flags so bright you could see them from outer space about the danger he posed to humanity and guess what? The FBI does nothing about it.



And what about the Vegas shooting back in October? Why have we heard nothing more about Stephen Paddock and his motivation for shooting up a country music concert from a hotel window high above the crowd of innocents? Could it be that the most videotaped piece of real estate in the country never captured his image? Oh, wait, some CCTV video take was finally released showing Paddock accompanied by some bellhops who were entrusted with carrying his guns and ammo into his hotel room. He appears to be joking with them, and in any case, perfectly comfortable with their presence. Trust me when I tell you bags filled with semi-automatic weapons are heavy as hell, and they make noise. Gun metal and against gun metal kind of noise. The bellhops had to know they weren't transporting Paddocks fat jeans and BVDs.




What do Mueller and Comey really know about terrorism in America? What don't they want you to know? And why does the mainstream media seem to not only treat them like Gods, but why do they insist on diverting our attention to stories that just don't matter?

POSTSCRIPT: CNN online is presently reporting on the Mateen FBI connection. Let's see if the other cable mainstream outfits follow suit. 

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM



  

    

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Speed...

...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.

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM
  

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?

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM




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.

Get DEAD HEADING

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
WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM
  

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...).

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM

     

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.

WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM

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