Monthly Archives: October 2013

Confession Time: Ike Was an Accident

While preparing for our weekly radio show, Friday Night Writes (Friday night from 8-10 EST on Armand and I were throwing around some potential discussion topics when Armand suggested Creating your biggest character and giving it the playful subtitle The Ike Syndrome – as a nod to my biggest character.

I started thinking about the origins of Ike and I quickly realized that I would have no great insight to share as to how my larger-than-life protector-of-Flagler-Beach came into being…because I never had any designs on creating a character of such mythical proportions.

Okay – maybe mythical is a bit much, but you get the point.

Here’s the story behind the story…

…cue flashback effects and eerie music…

When I began writing my first novel, Living the Dream, I never intended it to be released.

Living the Dream

I’ve told the story about how I had a crazy dream which became the jumping-off point for the book, and that much is true…but what I haven’t told too many people is that I was really writing it as a way to pass time.

I had been living in Florida for only 5 or 6 months at the time. My social life was non-existent and there were many hours to kill, so I filled them with writing as opposed to watching TV. I assumed that when I got to the end, the story would spend the rest of time collecting virtual dust as a file on my computer’s hard drive.

Since I had no plans for my hobby/project to ever see the light of day, I decided to have some fun with it by naming characters after my friends and family. It was fun seeing how many I could squeeze in.

When Jimmy, the antagonist, needed a forged passport and credit cards I had to introduce a person with some black-market connections (Ralph – local bookie and mob type). Since Jimmy was not the type to associate with the criminal element I needed a go-between…so I threw in Ralph’s right-hand-man Ike.

Ike was named after one of my closest friends and barely had any significant role in the story (which is why I never bothered giving him a full name).

Eventually I convinced myself that Living the Dream was worthy of being published, so I started the process to make it happen – and in the meantime began working on book number 2 – Water Hazard.

The plot for Water Hazard came about from reading an incredibly insightful and somewhat scary non-fiction book called Water Follies, which dealt with the damage we are doing to the planet by over-pumping ground water.

Water Hazard

I had a good lead-in to the story where the protagonist, Steve, is inadvertently tasked with rescuing a kidnapped teenage boy. A mission that subsequently lands him in hot water with a crooked land developer, putting his life, as well as the life of the boy and his mother, in grave danger (is there another kind?).

My problem was that Steve needed help.

That’s when I remembered the enigmatic Ike character.

I decided that Ike would prove very useful to Steve since he had access (via his boss Ralph) to all sorts of resources…not all of them legal.

This is where the legend of Ike really began to grow.

My next book, Pump It Up also included Ike and his bag-of-tricks, as did No Good Deed and Backseat to Justice.

Suddenly I had written 5 books in 3 years and in so doing created a bit of a legend.

tee shirt front

I have actually had women ask me to introduce them to Ike. (I haven’t figured out a good reply to that one yet!)

So when it comes time to discuss the topic of creating your biggest character on the radio with Armand…I guess I’ll have to come clean about how Ike was not so much a creation as a happy accident, sort of like the wheel or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

For all I know that’s the way it happens.

Maybe Robert B. Parker had no idea what he was setting up when he wrote the first Spenser book. Did Tim Dorsey envision Serge A. Storms as almost being a household name? How about Janet Evanovich? Do you think she knew that Stephanie Plum would take on a life of her own?

Want to read more about Ike? click here

surf 17Tune in Friday night at 8:00 EST to hear our discussion – and if you’re an author…leave some feedback below about your biggest character and how they came about. You can also interact with us live while we are on the air through our facebook page.

As always – thank you for reading


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Spotlight On Interviews Starting on Halloween!

Readers: Looking for some new authors? Check out this series of interviews.
Authors: Looking for some great exposure? Send Armand a message!



Starting at 8 am EST on Halloween my month-long Spotlight On interview segment will be up. I wanted to promote other authors out there, so authors are answering six easy questions from me about their latest release. 

I’ve gotten so many great interviews in so far I might end up running three a day… 8 am, noon and 4 pm EST throughout November. If they keep coming in, I’ll spread it into December, too… the more the merrier. I’d love to help everyone. 

If you are an author and interested, drop me an e-mail and let me know and I’ll send you the Spotlight On info…  armandrosamilia (at) gmail (dot) com 

First up on Thursday… Jacqueline Druga, Paul Flewitt and Jeffrey Kosh. 


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Lighting Up Your Friday Night

Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.    ~Robert C. Gallagher

pen in the light

Back in July the Castaways Took Off…it was the beginning of a new adventure for myself and two writer friends – Armand Rosamilia and Becky Pourchot. We started a radio program dedicated to the writing world and all form of things creative in and around our stomping grounds – Flagler Beach.

The show was immediately heralded by critics…words like groundbreaking and intense were bandied about; along with predictions like the blockbuster hit of the summer. (Or maybe that was Jaws…I’m not sure).

Anyway – our show was well received and pretty much the talk of the town (Flagler Beach is a small town). We learned as we went along, aided greatly by producer-extraordinaire Vern Shank.

Now here it 3 months later …and like Bob Dylan said – “the times they are a changin’.”

As of Friday November 1 our show will take on a new look (critical in radio) in that Armand and I will be doing the show without Becky.

The format of the show will remain largely untouched. We will still focus on writing and other creative endeavors in and around Flagler County. We will have interesting guests discussing their latest work/projects and we will continue with our patented (that’s right – it’s patented) style of banter and shenanigans. Although Armand will no longer be allowed to do his Cher impression…and I will not be allowed to bring any more livestock into the studio.

The only other change will be the name of the show.

The Castaways had an identity which can’t be duplicated and we feel that a new name is appropriate.

Our original intent was to have a contest and let you pick our new name, but a suggestion was made by Frank Edler, our good friend at the Books, Beer and Bullshit podcast and we both liked it so much we decided to go with it.

Our new show will be called…

drum roll

Friday Night Writes

We will (at least for the foreseeable future) be in the same 8:00 – 10:00 EST time slot. Sandwiched between my show, Tim Bakers B-Sides and Deep Cuts (7:00 – 8:00) and Armand’s Mando’s Manic Melodies (10:00 – 12:00).

Please visit us on our new facebook page and remember to log on during the show and give us some live feedback while we are on the air. We love interacting with our listeners in real time and giving away free stuff.


Follow us on twitter too!

Jump on the bandwagon and spend your Friday night’s with Tim and Armand as we take over the airwaves on Surf 17 – or you won’t know what all the buzz is about.

Please ask your doctor if you are healthy enough to have listen to this program.

As always – thank you for reading


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Happy Halloween: Part One Zombies

I am very flattered to be mentioned in Heidi’s blog! Take a glance at who else she talks about!

Heiditassone's Blog

glam zombieThis past summer I have had the pleasure to meet a few local writers in Flagler County, Florida. I’ve known Tim Baker for a few years, he writes thrillers with humor. I met Becky Pourchot at a ribbon cutting, she writes YA about Ghosts, and most recently, I met Armand Rosamilia, who writes mainly about, you guessed it. Zombies. I love cop books, thrillers, books on ghosts, demons, and zombies. I’ve been a horror reader since I fist picked up The Stand, by Stephan King, when I was 16. You will see more about these writers on my blog from time to time. Please read them. Support our local artists.

Zombies. The one thing I noticed recently is the trends that go from year to year. Zombies are like the  latest handbag from Prada, Prada handbagor shoes from Manolo Blahnick.220px-Manolo_Blahnik_on_Whitney_Port_Shankbone_2009_Tribeca this year its all about the Zombie. A few years back…

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Writing Tips From the World Series

Warning: I’m going to talk about baseball for a minute, but only briefly, I promise.

I was watching game 1 of the World Series between the Red Sox and the Cardinals and something unusual happened in the first inning.

The Red Sox had runners on first and second when David Ortiz hit a ground ball to the second baseman which should have resulted in a routine double-play. Unfortunately (for the Cardinals) shortstop Pete Kozma failed to handle the toss from the second baseman, resulting in a bases-loaded/no out situation for the Red Sox as opposed to having a man on third with two outs.


In baseball, and especially in the World Series, that is a huge difference.

The Red Sox went on to score three runs in the inning and eventually won the game 8-1.

Even before the game was over the baseball pundits started with the what ifs.

What if Kozma hadn’t dropped the ball?

They began giving their predictions and analyzing how the inning would have been different. When the game was over the talk was about how that play changed the game – and you can bet your bottom dollar that when the World Series is over they will pontificate for days, maybe even weeks, about how that one play affected the outcome of the series.

If the play had gone a different way (any different way) there would be as many potential results as there were fans in the seats…maybe more.

What does this have to do with writing?

Quite simply…you can crerate an entire story with those two words…What if.

what if

The What If  is a fiction writer’s best friend and if you aren’t asking yourself what if often, you should be.

I once saw an interview with Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, and he told about how he once read a newspaper article about a shark attack of the New Jersey shore…and he asked himself what if a shark decided to stake a claim in a certain place and stay there until the food source was gone…


That is not an exact quote – but the what if part is. When I heard him say those two words a bell went off in my head.

What if…is the key to mapping out your story.

You start with a basic what if concept and build on it by asking what if whenever you get to a fork in the road.

Asking it once will create a ripple effect, and each answer will bring about its own what ifs. Some of them will be dead ends, you may have to back-track and change an answer here and there to create a new path…but eventually you’ll have a story.

Like the baseball game, the number of potential answers is virtually unlimited, as are the outcomes.

The beauty of writing fiction is – unlike baseball – you get to ask the what ifs before it’s too late.

That’s why I tell people I don’t believe in writer’s block. If you find yourself stuck…just ask yourself what if. And keep asking it (and answering it, of course) until you are writing again.

It’s not a shortcut – there are no shortcuts in writing – it’s more like a navigational tool that will allow you to predict the outcome of the game before it’s played.

Now if we could only put down a few bets…


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Writing: A Career Or Your Hobby?

A very interesting question from an even more interesting guy. Writing is one of those pursuits which can be done full-time or part-time and with as much conviction as you desire…but it’s important to be honest with yourself. Is your level of commitment enough to accomplish your goal?



Writing: A Career Or Your Hobby?


            I write full-time, as anyone reading this blog will know. I have been for the last two years, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I can think of no better job than being my own boss, creating something from scratch each day and then having to do most (if not all) of the work to make money doing it.

            For years I wrote between work schedules, kids, marriages and divorces and a hundred other things. I wrote sporadically and I wrote random stories and have a ton of unfinished and/or vague ideas on hard drives, thumb drives, floppy discs and a dead Brother word processor. I wrote when I could and I just sat down and wrote something with no real goal in mind and no real focus.


            Until two years ago, when it was sink or swim. I…

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“Epic Apocalypse” Box Set Release

My good friend Armand is one of the contributors to this Epic Box Set…I doubt you will find a better value out there.


New Box Set3

Epic Apocalypse Boxed Set 

Welcome to the Apocalypse 

Tis’ the season for all things that go bump in the night. Today’s top selling horror authors bring to you this boxed set of five full length apocalyptic tales and a teaser from award winning author Joe McKinney. Turn the lights off, enjoy the ride and find out what is lurking under your bed. 

Mark Tufo – Zombie Fallout 
“Working as both straight up survival fiction and comedy, Mark Tufo’s FALLOUT is a gory, laugh out loud tale of a community of heroes, cowards and misfits struggling against zombies. Tufo’s unlikely hero is one of the funniest and most endearing characters I’ve seen in zombie fiction.” – Craig DiLouie, author of TOOTH AND NAIL and THE INFECTION 

Heath Stallcup – Return Of The Phoenix 
Stallcup’s debut is a fun, rollercoaster ride of a story, and easily the best that I’ve read all…

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The Zombie Apocalypse Hits European Village – Again

A little more than a year ago Armand Rosamilia and I were enjoying a banana-bread-beer (don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it) with some friends at one of our favorite local pubs called Farley’s.

Farley’s is in a “plaza” called European Village, which consists of 3 buildings arranged in a triangular shape with an entrance at each point of the triangle. The first floor of each building is occupied by businesses – restaurants, pubs…even a cigar shop – and the upper 3 floors are condominiums.

The interior of the triangle is a large open courtyard with a gazebo in the center.

The architecture of the entire plaza is intended to resemble an old…you guessed it…European village. It even goes so far as to have spots where the stucco has (by design) fallen off.


European Village

So – anyway…as we’re sitting there enjoying the setting Armand mentioned that E.V. would be a cool setting for a zombie attack (believe it or not – that’s the way he thinks). It’s easy to picture it as an Alamo of sorts if – or when – the zombie apocalypse happens.

Somebody else in the group picked up on our conversation and suggested that Armand and I collaborate on a book about it. Before you could say Dawn of the Dead the excitement was building and the ideas were flowing.

Within 2 months, what began as a fun, hypothetical, beer-fueled discussion became a novella called Dying Days: The Siege of European Village.


We enjoyed working together on it and we even incorporated the names of many of our friends just to add to the fun. They all enjoyed reading to see if they survived.

We also incorporated 4 fictional characters; Darlene Bobich and John Murphy from Armand’s very successful Dying Days series and Ike and Brewski from my series of action/thrillers.

When the book was released we had a book signing at Farley’s and sold out of books (48 copies I believe) in less than 2 hours.

We each assumed the excitement was over and we could resume our normal (crazy) writing schedules…

Unfortunately – you know what happens when you assume…

People loved the book and almost immediately began asking about a sequel. At first we laughed it off, but as time went by, and the number of requests grew, we decided that perhaps we should get cracking on a sequel. (Although sequel isn’t really the right word – since the story is really another entry in Armand’s whole Dying Days series.)

Last month we sat down and began hashing out ideas, talking about characters and basically deciding which of our friends would survive or how gruesome their demise would be.

On 3 occasions (two in September and one in October) we sequestered ourselves and had weekend-long writing marathons.

Yesterday (October 13) we finished the first draft of Dying Days: The Siege of European Village II…or as Armand keeps calling it – Dying Days: The Siege of European Village – Electric Boogaloo.

Truth be told – we haven’t officially given it a title yet, but we sent the draft to the editor and the cover art is being created. We plan to have it finished and released before Thanksgiving.

zombie turkey

Our book has nothing to do with Thanksgiving or turkeys – I just thought this was a cool picture.

Armand and I are both very excited about it, because even though the whole thing sprung from incredibly inane chit-chat, we have had a ton of fun writing both books and toying with the fates of our friends! I might be a little more excited than Armand, because he writes zombie/horror stuff all the time. These two books have been my only experience with it – so it’s very new and different for me!

Fans of Armand’s Dying Days series are bound to enjoy it and my readers, who are familiar with the way Ike and Brewski handle things, won’t be disappointed either.

I will keep you posted about the exact release date. In the meantime, if you haven’t read the original you might want to grab a copy and bring yourself up to speed!

As always – thank you for reading


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The Cowboy in the Basement

I was digging through the archives and found this gem. Written about 4 years ago – it was my response to a writing prompt from an internet writer’s group I belonged to at the time.

The prompt was to write about your earliest memory…

The Cowboy in the Basement

It is the faint, musty odor of the basement I remember the most.

As my mother hung newly-laundered clothes on the sagging rope strung between the chimney and the outside wall, I pretended the dimly-lit cellar of our three story tenement-house was the wild-west. It was a perfect opportunity to christen the cowboy hat and dual six-shooters—complete with embroidered holsters—I had recently received as a birthday gift (my fourth I believe).

With my four older brothers at school and my baby sister taking a nap, mom and I were alone in the basement. She was humming cheerfully while I kept a watchful eye for bandits or wild injuns, (whichever should happen to appear first).

Bad guys were scarce that day; they must have heard there was a new sheriff in town, so I busied myself practicing my quick draw.

Suddenly the peaceful silence was broken by the squeak of the rusty hinges on the door at the top of the stairs.

Ever vigilant, I took cover behind the chimney, guns drawn, ready to mow down the varmint.

Footsteps thudded on the dilapidated wooden steps as the intruder slowly descended the stairs, completely unaware of his impending doom.

I peered around the side of the chimney. A shiny black shoe, followed by another, then legs clad in neatly creased grey pants and a pudgy body wearing a suit and tie. His neck bulged over the starched white collar of his shirt. His face had the complexion of a catcher’s mitt with diaper rash.

I didn’t know his name, but the chubby, bald-headed man was always around, I only knew he was referred to as “the landlord”. He also spent a lot of time at our church, which I assumed had something to do with the word “lord” in his title.

The landlord approached mom, she looked at him over the clothes-line and stopped humming. His voice was the harsh whisper of authority and he used words I didn’t understand. From inside his light-grey jacket he produced a handful of envelopes, thumbed through them and handed one to mom.

Her eyes looked from the envelope to the landlord and her usual strength was gone when she spoke.

“But where will we go?”

With not so much as an “I don’t care” he turned away and walked away. My keen lawman’s eye alternated between the landlord shuffling toward the stairs and my mother, whose humming had been replaced by gentle sobs.

I didn’t know what he had said to her, or what was on the paper he had given her, I only knew that he had made her cry.

His shoes scuffled along on the dusty basement floor until he reached the steps. His pudgy hand, still holding more envelopes just like the one he had handed mom, gripped the railing and he hoisted himself up.

I raised one of my guns to my eye and took careful aim, placing the forward site squarely between his shoulder blades.

When I pulled the trigger there was a small click, but it was drowned out by the landlord’s heavy footsteps on the ancient wooden stairs.

So was mom’s crying.

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Tracking The Next Year of Writing

My buddy Armand plans on having a busy year…I plan on watching him!!


When people ask me how much I write, I tell them I hit my daily 2,000 word goal most of the time. I’ve had days and maybe even weeks where I’ve been on vacation or sick or I’ve been really busy, so I might guesstimate 10,000 words a week. Which means (for all you math wizards) in a given year I can pump out about 520,000 words. 

I figured out, from about this time last year to now, I’ve successful sold and/or published everything I’ve completed except for one flash fiction piece. 500 words out of 520k has been sold. A decent chunk (about 180k) of that was for a Hollywood company, and some of those releases are still sitting somewhere, but I got paid upfront and paid well for them. Everything else has seen the light of day. 

But I never really kept track.  

(Dramatic Pause)

Until Now. 

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