It’s Release Day!!

Today is release day. It’s hard to believe that it is the release of the eleventh book that I’ve written in the past five years. This one was fun as it was outside of my traditional crime/mystery genre.

About kongo.com

In my book, kongo.com, I have pulled together four separate related stories. Three of them were published as serials on my blog over the past year. The fourth is a brand new story that weaves together the other three. This was an enjoyable exercise and I hope that those that choose to read it will enjoy it as well.

Here is a bit about each of the stories in kongo.com

No Pain, No gain

In this story, we meet Joyce. She, like many of us, struggles with extra weight and with a lack of desire to do anything about it. That is, until she buys a revolutionary new fitness device from the mega-online company, kongo.com. The device is advertised as being life-changing. As you will see in this story, it truly is, but maybe not in the way Joyce hopes.

Memories of Rachel

Rachel is a young woman who is energetic with her whole life in front of her. The same day that she and her AI Scientist husband, Ben, find out that they are having a baby, she also finds out that she has advanced terminal cancer. She decides to make the ultimate sacrifice by foregoing toxic chemotherapy and radiation so that her baby can survive. She and Ben decide to use the artificial intelligence technology that Ben is developing for kongo.com to capture her memories, her emotions and her essence so that their infant child will know its mother even is she is not around to be in the baby’s life. Follow this story as the technology works beyond expectations and beyond boundaries to achieve this mission and much more that could endanger all that come in contact with digital Rachel.

First Impressions

Imagine a dating service that can match it’s subscribers to their perfect soul mate. To achieve this, the service would have to have a deep background in order to profile it’s customers. As a gigantic online retail organization, kongo.com has details on the buying, viewing and listening preferences of hundreds of millions of customers. Why not use this to help them find others with the same preferences? It seems like a logical expansion of their business until someone with a grudge and serious computer hacking skills seeks to sink the company from within using this service. Follow the twists and turns in this story that includes a visit from one of my favorite characters from my Frank Rozzani Detective Series.

3D Life

This tale reveals the ultimate goal and vision for the future by the behemoth company, kongo.com. Find out the underpinnings of the technology that is being rolled out from multiple areas of the company with one end game in mind. This brand new story appears exclusively in the book, kongo.com.


If you’re interested in checking out kongo.com, you can order a copy HERE. It’s available in print and Kindle formats today.

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.

 

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.

Blood Orange is now an Audio Book

Blood Orange

blood orange
A Terrorism Thriller
Ripped from the Headlines

Now brought to life as an audio book

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.

Here is what readers are saying about this novel:

“Very well written plot that could be current. The characters are great and well developed.”

“I highly recommend this book and this author. I look forward to more.”

“Great story, many twists and turns! You don’t want to put it down! Loved the fast pace! Want to see more of Rafferty and his team.”

Click the audible icon to check it outaudibleAlso available on Amazon and Apple iBooks.

Back Story – When do you use it? How much should you use? Is it necessary?

Here is an oldie but goodie that I thought I would re-post with some updates:


My blog this week expands on a concept that appeared as a tip in an earlier blog. That tip focused on removing writing that was unnecessary. When I completed my first book, I tried to make sure that all of my characters were fully developed. I created biographies for each of them using templates that I found on the Internet. These templates included sections for physical attributes, motivations, character traits, family background and other biographical details.

In my Frank Rozzani Detective Series, the main character has events in his back story that motivate who he is in the present time. These events pushed him into his career as a private detective and forced him to relocate. My first draft of the book had two full chapters devoted to Frank’s back story. I thought that readers would want all of this rich detail about his former life in Syracuse, NY along with his family history and the tragic events that brought him to the present day in the story. I incorporated this as a flashback. I was excited about it and sent it off to my editor.

When I received my editor’s comments, she slashed nearly all of the flashback chapters from the book. She said that it was all unnecessary and that I should be more stingy with the back story and spread it out throughout this book and the ones that would follow. It was a blow to my ego at first, but in hindsight, she was absolutely right.

After this eureka moment, I started looking at the way other writers used back story in their work. Some of them, like John D. MacDonald and Elmore Leonard use back story very sparingly and only reveal details when they are relevant to the current story. Others like Dean Koontz and, in some instances, Stephen King, use back story to develop their characters into living and breathing people full of complexity. I wanted to land somewhere in the middle and I think, with my first book, and to a greater degree, my second book, I have succeeded somewhat.

Have I mastered the use of back story? Absolutely not. I don’t think, as writers, we ever truly perfect any aspect of our writing. I thought, however, that I would post some tips that I use and that might help you as you look for balance in sharing character background information in your work.

flashback

1) Use the flash back technique sparingly: Unless you are writing a book about time travel, you can really confuse your reader by jumping back and forth in your book. If your reader starts to wonder where and when the story is taking place, you might lose them. If you must use flash back, consider doing it in short doses, such as in a character’s dream. If you have to devote a chapter to it, be certain that the details are relevant to the story.

conversation

2) Consider giving past information as part of a conversation: This technique might involve a character telling their story to another character as part of a conversation. You want to avoid long monologues by your main character. You should try to make the reveal of the back story more of an interactive scene between the characters.

background

3) Incorporate portions of background details as a summary: Many authors use this technique to indicate what has happened in the past. They will reveal details in the character’s background with single sentences.  Here is an example:

“As an attorney, John vigorously went after cigarette manufacturers. He wanted nothing more than to be victorious in cases against them while securing high punitive damages for his clients. This passion was fueled by the deaths of both of his parents from lung cancer.”

believe4) Make the back story believable and realistic: As an author, you should think out the main points of your main characters’  back story. Don’t invent events just to suit your story. The back story should be grounded in some type of reality. You can’t have your character defeat their enemy with a complex form of martial arts if studying the techniques do not make sense in the characters background. Maybe he or she was in special forces or spent time in Asia.

need-to-know-gif

5) Create a situation where the information needs to be known: In my first book, Frankly Speaking, the main character is single and is being pursued by a beautiful, successful woman. Despite her obvious hints, he resists her. When things finally come to a head, he reveals the details of his wife’s murder to her and explains his reluctance to get into a new relationship. This is a case where the reader was aware of some of the details, but other characters were not.

I hope that these tips about back story were helpful to you. I learn more about the different methods to reveal character background details as I read more and apply the techniques that I’ve learned to my own writing. Those things that motivate your characters might be the things that keep your readers interested, especially if you have multiple works that feature the same cast of characters.

 

Independent Publishing in the News

I thought I would start a Sunday feature this week where I point you to various independent publishing and independent author stories that are in the news. Simply click on the links provided and learn.

Fast-Growing Independent Publishers, 2016

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/69573-fast-growing-independent-publishers-2016.html

Why Fiction Authors Benefit from Indie Publishing

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2016/why-fiction-authors-benefit-from-indie-publishing/

The New Indie and the Self-Publishing Revolution

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/pw-select/article/69603-the-new-indie-and-the-self-publishing-revolution.html

 

 

Now Available for Pre-Order

Things are coming along well with the new book, Frankly, My Dear. I’m starting to get positive comments from the beta readers now and will be going out to advance readers in a couple of weeks. It’s up for pre-order on Amazon and will be released on April 29th.

If you’d like to pick up an advance copy, you can do so by clicking on the book cover below:

poster

Here is a synopsis:

Frank Rozzani, a transplant to Jacksonville, Florida from Syracuse, New York, has left his tragic past as a police officer behind for life as a private detective. Frank and his partner Clifford “Jonesy” Jones work with the local police to solve crimes that are virtually unsolvable.

In Frankly My Dear, the fourth in the Frank Rozzani Detective Series of novels, Frank and Jonesy are at it again and this time the case is one of the most bizarre that they have faced. Their latest client, arrested for domestic abuse, swears that he is the victim of one of the most vengeful women on the face of the earth.

Frank and Jonesy must determine if their client is telling the truth. As they become investigate the case, they again pay a personal price for their involvement. Is their client trying to get away with his crime or is his ex-girlfriend continually coming up with new ways to damage him and his reputation?

Follow them as they navigate the twists and turns in this exciting new installment in the series, Frankly My Dear.