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.

Book Giveaway to Celebrate Mystery Week

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of North of the Killing Hand as part of the #MysteryWeek celebration on Goodreads. Other mystery, suspense, and thriller authors participating in giveaways are Lee Child, Scott Turow, John Grisham, Lisa Jackson, Joseph Finder, Angie Fox, Laura Griffin, and more. Goodreads has giveaways in many genres. If you’re a reader, join the free website for readers–Goodreads.com. I use it to stay in touch with readers, find new books, and keep track of what I’ve read.

“North of the Killing Hand is another brilliant entry in the Compass Crimes Series by Joni M Fisher, a compelling and intricately woven story for fans of crime fiction…The international setting is equally fascinating and readers will enjoy the way the author establishes the contrast between two worlds, building a powerful conflict around it as the protagonist adjusts and evolves. The themes are well explored, including crime, love and devotion, the sense of justice and revenge. North of the Killing Hand is a beautifully paced, absorbing story that keeps readers’ eyes on its pages.” —Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite 5-stars

 

“Reading North of the Killing Hand means you are in for some suspenseful and gripping story telling.” —SeriousReading.com

Goodreads Book Giveaway

North of the Killing Hand by Joni M. Fisher

North of the Killing Hand

by Joni M. Fisher

Giveaway ends May 07, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Love an Author

 open book emitting lights

Authors feel loved when people buy and enjoy their books enough to post reviews. Being appreciated for one’s hard work makes all the years of hunching over a laptop and gathering research worthwhile. I have a book coming out in May, so over the weekend my beloved manuscript rode off by email to the formatter and the cover artist. Sure, I’m so excited I want to tell strangers, but other than enthusiasm, well, marketing is not my strength.

For lack of a fairy godmother to make marketing happen with a wave of her wand, I must slog on to gain knowledge about the process and the best practices of marketing in the publishing world. Okay, so more hunching over a laptop, lots of reading, and a willingness to fling one’s soul into the abyss of a rapidly changing industry will be my lot. And then there is the fear factor.

Sending one’s book into the world feels like watching a toddler run across an icy lake. In a snowstorm.

I feel out of my depth. Writers by nature can be introverts and marketing skills come more naturally to extroverts. Nonetheless, I forge ahead in baby steps. Part of the marketing process involves finding comparables–books similar to mine in style, content, subject matter, or genre. Style is the toughest to identify. If a newbie author claims to write like Lee Child, or John Grisham, the claim comes off as hubris. I know which authors I would LOVE to be compared to, but that’s for readers and reviewers to decide, right? Then I found a website that samples a person’s writing and identifies which famous author has a similar style. It seemed an objective, outside opinion based on linguistic analysis, so I gave it a shot.

From a two-chapter sample of my upcoming book South of Justice came this assessment:

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!


Wait. What? WOW. Yeah, baby! 

Who am I to disagree with their fancy programming? I can live with that. My mother might even agree. For grins, I then submitted a three-chapter sample of my next book, North of the Killing Hand, and this is what the analyzer came up with:

I write like
Kurt Vonnegut

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

I could boost my ego all day with that kind of thing. Another of my favorite authors! Vonnegut’s lean sarcastic prose and quirky characters kept me up many happy nights. As much as I would be thrilled to have my style compared to Vonnegut or King, will the similarities boost my sales into the stratosphere alongside Cat’s Cradle, or The Stand? Please, oh, please!

A blog is the only forum I feel comfortable sharing the computer analysis of my style. Back in the real world, perhaps I should stick to finding works similar in theme, content, and genre. A much easier task. The hearty Beta readers and critique partners who patiently endured drafts of South of Justice identified my works as suspense with elements of romance, crime/redemption theme, and a strong female protagonist.

So as I lurch through the process of preparing this paper-and-electronic offspring to face the big world, know that all prayers are greatly appreciated. In the long run, readers like you will decide the value of a book, because no matter what the reviewers from lofty, high-brow media report, readers rule the industry.

In all the marketing information I’ve read, the most powerful marketing engine is word of mouth. My prayer is that my writing moves hearts, souls, minds, and mouths in a positive direction. Readers rule!

If you would like to read the first chapters of my books, click on the BOOKS tab above and choose a title from the drop down menu. Please leave a comment too, to start that word of mouth rolling. Feel free to share on Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, and tweet away, because the next book in the series is on the way.

Bear with me as I await that first look at the cover art. This is kind of like giving birth and counting the newborn’s fingers and toes. Will it be amazing? Will the cover reflect all the beauty and potential inside?

If you would like to be notified when the next book is published, add your email to my newsletter form on the bottom of the page. Expect to be notified:

  • To ask for your help in choosing cover art from artist’s drafts
  • To announce when the pre-buy link for a book is available, because the bigger the volume of sales that first week, the higher the book will rank. (High rankings influence buyers to take a chance on new authors like me!),
  • To get notice when a pre-publication discount is available, and
  • To notify you when a book is published.

Spread the love, spread the word, and this newbie author will keep writing the rest of the 4-part series. I’d so much rather write than market, but I will market with the resources and skills I can muster. Wave if you see me wearing a sandwich board at a major intersection.

No Television Week 25

A year without televisionI am trying to lead by example and live with no television, read more, get out to play more, exercise more, and live more. Watching television is a habit that isolates me from the world while it simultaneously gives the illusion of being part of it. Like any habit, slouching on the sofa staring at a blinking box is easy to do. Far easier than planning a dinner party with friends, or researching the next vacation, or visiting pals in the hospital. Watching television for the most part is social, mental, and physical inertia.

Remember the movie WALL-E? He was a small trash-compacting robot who hitches a ride back to the ship where humans live while they wait for earth to recover from pollution. When he find the humans they have relied so heavily on technology to feed, bathe, and transport them that they have grown so lazy they can’t walk. That would be me in another ten years of nightly television viewing with a bowl of popcorn in my lap.

Heading into month six, week twenty-five, I have momentum. The S Health pedometer on my Samsung S measured my average daily steps in January at 2,000. In the last 30 days I’ve averaged 10,000 steps per day. Sure, some of them have been diligently striding past the television, but hey, this is progress. As a devout watcher of police procedurals, the sigh-worthy misses this year are: Castle, NCIS, Major Crimes, Rizzoli & Isles, and the rumored last season of CSI (Las Vegas)! So to get my fix I’ve stockpiled thrillers, suspense, and mysteries by Linda Castillo, John Foxjohn, James Patterson, David Morrell, Lee Child, Diane Capri, John Grisham, Greg Iles, Dan Brown, and Joshua Graham. On ships, in cars, on planes, on beaches, and at a cabin in the woods, I will read without commercial interruptions.

While it is true that television and books both provide the illusion of participating in the story, books draw the participant deeper into the mind and heart of a character. Books offer a deeper perspective and a richer experience into worlds and events readers will never experience otherwise.

And yes, I will also work on my own novels. To my readers and fans, buckle up. Prepare for a new book this fall with the cover reveal this summer. Editing continues.