Recognizing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday – A Day for Reflection or a Long Weekend?

As I announced in yesterday’s blog, I’m going to be giving away copies of my book of short stories, Random Tales, from January 22nd through the 24th. This week, I’ll be telling you a bit about the inspiration for each story. I chose one of the stories, August 1963, to talk about today since it deals with the early civil rights struggle in the south.

This story was written to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. There are a few things to note about this story. First, the main character tells the story in first person, which was something I wanted to try. Second, the character is a transplanted northerner moving to the south at a time when the Civil Rights movement in the US was at a fevered pitch. Although I was less than a year old when this story takes place, I experienced some of the same issues that the main character faced during my own move to the south over 30 years later. Finally, if you’ve read “Frankly Speaking” or “Let Me Be Frank”, you might notice some familiar names and references. This is something that I’ve started to do in my work. I want to have a common underlying thread or universe of characters throughout my work.

This story very much echoes my own feelings on prejudice and racial inequality. One theme that rings through is, no matter how enlightened we think we might be on either side of the race issue, we don’t truly understand what is going on in the hearts and minds of others involved in the struggle. I was able to weave in music as a common thread that binds the characters together. You will see the use of music in many of my stories. Besides writing, it is another passion in my life.

One change that I made in this version of the story from the original that was published as a single, is using the actual n-word instead of masking it. I received some reviews and messages saying that this would make the piece more authentic. I struggled with this as the word has become so controversial and I have always viewed it as offensive. I was convinced when I recently re-read my favorite book, “To Kill a Mockingbird”. When Scout uses the word in the book as a young child, her father tells her not to use the word because it is “common” meaning “low class” in the context of the time and place. I am using it in my story even though, like Atticus Finch, I consider it “common”.

I hope you enjoy this story and I hope that it makes you think a bit.

My short story collection, Random Tales, will be available for free download from Amazon from January 22nd – 24th.

As always, your comments, questions, and feedback are welcome.

About Don Massenzio:

Don Massenzio was born in Syracuse, New York, to first generation Italian-American parents. He is an avid reader. Some of his favorite authors include Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Stephen King, and Hugh Howey. His favorite book of all time is ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

Don began writing as a way to combat the long hours of travel and numerous hotel stays that are part of the ‘glamorous’ world of corporate travel. He uses writing as a therapeutic outlet. He recently took the jump to sharing his work with others.

His first published long work is the novel, Frankly Speaking. It is the first of a series of books focused on the character, Frank Rozzani, a Florida private detective. The book is a throwback to the days of pulp detective novels with a tip of the hat to Jim Rockford from 70’s television and The Rockford Files.

The second Frank Rozzani detective novel, Let Me Be Frank is now available. His third book in the Frank Rozzani series was released on April 24th, 2015 and is available on in both Kindle and Paperback formats.


‘Bring Back Our Girls’ One Year Later – The Mission to Bring Back 276 School Girls Taken by Boko Haram

On April 14, 2014, over one year ago, 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria by terrorists from the Boko Haram organization.  At the time of this blog, 57 have escaped. 219 are still missing.

This story grabbed international attention, but it also grabbed mine in a personal way. You see, I’m a dad of two beautiful daughters. Each has dealt with difficulties in the past couple of years that have made my wife and me very protective of their safety. I can’t imagine what the parents of these young girls in Nigeria have gone through in the wake of the disappearance of their girls. I am nervous just watching my youngest walk to the neighbor’s house to play with their children. I could not imagine sending either one of my girls off to school only to have them taken along with their classmates.

Recent news reports tell us that the 276 girls that we are so familiar with may only be the tip of the iceberg. We are just beginning to hear the horror stories of the 275 kidnapped women and children that were released on May 3rd of this year. These captives were not part of the school in Chibok. Their fate still remains unknown. Stories of women being stoned by their captors and other atrocities will, unfortunately, continue to emerge.

Despite the rallying cries of “Bring Back Our Girls”, the Nigerian government seems to have done little against these ruthless terrorists from Boko Haram. The United States, despite the vocal support of our citizens, has not supplied any type of military aid against these terrorists.

I’m not trying to encourage debate on the handling of this situation by either government. I am certainly not an expert in this field. What I’m trying to do, however, is point out how fortunate we are in our country that these types of abductions are far less common than they are in other nations. They are far less common, but not absent.

All we have to do is look through news headlines in this country. How can we forget the two women in Cleveland that were finally freed after years of captivity, rape, and torture by Ariel Castro? Who can forget Elizabeth Smart, taken from her room as she slept, and then returned after untold abuse by her captors? I look at these events on our own soil and it makes me wonder what differentiates these girls from my own. Is it location, circumstance, the luck of the draw? It’s difficult to say, but every time something like this occurs, it causes me to increase my vigilance.

As I look at my three novels in the Frank Rozzani Detective Series, I have my main character, a Private Detective, seeking justice for female victims. This is a duty for him that was born out of the brutal events that occurred to him in his own life.  These stories emerged from me without thought about the motivation behind them. Now, however, as I look at them in retrospect, I see that many of the traits of Frank Rozzani come from my desire to protect my wife and daughters.

I’m certainly not comparing the struggles in my fictional detective series to the very real tragedy in Nigeria or in the domestic cases I mentioned. I’m definitely not comparing myself to Frank Rozzani, a fictional character with street smarts and tough-guy conviction. In fact, I could theorize that he is an alter ego that I aspire to be, someone who protects his loved ones at all cost. Even with his abilities, however, he still can’t protect them from everything, just as I can’t protect my girls from everything and the parents of the victims in Nigeria and those in the United States cannot.

I’m sure there are those of you that are reading this thinking that I am being sexist because I view women as individuals that need protection from big, strong men. I want to assure you that this is not the case. In fact, I believe that women deserve equal respect in the workplace and at home. As someone who has spent time as a stay-at-home dad, I have the utmost respect for what women accomplish. My books also feature strong female characters like Anita Velasquez, an excellent police officer and leader, and Nancy Rafferty, the woman that helps Frank through his troubles.  These characters are composites of strong women that I have known. They are role models that I would want my daughters to aspire to.

I know that my books are works of fiction. They are (hopefully) enjoyable mysteries that are not overly reliant on violence to tell a tale. For me, they are a way to express my creativity as well as my values as a person. If you read them and enjoy them, drop me a line and let me know. If you read them and think they are not your style, that’s fine too. I won’t lie and tell you that I am so noble that I write these books out of creativity alone. I also can’t lie and say that money is the only motivation. The writing began as therapy for me as I travel about 45 weeks per year for my ‘day job’. As I started to let others read it, I enjoyed the feedback. The feedback is addicting to me as a writer and I enjoy every bit of it. I may never be wealthy due to my writing, but each new reader is worth a great deal to me and I am feverishly using every spare minute to produce more for you to read.

Before I get too far off of my original subject for this post, I guess I want to say that we should all take heroic measures in protecting our children from harm. They may not appreciate it at the time, but over the long-term, you just may become their hero, in real life, not from a novel.

You can contact me through my web site at

Pre Order Frank Incensed today. Book 3 in the Frank Rozzani Detective Series

I’m excited to announce that Frank Incensed, the third book in the Frank Rozzani Detective Series, was released for pre order on The official release date is April 24, 2015 which will coincide with the Book Obsessed Babes Author Signing Event in Jacksonville, FL. Get your copy today!

Here is a synopsis:

The stakes are high as Private Detective Frank Rozzani races against time to save the love of his life. Will Frank rescue her from the terrible man in the trench coat or will this man end the life of yet another person that Frank is close to? Find out who survives in the new Frank Rozzani Detective Mystery – Frank Incensed.

Frank Incensed - Book 3 in the Frank Rozzani Detective Series

Frank Incensed – Book 3 in the Frank Rozzani Detective Series