Friday, April 23, 2010

Five Things I learned Writing Moonlight Falls

It’s my pleasure to welcome Noir Thriller author, Vincent Zandri, back to Over Coffee. He’s one of my favorite people who aside from writing some fabulous thrillers, plays in a band.

He is a drummer in the Albany-based punk band The Blisterz. What can I say; I’ve always had a weakness for smart witty men who play music. :-)

Vin, like many authors today, has to juggle life as a single father of three, with working full time. As a photojournalist, he has traveled extensively to Russia, Italy, China, Africa, Turkey, Greece, England, France, and more.

In addition to an award-winning novelist, Zandri is also a freelance essayist and writes for various global publications. Vincent currently divides his time between New York and Europe.

I appreciate his drive and ambition to write despite the various changes in the publishing market. Changes we’ve all seen—whether we are readers or fellow writers. Instead of letting setbacks or rejections stop him he’s wisely taken the time to learn lessons along the way and apply them.

He agreed to share some of those lessons here. Your thoughts on his lessons are welcomed.

Many things were learned during the five on-again, off-again years while I was writing my new noir, thriller, Moonlight Falls, the least if which, is that initial publishing success can be fading. Back in 1999, when my first commercial thriller, As Catch Can, was first published in hardcover by Delacorte, I assumed that I had found a permanent literary home for the rest of my life, and that the next stop in my green career was the Pulitzer Prize. But when Delacorte merged with another publisher, many of its authors were quickly transferred elsewhere and from there, kindly shown the door. For me, it was back to square one.

But despite the trial and tribulations of a commercial publishing world that has been described as “perilous,” I was nonetheless able to adhere to a program of good, solid writing, day in and day out. That alone became my shield against a volatile publishing business. That alone was my guiding force in a short literary life that had seen great ups and that now, was realizing a very deep, seemingly bottomless pit.

Still I trudged on through a period of several years where I did not publish a single book, but instead concentrated on the writing of several manuscripts, not the least of which, became Moonlight Falls.

Here are five things I learned about myself and the world around me during that time.

  • Nothing replaces rock solid writing, research and rewriting. Or, the three R’s, if you will. Even though I might have quit the business altogether and moved on to something less volatile than the writing and publishing life, I still adhered to a rigorous writing program day in and day out, even when there was no money coming in. I chose this path because in the back of my head, I always knew that the novel would one day be published. Not self-published, mind you, but published in the traditional format. Which leads me to…

  • Never lose your faith in yourself and your ability, even in the face of domestic non-tranquility. Things around the house during my, lets call them “wilderness years,” were not very happy. I’d just married my second wife, Laura, whom I believed was my soul mate. We came together at a time when things were great. I was on top of the world as a writer and we were traveling the world. But then, when things got hard. I retreated back into my shell and nearly lost all confidence in my ability to write a great story. But curiously, and sadly, as Laura and I began to break up, I regained my confidence. Which leads me to…

  • Don’t quit the day job. Or in my case, don’t give up the freelance writing and journalism because you’re suddenly under the impression you’re the next Norman Mailer. What you must constantly remind yourself is that even a world renowned writer like Mailer was broke half the time. When I published As Catch Can and the follow up, Godchild, I assumed I’d never have to write another stitch of journalism again; that I could place all my literary eggs into one basket. Turns out, had I kept my foot in the freelance writing door, I might have saved my marriage and my home by maintaining at least a semblance of income. Luckily, I was able to make a return to journalism but only after the domestic damage was done. Which leads me to…

  • Learn to weather the storms and know when to move on with your life. Said another way, learn how to swallow your pride. It’s a tough thing losing everything you have worked so hard for in life, from your publisher to your wife to your home. But to have it all happen at once, well, that’s enough to break even the strongest man for good. But this is the life we live as writers and novelists. This is the life we have chosen. While in many ways I would stop at nothing to have my wife back, I know I am powerless to do anything about it other than write the best I can, and do so consistently and without prejudice; without concern for what the publishing market is currently bearing. Which leads me to…

  • The publishing market is undergoing severe and rapid change. Traditional commercial publishers are dying. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. What’s replacing them are electronically based, independent houses that although utilizing the traditional publishing model of accepting a manuscript based upon its merits as a work of art, now publish the manuscripts in both electronic and POD format. Yes, the independent bookstores will hate you for it, and even turn up their noses at you. But 90% of all book buyers are making their purchases online. Many of them are doing so via Kindle, I-Phone, BlackBerry, and other electronic means.
It’s the new world publishing model of social media, virtual tours, book trailers, blog talk radio, mommy blogs, etc., and it is here to stay. More then likely, it will give over to an influx of self-published material over the next few years, while big agent firms and big publishers die off.

  • Where do you buy most of your books? Online or Bookstores?

I have an autographed copy of Moonlight Falls for a commenter today. Be sure to leave me a way to contact you.

Back cover blurb:

In MOONLIGHT FALLS, novelist and photojournalist, Vincent Zandri, asks the question "If you knew your life could end at any moment, how far would you go to prove you murdered your lover? "

Albany, New York, is the setting of Zandri's paranoid thriller (in the Hitchcock tradition) about Richard "Dick" Moonlight, former APD detective turned private investigator/massage therapist in training that finds himself in deep trouble.

After surviving a botched suicide attempt, he now lives precariously on the fence between life and death due the remnant of a .22 caliber bullet lodged in his brain. With the little piece of lead pressing up against his cerebral cortex, he knows he can’t always trust himself to make the correct decisions. He also can’t trust his short-term memory.

When his sometimes lover, the beautiful Scarlet Montana, calls him up one night he knows he should resist, however, the temptation is too strong. Later that same night, when Scarlet’s body is discovered, Moonlight receives a call by her police chief husband, Jake, to oversee a special investigation into a murder Moonlight may well have committed.

The problem is ...

Moonlight doesn't remember what happened!

"Readers will be held captive by prose that pounds as steadily as an elevated pulse...Vincent Zandri nails readers’ attention."
~ Boston Herald

Read first chapter excerpt

Moonlight Falls Trailer


Moonlight Falls author, Vincent Zandri, is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called "Brilliant" upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks.

Presently he is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT). He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine.

He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz. His new thriller, The Remains, is to be published this Summer and Fall in electronic format and trade paperback by Stone House Ink.

You can find Vincent Zandri:

The Vincent Zandri Vox (blog) , Twitter , Facebook , MySpace

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ideal Writing Day?

I'm pleased to have Libby Malin visiting Over Coffee again with her latest romantic comedy, My Own Personal Soap Opera. Libby writes both YA (as Libby Sternberg) and humorous Women's Fiction.

Libby leads a very busy life as many authors do these days. She's a wife, a mother of three, and a professional writer. She has worn many hats in her professional life, a Spanish gypsy, a Russian courtier, a Middle-Eastern slave, a Japanese Geisha, a Chinese peasant, and a French courtesan – that is, she sang as a union chorister in both Baltimore and Washington Operas. She's been an education reform advocate, done stints on Public Radio, and then turned to writing, working in a public relations office and then as a freelancer for various trade organizations and small newspapers.

  • Given her busy schedule I asked her, What is your ideal writing day? Have you ever had one?

I’ve been doing a lot of crazy blog posts during this virtual book tour, so my first inclination when I get asked this question was to dream up an extravagantly luxurious day involving pools, pool boys, masseuses, bon bons, pedicures, manicures, martinis and gauzy peasant-style clothing that I wear while typing on my laptop in a gazebo amidst flower-scented warm breezes.

But I won’t go there.

Instead, I’ll the truth. :-)

A realistic ideal writing day for me is actually one where I feel I have the freedom to write as long as I want, the inspiration to stick with the writing and an ironclad surety that what I write will be published. Rarely does an author experience that.

But here’s the closest I have come to that ideal—writing virtually nonstop all day because I’m on fire to tell a particular story, resentful of any interruptions (phone calls, meals!) and eager to get back to my characters, reasonably sure I can sell what I’m writing.

I think those moments are rare for most authors because of the need to work at other jobs and also because of the unsteadiness of the market. Few authors are sure these days that their next book will sell.

I’ve been very fortunate because I also work as a freelance writer and editor. For several organizations, I write articles and other publications. And for two publishing houses, I am a copy editor. This work is very fulfilling, keeps my bank account from growing too anemic, and also helps me polish skills I use as a writer of fiction. But this work—especially the copy editing, which usually has a tight deadline—can interfere with writing fiction. So I have learned to discipline myself to write, even when inspiration or a whole lot of creative energy isn’t there.

Most beginning writers have to learn that lesson very quickly because often, writers are working full-time before or even after they sell their first novel. Somehow, you find the time and the energy to make it happen. If writing is what you really want to do, nothing can stop you!

I’d be happy to answer any questions about the writer’s life or about writing comedy, in particular.

My Own Personal Soap Opera is my third humorous women’s fiction book. I’m very fond of its characters, particularly the protagonist, Frankie McNally, who is also a writer—the head writer for a soap opera.

I had a lot of fun researching this book by reading autobiographies of soap stars and interviewing some folks who’ve been involved in soap opera work. The head writer of As the World Turns was particularly kind and patient with me, and I really appreciated her help. Of course, I take liberties with the real information I unearthed, but I hope the book creates a realistic-enough feel that even those in the industry will find it entertaining!

  • Any questions about comedy or writing, thoughts, or comments? 2 copies of My Own Personal Soap Opera. 2 winners, US and Canada only. Be sure to leave me a way to contact you.

Back Cover Blurb:

Is life stranger than fiction, or vice versa?

Frankie McNally has found the perfect solution for life’s perplexing problems: as head writer for the daytime soap Lust for Life, she works them out on the air!

Meanwhile, Frankie’s being courted simultaneously by the dashing older man sent in to save the show’s sagging ratings and by the soap’s totally hot leading man. And just when Frankie thinks the plot couldn’t get more complicated, a jewel thief starts copying the show’s storyline-a development that could send the show’s ratings soaring, if it doesn’t get Frankie arrested first...

Can Frankie writer her way out of this one? And can she put make believe aside long enough to discover the truth of her own heart?

First Chapter Excerpt Download

In her signature blending of the hilarious with the poignant, Libby Malin’s latest light-hearted novel combines the best of life and of fiction into an entertaining and incredibly satisfying read.


Libby Malin is published in women’s fiction, including the books Fire Me, My Own Personal Soap Opera and Loves Me, Loves Me Not. Writing as Libby Sternberg, she is also an Edgar nominated YA mystery writer. As Libby Sternberg, she has an adult historical mystery offered exclusively on Kindle called Death Is the Cool Night. Her first print adult historical, Sloane Hall (inspired by Jane Eyre and set in old Hollywood), will be released in September.

Libby has worked in public relations, as an education reform advocate, and was a member of the Vermont Commission on Women. She is the proud mother of three children and lives with her wonderful husband in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Day In The Life Of A Writing Team--Lydia Dare

My guests today is a dynamic duo, Tammy Falkner and Jodie Pearson, otherwise known as Lydia Dare. They write paranormal historical romance. A CERTAIN WOLFISH CHARM is part of a trilogy and is available now at your favorite bookstore.

In Lydia dare’s debut trilogy, Regency England has gone to the wolves!

I was a bit curious about a day in the life of Lydia Dare. You know me, I want to know something, I ask. It's particularly fascinating to see how two separate writers can work together as a team and make a story work. The challenges they face.

  • The day in the life on Lydia Dare – both of us. We need to stress that last bit, as our lives are so very different from each other, that we both face different challenges in juggling our everyday lives as well as our writing.


I work from nine to five as a meeting planner and a travel manager for a top-notch IT consulting firm. My days are filled from the moment I get to work to the moment I leave. Some days I don’t even have time for lunch.

When I do get home, I am a single mother, recently divorced. So I spend my evenings helping my son with his homework, making dinner (in all honesty – ordering pizza), cleaning up, doing laundry, feeding the animals, and dealing with my ex way more than I’d like. Whew! I’m tired now, just looking at that list.

I am the president of my local RWA Chapter, and while that is rewarding and I do love it – there is definitely work involved with that role as well. I am also part of a very active online critique group and try to read as many chapters as I can get to.

And when I’m not doing one or all of those things…

Then I get to be Lydia Dare. Tammy and I trade off pages every day. So when she has the pages, I get a little breather (which is generally needed badly). But when I have the pages, I have to forget everything else going on with my life and immerse myself in the Regency England Tammy and I have created, filled with werewolves, witches, and vampyres. I get to escape from everyday life and let my mind dream up adventures and love matches for our characters to experience.

I love the time I’m able to be Lydia Dare.


My day starts around 7 am, when my fifteen-year-old yells at me from the bottom of the stairs that it’s time for school. Then I get to play bus driver and get both kids out the door and into the car. Then it’s off to school for them. And home for me. I have been self-employed for about six years, so I work from home 100% of the time. I adore what I do, the company I do contract work for and I love being able to set my own schedule.

I just happen to be the quintessential sports mom. I don’t think there’s anything better than sitting in the stands and rooting on my boys in all their activities. It’s one of the only things I do in the spare time I have, aside from write.

Of course, I have been married for seventeen years, so I try to put some time with my husband in there, too. But that’s a given.

On a really good day, Jodie sends me pages and I get to see where our story is going for the day. Neither Jodie nor I plot, so we never know what’s going to happen. Shipping your story off to someone else with little or no directional input is kind of like sending the kids to Grandma’s. You have no idea what they’ll do there, but it’s fun to see it on the pages when I get them. Then I get to move on with something new.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this partnership and love the work we’ve been doing. We hope the readers like the books as much as we’ve enjoyed writing them!

Cover Blurb: The rules of Society can be beastly—especially when you’re a werewolf and it’s that irritating time of the month.

He gets crankier and crankier as the moon gets full…

The rules of society can be beastly—especially when you’re a werewolf and it’s that irritating time of the month. Simon Westfield, the Duke of Blackmoor, is rich, powerful, and sinfully handsome, and has spent his entire life creating scandal and mayhem. It doesn’t help his wolfish temper at all that Miss Lily Rutledge seems not the least bit afraid of him, and in fact, may be as untamable as he is…

A woman whose charm is stronger that the moon…

When Lily’s beloved nephew’s behavior becomes inexplicably wild, she turns to Simon, the boy’s cousin and guardian, for help. But Simon’s idea of assistance is far different than hers, and Lily finds herself ensconced in his house and engaged to the Rogue.

They both may have bitten off more than they can chew when each begins to discover the other’s darkest

Read an Excerpt (click on Excerpt Tab in the box below the book)

Awarding 2 copies of A Certain Wolfish Charm. 2 winners, US and Canada only

Lydia Dare is the writing team of Tammy Falkner and Jodie Pearson. Both Tammy and Jodie are active members of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and live near Raleigh, North Carolina.

They are working together on their next paranormal historical trilogy as Lydia Dare, which will be released by Sourcebooks Casablanca in Spring 2010!