Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Meet John A. Hoda!

Our panelist group gets three posts this month, so I'm surrendering one of them to John Hoda, who I think my fellow panelists and the blog readers will find interesting...


My name is John A. Hoda. I am a former cop; long-time fraud investigator and I still carry a PI license in the state of Connecticut. I’ve been a storyteller all my adult life. At parties or get-togethers, I always had a story or two or three for those gathered. My writing career started with writing in industry magazines and periodicals. I am thankful to the editors who helped me polish my lumps of coal into shiny diamonds. Several awards came my way for the articles I wrote, so I was confident in my writing skills and enjoyed writing occasionally, and I am still a regular columnist with PI Magazine. 

 My story could end nicely there, but I always had this one story kicking around in my head. I had the beginning and the end, but the middle eluded me until one day my son and I were at the baseball stadium, and he brought a program. The middle was revealed to me, and I started babbling to him the bones of my story. He reminded me I never wrote fiction. He was right, but that didn’t stop me, and I set off on my writer’s journey. First, I bought a Dummies book I treated like a writer’s bible. I still refer to my faded highlights before I start my next book. Second, I had to decide on whether to go the traditional route or become an indie-author. I inhaled J. A. Konrath’s manifesto on publishing and realized that I could be my own boss as I have done with several investigation businesses over the years. I knew that writing the best damn book I could was only half the battle. 

In March 2013, Ernie Hemmingway and I had something in common. Our last names began with “H”, and we were both published authors. I had a real-life launch party complete with a cake and book reading (see above photo).

Then life got in the way.

I had a business reversal that had me scrambling. There’s something about paying the mortgage and keeping the lights on that is important. It wasn’t until 2017 that I recovered and put my retirement plans back into play. I discerned then that for the next three years I would slowly turn the business operations of Hoda Investigations, LLC, over to my son and focus on building my author’s platform. This was a six-month discernment. Following the advice of Derek Sivers from a Tim Ferriss podcast of making ‘Hell Yeah or No” decisions and with a little help from AARP’s Life Reimagined, I decided that writing brought me the most joy. I loved being an investigator, but there came a time when I knew I should hang up my spurs, and I am glad I did. Although I still have one last wrongful conviction exoneration case that I won’t let go of until we walk an innocent man out of prison for a murder in 1997 that he had nothing to do with. 

Then, I got up to speed on Joanna Penn’s podcast, The Creative Penn, and purchased her “How to Market a Book”. There are a few left of the hundred post-it notes I wrote my tasks on. I put them in step-by-step order for publishing, marketing, social media, and writing. I also planned a side hustle to help support the cost of self-pubbing. 

I also created a podcast as my main social media out-reach where I interviewed investigators, investigators who wrote both true-crime and fiction, and finally, award-winning and best-selling authors. I titled the podcast MyFavorite Detective Stories. More on that later.

I then created four non-fiction books thanks to Rekka Jay, who did the covers, formatting, illustrations, editing and proofreading. I sell these books wide in both digital and print and act as ‘books as a business card’ for my coaching business, where I coach private investigators how to survive and thrive in business at www.ThePICoach.com. The coaching sessions help offset my costs for publishing and marketing my fiction. 

There were a couple of characters in my first novel, Phantasy Baseball, It’s About a Second Chance, that I expanded in a police procedural set in Philadelphia involving the Russian gang. I had had some insurance fraud cases with them back in the mid ‘80s and never forget seeing some CCTV footage of what happened to a business owner who didn’t come up with the protection money. Odessa on the Delaware introducing FBI Agent Marsha O’Shea was released in 2019 and I then wrote three books in the Marsha O’Shea series and released them in January 2021 and followed that with a prequel novella, Liberty City Nights, which is FREE on my website, www.JohnHoda.com, and I followed it with the last book in the series, Elm City Towers, which came out in October. 

I have nearly completed the first of four books in the Gwendolyn Strong Small Town Cozy Mystery Series. Everything she learned about solving mysteries, she learned in kindergarten. 

I belong to a writers’ group in town, an online critique group, and a Mastermind Group with Frank Zafiro and Dana King. My days are now equally split with the mornings on meditation, exercise, marketing and admin, and my afternoons between writing, coaching, or podcasting. It’s a pleasant rhythm and I bounce out of bed most morning with a zeal to tackle my projects.

I had to pivot with the podcast which has over 141 episodes. I had another 32 episodes of How to Rocket Your Private Investigations Business and it was that one that I had to nuke. The cost of running the shows needed to be offset. At first, I thought about sun-setting the remaining podcast where I was almost only interviewing Crime Fiction writers, but with help from Frank and Dana, I doubled down on my brand and the incalculable capital of having created friendships in this tribe. I hope to monetize the podcasts with sponsors and am looking to relaunch in 2022. I will still ask the best-selling and award-winning writers to come on every other week and I will focus on debut Crime Fiction writers on the alternating weeks. It’s a Hell Yeah decision and I am excited about it. 

The best time of my day is when I sit down with a hot coffee and write. Several hours can go by in a blink of an eye. I try to complete a brief chapter every time I sit to write. I shoot for 1,870 words. Sometimes, I really get on a roll and the words flow like honey on a hot summer’s day. Other times, it’s just a matter of filling out my outline and get the words on the paper. I can always revise later. I know I can exercise more and market better, but I rarely miss my writing windows and I look forward to my coaching sessions and my podcast sessions. I feel I am in alignment with what I truly want to do and am thankful for the opportunity to express myself this way in my second career.

- John A. Hoda

1 comment:

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Went looking for the FREE prequel and both of my email addresses were rejected by your system.