Monday, October 22, 2007

Hearing the shouts of "Hallelujah" erupting from the DiGenti household several weeks ago you may have thought we were in the midst of an old-fashioned tent revival. In actuality, it was only me expressing my exuberance at completing WINDRUSHER AND THE TRAIL OF FIRE. I even hand-delivered it to my publisher who expressed a few hallelujahs of his own.
The plan is to have the third Windrusher installment out in late spring/early summer of 2008. The exciting news is my publisher wants to release it at the mammoth Book Expo America in Los Angeles the first weekend in June. So if you're on the West Coast, you might be able to get an early copy. I hope to do several signings while I'm out there and will keep you informed through my blog and on the Appearances page of my website.
With Windrusher behind me, I'll continue marketing my current books while taking another swipe at my mystery, MATANZAS BAY, and hopefully finding a home for it in 2008.
Speaking of marketing books, the pressure to attract audiences to books is a never-ending proposition for the vast majority of published authors. Writers with small or mid-size publishers are expected to continually promote their books with signings, talks, book tours, and conferences. Even those authors with major houses can be found on the road for a good portion of the year promoting their newest release.
It's only the top 10 percent of popular authors with large followings who can afford to enjoy the fruits of their labors without worrying about constantly flacking their books. I've heard a statistic that only about 200 authors make a living from their books. That's not very encouraging, but it keeps the dream alive for thousands of starving writers who hope to gain admittance into that exclusive club.
Most of us can only dream of seeing dozens, if not hundreds of people lining-up to have their book autographed. I've seen that phenomenon with James Patterson and former president Jimmy Carter, and it's mind-boggling. A recent NY Times story had a picture of Donald Trump arriving at a 5th Avenue Barnes & Noble where several hundred people gathered outside to greet him. At first blush, this looked like another of those phenomenons of a mega-celebrity's drawing power as he was there to autograph copies of his new book co-written with Bill Zanker, president and founder of The Learning Annex. Upon reading the story, however, we learned that The Learning Annex had placed a large ad in the paper announcing it would give away $30,000 to people in line that morning.
The plan called for the first 100 people to receive $100 bills, the next 200 would get $50, and $10 to the next 1,000 . This was certainly a unique way to call attention to a new book — but not one most authors could afford or endorse — although it wasn't clear how many people used the money to actually buy the book.
With promises you won't receive any cash from me, I still hope to see you at one of my future book events:
  • Barnes & Noble Booksellers – Saturday, October 27 at 1:00 p.m. 11112 San Jose Boulevard in Jacksonville. Book signing.
  • Florida Writers Association Annual Conference – November 9 - 11. 6th annual Florida Writers Association Conference at Coronado Springs Resort at Walt Disney World.
  • Cat Writer's Association Annual Conference – November 16 - 17 – Crowne Plaza Hotel Mid-Peninsula, Foster City, CA. Book Autograph Party Saturday at 3:00 p.m. It's open to the public.
  • Barnes & Noble Booksellers – Friday, November 30 at 5:30 p.m. Book signing. Town Center Shopping Center, Jacksonville.

Monday, September 10, 2007

A recent AP-Ipsos poll found that nearly a third of the men in this country and a quarter of the women admit to not having read a book in the past year. The typical person read about four books, and most of them were women and older folks who supposedly have more time.
This should give pause to those of us who toil at writing more books for people not to read. What it does is place more pressure on published authors to promote, promote, promote, or they may never find an audience for their books. While I do a goodly amount of promotion for my books, I've spent the last six weeks cloistered in my office trying to complete WINDRUSHER AND THE TRAIL OF FIRE.
My publisher, Ocean Publishing, plans to release it in the spring of 2008 and I've been working to get them the completed manuscript. Don't give up on me, Frank. It will be coming soon. I've seen some unexpected twists and turns arise as I've approached the end of the book. My hero will once again find the challenges before him are immense, but as usual he's able to rise to the occasion.
In the next few months, I might be able to give you more information about the book, but that will have to wait. One exciting bit of news, though, is that Andrew Robinson has agreed to do the cover art for book three. Andrew is the fantastic artist who created the cover art for the first two Windrusher books. I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with.
Now that I see some light at the end of the writing tunnel, I've scheduled a number of appearances and signing events throughout the fall. You can always check my Appearances page on my website,, but here are a few coming up soon. If you get a chance, please stop by and say hello.
  • Barnes & Noble Mandarin Signing – Thursday, September 13 at 7:00 p.m. 11112 San Jose Boulevard. B&N will donate a portion of all sales to Mandarin High School.
  • Barnes & Noble Daytona Beach Signing – Saturday, September 15 at 1PM to 4PM 1900 W International Speedway.
  • Nease High School – Tuesday, September 18 at 9:30 a.m. A trio of regional authors will speak to a school assembly of IB students about writing, books, and the publishing industry. Joining Vic is Carol O'Dell and Allen Bohl.
  • Amelia Island Book Festival – Friday, October 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Join Vic for the Writing Groups Panel at 10:30, and then again for his presentation, Let's Make a Scene, at 2:00 p.m. Check back later for specific location in downtown Fernandina Beach. Vic also hosts Books by the Beach at Sliders from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Less is more

Whoever invented the web log opened a Pandora's box on an unsuspecting world. Now every other person and their cousin have blogs (including me) and we're expected to post daily. Oh, the pressure and the guilt since I'm averaging a monthly posting not daily.

I suppose I should have my Blogger's license expunged or extracted or whatever they do to failed bloggers.

It's hard enough to concentrate on the main goal—writing, publishing and marketing my books—without the added stress of creating regular posts. Perhaps my problem is I haven't learned the proper blog style and tend to write rambling essays instead of succinct dispatches. Or perhaps, as John Lennon once said, life is what happens while you're making other plans.

And it surely does. For example, the DiGenti B&B has had a stressful month caring for an ailing cat (Satchmo has developed fatty liver disease and refuses to eat) which entailed many trips to the vet and constant worries. On top of that my mother-in-law was here for her annual month-long visit. She's a dear and really no trouble since at 92 years of age she tends to sleep nearly as much as our cats, but this was one more distraction when I rationalize why I haven't posted more.

Another welcome distraction was a visit by our son and daughter-in-law. Since they live in southern California, these visits are indeed as welcome as they are rare . On top of that I broke my toe the morning before they arrived. Not that I've visited a doctor to confirm my own diagnosis, but two weeks later it's still swollen and sore so I'm assuming it's broken. There's not much they can do for a broken toe that you can't do for yourself, so I've been limping along and taking an occasional ibuprofen. At least you would think the experience would have broken me of the habit of walking around the house barefoot. But no. I'm still at it although trying to avoid using my toe to shove large pieces of furniture around.

Throughout all this tornadic activity I've managed to write nearly everyday. This is good news for my publisher who is expecting WINDRUSHER AND THE TRAIL OF FIRE sometime this month. Take heart, I'm 2/3 complete and rapidly approaching the big climactic scene. If I could only figure out how to make all the dangling threads come together and tie it up neatly in a bow. Well, that will have to await the emergence of the magical muse when the time arises, but rest assured I won't leave poor Windrusher up a tree or buried in a cave. He will be rescued and the bad guys will get their comeuppance.

And soon I will return to MATANZAS BAY for another, and final, rewrite. The human genome was mapped in less time than I've been working on this mystery. Believe me, though, it will one day see the light of day.

In the meantime, I've managed to complete another posting and assuage my guilt for a few more days.

Adios until next time.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Only the Good Die Young

As I approach one of those milestone birthdays I've started thinking of all the stories still stuck in my skull and whether I'll ever get around to writing and publishing them. Not to depress anyone, but our time on this big, blue marble is finite and as I listened to Billy Joel's Greatest Hits album the other day I was at least encouraged by his song, Only the Good Die Young. I've already passed that "Young" marker, which probably says a lot about me as a Good person.

My mood wasn't improved by the passing of Simba a few weeks back. Simba was a big teddy
bear of a cat who totally fell in love with my wife. Believe it or not, he was a feral when we "rescued" him, had him neutered and added him to the DiGenti herd of cats. It took a while, but he soon became the neediest of them all. Simba followed Evanne around like she left tuna juice in her tracks.

If we were fixing lunch he was underfoot. When we sat on the couch to watch TV in the evening, Simba bulldozed other cats away and claimed the place of honor next to my dear wife. Not only next to her, but all over her. He'd stretch his big body out and push his head against her shoulder, burying it in her neck. And they'd stay like that while we waited for Hiro to save the cheerleader and the world.

It was the same thing when we went to bed. There was this humongous gray tabby purring away, pawing my wife. If I were a jealous man, I'd have dispatched him myself.

In the end Simba's big heart betrayed him. We found him fast asleep on the porch, or so it seemed. He had apparently passed quietly away in his sleep, probably while dreaming of my wife. I buried Simba in the backyard and a neighbor brought us a small cherub statue which now marks the site of his grave. Each time I pass that way I give the big guy a nod and swear I hear him purring in reply.

We estimate that Simba was only 6 or 7 years old, probably double the lifespan of a feral cat, but only half the average of an indoor domesticated cat. Still, he had a good life while he was with us and surely added some spice to our household.

If you're following my morbid train of thought you already know where it leads. We never know how much time is allotted to us, and to paraphrase Carl Sandburg who said "Time is the coin of your life," be careful how you spend it. Which brings me back to writing. It's so easy to be distracted from the work of writing. Sometimes when the words aren’t flowing, my mind will drift away and my eyes will track the spindly periwinkles blowing in the breeze outside my office window. Soon I’m fixated on my overgrown lawn and worried what the neighbors must think. The next thing I know I'm outside cranking up the mower.

Or I'll take a quick break from my writing to check my email. Lord knows I've only checked it twelve times already but, hey, you never know when you'll get an important message from the head of the Nigerian Bank wanting to deposit a million dollars in your account as soon as you send him the account number.

As I wrote in my column for the Spring issue of The Florida Writer, "your mind will constantly throw roadblocks in your path if you let it, so keep those blinders on and concentrate on the writing. Taking time out to nibble on chocolate now and then, of course."

That's enough time-talk for now, except for this final quote from the great philosopher, Groucho Marx who said, "Time flies like an Arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

Adios until next time.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Summer of 2007

It's been a while since I've sent out one of my E-Newsletters, and proving that even old dogs (or cats) can learn new tricks, I've decided to add a Blog to my site. This will take the place of a newsletter, and will force me to update it more frequently. You won't have to wait (as though you've been holding your breath) until you receive one of my periodic emails but can now check my website and see the latest update.

I resisted joining the blog trend since it seemed pretentious to think people were interested in reading another writer's deep, deep thoughts. Particularly since I've never been accused of having deep, deep thoughts. I still feel that way, plus the thought of adding another task to my time-challenged day bordered on the masochistic.

Change comes to all of us, though. I've been writing a monthly blog for the Florida Writers Association, and found it a handy way to communicate with writers in the NE Florida area where I'm a regional director for FWA. If you're interested in reading it, go to So using I've decided to start another for my WINDRUSHER readers and those of you who may be looking forward to my new mystery.

MATANZAS BAY is my unpublished mystery. Yes, it's still unpublished, but an exciting thing happened recently when my book was honored with the Josiah W. Bancroft, Sr. Award for best novel at the First Coast Writers Festival.

The final judge in the competition was David Poyer, a writer with 28 published novels including THE MED, THE GULF, THE THREAT, BLACK STORM and many more. So, when David Poyer plucked my book out of the stack of 85 entries and said it's the best of the bunch, I tend to think it's a big deal. David also gave me a valuable critque which sent me back to my computer for another rewrite. Then he wanted me to send it to Robert Bailey, a past winner of the compettion, author of three published mysteries, and a former private investigator. Since my protagonist is a PI, I had to agree this would be valuable.

After I receive Bob's critique, it will proably need another rewrite. Then, possibly, it will find a home with a publisher. If you're wondering what MATANZAS BAY is all about, here's the nifty one-sentence synopsis Poyer wrote after judging the manuscript: "Guilt-ridden private detective Quint Mitchell stumbles into a Chinatown-like hall of mirrors of murder, conspiracy, and land development politics in St. Augustine."

Those of you who read my second novel, WINDRUSHER AND THE CAVE OF THO-HOTH, will recognize Quint Mitchell as the PI the Trembles hire to locate Windrusher after he's catnapped from his back yard in Crystal River, Florida. Yep, Quint's got his own book now, and hopefully it's the start of a new series.

I've been promising readers another installment in the WINDRUSHER series, and now that I've completed MATANZAS BAY, at least for now, I've begun book three. My publisher, Ocean Publishing, has set a publication date of Spring 2008. That's less than a year until my wandering feline finds his way into your home.

I can't give away too much of the plot, but I'll tell you this one will be totally different from the other two, and hopefully just as entertaining. Our peripatetic cat doesn't travel too far from home, but he's faced with another unique challenge. More to come later.

On the home front, I have a few book signings scheduled for June and July, including a couple of library talks. Be sure to check the Appearances page on my website for the most current list —

Until next time, enjoy your summer, be nice to your cats, and keep reading. If you're a would-be writer, you'll enjoy these final words from novelist Lawrence Block:

“If you want to write fiction, the best thing you can do is take two aspirins, lie down in a dark room, and wait for the feeling to pass. If it persists, you probably ought to write a novel."