Discussion

More good news: Books have been printed! The audiobook is recorded! 
Finally, after much longer than I ever expected, The Man from Mittelwerk is on its way. The book will become available September 6 in time for the Bouchercon mystery & crime writer conference I’ll be attending in Minneapolis that week. (If you’re there, hit me up for a beer.)

The audiobook has been a lot of fun. We hired professional voice-over actor Jonathan Strait who handles the various accents and voices and really brought the story to life. He also found a number of typos, most of which (ahem) were corrected before the first print run. 

If you’ve moved since originally sponsoring on Inkshares, please be sure to login at www.inkshares.com, go to your Profile page, and click the Account button in the top right corner. Select Address from the dropdown menu, and verify or update the information. If you have any questions, please email hello@Inkshares.com.

Thank you again for all your support for this project. It was pretty fun to find a box of books on my porch and hold the finished work in my hands. Thank you to my co-author and brother Mike for making the book so much better than it would have been otherwise. And thank you to my wife for keeping the champagne on ice. 

In other news, I managed to run the Bayshore Half Marathon way back in May despite being injured and under-trained. I have since switched to cycling for the summer. How about you? Let me know in a comment or email. 
Cheers!
--Zack
PS. News updates will be provided at the author website https:www.mzurlocker.com.   

Good news, we have the final artwork for the cover the The Man from Mittelwerk designed by Tim Barber of DissectDesigns and it looks great. (See below.) 

Bad news, logistical issues in the publishing industry are going to delay the book until Fall 2022. Apparently supply chain issues, trucking strikes and the demand for shipping materials is causing pretty much every book out there to be delayed several months. 

Nonetheless, we are moving ahead on all fronts. We have two short stories: a prequel that Mike wrote (The Perfect Setup) set before WWII and a bonus chapter I wrote (Leaving Detroit) set in 1950. We’ll post these on the www.mzurlocker.com web site in the coming weeks. We’ll be using these and other short stories in order to generate awareness and a mailing list for marketing. 

 We also had a couple of additional nice quotes from other authors including James R. Benn author of the highly acclaimed Billy Boyle WWII series and from James Kestrel (who may or may not be Lee Child*) author of my favorite book of 2021 Five Decembers

 “A fast-paced, smart debut novel that blends noir and Lovecraftian elements. If you like J.J. Abram’s alternate history Overlord, this book is for you.”
 —James Kestrel, author of Five Decembers 

 “From the dark caves of a Nazi slave labor complex to sunny southern California, The Man from Mittelwerk delivers on all fronts. Snappy dialog, a fast-paced narrative, and complex moral questions all combine to make this hard-boiled thriller a winner. Think Chinatown meets The Boys from Brazil - superb!”
—James R Benn, author of the Billy Boyle WWII mysteries 

 If you aren’t familiar with James R. Benn’s Billy Boyle series, I encourage you to take a look. A couple of my personal favorites are The Rest is Silence and A Blind Goddess. Benn’s books are extremely well-researched and wonderfully told. He’s also a super nice guy.

Let me know what you think of the cover and how you’re doing with all the insanity in the world these days. In addition to my day job, I’m doing my best to keep up with running and learning the piano. How about you? Post a comment below and let me know.
 --Zack
(*) But probably isn’t. I think.  
     

I wanted to keep everyone up-to-date with the latest on The Man from Mittelwerk. Good news, the book is still finished and slated for publication in April next year. We have received the final proofs from the publisher and are correcting some minor grammatical errors while also sneaking in a few other fixes. Hopefully we will get the cover artwork in the new year. 

 While not ruminating over the final edits Mike and I are working on a couple of short stories to provide more background on the main character, private detective Jack Waters. Eventually we’ll post those on the web site

 We also had a couple of nice quotes from other authors:

 “A compelling page-turner with a chilling what-if scenario drawn from the truth.” — Rick Mofina, USA Today bestselling author of Her Last Goodbye 

 “A thrilling, at times devastating, sci-fi noir adventure that juxtaposes Nazi human experimentation against modern pursuits of power.” — Tal M. Klein, The Punch Escrow

For fans of WWII historical fiction with a noir angle, you must pick up James Kestrel’s Five Decembers. It’s been widely reviewed by the New York Times, LA Review of Books and more. It’s the best book I’ve read this year. He’s received well-earned praise from no less than Stephen King called it “One hell of a good story.” 

Finally, let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I’d love to hear from you and what books you’ve enjoyed this year. Feel free to post a comment below or shoot me email. 
 Cheers! 
--Zack    

I’ve been remiss in sending out updates as we worked on yet-another draft. But now, some news: The Man from Mittelwerk is finished (huzzah!) and slated for publication in the first half of 2022.

It only took three years, 13 drafts and several major rewrites. Nonetheless, the book went through final copyediting (2,600 changes, ulp!) which called out innumerable grammar and consistency issues. The editor also helped us strengthen the emotional impact in key scenes.  

It took several late nights of bleary-eyed Track Changes editing to work through the easy edits. Then I passed it to my brother and co-author to deal with the harder issues, while I was out cycling in the rain for a week. He got through it, undid many of my changes, and handed it back to me. I undid only a few of his changes, finished some items he didn’t want to touch and voila, a finished manuscript. 

The next step is for the text to be laid out in a proper design, followed by a final round of proofreading and getting a cover designed. Since we’re done with the writing, I built a web site with some mocked-up covers, created in homage to a few authors you might know.

I’m really proud of the what we’ve written. It’s been a lengthy process, but the book is all the better for all the revisions. I shared a copy with another tech industry author, Eric Maikranz and he said:

The Man from Mittelwerk is a mind-bending thriller that will keep you turning pages.”
– D. Eric Maikranz, author of The Reincarnationist Papers

So not too shabby.

If you haven’t read Eric’s book I highly recommend it. It’s a fascinating exploration of reincarnation and what happens if you remember your past lives. His book was the basis for the Mark Wahlberg time-travel CGI extravaganza Infinity. (Spoiler alert: The book is better!)

As always, thank you for your support of this long-suffering project. Let me know what you think of the fake covers below, what you’re reading and how you survived quarantine. Post comments below or shoot me an email...

Cheers!
--Zack

Apologies that I have been out of touch for a while. I think I can find some reason to blame 2020, but the reality is over the last six months, I’ve gone through three more major drafts of the book. Each stage involved putting the manuscript aside for a few weeks and then reading it objectively and thinking hard about what was working in the story and what wasn’t. A lot of effort was spent beefing up the characters to make sure the story felt authentic and modern, rather than just some ’50s noir pastiche. 

There was also a major improvement a few months ago which involved changing who the killer is. That took a lot of thinking but surprisingly it did not require that much rewriting, impacting only the last quarter of the book. Nonetheless, it greatly strengthened the theme of the story which centers around the relationship between two brothers, one of whom dies in World War II while the surviving brother deals with the loss. 

 This is a good segue to let people know that this has not been a solo effort. My brother Mike has been my uncredited co-author for quite some time now. He’s forced me to give up some of the early writing that I’d clung to for too long, sometimes expressed by writers as “Kill your darlings.” Having a co-author meant I could finally let that happen but I didn’t have to witness the gruesome deed myself. 

 The book is now called “The Man from Mittelwerk,” which puts the story’s historical context front and center. I’ll be sending it to the publisher Monday. No doubt there be a few weeks before we get his feedback and then hopefully only light editing will be required. Given the impact that Covid has had on the publishing industry, I suspect the publication date will be some time next year. 

 As always, thank you for your support of this project. If you want to drop me a line and tell me what you’re up to, I would love to hear from you. Don’t hit reply to this email. Instead email me at ZUrlocker@hotmail.com. With that, I’m gonna have a beer. Cheers!
--Zack
PS. Here’s a picture from last year’s Bouchercon writer’s conference where I met a favorite author Max Allan Collins. He has a terrific series that features a writer / detective named Mallory. One of his books in this series is appropriately enough called “Kill Your Darlings” and is set at an earlier Bouchercon conference.    

Szh fallcolors Song Huang · Reader · added over 2 years ago
Yesterday I was thinking about how lucky we are in Santa Cruz as I just heard about the "Shelter in Place" order for San Francisco and down the peninsula all the way to Santa Clara. It took only a few hours until Santa Cruz county followed suit. We had less than one day to prepare, until midnight. 

We should have made that Costco run today! What about the car that’s in for service? Ok, settle down. Our daughter is home and I get to spend more time with her. Our garden is producing all kinds of vegetables and perhaps the fruit won’t be far behind. We’ll have food. And, we got lots of toilet paper! 

Practice gratitude. 

The new draft I mentioned in January was short-lived. Within a week, I was working on another new draft based on more feedback from the publisher. While the latest draft is not complete, the first third or more is finished and this addresses the bulk of the concerns that were raised. (Or so I hope!) I’ll be making these first 100 pages available to a couple of beta readers to get their input. 

A lot has been going on this past month with the coronavirus, emergency shutdowns etc. It’s a pretty stressful time for everyone. So with that in mind, I offer a few pieces of advice for those who are so inclined:
    ▪ Practice gratitude. Let’s not mince words, we are in a shitty situation. Possibly the worst the world has faced in generations. Nonetheless, every day I find things for which I am grateful and I write those down. Today I am grateful that I finished revising a major scene in the book, that I’m back home in Michigan with my wife and that my father (who’s 89 and living in Florida) is in good health. Also, I had some leftover Taco Bell. To each his own, right?
    ▪ Get outside. No matter where you are, if you can get outside in nature for fifteen minutes, that helps. If you can exercise, so much the better.
    ▪ Go on a news diet. Today I skipped the NY Times, WSJ and all other news. I feel much calmer.
    ▪ Reach out and stay connected. You may be under a lockdown situation, so are others. So reach out to friends and family over email, phone, text, slack etc. (Hence, my excuse for sending this update.) 

As always, thank you for your support of this project. If you want to drop me a line and tell me what’s going on your world, how you’re coping, what you’re reading etc, I would love to hear from you. Don’t hit reply, instead add a comment to this web page or send email to me at ZUrlocker at hotm... or whatever email address you have on file for me. 
--Zack 
PS. Here’s a picture of our dog Roxie who passed away last fall, but can still cheer us up. This was taken on the first day of spring in Michigan last year.  

It’s been a while since the last update, and I’m happy to report that a new draft of the novel is complete. I put it aside for a couple of weeks, while I was busy with a work project and finished re-reading it yesterday. The story has come together much better than the earlier drafts. On the advice of my publisher, I stripped out quite a few complications that were cluttering things up. 

That said, there’s still work to be done. It’s possible that things were pared back a bit too much. I need to spend some time beefing up the opening chapters to give them more breathing room and adding more depth to the main character, detective Jack Waters. But it’s the first time I’ve re-read a new draft and not been embarrassed. So definitely good progress.

I don’t when the next round of edits will be completed, it’s likely going to take a few months. I will also likely tap into a couple of beta readers to provide an objective perspective. The publisher has set a very high bar for this book and I want to make sure it is as good as it can be.

In the meanwhile, thank you for all your support and encouragement. This has been a tougher project than I ever expected, so thank you also for your patience.
--Zack
PS. I attended BoucherCon, a mystery writers conference in October and met a many authors including fellow Canadian David Morrell, who wrote the book First Blood, which became the basis for the Rambo series.     

Last month, I took a trip to Europe with my brother Mike to do some research for scenes that take place in Europe in 1945 during WWII. We visited Antwerp, Koln and most importantly Nordhausen, site of the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp and the underground factory known as Mittelwerk where 20,000 slave laborers dug out tunnels in an old gypsum mine and manufactured the V-2 rockets used to bomb London and Antwerp.   

While I had done research for these scenes, there is an additional level of verisimilitude that is gained from walking the same steps that scientists like Wernher von Braun did when he visited the camp, or where the 104th Infantry rode tanks into town to liberate the prisoners. 

I’ve received helpful and detailed feedback from the publisher on the most recent draft. The bad news is, there’s still a lot of work to be done. The good news is, it’s mostly about stripping out a lot of complexity that has grown into the story so that it can be more focused on the historical fiction elements. In the coming weeks, I’ll be re-assembling a new outline before diving back into the next draft of the novel that will be even better than the last.

On a sad note, my co-author Roxie passed away a couple of days ago. We knew she had cancer for the last couple of months and I’m grateful that she had so much energy and enthusiasm right up until the end. The house is eerily silent without her. 
—Zack    

I promised the publisher I would submit the new draft by the end of June and I’m glad to report I was able to beat that deadline by ten days. The latest draft is 82,000 words or 300 pages, which seems about right. (By comparison, this is longer than most works by Raymond Chandler or Agatha Christie, but on par with more contemporary works by Anthony Horowitz or Michael Connelly.) 

 While the core historical fiction murder mystery is the same, there are two major new sections in the book. The scientists at Blakely Labs have been working on something called a Z-Machine since before the war. The Z-Machine is one of those odd contraptions that, if successful, enables man to go beyond the normal realm into so-called higher dimensions. Jack Waters uses the Z-Machine to travel back to 1945 to the liberation of the Mittelwerk underground factory. And at a later point in the book, well, let’s just say he travels someplace else and leave it at that. 

 This draft proceeded at a rapid pace as a result of a detailed outline. I also had a bit of a secret weapon with my co-author Roxie. She’s not a great typist, but she has a way with dialogue. I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off writing as I wait for feedback from the publisher and do some more research.  After that, no doubt another draft… 

Thank you again for your support. If you have questions, comments or feedback feel free to send me email or follow me on Twitter.
 —Zack

Notable Readers

New profile inkshares
Matthew Isaac Sobin
Sci fi abides
Peter Ryan
18278952 10105531439962004 7699412381249820269 o
Evan Graham
Tal bio
Tal M. Klein
Cxh300
Christopher Huang
20151003 072245
Laura H
Luft 30  linkedin square
Alastair Luft
20170617 173447 %281%29
Michael Ostrowski
Img 20171111 152009 357
Becca Spence Dobias
Meghan godwin  coo
Meghan Godwin
Onat790s
Jacqui Castle
Pacifics first pitch2
Steve Hermanos
Burke headshot
Doyle Burke and Lou Grieco
Img bw4jw7
Frederick Street
Profilepic
Wolf Kraft
Userphoto2 original
John J. Welch
Nicolas dessaigne
Nicolas Dessaigne
2017 02 20   ben headshot 2   square
Ben Riga
Userphoto7 original
Aaron A Reed
Bgwk 2ci
Justin Blanchard