Monday, December 28, 2009

Short Story "The Bastard Mummy" Published at Mysterical-E

My short story "The Bastard Mummy" is now up at Mysterical-E magazine.

"The Bastard Mummy" features River City homicide detectives Finch and Elias as they investigate a stolen mummy.  Finch and Elias are partners, so that back and forth banter you would expect is present in this tale. 

Other Finch and Elias short stories include:

1)  "Finch and Elias" -  In which our duo of detectives investigate a double murder (note:  the backstory of the murder takes place in the story "Be My Santa Baby" which is available in the Mysterical-E archives in the December 2005 issue).  This story is still available at Amazon Shorts for just 49 cents:

2)  "Core Issue"  -  In which just Elias interrogates a murderer with the help of Detective John Tower.  This book appeared in the anthology The Ex Factor, which is still available on Amazon:

The Ex Factor contains two other River City stories -- "Take a Hand" and "Helping Out."

3)  "The Worst Door"  -  In which Finch goes through the only door he never wanted to go through, and faces what is on the other side  -- his brother.  This story was originally published in an online magazine called Dispatch Literary Review, but it is no longer available in the archives.  It is one of two stories I submitted to SpokeWrite for the January issue, so it may see the light of day there.

"The Worst Door" is probably one of my favorites of my own short stories.

All of those connections I just mentioned are to "The Bastard Mummy," but the story is a stand alone mystery -- a whodunit procedural where you walk through the investigation right along with the detectives.  It's a longer story -- right around 14,000 words -- but I hope a satisfying one.  Give it a read, then stay around and check out some of the other offerings for the Winter issue of Mysterical-E.

You might start with Joy Seymour's piece, "From a Distance."  I had the pleasure of first reading it when she was still polishing it several years ago and its a good story about revenge.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Looking at "At This Point..."

A while back, I was working on a non-River City novel that is tentatively titled At This Point in My Life.  By "a while back," I mean late last year.  I worked on it up until I left for business to Louisville, Kentucky.  On the way to Louisville, I dictated the story while driving the 2000 mile trek.  I got to the 50K word mark, which is about 75% complete or so. 

While I am editing the galleys for Beneath a Weeping Sky, I've started walking through the first draft of At This Point...  When I've finished touching up the dictated text, I'm going to forge ahead and finish the first draft of this book.  That oughta be done just in time to head back to The Last Horseman for a second draft/revision of that.

That oughta be finished just in time for a revision on book four of the River City series, And Every Man Has to Die.

Somewhere in the middle of that, I will start work on the fifth River City novel, Place of Wrath and Tears.  This one will feature a co-author -- to be named later.  Stay tuned!

Some writers would not write about these types of plans.  I understand and agree with their reasons, actually.  But the flip side is this -- now that I've written this in a public forum, how much more motivated will I be to follow through in a timely fashion?

Yeah, like I ever needed motivation to write.

Still, thought I'd share the short term Grand Writing Plan in the Frank Zafiro world.  None of the books I mentioned have been sold yet, though there is a verbal agreement in place with Gray Dog Press to continue publishing the River City series after Beneath a Weeping Sky.  The other two, At This Point... and The Last Horseman, will go out for consideration after they're finished. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Flashback Interview

Here's a link to an interview I did when Heroes Often Fail came out.  Reading back over it, I found that everything is still true.  There were some great follow-up questions, too.  If you're interested, here's the link:

This blog is a good review blog, so if you're a big time reader and want to get a take on books before reading them, this is a good place.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First Draft of RC4 Complete!

Not that it has a lot of impact on the readers, but for a writer, finishing that first draft is a big milestone.

Last night, I typed the final, two-word sentence of And Every Man Has to Die, the fourth novel in the River City series. This novel is tentatively scheduled for a March 2011 release. 

The third novel, Beneath a Weeping Sky, will be published in March 2010 by Gray Dog Press. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Finished "The Last Horseman," Working on RC4

I finished the first draft of a non-River City novel called The Last Horseman.  No, despite the title, it is not a Western.  It is more of a crime/suspense novel -- not a mystery, and not a procedural.

More on that if it finds a publishing home in the future (after all the revisions).

I'm currently at work on the fourth River City novel, tentatively titled And Every Man Has to Die.  It was about 70% finished before I veered off into other work and other things in life (personal and primary job responsibilities), so I may finish in short order...perhaps in November!  That's my goal, anyway, since November is officially Novel Writing Month.

The third River City novel, Beneath a Weeping Sky, is scheduled for a March release from Gray Dog Press.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another Short Story Sold!

My short story "What Comes Around" has been sold to Crime and Suspense magazine.  It will appear in their November issue.

"What Comes Around" explores karma a little bit and how you never quite know what part of your life might be the axis upon which your destiny turns.

Crime and Suspense is an old standby when it comes to online mystery magazines.  I have had a couple of stories there, back in early 2006.  The original editor also ran Wolfmont publishing, which published my first novel.  The eZine is getting a makeover and has a new owner/editor.  It has become a paying market, as well as a place for book reviews and information on doings in the mystery field.  If you like mysteries of all types, set your browser to

Check it out in November, and after!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Short Story "Prank Call" Sold!

My short story, "Prank Call," will appear in the LL Dreamspell anthology DreamSpell Revenge.  The book will be released in 2010.

"Prank Call" is, as you might guess, a story of revenge.  It is based on an old idea that I had years and years ago.  I even started the draft, though nothing of that draft (or much of the original story idea other than the most basic elements of the premise) made it into the final story.

In "Prank Call," I wanted to explore the idea of revenge, both from a mystery/suspense practical standpoint and also from a more philosophical view.  Is revenge viable?  Only sometimes?  Never?

Thanks to Editor Lisa Smith at LL Dreamspell for picking up the story!  More on the anthology and the publisher is here:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Beneath a Weeping Sky PREVIEW

If you'd like to read the opening chapter of my forthcoming novel, Beneath a Weeping Sky, you can do so on my website.

If you have any trouble finding it, the link is here:

Beneath a Weeping Sky will be published in March 2010.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lots to Be Thankful For

Last night, I wrote the acknowledgements for Heroes Often Fail, as well as brushing up the ones for Under a Raging Moon and Beneath a Weeping Sky.  I also finalized my dedication for Beneath a Weeping Sky.

In the process, I realized that I had a lot of people to thank.  I won't belabor the point here -- you can read about it when the books are published.  But it did make me realize that I had a lot to be thankful for.

One of the things that came to mind (after my wife, kids, family, friends, health and a job -- all pretty large considerations) is the opportunity I've had as a writer to share my stories with an audience.  Yeah, it's a lot smaller group than say, Stephen King or J.K Rowling.  But the magic is still the same.  And that's something very much worth being thankful about.

So...I'd like to say a few thanks right here and now.

Thanks to all of the magazine editors who have featured my stories in their pages.  Same for those who have put together anthologies that have included my work.  I am grateful to be part of that.  And thanks to Wolfmont Press and Aisling Press for first publishing Under a Raging Moon and Heroes Often Fail, well as letting go when the arrangement no longer worked.

I'm grateful to Russ Davis and Gray Dog Press for picking up the River City Series and running with it.  I intend to do you proud.

And I'm exceedingly grateful to you, the Reader.  These stories and novels are alive in my mind when I write them, but the greatest thrill is transferring those images, characters and events to another mind.  Making that connection.  It is, as Master King points out in his seminal book about writing, a form of telepathy.  It's wonderful, it's addictive and to quote one of my favorite movies as a's a kind of magic.

So Sir and/or Madam Reader...thanks for traveling to River City with me, and hanging for a while.

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Publisher for River City Series!

I'd like to say, "Thanks!" to all the readers who have kept asking me, "When is your next book coming out?"  I now have an answer:  March 2010.
As of today, I have signed with Gray Dog Press to publish my River City novels.  They will be publishing the third book, Beneath a Weeping Sky, in March 2010.  Prior to that, in January 2010, Gray Dog Press will be re-issuing both Under a Raging Moon and Heroes Often Fail under their imprint.
Under a Raging Moon was originally published by Wolfmont Press in 2006.  That edition is now out of print, though there a copies available and floating around Amazon, etc.  The Gray Dog Press version of Under a Raging Moon will be a revised one.  I've polished and pruned the book, as well as adding in small pieces here and there and a couple of new scenes that I wish I hadn't cut in the first edition.
Heroes Often Fail was originally published by Aisling Press in 2007.  That edition is also now out of print, but much like UaRM, there are copies available in places like Amazon.  The Gray Dog Press version of Heroes Often Fail will not be markedly different than the previous edition.
This will be the first publication for Beneath a Weeping Sky, the third novel in the River City series.  In it, River City is plagued by a serial rapist. Although an ensemble novel, the clear front-runner character in this story is Officer Katie MacLeod. Katie is a five year veteran who has worked hard to establish herself as a good cop in a field still dominated by men. She has done the near-impossible; she's earned the respect of the rough and tumble officers that work graveyard shift. But like all of us, Katie has her weaknesses, too. And deep in her past is an event that she has to face now that she is fully involved in the task force put together to catch the serial rapist. Especially after that rapist turns his sights on her.
This book is a cross between suspense and a procedural. If you're looking for a CSI fix, you want to get to  know the River City characters better or you're looking for a roller coaster ride, Beneath a Weeping Sky will fit the bill.
I'm very excited about this development.  Gray Dog Press is planning to continue to publish the River City Series beyond this third book (the fourth book, And Every Man Has to Die, is currently in the first draft phase), so I'm looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
P.S.  Gray Dog Press has also accepted my Frank Scalise novel, All That CountsAll That Counts is a novel about life and a man's discovery about what is truly important in it. Graham Wilson is a thirty-something recreational hockey player who decides to follow a long-held desire to become a goaltender. His transition is both comedic and inspiring as he seeks to challenge himself in the midst of a mundane life. Also on display is the curious paradox of the recreational game in American culture (i.e., it means everything, but it is only a game, but it is more than a game, but...). When his team's regular goalie leaves, Graham steps unsteadily into the crease, causing conflict on a team that is used to winning.
Graham's journey is a microcosm of life. Humor, inspiration, camaraderie, love and spite all make their appearances both on and off the ice as Graham struggles to learn what truly is "all that counts."
Look for more news on this book at and follow the blog at .

Monday, September 14, 2009

News Alert...

Watch this space carefully in the coming days...I may (if things go aright!) have some excellent news to report.

Much like a goalie with a shutout up on the board going into the last five minutes of a game, though, I don't want to say too much until the buzzer sounds.

Keep an eye here, though.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Short Story "Walter's Night" Accepted!

My short story called "Walter's Night" was accepted for publication.

It will be published in Issue # 19 (Apr. 15, 2010) of YELLOW MAMA, an online 'zine.

"Walter's Night" is sort of a dark crime fiction homage to "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." That's all I'll say for now.

The link for YELLOW MAMA is:

I'll post again once "Walter's Night" is published.

Monday, August 31, 2009

"The Bastard Mummy"

My long short story (or short novella, if you prefer -- it runs about 14,000 words) has been accepted by Mysterical-E magazine. It will be published in the Winter issue, which will be posted in December.

You can read Mysterical-E right here:

I'll post a direct link to the story once it is published.

"The Bastard Mummy" is a Finch and Elias mystery, set in River City. When a mummy goes missing from the Egyptian tour while it is on display at the River City museum, Detectives Finch and Elias are dispatched to try to solve the case. They are in a race against time to figure out whodunit (and howdunit) before the FBI or Insurance investigators arrive on scene...and before the theft causes an international incident. For suspects, they encounter an elitist academic, a scheming director, a wanna-be cop security head, a shady janitor and a sleepy college student...

And that, my faithful friends, is all you get out of me until December...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Update

A number of people have been asking me how things are going with the River City series, so I thought I'd post an update.

Really, on the publishing front, there is no update. Nothing new has been published since my story in Deadlines.

The only definite thing coming down the pike is a vampire story called "For the Sake of Art" that I have in an anthology called Vampire Dreamspell. This should be out in a few months.

"For the Sake of Art" is a story that I originally wrote back in about 1989 or 90, though when I came across it again a few years ago, it got a substantial revision. Still, I love the premise of that little story. It is about Upir, a 500-year-old Czech vampire who is living in the United States now. He has confronted the loneliness of immortality through collecting art. But what happens when the IRS catches up to him? Sure, he can slip away from the authorities, but what about his precious art collection?

Anyway, give it a try if you like vampire stories. There are a number of other vampire stories to round out the collection. I'll post again when the antho is released.

As far as River City goes, the third book, Beneath a Weeping Sky, is complete. I've finished about 3/4 of the fourth book, And Every Man Has to Die. Truthfully, I'd have finished that one by now if the third one had been picked up by a publisher, but there's no exigency right now and other projects are calling.

What other projects?

Well, now, most of those are going to have to stay secret until I finish them and find a home. I will say that I am working on a couple of stand alone mysteries (not River City), as well as having a mainstream novel making the rounds. I also just finished the draft of a Young Adult novel, so we'll see where that goes.

As soon as River City finds a home, that series is in good shape. In addition to the #3 being finished and #4 mostly done, I have the premise of #5 set in my head. I've also finished two others in the series that happen later on in the timeline and started a third one that is later down the road, too. When I find the right publisher, this series has legs.

So there's the update. I'm busy writing and submitting work to find the right home for it. Come by here occasionally -- I have a feeling that I'll have news to post more frequently over the next few months.

Thanks for your continued support.

Hastings Appearance

I should have mentioned this before it happened, but I've been busy and simply forgot. Nonetheless, here it is -- I appeared at a local author event at Hastings bookstore yesterday (Shadle store). There were about 15 other local authors and I got to meet most of them. Great folks, and I was impressed with the range of subject matter there. Everything from cookbooks to sci-fi to memoirs

Thanks to Trish for hosting the whole thing!

Next time, I'll post in advance so that some of you can make it by if you're able. Thanks to Rhiannon and friend and to Kari Kane and family for making the scene with little notice!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Derringer Winners

I apologize for posting this late. For one, I thought the announcements were due out on May 15, but they were actually announced on May 1st. And for two, the first week of May happened to be an extraordinarily busy week for me in my other world (not writing -- I was taking finals in a grad school course, graduating and driving 2000 miles with my wife) so I completely missed the announcement.

My story "Dead Even" didn't win.

But some great stories did, and they came from some great crime fiction sources. If you dig crime fiction, you should consider using this list as a jumping off point for authors you haven't tried yet and/or magazines or anthologies you haven't checked out before.

The winners were:

BEST FLASH STORY (Up to 1,000 Words)*:
"No Place Like Home" by Dee Stuart
Published in: MYSTERICAL-E
"No Flowers for Stacey" by Ruth McCartyPublished in DEADFALL: CRIME STORIES BY NEW ENGLAND WRITERS
*An oversight was discovered after the group vote, and "No Flowers for Stacey" was declared a second winner for Best Flash Story.

BEST SHORT STORY (1,001 to 4,000 Words): "The Cost of Doing Business" by Michael Penncavage
Published in: THUGLIT

BEST LONG STORY (4,001 to 8,000 Words): "The Quick Brown Fox" by Robert S. Levinson

BEST NOVELETTE (8,001 to 17,500 Words): "Too Wise" by O'Neil De Noux


Many congratulations to the winners, all of whom came to the table with excellent tales!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Dead Even" a Derringer Finalist

I'm happy to announce that my short story "Dead Even" is a finalist for the Short Mystery Fiction Society's Derringer Award.

The Short Mystery Fiction Society (SMFS) is exactly what it sounds like: a conglomeration of readers, writers, editors and others centered around crime/mystery short fiction. At last count, there were well over a thousand members. The main forum is a Yahoo group and it is a very active group.

The Derringer is the award that the SMFS presents to the best short story of the year. There are actually four categories, divided by length. This is a good thing, because especially with shorter fiction, story length can really be a matter of apples and oranges. Is an 800 word piece that captures all the mystery, tension and character of a story better than an 8000 word piece that packs all the elements of a novel into that tight package? No, they're different. Thus, the four different categories.

"Dead Even" is a finalist in the 4001-8000 word category. It is up against four other great stories. These five were selected from about 33 nominations in blind readings by judges. The next step is for the SMFS members to read the five finalist stories and vote for their favorite in each category. This takes place throughout April, with the winners announced on May 15th.

"Dead Even" was eligible because it was published during 2008. The story appeared in the Red Coyote Press anthology, Medium of Murder. This anthology is still available from the publisher or any book outlet (Amazon or bookstores).

This is the third time one of my stories has been a finalist for this award. In 2007, my story "The Worst Door" was a finalist and in 2006, it was my longer piece, "Good Shepherd." Neither won, but it was still a personal thrill for me to have been nominated and selected as a finalist.

I will keep you posted once the results are in.

By the way, if you like short mystery fiction, anyone can join SMFS. You don't have to be a writer or an editor, just a reader who is interested in the topic. They frequently mention new markets where good mysteries appear and although there isn't discussion about novels, the writers are allowed to mention when theirs come out.

I'm not telling you this so you can go join and vote for me. For one thing, you can't. Only members who were members during 2008 are allowed to vote. This keeps people from stuffing the ballot boxes, which I wouldn't want to do anyway. The SMFS rules for eligibility and voting make it a much truer measure of which story is (subjectively, at least) the best of the finalists. I say this with full sincerity, even though my stories came out on the short end of the process the last two times. It's a good system and a fair system and that, I believe, makes the finalist achievement and the ultimate award far more meaningful.

If you do join, though, you can still read all the finalists and get a good taste of some great crime fiction. Be prepared for diversity if you do. SMFS is all over the map, from cozies to procedurals to whodunits to hardboiled and more.

Give it a try...and check out Red Coyote Press, too. In addition to Medium of Murder, they have Map of Murder (my story "In the Shadow of El Paso" is in this one) and Medley of Murder.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

River City Update

Over the past six months, a number of people have asked me, "Where can I get the newest River City novel? When is Beneath a Weeping Sky coming out?"

I have to say, I really appreciate the fact that there are people eager to read the next installment of the River City series. And it is very much finished. In fact, I've finished about half of the fourth book, And Every Man Has To Die.

The problem? Well, it is on the business side.

For whatever reason, my publisher has simply not moved forward with this project. I think it would be unprofessional of me to air out the details, but the end result is that I've severed my connection with them. Which means that I am now looking for a new publisher and/or an agent.

What does that mean for River City? Well, it means that I can't say exactly when the next novel will be published, but trust me -- it will. I am very confident in this next book and in the series as a whole. It is merely a matter of finding the right home.

If you're a writer, you know very well what I'm experiencing now. If you're a reader, I'd ask for your patience. Check here every once in a while for updates. Give some of my short stories and anthologies a try (many contain River City characters and settings). Keep an eye out and soon enough I'll be announcing when my next book will be published.

I want to say thanks to all the readers and other writers who have been supportive during this difficult time. Your interest in River City stories and characters has been a thrill to me since the very first of you took the time to read something I'd wrote. I couldn't be luckier when it comes to having good writer friends and smart, enthusiastic readers.

I don't normally include personal items in this blog, but I'm making an exception today. This summer, I'm going to marry the woman I've been in love with for thirty years. There's quite a story there, but the only mystery is why I waited so long to tell her how I felt...only to discover she'd felt the same way the entire time. All of this was going on during these business difficulties with my publisher, so go figure, huh? Once again, I've been pretty lucky in many ways.

Watch this space for more River City news!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Shae & Laddie "Quadrilogy" Complete

"Egyptian Eyes and Irish Lies", the final installment of the four-story arc involving Shae and Laddie is now available in the Winter issue of MYSTERICAL-E. Here's the link:

As with the previous three, I narrated this story. That narration is available as a podcast. Don't expect too much -- I'm a writer, not an actor -- but it was fun to do.

While you're there, check out the other great crime fiction shorts. M-E always has an eclectic line-up with new and established writers. In addition to that, the art work is excellent.