Guest Post: Vincent Zandri, author of THE SHROUD KEY



The Book Diva’s Reads is pleased to participate in another Partners In Crime blog tour and host a visit by Vincent Zandri, author of The Shroud Key. Mr. Zandri will be discussing his muse: Florence, Italy.



Synopsis:

Chase Baker is not only a true Renaissance Man, he’s a man who knows how to find trouble. A part-time resident of Florence, Italy, his resume reads like a modern day Da Vinci or Casanova. Writer, private investigator, tour guide, historian, treasure hunter, adventurer, and even archaeological sandhog, Chase is also a prolific lover. Unfortunately for him, his dangerous liaisons all too often make him the target of a jealous husband. Now, at the direct request of the Florence police, he finds himself on the trail of an archaeologist by the name of Dr. Andre Manion who’s gone missing from his teaching post at the American University. But having worked for the archaeologist several years ago as a sandhog on a secret but failed dig just outside the Great Pyramids in the Giza Plateau, Chase smells a renewed opportunity to uncover what just might be the most prized archaeological treasure in the world: The mortal remains of Jesus. But how will Chase Baker go about finding both the archaeologist and the Jesus Remains? With the help of Manion’s beautiful ex-wife, Chase will manage to secure an up-close and personal examination of the Shroud of Turin, not only to view the famous image of the crucified Christ, but to unlock the relic’s greatest secret which is none other than a map, or a key, detailing the precise location of Jesus’s body. Fans of Dan Brown, Clive Cussler and JR Rain will find The Shroud Key an irresistible adventure. 



My Muse Florence

The first time I came to Florence it was for love. At least, being in love was the plan since I was on my honeymoon with my first wife. This is back in the late 1980s when I harbored the insane idea that getting married right out of college would be the fun thing to do. Barely in our twenties (I couldn’t even grow a beard yet), we returned Stateside from the honeymoon to no money, mounting bills, and misery. I was a young writer looking for his start which no one would give me, or so it seemed at the time, and it didn’t take too long for my wife and I to realize our major mistake. She went her way and I packed up my bags, went straight on to writing school. 

The second time I came to Florence with a woman I “loved” was in the late 1990s. It was a crazy time for me then since I was trying to find out how many different ways I could piss away a $250K advance from Delacorte Press for the publication of my first big book, The Innocent (formerly titled, As Catch Can). Despite my partying like a rock star (and even playing drums in my editor’s band, Straw Dogs), the book would go on to sell a ton of copies over three editions. But the marriage, alas, would not fare so well. As much as I loved my second wife, she could not compete with the love I had for words and the nomadic writing life. We split up, but I never stopped loving her. 

The third time “love” brought me to Florence was in the late 2010s. This time the love interest was an artist and art professor from New York. It was her first time in the Renaissance city and I recall leading her by the hand down the narrow Via Faenza all the way to where the Via Zannetti ends at the Via De’ Cerretani and the Piazza Del Duomo. I asked her to close her eyes while we inched our way out into the piazza. When I told her to open them, the first thing she saw was the marvelous white and green marble of the massive cathedral. I thought she would pass out from shock. In any case, she cried real tears over the experience. I must admit, I too became choked up at her come-to-Jesus reaction. Three months later she broke off the relationship without warning. 

So when it comes to Florence and love, I guess you could say I’m three and out. Or, in the words of my publicist, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. 

I haven’t always come here for love however. I’ve been coming to Florence for a number of years now to work. Initially, it seemed like a good place to base myself back when I was writing for RT, and some other global news and trade outlets. I might travel on assignment to West Africa or Moscow, and then instead of heading back to the States and locking myself in my one bedroom apartment, I found it much nicer to work out of romantic Florence. Unlike my love life, Florence always seemed to work like a lucky charm for me when it came to my writing. 

I recall just three years ago, I was here working on some stories for RT when I got word that the then Governor of New York declared that the Empire State was going to go bankrupt in just two week’s time. It was late in the day and I’d already started on a cold beer when I quickly pitched the story to my editor out in Gorky Park. She approved it, giving me just a couple hours to research and write it. Somehow I managed to deliver the piece in just under an hour and half. That night it was the lead story in Eastern Europe. Dumb luck? Or did Florence have something to do with it?

After that experience as a freelance journalist, I kept coming back to Florence for longer and longer stays. This time as a novelist. Since 2008 I’ve managed to write at least three novels here. These include my two “Florence” thrillers, Blue Moonlight (Yes, there’s a rooftop chase scene atop the Duomo) and The Shroud Key (The main character is a writer/adventurer who lives in New York and Florence and who’s always in trouble with the ladies. . .Go figure!). Presently I’m here completing the first drafts of two new novels: Moonlight Weeps and a new stand-alone, The Breakup. I’ve been here only a week, but thus far, I’m ahead of schedule. 

If I had to put my finger on it, I really couldn’t tell you why Florence works for me as a writer. My life here isn’t all that much different from my life back in New York. I get up, make the coffee, sit down at the computer and, in the words of Papa Hemingway, “bite on the nail.” Towards noon I’ll get in a run and/or a visit to the gym. Then I’ll write until maybe five o’clock at which time I’ll head to a favorite local watering hole for a beer or two. My adopted local tavern in Florence is the Fiddler’s Elbow in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella. Like they do when I walk into my favorite bar in New York, the barflies will welcome me with a “Hey Vin!” On occasion someone will ask me if I won the war of words today. I’ll usually respond with, “I’ve won the battle, but never the war.”

So then, why do I keep coming here, year after year? Is it the coffee, the food, the wine, the way the rain-soaked stones in Piazza Della Repubblica glisten from the bright lights that shine down on them from the revolving carousel? Maybe it’s never being sick of walking past the Florence Cathedral and seeing the larger than life stone chiseled faces of Cambio and Brunelleschi, the former looking dejected in his failure to engineer a proper dome for the structure, the latter looking upwards at his crowning achievement. Perhaps it’s the way the mighty Arno makes you feel when you walk along its banks, the heavy brown-silted water making its way towards Pisa and eventually, the sea. Or maybe it’s simply the art. For Florence is a living museum. It’s all about the art. 

Sure, Florence isn’t without its faults. It’s full of mosquitoes and drunks who walk the streets in the middle of the night wailing indiscernible words to no one in particular. There are hordes of tourists especially in the summer and early fall months. It’s certainly not the cheapest place in Italy. All I know is that every time I come here, I can depend upon something good happening to my career. Two years ago I spent the much of the summer here with my son, Harrison, who is now also a writer. During our stay I got a call from my agent. He’d landed me a seven book deal with Thomas & Mercer along with a very nice advance. And just a day after I landed here last week, he sent me an email telling me he’s working on a possible movie deal for my standalone literary thriller, The Remains

So the luck continues, but not the love. Or perhaps I’m wrong about that.

You might recall the second wife I mentioned just a few paragraphs ago. The one I left but whom I still loved? She’s coming to see me for the holidays. Turns out, we’re giving our love another try. Or, in the context of this thread, we’re rewriting our story together. A small part of that story will once again take place in Florence. It’s true that this ancient city of art and inspiration will always be my writing muse. The one place I can count on for providing me with strings of sentences, paragraphs, and polished pages. But it will never take the place of finding true love. True love is where the heart is. It knows no bounds, no limits, no geography. It certainly can’t be pointed to on a map or discovered in a travel magazine. 

This time, I’m not letting go. But then, you never know. This is Florence after all.



About the author:

Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 International Bestselling Amazon author of The Innocent, Godchild, The Remains, Moonlight Falls, The Concrete Pearl, Moonlight Rises, Scream Catcher, Blue Moonlight, Murder by Moonlight, The Guilty, Moonlight Sonata, Moonlight Weeps, Full Moonlight, The Shroud Key, and more. He is also the author of the Amazon bestselling digital shorts: Pathological, True Stories, and Moonlight Mafia.

Harlan Coben has described The Innocent (formerly As Catch Can) as “. . .gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational. . .Masterful. . .Brilliant!” 

Zandri’s list of publishers include Delacorte, Dell, StoneHouse Ink, StoneGate Ink, and Thomas & Mercer. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated, or soon to be translated, into many languages including the Dutch, Russian, French, Italian, and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photo-journalist for Living Ready, RT, Globalspec, as well as several other global news agencies and publications, Zandri lives in New York and Florence, Italy. For more go to WWW.VINCENTZANDRI.COM


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GIVEAWAY: CONCRETE PEARL by Vincent Zandri

Author Vincent Zandri has graciously offered to giveaway a digital copy of Concrete Pearl as part of The Disappearance of Grace book tour. The Book Diva’s Reads will be hosting this giveaway from November 3rd through November 17th. 

The winner will be posted on Sunday, November 18, 2012. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below:



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2012 Book 215: THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GRACE Review



The Disappearance of Grace by Vincent Zandri
ASIN: B0099C5UFU (Kindle)
Publication date: September 11, 2012
Publisher: Stonehouse Ink

Now you see her. Now you don’t.

Captain Nick Angel has finally made a separate peace with the war in Afghanistan. Since having been ordered to bomb a Tajik village which resulted in the death of a little boy of no more than two, he’s been suffering from temporary bouts of blindness. Knowing the he needs time to rest and recover from his post traumatic stress, the US Army decides to send him to Venice along with his fiancee, the artist, Grace Blunt. Together they try and recapture their former life together. But when Grace suddenly goes missing, Nick not only finds himself suddenly alone and sightless in the ancient city of water, but also the number one suspect in her disappearance.

A novel that projects Hitchcockian suspense onto a backdrop of love and war, The Disappearance of Grace is a rich, literary thriller of fear, loss, love, and revenge. From the war in the Afghan mountains to the canals of romantic Venice, this is a story that proves 20/20 eyesight might not always be so perfect and seeing is not always believing.


Nick Angel is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He knows that the stress is directly related to his last mission in Afghanistan. The psychological and emotional stress is causing a physiological response, transient blindness. His stress is also causing stress on his relationship with his fiancée, Grace Blunt. Nick loves Grace and he knows that she loves him in return, but their reunion is not without its own stress . . . namely Grace’s infidelity. But they are both willing to work through the stress and place more of an emphasis on their love for one another. The stress is cranked up a few notches when a somewhat nefarious character, the man in the overcoat, seems to follow them around Venice. His constant appearance puts Grace on edge and Nick is unable to soothe her anxiety. And then Grace disappears. The police and the US Embassy don’t seem to be mounting much of an investigation as they feel that Grace probably just walked away. Nick’s off-and-on vision doesn’t help the situation. No one seems to believe Nick’s assumption that the man in the overcoat has taken Grace, except Giovanni the waiter. Who is the man in the overcoat? What do the phone calls with the repeated message “I See” really mean? Can Nick get the authorities to take him serious in time to save Grace? Will Nick’s vision ever fully return?


The Disappearance of Grace is about more than the purported abduction of Grace. Grace Blunt disappears along with Nick’s peace of mind. His peace and inner “grace” are in constant turmoil by the actions taken during his last mission in Afghanistan as much as by the disappearance of his fiancée. Given the fact he cannot rely upon his vision for prolonged periods of time, he must rely upon the kindness of strangers, such as Giovanni. The story takes a few psychological twists and turns with the “visions” Nick has while dreaming. Each vision reveals more and more about his feelings about Afghanistan and his love toward Grace. The characters and the action are very believable and there are just enough layers to the story to keep you guessing until the end.  The Disappearance of Grace is a quick read and one that I can recommend for readers that enjoy psychological thrillers.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from the author via Partners in Crime Tours. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


GUEST POST: Vincent Zandri

Libraries Get It
by Vincent Zandri
I’m week three into the re-release of five novels along with the release of two new novels: BLUE MOONLIGHT and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GRACE. The former by a major, Thomas & Mercer of Amazon Publishing and the latter from an indie, StoneHouse Ink. While the “Blue” E-Book edition, especially Kindle, is being pushed in a major way, it’s also available in paper and audio, etc. For the time being however, “Grace” is available in E-Book only. In the meantime the new editions of my five previously published novels are moving like crazy. In E-Book primarily.

You see where I’m going with this…

In the past three weeks I’ve moved more units of my novels than I did in an entire first year with Delacorte. No lie. Much of that has to do with the tremendous author support I am lucky enough to enjoy from Amazon Publishing (They are so good, they even push my independent books, if you can imagine that…), but it also has a lot to do with the changing nature of publishing. E-Books have been and are now becoming the most popular way by which we read. The mass market paperback is quickly disappearing. So is the hardcover while the trade paperback takes over the roll of both.

This leaves me in a bit of a conundrum. I find myself wanting to do some in-person promotion of my books, aside from the stuff I do at several writerly book conferences every year (I never sell many books at these things anyway since they are attended primarily by other writers and all we do is have fun eating and drinking together). But approaching brick and mortar bookstores with the prospect of a book signing in support of paper being published by their major competitor is probably a road I want to avoid. And besides, book signings are always a gamble anyway. In short, they suck.

But there are other avenues to explore. Schools, universities, and hell, even book signings at coffee shops and my favorite, the local corner gin mill. And then there’s the holy grail of book venues: the library. I have always been a fan of libraries and the fact that no matter what happens in terms of the evolutionary/de-evolutionary business/retail aspect of writing, the library will always withstand the test of time. A place to store many volumes, both ancient and new, as well as a place to share and exchange ideas. From Socrates to Stephen King, the library has always been a refuge for the intellectual, for the hopeful, the creative, the thinker, and the dreamer.

That clearly in mind, I contacted the head rep for my local library system, the Albany Public Library and asked her about setting up an event much like the one we did for Moonlight Falls back in 2010. This one would be in Dec/Jan in conjunction with yet another new Thomas & Mercer novel, MURDER BY MOONLIGHT, a fictional take on the infamous Porco axe murder case which hit New York’s Capital region some years back. She was happy to hear from me for more than one reason. I played drums in her band a while ago, and we are friends. She was delighted to set up an event for “Murder.” But just as I was about to tell her how great the trade paperback version of “Murder” looked, she said, “We’re really pushing E-Books these days.”

I must admit, I was taken a bit back. Me, the king of E-Books.

Libraries pushing E-Books…What a concept.

That said, my library event will more than likely be about the E-Book version of my brand new book and it will take place inside the hallowed halls of an institution older than even the world’s most ancient cathedral. But then, E-Books are becoming far more popular than paper and libraries recognize this. Doesn’t mean they are about to give up their paper. Just means they are adapting. Can’t say the same thing about bookstores. But something tells me they’ll get it eventually. Hopefully before it’s too late.
About the author:

Vincent Zandri is the No. 1 international bestselling Amazon author of The Innocent, Godchild, The Remains, Moonlight Falls, Concrete Pearl, Moonlight Rises, Scream Catcher, Blue Moonlight and Murder by Moonlight. He is also the author of the Amazon bestselling digital shorts: Pathological, True Stories, and Moonlight Mafia. Harlan Coben has described The Innocent (formerly As Catch Can) as “…gritty, fast-paced, lyrical and haunting,” while the New York Post called it “Sensational…Masterful…Brilliant!” Zandri’s list of publishers include Delacorte, Dell, StoneHouse Ink, StoneGate Ink, and Thomas & Mercer. An MFA in Writing graduate of Vermont College, Zandri’s work is translated into many languages including Dutch, Russian and Japanese. An adventurer, foreign correspondent, and freelance photojournalist for RT, Globalspec, IBTimes and more, he lives in Albany, New York. For more go to: http://www.vincentzandri.com

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