Extra Innings by Don Massenzio – an excerpt

SAMPLEEver since I was a kid in Upstate New York, the magic of going to a baseball game was something I’ll never forget. We had a AAA team in our town and they were the farm club of the New York Yankees. The post World War II stadium was small and quaint. It was also a bit rundown.

I remember opening days when snow had to be plowed from the tarp so the game could take place. I also remember humid summer nights where the mosquitoes were so dense, you had to brush them away from your face.

When I set out to write Extra Innings, I wanted to capture the feeling of that magic, but add another element to the story. What emerged is a story of a sad man, Joe McLean, who’s trying to capture some of his youthful memories as his beloved baseball stadium is being demolished to make way for a new one.

He buys a piece of memorabilia and receives more than he bargained for. He then sets off on a journey, using his newfound power, to change his life and undo some of the mistakes he made in his past.

The results are surprising.

Please enjoy Chapter 1 of my new book, Extra Innings. If you enjoy it, you can purchase a copy by clicking HERE.


Extra Innings – Chapter 1

TripleA baseball is just one step below the majors. For Joe McLean and his family, being fans of the Langerton Chiefs was a legacy passed down through multiple generations.

Langerton is located in a no-man’s land part of Pennsylvania that forms a small barrier between Western New York and Eastern Ohio and butts up against Lake Erie.

Langerton’s sports scene consists of baseball during the all-too brief Spring, Summer, and Fall along with minor league hockey during the seemingly endless winter. Hockey was a great diversion in the winter, but it was baseball that added a special magic to the brief period of warm summer nights.

The Langerton Chiefs had a long history going back to the 1940s. The United States was hungry for normalcy after the horrors of World War II. The wholesomeness and pure sensibilities of the American spirit that baseball offered were just the cohesive forces the country needed to pull itself together.

The minor league system for baseball, with its A, AA, and AAA teams, gave fans an outlet for inexpensive entertainment that showcased talented players before their potential ascent to the Major League. Many of the stars of the AAA Chiefs went on to be well-known players. Also, players on the mend or those looking for a comeback, often made appearances in minor league parks to sharpen their skills with the farm team before, hopefully, heading back to their major league clubs.

The parent clubs of these teams tended to shift from time to time. Joe McLean remembered, with great fondness, the days when the Chiefs were a New York Yankees farm club. The Yanks would come to Langerton each year for an exhibition game. Joe and his brother, Mike, had stood in line for autographs from greats like Don Mattingly, Dave Winfield and other stars of the 80’s and 90’s. Joe’s dad had a baseball card for Thurman Munson that had the late, great catcher’s signature.

Now, as Joe passed into middle-age, the Langerton city council had voted to tear down the old Maxwell Stadium and replace it with one of those brand-new but old-fashioned venues that had become popular when the Baltimore Orioles built Oriole Park at Camden Yards in 1992. Joe was not happy with this development.

“I can’t believe they’re going to tear the old place down,” Joe said to his brother Mike as they downed a huge breakfast at the Little Star Diner.

“It’s just progress. Maxwell is a dump.”

“A dump? It’s the place where we saw some great players and some great games. How can you call it a dump?”

“Yeah. We did have some great times there back when the Yanks were our team instead of the Blue Jays. They’re not even an American team.”

“How many Americans make up a team these days, anyway?” Joe half-joked. “You’re right. Most American kids play soccer now. I don’t understand a game where, after three hours, there’s no score,” Mike said.

“Sounds a lot like baseball?”

It was different though, the brothers agreed. A scoreless baseball game was a nerve-wracking event where, with each pitch, a million different outcomes were possible and strategic decisions could turn the momentum in a game. Both McLean brothers believed this to be true.

“I’m going to miss those old metal and wood seats. Something about that place made me feel at home,” Joe said.

“The new place will be fine. It’s the game that counts, not where it’s played.”

“I know, but still, the ambiance is going to be missed.”

 

“Ambiance? Look at you Mr. Fancy College Boy. If you miss it so much, why don’t you go grab some pieces of the stadium and put them in your apartment?”

Mike was the older brother by eight years. He was approaching fifty, but looked older. He had a husky build with a strong upper body balanced out by a substantial beer gut. His grey curly hair topped a roundish head with an Irishman’s ruddy complexion. He was taller and wider than his younger brother, but they had the same piercing blue eyes inherited from their mother. Mike went to work in the local auto plant right out high-school. Joe had gone to college and was now a CPA.

Joe was silent.

“I don’t like that look, little brother. I was joking, but your face says you didn’t get the joke.”

“Well, what are they going to do with the seats and the signs?”

“Trash them. After they salvage what they want, they’ll come in with dozers and backhoes and tear the place down, load it in dump trucks, and haul it away.”

“So what’s the harm in taking a seat or some signs if they’re going to just dump them?”

“There’s no harm if you don’t mind the breaking and entering or the theft charges that go along with your plan.”

“Listen to you. You always had a drawer full of candy bars and cigarettes in our room when we were kids. Did you pay for those? Besides, I was going to ask if I could take something, or even buy it.”

“Hey, we were kids back then and, even though Mom and Dad dragged us to church every Sunday, I didn’t know any better.”

Joe smiled at his brother’s comment. He remembered those Sundays when Father McDougal would give a homily filled with parables about the evils of money and material goods. This was always followed by the passing of the basket so that the church could collect some of that evil money.

“I’ll call the team office and see who I need to talk to. You never know, they might just let me take some stuff,” Joe said.

“Well good luck with that. I’ll be looking forward to those padded box seats in the new Price Choice Stadium.”

The stadium was to be named for a grocery store chain owned by Lackawanna Specialty Services, a holding company with rumored ties to the mob in Western New York. LSS owned the land that the stadium was on and

decided to name the stadium after its discount grocery store chain and obliterate Maxwell name that the stadium carried for nearly 70 years honoring a World War II hero from the area.

“I’ll be there too, but I sure will miss old Maxwell with its leaky roof and smoky field.”

The concession stands that sold burgers, hot dogs, and other grilled items were close to the field at the third base side. When the wind swirled off of Lake Erie, it often took the smoke from the old-fashioned grills and covered the field in a thick, wonderful smelling, carcinogenic haze.

The brothers finished their breakfast and went their separate ways. Mike, to one of the few remaining auto parts manufacturers in the northeast, and Joe, to the accounting firm of Romano, Provenza and Bianchi. The brothers got together for breakfast every Tuesday morning and had done so every week of their adult lives barring sickness, vacation and holidays. The Little Star, a 55 year-old greasy spoon was always their destination.

Joe pulled into his firm’s parking lot. The building that housed R, P, & B was a circa 1960 cinder block box with plate glass windows. Joe had worked here for 20 years. He was a hard worker and would have made partner in any other firm by now. Nepotism and the lack of an Italian last

name, however, kept that from happening in this firm. He was content. He lacked the drive and the nerve to strike out on his own. R, P,& B was the only accounting firm in town and virtually every business and many individuals in Langerton made up their client base. Joe walked past the offices along the wall to his half-walled cubicle.

“Hey Joe.”

It was Johnny Provenza III, one of the new junior partners that was just one year out of college and the son of one of the partners.

“Good morning, John.”

“How about those Steelers last night?”

“I missed it. The Yankees were playing the Red Sox in the ALCS last night.”

“Baseball. What a snooze fest. Does anybody watch that anymore?”

“I still do,” Joe said feeling his age more than ever.

“Oh yeah, of course. By the way Joe, do you have the Healthway numbers for me yet? Dad’s been asking for them.”

“I’m just checking some last minute figures and should have it to you by the end of today.”

John noticed others in the firm beginning to watch the exchange between him and Joe.

“See that you do, Joe. I won’t tolerate missing a deadline, the young Provenza said in a voice that had doubled in volume.

Healthway was one of the accounts that Johnny had been handed when he joined the firm as a junior partner. It was a lucrative medium-sized account with minimal complexity, but was way above Johnny’s abilities. Joe had offered to help and found the account totally dumped on him. He was doing all the work and would receive none of the credit. He wondered if John Provenza II. knew the work was not being done by his son. Joe would never tell. He just did his job without passion day after day. He was content. His only passion these days was baseball.

Baseball was an obsession that led to Joe tracking every statistic of every player on the Langerton team as well as the Yankees. He went to every Chiefs home game and weekend away games when they were within a three hour drive. It the game was more than three hours away, he was at home glued to the radio with a baseball score book recording every pitch, swing, score and out. And now, they were tearing down old Maxwell Stadium. The place where so many of his memories were made. He needed to get a piece of those memories for himself before they hauled everything away, but how?

Joe put it out of his mind. He had the Healthway numbers to finish and he had to focus and set aside his childish notions. He didn’t think about it again until lunch time.

 

War of Nytefall: Loyalty – By Charles E. Yallowitz

I’m happy to turn over today’s post to Charles Yallowtiz to help him promote his newest book, War of Nytefall: Loyalty. Please enjoy learning about this new book and be sure to pick up a copy.


Cover Art by Alison Hunt

Thank you to Don Massenzio for letting me promote the first book of my newest series, War of Nytefall: Loyalty. This adventure takes place in the world of Windemere, but it focuses on a new species of vampires called Dawn Fangs. While they showed up a few times in Legends of Windemere, their origins and culture have been a mystery until now. So, where did these deadly predators come from?

In terms of the story, Windemere has had vampires since its early years, but they were the type that would lose their powers in the sun. They had a reputation for being one of the most dangerous types of undead and steadily developed a global society that mirrored the one of mortal-kind. Of course, they stayed in the shadows because this is a world of magic and those with holy power were always on the hunt. Windemere also has a rather big adventurer population and those pesky wanderers tend to show up where they’re not wanted. Even with so many enemies, the vampires flourished and became one of the top predators. Needless to say, they got rather arrogant.

Enter the Great Cataclysm, which is a mysterious event that changed the entire face of Windemere. All mortals know is that an immense power was unleashed and spread across the entire global. Continents were moved and altered with one even disappearing. Some species were wiped out and magic went haywire for the few minutes that the chaos was ensuing. It was during this time that an ambitious vampiric thief named Clyde was about to be executed by the followers of Durag the Sun God. Their spells were twisted and the entire temple city was sucked into the ground where Clyde was trapped for fifty years. On the plus side, he was trapped with plenty of snacks.

During the time he was buried, the vampires were drawn into a war with the Duragians and various hunters. After being freed by his old partner, Mab, Clyde sets off to help some of his old allies win the war. Only problem is that he came out of the ground different and is not like other vampires. He retains his strength in the sun, is much more powerful, and even has a heartbeat to help pass himself off as a mortal. Knowing that some might see him as a threat, he tries to keep this a secret, but we all know how that never works. Without going into spoilers, the war shifts from one between vampires and mortals to a civil war between the old-world vampires and the Dawn Fangs.

Outside of the story, the origin of the Dawn Fangs is fairly simple and kind of comical. I played Clyde in a tabletop game called ‘Vampire: The Masquerade’, but the group eventually moved to another game about Mages. I couldn’t get a handle on it, so I was allowed to bring Clyde back as a ‘day-walker’. Hey, ‘Blade’ was still a big thing back then and rightfully so. The tradeoff for being able to live in the daylight was that every faction wanted him either dead, enslaved, studied, or eaten. This hunted issue carried over through the various incarnations of Clyde’s series, which began with him being on Earth and eventually getting brought over to Windemere. I have to admit the Dawn Fang concept works a lot better in a fantasy setting because their appearance being caused by magic makes more sense than ‘he was just made that way’. I did try to have all vampires immune to sunlight, but then I wasn’t sure what they were fighting over since Clyde isn’t interested in ruling a kingdom or world. This battle over species dominance seemed to work out best with the old type wanting to crush the new threat and the Dawn Fangs fighting for both survival and to avenge a betrayal.

As much as I’d love to go into more details, War of Nytefall: Loyalty is all about the origin of these new top predators. While people may have noticed that they are out and about in Legends of Windemere, that didn’t happen overnight. There were a lot of decades in the shadows, which is what this series covers. Clyde and his gang have a lot of battles to survive before they can really enjoy being in the light. Although, I will say that the biggest fight might not be against an enemy that can be ripped in half. After all, the power of the Dawn Fang comes with a difficult price: Bloodlust.

 

Book Blurb

In the wake of the Great Cataclysm, a new predator will emerge within Windemere’s shadow.

For fifty years, Clyde has remained buried while the rest of the vampires have been battling against their enemies. Only Mab believes that her former partner survived his execution and is determined to bring him back to the city of Nyte. Retrieving the vampiric thief is only the beginning as he comes out of the ground stronger, faster, and demonstrating powers that their kind have never witnessed throughout their ancient history. Thrown into the war, Clyde must be careful to hide his true nature while fighting alongside his old friends. Too bad he is having so much fun that keeping his secret might be furthest from his mind.

Will anyone be ready for the rise of the Dawn Fangs?

Grab your copy of War of Nytefall: Loyalty on Amazon!

Author Info

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com
Twitter: @cyallowitz
Facebook: Charles Yallowitz
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

FANTASY AUTHORS UNPLUGGED: THE HAT BY C. S. BOYACK – From the Archer’s Aim Blog

Fantasy Authors Unplugged is back and I hope there will be more posts for the feature soon. Today, fellow Story Empire contributor, C. S. Boyack pays a visit with his latest book, The Hat, in the spotlight. I’m pleased to have Craig back today…

Thanks for having me over again, P. H. It’s been a while now.

You’ve written a wide range of books from anthologies to novels. How do you approach a story and decide what the length will be?

I have a hard time with this one. Like most authors, I started out writing tomes that were huge. As I learned to me more efficient with my words, I often have a hard time making word count these days.

I still want specific projects at certain parameters though. The Hat was designed to be a novella, because there is a market I want to approach. I would have liked another 5000 words or so, but I don’t want it to bog down at all. The format doesn’t allow for a lot of navel gazing by the characters.

I really like the approach of making stories as long as they need to be. This works well with short stories and micro-fiction. With the longer work, some planning is required. Even knowing that, many of my novels are on the short side these days.

via Fantasy Authors Unplugged: The Hat by C. S. Boyack

The First Review Is In for Blood Match

blood match front coverWell, it’s release day. It’s been over a year since I released my last book and I’m a bit rusty. The initial review is in, however, and it seems that the book is off to a good start.

1st review

This is encouraging. The book has been finished for a while and, when I did a final edit after the beta and advance readers were done, I thought it looked okay.

If you haven’t picked up a copy, you can find it on Amazon by clicking HERE

Here is a blurb about the book:

You can check out the trailer on my YouTube channel by clicking HERE.

Intelligence analyst Jake Balrich boards his Monday morning flight, as he has so many times, for routine field work. When the plane lands, a passenger fails to wake up. Jake soon realizes that the death was not accidental and is part of a murderous plot that will have Jake running for his life as he struggles with an unknown enemy that seems to guess his every move.

Blood Match is a thriller that examines the desire for gaining power with little regard for the human lives that are affected.

Follow Jake Balrich, as he enlists the help of Commander Brad Rafferty, to take down an enemy more powerful and dangerous than the United States has ever faced.

 

Tomorrow is Blood Match Release Day

blood match front coverBlood Match, a new thriller by Don Massenzio

You might remember that this book was a Kindle Scout candidate and it performed well lasting on the Hot List for 209 of 720 hours or some part of 11 out of 30 days with over 4,000 views.

Here is a blurb about the book:

Intelligence analyst Jake Balrich boards his Monday morning flight, as he has so many times, for routine field work. When the plane lands, a passenger fails to wake up. Jake soon realizes that the death was not accidental and is part of a murderous plot that will have Jake running for his life as he struggles with an unknown enemy that seems to guess his every move.

Blood Match is a thriller that examines the desire for gaining power with little regard for the human lives that are affected.

Follow Jake Balrich, as he enlists the help of Commander Brad Rafferty, to take down an enemy more powerful and dangerous than the United States has ever faced.

You can check out the trailer on my YouTube channel by clicking HERE.

The book is now available for pre order HERE and will be published tomorrow February 2nd, 2018.

Free for a Limited Time – Blood Orange by Don Massenzio

In celebration of the release of my new book, Blood Matchon February 2nd, I’m running a free book promotion for the first book in the Brad Rafferty Series – Blood OrangeThe promotion runs January 28th through January 30th. Please enjoy it. This book has never been offered as part of a free book promotion before.


Featured Image -- 673

Blood Orange – Blood Orange is a terrorism thriller set in today’s high tension world of foreign and domestic threats against soft targets. The story begins on the night of the biggest game in men’s college basketball. Just as the two rivals are squaring off in the quest to crown a champion, tragedy strikes. A nation mourns as a team of elite specialists searches for those responsible.

Follow Navy Officer Brad Rafferty and his team through the twists and turns of this terrorism thriller to see if you can determine who is good and who is evil.

You can pick up your free copy by clicking HERE.

Finally, A New Book From Don Massenzio

blood match front cover2017 was a tough year. My blog grew by leaps and bounds and I finished two books, but didn’t get either one edited or published. Most years I’ve published 2-3 books, but in 2017, I published none.

But, enough of that doom and gloom. My latest book, Blood Matchis now available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be formally published on February 2nd.

You might remember that this book was a Kindle Scout candidate and it performed well lasting on the Hot List for 209 of 720 hours or some part of 11 out of 30 days with over 4,000 views.

Here is a blurb about the book:

Intelligence analyst Jake Balrich boards his Monday morning flight, as he has so many times, for routine field work. When the plane lands, a passenger fails to wake up. Jake soon realizes that the death was not accidental and is part of a murderous plot that will have Jake running for his life as he struggles with an unknown enemy that seems to guess his every move.

Blood Match is a thriller that examines the desire for gaining power with little regard for the human lives that are affected.

Follow Jake Balrich, as he enlists the help of Commander Brad Rafferty, to take down an enemy more powerful and dangerous than the United States has ever faced.

You can check out the trailer on my YouTube channel by clicking HERE.

The book is now available for pre order HERE and will be published on February 2nd, 2018.

Now available – The book that started it all is now an audio book.

Frankly Speaking - CoverI’m excited to announce that my first book, Frankly Speaking, is now available as an audio book. You can find it on Amazon, Audible and Apple Books.

A Bit About the Book

A 16 year old girl has disappeared. The police believe she is a runaway. Her parents believe she has been taken and is being held against her will. When the parents enlist the services of Frank Rozzani, a former police officer turned private detective, a series of events begins to unfold that implicates a popular local pastor and the religious stronghold of the ultra-conservative community.

Frank Rozzani, a transplant to Jacksonville, Florida from Syracuse, New York, must find the young girl despite the obstacles launched at him from the local police and others whose interests may be compromised by his investigation. Frank enlists the help of his associate Clifford “Jonesy” Jones to find the girl, uncover the conspiracy, and stay alive. While solving the case, Frank must deal with the demons that drove him from Upstate New York causing him to leave traumatic memories and his children behind.


Purchase Links:

Audible

Amazon

Also available on iTunes.

An Exciting Adventure to Take My Writing to the Next Level – Please Help

blood match front coverYou’re among the first to know about this

I’m extremely excited to announce that my new book, Blood Match, is enrolled in the Kindle Scout program.

What is the Kindle Scout Program?

Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. … Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, an advance,  royalties and featured Amazon marketing.

Why is it important?

If my book is selected for publication by Kindle Scout, it can help take my writing to the next level.

How can you help?

First and foremost, you can vote to nominate my book. The campaign goes up on September 20th at midnight and will continue through October 20th. You can vote for it and preview the opening of the book by clicking HERE.

As a blog follower, how can you really help?

Spread the word. I’ve made that easy for you using something called Thunderclap. Thunderclap is a social media tool that allows you to effortlessly spread the word using your social media accounts with a pre-written message. All of your followers will receive the message. You can help by signing up for the Thunderclap campaign HERE.

What’s in it for you?

Apart from my eternal gratitude, if my book is selected, you will receive a free pre-launch copy from Amazon and will have the opportunity to officially review it before its launch. That is a free book for you, but it also helps me, yet again, by launching with established reviews.

Please check out the Kindle Scout page and vote if you’re so moved. If you want to enroll in the Thunderclap campaign, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks,
Don Massenzio

An exciting, yet scary, venture

ExcitingThis has been a year of taking big steps in trying to accelerate my writing career. Ironically, it has been my slowest year for publishing books. I have two of them written and one completely edited and ready to go, but I’m holding back for a couple of reasons.

First, I recently released an audio book version of Blood OrangeIt was a new market and will be followed soon by the first book in the Frank Rozzani Detective Series in audio format.

Second, I wanted to try something totally new with one of my unpublished books. I want to submit it as a candidate for the Kindle Scout program. I’m not doing this lightly. I want to market and promote it correctly and take my best shot. I truly believe in the merit of the book I’m submitting and want to do it the right way.

Kindle-Scout-ebook-authorsIt’s a very scary proposition, however. I’m not an overly confident person by nature. I also abhor promoting myself and patting myself on the back. I’m hoping to leverage whatever reputation I may or may not have as an author for some of the promotion that I’m going to undertake for this effort. I’ve also put aside some funds to outsource some of it.

From what I’ve learned and continue to learn, the key to success in the Kindle Scout program is sustained promotion and visibility over a 30 day period. This is going to be difficult and, for my followers and newsletter subscribers, perhaps a bit annoying.

I’m hoping that I can prevail on some of you with blogs to help me out with this effort. The more I can spread the word and keep things going, the better chance I will have.

In fact, if you’re interested in helping me out by allowing me a guest post or a promotional spot on your blog, you can let me know by emailing me at don@donmassenzio.com and I’ll try to schedule these out to sustain the momentum.

It will probably be 2-3 weeks before I get all of my ducks in a row to submit my book. In the meantime, any advice that you might have if you’ve gone through or thought about going through this process would be greatly appreciated.

Please look for upcoming information on the book and on my push for the Kindle Scout program on this in the coming weeks. If nothing else, it will be a learning experience and will give me a barometer of where I’m at against where I need to be.