A new blog from the creator of The Vincent Zandri Vox about writing, traveling, and the world in the present tense.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Murder By Moonlight Book Trailer Contest Winner - YouTube

Here's the winning entry for the Murder by Moonlight trailer contest sponsored by Amazon Studios!

Murder By Moonlight Book Trailer Contest Winner - YouTube

Methinks this entry truly brings out the cinematic possibilities of the Dick Moonlight series.
What are your thoughts?



Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Art of Loneliness

I spent more than three months overseas in 2012 trying to purge whatever demons or persistent memories that had lodged themselves inside my skull over the past couple of years. I went from a month in Italy, to a couple of weeks in Paris and Normandy, directly to California, back to New York, then to Egypt and back to Italy. In between were trips to other places, mostly for conferences and even a beach-side vacation in the Cape.

I recall flying back to the states a few months ago. The pilot flew directly over Cape Cod like a ship captain or pirate of yesteryear desperately seeking the Provincetown lighthouse. A much welcome beacon in the the heart of darkness.

I guess I'm always looking for that beacon in my heart of darkness. Memories are part of our business as writers. Even if some of them are somehow pleasant but unpleasant at the same time, we tend to romanticize them, and even do our best to conjur them up in our work. What were the sensations, feelings, emotions that went into something that sticks in our brain like silly putty on the wall?  How can I tap the typewriter keys to recreate it so that it's more real than when it actually happened? How do we paint the canvas so that we walk away from it for the night convincing ourselves with absolute confidence: "There, I feel better now."

Regrets are easy to cling to because we are always asking ourselves, What if I had done something different? But then, what the fuck is the point of that? You can't change your senior page in your high school yearbook. It's still there gathering dust in the attic to send chills up your spine. Pimples and all.

Every evening in Florence, Italy, following work, I walk to a small bar located in the Santa Maria Novella. On the way I pass by a boutique shop that sells women's precious underthings. There's a woman who works the shop. She's an attractive brown-eyed, brunette and she always smiles at me as I walk by. On occasion we share a "Buono sera," or "Buono nochte" but always I keep walking and she keeps working. I sometimes wonder what would happen if I stopped to talk, but I never do. Maybe that's the beauty of it all. The art of loneliness.

Why, as writers and artists, do we crave it?

I will travel thousands of miles to be alone and hate being alone. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here. Or maybe, I'm just doomed to always be searching for that beacon. But God help me if I ever find it.



Thursday, January 3, 2013

Advice for Writers in 2013

It dawned on me this afternoon that I haven't yet dished out my usual annual bit of advice to new writers who are wondering how they might succeed at penning their first novel this year and making a killing off of it. Especially in E-Book format.

Three years ago I might have told one of these persons to jump on the social media bandwagon. To make their presence known on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Linkedin and more. I would have told them to invest in virtual book tours and to spend a couple of hours each day marketing their work on-line. I would have told them to start a blog and use it to offer advice on the writing process, and to present essays that show off the human side of the writer writing them...Or something like that.

Times have changed.

Social media isn't nearly as effective as it used to be. Virtual tours have most definitely taken over from the dreaded traditional book signing tour, which is a great thing, but they no longer help propel much in the way of sales. That is, you want to make a living at this gig. Blog writing is still a popular form of journalism, but it has become more of an outlet, writer-to-writer, reader-to-reader. A way to share information for free.  And frankly, there are too many bloggers out there who can't even write a proper sentence much less a novel.

So, you ask yourself, if none of the old tried and true methods of promoting your work in the digital age no longer work, than how in the world am I to sell my books?

The answer is simple: Write as well as you can, and then write some more. The only thing that will truly sell your work year in and year out is to write great books.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Process of Discovery: Mixing Genres in 'Murder by Moonlight'

I'm not known as an experimental writer.

In fact, I'm often accused of being a throwback to the very old days of Dash Hammett or even the more recent old days of the now, sadly late, Robert B. Parker and Jim Crumley. Not that I write as well as the aforementioned hard-boiled masters, but I am still trying to improve my skills on a daily basis, and that entails going out on a limb at times. In a word, it entails experimentation.

I think it was Jim Harrison who said, 'Life should be a process of discovery or else it's not life at all.' Or maybe it was Hemingway. In any case, in my newest release, Murder by Moonlight which is based on the true story of Bethlehem, New York axe murderer/attempted axe murderer, Chris Porco, I might have chosen to write a true crime novel. All the information on the case has already been published in the papers so it would have been a matter of putting it all together and telling the story, like it happened or supposedly happened.

But that's not me.

While conducting my research, I found a lot of discrepancies in the case, not the least of which is that, in my mind, it's impossible for one skinny young man to take a heavy fireman's axe to both his parents in the middle of the night, and not get at least some amount of blood spatter on his skin and clothing. I get spatter on my clothes just cooking a steak. It's because of inconsistencies in evidence like this that I decided to write a fictional truth about about the Porco murder in which I am able to dramatize what might have happened on that cold moonlight night back not too long ago.

I did something else too.

I normally write in a sparse, hard-boiled, noir style. But in this novel, because of the axe element, I added in a bit of horror as well. It's not a horror novel say in the vein of JA Konrath or Blake Crouch, nor would I attempt to even think about walking onto their territory with my limited skill set, but I can say this: "Murder" was a fun book to write simply because as an artist, I was presented the perfect canvass for mixing styles, and I think I pulled it off. That is, judging by the many great reviews received thus far, not to mention the very good sales.
How about you? Do you mix your genres? Have you ever attempted re-writing a true story in order to get at more possible truths?




Wednesday, December 19, 2012

You Wanna Be in Film?

I've always wanted to be in the movies.

When I was a kid I acted out every action/adventure role you can imagine. From cowboys and Indians, to WWII solider, to swashbuckling adventurer. I even set up the scene of Christ's crucifixion once which gave my parents pause to say the least. "Oh dear God he's building a cross!"

These days I write novels that get considered by the movies as possible full-length feature productions for either cable TV or the silver screen. I've been read by Clooney, Spielberg, DeNiro, Pacino, and more. While a lot of my books have come close, none of them thus far have been produced. But hey, that's Hollywood.

However, now, with the advent of book trailers, my books are coming alive on digital film if only for a minute or two at a time. Some of these trailers can be quite the professional productions. In fact, Amazon studios is sponsoring a new contest for my newest release Murder by Moonlight. They are inviting any film maker from around the globe to produce a book trailer for "Murder." The winner takes away $3,000 and there are also cash prizes and signed books for the runner ups. Thus far there have been entries coming in from around the globe. The last time Amazon Studios ran a contest like this for the suspense novel SEED, the winning entry led to major motion picture deal. How sweet is that?

There's still time for you to make your mark in the film world. Here's how:

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What's Old is Hot

"As a kid, I used to stare at the Apple spinning on the turntable for hours and hours..."

Remember the feeling of buying a new album?
Not a compact disk, but a real vinyl LP. If you still didn't have you drivers license your mother or father carted you to the record store and you dropped the five bucks you earned from delivering papers or babysitting, and you stared at the cover art all the way home. Once insde the house, you shot up to your room, peeled away the plastic, smelled the good smell of the cardboard sleeve that somehow combined with the smell of the vinyl record to create a fragrance that in my life anyway, has never been replicated. You slipped the record onto the turntable praying it wouldn't be warped, and then you gently set the needle onto the record. You sat yourself down on your bed with the album cover gripped in your hands and you listened for the first pops and hisses and scratches that can only come from vinyl, until the music kicked in and transported you a million miles away.

That experience has never been duplicated for me in the modern age of music downloads and internet radio stations. Music has gone from being a very personal emotional event to something more like a plastic backdrop. Instead of enjoying a one on one with the music artist, we now create for ourselves, our own particular brand of Muzac. The loss of the personal music experience that could only come from vinyl is almost like losing a language or even a religion.

But now vinyl is back. In a big way. This holiday season, one of the bestsellers is, and will continue to be, newly remixed and repackaged albums from some of the bands we have loved the most for decades. The Beatles, The Who, The Stones, and more...Now I need to go out and buy a new turntable. What's old is hot again, proving it's not the technology we're after, but the experience. The personal experience.

Look for the same thing to occur in the books. While E-Books, Kindles, Nooks and other digitized versions of books will continue to take off and even dominate the market for years to come, there will come, sooner than later, a resurgence not only of paper books, but beautifully bound rich paper volumes. What's old will be hot.

It's one thing to keep up with technology and always be moving forward. But it's another to abandon entirely the personal experience we once shared only with ourselves when we cracked open a brand new novel, or when we gently, hopefully, placed that diamond needle down onto a new album

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Killer Off Roading in Chianti

In this video, we come upon a felled tree that is blocking the road. Checco decides to get a little creative in attempting to move it out of the way so we can pass on through, reach the summit, and then drive down into the valley and the little town of Greve where we will have lunch.


The Chianti region of Italy is renown for its mountain vineyards, olive oil farms, a lush countryside filled with wild game including deer and boar, and a peaceful, healthy lifestyle that hasn't changed in centuries. Mostly it's know for its famous wines. It's a place to visit in order to escape the hustle and congestion of the cities. A place to eat, pray and love as the saying goes. To forget about your mortality for a while.

Or is it?

This past spring I wrote about motorbiking in the Chianti mountains. At the time it seemed like a dangerous prospect. But that was nothing compared this past Tuesday when I accompanied my fixer and friend Francesco "Checco" Tassi on an off-road tour of the Chianti mountains in his small Jeep. Imagine if you will, motoring at high speed along steep narrow paths that barely accompany the width of the vehicle, with deep, brown-water hidden ruts on the driver's side and only inches (and sometimes not even that) from the passenger side door, sheer cliff drops off one hundred and two hundred feet or more, and maybe you get the picture.

And I thought Egypt was dangerous.