Monday, October 5, 2015

Guns Don't Shoot All By Themselves

Yes, Obama, mass shooting occur elsewhere in the world too

Two weeks ago I attended a handgun safety course, which is a part of the overall mandated program for obtaining a pistol permit in New York State. Prior to attending the class I assumed it would be full of young men, all of them filled with piss and vinegar, maybe a few boasting CAT tractor baseball caps, or some others with Dukes of Hazard Ts pulled over massive weight-trained biceps.

I was gladly mistaken. The room was filled with an eclectic assortment of individuals to be certain, more than half of whom were women. Women of all ages. Some in their late 60s, a couple in their 50s, and so on and so forth. The young woman who sat beside me was getting her license so she and her boyfriend could shoot together. She looked at me with brilliant green eyes and said she couldn't wait to get the permit. But many of the older women felt the need to better protect themselves in an America that has grown increasingly more dangerous over the past eight years, due to racial divisiveness and a war on the police.
It's possible this man stood up for his Christian belief and died for it

Little more than a week ago, another one of those horrible and senseless mass shootings occurred at a campus in Oregon. The shooter killed 9 students and faculty, and injured many more. According to reports, the victims were required to state their religion before the shooter pulled the trigger. I won't mention the killer's name here since it doesn't deserve even the time it would take me to type it. But I bleed for the loved ones of the dead and pray that somehow these killings will one day cease.

Within hours of the tragic event, President Obama once again used the sad news as an opportunity to press a political agenda of anti-NRA sentiment and gun control legislation that, if he were to have his way (which he won't), would mandate total confiscation of America's guns and the repeal of the Second Amendment. You've read the novel before or perhaps seen the movie. The one in which the fascist state puts together a kind of SS-style militant organization that pounds down your door, demanding you hand over your weapons. Something that would not only be impossible in this country, but would be severely resisted, by force if necessary.

But what really happens during these horrible tragedies?

Do the guns pick themselves up and do their own shooting? Or does the fault lie elsewhere, like in the brain of the shooter perhaps? Instead of touting his hatred of guns, perhaps Obama should focus on the real tragedy here. The killers are mentally ill and just plain filled with hatred. Or is "politicizing" (Obama's word), the mentally ill not PC in America? Did you know that a mentally ill person cannot be incarcerated until he or she commits a violent crime to themselves or others? Where is the logic in that Mr. Conscious in Chief? Again, am I not being politically correct? Or is political correctness akin to those ten round magazines you wish to abolish? Abide by both principles and you won't see anymore carnage. A naive notion at best, a dangerous one at worst. 
Welcome to Mexico

When President Obama spouts something so wrong as we're the "only nation where this (mass shootings, that is) regularly happens,” I have to to wonder what planet he's from, or who's advising him anyway.

Isn't this the same President who enjoyed a photo op with the three young brave Americans who thwarted an AK47 wielding madman on a train between Belgium and France? And wasn't one of those young men enrolled in the Oregon college where the mass shooting took place? What about the mass shootings taking place in the name of Radical Islam in the Middle East and North Africa?

When I was in Egypt at the end of the failed Arab Spring and the Barack Obama-supported Muslim Brotherhood was walking the streets of Cairo with their AK47s at the ready, I never once bothered to ask if anyone of them had passed a federal background check. Should we ask the families of the Christians who have been shot in the back of the head execution style if the guns were responsible for their murders, or the assholes who pulled the triggers? Should we ask the families of those murdered at Paris's Charlie Hebdo? How about Nairobi in 2013 when dozens of mall goers were shot just for not being Muslim (Trust me, a traveler friend of mine, Fran Strazzella, miraculously lived to write about the massacre in his 90 Minutes in Nairobi) What about down south in Mexico? Surely there are no drug cartel related mass shooting there either (tongue in cheek).

But this is no laughing matter. The US and the world in general has become a dangerous, angry as all hell place. Perhaps it's better to protect one's self than be a victim.

If the POTUS and I agree on one thing it's this: these mass killings must stop. But instead of pointing at the guns as the problem, point your finger instead at the crazy angry lunatics who wield them. Simply ignoring them because it's not politically correct to label them as crazy isn't doing anyone any good. Here's how politically correct I am, Mr. President: Note to all you loons who think you'll become famous for shooting up a school in the US or shooting a Christian in the face in the Middle East. Do us all a favor and shoot yourself first.

The other day, at the police station where I was awaiting being printed for the pistol license, I met an elderly African American woman. She was small, tiny even, with a sweet face and demeanor. We got to talking about guns, and the violence that was seizing our country like a plague. Two young cops had been shot this past month in her community alone. One of them about to become a father. Or course we spoke about the tragedy in Oregon. She told me that she feared for her life in this climate where it's seemingly okay to kill officers of the law. If not for the police, who will protect us? Certainly not Obama (He is, by trade, a professional agitator after all). I told her about the pistol safety course I'd recently attended, how there were several women about her age in attendance. She asked me for information about the class.

"Perhaps it's time I thought about buying a gun to protect myself," she said.



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

German Journo Witness to ISIS Planned "Nuclear Holocaust"

Jürgen Todenhöfer, the only western journalist to have been allowed access to ISIS strongholds in both Syria and Iraq and live to tell the tale, has a dire warning for Israel, Christians, and the West in general, and which he spells out in his new book, Inside IS – Ten Days in the Islamic State. The radical Muslim terrorists, who were once referred to as "the JV team" by Barack Obama, plan on slaughtering hundreds of millions of people. Already formidably armed, ISIS is actively seeking out nuclear weapons and other WMDs. Once having acquired them, they plan on using the weapons against Israel and other targets in the West, ushering in a nuclear holocaust of Biblical proportions.

In his book, the author writes, ISIS is a “nuclear tsunami preparing the largest religious cleansing in history.” The army seeks world domination and an eradication of democracy and all religious belief systems that conflict with their radical ideology. Says Todenhöfer, "The west is drastically underestimating the power of ISIS."

For the full story and links from BREAKING ISRAEL NEWS, click HERE

Sunday, September 27, 2015

"I was born, I blinked ..."

You blink and summer, you sadly discover, has passed you by. Actually, it went by faster than a blink, which life in general seems to do, or so I'm discovering now that I'm a 51 year old guy. Time is now akin to sliding down that slippery slope. The descent isn't all that rapid, but you start thinking of things that you never thought about before (if you'll forgive the Yogi Berrasim, may God rest his soul).

For instance, you wake up one too many times at night to take a leak and what flashes through your brain is prostate cancer. There's more hair at the bottom of the shower drain these days. Gray hair. You're still exercising more than ever, but it sometimes leaves you more tired than energized, so you become a fan of afternoon naps (For the life of me, I don't know how folks with traditional jobs get through the day without a nap).

But there's a lot of good that comes with age too.

For the most part, I feel like I'm twenty-one. I eat what I want, drink what I want, go where I want, and, do what I want, within reason. I still get the high hard one up without help from chemicals, and, praise be to God, I don't think I've enjoyed a summer in recent memory where I haven't had even an ounce of women trouble.

Maybe I'm learning something in my dark middle age (it's not really all that dark. I just like the sound of that). Ten years ago this very weekend, my second wife, Laura, and I, split up. I moved out with fifty dollars in my checking account and a whole bunch of debt, and no publishing contracts to depend on. Now, ten years later, Laura and I are back together. I'm about to publish my twentieth novel in Jan. 16 (Orchard Grove, Polis Books), and I make a very good living at what I do. As for debt, I kicked it's big fat ass.

So how did I do it?

I worked hard at making some serious changes in my life that extended far beyond something as simple as quitting smoking or giving up gluten. I peered into the mirror, and I was honest with myself. Brutally honest. What I came up with is that your life is your own responsibility. No one is to blame for your plight but you. Not society, not race, not political affiliation, not your parents, not the police, not the welfare state...Not even God or the devil. You and you alone are the captain of your ship and you alone are responsible for its course.

So, yes, I have learned some things now that I'm older, the most important lesson of which is this: No matter how bad your situation is, you can change it. You can reverse anything, if you want to. Happiness isn't something you wear like a skin. It's a choice. In making the decision to be happy, you must make adjustments. Some of them difficult, like giving up a job you hate, leaving a harmful relationship, or packing up, selling your shit, and moving to a new state or country. But the changes are necessary if you are going to be happy (yes, in all the Eat, Pray, Love, sense of the word).

I'm reminded of an obituary that recently appeared in a US newspaper. It was written by the woman who was about to die, something for which I applauded her. In it, she wrote, "I was born, I blinked, and it was over." I've never forgotten those words. Nor should you. That is, you want to assume ultimate responsibility for the one life you live and its happiness.



Sunday, August 16, 2015

World War III and More Pleasant Observations

How ISIS has Fun in the Summer Sun

It's been way too long since I've posted here. But if I have an excuse or excuses, it/they are good ones. This summer has been taken up almost entirely with my rewrite for When Shadows Come, my new stand-alone psych thriller coming from Thomas & Mercer in April of '16. Time is also being consumed by my rewrite of Orchard Grove, my new hard-boiled/noir effort to be released by Polis Books in January '16. Both books are major releases for me and represent precisely my evolution as a writer with 20 books to his credit (or discredit, depending upon which side of the fence you're on).
Some common sense observations from the mind of a rugged individualist (card carrying Independent) thus far for summer 2015:

--You don't plead the 5th unless you're afraid of going to prison.

--You don't wipe the personal server clean of 30K emails unless you have something serious to hide.

--You don't make a deal with the Devil unless you have sympathy for the Devil.

--An estimated 50 Iranians who oppose the Iran Nuke Deal have been executed since the interim agreement was signed some months ago.

--"No" means "no," right? Well, "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" means just that...Death.

--The EPA is the new BP when it comes to ruining the environment. Will Obama take time out from his vacation to visit Colorado and the thousands of people affected by this environmental disaster, like he did the Gulf spill? Methinks the photo ops won't work in his favor.

--The national debt is closing in on 20 Trillion. If the debt ceiling were an airplane, 20 T is where we stall out, and begin a spiraling nose dive towards the ultimate calamity.

--Planned Parenthood is now officially in the organ harvesting business.

--Amnesty for illegal immigrants is not about love. It is a power grab for the Democratic caucus. More votes means assured victory, assured big government, assured dependency on government handouts...Oh, and more senseless murders.

--ISIS is not the JV team anymore. They are now the Varsity squad outfitted with WMDs, some of which have been discovered in Iraq.  Go figure.

--"All Lives Matter."

--Russia is on the move, testing NATO's resolve. And remember when North Korea signed a deal with President Clinton back in the 90's assuring the world they would not develop nuclear weapons? It was a deal based not on "trust" but verified inspections. Looks like the bad guys just can't be trusted to keep their word. In the end, it's possible the next POTUS will find him or herself trying to avoid WWIII.

--Is it any wonder that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are killing it in the polls while our professional politicians steer the world towards a disaster no one will be able to avoid?



Thursday, July 2, 2015

KU.2 and More Crimes(S) News!

KU.2 is here it seems to have some authors confused.

Me included.

I get that authors are now paid for what readers read in terms of number of pages turned. But what I'm not entirely clear on is this: Is it better for a write to be producing long books now as opposed to novellas and shorts?

Common sense tells me the former as opposed to the latter. In any case, the few books I have published as purely Indie aren't doing any better or worse with the advent of this new and improved system (it's too early to tell). But my gut tells me to go wide with most of my indie books while concentrating on KDP for longer titles, like The Scream Catcher, for instance (actually, this title was recently purchased by POLIS BOOKS).

In the end, I think we should trust the experts on the matter of the new KU, so let's bring in Hugh Howey...The floor is yours Hugh...Click HERE for his latest blog, The Great KU Flip-Out of 2015


In other News: Richard Matt and David Sweat, the two killers who pulled off the Great Escape from Dannemora Prison in Upstate New York have finally been apprehended. Matt bought the farm after eating a bullet, and Sweat, who also got shot, is currently residing in the Albany Medical Center. 
Some predictions about this case that I got right early on: 
--They would be apprehended relatively close to the joint.
--It was an inside job.
--The tools used in the cutting of the walls, pipes, etc, were easily supplied by COs and other prison workers.
--Security would be lax at the honor block (I've been inside the Green Haven Honor Block where much of the Italian Mob resides and it smells like the best Italian restaurant you've ever eaten in).
--The end would involve a shoot out and at least one them dying.
One thing I got wrong: Neither man sought out an old girlfriend and/or wife. Neither had a spouse, I believe, but things being as they are inside an all male prison, I figured they would want to get laid. But then, I guess Joyce Mitchell, the prison worker indicted for aiding and abetting their escape was giving them more sex than they could handle. 

I'm in debt to these guys not only for putting on a good show, but for giving me the idea for my fourth Jack Marconi novel, THE INNOCENT (formerly AS CATCH CAN) being the first one. How ironic that after 16 years of Jack, he's back to investigating the max security breakout of a couple of killers, one of them a cop killer. Think I'll buy David Sweat some flowers.

Lot's coming up including my nominations for a Shamus Award and an ITW Award, so don't forget to check out WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM  for detes. 

Oh, crap, and also, I'll be signing first editions of EVERYTHING BURNS and MOONLIGHT WEEPS at ThrillerFest this Friday after my 12PM Panel, "MEET THE NOMINEES!" Hope to see you there.


Monday, June 8, 2015

"Little Siberia" Prison Break: A Case for Jack Marconi?

David Sweat and Richard Matt, on the lamb in Upstate NY

More than a few readers have asked me if I'm going to write about the elaborate, "Shawshank Redemption" style prison break that occurred a few days ago at the Clinton County Correctional Facility in Dennemora, NY, which is located approximately 25 miles from the Canadian border at Montreal. Dubbed, "Little Siberia" by the inmates and security guards (corrections officers) alike, the place is pretty much a frozen hellhole during the winter and a frying pan during the summer months. An escape hasn't occurred there in almost a century and a half, so you can imagine the amount of planning that went into this by two notorious murderers and cops killers.

That said, having researched and written about another elaborate maximum security prison break that took place back in 1968 at New York's Green Haven Prison in my novel, The Innocent, I might speculate on the following:

--Judging by the degree of sophistication that went into the breakout...the expert cuts in the walls, the steam pipes, and the overall knowledge of the joint's layout, these two criminals not only had outside and inside help, they had access to facility blueprints.

--Make no mistake, Corrections Offices and prison workers can be bought. They also are human which means it's easy to form emotional relationships with inmates. The prisoners run the show, not the other way around. That means, if the two escapees required power tools to facilitate their escape, they simply found a way to have them smuggled into the prison. Trust me, that's the easy part.

--While the Canadian border is located relatively close by...a forty five minute drive, I'm told...investigators should concentrate first on girlfriends, wives, family members, good friends and the like, before jumping to any conclusions. Sure, the obvious decision for these guys to make is to cross the border and somehow find their way out of the country. But more than likely, they want to get laid and eat a home cooked meal, not to mention down a few beers. Sounds crass and too simple to be believed, for sure, but how's that old song from the 80's go? "People are people," even if they are crazed murderers.
Okay, some of you might have a heart attack over what I'm about to point out, but I'm gonna do it anyway since I'm primarily a hard-boiled author. It is kind of romantic these two guys were able to pull off such a skilled escape in this day and age. The brash manner and style in which they managed to pull it off and, on top of it perhaps enjoying the assistance of beautiful femme fatale working inside the joint, is something straight out of a 1930s noir novel or film. I couldn't outline it any better.

So then, will I write about this case?
I'll ask Jack Marconi, former max prison warden turned PI and get back to you.



Saturday, May 30, 2015

Ten Years Ago...

Nominated for ITW's Best Paperback Original...

Ten years ago I was down and out...


After a stellar launch and a quarter million dollar advance on my first novel, I did something stupid. I assumed those great big advances would keep rolling in every year like Christmas. All I'd have to do is write 60,000 words and collect the dough.

I was young, immature, stupid, and I freakin' blew it.

Instead of continuing on as a freelance journalist, I quit the racket altogether, believing that I'd be spending the rest of my days writing the great American novel. I didn't save any of my advance, but instead bought a house I couldn't afford while the rest of the money burned up in a costly divorce. When the first couple of books in the big deal didn't come close to earning out that huge advance, I was politely shown the door.

"Hey, that's showbiz, kid!"

I was left with no future publishing prospects, no journalism gigs, and even the new marriage I'd entered into had gone belly up.

Ten years ago, I sat all alone in my apartment and wondered if the Gods were trying to tell me something. That maybe I didn't have what it took to make it as writer. I knew I could continue sitting there feeling sorry for myself, or I could grow up a little, go the opposite direction and make the slow, arduous, long climb out of the pit I'd dug for myself.

The newest novel...
I started out by doing something positive. I quit smoking.

I also started putting feelers out for new freelance journalism gigs. They started coming in at a trickle, but within a relatively short time, I was building up a new portfolio. I also started writing fiction again. Short stories and a new novel. The novel that would become Moonlight Falls was written during this tumultuous period. No wonder my main character contemplates, attempts, and fails at suicide.

I also began a long series of travels which turned into my becoming a freelance photo-journalist for outfits like RT. I saw West Africa and toured the bush where little children from an orphanage held my hand and touched my skin because they didn't believe the milky whiteness could be real. I went to Moscow, Paris, London, Istanbul, Peru, the Amazon Basin, and Egypt as the smoke cleared on the Arab Spring. I began basing myself out of Florence, Italy, where I would spend months at a time writing for news services and working on new novels.

Soon, I contracted with a small press to publish Moonlight Falls. Then another small press would take on a new version of The Innocent now that I'd managed to get my rights back from Delacorte. That novel would go on to sell a few hundred thousand copies. Ironically, it would have made back the original $250,000 advance. More books were written and more published. Then something wonderful happened. Thomas & Mercer, Amazon Publishing's traditional publishing arm offered me my first major contract in years and years.

I was back.

Today, ten years later, I'm enjoying contracts with several publishers large and small. Plus I've begun my own label to publish my Chase Baker series and other smaller projects. I'm still writing some journalism. Not because I have to, but because I want to keep my foot in the door and what the hell, it keeps me sharp. My SPJ dues are paid up and I'm a member in good standing.
This year I will enjoy my best year ever as a writer.

What's the secret to turning your writing life around?

For a business that requires as much luck as it does work, a writer must develop a fortitude, a self-discipline, and a perseverance that is unmatched in any other endeavor. The more you work, the more luck you have.

The ebook revolution played a big role as well.

But, ebooks or not, for me there was no other choice in the matter. Like Hemingway said after the initial dismal critical and commercial failure of Across the River and Into the Trees (1950). "When they've knocked you down on your ass for the count of eight, you get up and let 'em have it." He counter attacked and won the Pulitzer Prize. I've counter attacked and haven't won the Pulitzer, but I am up for ITW's Best Paperback Original for 2015 with Moonlight Weeps. And that's something to be very proud of.

Ten years ago I was down and out...and in many ways, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.