Podcast Interview with Frank Zafiro

Frank Scalise (a.k.a. Frank Zafiro) is a cool guy. In the US Army he served in Military Intelligence. After that he rose through the ranks at the Spokane Police Department as an officer, detective, and retired as a Captain after twenty years. An avid reader, he had written some stories over the years.

Author Frank Scalise (aka Frank Zafiro)

In “retirement” he launched his writing career. With 27 books published and more on the way, he writes non-fiction under his real name. His River City series of police procedurals put him on the literary map. River City is a fictional version of Spokane. His pen name for his multiple crime series is Frank Zafiro. He has been featured as the Amazon’s top author of police procedurals.

As if that isn’t enough to fill his time, Frank also produces a podcast series called Wrong Place / Write Crime. Frank’s podcasts feature interviews with authors of crime, thrillers, suspense, and mysteries, and more.

We met at Bouchercon 2018 in St. Petersburg, Florida. My friend Donna Kelly and I were wandering the halls of the Vinoy Renaissance the day before the conference began. As newbies to the conference and the beautiful Vinoy resort, we wanted to get our bearings. Okay, yeah, we were goofing off.

Bouchercon lineup

Donna in the author’s lineup.

Dangerous passage.

We met Frank. Charming, funny, and just as eager as we were to discover Bouchercon, Frank admitted this was his first Bouchercon. Like kids at a theme park, we ran into each other over the following days to swap stories of meeting our literary heroes and all the free books we’d scored.

Bouchercon

Michael Connelly signs a book or two for Donna.

Bouchercon

Laura Lippman autographed a book for me.

Bouchercon authors

Hank Phillippi Ryan autographed a book for me!

Bouchercon

Donna Kelly meets Lee Child.

Bouchercon

Author Kerry Lonsdale put a selfie of us on her blog a few years ago, so…

Bouchercon

Authors Christine King and Diane Capri shared writing stories.

What is Bouchercon?

“Fill a hotel with few thousand socially-challenged introverts, folks for whom the ‘I’d rather be reading’ T-shirt was created, and force them to spend a long autumn weekend together, and what have you got? Bouchercon—and you’d be a fool to miss it.”~Lawrence Block

Bouchercon meeting roomAt the end of the conference, Frank invited me to schedule an interview for his podcast. We recorded it on February 7th. As a three-book author, I was thrilled to be included on his podcast. He’s interviewed best-selling and award-winning authors such as, Christopher Moore, Joe Clifford, Eric Beetner, Larry Kelter, and Dave Zeltersman. They talk about their experiences in turning a novel into a film, collaborating with other authors, the writing craft, and fearing that their internet searches put them on government watch lists.

Though I won’t be able to attend this year’s Bouchercon in Dallas, I know Frank will. He’s earned another fan by being himself. Frank is a cool guy. Frank is also an amazing author of crime fiction.

To listen to his 10-minute podcast with me, click here: Episode 33.

Thank you, Frank! You are a gentleman and a dangerously fun guy.

Bouchercon 2018 from a First-timer

Long before I wrote my first story I was a reader. My favorite genres are suspense, thrillers, and mysteries. So imagine my joy at attending Bouchercon in St. Petersburg, Florida this month. Bouchercon is the World Mystery Convention, the premier annual event for readers, authors, and all lovers of crime fiction. As a local, I volunteered to stuff books into book bags for attendees ahead of the conference. The organizers were expecting 1500, so it was a long day.

Bouchercon book bags pile

After we filled all the carts, we stacked the book bags on the floor.

Bouchercon book bags in carts

Bouchercon book bagsAmong the volunteers were fans and authors. We were giddy with the selection of FREE BOOKS. Among the volunteers was Author J.D. Allen. Her latest book 19 Souls was among the giveaways we were adding to bags. I remember the beautiful cover.

Bouchercon

19 Souls by J.D. Allen

After the 1500 bags were stuffed, super fan, Judy Bobalik invited all the volunteers to the upstairs bar for drinks. I had long drive home on I-4, so I had a soda. My hands were so sore from stuffing bags I drove home and stuck my hands in ice water.

Bouchercon at the Vinoy Renaissance ResortThe next day, Wednesday, September 5, I drove back to the Vinoy Renaissance Resort with my friend Author Donna Kelly. We checked in to the resort and then we picked up our registration packets and goodie bags (free books!). Going over the schedule, we found even more book giveaways at author signings. At registration, Donna and I met another first-time Bouchercon author named Frank Zafiro. A retired detective, he writes the River City Series, the Stefan Kopriva novels, and more.

We wandered around the resort to find the ballrooms where panel discussions would be held. We encountered gators.

Bouchercon gators

Bouchercon lineup

Donna in the author’s lineup.

And Donna stood in an author lineup. Donna wanted books signed by Lee Child and Michael Connelly. I said I’d be hunting down Diana Capri, Sara Paretsky, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Laura Lippman.

Bouchercon authors

Hank Phillippi Ryan autographed a book for me!

Bouchercon

Donna Kelly meets Lee Child.

Bouchercon

Michael Connelly signs a book or two for Donna.

Bouchercon

Sara Paretsky, founder of Sisters in Crime, signed a book for me!

Laura Lippman taught a workshop at Eckerd College years ago that taught me significant lessons in story craft. I was long overdue in thanking her.

Bouchercon

Laura Lippman autographed a book for me.

I ran into Kerry Lonsdale, whom I’d met at a Women’s Fiction Writers Conference in Albuquerque, NM.

Bouchercon

Author Kerry Lonsdale put a selfie of us on her blog a few years ago, so…

The authors and fans blended into a giant excited crowd. When asked if we were authors or fans, we’d answer, “Yes.” How can you be a writer without being an avid reader? The 4-day event featured panel discussions on various topics, book signings, lunches, award banquets, and of course, what is known as barcon–gatherings in the bar until the staff scoots us out. The main bar at the Vinoy is in the main lobby. There people clustered on sofas and ottomans and balanced drinks on tiny tables while debating crime stories and favorite authors. Donna and I, as new members of Sisters in Crime, met other members at their breakfast gathering.

Bouchercon meeting room

Bouchercon

Authors Christine King and Diane Capri shared writing stories.

I enjoyed chatting with Diana Capri and Christine King about boating, adventures, and writing. Diane juggles a number of series, one of which ties in with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series. Diana served on a panel discussion titled “Familiar but New–Writing Established Characters.” Christine and Diane are also members of Sisters in Crime. They welcomed me as a new member.

Ah, fun. The 2019 Bouchercon will be in Dallas. I hope I can go. Back to work.

WFWA Conference 2016

When I head off to a writer’s conference of any kind, handsome refers to it as going to see “your people.” He knows we are a tribe of our own, with our own culture, language, and traditions. It’s true. Only people in publishing get into heated debates over the readability of sans serif fonts, or the evils of single-spaced text, or dangling modifiers. I suspect most people could not–even at gunpoint–define a gerund. Perhaps they feel the same enthusiasm about the finer points of grammar as I feel about calculus. So be it.

As long as writers make stuff up the world will enjoy books, television shows, and movies. When I hear someone say “I haven’t read a book in years” or “I don’t like to read” my heart breaks. So when I spend time with writers, I feel renewed, valued, and fully alive in the moment. They share my passion. They, too, labor in isolation and send their work out into the world. Musicians, dancers, and painters can enjoy seeing reactions to their work. Authors? Not so much. Sales are an indicator. Requests for autographs happen, but largely, authors and the consumers of their work don’t meet. This is one reason writers thrive at conferences and retreats.

Orly Konig Lopez, Jamie Raintree, Ella Olson, and Aimie Runyan relax at the WFWA conference

Orly Konig Lopez, Jamie Raintree, Ella Joy Olson, and Aimie Runyan relax at the WFWA conference

LEARN

The September Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) gathering in Albuquerque was part retreat and part conference with workshops, panel discussions, book signings, and downtime to write. Limited to 100 people, it was an intimate and productive event. I met Kerry Lonsdale, author of Everything We Keep, and she took a selfie with me for her blog. If I look like a deer in headlights in her photo, well, it was from shock that she wanted a photo with me. She was as excited about her next book as a newbie author. Her enthusiasm tells me that the thrill of publication doesn’t dull after umpteen bestsellers.

Friendly authors at the WFWA conference in Albuquerque.

Friendly authors at the WFWA conference in Albuquerque.

WRITE

During downtime between events people huddled outside on the oh-so-comfy lounge cushions on the patio, out by the pool, in the restaurant, in their rooms, in the common rooms, and wherever they could find space to write. There were the pen-and-paper scribes and the laptop users quietly creating new worlds and new characters. At mealtimes writers shared advice, goals, and lessons learned.

Jennifer Fromke, Normandie Fischer, and Joni M. Fisher in Old Town Albuquerque.

Jennifer Fromke, Normandie Fischer, and Joni M. Fisher in Old Town Albuquerque.

EAT

After days of Mexican food, two authors, Jennifer Fromke and Normandie Fischer, welcomed me to join them for lunch at a small French restaurant in Old Town called La Crepe Michel. These gracious, talented multi-published authors shared their wisdom and friendship which made the conference perfect. Weeks earlier, I had read one of Jennifer’s books and reviewed it when I learned she would be at the conference. The book reminded me of summers in Wisconsin and Michigan. She perfectly captured the culture and environment. Her characters rang true and familiar. I brought the book to the conference for her autograph.

Jennifer introduced me to Normandie’s stories. Heavy Weather and Becalmed are both set in North Carolina. Two from Isaac’s House was a Romantic Times Top Pick. While I was making a mental note to read one of Normandie’s stories, she gave me her novella From Fire into Fire.

READ

The local independent bookstore Bookworks set up shop in the Fireplace Room at the hotel. Bookworks sold the works of the authors attending the conference to the public. Like kids in a candy store, the authors bought each others’ books. A law-enforcement workshop took over part of the hotel and conference rooms. They too shopped in the Fireplace Room and hunted down authors for autographs. Nancy of Las Cruces, New Mexico stopped me for an autograph. She made my week perfect.

Thank you, Nancy, for buying my book. And thank you, Normandie and Jennifer, for your kindness and encouragement. Last of all, thank you, readers, for sharing my passion for story.

Back to my writing cave.

Book Signings in Florida

BOOK SIGNING IN WINTER HAVEN

On Saturday, November 5 from noon to 2 p.m., the Winter Haven Public Library (Winter Haven, Florida) is hosting a book signing for the second book in the Compass Crimes Series. It debuts on October 16. North of the Killing Hand is a prequel of South of Justice.

cover art

This book is a finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. Winners will be announced at the awards banquet on October 22nd. My friend Author Carol J. Post also has a finalist book. Thankfully we are not competing in the same category–because she’d trounce me. Her book is in the Christian Fiction category. Mine in women’s fiction. All prayers for wins for both of us are greatly appreciated.

BUY ONLINE IF POSSIBLE

Of course there will be books available for sale and signing on November 5th, but for those who want to help boost the rankings of this book–buy a copy online through Amazon and bring it to the signing. Why? I’m glad you asked. Pre-buys accumulate and count as sales on the release date (October 16). Even eBook sales ahead of the release date help raise the book in sales ranking. And higher rankings lead to more sales…you get the picture.

PLEASE POST A REVIEW

Oh, and puhleeeeze, please post a review online through social media because my books have to compete against so many others and readers are hesitant to buy a book from an unfamiliar author unless a friend recommends it. Amazon is a vast, tough market. It has changing policies about reviews. It can take down, yes, remove reviews if the review seems to be an acquaintance of the author or if it seems the book was given in trade for a review–so if you buy a copy on Amazon and later post a sentence or two reviewing it, then your review will be labeled a VERIFIED review. That means you bought a copy and did not get a copy in trade for a review.

A review simply means clicking on the number of stars you rate the book. You can add a sentence or two. A review isn’t a book report like the kind you dreaded writing in school. Readers tend to skip the long ones and the long ones often reveal plot surprises.

If you are also on Goodreads (a sort of Facebook for readers), then a review there helps also. As a reader, I love Goodreads because it has weekly giveaways of books. Soon it will have eBook giveaways, too!

The book signing in Albuquerque, NM went very well for me and for the many authors involved! I even met Kerry Lonsdale, author of Everything We Keep. She took a selfie of us to post on her social media. If anyone sees it, don’t tell me if I look starstruck. Let me pretend I appeared cool and calm.

South of Justice cover artBOOK SIGNING NEAR ORLANDO

For readers in the Orlando and Altamonte Springs area, I will be signing books at the Altamonte Springs Hilton on Saturday, October 22 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. as part of the Florida Writers Association Conference. I will have copies of South of Justice and North of the Killing Hand. Just look for the grinning woman behind a table of books. Be warned, I’ve been known to hug readers. You are my people.

 

 

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

Everything We KeepEverything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This story had everything I want in a book–suspense, romance, mystery, memorable characters, and depth of story. It accelerates from chapter to chapter with twists and turns and shocks along the way. Her lifelong best friend and fiance dies just before their wedding. She seeks meaning and answers. The story tells her journey to the truth. This book stuck in my hand until the very end. Be sure to review the book on Amazon after you read it. Reviews help authors, even bestselling authors like Kerry!
Everything We Keep

I had the joy of meeting Kerry Lonsdale at a writer’s conference in Albuquerque last year. As I was telling her how much I loved her book, she snapped a photo of us for her social media

Authors Kerry Lonsdale and Joni M Fisher

followers. If you enjoyed her book, give South of Justice a read. Both books feature strong women struggling to find out the truth about the man to whom they have pledged love and life.

View all my reviews