Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Fare Thee All Well (or Bye Bye Frankie Bye Bye)

(The One in Which Frank Zafiro Says Goodbye) 

When Jim Ziskin invited me to join this blog panel in April 2019, I gotta tell you -- I was thrilled. Like winning an award thrilled. I considered it an honor, and was happy to say yes.

Over the course of my stay, I've not only written twenty-odd posts a year but gotten a chance to know (and read) the other panelists on Criminal Minds. All of them (save newcomer Josh and hopefully we can change that at some point!) have been kind enough to come on my podcast, Wrong Place, Write Crime, so that we could have a deeper conversation about their work. What I have discovered in those discussions, a few face-to-face meetings, and our online exchanges is that these are some truly wonderful people. Talented writers (and of varying styles, too!), true, true... but most of all, cool people.

Seriously, I encourage you to follow the above link and scroll back through or search the interview archives and listen to the podcast episodes with each of them. You'll discover the tremendous personalities of each -- thoughtful introspection, humor, interesting journeys, great writing advice, it is all there.

And then, of course, read their books. If you've already done that, check to see if they've written another (some write in multiple subgenres) If there's a wait for their next one, listen to who they suggest you read instead. One thing I've learned in hosting the podcast is that one of the best places to get a good book recommendation is from another writer. We know what's good.

Given that, I unreservedly recommend all the books of the other nine Criminal Minds authors.

Read them.

Follow them.

Support them.

They deserve it, whether you want to measure that deservedness by talent, karma, or both. And here's the best part for you, dear reader -- you won't be disappointed.

Before I go, I should say why I'm leaving. I've been very happy here and proud to be a member of the group, so there's no dissatisfaction or disaffection of any kind. I've simply made some significant changes to my approach to my writing career. Increased productivity is the goal and one of the changes to allow for that has been to harness the most precious resource we have:  time. 

To this end, I have contracted considerably when it comes to outside obligations (outside being anything not directly tied to me putting words on paper or directly supporting those words). Some of the things I've carved away have intrinsic value -- this blog panel is a perfect example -- but my publishing goals have required hard decisions. For instance, I'm also scaling the podcast back to monthly episodes next season rather than weekly. And there are other time-investments as well that I've had to let go to focus on my primary mission, even though some of these things are quite enjoyable.

I equate it to the "kill your darlings" metaphor when editing. Killing your darlings is all about the goal of the story, and here it is all about very specific publishing goals I'm determined to meet as an independent author.

How ambitious? Well, my 2022 publication/release calendar includes 11 novels, 7 novellas, four short stories, an anthology of short crime fiction (editor/publisher), editing the novella anthology series A Grifter's Song, and putting together 5 box sets.

I said ambitious, didn't I? 

2023 is mapped out much the same. Thankfully, I am well ahead of the curve in the creative and editing process. And to be fair... 

  • One of the novels isn't new but a heavily revised re-issue of an existing novel, bringing it into my River City universe. And I finished it earlier this month, so it's already re-released. 
  • Three of the novels are either ready to drop already or are in revisions. 
  • Same with two of the novellas. 
  • Another one of the novellas is a re-issue of a 2021 story published by a different publisher, the first of a series that I'm continuing. 
  • All four of those short stories are already written, and the anthology is almost complete. 
  • A couple of the box sets are already out, and those projects only involve formatting and a brief introduction. 
  • And five of the seven novellas for A Grifter's Song are ready to go, with one in revisions and July's episode still outstanding. 

So I am well ahead of things. First draft-wise, I'm currently working on the second of two projects scheduled for a July release. If my pace keeps up, I'll stretch out my lead time even further by the end of the year.

Still, it is ambitious, even for an independent author who can set his own timeline. Accordingly, one of the changes I've made is a much more disciplined approach to writing new words in the morning hours and editing in the afternoon/evening. It's been extremely productive. It's also been a full-time job. Plus some. And so... I've had to make the hard decisions to be less committed elsewhere. 

Thus, among other changes, I am bidding a reluctant goodbye to Criminal Minds as a panelist. I'll still peruse the blog entries as I drink my morning coffee and wake up my brain, though. There's too much insight and humor and life lessons from these other authors not to.

And I'll see many of you at LCC or B'Con, as those are the two events I'm committed to attending each year.

So I'll be around. You can always find me at my website or on social media, or via email (all posted below). I want to thank Jim for inviting me to be on this panel and all of the other panelist for welcoming me with opens arms. I consider each of you a friend and look forward to continuing those friendships, ad infinitum.

See you all further on up the road.

FRANK Zafiro

    fscalise3@gmail.com  |      frankzafiro.com



Catriona McPherson said...

Berlimey! To your plan for productivity. Proud to be one of your dead darlings, Frank, Cx

Susan C Shea said...

Wow, that's a degree of productivity that makes me look like a real slacker! So, you recommend reading the rest of the Minds, and we recommend reading you! Thanks, Frank. And stay in touch for a guest post now and then, eh?

James W. Ziskin said...

I’ll keep this brief since, obviously, you have a lot of work to do. You were a great Criminal Mind, Frank, a damn good friend, and a fine writer. I love your books. Looking forward to seeing at Bouchercon.

Thank you for being one of us.


Josh Stallings said...

Frank you are a MONSTER in best hip hop sense of the word. I love your commitment this craft we all share. Your voice will be missed. Any time you want to do a pod cast I'm in. Look forward to seeing you at LCC.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

All the best Frank. I'll keep an eye out for your next book, and I'm sure we'll bump into each other at some event soon.

Frank Zafiro said...

Thanks for the well wishes and comments, everyone.

I'd love to do a guest post near the end of the year to update how well I did with these goals... So if anyone decides they want a break in December (or you want to put up the 'paused for holiday' sign a day late), let me know!

I'll be enjoying your posts between now and then. See you at the conferences!