It’s another Father of Mine giveaway

Anthony Zych

Another weekend, another Father of Mine giveaway.

Enter now, by sending an email with the subject line “June 2 Father of Mine Giveaway” to One random winner, selected on Sunday, will get a free, signed, personalized copy of my mob novel, set in 1973 and inspired by true events in my hometown of Wheeling, West Virginia.

If you’re not feeling particularly lucky, you can buy the ebook for $4.99 and the print edition for $13.97. has, at last check, 12 remaining signed copies for $19.99. If you want to get one for Father’s Day, act now.

If you want a shot at a free one that can be personalized for Dad or whoever, act now. Send the email to

SteelerSteve in Oregon wins the latest copy of Father of Mine

Anthony Zych

Another week, another Father of Mine contest, come and gone.

This week’s signed and inscribed copy goes to SteelerSteve. He’s in Oregon. I’ll be signing a copy of Father of Mine and sending it to him in the next few days.

The loose plan is to do something every weekend, with one or two books shipped out to the winner(s). I’ve become tempted to restrict the contest to the United States after finding out the hard way how expensive and cumbersome it is to send a 1.8-pound book from West Virginia to Quebec.

For now, what the hell? Quebec, London, Timbuktu, wherever. If you win the random drawing, you get the book.

Thanks to all who keep entering. If, in the interim, you’d like to read it or stick a copy of the shelf or wherever, Father of Mine continues to be $4.99 for the ebook at Amazon, $13.97 for the paperback at Amazon, $19.99 for a signed copy at

It also can be read at no extra charge if you sign up for the Kindle Unlimited program.

Summer reading time is coming. And there’s nothing like getting swept up by a good book.

Father of Mine will hopefully take you on that ride. The only way to find out is to climb aboard.

It’s another weekend giveaway for Father of Mine

Anthony Zych

There’s been an interesting development regarding Father of Mine, my new mob novel set in 1973 and inspired by the actual activities of the crew that ran the town where I grew up. Though I can’t go into details currently, it’s enough to get me sufficiently motivated to give away not one but two signed, personalized copies of the book, later tonight.

To enter, send to and email with this subject line (and only this subject line): Father of Mine May 12 Giveaway.

That will enter you in a drawing to come at some point before I go to bed for a copy of Father of Mine that will be signed and personalized and sent to whichever address you give me. There will be two winners.

No purchase is necessary. But if you’d like to purchase the book, you can get it at The ebook is only $4.99, and the print edition is $13.97.

UPDATE 8:38 a.m. ET 5/13/23: Winners have been selected. Contest is closed. Thanks to all who entered.

Thanks to all who entered the Father of Mine giveaway

Anthony Zych

Death, taxes, and a thirst for free stuff.

Those are the actual sure things in this world.

And that’s fine by me. I offered a signed, personalized copy of Father of Mine on Friday. Entries poured in. (They’re still coming, even though the contest ended last night.) I filtered the emails by key word, counted them up, and asked a random-number generator to randomly generate a number for me.

The winner was Mo in Newark. Eagles fan. The book went out this morning, during my Saturday morning errands — and before some sort of virus kicked my ass.

I’ve still got a stack of print copies of the book. I’ll do it again, when you least expect it.

If/when you enter, following the instructions specifically. Send it to the right email address and send the exact subject line provided.

Meanwhile, you can get the ebook from Amazon for $4.99, or the print edition for $13.97. And the book is now included in the Kindle Unlimited library, where it can be read at no extra charge — and where it’s completely free as part of a 30-day trial.

So if you entered and if you still want free stuff, sign up for Kindle Unlimited, read the book, and then decide whether you want to keep Kindle Unlimited beyond the 30 days.

Father of Mine is now available on Kindle Unlimited

Anthony Zych

There’s now a way that you can read Father of Mine without spending a single penny.

Father of Mine has been enrolled in the KDP Select program on Amazon, which puts it within the universe of Kindle Unlimited options.

Which means that you can read it for free. Sort of.

If you already have Kindle Unlimited, it’s among more than three million book options. You also can read it for free as part of a free 30-day trial with Kindle Unlimited.

There’s a nice little life hack. Sign up for Kindle Unlimited. Read Father of Mine. Cancel Kindle Unlimited.

Ultimate cost: Zero dollars, zero cents.

I can’t give you a better deal than free. You can still buy the ebook for $4.99, or the paperback for $13.97.

Or you can try it on Kindle Unlimited, at no cost. No risk. Significant potential reward.

You already come here on a regular basis, so you apparently don’t hate the writing. Which means there’s a good chance you’ll like the book — especially if you enjoy mob tales.

Signed copies of Father of Mine are now available (this time I mean it)

Anthony Zych

Over the weekend, I posted that signed copies of Father of Mine are available at

I was mistaken. They were available over the weekend to be added to a “wish list.” They are now available to be ordered.

It’s $19.99, if you want one. (Technically, it’s $19.99 even if you don’t want one.)

The ebook remains a mere $4.99, and the unsigned print book from Amazon continues to be holding steady at $13.97, a seven-percent drop from the list price.

Those are the options. If you want a signed copy, you can get one. The supply will be limited, primarily because I can’t imagine many will want one. If you are among the not-many who will want one, get cracking.

It’s launch day for Father of Mine

Anthony Zych

It’s officially out. Father of Mine. Finally, it’s now immediately available, for only $4.99.

That’s nothing. It’s peanuts, especially for this audience. Unless you’ve been lying on the surveys we periodically do, you’ve got plenty of discretionary income. You can discreetly spend $4.99 wherever ebooks are sold — Amazon,, Apple, Google, everywhere — or only $14.47 for the paperback through Amazon.

It’s not a one-way street, a passing of the hat for all the free content you get here. The book, a small-town mob novel set in 1973, is surprisingly not bad.

The folks at Kirkus, who don’t hand out good reviews like proverbial party favors, said this: “Although this story is built upon a well-worn crime-fiction premise, the author’s take is a refreshing one and incorporates notes of suspense, terror, family drama, and black humor. He draws on true events in a fictional story that has a lot of moving parts, but they all manage to coalesce into a thrilling reading experience. Florio’s cast of characters—some good, others much less so—are all crystal-clear in their intentions and demeanor, which makes the story a devilish indulgence. . . . Fans of The Godfather and The Sopranos will recognize and appreciate the overtures that Florio makes on behalf of his creatively inspired mob family — particularly the central ordeal concerning Johnny and his son. Every stylistic nuance and dialogue inflection feels pitch-perfect, and every character is believably hypersensitive to law enforcement and the dire consequences of a botched job. The novel’s conclusion has a twist that’s truly a surprise.”

If you like a mob story, give it a try. It’s a small price to pay for the hopefully small possibility you won’t like it.

Thanks to those who have given it a try. Thanks to those who will. Thanks to all for tolerating my efforts to get people to sample this hobby that has become an unofficial second job that I may or may not ever get paid for.

And, seriously, I want to know what you think. What’s good? What’s bad? What’s ugly?

Father of Mine: Chapter One

Anthony Zych

NOVEMBER 22, 1963

Johnny Mesagne

I never should have had kids. I got one. Some guys who got none will add “that I know of,” like they’re trying to be funny, but sort of bragging. I would know if I had any other kids. I never, ever let my guard or my pants down for someone I didn’t know. Every girl I ever slept with I saw again at some point in the next nine months. If any of them ever had a baby, I would have known.

One was still too many for me. I was a bad father. I just wasn’t made for that life. For sleeping when everyone else sleeps, working when everyone else works. She tried to make me fit that way. I went with it for a long time. Longer than I should have. I’m not sure why I ever did.

Really, why did I even try? I didn’t need to get married in order to have regular company. I did pretty well for myself. Handsome, in a hoodlum sort of way. Like Maria always said, I had high cheekbones and low scars. Just good-looking enough to get them interested. Just dangerous enough to get them a lot more than that. I looked like the evil twin of Elvis Presley, at a time when it was very good to look even a little bit like the King.

I guess I loved Maria, best as I ever understood the word. Maybe I didn’t understand it at all. Maybe I still don’t. Love. I wasn’t faithful. But we had a kid. That’s what tied us together. Whether I loved her or not, I had an obligation to provide for him, and for her.

And I did. I absolutely did. The way it matters. He had what he needed. He grew up normal, or as normal as he could. Even after she found Jenkins, I still made sure that boy had enough. I didn’t blame her for getting married again. I didn’t blame her for letting my son take Jenkins’s name. I was the one who couldn’t live that way. I wasn’t going to tell Maria she couldn’t have a real life. I thought maybe she’d have more kids. It would have been good for Junior to have a brother or sister, even if them other kids wasn’t mine.

I left home the night they shot Kennedy. Maria didn’t seem to care that somebody killed the President. I got mad at her about it. She was confused why it bothered me so much. She said the guys in our thing hated him for trying to shut it all down. But his brother was the one who was making it harder for us. I never bought that they had Kennedy killed to get his brother to leave us alone. Why not just kill the brother?

Maria was making dinner. Sauce bubbling in one pot, pasta boiling in the other. My day was just getting started. That’s the way it was. Work most of the night, sleep most of the day. I don’t know whether Kennedy getting shot in the head made her think I would at some point get shot in the head, too. I know she always worried. She worried too damn much. I was the one who stood to get shot in the head or someplace else, and I wasn’t half as worried as she was. I wasn’t worried because I had no choice. That was the life. Someone once said it’s the life we’ve chosen. I don’t remember doing no choosing. If anything, that life chooses us. Draws us in like one of them giant round magnets they hook to a crane.

So she gets a little riled up, I get a little riled up. Next thing you know, she’s throwing a big spoon at me, splattering cooked tomatoes all over one of my best white shirts. She goes in the bedroom and starts smoking cigarettes, one after another. Junior had to know what was going on. The house was too small, with two bedrooms right off the kitchen. He always did his homework on Friday nights so it would be done and he could enjoy the weekend. That was the kind of discipline I never had, and never will. And the kid was only ten.

She stayed in our room. She’d rip through two or three packs, like no one knew what she was doing. As if the smell didn’t make its way to the rest of the house. I decided then and there to go, but my stuff was all in the bedroom.

I went down to the basement. I tried hard to not make noise. The old staircase creaked and groaned with every step. I found a different shirt down there. It smelled a little like the hamper. But it didn’t have tomato sauce all over it, so that made it better than what I was wearing. I pulled off the dirty one and put the clean one on.

As I buttoned up the front, I saw the metal racks across from the washer. There were boxes and coffee cans and jars. I hadn’t really noticed them in months, maybe a lot longer than that. I started looking through some of the stuff. I opened one of the boxes. It was full of old books. That strong smell of mildew made me close it up. Then I peeled a plastic lid from a round metal container. It had dozens of marbles inside. I put my hand in there. They were cool, almost cold. I liked how that felt.

I looked up and saw a shoe box on the top shelf. I recognized it. I pulled it down and lifted the lid. I felt my face get a little brighter. If I wasn’t in such a bad mood, I probably would have smiled.

My birth certificate was on top of the stack. It showed a crease from where it had been folded in half at one point. It was flat and open. John Michael Mesagne. September 1, 1933. Seven pounds, seven ounces. Underneath it was the Western Union that said my father got killed in World War II. I was ten when we found out, same age as my son was on the night I was getting ready to go away. It actually made me feel a little better about what I was planning to do. I wouldn’t be dead like my old man was, just not living at home. I still felt bad about it.

Not bad enough to change my mind about moving out of that house on Poplar Avenue.

I kept flipping through the box. Old gray photos, with white strips on the edges. Cufflinks I never wore, not even once. A watch with a battery that died the day after I got it. A report card from high school, before I dropped out. When I saw them grades, I remembered why I did. The paperwork showing the phony heart murmur that kept me from going to Korea, thank God. A tiny pair of baby shoes. It looked like they once was white, or close to it.

Something was jammed tight inside one of the shoes. I picked it up and looked at it. I had no idea where it come from or how I got it. I stuck it in my pocket. I put the lid back on the shoe box. I put the box back on the top shelf.

As I went up the steps, I started coming up with a story about the thing in my pocket.

Father of Mine: Chapter Two

Anthony Zych

OCTOBER 20, 1973

Bobby Marroni sat in the front seat of a green Vega they’d picked up at the regular place. Paul made sure a car was always ready for something like this. And it was always a real piece of shit.

Bobby tried not to move around. On that cheap vinyl, he knew it would have sounded just like he was shitting in his pants. He could have used the laugh. But Vinny was already too mad at him to think anything he did was funny at that point.

“How the fuck did you forget the silencers?” Vinny said it again, like the answer was going to be different the second time.

Bobby’s hand shook a little bit as he pushed at the line of hair he combed every morning across the place where it wouldn’t grow any more, which at that point was pretty much all over the top of his head. He’d been working with Vinny for a long time, but the guy still scared the hell out of him. He scared the hell out of everyone he knew. Bobby thought Vinny liked it that way. Bobby knew Paul did.

“What was I supposed to do?” Bobby said. “The phone rang. I answered it. He said go right now. We went right now.”

“Well, you had time to grab the silencers, because he’s still in there,” Vinny said. He gestured with his chin. His nose was missing a chunk at the tip. Cancer or something. He didn’t seem to be bothered by it, unless somebody pointed it out. Bobby only ever made that mistake twice. Once while sober.

Bobby blurted out the first thing he thought of.

“Do you see him?”

“I see the car that brung him.” Vinny said each word slowly, making the point that it was a stupid question.

Bobby knew he should have just kept his mouth shut.

“Are we sure this is what we’re supposed to be doing?”

Vinny’s eyes narrowed. The bags under them looked like they were about to bust open. Nothing good ever came after he made that look.

“Don’t you think it’s a little too late for that?” Vinny said. “Besides, you took the call. Remember? It happened right before you didn’t grab the silencers. I always thought them dogs was fucking with your head. I sure hope they ain’t fucking with your ears, too.”

“Them dogs is fine.” It came out stronger than Bobby wanted it to. He dialed it back a little. “And I know what he said. I just wonder whether this is the right thing to do.”

“You had your chance to speak up. You’re the one who set the thing up that went to shit in Ohio today. You should have said something then. You didn’t.”

“I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know who to say it to.”

“You was smart then,” Vinny said. “You’re being stupid now.”

“Maybe I was stupid then and I’m being smart now.”

“How long you been in this, Bobby?”

He started to try to do the math before he realized Vinny wasn’t looking for an actual answer.

“I don’t make those decisions,” Vinny said. “You don’t make those decisions. Somebody else makes those decisions. We do what we’re told, when we’re told, how we’re told. And we don’t ask no questions.”

Bobby again should have just kept his mouth shut. But they didn’t take out one of their own very often. Even then, it had to be a pretty big deal. This didn’t seem like that big of a deal to Bobby. Which started to make him a little nervous that the bar for getting yourself whacked by your own crew had been lowered. So he kept going, without thinking about what he was saying.

“I just don’t understand this. I thought–”

“We don’t think,” Vinny said before Bobby could finish whatever his thought was going to be. “We just do. What the fuck’s gotten into you all of a sudden?”

Bobby nodded. He made himself smile, like he’d finally figured it all out. He kept himself from messing with his combover. If Bobby was aware of his own nervous habit, Vinny knew about it, too. Bobby tried to think of something to say that would show he got the point.

“Do unto others before it gets done unto you,” Bobby said. “I know how it goes.” He should have stopped there, but he couldn’t help himself. “I’m just tryin’ to figure out why–”

“Stop it.” The words came out like a snake hissing. “We don’t try to figure out why. That’s the point. It’s not even something that enters your brain. This is like ‘Simon Says.’ Remember that one? We follow every single order we get. No exceptions.”

Bobby understood it. He did. And Vinny was right. Up until that point, Bobby had gone along with the plan. But Bobby was on one hell of a roll. He decided to get technical about a game he hadn’t played since he was a kid.

“Even in ‘Simon Says,’ you don’t follow every single order you get,” Bobby said.

That one did it.

“Every single order we get starts with Simon-fucking-says!” Vinny yelled.

Bobby looked outside the car to see if anyone heard Vinny. Vinny noticed, and quieted down.

“Don’t be cute,” Vinny said. “If you want to do this thing, you do this thing. Bobby, for Christ’s sake, if I would have known you was going to pick tonight of all the possible fucking nights to start wondering why we do what we do and not just do it, I would have done it myself.”

Bobby went back to thinking about why this was happening, a move against one of their own guys. Paul had said not to get rid of this one, to leave him right there on the sidewalk. That made it even stranger. Especially after how this mess had gotten started in the first place.

Shooting their guy right in front of the house where he used to live. There’s a big difference between disappearing for good and having a family member find you there. Bobby thought of what his mother or his wife would do if something like that happened to him. He couldn’t decide which one would be the first to spit on his corpse.

Bobby’s eyes shifted toward the house as his mind continued to wander. The front door began to swing open.

“Vinny, look,” Bobby said, sticking a quivering finger that way. “There he is.”

Vinny squinted. Bobby always told him he needed glasses. Vinny was too stubborn to go get them.

“Way too much about this had already been fucked up,” Vinny said. “If you fuck this one up any more, you’ll be laying there right next to him.”

At least my mother and my wife wouldn’t be in a race to spit on my corpse, Bobby thought.

Father of Mine: Chapter Three

Anthony Zych

SEPTEMBER 12, 1973

Leslie Fitzpatrick

I parked on Tomlinson Avenue, close to the intersection. There wasn’t much room at the end of the curb. Luckily, the little Volkswagen Paul bought me would fit just about anywhere. I put the key in the handle on the outside and twisted it. He’d told me time and time again to always lock the door. And I always did.

He also told me to always check beneath the car for a bomb before getting in. I never did that. I wouldn’t know what to look for. I don’t know why he even thought I would. I don’t know why he thought anyone would put a bomb under my car.

I walked toward the giant green hill that popped up out of nothing. A huge Indian burial mound. They named the entire town after that thing. I thought about it every time I saw it. Once every year on the exact same day, starting back in 1953 and still going two decades later. Moundsville. Who thought that name would be a good idea? It was definitely something only a man could come up with.

I turned right, onto 10th Street. As I walked toward the prison, I took out my chewing gum and put it in a tissue. I tucked the tissue into my purse.

I looked at the houses and the stores and the normal life happening in a place that was anything but normal. Paul called it the world’s largest collection of live cowboys and dead Indians. Everywhere else, it was just like anyplace else.

My father, my real one, was serving a life sentence for what the lawyers called felony murder. Basically, he was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing at the wrong time, when someone got killed by someone else. The law didn’t care who did the actual killing, so Francis diFrancesco would be living behind bars in Moundsville until the day he stopped living.

I crossed Jefferson Avenue and turned left. The place looked like an old castle, except most of it was long and low and covered nearly all of three blocks. The only entrance was right in the middle. I never could get used to the sight of it, like it had been dropped out of the sky from some other time, or maybe even from some other planet. No, I never got used to seeing it there, even if the people who lived and worked around the place never seemed to give it a second thought.

The closer I got to the shack outside the door, the faster I walked. My heels clicked against the concrete. I moved as quickly as I could without running. The sooner I got inside, the sooner it would start. The sooner it would start, the sooner it would finish.

There were two guards in the small wooden hut. They tried to flirt. They always did. I gave them a polite smile, same as usual. It was easier that way. If it would get me inside a little faster, so be it.

After the shack, I walked to the front door. I could feel their eyes on me as I walked away. I wanted to turn around and give them the finger.

The wind was blowing my hair over the back of my jacket. I was glad I remembered to grab it. It was colder than I’d expected it to be. Fall was here. Winter was on the way. In more ways than one, I guess.

The guard standing outside the main door ran his eyes over me like they were connected to a metal detector. I knew not to react to him.

Yes, I’ve been here before, I told him. No, it hasn’t been very recent. Yes, I know the rules. No, I don’t have any contraband. Yes, I understand the risks of meeting face to face with a convicted murderer who is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

I held my breath before I walked inside. It didn’t help. That smell was inside my nose and mouth again. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t want to think about it. All I wanted was to get it over with.

Another guard led me to the room where they’d bring my father to meet me. This one was younger. He looked familiar. There was more flirting. I dealt with it, even if I had the urge to ask why he thought I’d come to this godforsaken place in search of a man. But I still just wanted to keep things going. So I fluttered my eyelashes a little. I flashed a smile. I told him who I was visiting. It seemed like he was pitying me for a second or two, but then he slipped right back into flirting. He said he’d be a holler away if I needed anything. I thanked him. I said I’d be fine.

I really wanted to give him the finger, too.

I sat down. The table looked like it came from a school lunchroom, something they could fold up and roll against the wall. Other people were meeting with prisoners at some of the other tables. The inmates didn’t wear uniforms. I always thought that was strange.

I tried not to look at anyone else. I didn’t have a book or anything to read. I sat there, staring at my hands. Then I heard him from the doorway, talking to a guard with that deep voice of his. It always scared me a little bit during the years he lived with us, before he got himself in trouble.

I watched him move my way. His ankles were chained together and his wrists were connected to a thick belt around his waist. When he looked at me, I made myself smile at him. He didn’t smile back. I was sort of glad he didn’t.

“Took you long enough to come back.” He said the words before he even sat down.

“I’ve been busy,” I said, still forcing my lips into a smile. His attitude confused me, because he knew I only ever visited him once a year.

“Busy.” He twisted his mouth around the way he always did when he was just starting to get upset.

I saw a pink mark on his face. It looked like a scab had just been there. His hair was cut so short I couldn’t tell whether he’d lost much more of it since last year.

“What made you not busy today?” he asked.

“It’s your birthday. I always visit you on your birthday.”

“Birthday, Christmas, Thanksgiving, every other day. They’re all the same. You think they’re baking me a cake in here?”

“I would have brought you a cake if I could.”

“What I want I ain’t ever getting,” he said. Then he looked at me. He squinted one of his eyes as he did. “You’re getting older. You ever going to bring a baby in here with you?”

“A baby?”

“Never mind. This ain’t no place for no baby. Plus, I don’t want you having no baby with the guy you’d be having it with.”

“I thought you two were friends.”

“We been over this, Leslie.”

“He always says you were friends.”

“He’s right. We were friends.”

“Is it because I’m with him?”

“That don’t help. But there’s way more to that one.”

“He’s never said anything to me about any of that.”

“Of course he hasn’t, Leslie. If he did, there’s a chance you’d climb right out of his second bed.”

I looked down so I wouldn’t start crying. “And you wonder why I don’t come more often.”

“Sorry I got a problem with being inside here when he ain’t.”

“Why would he be in here instead of you?”

“I never said instead. I guess he’s just luckier than me.”

“What’s luck have to do with any of it?” I said.

“It has everything to do with it. In that life, you live long enough to end up in here or dead. In here, you’re already dead while you’re waiting to die.”

“It’s your birthday. I just wanted to see you on your birthday.”

“For who, you or me? You checked the box. Your conscience is clear until next September.”

“Do you think this is easy for me?”

“You think it’s easy for me? When this is over, you’re walking through that door. I’m only ever leaving this place in a sack.”

“I’ve never done anything to not leave.”

Then he smiled, but it wasn’t a happy one. He’d lost at least two teeth since the last time I saw him. “You’re still part of it. I never dreamed you’d be part of it.”

“I’m not part of it.”

“Oh bullshit, Leslie. You’re living off it. You get the best of both worlds. And once a year you get to see the worst of mine.”

My bottom lip started to shake. I don’t think he noticed. “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“You’re not sorry. You’re just saying it now so you won’t spend much time thinking about it later.”

“I should go. I wanted to cheer you up a little. I didn’t want to make things worse.”

“Don’t worry. You can’t make things worse.” He stopped for a second, looking at me. Then he exhaled. I could feel his breath on the edge of my face. It smelled the same as the rest of the place. “I guess this is where I’m supposed to say I appreciate you trying to make things better. And to forget about what a miserable bastard I am. And to think long and hard about the choices you’re making. If we do this next year, I’ll be forty-seven. You’ll be twenty-eight. It’s too late for me. It ain’t too late for you. But it’s getting there.”

He stopped talking and got up. He walked toward the guard without looking back at me.

I waited until he was gone. I hurried out of the room and out of the prison. Fresh air never tasted as good as it did whenever I left that place.

I walked past the guard at the main door. He tried to say something. I just kept going. I made my way through the shack. The guards there tried to flirt again. I didn’t smile. I didn’t even look at them. I just went as fast as I could back to the car. I unlocked the door. I got inside. I remembered Paul’s stupid advice about checking for a bomb.

When I put the key in the ignition and turned it, part of me was hoping there was one.