Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Day 11/29/16

Got up at 4:30 and after joining the living, got about 350 words typed out on the new novel. I'm getting in a second session and hopefully pushing the word count for the day to 1,000.

Also got in a workout when I came home from the day job. Kettlebells, chin-ups, push-ups. Kept it basic with little rest between exercises.

Just about to finish reading Stephen Hunter's Dirty White boys. I'm at around 20 books out of the 25 I pledged to read this year. Not sure if I'll make it, but this is the most books I've read in a year in some time.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Day's Writing - October 30, 2016

The current novel is getting off the ground. I'm about five thousand words in and it's taking shape nicely. I don't have an outline, just some notes and a good idea of where I want to go with it.

This one will be a straight thriller. No zombies or monsters this time. It'll still be plenty gruesome in spots.

Watched the Bills get owned by the Patriots today. At least the Sabres got a win, so it wasn't a total loss for Buffalo sports today.

We rented The Infiltrator with Brian Cranston. Very good, solid movie. Also finally caught Dog Soldiers on Friday with my son. We had a father/son horror movie night, which we do from time to time.

Also, Kingdom of the Dead is now available in paperback and all electronic venues (Kindle, Kobo, B&N, etc.).

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Kingdom of the Dead Now Available

Kingdom of the Dead, my latest novel, is now available. It's live on Amazon and Kobo. Other e-reader sites will follow. The paperback is also available at this time.

The world has died. The dead walk the earth.

Fifteen-year-old David is taking shelter in abandoned building when he hears the dead outside. After a close call, he's rescued by men on horseback carrying homemade spears and knives. David discovers his part of the world has been divided into  Five Territories. 

The very existence of the Territories is at stake, as a massive horde of the dead draws near. David discovers the Territories are a treacherous place. The dead aren't the only things that are dangerous. Deception and a hunger for power rule the Territories.

David and the remaining survivors in the Territories must find a way to battle the dead and the living alike.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Excerpt of the Week - Forgotten

Here's this week's excerpt from my novel, Forgotten. Description below:

For as long as anyone can remember, The Dwellers have lived on the mountain near Forgotten. After remaining dormant for years, they've returned. Hungry. Demanding sacrifice. 

The locals have their eye on unsuspecting travelers, intent on sacrificing them to the Dwellers. As visitors to the town discover, Forgotten is not kind to strangers. 

Three groups of travelers are in for a hellish visit to Forgotten. A father's teenage son disappears on the mountain. A pair of vacationers are ambushed on the road outside town. A private investigator delves into the disappearance of a college student, only to become trapped in a nightmare scenario. 

Forgotten. Plenty come to visit. Not everyone leaves.

Copyright Anthony Izzo


Griggs had gotten the call from dispatch: report of a possible intruder on Pine Top Road, please investigate. Apparently someone's dog had started going crazy and the owner had seen someone out by their shed.
He'd been Sheriff in the town of Forgotten for fifteen years and calls like this were far and few between. It was mostly peaceful. They got a lot of tourists who came to get a taste of Big Sky Country and the mountain air, but there was little crime.
He pulled the Crown Vic up to the house, a brick ranch with white trim around the windows. It was the beginning of October, and the owner had placed a trio of pumpkins and a dried cornstalk on their porch.
Griggs radioed that he was on the scene and got out of the cruiser.  Once at the front door, he rang the bell and a middle-aged couple in matching white robes opened the door. The man was balding and his belly strained the belt on the robe. The woman was pretty, even though she had some crow's feet around her eyes.
“Officer, we're glad you're here,” the man said.
“It's Sheriff. We got the complaint about an intruder?”
“Yes, come in.”
Griggs stepped into the living room, where a girl of about nine slept on the couch.
“You're Mr. Hardin?” Griggs asked.
“Eric. This is my wife Theresa.”
Theresa said, “Shadow, our German Shepherd, started going nuts. I had just let him out. When I went to see what he was barking about, I saw a large man in the woods.”
“What happened after you saw him?”
“He slipped back into the woods.”
“Okay. Stay here and I'll go investigate.”
Shadow came bounding into the room, gave a hearty bark, and sat at Theresa's feet. His ears went back and he began to whine. The Shepherd attempted to bury it's head in Theresa's leg. Some watch dog. Something must have spooked him.
“Is he normally timid?” Griggs asked.
Eric said, “Usually he's fearless. Something got him scared.”
“All right. Where did you see the intruder exactly?”
“Out by the shed. Back of the property,” Eric said.
“Stay here. I'll go around and have a look,” Griggs said, taking a flashlight from his belt.
He rounded the house and started down the driveway. The rotten-sweet smell of garbage came from trash cans left by the side of the house. A girl's bike with tassels on the handlebar grips had been left on its side.
The yard contained a patio near a sliding glass door. Nearby, a table and chairs had been wrapped in a blue tarp, stored for the winter. He saw the shed, its white siding illuminated in the moonlight.
He shined his light on the shed and then the woods beyond. The breeze picked up, causing the pines to sway. Something tipped over and made a banging noise. He shined the light and saw that a spade had fallen over.
Moving forward, he swept the light back and forth. He kept his other hand on the Glock. The old-timers in town, the men that hung around the diner and drank endless cups of coffee, spoke of strange things happening up in the mountains. Some of them he believed. Some he didn't.  No doubt these stories fed the imagination of Forgotten's residents.
He drew closer to the shed and was beginning to think the dog had been barking at shadows.
A pile of pressure-treated lumber lay on the ground behind the shed. He checked the ground and saw no footprints.  The shed had two front windows and he peered in the nearest one. After determining there was no intruder in the shed, Griggs was ready to head back to the house.
A branch snapped, sounding like a whip-crack. It had come from the woods.
He crept to the edge of the woods and shined the light. The beam only went so far before it was devoured by the shadows.
“Police. Come out,” he said, drawing his Glock. He'd only fired it on the range. Firing on a person was completely different.
Another branch snapped, this one sounding like a gunshot.
Something walked between two trees. Its head brushed a branch that had to be seven feet off the ground.  His heartbeat began to pick up and he took a deep breath to steady himself.  A huge rock or club hung from one hand. The head was malformed, as if someone had squished a piece of clay into a nightmarish form.
“Police,” he said, but the giant paid him no attention and bounded into the woods, branches crackling as it went. The legends spun in diners just might be true.
He backed away from the woods, sweeping the Glock back and forth in case the intruder returned. It wasn't until he got within ten yards of the house that he turned his back on the woods.
He leaned against the side of the house and let out a huge breath. If he told the family what he'd seen, they'd never believe it; something less-than-human lurking in the woods.
Once his hands stopped shaking, he holstered the Glock. Then he went to the front door and rang the bell.
Eric came to the door, his face hopeful. The bathrobe had come open, revealing coarse black chest hair.
“Find anything?” Eric asked.
“Just some broken branches. I think your culprit was probably a deer.”
Eric let out a huge sigh. “Thank you. We were so startled we brought our daughter to sleep downstairs. Shadow never gets upset and when he did, it spooked us. I'm sorry we wasted your time.”
“All part of my job,” Griggs said. “Call if there's any other trouble.”

Available for Kindle, Kobo and Nook.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

World on Fire. The Gray Men, Book Three.

I uploaded World on Fire (The Gray Men, Book Three) for Kindle this morning. It's $4.99. Should be on sale later today. After having some fits with formatting the chapters, I got it to work.

Storm Rising, the first book in the trilogy, is just $2.99.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

SNAFU-Future Warfare- Get Your Military Sci-Fi Fix

My short story "Outpost" is in the "SNAFU: Future Warfare" anthology. If you like movies like Aliens and Starship Troopers, the stories in "Future Warfare" are written in that tradition. This is a great series if you like military, action-oriented horror. There are other volumes available, as well. All of them contain some cool stories by some excellent writers. Check it out if you please.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Writing on the Go: What Can You Do With Ten Minutes?

I've been typing in pages from my writing notebook to the computer for the past week or so. Often, I'll start a scene while on break at work in my notebook and type it later that night, finishing it up. Much of my writing is done in short bursts, and as I've said before on this blog, it adds up. So if you only have ten minutes, what writing/publishing activities can you do?

1. Make notes for your next few scenes.

2. Write the first quarter/half of a scene or chapter.

3. Jot down some ideas for your next book/story.

4. Research potential markets for your fiction. Study a successful author whose work is similar to yours (What things are they doing right?).

5. Make some rough notes for a future blog post.

6. Share some content on social media (interesting articles, helpful advice, etc.)

7. Share something on social media channels about your work in progress. Give people a glimpse of your writing process.

8. Read an article on the writing craft.

9. Read/comment on a blog you enjoy.

10. Write a quick review of a book you enjoyed. Give the author a shout out on Twitter, FB, etc.

11. Read a chapter in a book (reading is part of being a writer).

I sometimes catch myself in those spare minutes mindlessly searching FB, Instagram, etc. when I could be writing or doing something to increase visibility and connect with people. These are just a few ideas on how to maximize your time.

Monday, July 04, 2016

The Fifteen Minute Fix - Finding Time to Write

I get asked often how I find time to write. I've written thirteen novels, some novellas, and the occasional short story over the past twelve years. Like most of us, I work a day job and have family and other commitments.

So between work, family, running errands, and all the other things life throws at you, how can you find time to write?

Take advantage of short writing sessions. Writing sessions don't have to be marathons. Sprints are just fine. Lunch and work breaks are great. Waiting for the doctor is another prime opportunity to write. You can stay up fifteen minutes later or get up fifteen minutes earlier. Skip that half hour television show.

To make your writing sessions more efficient, I recommend using a timer. I like fast, fifteen minute sessions. You can do a bunch of these in a row, or spread them throughout the day. The one rule is you write while the timer is going. No web surfing, no distractions. Do nothing else but write while the clock is ticking.

I think you'll surprise yourself with how much you can get done. I know I did. Here are some word counts from two timed sessions (15 minutes each):

Session one: 488 words
Session two: 600 words

That's four pages of manuscript (averaging 250 words per page) in a half hour's time. And the writing will add up. Before you know it, that first draft will be complete.

There's always a way to get writing done.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Happy Fourth of July

I got in my two weekend writing sessions. I try and do two sessions between Saturday and Sunday morning. I get up between 6-6:30 a.m. to write, which is sleeping in for me. I get up at 4:30 for work during the week.

Getting up early on the weekend allows me to get writing done while my family sleeps. I've always been more of a morning person. My wife will agree that I'm probably too damned cheerful in the morning.

I'm at around 45,000 words on Kingdom of the Dead. This is between what I have on the computer an what's still in my writing notebook. Hoping to have it done by the end of summer.

Also been trying to whip my old ass into shape. My wife and I have been walking a lot. Getting in 2-3 weight workouts per week, in addition.

I've been checking out this guy's website lately(found him through YouTube), and there's a ton of great, no-BS fitness information on there. His name is Radu Antoniu. Here's the link.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Excerpt from Kingdom of the Dead

Thought I'd share an excerpt from my zombie WIP. It's rough copy, unedited.

Copyright 2016 Anthony Izzo

Frank Harding snapped awake.
He had been dreaming of Ashley, of the last time they had made love before things changed. The warm summer breeze had blown through the open window. She had smelled of fresh sweat and vanilla, her breasts soft in his hands as she rode him to climax. After, they had curled up, her head on his chest. He liked to nuzzle her curly chestnut hair.
How he missed her. It had been the last summer before the world died.
Currently, he was curled up behind the counter of an abandoned drug store, a wool blanket wrapped around him. He had caught a few hours sleep and managed to keep himself out of sight.
It had been quiet.
He was somewhere in what remained of Chicago. The Windy City. All the wind brought now was the smell of rotting bodies, spoiled food, garbage, and burning metal.
He got to his feet. The pharmacy counter stood on a platform. It gave him a good vantage point.
The store was empty, save for a few cans of Ensure rolling around on the floor.
He patted the .357 that rested in a holster on his hip. Then he picked up the scoped M-4 rifle that had become his main traveling companion. In addition to the guns, he carried a machete tucked in a side pocket on his pack. It came in handy for chopping branches and busting rotter’s skulls. Their bones got soft after a while. Not enough Vitamin D in the diet.
His stomach growled. It seemed safe to take some time to eat. He went to the end of the counter, where he’d fastened a trip wire tied to some empty soup cans. It was an alarm meant to give him a few seconds’ warning.
He picked up the cans, wound the string around them, and placed them in his pack.
While he had the pack open, he dug out some dried apricots and popped them in his mouth. What he would give for a strip steak from Russell’s Steaks and Chops. That had been the last place he’d taken Ashley for dinner. She’d eaten her entrée and half of his steak. He didn’t mind.
He chewed the apricots while sitting on his haunches and listening for approaching intruders. A breeze whistled outside. An empty milk jug rolled down the street.
Frank had volunteered to come out here. There were reports of hordes of the dead growing and moving east. His people wanted to be prepared, so Frank volunteered to take one of the scouting missions.
It wasn’t too bad out here, minus the zombies trying to chew your face off. The Territories grew boring after a while. He’d frequented brothels, as it hadn’t taken long for them to crop up, even during the end of the world. The women there made him feel good, did things that would make some people blush. But he always returned to an empty house. He’d moved into the abandoned dwelling, the owners gone or dead.
The people in charge liked that he was a soldier. Or had been. Fought in the Syrian conflict and the Second Great War. He was a good shot and liked to think he could manage not to get killed out here.
When his snack was gone, he rolled up his sleeping bag, tethered it to his pack, and shouldered the whole thing. At the front window, he watched the street.
A sleek, gray rat skittered past. It stopped and sniffed the air.
From behind a burned-out Pontiac across the street stepped a zombie. It burst into the street, lunged, and snatched up the rat. The Z bit down on the rat and tore away a hunk, the rat screeching.
They were getting desperate for flesh. The Z took a few more bites before tossing the rat’s carcass aside.
The zombie looked up and saw Frank in the window.
He’d have to be quick. He shouldered the rifle, then reached back and grabbed the machete from the pack. He stepped outside and the zombie came at him.
Frank swung the machete and buried the blade in the zombie’s skull. Momentum carried the dead thing forward, shoving Frank back into the window.
The Z’s jaws worked up and down, teeth clacking. Blackish fluid dripped down its forehead.
Frank had heavy gloves and forearm pads on to protect against a bite. He grabbed the Z’s chin with one hand. With the other he grabbed the top of its head. He twisted, bone cracking as the head turned and nearly separated. The zombie twitched and he managed to knock it to the ground.
When the zombie was on the ground, he stomped the skull into jelly and took back his machete.
“Damned messy, that one,” he said.
He wiped the machete on the zombie’s tattered pants. Then he returned it to the sheath on the pack.
There could be more of them around, and his kill might have attracted unwanted attention.  Frank hurried down the street, scoping out buildings, hoping to find a tall one where he could get the lay of the land.
He spotted a ten-story building that housed a deli and a shoe repair shop at street level. Like many of the buildings, the windows at ground level were smashed out.
After removing the rifle from his shoulder, Frank went to the door. He opened it and peered into the dim interior.
When nothing jumped at him, he slipped into a lobby, the deli to the right and the shoe shop to the left.
A sign on the wall advertised various businesses on the upper floors: attorneys, insurance agencies, financial planners.
He spotted a door marked stairs, visible in the low light coming from the street windows. He took a flashlight from his pack, wary of using up batteries. But he was going up a dark stairwell, and a fall out here could be fatal, even if the initial impact didn’t kill you.
Frank eased the stairwell door open and it gave a terrific squeal. Hopefully that didn’t alert every Z for blocks around. A musty, old smell wafted out.
After shining the light end and finding the stairs unoccupied, he climbed, making it to the fifth floor. A heap of desks, office chairs, and filing cabinets blocked his progress. It appeared someone on the upper floors had made a barricade as part of a desperate last stand.
He entered the fifth floor, where the stink of rotting flesh hit him. He shined the light and found the source: a dead woman in a gray skirt and matching blazer sat in an office chair. A .38 revolver lay on the ground at her feet. She had a blackish exit wound on her temple. Nearby was a dead Z. Dead as they could get, anyway. The back of its skull was blown out.
He’d have to live with the stench. At the window, he set down his pack and took out a set of binoculars. He had a good view down the boulevard. In the distance, he saw the hot glow of a fire. Thick smoke rose into the air.
He wanted to find out what was burning.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

The Day's Writing - June 8, 2016

Skipped the 4:30 writing session this morning. I was up until 11:00 last night so I opted to sleep until five.

Did around 488 words in 15 minutes right after dinner. Just finished another 600 in a second session.

Kingdom of the Dead is coming along at 29,000 or so words.

I'm doing a final read through of Darkness Coming (Gray Men, Book Two) on the Kindle previewer. It should be up for sale this weekend.

Planning on watching Deadpool this weekend with my son. He saw it at a buddy's house and wants to watch it again. I'm looking forward to seeing it. Also think it's cool my teenage son wants to hang and watch a movie with me.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

4:30 and Getting Shit Done

I've started getting up earlier (4:30 a.m.) to work on creative pursuits. And sometimes to get in my workouts.

I like working at that hour. The family is sleeping. The house is quiet. I can usually get some pages written, start a sketch, or both.

This morning I wrote a few pages in the Moleskine notebook that I'm using for Kingdom of the Dead. Then I headed to the basement for a circuit workout (push-ups, bodyweight squats, etc.)

Also working on a sketch of a Templar Knight and dragon. Trying to make some art every day. Good for the soul and all that.

I'm currently reading Chuck Wending's Mockingbird.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Short Writing Sessions and New Book Covers

I've been working in multiple, shorter writing sessions to get the work done lately. They look something like this:

4:30 a.m. (before work) 300-500 words
Break time at work 150 words
Evening (after supper) another 300-500 words

There's always a way to get writing done.

Books Two (Darkness Coming) and Three (World on Fire) of the Gray Men Trilogy are being proofread. Here's the covers I worked up for them:

Saturday, April 02, 2016

How I Edit

Back when I sold my first three books to Kensington, all the editing was done on paper. I remember receiving my manuscript in the mail loaded with copyeditor's marks.

At that time (and up until recently), I printed all my manuscripts and edited them on paper.

The process has changed. I edit everything in Word, and recently started using Track Changes. It has the advantage of being able to add notes and questions as you edit.

My current editing routine involves:

Writing a chapter number down.

Writing down the first line of that chapter (so I can use the "Find" feature to quickly go there).
Jotting notes about each scene under the chapter name.

Making any notes regarding things that need to be addressed.

As I'm going, I clean up typos, inconsistencies, grammar, etc.

I shift and/or delete scenes as needed.  I don't write a second, third, fourth draft, etc.

I've also taken to writing notes as I draft the story, taking note of character names, weapons, what vehicles they're driving, etc.

When I write my first draft, I circle back to the previous day's writing and clean up the writing. I find this makes for less editing later on.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Gray Men Books 2 & 3 Cover Reveals

I finally came up with titles for the second and third Gray Men Books. I also designed the covers. Here's a look:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

What Are You Waiting For? - Thoughts on the Creative Life

I got thinking about the nature of doing creative work (music, art, writing, etc.) and wonder why people just don't get to doing what they love.

Sure, there are excuses. Lack of time. Lack of energy. People will think it's stupid or that you suck.

People ask me how I find time to write novels. You just have to make time. Even if it's fifteen minutes a day (this applies to drawing or playing guitar, or whatever it is you like to do).

Another common complaint: There's no money in it. So what? Creating art is important. Along with my family, creating shit keeps me sane. And eventually you might make some money at it, so why not do it?

Just start.

Get up earlier and paint.

Stay up a half hour later and write a few pages.

Bargain with your partner/spouse for some time. They go to the gym for an hour. You get an hour to work on your music.

Write on your lunch hour.

Get to it. If not now, when?

Not when you retire. Not when you have more free time (you won't, trust me). Now.

What are you waiting for?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Work on The Gray Men, Sabres Visit

I'm continuing the edits on book three of the Gray Men Trilogy, Star Wars mug filled with coffee. Somehow writing seems easier and better with a Star Wars mug at hand. Maybe it's a security blanket thing.

I recently started using the Track Changes feature in MS Word. Don't know why I never thought of this before. It's nice for adding notes to the manuscript. I guess I've been old school, using a notebook to remind myself of things I need to edit, double-check, etc.

We spent a wonderful day at the Sabres-Hurricanes game yesterday. My son is participating in a Make-a-Wish promo with Sabres' goalie Chad Johnson. Chad was gracious enough to join my wife and son for lunch the other day after the promo shoot. He also gave us tickets to yesterday's game. After the game, we went down in the locker room to see Chad. My son also got to meet Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart, who were funny, friendly, and seemed to be genuinely enjoying visiting with fans.  Nice to see athletes taking the time to interact with their fans.

I guess if there's a lesson in here for writers, it's always treat your fans with respect. I've had a small amount of notoriety in the Buffalo area due to my books. I'm always grateful when a reader says they loved one of my books. And honestly, it keeps me going. If no one ever bought another copy of my books, I'd still keep writing for fun, but it's nice to hear sometimes that you aren't playing to an empty room.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Adversity and the Writer

Until this morning, I didn't get much writing done this week. My usual goal is 750-1000 words per day. Other than a few quick sessions on my breaks at work, today was the first real writing I've done all week. Family comes first. There will be times you don't write for days at a time. Life intervenes.

One attempted writing session this week ended with me dozing in the chair, laptop open. I was just too exhausted. That happens. You can always come back to writing. It'll be there. That being said, if life isn't making you crazy, you should strive for a daily quota of words.

My wife also put things in perspective when I was whining about lack of commercial success. I'll paraphrase her:

"You're a writer. People like your books. Someone is interested in making a movie out of one. Keep writing. Who cares if you never get rich? Some rich people are assholes. Do you want to be an asshole?"

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Updates and Happenings

I'm in preliminary talks with an independent filmmaker to turn my serial killer/slasher novel, The Hollow, into a movie.

The Gray Men trilogy is nearly done. Sprinting towards the finish line.

I saw The Revenant last week. Beautiful cinematography. Tom Hardy's character stole the show for me. They could have tightened it up, as it felt about 45 minutes too long. Solid and enjoyable overall. Captured the brutality of the frontier.

Currently reading Marcus Sakey's Written in Fire.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Post Holidays and Such

Just finishing up a writing session. I'm aiming to write 750-1000 words per day in 2016. I plan to complete the next two Gray Men books and then move on to a zombie epic. I have four chapters of the zombie book written in a Moleskin notebook. I kind of think of writing like construction. When one building is nearing completion and the finishers are at work, the construction firm is pouring the foundation for the next building.

Had a good Christmas. Saw The Force Awakens twice. Picked up some cool new books on my Kindle by Jonathan Maberrry, Brian Keene, Don Winslow, and Chuck Wendig. Also got my free, 100-page preview of Joe Hill's The Fireman, which I'm really digging.

I've taken a Goodreads challenge to read at least 25 books this year. One of my goals is to spend less time fucking around on the Internet and more time writing, reading, playing guitar, and drawing. As I near my 43rd year on this earth, I'm realizing time is speeding up. My youngest son starts high school in the Fall. My oldest got his first job after graduating high school. My wife and I celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary (25 isn't far away) I've recently seen a handful of people my age get railroaded by disease and death. What's the saying? "Get busy living or get busy dying."  I'll choose the former for as long as this world allows.

Saw A Quiet Place II This Weekend

Jenn and I went for lunch yesterday, then saw A Quiet Place II at the Aurora Theater. The Aurora is a great little theater. One screen, and...