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Join the Launch Party

During our extended stay-at-home time last year I was invited to contribute to the Alvarium Experiment’s newest project, an anthology of humorous speculative fiction entitled THE LIGHT FANTASTIC. Nine talented award-winning authors have contributed ten stories thst tickle the funny bone in varying ways, from light to dark, from slapstick to deadpan, from satire to parody. I first (and last) participated with this group as part of the initial anthology, The Prometheus Saga, and contributed the award-winning short story,  The Strange Case of Lord Byron’s Lover. Since that time, the consortium has gone on to write and publish four other collections. THE LIGHT FANTASTIC is the sixth.
My story, Farewell, My Lovely Slip-Slider is both an homage and parody of Raymond Chandler’s iconic Philip Marlowe novel, Farewell, My Lovely. Slip-Slider brings together a beautiful multiverse criminal, a heartbroken pizza baron, and a dog named Pepperoni. All in a day’s work in the life of Slip-Sliding government agent Marlon Phillips. Working for a government agency so secret it has no acronym, Phillips tracks the lovely outlaw across multiple dimensions. Will he catch her? And what about poor Pepperoni?

Farewell, My Lovely Slip-Slider
and the other nine stories will be launched individually on Thursday, September 9, and each will cost only $0.99 at the Amazon Kindle store. But wait, there’s more!  To celebrate the big day, the Alvarium Experiment hosts a virtual party commencing at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 9. Here’s the link to the Facebook page where you can join the party and exchange posts with the authors. Bria Burton, one of the authors, will give away a $100 Amazon gift card. Parker Francis (that’s me) will be there from 6:00 to 6:30 posting about my story and I’ll have a few giveaways of my books for those commenting and answering quiz questions.
Remember you can join the party on the 9th from the comfort of your home. No need to dress in your party clothes unless you wish to impress. See you then.

Life on the Covid Trail

One year ago, my wife and I were preparing to welcome friends from Virginia to spend a week with us and enjoy The Players Championship. This annual showcase of the PGA TOUR is played within walking distance of our home, and we’d been excited to host our friends to share the event with us. What is it that John Lennon said about making plans? “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

Life, in the form of a pandemic certainly changed everyone’s plans, including the PGA TOUR, which canceled the tournament after the first round. Of course, our friends had opted out even earlier. That was only the beginning, of course, and I don’t need to remind you of how our lives changed over the course of the year, and how we’re still being impacted. Of all the worker bees in our nation, many who lost their jobs, and others who have had to adapt to working from home, full-time writers are probably the least affected. Most of us already work in isolated surroundings; home offices, kitchens, bedrooms, back porches. Wherever we can carry a laptop or pen and legal pad.

And that’s pretty much how I spent the past year. If you read my bio on this site and some of the past items I’ve posted on the News & Events pages (and I admit I’ve been lax in keeping these updated) you already know Parker Francis is Vic DiGenti’s pen name for the mysteries and thrillers I write. So, while Parker has plugged away on a new novel he’s titled PAPER, and written several short stories, Vic has busily worked at his other job of helping people write and publish their own projects.

Windrusher Hall Press is the publishing company I formed to publish my own work, but I’ve also used it to publish all of the biographies and family histories I’ve written for others over the past five years. My role as a writer has expanded from novelist to biographer, researcher, ghostwriter, book doctor, and publisher.

In 2020, I was privileged to work with several passionate clients to turn their dream projects into reality. The first was a slim book packed with commonsense advice for taking control of your life. AIYOBI: ACT IN YOUR OWN BEST INTEREST examines the self-destructive tendencies in all of us that make life more painful, and explains how to act in your own best interest. I worked with neuropsychologist Dr. Norman Plovnick to distill his 50 years of experience into a concise and easy-to-read narrative. AIYOBI is subtitled “Five Principles to Live By Because There is No Future in Staying the Same,” and is available on Amazon.com.

The other book was something totally different. You won’t find it on Amazon or in any retail outlet because it was created and published for a specific audience of family and friends. When my client—I’ll call her Katie because that’s her name—contacted me about turning her father’s Korean War letters into a book, I was instantly intrigued. Being a history buff, I saw her father’s letters as a history lesson very few people are privileged to learn. One from the perspective, not of dull history tomes or from school teachers, but from one of the participants. Katie’s father, Ebbie, served as a radio operator aboard vintage B-29 bombers operating out of Okinawa. Like most men and women in combat zones, his letters home were filled with details, both prosaic and enlightening. They bear witness to the extremes of war, telling tales of homesickness, boredom, close calls, and survival.

LOVE EBBIE proved to be one of the most gratifying projects I’ve had the privilege to work on. I was able to transfer several hundred letters to the pages of the book and illuminate the times and episodes surrounding his service with additional material.

In a future blog post, I’ll provide details on some of the fiction my alter ego, Parker Francis has written during the crazy year of 2020. These include the aforementioned work in progress, the novel PAPER, and my short stories, including one about a young Elvis Presley at the crossroads of his career. Until then, stay safe and as Dionne Warwick told us in her hit song, That’s What Friends Are For, Keep smiling, keep shining …

Beaches Reader Fest

January 1, 1970

Join me and 14 other local authors at the first Annual Beaches Reader Fest, Saturday, November 16 at the Beaches Branch Library. Cassandra King Conroy is the keynote speaker, and she’ll talk about her late husband Pat Conroy. The event runs from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and features a local author panel at 12:15 p.m. that includes Vic DiGenti (aka Parker Francis), Dorothy Fletcher, Belinda Hulin, Heather Ashby, and Dave Baranek.

All 15 authors will have books for sale. I hope to see you there.

Beaches Reader Fest, Beaches Branch Library, Jacksonville Public Library, Literary Event, Jacksonville authors

Parker Francis Revealed

I’ve made no secret of the fact that Parker Francis is a pen name for a much more boring writer named Vic DiGenti. From time to time I’m asked why I chose to write under a pseudonym and respond by telling people I’m in the Federal Witness Protection Program. Not. The real reason, of course, is because my first series of novels, the Windrusher trilogy, has a much younger audience of readers. When I began writing the Quint Mitchell Mysteries, aimed at an adult audience, I didn’t want to shock my young readers who might think this was another fantasy about a heroic cat. I could see the outrage on mom’s face when 12-year-old Emily shows her mom the scene in Matanzas Bay where Quint and Sabrina are getting it on.

And so Parker Francis was born.  pen-name-tag

I sometimes have to be reminded that most people aren’t aware of this fact, and assume the name on the cover is my real name. This was brought home when I was recently interviewed for a “Get to Know” feature in one of our community newspapers, and I explained the pen name game to the reporter. Like most writers, I’ve been interviewed from time to time, and some of the stories read like a work of fiction, leaving me wondering where I was when the interview took place. But Angela Higginbotham did a fine job, and I thought the finished article was worth sharing with those of you who are looking for an inside peek at my life story.

Click here to read the interview.

Bouchercon World Mystery Convention

I recently returned from the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in New Orleans, everyone’s favorite party city. I’ve heard my fellow authors rave about Bouchercon for years, but had never attended one. I was on a panel at last year’s Killer Nashville Conference, and my fellow panelists were excited about the fact the 2016 Bouchercon would be in New Orleans. The excitement was contagious, and I immediately registered. Now I know why so many mystery and crime writers have raved about it.
There were well over 1,000 people in attendance—one person said it was closer to 2,000—and it attracts both readers and writers. Obviously the location had a lot to do with the huge turnout, but I was impressed by the big name authors in attendance, and the many excellent panel discussions. Among the hundreds of authors in attendance were Harlan Coben, C. J. Box, R.L. Stine, Meg Gardiner, Michael Connelly, Heather Graham, Lawrence Block, lee-davidand Lee Child. 
We had the opportunity to march in a second-line parade from the host hotel to the Orpheum Theater where Lee Child interviewed David Morrell, and the Anthony Awards were presented. Here they are on stage.
 
Bouchercon moves from city to city each year. Next year’s will be in Toronto, and the 2018 is set for St. Petersburg, FL, followed by Dallas and Sacramento. I’m planning a return visit in 2018.

New horror anthology

When my friend and award-winning author Ken Pelham, told me he wanted to assemble a collection of short stories for a modern horror anthology, I told him to count me in. Of course, I don’t regularly write horror stories (and don’t let me hear any cracks about my “horrible” stories), but I had written a few unsettling ones that I thought might work. After Ken said he’d accept previously published stories, I submitted Texting April, a tale of technology pushed past the limits of natural law into the supernatural world when young Nick receives a text message from someone who is no longer among the living. Texting April went on to win a Royal Palm Literary Award and was later published in my short story collection, Ghostly Whispers, Secret Voices.

My story was accepted and Texting April is now one of twelve outstanding stories by thirteen writers: Elle Andrews Patt, Daco Auffenorde & Robert In Shadows Written CoverRotstein (writing as coauthors), Bria Burton, MJ Carlson, Charles A Cornell, John Hope, Jade Kerrion, William Burton McCormick, Ken Pelham, Michael Sears, and Melanie Terry Griffey.

The anthology is titled In Shadows Written: An Anthology of Modern Horror. In his introduction to the book, Ken talks about our prehistoric ancestors sitting around campfires telling stories of the scary, dangerous world they lived in; a world filled with real monsters and unexplained mysteries. These were the first horror stories. You’ll find both monsters and mysteries In Shadows Written, as well as a fresh take on the monsters in our heads. So, as Ken says, before you sit down to read this collection of unnerving stories, make sure your light bill has been paid and all  the doors and windows are locked.

Why Attend Writers’ Conferences

There are many excellent reasons to attend a writers’ conference, including the possibility of meeting famous people and big name writers. Some conferences bill these bestselling authors as Guest of Honor, as Harlan Coben is for next year’s Bouchercon in New Orleans. ThrillerFest identifies their special honoree as Thriller Master, and have given that honorific to Nelson DeMille this year and Heather Graham next year. And the Florida Writers Association Conference has a Person of Renown, with Marie Bostwick filling that role this year and John Gilstrap in 2016.

While every conference is a bit different, most include craft workshops, panel discussions, opportunities to pitch agents and publishers, and, of importance to all published authors, book sales through the conference bookstore and book signings.

I attended two writers’ conferences in October, and came away feeling both were money well spent. What? You thought these things were free? All conferences have registration fees, but on top of that you have to figure the cost of travel and accommodations. It can be pricey depending on how far you’re traveling, but it’s all part of the cost of doing business as a writer.

As I said, there are a lot of good reasons to attend a conference, but making a lot of money selling your books isn’t one of them. Book sales are usually fairly meager, unless you’re one of those nationally-known authors. No, the most common reasons to attend include improving your craft, networking with other writers, getting energized and inspired, and the possibility of making a vital connection with an agent or publisher.

RPLA Signing w AwardI’ve attended the Florida Writers Association’s annual conference for years, and this year as a fulltime volunteer on the registration desk. Since I was a finalist for a Royal Palm Literary Award, I wanted to be there to (hopefully) pick up the award in person. The good news is that my short story submission, “The Strange Case of Lord Byron’s Lover,” took 1st Place honors in its category. I later learned it had also garnered the second highest number of points from the judges of any submission in the competition. Way cool! Here I am at a signing with my award front and center.

Another reason to attend was to participate in a signing of The Prometheus Saga anthology with the other authors in attendance. The collection, which included my short story, had recently been published, and we wanted to promote it to as many people as possible. It worked, as we later learned our anthology was the second highest selling fiction title in the FWA bookstore. Not too meager after all, particularly for an anthology.

My next conference was Killer Nashville, an excellent conference for mystery and crime writers. The conference is held at the Omni Nashville Hotel, adjacent to the Country Music Hall of Fame and only blocks from Broadway Avenue, where dozens of honky-tonk bars line each side of the street, rocking with music night and day. And on Halloween, which was the weekend we were there, nearly every other person was in costume. My dear wife accompanied me as she’s quite supportive, but mostly because she has family in the Nashville area and we make a point to visit with them each of the three years we’ve attended.

One of the highlights of the conference was participating in a panel discussion on “Show Don’t Tell.” What made it special were my fellow panelists, all KN Panel Dinnerterrific writers. We gathered at The Southern Restaurant the night before our panel to get to know each other a little better. We didn’t talk much about the next day’s panel, but here we all are sitting around after dinner. From left to right are Allen Eskens and his wife, Joely, Kay Kendall, Charles Salzberg, Linda Sasscer Hill, my wife, Evanne, and yours truly.

The panel went swimmingly, with lots of good questions from the audience. We celebrated later that day by visiting a few of the music establishments on Broadway Avenue. And you’ll never guess who we met there. Which proves my point that one of the reasons to attend is meeting famous people. Elvis-KN

 

 

Seen any good books lately?

Every writer dreams of having their book picked up by a Hollywood studio and eventually seeing their baby come to life on the big screen—or as we’re seeing more and more these days, appearing on the wide screens in our living rooms. James Patterson’s Zoo will soon join another newcomer, Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines trilogy. Of course, the odds of that happening for most writers are about the same as winning the Powerball lottery. But many bestsellers find their way to screens large and small each year with results ranging from awesome to head-scratching confusion.

I started thinking about this when CBS blasted us with a battery of promos for season 3 of Under the Dome. As a Stephen King fan I anxiously awaited the premiere of the first season and became hooked by the strange story of Chester’s Mill’s internal struggles to survive the turbulence caused by the mysterious dome, which turned the town into an artificial pressure cooker.Under the Dome

Not having read the book, I enjoyed the various plot twists propelling the story through season one, leaving viewers hanging and wondering if the residents of Chester’s Mill would ever get out from under the dome. I guess we’re still wondering about that.

Midway through season two, however, I feared the series had jumped the shark, moving the story from the mysterious to the ridiculous. That’s when I decided to read King’s original story. After only three or four chapters I saw significant differences between the literary version and the television series. That’s not at all unusual since books seldom make the transition to film or television intact, and when a single storyline is expanded to fill more than one season, then the original story can scarcely be seen, diminishing episode by episode like a distant figure in a rearview mirror.

I certainly knew the difference between books and movies going in, but when I read Under the Dome and learned one of the main characters in the TV series is killed off in the first few chapters of the book, and another stumbles around with a growing brain tumor for much of the book before being killed, I just couldn’t keep watching the show and set my DVR free to record other programs of interest.

Some of you will disagree with me, but I’m sure you’ve had your own disappointments because Hollywood has a way of dumbing down complex stories and characters to make them more accessible to mass audience tastes. That’s not to say that there haven’t been some The Godfatheroutstanding successes. A few of the movies have even turned out better than the author’s original work. One that comes to mind is The Godfather. Francis Ford Coppola transformed Mario Puzo’s mafia potboiler into a classic tale that grabs me every time I see it.

Another film that improved upon the original is The Shawshank Redemption, based on Stephen King’s novella, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. While King’s story was well crafted and intriguing, it was pretty much a straightforward tale of banker Andy Dufresne’s imprisonment for a double murder he didn’t commit, and how prison changed him and Shawshankhe in turn changed the other prisoners. Of course, there was the escape from Shawshank prison using his little rock hammer.

Writer/director Frank Darabont (who also did a masterful job adapting The Green Mile, another King prison story) added his own twists to Shawshank, and made it one of the most frequently televised movies on cable year after year, and another film I never tire of watching.

A few other good film adaptions come to mind, including The Fight Club and No Country for Old Men. On the negative side I’d point to the newest version of The Great Gatsby and The DaVinci Code as stinkers.

Television has had some recent successes adapting books. Several I particularly like include Dexter, Game of Thrones, Justified, and Sherlock.

I can think of a few more books that would make great movies, including a thriller set in the little town of Cedar Key. I think it was called Hurricane Island. Hmm, do you know any Hollywood producers?

Anyway, you’ve read my list of hits and misses, what are some of yours?