Monday, October 31, 2011

Gray Dog Press Announces Frank Zafiro Collection!

Gray Dog Press is now offering all five of my novels in a single collection. The bonus is that you get 20% off cover price if you buy all five books. That's like getting one of them for free!

Gray Dog Press is a local publisher here in Spokane, Washington, that focuses on Inland Empire writers or subject matter...for the most part. They are an up and coming independent small press, and I'm proud to be one of their authors!

If you haven't tried out the River City series yet, the order is:

1. Under a Raging Moon
2. Heroes Often Fail
3. Beneath a Weeping Sky
4. And Every Man Has to Die


5. Dead Even (a collection of River City short stories)

The books follow the same ensemble cast of police officers and detectives as they encounter robbers, kidnappers, rapists and gangsters, as well as their own fears and shortcomings. Meet cops who are human as you are, or the person next door.

If you're reading this, you probably know I  have over 18 years of police experience in a variety of positions. I've brought all of that experience to bear on these books, lending a degree of gritty realism that has been compared to Waumbaugh and McBain.

Here's the LINK! Check it out!


Saturday, October 22, 2011


Occasionally, Amazon will allow an ebook to be priced for FREE as part of a special promotion. Currently, they've selected my River City novella, The Bastard Mummy, for exactly such a promotion.

As you can see from the screen shots, people seem to be responding:  The Bastard Mummy is currently #1 in hard-boiled mystery, #2 in police procedurals.

Nice bump for a novella that has been out for a little while.

What's it about? Thought you'd never ask.

The Bastard Mummy: Follow detectives Finch and Elias in this novella (which is an excerpt from the short story collection Dead Even) as they try to solve the mystery of a stolen mummy the River City museum. Part mystery, part procedural, with a little wise-cracking along the way, this story will satisfy River City fans waiting for the next installment of the series and introduce Frank Zafiro to new readers.

For those familiar with the River City novels but not with Finch and Elias, let me say a few things. One, Finch and Elias are basically the Sully and Battaglia of the investigative division. Two, the majority of the Finch and Elias stories tend to be whodunit style mysteries, including The Bastard Mummy. And three, you can read five stories about these two detectives in Dead Even, which is a River City short story collection published by Gray Dog Press. 
Anyway, head over to Amazon and give The Bastard Mummy a try -- it's free!


P.S. Just an unrelated reminder:  all ebook sales proceeds from my novel The Last Horseman will go to support REMIND.ORG, an organization dedicated to supporting our returning troops.  Read this blog entry for the scoop.

Friday, October 7, 2011


I've decided that I will donate all my author proceeds from the ebook sales of The Last Horseman to REMIND.ORG, which supports our returning warriors and their families.  

Every January, I will be donating 100% of my gross income from the previous years' ebook sales of this book. What's more, I'm making this donation retroactive to when the book was first published (January 2011).

Why am I doing this? There are lots of reasons.

Most importantly, I believe in what REMIND.ORG is doing.  I believe we have a duty to take care of those men and women who are brave enough to serve in our armed forces and protect our freedoms. It takes courage to serve, especially during a time when there are armed conflicts going on in the world that we're directly involved in.

The thing is, it's not about whether or not you believe in a particular political action or not -- it's about supporting our troops. The soldier doesn't choose the war, but he or she fights in it. Not all the consequences they suffer are right there on the battlefield.

I'm a veteran myself (1986-91), but I didn't see combat during my term of service. As a result, I was lucky enough not to need services like the ones this program provides.

What does this organization do? It would be easier to list what they don't do. I encourage you to take the link and check them out for yourself, but suffice it to say that they find a great number of ways to take care of our returning troops.

I first heard of this organization because of Bruce Springsteen. He played last year in their fundraiser event, "Stand Up for Heroes." As a long time fan of Springsteen and his music, I was curious what the fundraiser was supporting, so I looked it up. That's when the work that Remind.Org does really struck a chord with me.

Quite honestly, I can't think of too many things more patriotic than doing some real in support of our returning troops. I thought about how I could support this organization. Originally, I considered a simple donation, but eventually I decided I would give a continuing donation every year and try to raise some awareness in the process. I selected The Last Horseman as the vehicle for this because the main character, Sandy Banks, is also a veteran.

If you want to support a good cause and also enjoy some action/suspense crime fiction at the same time, this is your opportunity. The Last Horseman is priced at $2.99 in all formats.  In January, I'll post the receipt so everyone can see.

If you want to support this organization more directly, here's the website.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bad Reviews

So I just passed on a mixed review/critique of a colleague's novel. I don't know his reaction, really, because his email reply was polite but brief. The thing is, when someone asks for a critique, I really believe you're doing a disservice if you don't give the book a serious read instead of a cursory one and that you're doing an even greater disservice if you're not 100% honest in your critique.

In other words, the things that aren't good, say so. The things that rock, say so. Delivery is important, but don't couch the criticism too carefully or else the weight of it may be lost upon the author.

In this case, I read the novel at a time that I was also trying to finish up a first draft on a collaboration novel, while I was receiving proofs from the publisher for my textbook with hellacious turnaround times and I was taking two master's courses online...while working full time in a demanding position. Throw family in there, too. So I was busy. But...has anyone ever read one of my books when that person was just as busy as I've described? Or more so?

Yes. So you pay it back and you pay it forward.

Plus, the author is a nice guy, a true gentleman and friends with one of the classiest guys I've ever not met (Internet only friends from halfway across the country).

So you make the time.  Which I did. Upon finishing, I did have one major criticism and a few smaller ones to go along with the things I liked.  I was blunt and direct, because I don't think any of us have time for euphemisms, but I wasn't mean. The danger of being honest, though, is you run the risk of hurting someone's feelings and the friendship. My philosophy has always been that honesty is always worth that risk. Not just what do I think about your book, but on anything in life. You tell your friends the truth, even if it isn't what they want to hear right this second.

I think this guy's book was a good book, but I did point out the warts. I hope that, upon reflection, he sees where my heart was in this process, whether he agrees with the criticism or not. That is, I cared enough about the guy to tell him the whole truth  -- the good and the bad.

Ironically, I received an email recently from another writer who asked me about performing some paid editing.  I'd edited a small portion of a work for her at a workshop earlier this year and she wrote in her email, "I appreciate the direct voice that you have."

So I must be doing something right.

In a case of double irony, one of my books got a mixed review this week from a fan. I discovered it about an hour after I had sent my critique to the author I mentioned at the beginning of this entry. Here's the link to the review. Give it a read and come back.

See? Honesty.

Incidentally, for those of you who may agree with this reviewer's take, Beneath a Weeping Sky is an anomaly within the series. Most of the books, including And Every Man Has to Die, are shorter and more briskly paced. And no crazy people. But BaWS is exactly what the reviewer says -- long, and it examines the human condition within the context of a procedural. Some people may like it, some may not. I don't apologize for it -- it is what it is, and it is true to its own (intended) nature.

But isn't nice to read someone's honest review that isn't meant to be harsh? Yeah, not really nice. Just better than a slam. But I like the honesty part. I'd better, or I'd be a hypocrite.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review of Under a Raging Moon

Yes, that's right...a new review of my 2006 novel, Under a Raging Moon.

Actually, there's an explanation for this. I bundled together all four of the existing River City novels into a single eBook called Trouble in River City. The reviewer, Brian Triplett, bought the collection. He'd previously read and reviewed some of the newer books in the series, but not the older ones.

Here's the review:

He rightly calls me to task for the rough edges, but is gracious enough not to call it lesser craft than I hopefully have today. That's where he's wrong. Like any writer, I have grown in the past five years and nowhere is that as much on display as in the progression of the River City novels. I think any reader who starts with the first and continues through to the fourth will see the growth in my writing and storytelling (although hopefully as an afterthought and not while enjoying the book).

We all get better at something we practice at. Under a Raging Moon was my second novel I'd ever written and the first one published. And while I still like it and think it's a good book, the fact that it's my first does show.

You should still read it, though. ;-)