Monthly Archives: December 2015

7 Questions For Writers When Looking Back on 2015 #writers #writerslife

7 good questions for #writers to ask themself about 2015. #amwriting #HappyNewYear

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As writers its vital we look back to see how far we have come, what worked, what didn’t go so well and what we can learn for 2016.

Here are 7 questions a writer can use when looking back on 2015:

  1. What was your biggest writing achievement in 2015?
  2. What writing issue did you overcome and how?
  3. Which writing worries were unnecessary in 2015?
  4. How did your writing outlook evolve over 2015?
  5. Which one aspect of your writing would you do differently?
  6. What were your 2 biggest distractions in 2015?
  7. What was the best piece of writing advice that you received in 2015?

As I love quizzes and questionnaires here are my answers:

  • Completing the second draft of my novel. It was an achievement because I detested the first draft and wanted to bin it. Instead I rolled up my literary sleeves and re-wrote 77k words.
  • Writer’s Block. I went through a…

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2015 Year in Review – Is One Out of Three Bad?

It’s that time of year again…time for my fourth annual Year-In-Review post.

In preparing for this post I glanced over the previous three Y.I.R. posts. At the end of my 2014 Y.I.R. I made a bit of a prediction, which I whole-heartedly intended to fulfill – but in retrospect I feel as though I’ve let you down.

At the end of 2014 my list of goals for 2015 looked something like this:

  • The completion of a second collection of short stories about Ike
  • The completion of my 8th novel, Full Circle
  • The beginning (and possible completion) of a second Steve Salem novel

So let’s take a look at how those predictions panned out…

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Which Do You Want First?

There is good news and bad news about Muzzle Velocity – the second collection of short stories featuring Ike.

muzzle velocity

The good news is I’ve got nine good stories so far.

The bad news is I didn’t write any of them.

The plan was simple…I would write a dozen short stories (give or take one or two) and I would solicit short stories from a hand-picked group of my writer friends. Fortunately, my writer friends all delivered…Unfortunately, although I have ideas for several Ike stories, I didn’t have time to write a single one.

I feel like such a slacker…

Round and Round

Moving on to item 2 on the list – the completion of Full Circle.

Full Circle front cover

On this item I am pleased to say – done and done!

Yes, my eighth novel (one which I began writing in 1988) was released in mid-December.

In the interest of full disclosure…it should have been released before Thanksgiving, but I ran into a bit of an administrative setback. For a while there I started to wonder if the book was cursed – but those fears were premature, and the book that was 27 years in the making was brought into the world, officially, on December 22.

So far it has been very well received. Within days of its release a loyal reader posted a five-star review which eased the pain of the SNAFUs leading up to release!

And Then There Was One

Finally, the last prediction of the year – a new Steve Salem novel.

Steve Salem, as you know from Backseat to Justice, is a Flagler Beach Private Investigator. I had hoped to at least begin a new story involving him and his assistant/partner Val Casey, but it just didn’t happen.

BTJ cover

I’m not going to make excuses, it doesn’t matter why I didn’t do it – it only matters that I didn’t, and believe me, nobody is more disappointed than me.

So let’s recap.

2015 was a tough year – production wise.

However, I am very happy (and pretty proud) to announce that it was by far my best year from a sales standpoint.

For this – I can’t thank you enough. I thank you for your support, for buying my books, and for telling others about me.

Without you, I’d just be a guy wasting a lot of time writing stuff.

Calvin writing

I still haven’t been able to quit my day job, but as I told somebody at a holiday gathering last week… “I may not have reached that particular goal yet, but considering in 2009 my goal was to sell one book – I’m happy with how far I’ve come and confident in where I’m going.”

So – do I dare make another prediction for 2016?

I think I should – it will give me something to shoot for, but I think I’m going to need a good supply of ammunition because it’s looking like a target-rich environment!

First up – my next Ike novel, tentatively titled Blood in the Water.

The story will involve a hunt for a mysterious lost treasure, an unsolved missing persons case, sharks (gotta have sharks!) and a guy who is over his head until Ike steps in.

shark

I can’t wait to see how it ends!

Second – the aforementioned collection of short stories, Muzzle Velocity

It WILL be released before the Fourth of July. Not only do I enjoy writing short stories, but I’ve got nine stories written by some really good writers I think you will enjoy, so I’m determined to get it done!

Third – The next Steve Salem novel.

This project is something I really want to do, but I have to be realistic – in the midst of all my other projects I am not extremely optimistic about completing it – but we’ll see. At the very least I will begin.

Fourth – I am working on a fun little project with my friend Becky Pourchot.

Becky bought her first motorcycle this year and after about ten miles of riding she was hopelessly hooked. We started having conversations about the Zen of the motorcycle, and decided to gather some of our biker experiences and put them together in a book. Our plan is to have it ready for Bike Week here in Daytona Beach – which is in March, so the clock is ticking!

easy rider

And lastly…I’ve been invited to contribute short stories to a couple of anthologies being put together by other writers. As I said – I enjoy writing short stories so this will be fun!

So 2015 fades into the sunset and 2016 is coming at me with lots of stuff to do.

calendar

I should probably get to work!

See you on the first page of the new calendar

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Best Bloggers Blogging in 2015

I am honored to make this list of great writers – please check it out and enjoy some fabulous fiction!!

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

Thanks to Chris Graham, The Story Reading Ape, for creating this handy-dandy award badge!

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I’ve already given you a wrap-up of the best books I read in 2015. As well as being a reader and an author, I’m also a blogger who promotes other authors and doles out advice and information on all manner of interesting areas, to me and to my readers. Throughout this past year I have become “acquainted” with other like-minded bloggers (some of whom are also authors), have followed and read their blogs, commented on them, and reblogged their posts a number of times. Some of these bloggers came to my attention in the first place, because they offered to read and review my books or gave me promotion by way of an interview or a guest post on their blogs. In turn, I met a number of other bloggers through that first set –…

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The Release of Full Circle!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I am pleased to announce the arrival of my eighth novel – Full Circle.

Full Circle front cover

Yes, the book which began some 27 years ago (read about that here) has finally become a reality.

You know what they say…

What goes around – Comes around.

goes around

This book is the proof – by virtue of its arrival and also in its theme.

Full Circle is about Karma – plain and simple.

In the first chapter we meet Joe Moretti Jr. and learn of his selfish, greedy and narcissistic ways…traits learned from his dead father. Joe treats Flagler Beach, Florida (home of all my stories) like his personal Monopoly board, and has no compunction eliminating anybody who gets in his way.

go to jail

After he receives a piece of news that threatens to unravel his empire, Joe goes into survival mode and hatches a plan to neutralize the threat – but he fails to consider one simple rule…every action brings about a reaction.

I’m sorry, but that’s all I’m going to tell you, other than this…in most of my novels Ike takes care of the bad guys. In Full Circle, the universe gives Ike some time off.

Here are the purchase links…

Full Circle – Kindle

Full Circle – paperback

 

As always – Thank you for reading

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Bequia Christmas

So My friend Susan Toy decided to post a short Christmas story of her own in response to my Ike story.
Any other bloggers out there want to swap reblogs of Christmas stories…let’s spread some Holiday cheer!

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

I’m posting this Christmas story to meet a challenge from Tim Baker, who already posted his Ike Christmas story this morning (see my reblog of it previous to this post). So here you go, Tim! This is your surprise – that I actually pulled out my manuscript of One Woman’s Island and began rewriting again! I know, I know. Possibly a small Christmas miracle in itself, but still … better than cookies?

This is an excerpt from Chapter 10 of my novel-in-progress. Happy Holidays, everyone!

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Bequia Christmas

… in memory of Mariann Palmborg

A day or so after Joan’s departure, I was in the Harbour to replenish food supplies and met Solfrid there again. She was on the run, as usual, but said in passing, “Be sure you are on the main ferry wharf at 2 p.m. on December the sixth, and bring your neighbour’s children along.”

When I…

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Christmas…Ike Style

 

‘Tis the season…right?

I guess that depends on who you ask.

As you know – Ike is not the sappy, emotional type, so how do you think he handles the onslaught of forced sentimentality every December?

It probably won’t surprise you…but let’s find out.

Don’t Call Me Carol

“So, tell me, why don’t you like Christmas?” Tiki asked as he handed Ike a bottle of Budweiser.

“No offense, Tiki,” Ike said, “but you’re a bartender at The Golden Lion…not a shrink.”

Tiki held his hands up, palms out. “Sorry. Just making conversation.”

“I don’t come here to chat.”

Tiki decided to try his conversational skills on the bikini-clad blonde at the end of the bar. Ike turned his attention to his beer.

He closed his eyes and saw Dodger. The ten-year-old memory hadn’t faded at all.

Dodger sat against the cave wall and dug into his MRE. Ike stood at the entrance of the cave scanning the horizon through his night-vision scope.

“Hey relax, bro,” Dodger said. “It’s Christmas Eve, even here in Ass-Crakistan.”

“You relax. I’ll make sure nobody fires an RPG into the cave. I don’t care that it’s Christmas and neither do the insurgents.”

“How can you not care that it’s Christmas? You gotta care that it’s Christmas.”

“No I don’t.”

“Hey, I’m a million miles from my wife and daughter, but I’m not letting that stop me.” He tossed the MRE to the back of the cave. “Meal-ready-to-eat, my ass, I might have to kill a camel. Anyway, don’t scrooge out on me. Merry Christmas, bro.”

“Right,” Ike said.

“Come on, just say it once. Ten years we’ve been eating dirt together and I’ve never heard you say Merry Christmas.”

“And you never will.”

“No, man. You need to say Merry Christmas. Say it once and it’ll change your whole outlook. I promise.”

“Shut up and eat,” Ike told him.

 

Hugo Baccarri stopped next to the BMW and looked around the parking lot for potential witnesses.

Nobody in sight.

He climbed into the car as if it were his own and drove away, watching the rear view mirror as he went.

“What kind of idiot leaves the keys in their Beemer?” he asked himself.

He drove north for forty-five minutes, exited I-95 at Palm Coast and parked behind a Chinese restaurant, where he proceeded to rummage through the console and glove box. A watch, an iPod and a really nice Zippo lighter…not bad. He got out to check the trunk.

“What the hell is this?” He pulled a bright red coat and the tall black boots from the trunk.

When he saw the white beard and the donation bucket he realized what he had found. An idea struck him and he laughed out loud.

Tossing everything into the backseat, he drove to a nearby Home Depot. The backseat of the BMW was not a dressing room, but he managed to change into the Santa suit. It was a little big for him, but it would do the trick. He grabbed the donation bucket and stood on the sidewalk by the entrance to the store.

Nobody bothers Santa Clause, especially on Christmas Eve.

It was a great plan. In no time at all his donation bucket was filling with cash. Hugo wished every passer-by a Merry Christmas, even the ones who didn’t donate, and threw in plenty of Ho Ho Hos. He even posed for a couple of pictures with babies.

 

Ike opened his eyes when he sensed a presence on the stool next to him.

“Jingle bells, my brother,” Brewski said.

“What’s happening?” Ike asked, returning his friend’s fist bump.

“Nothing, just figured I’d stop off and have a beer with my best friend on Christmas Eve.”

“I can’t tell you how much that means to me.”

Brewski grinned and shook his head.

“What are you doing tonight, Grinch?” Brewski asked.

“I’m gonna have another beer then go back to the boat and drink some more.”

“Come on, where’s your Christmas spirit?”

“You mean the spirit that makes people stampede each other for a TV at Walmart? No thanks.”

“Hey cheer up,” Brewski said. “It could be worse. Remember last Christmas when we had to go have a chat with that guy who was trying to skip out on the five grand he owed Ralph? And when we got there he had his two brothers-in-law with him? Man, we worked hard for the money that night.”

“Good times,” Ike said flatly.

“And how about the year you had that woman stalking you? You didn’t expect to find her on your boat on Christmas morning…with no wrapping.”

Ike turned on his stool and looked at Brewski.

“Are you trying to cheer me up?”

“Yeah, but it’s not working. Come on, just try and enjoy the season. It won’t kill you.”

“Not worth the risk,” Ike said.

Brewski downed his beer and stood to leave. The men exchanged another fist bump.

“Merry Christmas, bro,” Brewski said.

“Later,” Ike returned to his beer.

 

After an hour-and-a-half Hugo packed up his bucket and left Home Depot. His score, not counting the change, was almost $300. Not bad for less than two hours. He drove into Flagler Beach and set up in front of a Publix supermarket.

Almost immediately the good people of Flagler Beach began filling his bucket.

Hugo grinned behind the itchy white beard. He had never been a big fan of Christmas, but his attitude changed a little bit every time a soccer mom dropped her change into his bucket.

 

Ike felt a hand on his shoulder, followed by a kiss on his cheek.

“Hello, Nadine.”

“Hi sweetie,” she said. “Merry Christmas.”

Ike smiled weakly and drank some beer.

Nadine was un-phased.

“Are you coming to my Christmas Ball tonight?”

“Nadine, we’ve been over this.”

“I know we have,” she said, “but you do so much for Christmas Come True, I’ll just keep asking.”

“And I’ll keep saying no,” Ike said, offering her a better smile to soften the blow. “Thank you anyway.”

Nadine kissed his cheek again and hugged him.

“Okay, honey, but the fun starts at 8:30 and you’re always welcome.”

She spotted Ralph, Ike’s boss and owner of The Golden Lion, and made a beeline for him. Ike waved over his shoulder then motioned to Tiki for another beer.

 

The Publix yielded more than $100 in an hour, but the manager hassled Hugo so he had to split. He relocated to a CVS and got a little more aggressive with his bell ringing, knowing that the Chistmas Eve foot traffic would be dying off soon.

 

Tiki swapped Ike’s empty bottle for a fresh beer.

“Nice night,” Tiki tried.

Ike looked around. “Yup.”

“Hey listen,” Tiki said. “Every year I get a bunch of people together for a Christmas Night booze cruise. It’s the perfect thing for people like…it’s better than hanging out at home alone.” Tiki regretted saying it as soon as the words left his mouth.

“Where you going with this, Tiki?”

“Well…this year’s cruise is already booked, but I’m taking names for next year. It fills up fast. What do you say? Want me to hold you a spot?”

Ike stood and downed most of the beer in one long swallow and dropped a ten on the bar.

“I don’t think so. Adios.”

“See you Ike. Merry…see ya.”

 

More than fifty bucks in half-an-hour. Hugo was very happy. He decided to call it a night, grab a bottle and a hotel…maybe even a hooker.

“Merry Christmas to me,” he said as he drove toward A1A.

He found a liquor store behind a night club called Finn’s and grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels. At the counter, the clerk hummed a Christmas song as she rang up the whiskey.

“Santa doing some last minute shopping?” she asked Hugo.

Hugo pulled the gun from the pocket of his Santa suit.

“Gimmee the bottle and whatever you got in the register. Now!”

 

Ike walked toward the front of the store with his 12-pack of Budweiser. When he saw Santa standing at the counter he rolled his eyes.

“I can’t wait ‘til this shit is over,” he muttered.

 

“Come on, bitch” the Santa growled as Ike drew closer. “Gimmee the cash.”

“Son of a bitch,” Ike whispered when he saw the gun.

Ike slowly bent down and quietly set his 12-pack on the floor then reached behind his back and pulled the .45 from his belt.

 

The force of the bullet hitting him in the back drove Hugo into a pyramid-shaped display of rum. He crashed to the floor, the rum bottles cutting and slashing him as they shattered. The last thing he saw was his own blood mixing with Sailor Jerry’s, conjuring a bizarre cocktail of death.

 

Ike tucked his gun away, picked up his beer and casually continued to the counter. The clerk was wide-eyed with horror and her eyes were fixed on Santa’s corpse.

Ike dropped a twenty on the counter and turned toward the door.

“Merry Christmas,” he said.

As he approached the exit he caught his reflection in the glass door…smiling.

 

Don’t Call Me Carol was written before Christmas in 2013 and is the opening story in “Path of a Bullet – A Collection of Short Stories featuring Ike

As always – thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy the holiday season in whatever way makes you happy!

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