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Interview with Daisy Jordan – Author of Love Means Zero

Daisy Jordan is an obsessive tennis fan and wrote this book so she could live out her dream-job fantasy through Hilton. Before deciding to write a book about the tennis tour, she wrote six other books, including Everything Happens for a Reason…, the Spin the Bottle series, and All That Sparkles Isn’t Real Sapphire. Even before that, she grew up in Indiana watching tennis all summer every summer on TV, and even attended a few pro tournaments. She now lives in Denver and religiously fills out brackets for every Grand Slam with her brother Josh.

You can visit her website at DaisyJordan.com

Q: Thank you for this interview, Daisy. Can you tell us what your latest book, Love Means Zero, is all about?

A: Love Means Zero is about Hilton, a recent college grad with a dead-end job at a portrait studio, unexpectedly landing a freelance role with Game Set Match magazine, which she refers to as “the Us Weekly of tennis.” Hilton has always dreamed of traveling the world and taking gorgeous photographs, and suddenly, she is doing just that. It’s about the best life she can imagine—partying with the players and their famous girlfriends, seeing fantastic tennis every day, and jetting off to a new place every week. But for her boyfriend Luke, it’s about the worst life he can imagine. He’s stuck at home in Indiana finishing law school, and the more Hilton’s gone, the less she seems to miss him. As he closes off from her and harbors a relationship-changing secret, Hilton, a happy-go-lucky believer in love and fate, laughs off her feelings for one of the world’s top-ranked tennis players as nothing more than a celebrity crush. But then, in one intense, heart-wrenching, thrilling, and thought-provoking moment, Hilton’s world turns upside down as she starts to see that love may not be as powerful or fate-determining as she thought.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Hilton is easygoing, free-spirited, and in love with life. She believes everything happens for a reason, but she also believes in going out and making things happen for herself. She is head-over-heels in love with her boyfriend Luke, whom she’s been with for almost six years. She is intuitive, thoughtful, confident, and spontaneous, and her friends mean everything to her. However, she also knows she sometimes has to put herself first, even if it could mean hurting someone else.

Luke is tall, good-looking, and laid-back. The most important people in his life are Hilton and his other two roommates, Jill and Todd. He is 100% happy with his current life—living with them while he finishes law school. After that, he imagines marrying Hilton and basically continuing with their life as it is—fun-filled times with great friends.

Jill has been Hilton’s best friend since ninth grade and is the only person to whom Hilton can truly tell everything. She is wildly in love with her boyfriend Todd, who has long been the guy of her dreams. Jill has experienced a lot of tumultuous rollercoasters in her life, and in the past, Hilton was usually the one with the awesome relationship, while Jill was usually single and struggling with guy issues. In this book, their roles begin to reverse.

Tanner grew up in Aspen, Colorado, moved to Vero Beach, Florida to play tennis when he was fourteen, and now is ranked No. 3 in the world. He quickly became a fan favorite on the tennis tour because of his funny and gracious personality…and his killer looks. He is part boy next door, part New York City partier. He is genuinely interested in people, he supports animal charities, and he loves to go out and do crazy things in the spotlight—both on and off the court. Tanner always has fun with whatever he does, and his magnetic energy draws in everyone around him.

Haidin is tennis’ most notorious bad boy. Ranked No. 5 in the world, his press conferences have to air on tape delays because of his penchant for profanity and outrageously offensive comments. He dates model/actress Aubrey Gage, and their scandal-filled relationship garners him as much, if not more, media attention—and backlash—as does his complete lack of sportsmanship in tennis. There’s a reason he acts like he does, but it’s one nobody would ever guess.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A: My characters are almost completely from my imagination. I do occasionally give them traits of real people I know, which I usually do to make my friends and family laugh. For example, in Everything Happens for a Reason…, which is about Hilton, Luke, Jill, and Todd in college, I made one of their guy friends a really terrible dancer. I knew this would make all my college friends laugh, because it would remind them of one of our guy friends who was a really bad dancer. Hilton being a somewhat obsessive tennis fan is based on me, to an extent, although Hilton, being an actual tennis player, has a way better excuse to be an obsessive fan than I do. My friends and family think I’m slightly crazy, so they all kind of shook their heads and laughed when I told them Hilton was getting a job traveling with the tennis tour in my new book. For the most part though, my characters are unique, and one of the most fun parts of writing is developing them and getting to know them.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: I am usually consciously aware of one or two big things that will happen over the course of the book, but I never make an outline or plan things in detail ahead of time. I just start writing and let the ideas flow. They always do, and sometimes those big things I had in mind before I started writing don’t even happen, or they happen differently from how I originally pictured. I would call my style of writing “go with the flow.” I let things happen naturally, I let the characters react to what happens, and the plot then takes a more realistic path.

Q: Your book is set all over the world.  Can you tell us why you chose this format for the setting?

A: I find travel invigorating, and I also know it can change the way people think and feel, especially when they travel for long periods of time. Hilton has always wanted to travel, and once she gets a taste of that life, nothing else is enough for her. She is dissatisfied and uninspired back at home in Indiana. When she travels, she takes something from each place she goes, whether it be a feeling, a memory, or a new way of looking at some aspect of life. Eventually, this does change the way she feels about her relationship with Luke, and about love in general, which never would have happened had she stayed in Indiana her whole life. I also use the different settings to invoke a thrill in readers. I absolutely love to travel, and reading about faraway places always makes me want to jump on a plane. I think a lot of people feel this way, and Hilton’s lifestyle, along with each section of the book taking place in a different location, adds excitement to the story.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: It absolutely does, in a couple of different ways. As Hilton travels and Luke sits at home growing more and more miserable, they begin to drift apart, and both of their views on the relationship—which at the beginning of the book was rock-solid—change. This probably never would have happened had they both stayed home and continued life as they had always known it. There is also one particular setting in the book, New York City, that plays a major part in the development of the story. Hilton spends much of her time there between tournaments, and she comes to see it as her “home away from home.” She names it as her favorite city in the world, and there comes a point when she is more comfortable there than she is in Indiana. There are also a couple times when something major happens, or doesn’t happen, because of Hilton being in New York.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

A: Hilton is in Paris on her first assignment for Game Set Match. One of her jobs is to sit in the hotel lobby at night, follow tennis players when they go out, and try to get scandalous pictures of them. She has seen all the big-name players cross through the lobby at least once during her first week there…except for Tanner Bruin. She is almost positive he isn’t staying in the hotel, and she wonders if he has a secret girlfriend. She sees him as a mystery and is intrigued by him, because he’s also her favorite player. Later that night, she talks to Luke on the phone and describes being in Paris with Game Set Match as “going from zero to sixty in like, two seconds.”

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: I’ll give you one of the best ones that doesn’t give away anything big, but hints at several key aspects of the story that you’ll see when you read the book! This excerpt happens on Middle Sunday of Wimbledon, and it takes on greater significance later in the story, in more than one way.

The four of them went to a dark, crowded, noisy pub right across the street from their hotel. When they walked in, they had to walk down a set of steep, creaky stairs into the main room, and Hilton liked it, because down here below ground it was warm and cozy and they were secluded from the rainy gloom outside. It was horribly smoky, but Hilton figured she could deal with it for one day. The atmosphere was festive; all over people were talking and laughing loudly while they downed pint after pint.

“Oh my gosh!” a girl behind the bar shrieked when they approached. “Oh my gosh. You’re Tanner Bruin. And you’re Bryony Adams. Oh my gosh! I read about you guys in Game Set Match. Hold on, I’ll clear a table for you right away.”

Tanner smiled his easy, sexy smile. “It’s okay, we’ll wait.”

The girl couldn’t take her eyes off him. “Oh my gosh.”

“What do you guys want?” Tanner asked, turning to Bryony, Hilton, and Luke. “First round’s on me. For Luke’s birthday.”

“Thanks, man,” Luke said. “What’s a good English beer? I feel like trying something new.”

“What would you recommend?” Tanner asked the girl.

“Ummm…” She was star-struck and could hardly seem to think. “How about Bass? It’s one of our best pale ales. It’s probably our most popular. I think you’ll like it.” The last comment was directed toward Luke, but Hilton laughed to herself as the girl’s eyes immediately darted back to Tanner. She only wanted to impress Luke because he was part of Tanner’s party.

“Oh no, we don’t want pale ale,” Tanner said. “Give us something dark. Something with some bite. You pick something. I’ll trust you. Whatever you think is best.” He grinned at the girl again. Bryony looked at Hilton, and they laughed.

“Okay! You want that in pints?”

“Sure.” Something about the way he said it was so sure, so confident yet warm. Hilton felt little tingles all over. Everything he did was such a turn-on. And he always looked so good too; he was wearing dark jeans with a blazer again, like in Paris, but this time he wore the blazer over a fairly tight-fitting Aerosmith T-shirt, and he wore black Adidas shoes with white stripes. Hilton loved the mix of casual and classy. Bryony was wearing dark skinny jeans and a long slinky purple shirt with a low V-neck that clung to her body and showed off how thin she was. Hilton was wearing jeans and a dark green lingerie-like top with thin spaghetti straps under a tight long-sleeved black shirt with a V-neck that went down almost to her stomach and showed off a lot of the shirt underneath. Luke had on jeans and a lightweight black long-sleeved shirt from The Buckle. It was tight and showed off his toned-but-not-too-huge upper body. Hilton thought he looked delicious too.

“Okay!” The girl scurried off a few feet and was back merely seconds later with their drinks.

Tanner pulled out a wad of cash.

“Oh, no, it’s on the house.” The girl beamed at him.

“Oh, well thank you.” Tanner slid a fifty-pound note across the counter, then picked up a pint and handed it to Bryony.

“That was like a hundred dollars!” Hilton hissed in amazement. “Wow. It’s her lucky day.” She laughed.

“Was it?” Tanner shrugged. “I don’t really know the conversions. I go so many places I can never remember the ones like here, that have their own currency. I’ve got the euro pretty down, but I can never remember pounds.”

“Must be nice not to have it matter,” Luke laughed.

“Hey, I see a table!” Bryony pointed, and they all rushed over.

They ordered food and talked for a few hours. Tanner and Luke asked each other lots of questions about where they’d grown up and what they liked to do, and Hilton loved how well they got along. She learned a lot about Tanner too; she’d known for a long time just from watching his matches on TV and listening to the commentators that he’d been born in Aspen, Colorado and had moved to Vero Beach, Florida with his family when he was fourteen to train, but now she was learning all the details. He said he missed Aspen like crazy; he hadn’t been skiing in three years because he never had time. He’d grown up skiing every winter, all winter long, and had looked forward to being on the alpine ski team in high school. Even though he was modest, Hilton got the idea he’d been pretty awesome at it. But he had been doing really well in some regional tennis tournaments, and when he’d realized he had the chance to make it big in that, he’d decided to go for it. He said someday he wouldn’t mind moving back to Aspen though; his family had moved back when he’d joined the pro tour. He told all kinds of stories about growing up there; his dad had worked at a ski resort so his family had always had free unlimited ski passes, and Tanner had started skiing when he was three. He’d snowboarded too, but he said that was more just for fun; he hadn’t ever planned to be competitive with it. He’d started playing tennis when he was three too, at the courts at the resort, and that was what he’d done all summer when he wasn’t skiing. He told about how when he was sixteen and back in Aspen for Christmas, he’d asked out a girl he’d liked back in middle school and taken her skiing, and she’d broken her leg on the first time down the slope. She’d lived in Aspen her whole life but hadn’t ever been skiing; her dad had forbidden her from it because his brother had died in a skiing accident. So Tanner had thought it would be romantic and bad-boy-like and adventurous to take her, and then after she’d broken her leg, her dad had told her she could never talk to Tanner again, but Tanner had only been in Aspen for another week after that anyway.

The four of them were practically rolling with laughter by the time he finished, and Hilton could tell Bryony was hearing all this for the first time too. After all, she’d only known Tanner since April. Hilton had tears streaming down her face. She loved the image of Tanner as a teenager, really liking this girl and trying to be reckless to impress her…it was totally hot and just reinforced her image of his personality.

He told them other stories about Aspen too, like how it wasn’t out of the ordinary at all to walk into the grocery store and see a celebrity—tons of them owned homes in Aspen and the neighboring Snowmass Village—and how a lot of people who worked in Aspen and Snowmass couldn’t even afford to live there and had to live in neighboring, less ritzy towns. As he talked…about the Aspen Music Festival every summer, the Winter X Games, how he and his friends would ski anytime they possibly had the chance…she could hear the love for Aspen in his voice. She felt a bond with him; she, Luke, and Bryony were hearing him talk about stuff not a lot of people ever got to learn.

“Do you ever wish you wouldn’t have left?” Hilton asked.

Tanner looked thoughtful. “I don’t think so. But I think about how it would’ve been different, where I’d be in life right now.” He smiled. “Maybe I would’ve made it big in skiing and gone to the Olympics and Bry would’ve seen me on TV anyway.” He flashed his gorgeous smile in Bryony’s direction, and she laughed and shoved into him with her shoulder.

“Probably, but I might not’ve been able to tell he was hot, if he was all bundled up in ski stuff,” she said, and they smiled easily at each other.

Hilton laughed, but she felt a little twinge of jealousy. She shook it off, knowing she was being ridiculous.

“No,” Tanner said, turning back to Hilton, “I really do think about it sometimes…what it would’ve been like. I think I would’ve had a blast going to high school there and stuff, and then who knows, maybe I would’ve played tennis in college and ended up going pro anyway. But I think part of me would’ve felt like I missed a chance, like I was too scared to take it.”

Hilton nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah, I can see that.”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Daisy.  We wish you much success!

A: Thank you! I loved doing this interview, and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity!

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What Inspired Me to Write My Book by Tom Graneau

http://www.renters-win.com/What Inspired Me to Write My Book

The inspiration for Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America essentially started in 1996. While sitting in an economic class for a Bachelor of Science Degree, it occurred to me that most people in the United States are broke. By that time, many of my fellow students had admitted, in one way or another, that they were borrowing money for college—thousands of dollars in student loans that would take years to pay back. Furthermore, during my course of business, I noticed that more and more people used credit cards for purchases instead of cash.

Interestingly, I was in the same financial predicament. I was using credit cards to pay for things, not because it was convenient to do so, I simply did not have the cash available. At the time, I had recently separated from the military and had difficulty finding a job without a degree that paid more than the minimum wage. My six-dollar an hour job was barely enough to pay for essentials. To make matters worse, I was receiving foreclosure threats from my lender who was demanding money to bring the mortgage current. Meanwhile, my credit card balances were skyrocketing.

“Struggling to keep my head above water,” as we often say, I considered filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. After graduation, approximately two years later, I found a job as a financial management specialist. I spent roughly ten years in that position conducting workshops, training, and private consultations for members of the military, government employees, and others in the community.

I enjoyed my work. Assisting my clients plot a course for financial solvency was emotionally rewarding. However, there was another side to the job that troubled me. As a result of my own financial experiences, combined with that of thousands of my clients, it became more clear to me that, as a culture, our personal financial problems are bigger than what most people are willing to admit.

I began to research the problem and discovered a widespread issue. Various surveys showed that most Americans are broke. Close to 90 percent of working adults live from paycheck to paycheck regardless of income, education, or career position. More research revealed that while the root problems are many, nothing devours more of people’s hard-earned income than the homes they buy. When the final numbers are tallied at the point of sale, assuming that they get the opportunity to sell the house, most home owners end up losing money on the deal. This is mostly because of inherent costs associated with the property—costs which are either ignored or not understood prior to purchasing the home.

I was determined to improve my own financial situation and felt equally concerned about helping others do the same. I began to address the issues affecting our personal financial performance in my first book, Are You Financially Checkmate? You live in an economic culture designed to keep you broke. Discover how to take control and free yourself from financial bondage. The book was released in 2005, but it’s now being revised to include more information and title change.

During my first writing project, I decided that the “home ownership” issue needed special attention—a venture that should be handled separately. Hence the book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America. The work was published towards the end of 2009 and is now available for purchase in all books stores around the country and major online book retailers.

***

Tom Graneau is a personal financial management coach and author of a new book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America. If you are tired of the bondage of debt and want REAL answers to personal freedom and financial independence, begin by turning things around with a no-nonsense approach to your housing option.

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Interview with Tom Graneau – Author of Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America

Tom Graneau is the author of Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America. Lately, he spent roughly ten years as a financial management coach, conducting workshops and private consultations for people in the military, government agencies, and the civilian community. His first book, Are You Financially Checkmate?, was published in 2005 and is now being revised.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Tom. Can you tell us what your latest book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America, is all about?

The real estate industry, including banks, mortgage companies, the government, and various other organizations have come together with one voice, claiming that home ownership is the most reliable path for financial prosperity. Presently, most Americans (70 percent, down from 83 percent in 2003) are preoccupied over the idea of owning a home as a financial investment. However, based on historical trends and statistical facts, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America debunks the wealth claim linked to home ownership.

On the contrary, when the opportunity for wealth building is compared between home buyers and renters, those who rent have greater propensity for financial success. Data indicates that those who have purchased homes (in some cases, more than once) are not necessarily better off financially than those who haven’t. For instance, more than 85 percent of the 78 million baby boomers in the United States are home owners. Many of them have bought and sold several homes. Yet, close to 90 percent of them are broke. The curious question is, where is the wealth earned from the home.

Additionally, more than 2/3 (78 percent) of American families are home owners. Nonetheless, the majority of them are strapped for cash, have little or no retirement savings, and are deep in debt. Renters Win, Home Owners Lose is a stunning, thought-provoking work that unravels the realities of home ownership. All told, renting is a wiser choice than buying.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

The inspiration for Renters Win, Home Owners Lose essentially started in 1996. While sitting in an economic class for a Bachelor of Science Degree, it occurred to me that most people in the United States are broke. By that time, many of my fellow students had admitted, in one way or another, that they were borrowing money for college—thousands of dollars in student loans that would take years to pay back. Furthermore, during my course of business, I noticed that more and more people used credit cards for purchases instead of cash.

Interestingly, I was in the same financial predicament. I was using credit cards to pay for things, not because it was convenient to do so, I simply did not have the cash available. At the time, I had recently separated from the military and had difficulty finding a job without a degree that paid more than the minimum wage. My six-dollar an hour job was barely enough to pay for essentials. To make matters worse, I was receiving foreclosure threats from my lender who was demanding money to bring the mortgage current. Meanwhile, my credit card balances were skyrocketing.

My desire to improve my situation led to research, which confirmed my suspicion about the financial condition of the masses. I discovered that the majority of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck regardless of income, education, or career position. The root problems are many, but nothing consumes more of our hard-earned income than the homes we buy. Hence the book, Renters Win, Home Owners Lose: Revealing the Biggest Scam in America.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

Most of my research was based on reference materials. The Statistical Abstract of the United States (2001 through 2009) served as a vital resource. Other sources included the annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), current events, personal experience, and clients’ contribution.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

Common wisdom suggests that home ownership is one of the best pathways to financial prosperity. In reality, however, the concept works against people’s goals and expectations. Most people lose money on the property, often without realizing it. Instead, a person can be equally safe, comfortable, and wildly successful by choosing to rent while investing the extra money that would be “wasted” on a home.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

The Passion for Home Ownership

In the American culture, the passion for home ownership defies logic. Somehow, we’ve been impregnated with the idea that until we buy a house, our lives remain incomplete. Never mind how much education we have, how successful we are in other areas of our lives, or what position we hold in the community. Until we can say things like, “my home, our house,” etc., we continue to have feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. Those who seek to become home owners are not necessarily homeless. Most of them are renters who live in comfortable, adequate housing conditions but have grown to dislike their situations because of cultural pressure. Renters have been branded as hopeless cases who will amount to nothing as long as they keep renting an apartment or a home from someone else.

Branding renters is no accident. In fact, it is a well-developed and orchestrated marketing system designed by the housing industry
to target renters regarding their basic needs. With help from its enabling allies, the industry has successfully labeled renting as an
undesirable and foolish lifestyle that provides no benefit. Those who rent are made to feel that they are fighting a losing battle—throwing money down the drain each month. Consequently, renters are on a mission to become home owners and hope to change their fate in life forever.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, less than half of Americans owned their homes. From 1900 to 1930, the home ownership rate hovered around 46 percent. Then came the Great Depression in the 1930’s, and many home owners lost their homes. The rate dropped to 43 percent. Two decades later, the rate dramatically increased to more than 60 percent and has continued to rise.

Much of this increase can be directly attributed to people’s eagerness to own homes. Various national surveys have given us clues into the mindset of Americans regarding home ownership. In 1996,mFannie Mae reported that in a thirteen-to-one margin, Americans would rather own a home than drive a new car. Almost 70 percent of the respondents said that they would put off retirement for ten years in order to own a home.

When the same survey was conducted in 1998, Americans continued to express strong desires toward home ownership. Six in 10 renters said that buying a home ranked between a very important priority and their number one priority in life. At the time, a 30-year fixed rate mortgage was 7.2 percent. That was high compared to what we’ve seen in recent years. Even then, 65 percent of Americans admitted that the timing was perfect to venture into home ownership.

Prior to the housing crisis in 2006, Americans were prepared to meet any challenge to own a house. In 2003, a Fannie Mae survey found that 67 percent of those who responded believed that it was a good time to buy a house, and 61 percent indicated that buying a house was a safe financial investment. During that time, housing sales had risen to an all-time high; mortgage interest rates had dropped to the lowest levels since 1960; and mortgage initiation had climbed to 40 percent from the previous year.

By 2004, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported that the home ownership rate had broken all records. Nearly 70 percent of all existing housing units were being occupied by owners. In subsequent years leading up to the end of 2005, all departments within the housing market had experienced record-breaking results. New home construction topped the million mark and continued to climb. And although the median price of new and existing homes continued to skyrocket, Americans kept buying houses at record levels.

At the end of 2005, the housing market single-handedly accounted for 16 percent of the United States Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The estimated value of housing stock was $15.5 trillion—32 percent of the total wealth of the United States, and after subtracting mortgage debt obligations, home owners’ equity had increased to $10.9 trillion. If there was a time for people in the real estate and banking industries to celebrate, this was it. Both the housing market and the mortgage industry were flourishing.

But, we commonly say, “everything has its price.” Past all the business activities and money, there were several problematic issues brewing that few people took time to consider. One of which was the personal sacrifice that some Americans made in pursuit of home ownership.

Q:  In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

It is often said that writing a book is easy; publishing it is hard. This concept is partially true since writing itself is not easy. These days, any book can be published with money. But for one who has little or none of it, reaching the public with a message (fiction or nonfiction) can be difficult. My approach has been self-publishing through a reputable publishing house and using a systematic approach to promote the book. I am currently using, or have plans to use, the following mediums:

  1. Partnership: Forming alliances with companies who believe in the spirit or philosophy of the book.
  2. Radio Interviews: I believe, with the right message, one can reach a wide audience quickly, in the least expensive way.
  3. Publicity: Publicity is the next best effective method of promoting books. I plan to experiment with various press releases at regular intervals, hoping to obtain free national press coverage through print and broadcast media.
  4. Social Medi This medium has worked well for some authors. I’m currently experimenting with it.
  5. Book Reviews: Knowing how others feel about my book is important in the on-going effort of promoting it. Independent reviews are known to facilitate book sales. I’m continually seeking ways to get additional book reviews.
  6. E-mail Marketing Campaigns: Opt-in e-mail marketing is another good way of reaching people for book sales. The results are more effective when the list belongs to the author.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

The early morning hours (times vary) are devoted to writing; late morning and afternoon are spent running Writers Publications (my own publishing firm);  and late evening is spent on more writing with an hour or two reserved for some television entertainment.

Q: What’s next for you?

Currently, I’m revising my first book, Are You Financially Checkmate? I’m  also in the process of writing a book series for men, covering all aspects of how to become the best husband, father, role model, and leader.

Thank you so much for this interview, Tom. We wish you much success!

My pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity to speak with you. Here is one of my websites: http://www.renters-win.com/



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Five Things I Learned While Writing Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri

Vincent Zandri

We have a special guest post by Vincent Zandri, author of the thriller novel, Moonlight Falls, today.

Moonlight Falls is the Albany, New York-based paranoid tale (in the Hitchcock tradition) of former APD Detective turned Private Investigator/Massage Therapist, Richard “Dick” Moonlight, who believes he might be responsible for the brutal slaying by knife of his illicit lover, the beautiful Scarlet Montana. The situation is made all the worse since Scarlet is the wife of Moonlight’s boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana.

Why does Moonlight believe he might be responsible?

He’s got a small fragment of a .22 hollow point round buried inside his brain, lodge directly up against his cerebral cortex. The result of a botched suicide attempt four years prior to the novel’s start, an operation to remove the bullt frag would be too dangerous.

But the bullet causes Moonlight lots of problems, the least of which are the occasional memory loss and his rational ability to tell right from wrong. The bullet frag also might shift at any moment, making coma and/or sudden death, a very real possibility.

Still, Moonlight has been trying to get his life together as of late.

But when Scarlet begs him to make the trip over to her house late one rainy Sunday night to issue one of his “massages,” he makes a big mistake by sleeping with her. Later, having passed out in her bed, he will be rudely awakened by a garage door opening and Jake’s unexpected and very drunken homecoming. Making his impromptu escape out a top floor window, Moonlight will seek the safety of his home.

Two hours later however, he will receive another unexpected visit from Jake Montana. This time the big Captain has sobering news to report. He’s discovered his wife’s mutilated body in her own bed. She’s been murdered and now he needs the P.I. to investigate it in association with Albany ’s “overtaxed” Special Independent Unit before I.A. pokes their nose into the affair. Moonlight takes a big step back. Is it possible he made a second trip to the Montana home-sweet-home and just has no recollection of it? Once there, did he perform a heinous crime on his part-time lover? Or is this some kind of set up by his former boss? Is it really Jake who is responsible for Scarlet’s death? Does he wish for Moonlight to cover up his involvement, seal the case before Internal Affairs starts poking their nose into the situation?

There’s another problem too.

Covering Moonlight’s palms and the pads of his fingers are numerous scratches and cuts. Are these defensive wounds? Wounds he received when Scarlet put up a struggle? Or are they offensive wounds? Wounds he couldn’t avoid when making his attack on Scarlet with a blade? The answer is not so simple since Moonlight has no idea where he acquired the wounds.

Having no choice but to take on the mission (if only to cover his own ass), Moonlight can only hope the answers to his many questions point to his former boss and not himself.

This is the exciting premise and here are five things Vincent Zandri learned while writing the novel.  Enjoy!

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Five Things I Learned While Writing Moonlight Falls
by Vincent Zandri

Many things were learned during the five on-again, off-again years while I was writing my new noir, thriller, Moonlight Falls, the least if which, is that initial publishing success can be fading. Back in 1999, when my first commercial thriller, As Catch Can, was first published in hardcover by Delacorte, I assumed that I had found a permanent literary home for the rest of my life, and that the next stop in my green career was the Pulitzer Prize. But when Delacorte merged with another publisher, many of its authors were quickly transferred elsewhere and from there, kindly shown the door. For me, it was back to square one.

But despite the trial and tribulations of a commercial publishing world that has been described as “perilous,” I was nonetheless able to adhere to a program of good, solid writing, day in and day out. That alone became my shield against a volatile publishing business. That alone was my guiding force in a short literary life that had seen great ups and that now, was realizing a very deep, seemingly bottomless pit.

Still I trudged on through a period of several years where I did not publish a single book, but instead concentrated on the writing of several manuscripts, not the least of which, became Moonlight Falls. Here are five things I learned about myself and the world around me during that time.

1. Nothing replaces rock solid writing, research and rewriting. Or, the three R’s, if you will. Even though I might have quit the business altogether and moved on to something less volatile than the writing and publishing life, I still adhered to a rigorous writing program day in and day out, even when there was no money coming in. I chose this path because in the back of my head, I always knew that the novel would one day be published. Not self-published, mind you, but published in the traditional format. Which leads me to…

2. Never lose your faith in yourself and your ability, even in the face of domestic non-tranquility. Things around the house during my, lets call them “wilderness years,” were not very happy. I’d just married my second wife, Laura, whom I believed was my soul mate. We came together at a time when things were great. I was on top of the world as a writer and we were traveling the world. But then, when things got hard. I retreated back into my shell and nearly lost all confidence in my ability to write a great story. But curiously, and sadly, as Laura and I began to break up, I regained my confidence. Which leads me to…

3. Don’t quite the day job. Or in my case, don’t give up the freelance writing and journalism because you’re suddenly under the impression you’re the next Norman Mailer. What you must constantly remind yourself is that even a world renowned writer like Mailer was broke half the time. When I published As Catch Can and the follow up, Godchild, I assumed I’d never have to write another stitch of journalism again; that I could place all my literary eggs into one basket. Turns out, had I kept my foot in the freelance writing door, I might have saved my marriage and my home by maintaining at least a semblance of income. Luckily, I was able to make a return to journalism but only after the domestic damage was done. Which leads me to…

4. Learn to weather the storms and know when to move on with your life. Said another way, learn how to swallow you pride. It’s a tough thing losing everything you have worked so hard for in life, from your publisher to your wife to your home. But to have it all happen at once, well, that’s enough to break even the strongest man for good. But this is the life we live as writers and novelists. This is the life we have chosen. While in many ways I would stop at nothing to have my wife back, I know I am powerless to do anything about it other than write the best I can, and do so consistently and without prejudice; without concern for what the publishing market is currently bearing. Which leads me to…

5. The publishing market is undergoing severe and rapid change. Traditional commercial publishers are dying. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. What’s replacing them are electronically based, independent houses that although utilizing the traditional publishing model of accepting a manuscript based upon its merits as a work of art, now publish the manuscripts in both electronic and POD format. Yes, the independent bookstores will hate you for it, and even turn up their noses at you. But 90% of all book buyers are making their purchases online. Many of them are doing so via Kindle, I-Phone, BlackBerry, and other electronic means. It’s the new world publishing model of social media, virtual tours, book trailers, blog talk radio, mommy blogs, etc., and it is here to stay. More then likely, it will give over to an influx of self-published material over the next few years, while big agent firms and big publishers die off.

Moonlight Falls author, Vincent Zandri, is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called “Brilliant” upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Presently he is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT). He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.

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Book Excerpt: Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri

Title: Moonlight Falls
Author: Vincent Zandri
Genre: Thriller
Paperback: 328 pages
Publisher: R.J. Buckley Publishing (Dec 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0758229208
ISBN-13: 978-0758229205

Moonlight Falls is the Albany, New York-based paranoid tale (in the Hitchcock tradition) of former APD Detective turned Private Investigator/Massage Therapist, Richard “Dick” Moonlight, who believes he might be responsible for the brutal slaying by knife of his illicit lover, the beautiful Scarlet Montana. The situation is made all the worse since Scarlet is the wife of Moonlight’s boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana.

Why does Moonlight believe he might be responsible?

He’s got a small fragment of a .22 hollow point round buried inside his brain, lodge directly up against his cerebral cortex. The result of a botched suicide attempt four years prior to the novel’s start, an operation to remove the bullt frag would be too dangerous.

But the bullet causes Moonlight lots of problems, the least of which are the occasional memory loss and his rational ability to tell right from wrong. The bullet frag also might shift at any moment, making coma and/or sudden death, a very real possibility.

Still, Moonlight has been trying to get his life together as of late.

But when Scarlet begs him to make the trip over to her house late one rainy Sunday night to issue one of his “massages,” he makes a big mistake by sleeping with her. Later, having passed out in her bed, he will be rudely awakened by a garage door opening and Jake’s unexpected and very drunken homecoming. Making his impromptu escape out a top floor window, Moonlight will seek the safety of his home.

Two hours later however, he will receive another unexpected visit from Jake Montana. This time the big Captain has sobering news to report. He’s discovered his wife’s mutilated body in her own bed. She’s been murdered and now he needs the P.I. to investigate it in association with Albany ’s “overtaxed” Special Independent Unit before I.A. pokes their nose into the affair. Moonlight takes a big step back. Is it possible he made a second trip to the Montana home-sweet-home and just has no recollection of it? Once there, did he perform a heinous crime on his part-time lover? Or is this some kind of set up by his former boss? Is it really Jake who is responsible for Scarlet’s death? Does he wish for Moonlight to cover up his involvement, seal the case before Internal Affairs starts poking their nose into the situation?

There’s another problem too.

Covering Moonlight’s palms and the pads of his fingers are numerous scratches and cuts. Are these defensive wounds? Wounds he received when Scarlet put up a struggle? Or are they offensive wounds? Wounds he couldn’t avoid when making his attack on Scarlet with a blade? The answer is not so simple since Moonlight has no idea where he acquired the wounds.

Having no choice but to take on the mission (if only to cover his own ass), Moonlight can only hope the answers to his many questions point to his former boss and not himself.

Excerpt:

Albany, New York
140 miles northeast of New York City

I’m escorted into a four-walled basement room by two suited
agents—one tall, slim and bearded, the other shorter, stockier, cleanshaven.
The space we occupy contains a one-way mirror which I know
from experience hides a tripod-mounted video camera, a sound man and several FBI agents, the identities of whom are concealed. There’s no
furniture in the room, other than a long metal table and four metal chairs. No wallpaper, no soft lamp light, no piped-in music. Just harsh white overhead light, concrete and a funny worm smell.

As I enter the room for the first time, the tall agent tells me to take a seat at the table.

“We appreciate your cooperation,” the stocky agent jumps in.

Out of the corner of my eye, I catch my reflection in the mirror.

I’m of medium height. Not tall, not short. Not too badly put together for having reached the big four-zero thanks to the cross-training routine I put myself on not long after my hospital release. Nowadays, my head is shaved. There’s a small button-sized scar behind my right earlobe in the place where the fragment of .22 caliber hollow-point penetrated
the skull. I wear a black leather jacket over black jeans and lace-up combat boots left over from my military service during the first Gulf War. My eyeglasses are rectangular and retrofitted from a pair of cheap sunglasses I picked up at a Penn Station kiosk. They make my stubblecovered face seem slightly wider than it really is. So people have told me.
Having been led to my chair, I am then asked to focus my gaze directly onto the mirror so that the video man or woman stationed on the opposite side of the glass can adjust the shooting angle and focus.

“Please say something,” requests Stocky Agent while removing his suit jacket, setting it over the back of an empty chair.

“There once was a cop from Nantucket ,” I say to break the ice.

But no one laughs.

“You get that?” the taller agent barks out to no one in particular.

“Okay to go,” comes a tinny, hidden speaker voice. “You gonna finish that poem, Mr. Moonlight?”

“Knock it off,” Stocky Agent orders. Then turns back to me.

“Before we get started, can we get you a coffee? A cappuccino? You can get one right out of the new machine upstairs.”

“Mind if I burn one?”

Tall Bearded Agent purses his lips, cocks his head in the direction of a plastic No Smoking placard to the wall.

Stocky Agent makes a sour face, shakes his head, rolls up the sleeves on his thick arms. He reaches across the heavy wood table, grabs an ashtray, and clunks it down in front of me as if it were a bedpan.

“The rule doesn’t apply down here,” he says. Then, in this deep affected voice, he adds, “Let’s get started, Mr. Moonlight. You already know the routine. For now we just want to get to the bottom of the who, what, wheres and hows of this train wreck.”

“You forgot the why,” I say, firing up a Marlboro Light. “You need to know the why to establish an entire familiarity with any given case.”

Stocky Agent does a double take, smiles. Like he knows I’m fucking with him.

“Don’t be a dick, Dick,” he says.

I guess it’s important not to take life too seriously. He laughs. I laugh. We all laugh. Ice officially broken. I exhale some smoke, sit back in my chair.

They’re right, of course. I know the drill. I know it’s the truth they’re after. The truth and almost nothing but the truth. But what they also want is my perspective—my take on the entire Scarlet Montana affair, from soup to peanuts. They want me to leave nothing out. I’ll start with my on-again/off-again love affair with my boss’s wife. Maybe from
there I’ll move on to the dead bodies, my cut-up hands, the Saratoga
Springs Russians, the Psychic Fair, the heroin, the illegal organ harvesting
operation, the exhumations, the attempts on my life, the lies, deceptions
and fuck-overs galore.

As a former fulltime Albany detective, I know that nobody sees the same thing through the same set of eyeballs. What’s important to one person might appear insignificant or useless to another. What those federal agents want right now inside the basement interview room is my most reliable version of the truth—an accurate, objective truth that
separates fact from fantasy.

Theoretically speaking.

“Ask away,” I say, just as the buzzing starts up in the core of my head.

“Just start at the beginning,” Stocky Agent requests. “We have all night.”

Sitting up straight, I feel my right arm beginning to go numb on me. So numb I drop the lit cigarette onto the table. The inside of my head chimes like a belfry. Stocky Agent is staring at me from across the table with these wide bug eyes like my skull and brains are about to pull a JFK all over him.

But then, just as soon as it all starts, the chiming and the paralysis subsides.

With a trembling hand, I manage to pick up the partially smoked cigarette, exhale a very resigned, now smokeless breath and stamp the cancer stick out.

“Everything you wanna know,” I whisper. “You want me to tell
you everything.”
“Everything you remember,” Tall Agent smiles. “If that’s at all possible.”

Stocky Agent pulls a stick of gum from a pack in his pants pocket, carefully unwraps the tin foil and folds the gum before stuffing it into his mouth.

Juicy Fruit. I can smell it from all the way across the table.

By all indicators, it’s going to be a long night.

“I think I’ll take that cappuccino after all,” I say.

For the first time since entering the interview room, I feel the
muscles in my face constricting. I know without looking that my
expression has turned into something miles away from shiny happy. I’m
dead serious.

If you would like to pick up your copy of Moonlight Falls, click here.

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Interview with Vincent Zandri, author of Moonlight Falls

Moonlight Falls’ author, Vincent Zandri, is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called “Brilliant” upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Presently he is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT). He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.  You can visit his website at www.vincentzandri.com or his blog at http://vincentzandri.blogspot.com/.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Vincent. Can you tell us what your latest book, Moonlight Falls, is all about?

Moonlight Falls is basically film noir on paper. It’s about Richard “Dick” Moonlight, suicide survivor who now must cope with a small piece of .22 caliber bullet lodged in his brain. Because it’s pressed up against his cerebral cortex he has trouble making good decisions and he suffers on occasion from short-term memory loss. In times of stress he passes out. He could suffer a major stroke or die at any moment. So time means little to him. When he makes the wrong decision to sleep with his former boss’s wife and she later turns up brutally murdered, he believes it’s possible he might have killed her and just can’t remember it.

I believe I was down in Manhattan promoting As Catch Can with my then Delacorte editor, Jacob Hoye (now MTV Books), when I came across a story about a man who survived a suicide attempt and lived with a piece of bullet shrapnel still stuck in his brain. At the time I was also influenced by a self-stabbing suicide art exhibit that I caught in a Soho gallery by the artist infamous artist Damien Hirst. I’ve also been fascinated with a rarely spoken about story from my family history in which my paternal grandfather committed suicide by slicing his neck open with a straight razor in front of his grown children.

Q: Is this your first novel?  If not, how has writing this novel different from writing your first?

Moonlight Falls is my fourth published novel, although I’ve written or am in the process of completing four others. Plus numerous starts and stops. My first novel length effort, Permanence, was a literary effort based on my most anthologized short story. The next novel, As Catch Can, was a huge commercial effort and it generated a lot of money. MF is more literary in style, with several POVs and time shifts. It’s definitely more small lit press oriented.

Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri (click on cover to purchase at Amazon)

Q: How difficult was it writing your book?  Did you ever experience writer’s block and, if so, what did you do?

This one went through many transformations, depending upon what agent was repping it at the time. Everyone injected their two cents. In the end, I stripped it to the book I originally envisioned and that’s the one that got published.

Q: How have your fans embraced your latest novel?  Do you have any funny or unusual experiences to share?

So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive. The novel has also generated some movie interest from Heyday Productions who produce the Harry Potter movies. Because my main character is named Dick, my dad, many people have asked me if he’s based on my dad, who also goes by that name.

Q: What is your daily writing routine?

Up by 7:00AM, make the coffee, drink it while putting in a couple of hours in my writing studio, which is also my bedroom. Then I head outside to run 3 or 4 miles. Then off to the gym for some weight training. After lunch, I write all afternoon, until it’s time to rehearse with my band. Then I like to head out for a drink and dinner. When I’m on assignment like I was this past June in Africa (http://rt.com/About_Us/Blogs/Embedded_in_Africa/2009-06-05.html) where I covered the work a hospital ship is doing there off the coast of Benin, the writing and exploring can be non-stop.

Q: When you put the pen or mouse down, what do you do to relax?

Run, lift weights, eat, drink, travel, walk, fly fish, hike, play drums in my punk band, The Blisterz, read, think, play with my kids, spend time with my girlfriend, the New York artist, Gina Occhiogrosso.

Q: What book changed your life?

Tough to narrow it down to one. Max Frisch’s Homo Faber would have to be the one book that stuck with me as an existential body  of work written sparely, without sentimentality. I wanted to convey that in my noir.

Q: If someone were to write a book on your life, what would the title be?

Vincent Zandri: A Life Story/PART I

Q: Finish this sentence: “The one thing that I wish people would understand about me is…”

I’m not nearly as crazy as I look!

Thank you for this interview, Vincent.  I wish you much success!

Vincent Zandri is on virtual book tour throughout February and March 2010.  If you’d like to visit his official tour page, click here!

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Announcing thriller author Vincent Zandri’s Moonlight Falls Virtual Book Tour February & March 2010

Join Vincent Zandri, author of the thriller novel, Moonlight Falls (R.J. Buckley Publishing), as he virtually tours the blogosphere in February and March on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion!

Vincent Zandri

About Vincent Zandri

Vincent Zandri is an award-winning novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called “Brilliant” upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Other novels include Godchild (Bantam/Dell) and Permanence (NPI). Translated into several languages including Japanese and the Dutch, Zandri’s novels have also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Moonlight Falls is his fourth novel. He is the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for RT ( Russia Today TV) which have been syndicated and translated in several different languages throughout the world. He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia, Globalspec and more. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine. He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thrillerl. Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz. You can visit his website at www.vincentzandri.com or his blog at www.vincentzandri.blogspot.com.

Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri (click on cover to purchase)

About Moonlight Falls

Moonlight Falls is the Albany, New York-based paranoid tale (in the Hitchcock tradition) of former APD Detective turned Private Investigator/Massage Therapist, Richard “Dick” Moonlight, who believes he might be responsible for the brutal slaying by knife of his illicit lover, the beautiful Scarlet Montana. The situation is made all the worse since Scarlet is the wife of Moonlight’s boss, Chief of Detectives Jake Montana.

Why does Moonlight believe he might be responsible?

He’s got a small fragment of a .22 hollow point round buried inside his brain, lodge directly up against his cerebral cortex. The result of a botched suicide attempt four years prior to the novel’s start, an operation to remove the bullt frag would be too dangerous.

But the bullet causes Moonlight lots of problems, the least of which are the occasional memory loss and his rational ability to tell right from wrong. The bullet frag also might shift at any moment, making coma and/or sudden death, a very real possibility.

Still, Moonlight has been trying to get his life together as of late.

But when Scarlet begs him to make the trip over to her house late one rainy Sunday night to issue one of his “massages,” he makes a big mistake by sleeping with her. Later, having passed out in her bed, he will be rudely awakened by a garage door opening and Jake’s unexpected and very drunken homecoming. Making his impromptu escape out a top floor window, Moonlight will seek the safety of his home.

Two hours later however, he will receive another unexpected visit from Jake Montana. This time the big Captain has sobering news to report. He’s discovered his wife’s mutilated body in her own bed. She’s been murdered and now he needs the P.I. to investigate it in association with Albany ‘s “overtaxed” Special Independent Unit before I.A. pokes their nose into the affair. Moonlight takes a big step back. Is it possible he made a second trip to the Montana home-sweet-home and just has no recollection of it? Once there, did he perform a heinous crime on his part-time lover? Or is this some kind of set up by his former boss? Is it really Jake who is responsible for Scarlet’s death? Does he wish for Moonlight to cover up his involvement, seal the case before Internal Affairs starts poking their nose into the situation?

There’s another problem too.

Covering Moonlight’s palms and the pads of his fingers are numerous scratches and cuts. Are these defensive wounds? Wounds he received when Scarlet put up a struggle? Or are they offensive wounds? Wounds he couldn’t avoid when making his attack on Scarlet with a blade? The answer is not so simple since Moonlight has no idea where he acquired the wounds.

Having no choice but to take on the mission (if only to cover his own ass), Moonlight can only hope the answers to his many questions point to his former boss and not himself.

Read the Excerpt!

Albany, New York
140 miles northeast of New York City
I’m escorted into a four-walled basement room by two suited
agents—one tall, slim and bearded, the other shorter, stockier, cleanshaven.
The space we occupy contains a one-way mirror which I know
from experience hides a tripod-mounted video camera, a sound man and
several FBI agents, the identities of whom are concealed. There’s no
furniture in the room, other than a long metal table and four metal
chairs. No wallpaper, no soft lamp light, no piped-in music. Just harsh
white overhead light, concrete and a funny worm smell.
As I enter the room for the first time, the tall agent tells me to
take a seat at the table.
“We appreciate your cooperation,” the stocky agent jumps in.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch my reflection in the mirror.
I’m of medium height. Not tall, not short. Not too badly put
together for having reached the big four-zero thanks to the cross-training
routine I put myself on not long after my hospital release. Nowadays, my
head is shaved. There’s a small button-sized scar behind my right earlobe
in the place where the fragment of .22 caliber hollow-point penetrated
the skull. I wear a black leather jacket over black jeans and lace-up
combat boots left over from my military service during the first Gulf
War. My eyeglasses are rectangular and retrofitted from a pair of cheap
sunglasses I picked up at a Penn Station kiosk. They make my stubblecovered
face seem slightly wider than it really is. So people have told me.
Having been led to my chair, I am then asked to focus my gaze
directly onto the mirror so that the video man or woman stationed on
the opposite side of the glass can adjust the shooting angle and focus.
“Please say something,” requests Stocky Agent while removing
his suit jacket, setting it over the back of an empty chair.
“There once was a cop from Nantucket ,” I say to break the ice.
But no one laughs.
“You get that?” the taller agent barks out to no one in particular.
“Okay to go,” comes a tinny, hidden speaker voice. “You gonna
finish that poem, Mr. Moonlight?”
“Knock it off,” Stocky Agent orders. Then turns back to me.
“Before we get started, can we get you a coffee? A cappuccino? You can
get one right out of the new machine upstairs.”
“Mind if I burn one?”
Tall Bearded Agent purses his lips, cocks his head in the
direction of a plastic No Smoking placard to the wall.
Stocky Agent makes a sour face, shakes his head, rolls up the
sleeves on his thick arms. He reaches across the heavy wood table, grabs
an ashtray, and clunks it down in front of me as if it were a bedpan.
“The rule doesn’t apply down here,” he says. Then, in this deep
affected voice, he adds, “Let’s get started, Mr. Moonlight. You already
know the routine. For now we just want to get to the bottom of the who,
what, wheres and hows of this train wreck.”
“You forgot the why,” I say, firing up a Marlboro Light. “You
need to know the why to establish an entire familiarity with any given
case.”
Stocky Agent does a double take, smiles. Like he knows I’m
fucking with him.
“Don’t be a dick, Dick,” he says.
I guess it’s important not to take life too seriously. He laughs. I
laugh. We all laugh. Ice officially broken. I exhale some smoke, sit back
in my chair.
They’re right, of course. I know the drill. I know it’s the truth
they’re after. The truth and almost nothing but the truth. But what they
also want is my perspective—my take on the entire Scarlet Montana
affair, from soup to peanuts. They want me to leave nothing out. I’ll start
with my on-again/off-again love affair with my boss’s wife. Maybe from
there I’ll move on to the dead bodies, my cut-up hands, the Saratoga
Springs Russians, the Psychic Fair, the heroin, the illegal organ harvesting
operation, the exhumations, the attempts on my life, the lies, deceptions
and fuck-overs galore.
As a former fulltime Albany detective, I know that nobody sees
the same thing through the same set of eyeballs. What’s important to one
person might appear insignificant or useless to another. What those
federal agents want right now inside the basement interview room is my
most reliable version of the truth—an accurate, objective truth that
separates fact from fantasy.
Theoretically speaking.
“Ask away,” I say, just as the buzzing starts up in the core of my
head.
“Just start at the beginning,” Stocky Agent requests. “We have
all night.”
Sitting up straight, I feel my right arm beginning to go numb on
me. So numb I drop the lit cigarette onto the table. The inside of my
head chimes like a belfry. Stocky Agent is staring at me from across the
table with these wide bug eyes like my skull and brains are about to pull a
JFK all over him.
But then, just as soon as it all starts, the chiming and the
paralysis subsides.
With a trembling hand, I manage to pick up the partially smoked
cigarette, exhale a very resigned, now smokeless breath and stamp the
cancer stick out.
“Everything you wanna know,” I whisper. “You want me to tell
you everything.”
“Everything you remember,” Tall Agent smiles. “If that’s at all
possible.”
Stocky Agent pulls a stick of gum from a pack in his pants
pocket, carefully unwraps the tin foil and folds the gum before stuffing it
into his mouth.
Juicy Fruit. I can smell it from all the way across the table.
By all indicators, it’s going to be a long night.
“I think I’ll take that cappuccino after all,” I say.
For the first time since entering the interview room, I feel the
muscles in my face constricting. I know without looking that my
expression has turned into something miles away from shiny happy. I’m
dead serious.

Read what critics are saying about Moonlight Falls!

“Tough, hard-boiled noir delivered with the kind of fast-paced taut action that represents the best of the genre, Vince Zandri’s Moonlight Falls gives us the kind of protagonist series are built on. “Get your protagonist up a tree and throw rocks at him” is advice given to novelists from Day One: Zandri’s character Richard Moonlight isn’t up a tree; he’s up a Sequoia and those aren’t rocks being thrown at him—they’re boulders shot out of a cannon. It’s become a cliche to say “I couldn’t put it down,” but in this case, it applies. Not knowing if his next minute might be his last to draw breath—with a bullet fragment lodged in his brain, the artery wrapped around it prohibiting its removal—the tension builds to a fever-pitch as Moonlight is surrounded by enemies all determined to deal one of two outcomes for him—either his death or his arrest for the murder of his lover, and the journey to prove his innocence and the surprise ending will absolutely enthrall readers. Don’t begin reading this at night the day before you have to work unless you have a forgiving boss who won’t mind if you show up bleary-eyed from staying up all night to read it.”

–Les Edgerton, author of Monday’s Meal and the writing text, Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go.

Vincent Zandri’s MOONLIGHT FALLS VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ‘10 will officially begin on February 1st and end on March 26th. Please contact Dorothy Thompson at thewriterslife@yahoo.com if you are interested in hosting and/or reviewing his book during his virtual book tour. Thank you!

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