Monday, July 28, 2014

New affordable paperback of The Day the Leash Gave Way and Other Stories

Look for it soon. A new affordable paperback edition, with a new introduction and two additional stories from my reprehensible vault.

Yes, it has been five years since this collection was released, and since then a LOT has happened in my life. I shall post the introduction below. And yes, this is also in minor anticipation of a new short story collection which should be coming out (from what I understand, and hope) early next year, but that's for another time.


Of course you can STILL buy The Daythe Leash Gave Way and Other Stories in hardcover, trade paperback and kindle, and I don't see that edition going away any time soon. The new paperback, however, has this groovy new cover by Bryce Pearson, and includes two ancient stories, "The Ten-In-One" and "Chicken Strips." It will also be available for the rooting'-tootin' low price of $7.99.




Anyway, here is the intro to the new edition. Make of it what you will:




INTRODUCTION


     Well, a lot has happened in the five years since this collection came out, but I don’t intend to bore you with much of it.  I mean, this is just a mere introduction to a collection of short stories, and so in keeping with the original theme of the book (a collection of “short” stories), I would also very much like to keep this preface succinct.
     The tales within these pages are really little more than a time capsule, a snapshot of a writer just getting started.  They are some of my early pieces, some of the very first stories I ever wrote that somehow managed to get published.  Some of them are good, some of them are okay, and (I’ll be honest here) some of them are dreadful.  What they all are, however, is proof that, if you want to accomplish anything in your life, you’ve got to start somewhere.
     Since the original release of this collection in 2009, I: became an alcoholic, know what it’s like to be in jail, lost a fiancé to suicide, attempted suicide myself and damn near succeeded, spent three days in one of the top five worst crises centers in the country, slept in alleys in Tampa, Florida, had someone offer to buy me a $20 hooker, lost other friends to both suicide and disease, changed my mind about wanting to die, realized I was going to die if I didn’t stop drinking, managed to get myself into rehab, successfully quit drinking, pat myself on the back from time to time for closing in on five years of sobriety, met the woman of my dreams, got a dog, continue battling to get out of my father’s shadow, manage to make most of my living by making stuff up and writing it down, haven’t found religion but have found joy… I’m sure some other stuff happened, too.
     Anyway, I was a very different person when I wrote the stories collected here.  The way I see the world now is vastly different from how I saw it then.  I’ve gotten much better, both as a writer and as a person (at least I hope), but these stories mark a period in my life.  A period I will never forget, and don’t mind sharing with anyone who feels like having a look-see.  Hell, for this edition I’ve even allowed a couple extra early tales that are not in the hardcover, trade paperback or ebook version.
     Why?  Because, as I said, these stories mark a point of my life.  A good point or bad point?—Yes, both.
     I will reiterate one thing and then let you get on with it.  Some of the stories collected here are good, some of them range from decent to meh, while others are simply atrocious.  But if you want to do anything in life, you have to start somewhere.  To hell with shame.  You’ll never accomplish shit if you don’t even bother to try.  This edition (and me with the audacity to include a couple of stories that didn’t originally make the cut), while I hope you enjoy it (and, really, there’s plenty to like, I think), I hope it can also help illustrate the mere fact that if you wanna do anything in life, you have to start somewhere.
     Happy reading.
     Thank you, and enjoy the buffet.


     TZ

Friday, July 25, 2014

My Dear Friend Ana, and/or "There's no place like home for Roo"

This, to me, is worth sharing and sharing again. Ana and her daughter Reilly are very dear to me, and they've hit some pretty hard times. I've done what I can to help, including selling a couple of rare signed Roger Zelazny items. I don't have many gems like that, but my true friends mean the world to me, and if I must part with something of such value, I know that my father would be very pleased to know that it is going to a good cause, to help a friend in need.

I've known Ana since high school. She has been there for me more times than I can count. She was there for me when I lost someone very special to suicide, and was there for me after I attempted it myself. Without her, I may never have had the courage to ask Laurel out on a date. Ana helped give me the courage, the strength, to stick around, to not give up and to reach for my dreams, to make my life better. I wanna try giving back some of that strength, to my dear friend, and her daughter, "Roo."

I implore you. If you can, please donate. If you cannot or don't want to, that's totally understandable and cool, but would you please share this link, and help spread the word?

You can click HERE, or on the picture of Roo, in order to get to the web page.


Thank you so much. 



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cool Promo Thingy

My friend Bryce Pearson put this together and I think it's quite cool. Now, if people will actually buy the books, that would be great :) Regardless, any which way, I think this is quite cool :)


Here is an AMAZON LINK, should anyone decide they do want to buy something.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

David Goodis



If you ask any wordsmith who their favorite writer is, you’ll probably find that more than nine times out of ten, they can’t simply pick just one. You will often also likely be surprised at some of the answers you’ll get. For me it can vary from week to week, even day to day or hour to hour. Sometimes minute to minute.
When I think about my favorite writers a whole list pops up. Joe Lansdale comes immediately to mind, as does Cornell Woolrich, Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, my father, as well as some of the usual suspects, like Stephen King and Dean Koontz. But more often than not, if you were to ask me which writer helped me to shape my writing the most, you’ll usually get the same answer. David Goodis.

A native of Philadelphia, Goodis also spent parts of his life in New York City and Hollywood during his professional years (he died about ten years before I was born). With the exception of one book taking place in NYC (Nightfall) and one in San Francisco (Dark Passage), Goodis cultivated the shadows of his Pennsylvania home town, using it as a template to craft his hard-boiled—or hardcore—stories about dark lives. You know the kind. Lives gone wrong, lives filled with criminality, alcoholism, and human despair, all majestically painted in a dreary, blighted landscape.  He has been called the “Poet of the Losers,” and while in some aspects the title seems apt, from other angles it seems a bit off the mark. I feel one could just as easily call him the “Poet of the Common Man.”

I discovered Goodis the way a lot of people find authors—through the movies. For years I worked in a video rental store that carried virtually every kind of movie imaginable. It was a treasure trove for the movie lover, and if you weren’t a movie lover when you started working there, you most likely were one when you left.

One day I was putting away The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and thought to myself that, other than a few Cagney flicks and some Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers romps, I really wasn’t very well-versed in classics. That same night I took The Treasure of the Sierra Madre home and watched it. Well, my friends, this movie so excited me that suddenly I had to see everything Bogart had ever been in. Moreso, it excited me about the classics, and even moreso, about Film Noir. For something like eight or ten months I don’t think I watched a single movie in color. I was all about the old black and whites.

And what do a lot of people, especially writers, do when they see a movie they really like? They check to see if it was based on a book, and if it was, who wrote that book. I read B. Traven’s novel and liked it, but then there was the night I took home the classic Bogart and Bacall movie Dark Passage, about a man convicted of murdering his wife who escapes from prison to prove his innocence, finding that his face is too well known, and is forced to seek some illicit backroom plastic surgery (which was a rather new concept at the time). When I finished watching it my first thought was that it was like something that could have come out of Donald Westlake’s pseudonym Richard Stark—I mean, the man did write a Parker novel called The Man with the Getaway Face. But it was the atmosphere and the flavor, the characters. I was already a huge Richard Stark fan, and this movie gave me the same kind of warm, fuzzy feeling.

I went back to the beginning of the movie and saw that it was based on a novel by a man named David Goodis. Excellent, I wrote his name down, and the very next morning I went to the library. I searched, in hopes of finding the book that was the basis for this great movie I had seen the night before. But, alas, there was no Dark Passage. In fact there was only one book in the whole library by Goodis, D.

I pulled it off the shelf and it had the same cover art to another movie we carried at the Video Library (no relation to the Public Library). A French film by François Truffaut called Shoot the Piano Player. I had not seen this movie but it was well-regarded and, hell, if it was the same author who had penned Dark Passage, I was gonna give it a shot.

That’s where my true writer crush began. With the very opening paragraph:

There were no street lamps, no lights at all. It was a narrow street in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. From the nearby Delaware a cold wind came lancing in, telling all alley cats they’d better find a heated cellar. The late November gusts rattled against midnight-darkened windows, and stabbed at the eyes of the fallen man in the street.

Needless to say, I checked it out and took it home, and with each page I read, I found myself reading a little slower and a little slower. This man had a unique prose style I hadn’t seen the likes of before. His characterization was solid, deep, philosophical, but without pretense. Ten or twenty pages in I said to myself, “This guy has got something I want.”

Given that Shoot the Piano Player (originally titled Down There) was the only book in the entire Santa Fe Library system, I immediately went online, and found and bought whatever I could. Cassidy’s Girl, Nightfall, The Burglar, Of Tender Sin, Night Squad… and yes, eventually, Dark Passage. I was in literary heaven. Even now, when I need a kick-start, I often pick up a book by David Goodis, open it to any random page, read just a paragraph or two, and my juices start to flow.

So, as a writer, what did I learn most from David Goodis? Two things, one very important, one something I more just studied and, at times, mimicked. We’ll start with that one.

His vivid prose. His choice of words, his beautifully in-depth stream of consciousness that always enriches both the story and, more importantly, the character. His use of repetition without at all seeming repetitive. I’ve mimicked, I’ve tried, I’ve borrowed, but only David Goodis can write like David Goodis, as I’ve since learned only Trent Zelazny can write like Trent Zelazny, which brings me to the important one…

Honesty. While some may not find his prose as beautiful as I do, what they convey above anything else, is honesty. I believe the man, at least on paper, was completely and utterly honest with himself. When I was an alcoholic and my fiancé committed suicide, that was when I truly got it. I lost myself in Goodis again, and this time, after having suffered such horrible tragedy, he took me by the hand, and with each word he wrote, he explained to me that what I had to do, now more than ever, was be honest with myself. I agreed, brought up a blank screen, and in a very short time, while still a drunk, wrote Fractal Despondency, which even now, some three years since its release, some say is the best thing I’ve written. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t, but it was a big shift in my writing, as well as in my life. (By the way, I've now been sober three and a half years on the 28th of this month.)

I would still very likely be a writer, but due to things that happened in my life, I’m a very different writer than I probably would have been otherwise. And it’s primarily thanks to David Goodis who helped me figure out how to shape chaos into some semblance of order, that I am the actual writer I am.

Thank you, Mr. Goodis. Here's one guy on the planet whose life you changed, and I am eternally grateful to you.





Friday, March 14, 2014

Shameless

Some blurbs and an Amazon link... and a B&N link.

"A powerful and good writer...someone who's been through hell and come out, I hope, the other side." --Neil Gaiman

"Trent Zelazny's work is as powerful as a .45 slug and as memorable and pleasing as a scar obtained during feverish sexual activity. One of the best of the new breed of writers." --Joe R. Lansdale

"Trent Zelazny has already begun to carve out his own genre niche. He's got the right stuff to make fiction both engrossing and literate." --Tom Piccirilli

"The raw honesty of Fractal Despondency heralds Trent as a talent to watch, and I plan to be reading him for years to come." --Mark Ordesky, Executive Producer of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy

"Trent Zelazny is the best hard-boiled noir writer of this generation!" --Sarah L. Covert, She Never Slept News and Reviews

"Some people write from the heart, but Trent Zelazny leaves his blood on the page." --Erin Underwood, Underwords 


“A gift for storytelling is in Trent Zelazny’s genes.” --Charles Ardai


“Trent Zelazny is a master of tension, frisson, madness and mayhem.  I love the way he writes and read everything I can get my hands on.  You should do the same.” --Gerald Hausman


“Trent Zelazny’s work is pure Punk Classicism, with a spirit and heart and ferocious inquiry that dance across multiple genres and forever change their landscape. When I first read The Day the Leash Gave Way, I literally couldn't speak for some time. I had to know more, read more... and merely scratch the surface of an SFnal dynasty to find this great friend and inspiration. He never disappoints.” --Edward Morris





Sunday, February 2, 2014

Online Douchebaggery vs. Online Harassment

Okay, not really.

No, it isn't a question of this or that. I just wanted to share this will all 8 or 9 of you, or whatever, see what you think. WARNING: THIS ONE IS WORDY.

So some nitwit commented on a post on my Facebook Author Page, basically calling me arrogant, and disrespectful to my father and to his fans, and saying he would never buy another book I wrote. I wrote back a reasonable reply, then a few others chimed in, and he wrote back once more, apparently not ever bothering to read my response. So I blocked him. There are enough ass-hats in the world, but coming onto my page and insulting me about how I insult my father (which, most of you know, is beyond bullshit) is not something anybody needs. Basically, this kid (I can only assume it’s a kid) was dealing with some real anger issues, saw my post, and decided to take it out on me. Never mind my constant and redundant posts asking politely for people to not try getting information from me in regards to my father’s work through that page. One of the biggest reasons for this, aside from I am an author and the page is about MY work, is that I DON’T HAVE ANY SAY AS TO WHAT GOES ON WITH MY FATHER’S WORK, NOR DO I, MY SON, MY BROTHER OR MY SISTER SEE MUCH IN THE WAY OF ANY COMPENSATION FOR HIS WORK.

If you bother to research my author page at all, you will see in the ABOUT section, which has been up for well over a year now:
IMPORTANT NOTE:
Please do not contact me regarding my father's work at this time. I have very little to no say, and neither I, nor my brother or sister, receive much in the way of financial compensation from the estate. Asking me about rights, or asking me to put you in touch with "the right people", is basically rubbing salt into painful wounds. If things change, this note will be taken down, but until then, please be courteous, and understand that asking me about such things will not only not get you anywhere, but it is also offensive and disrespectful. Thanks.

This has been up for a very long time. People claiming to research just what a douche I am clearly have very poor researching skills. It's right in the ABOUT thing, for crying out loud.

Then, when they start to build up again, filling my inbox: "I want rights for this", "I want rights for that", "No, I've never read one of your books", "No, I don't have any money but my idea is brilliant!" "Could you give me contacts of a person (or organization) that now hold the copyright?" Etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam.


That's when I make another post, always trying to remain polite, sometimes finding it very difficult.

I shall merely post the highlights from this recent one, which has now caused me to be stricter about such things.

MY ORIGINAL POST: As a general rule, I don't respond to requests regarding my father's work on this page. This page is NOT about my father's work. It is about MY work. If you've no interest in my work, find other means to obtain the information you want. Thanks.

I don’t personally find that rude. Do you? Especially after I’ve asked countless times to take your dreams of free rights somewhere else?

So the post goes along, comments, etc., and then…

SOME GUY:
I find your arrogance and disrespect to be astounding. So what if people contact you about your father. Are you so insecure about yourself as a writer, that you feel threatened by this, or reduced in some manner? How about a little pride and understanding? I've read some of your work, but I will never read another thing of yours after seeing your responses. He was a great author, and you could do a lot worse than be connected to such a man. I'm sorry if you think you came off different than I perceived, but the bottom line is it came off as VERY rude, self-absorbed, and disrespectful of both fans and of your father's memory.

So I simply reply with:

ME:
I won't bother to go into the millions of ways I go about spreading my father's name and praising him, as a writer, a father, and a human being. Nor will I go into the thousands of times I've stepped in to keep the estate from being utterly ripped off, or the essays I've written on him, or the tribute anthology I'm currently co-editing. Do I enjoy it when people write and tell me how much they love my father's work? OF COURSE! YES! ABSOLUTELY! IT FUCKING MAKES MY DAY! Do I like getting endless rude emails from strangers pushing and often demanding that I grant rights to things for free, when I've no clue who they are, and they don't even start with a friendly hello? FUCK NO, I DON'T ENJOY IT! And you wouldn't either.

A couple of people chime in. Some were less nice to the person than others, but it’s enough for him to then come back the next day with:

SAME GUY:
If you guys disagree, that's great, that's just terrific in fact. Was this single post the only thing I saw to give me the perception I had, though? Nope. And although you don't like what I said, I managed to do so with a certain amount of civility that you and your fans obviously don't possess. I would think an author would have thicker skin. Discount my opinion, that's fine, I knew I wasn't making friends here when I made that observation, and my disappointment in how you conduct yourself has not decreased. I'll not be back or will I have anything further to say, so take comfort in that. I'm not here to "troll" anyone, I'm only back here now because of the harassment by your fans, and the fact you support it.

Okay, okay, so I wrote him one last time…

ME:
I kept my response civil. Possibly moreso, as I didn't even call you any names. You commented for a reason, so I left it, rather than simply blocking you. Others chimed in, and I left those too. Typically, this is a friendly page. If you have seen other posts, some of which go more into specifics, then you would see this post as justified. Did you even bother to read my response? Not that it matters. Did you know my father? No, you didn't. I think you're very upset with something else, saw my post, and decided to take it out on me. That's fine. As I said in an earlier comment, I don't mind if you're not interested in my work.

You got my initial response, now please get off my page.

Finis

I left it up for maybe ten minutes or so, then I banned him, hopefully giving him enough time to read it.

As always, I don’t name specific people unless it is in a positive context. I just try my best to be a good human being, to help whenever I can, and I personally feel this jackass had absolutely no clue what he was talking about whatsoever--maybe his dad wouldn't let him take the car out that night, I dunno.

If you feel I’m wrong, either in how I dealt with this person, or if indeed you feel I handle the harassment I receive on a regular basis in a poor manner, please let me know. I know there is no way in the world you can please everybody, but any tips or suggestions are welcome. If you feel I was in the right, thank you. As always, of course, things could've been handled better than they were.

That is all.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Two Things

Hi, there.

Me again...

I know, I know, I don't blog very often. Maybe I should blog more, or simply quit it altogether. I often have things I want to share, but Bloggety Blog just plain doesn't cross my mind a lot of the time.  Maybe I should hire a ghost blogger, but I would only do that on the condition that the blogger be an actual ghost. I wonder what Dickens is doing these days...

...Whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do it well; whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself completely.

Wow! Chuck? Really? Is that you? That's fantastic. But what about in death? I mean, you've been dead 144 years.

In great aims and in small I have always thoroughly been in earnest.

Great! Let's chat next week.

Anyway, until Chuck and I chat about ghost blogging, I guess I'll do it for now.

First, while I missed the opportunity to do this in January, I've decided that every month, through the rest of the year, I am going to buy and read a book by an independent author whom I've never read. After I have read each book, I shall write a review (most likely on Amazon, though I may post them here, too, as well as on Goodreads, possibly B&N). My reasoning for this is simple. There are a lot of authors out there not getting read. I could actually include myself in that group, but I've been luckier than many. We all keep saying support independent authors, musicians, bookstores (businesses in general, really), magicians, acrobats, and so on. So, while I know a lot of people already do this, I'm going to make it a point every month to find an independent author whose work I've never read, do my best to move around through genres, and read something by them. This is a win-win situation because a) the author will get a book sale and a review and hopefully I can try to then give the author a push; and b) I will likely find some new fantastic authors. Basically, it comes down to a support thing. So all three or however many of you actually read my sporadic blog, feel free to offer suggestions. I'll never get to them all, but suggestions are helpful, obviously, since I'm looking for indie writers I've never heard of.

And speaking of support, this brings me to the next thing I want to mention. Feedback and suggestions are very welcome on this one as well.

Not too long ago, Mark C. Scioneaux, Robert Shane Wilson, and R.J. Cavender put together an amazing anthology called Horror For Good - A Charitable Anthology, with proceeds going to to amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research. How cool is that? I mean, really? I know all three of those editors to one degree or other, and they're all fantastic guys with hearts of gold. Click the link a buy a copy, especially if you like horror fiction, or know somebody who does, because the collection is amazing.

 And now currently, Richard Salter and Jordan Ellinger are putting together Fantasy For Good, which I wrote an introduction for, to help raise funds for the Colon Cancer Alliance. Again, two awesome guys doing a collection for a good cause. Colon cancer is essentially what killed my father, so I have a slightly more personal interest in this one. Check out the pages and see what it's all about.

This brings me to something I have been wanting to do for a while now, but haven't had the time. I am already up to my neck in writing and editing work, including co-editing an anthology with my good friend Warren Lapine called Shadows and Reflections: A Roger Zelazny Tribute Anthology. But I've been wanting to do something along the lines of what the editors of Horror For Good and Fantasy For Good are doing. But I'm not sure I can do it alone. When I thought about it, I asked myself what genre would A) I most like to edit, and B) would I likely be good at.

Simple. Crime.

So that's is what I would like to start tackling this year. I went back and forth on what charity I wanted the money to go to, and decided on the Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families, Inc. Why? That's easy. Because domestic violence, in my opinion, is one of the worst, most heinous crimes in the world, and people, regardless of age or gender or anything else, need to feel safe. I loathe domestic violence, and so that is where I want the money to go.

Even moreso than with the independent writers, suggestions and help with this would be beyond appreciated. I spoke with Jessica, one of the directors the other day, and she is all for it. What I need help with (other than the obvious, which is finding great crime stories by both big and small names alike) is a publisher that can manage to work out a system specifically with the shelter, and anything else anyone knows about such things. Bob Wilson and Richard Salter are good friends of mine, and I've pestered them a bit, but any and all help is more than welcome and beyond appreciated.

I guess that's it for now. I'm gonna go try and channel Chucky Dickens, see if we can chat a bit more.

Oh, and you are also always welcome to BUY MY BOOKS.

(smiley face)