Now Available for Pre-Order – Extra Innings by Don Massenzio

SAMPLEMy newest release, Extra Innings, is now available for pre-order. Unlike my previous crime and terrorism fiction novels, this book forges a path in the paranormal/science fiction area. These are genres that I enjoy reading and have always wanted to write in. This book is my first effort at doing so.

Here is a synopsis of the book:

Joe McLean hates his life. A lonely, divorced, middle-aged man, stuck in a cramped apartment, the only bright spot in Joe’s life is cheering on his hometown baseball team.

Now, the local stadium, the place of many childhood and adult memories is being replaced. Joe desperately wants a piece of this iconic venue to preserve his memories and have some memorabilia from his happier past.

That’s when unusual things begin to happen, and Joe begins to rethink the direction his life has taken. Can Joe take a different path in life? Can he use the special ability that he has acquired to change the course of his life? Will he realize the truth about old adage, you can never go home again?

Follow the twists and turns in this supernatural story, Extra Innings, to find out.

The book will be officially released on Friday, June 15th. It’s available for pre-order by clicking HERE.

If you’re interested in hosting a promotional post for this book or want to conduct an author interview, I’d greatly appreciate it. I’m proud of this book and would like to give it some good exposure. Just let me know in the comments or drop me a note at don@donmassenzio.com

 

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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

Recognition for My Writing Partner

img_6131Back in December of 2016, I released the book, Frank Immersed, and fulfilled a new experience. I co-authored this book with my good friend, Kent Arceneaux. Kent is a special kind of guy. He is a lieutenant in the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department (JFRD), he can cook, he can sing and, as I found out with this book, he can tell a story. The story for Frank Immersed came through the melding of some character ideas that Kent had with my established detective series featuring Private Detective Frank Rozzani and his brilliant sidekick, Clifford “Jonesy” Jones.

Frank Immersed - CoverI posted an article on what the experience of writing with someone else was like which you can read HERE.

Kent did a great job on this book and is starting to get recognition as an author as he moves toward publishing his first solo novel in the near future. A recent newsletter from the JFRD had a great article about him.

Kent Article

Look for Kent’s work in the future. He is a talented guy and a great friend. I’ve read a preview of his upcoming book and it is very good. Think Stephen King meets John Grisham.

Ultimate Guide – Revised Chapter 2

So, here is the revised Chapter 2 from the ambitiously named book The Ultimate Guide For Independently Published Authors. You may have seen a condensed version of this chapter on my blog, but this is the expanded and revised version.

Just remember this , DON’T BUY THIS BOOK. It will be posted in it’s entirety on this blog with two chapters posted per week (that’s my goal, anyway). Just comment and feel free to copy and paste for your own use. Once I collect comments and refine it, I will re-publish it and offer it for free.

Thank you to those of you that provided feedback on Chapter 1.

By the way, if you did buy it as an e-book, I will make sure that I upload the revision as an update so that you can download the new version free of charge.


Writing Dialog That Isn’t Boring and Moves Your Story Along

The previous chapter contained tips for writers that, like me, have day jobs. This chapter will drill down into a topic with which I struggled in my early writing. That topic is dialog; when to use it, how to use it, what to avoid, etc.

Before I dive into this topic, I wanted to give a special shout out to my editor who not only reminded me that the punctuation goes inside of the quotation marks, but constantly reminded me that I should “say vs. tell” and sent me links to writing tips to help my early writing.

say-vs-tell-pnghttp://www.keepsmilingenglish.com

Say vs. Tell

This is one of the hardest paradigm shifts that I had to deal with. I come from a technical, corporate world. This background has affected my writing. I can write narrative and describe business and technical situations very effectively. When writing fiction, however, using too much narrative can come across as dry and uninteresting. It’s much more effective to let your characters tell the story through their conversations.

Sometimes narrative can be effective if you’re describing the surroundings or a complex situation. I’ve read books by authors like Tom Clancy and Dan Koontz. Koontz is famous for taking three pages to describe a single tree that his character is passing (maybe a slight exaggeration). Tom Clancy spent pages and pages of his books describing the movements of a military exercise. I have literally skipped 10-20 pages of his books in this type of section and have not missed a single element of the plot. The point here is to look at the narrative you’ve written and determine if it can be better told by your characters through their conversations.

conversationhttp://www.fistfuloftalent.com

Make it Conversational

Dialog is meant to simulate an actual conversation between individuals. With this in mind, try to make your dialog sound authentic. People speak in contractions, for instance. Look for “Do not” and make it “Don’t”. Change “Is not” to “Isn’t”. You get the idea.

Also, if your character is from a certain part of the country where there may be specific vernacular or idioms in the language, be aware of this and make it part of your dialog so the reader can feel the authenticity in what is being said. Be consistent, however. Don’t wander in and out of an accent or regional dialog. Your readers will spot it and you will lose credibility.

I’ve seen some articles that have said you shouldn’t try to write in a dialect or accent. I’m not sure if this is valid in terms of reality. If you have characters from the deep south or Cajun country and they don’t speak with somewhat of an accent or use colloquialisms, you may lose some credibility. Similarly, you can use certain words to indicate the character’s level of intellect or education.

Remember, it’s a conversation. In real conversation people interrupt each other and say things without thinking. Your characters have to do this as well. I find that, when I’m writing dialog, I sometimes get lost in the characters and surprise myself with what they’ve said when I finish writing a section. Just let it flow and worry about punctuation and dialog tags when you’re done.

tagshttp://www.fangdigital.com

Dialog Tags

When I look back at my early writing (before it was edited) I see that I was obsessed with telling the reader who was speaking. As I’ve written more dialog, I have realized that a lot of these dialog tags were unnecessary. This is especially true when you only have two characters in the conversation. If John and Joe are speaking you don’t need to tell the reader who is speaking after each sentence.

Instead of this:

“Who was that girl?” Joe asked.

“I think that was Bertha from accounting,” John replied.

“Is she single?” Joe asked.

“I don’t know, but I think you should take one for the team and find out,” John said.

“I’ll ask her out to lunch,” Joe said to John. “Then we’ll know for sure.”

Try something like this:

Joe saw John staring at the new girl as she passed. Finally, he decided to talk to John and find out who she was.

“Who was that girl?”

“I think that was Bertha from accounting.”

“Is she single?”

“I don’t know, but I think you should take one for the team and find out.”

“Okay. I’ll ask her out to lunch and then we’ll know for sure.”

The introductory sentence sets up who is initiating the conversation. From there, it’s just a back and forth. If the dialog is long, you can describe the characters’ actions or facial expressions to get the reader back on track with regard to who’s speaking. If you have more than two people, it becomes more important to use dialog tags. Use your best judgement. The best approach might be to leave all dialog tags out, read your dialog, and add in tags where you think the speaker is not clearly identified.

when-adverbs-go-bad-2http://www.edumuch.com

Don’t Use Adverbs

Adverbs can make your reader feel stupid and make you look like Captain Obvious when you use them in your writing. Those pesky words that end in “ly” are a crutch that lazy writers use in their dialog and they should be avoided.

Look at the following dialog as an example of what not to do:

Jim punched Jeff in the nose.

“Why did you hit me?” Jeff asked angrily.

“Because you needed to be hit,” Jim responded smugly.

“Well, that just cost you your job,” Jeff said strongly.

Now that’s an ugly exchange in more ways than one. Let’s try a more creative approach:

Jim punched Jeff in the nose.

“Why did you hit me?” Jeff said while rubbing his nose. His voice rose in volume as he questioned the actions of his long-time employee.

“Because you needed to be hit,” Jim answered as a grin emerged on his face. His voice was calm and confident.

“Well, that just cost you your job,” Jeff said as he straightened his tie and dabbed at his nose with a tissue.

You can see that there is more descriptive language. Remember that conversation between humans involves body language as much as spoken word. Describe what that body language looks like. It will convey the emotions in play.

I’m sure there are more tips concerning dialog. The beautiful thing is that, as writers, we should never stop learning and growing in the craft. I learn something with every book and short story that I write. I also learn a lot about dialog through reading the work of other authors that do it well like Elmore Leonard, Harper Lee, and John Steinbeck.

Road Kill – Part 22

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted an installment of ‘Road Kill’. I took a vacation back to my hometown and gave my brain a bit of a rest. Now I’m ready to get back to it. We’re coming to the buildup to the climax of this story. It’s about to get very interesting. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

I apologize for the break, but I hope you enjoy this installment of Road Kill.


trailerRoad Kill Part 22

Rafferty left made a call and immediately left us to take a military transport to GTMO. Jones had provided him with the names of the three prisoners that had been vetted up to the last steps of being selected to help Secretary of State with her insidious plot.

Our task was to look into the backgrounds of the three prisoners in order to give Rafferty some leverage to use when he spoke to them. He needed to know what buttons to push to get them to tell the truth.

“I’m going to go take care of some other things,” Jones said as we were beginning to look through the prisoner records.

“We could really use your eyes on this,” Ben said.

“My eyes are afraid they’re going to be arrested at any second,” Jones answered.

Ben and I looked at each other and laughed.

“What’s so funny?” Jones asked.

“You’ve hacked into the State Department and the medical records at GTMO,” Ben answered. “Compared to those infractions, looking over prisoner records that were accessed by an authorized person and given to us, is a pretty minor offense.”

“Okay, you got me,” Jones admitted. “It sounded boring and I didn’t want to do it. I’ll help out anyway.”

With Jones’s help, we looked for commonalities among the three prisoners. Two were from the Saudi Arabia and the third was from Yemen. Their backgrounds showed that they were all lower level members of the so-called Islamic State. They were recruited as teenagers and trained in Iraq.

“I can’t believe these guys fell for the promises of riches and presents that the IS fed them,” Jones said.

“It’s easy,” Ben responded. “They get on Facebook and Twitter and use social media to lure them in. They think they’re going to meet girls and get money. The next thing they know their being brainwashed and taught how to rig a suicide vest. The girls are the virgins they’ll meet after they blow themselves up in an airport or on a train.”

“Terrorism meets Social Media, that’s scary stuff,” Jones said as he shook his head.

“Terrorism meeting our Secretary of State, that’s even scarier,” Ben retorted.

“Good point,” Jones agreed.

We continued to look over the records. Suddenly, Jones grabbed the folder that contained the records for the prisoners that were rejected and those that made it all the way through the vetting process. He looked at them as we continued to concentrate on the three.

“I think I’ve found a common thread. It’s a longshot, but maybe worth looking at,” Jones said.

“What is it?” Ben asked.

“Families. All of the prisoners brought in have families that are likely in danger in their home countries.”

Jones was onto something that we missed. We looked for alliances and past activity. The one thing that many of these young men wanted in return for committing suicide missions was for their families to be taken care of. They were captured while in the planning stage of their missions, so the promised help for their families was never delivered.

“Is that the leverage that was being held against them?” Ben asked.

It was a good question, but we didn’t have a definitive answer. Rafferty was on his way to GTMO and would be landing soon. With time growing short, we needed to take a gamble that this was how the Secretary of State was playing it.

We split up all of the records to confirm what Jones had found. It appeared that all of the prisoners had either families of their own with young children, elderly parents or some combination of the two. I checked my watch and saw that Rafferty had likely landed and was on his way to GTMO.

Rafferty answered on the second ring. I told him what we had found. He agreed that it was a gamble, but the odds were pretty good.

“Nice job finding the pattern so quickly,” he said.

I explained that it was Jones that found it and Rafferty again joked that Jones would be a good asset for The Mother Ship. When the call was over, I didn’t mention this to Jones. He had made his position on working with the government very clear.

Rafferty agreed to get back to us in a few hours. In the meantime, Ben and I would head back to the trailer that Jones had accommodated us in during our last trip to Florida and he would get back to his normal life.

Jones gave us a ride to the trailer. We stopped along the way at a Publix Super Market to pick up some sandwiches and drinks. Jones waited in the car while Ben and I ran in. It was nice to be able to walk into a store freely after days of being on the run. Donovan had assured us that no one was after us.

“I heard the sub sandwiches here are pretty good. Why don’t we get a couple?” Ben asked.

It sounded good. I picked up some bottled water while Ben ordered a couple of subs. We met at the checkout area after about ten minutes, paid for our food and went back to the car.

Jones had a look of concern on his face.

“What’s wrong with you?” Ben asked.

“I’m not sure,” Jones answered. “I think a car followed us here and is parked in the parking lot.

“It’s a grocery store. It’s not the biggest coincidence that a car pulled in at the same time we did,” Ben said.

“That’s true, but no one got out of the car and it’s parked where someone could easily watch us.”

Ben and I looked in the spot where Jones said the car was parked. It was a nondescript sedan with two figures in the front seat.

“Let’s exit the parking lot by driving past them and see if they follow,” Ben said.

Jones maneuvered the car toward the sedan. The occupants made sure to look down as the trio passed. As Jones pulled out of the parking lot, he could see the sedan begin to move out of the parking spot in his rearview mirror.

“Looks like they’re following us,” Jones said. “What should I do?”

“Just take us to the trailer. Let’s see what they’re after. They might just be tailing us to see where we’re going,” Ben said.

Jones drove the short distance to the trailer. When he pulled into the gravel driveway, the car that had been at the super market slowed slightly as it passed the trailer and then picked up speed and was gone.

“Looks like someone was following us,” Ben said.

“It’s a good thing I stopped at the wrong trailer. The one I stopped at is empty, but it has surveillance cameras. If anyone tries to go in, an alarm will go off and they’ll be caught.  I have connections in the police department and they’ll keep a close eye on it,” Jones said as he put the car in reverse and continued the additional quarter-mile to the correct destination.

“Good instinct Jones,” Ben said. “For a beach bum and country lawyer, you are pretty sophisticated in your thinking.”

“Coming from you, I’ll take that for what it’s worth,” Jones replied.

“Can we look at the video feed from those surveillance cameras?” Ben asked. “We might be able to tell who is following us if they come back.”

“Yes. I’ll text you the web link and you can watch a live feed,” Jones answered.

Ben and I took our food and went into the correct trailer. I powered up the laptop, opened the browser, and fired up the live feed from the empty trailer.

We finished our sandwiches and sat back relaxing for a minute in anticipation of Rafferty’s phone call. After about an hour of a half-hearted card game, I spotted some movement on the screen.

The same sedan pulled into the driveway of the abandoned trailer in broad daylight. Two men in suits emerged and approached the front door. The motion sensor on the surprisingly advanced cameras switched to a view from the front entry. I was startled when I saw the faces of the men that pounded on the door.

“What is it?” Ben asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Not exactly a ghost. The men pounding on the door with their guns drawn were familiar. They were from The Mother Ship. They worked for Donovan.

Just as they were about to force the door open, three police cruisers surrounded the car and armed officers emerged. The men dropped their weapons and were taken away in the cruisers.

“It’s only a matter of time before they show their credentials and are let go,” Ben said.

I realized what he said was true, but my bigger concern was with Donovan sending his men after us with hostile intent. Just as I was mulling this over, my cell phone rang. It was Rafferty.

“Tell Ben to listen to this as well,” Rafferty said with an edge of anger in his voice. “This is bigger than we thought. We need to put our heads together as soon as I get back.”

I had no idea at the time how big of a turn thing were taking. I told Rafferty about Donovan’s men at the trailer. He was not surprised.

 

Free This Weekend Only

I am pleased to announce that I am offering my first novel, Frankly Speaking, free in e-book format from Amazon.com.

This book has been well reviewed and is a great read to enjoy over a Summer weekend. It will be available for free download beginning on July 8th through July 10th. Please take advantage of this opportunity.

Here are some of the latest reviews:

“Frankly Speaking is a great private detective mystery. Ex-cop Frank Rozzani is now living in Florida and working as PI He and his partner in crime solving, Clifford Jones a.k.a. Jonesy, a local lawyer/surfer dude are called in by a wealthy lawyer to find his missing 16 year old daughter, who disappeared during a church retreat at a local mega church. Along with the help of Jacksonville PD detective Anita, Frank and Jonesy go thought a lot of twist and turns to reunite this girl with her family and solve an even bigger mystery. I really enjoyed this detective mystery and cant wait to read the next one. the characters were well developed and the story and plot was great”

“A flawed and despondent detective, a quirky sidekick, a great dog, and subtle romance. What could be better? The characters were interesting, believable, and likable. The dog captured my heart early on (I’m a sucker for canine companions). The plot had me going from the get-go and just got better and better. It’s hard to believe that this book (the first in a series) is the author’s first effort. I will be anxious to read his other books in the series.”

“Don Massenzio launches his writing career with a first rate suspense tale that carries his readers into a non-stop, nail-biting, never-let down, cover-to-cover thrill ride.”

Synopsis:

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.

Trailer:

https://videopress.com/embed/duHQlytQ?hd=0&autoPlay=0&permalink=0&loop=0

Download Link (This is a universal link that will work regardless of what country you are in):

getBook.at/FranklySpeaking

Free This Weekend Only

I am pleased to announce that I am offering my first novel, Frankly Speaking, free in e-book format from Amazon.com.

This book has been well reviewed and is a great read to enjoy over a Summer weekend. It will be available for free download beginning on July 8th through July 10th. Please take advantage of this opportunity.

Here are some of the latest reviews:

“Frankly Speaking is a great private detective mystery. Ex-cop Frank Rozzani is now living in Florida and working as PI He and his partner in crime solving, Clifford Jones a.k.a. Jonesy, a local lawyer/surfer dude are called in by a wealthy lawyer to find his missing 16 year old daughter, who disappeared during a church retreat at a local mega church. Along with the help of Jacksonville PD detective Anita, Frank and Jonesy go thought a lot of twist and turns to reunite this girl with her family and solve an even bigger mystery. I really enjoyed this detective mystery and cant wait to read the next one. the characters were well developed and the story and plot was great”

“A flawed and despondent detective, a quirky sidekick, a great dog, and subtle romance. What could be better? The characters were interesting, believable, and likable. The dog captured my heart early on (I’m a sucker for canine companions). The plot had me going from the get-go and just got better and better. It’s hard to believe that this book (the first in a series) is the author’s first effort. I will be anxious to read his other books in the series.”

“Don Massenzio launches his writing career with a first rate suspense tale that carries his readers into a non-stop, nail-biting, never-let down, cover-to-cover thrill ride.”

Synopsis:

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.

Trailer:

https://videopress.com/embed/duHQlytQ?hd=0&autoPlay=0&permalink=0&loop=0

Download Link (This is a universal link that will work regardless of what country you are in):

getBook.at/FranklySpeaking