Friday, January 16, 2015

Bill Clinton Nails It

Last night former President Bill Clinton issued his take on the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris by Radical Muslims, plus the slaughter of innocent children in Pakistan by the same evil bastards. And what's interesting, is that he does so without mincing words on behalf of political correctness and at one point insisting that "peaceful" Muslims step up to the plate to lead the charge in eradicating what Clinton describes as total "madness." 

Let's hope the Obama administration takes a cue from the elder statesman.
Identify your enemy, and then destroy it. 


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Profound Denial or Sympathy for the Devil?

Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi, masterminds behind the Paris massacre of Jan 7 are still at large. On the right, Parisians display their solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.

President Obama appeared to be profoundly disturbed yesterday when queried about the Radical Muslim attacks on the Paris-based Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine. Despite overwhelming evidence that the murderous attacks resulting in 12 killed and 11 wounded were carried out by militarily trained radical Islamists, he refused to refer to them as such.

Meanwhile, former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean, in speaking with CNN about the alarming global spread of radical Muslim Extremism attempted to unrealistically undermine the severity of the situation by calling them a "cult."

ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and other radical factions bent on destroying Christians, Jews, Westerners, and just about anyone who does not agree with their fanatical beliefs and who control large swaths of territory in the Middle East, possess billions of dollars in cash, oil reserves, military equipment, Internet networks, a slick online propaganda magazine, and much more, is hardly a cult. It is a formidable "Jihadist" global power bent on world domination.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Radical Islam's War Against the West Rapidly Going Global

Radical Islam's war on the west is rapidly going global. Australia, Canada, Kenya, and now Paris have been the recipient of organized, if not militaristic, terrorist attacks. The most recent attack in Paris, in which a newspaper that often denounces Radical Islam, became the target of at least four well-armed killers, is strong evidence that what up until now have been termed 'lone wolf' attacks are actually organized operations targeting both western civilians, and now, freedom of the press.

The Obama administration, while referring to the violent action as a "terrorist" attack, has yet to give it the designation of a Radical Islamist attack, despite eyewitness accounts of gunman declaring their love and obedience to Allah as they hastily made their escape in a black getaway car. In a speech declaring US solidarity with France, Secretary of State Kerry backed the sentiments of a Paris Imam while also falling short of faulting Radical Islamists for the murderous attack.

Is it possible the US is about to fall victim to a similar attack soon?
Many agree that such an attack is not only possible but inevitable given our current political climate.



Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas: A Reflection and a Plan

For some, Christmas is a day to open presents, eat and drink a lot, and generally party it up with friends and family. This is my first holiday season home in a quite a while, so for me it's all of those things but also a time of reflection. Astrologers say that Cancers are always looking back at the past as if thirty years ago were yesterday. But today, Christmas Day, December 25, 2014, I'm looking forward.

Here's what I'm looking forward to in 2015:

--The release of my new big stand-alone thriller, Everything Burns, on Feb 1. This novel, from Thomas & Mercer, will be the first in my Albany Noir Trilogy. I am making a prediction that it hits the Top 10 for all books in Kindle right out of the gate (How about them apples Mr. Kennedy!?).

--2015 will also see the completion of the second in the Albany Trilogy, Orchard Grove, as well as my new international thriller, Lost Grace (new title pending). Scream Catcher will be republished under my own label, Bear Media, but there's a surprise in store for this project. It will published in six episodes, much like an online television series. Each piece will stand alone, but propel the overall plot of a serial killer who records the screams of his victims as they are dying with his cell phone (Where do I come up with this stuff? I don't know. I think my parents dropped me on my head when I was a baby...)

--I'll be writing the third installment in the Chase Baker series. This one taking place, in part, in Nepal, India, and beyond, and will rely on the research trip I took to each country this past summer. (The Chase Baker series has been holding court in the Top 50 for Amazon International Thrillers in the UK for months)

--I'm currently planning another adventure for the late winter, early spring. I'm not about to divulge the location because I haven't quite decided what it will be and on which continent. Of course, funding is always a challenge, but I'll manage to scrape up the casheshe. It will be doozy I guarantee.

--On a personal note, this is also the year I hope to become a better dad, a better friend, cut down on the beer (just a little), eat healthier, become more spiritual, push aside politics, spend time in Florence, Paris, and Madrid, and in general, live the life.

Thanks to my fans who have made that "life" possible. You are the greatest gift any writer can receive for the Holidays.

Cheers and God bless!


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

An Unintended Creation Story

Who knows how David started out?

These days, Zandri's been getting a lot of people asking him where he comes up with his ideas, so he thought he might address the issue. The question, admittedly, is a difficult one to answer. When a lovely young woman asks him, "Where did you come up with the idea for The Remains?" the best answer the writer can manage is a shoulder shrug and a, 'I'm not sure. It sort of wrote itself.'

The answer, on one level, might be considered silly if not trite, a blow-off, if you will. But on another, more metaphysical level, the answer is as honest as the one God would surely give if someone were able to ask Him how he created the universe, not necessarily in seven days, but at all for that matter. Who ever really creates what he set out to create in the first place? Perhaps Michelangelo envisioned an entirely different pose for David when he started chiseling. Maybe Vaughn Williams came upon The Lark Ascending entirely by accident while messing around with his violin one day (or perhaps he found himself staring at a lark, on a lark). For certain, For Whom the Bell Tolls began as a short story, and blossomed into a mega masterpiece. God might have intended, at first, to create a universe filled with magical flying creatures and peaceful little cherub-like creatures who inhabit a lush forested world where no one wages war, no one goes hungry, skin color is the same but different, and religion doesn't exist (who needs religion when you are happy?) In the end, God got what we have now. For better or for worse.

The point here is that the power of creation is beyond us mere mortals. It is a part of something that cannot be defined by concrete terms or boundaries and therefore is a part of the universe. An infinite, ever expanding universe.  

So how did Zandri create The Remains or Everything Burns?
God only knows...


Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Modern Novelist as Sage

McInerney, a sage for the 1980s cocaine generation

Ferguson is burning.

Heads belonging to Western journalists are being cut off by the evil ISIS half a world away.

President Barack Hussein Obama is releasing Islamic Radical detainees from Gitmo because he feels politically obligated to do so.

Illegal aliens are pouring into the US while millions have been legalized at the stroke of a pen, not because its in the best interest of the country, but because politics rule the day.

Antisemitism is on the rise globally.

Race relations in the US have eroded and rotted over the past decade. 

School shootings are so commonplace we are unaffected by them.

Overpopulation threatens the world food bank.

Ebola ravages West Africa.

Political correctness has moved in, and kicked the truth out on its ass.

Russia is on the move.

Iran will soon have the Bomb...

Zandri pens his novels and stories, and worries that the world he creates is entirely separate from a physical world that is growing and morphing faster than a weed on steroids. In a word, he retreats, looks away from the ugly picture. He is not writing anything that describes the world to itself. Years ago the novelist was considered a sage. The words he and she wrote, although fiction, bore a certain truth that were a direct reflection of the time they lived in. The novelist/philosopher did not retreat from the world then, but instead, challenged it.

Steinbeck, making sense of his world
Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath and spoke for millions of impoverished workers suffering amidst the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

Hemingway wrote The Sun Also Rises and a new generation of young men learned to say what they mean and mean what they say. But for the first time, men realized the power women truly have over them, and that all love must end tragically.

Later on, Mailer would write Why Are We in Vietnam?, a frantic Alaskan hunting novel that spoke as loud and powerfully as the shots that would soon be fired by the rifles on the Ohio State Campus. Mailer, the genius of metaphor.

In the 1980s we had Jay McInerny writing about the Bolivian Marching Powder in Bright Lights, Big City and suddenly, a generation strung out on Brooks Brothers, Manhattan apartments they couldn't afford, and cocaine, were now the modern romantic equivalent of Fitzgerald's Jazz Age decadence.

Zandri realizes how simplistic and even vague his examples are. In fact, he might even be lacking in a certain degree of accuracy. But the point, he feels, is transparent enough. Who are the sages of his generation? The novelists who fictionalize but who also tell the truth, or a version of the truth anyway, that puts things into some kind of order, or framework that can be better understood?

Fitz, doing what he loved even more than booze

Perhaps Zandri is doing that himself, without consciously doing it. Maybe he isn't retreating after all. Maybe in writing about a failed script writer obsessed with the blonde, blue-eyed woman who just moved in next door and who will manipulate him into killing her cop husband, he is expressing a deep-seated loneliness and isolation that isn't yet entirely realized. The loneliness is surly evident in the smartphones that occupy the two bed-stands in his master bedroom. Smartphones that, upon waking, will be the first thing touched, fondled, eyed, paid attention to, loved, lusted after ...

Add, human beings are becoming robots to the above-stated list... 

Zandri is reaching for something here, but he's not quite sure what exactly. For certain, the ambiguity is evident in the writing of this essay. News Flash! Lennon comes to mind suddenly. John Lennon wrote and sang about the world so eloquently and alarmingly in his 1970 classic, Isolation. "We're afraid to be alone..."

Not to flirt with cliche here, but the world has been spinning out of control ever since the serpent sweet talked Eve and she, in turn, got Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. Our own demise is upon us. So Zandri chooses the only sensible option. He retreats into a world entirely his own, and he writes about it. He chooses isolation as the only sane option. But then, that isolation is a direct reflection of the times we live and die in. Therein lies the irony. 



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Don't Force It, Damnit!: Choosing an Indie Publisher III (and Advice for Writers)

Mailer, the overnight sensation...

It's guaranteed to happen once a year. Some unknown author emerges from out of the dark shadows of obscurity and publishes a book that goes through the freakin' roof. The book's sales not only blow away even the most major of commercial authors (think James Patterson and Stephen King here), they could arguably outdo the Gross National Product of some small nation-states.

You, as an author, find yourself shaking your head in dismay. Not only have you never heard of this now overnight-famous author, you have been writing for years and years, published several books, and your annual sales don't even come close to this writer's weekly revenue. You look up his or her bio, and you become even more distraught. The author, the bio claims, has worked as a cook, or a video store clerk, or was on welfare until his book was published and every single reader in the world dropped what they were doing and when out to buy it. Or so it seems.

But wait, where have you gone wrong? You've done everything the right way. You started out by working at the local newspaper, then published short stories in the best literary journals, made your way through writing school, nailed a big contract, began establishing a career of steady sales, fans, and contracts. You've nailed all the Amazon lists and some of the traditional lists as well. You make a nice income and have a nice life. You've done everything right. Shouldn't you be the one with the huge blockbuster that blows the doors (or covers) off all other books published that year?
The novel that sealed the young author's fate.

If only logic had something...anything at do with the publishing business. 

So what are your options? Sit down and read these books? Try and uncover their magic? Maybe you can somehow write a book just like them. Maybe you don't know it yet, but you're the author of the next A Million Little Pieces, 50 Shades of Gray, or Harry Potter. So you set your sights on writing something with a plot and characters that don't necessarily interest you, but you're sure contains the perfect recipe for the next bestseller.

Big mistake.

Back in 1998, an agent in NYC suggested I write a novel with a black man as the detective protagonist because that was the "in thing." I didn't do it. What do I know about writing from a black man's perspective? Why should it interest me? Besides, James Patterson was already doing it, and I would just seem like a copy cat. Fact is, many of these huge bestsellers are often, one-shot, one-hit-wonders. Tremendous pressure is placed on the author to duplicate not only the book, but also the sales. Usually, both fail to meet the grade established by the initial blockbuster success. Norman Mailer, who nailed one of these hits right out of the gate, witnessed the near dismantling of his career with two follow-up books that stunk up the joint, even if they were brilliantly written.

Many of the big one-time hits, however, aren't very well written. They create a hysteria not because of their value as a piece of literature, but simply because they have touched a trendy nerve. Again, referring to Mailer, he once said of these books, "The popularity of bad writing is analogous to the enjoyment of fast food." This is not to say all of these books are bad (after all, in the final analysis, even filet mignon ends up in the same porcelain God as the Big Mac). Some are brilliantly written and will stand the test of time (think Wool by Hugh Howey and Grisham's The Firm). Inevitably, the value of these novels is up to you, the reader.

But as a writer, what should you do in order to become a mega-famous, overnight sensational bestseller? As you mature, and practice your craft, you will come to realize that writing only about the things that interest you is the best and most trusted method of staying the often agonizing course of a full novel, which can take upwards of up to a year to write. In other words, don't force it, or else you'll end up like a rabid dog always chasing its tail (or in this case, tale...forgive me). Attempting to figure out why one book sells better than others is not only an inexact science, it is an absurd science devoid of logic, but chuck full of emotion. We all want to have that one book that sells a thousand or more copies per day for weeks or months. I've had the good luck of nailing a couple of these, but for every bestselling book I write, I have two or three that I can't even get my mother to buy.

The next time a relative unknown author scores a million seller right off the bat, remember, that author could have written a hundred novels before nailing his first huge success. Or, it could be his first and sadly, his only success. This is a business that just can't be controlled or trusted. The only thing you can trust is yourself to write a well as you can, as steadily as possible, and to practice the nail biting discipline day in and day out that's required of the next huge overnight sensational bestseller.