Tag Archives: armand rosamilia

2014 Review – It Was a Very Good Year

Once again we are watching yet another year fade away in the rearview mirror.

Sometimes I think there is some sort of universal phenomenon that causes the years to go by faster as we get older. Sort of like a roller coaster…the long slow climb up that first hill is followed by a neck-breakingly fast plummet which really makes you appreciate the scenery you ignored on the way up.

Anyway…I digress.

2014 is in the books and it’s time for the annual recap.

From the perspective of my writing career, I have to say that 2014 was, by far, my best year (to date).

Let’s run down the highlights (in no particular order):

 

5-Digit Territiory

I joined Twitter in October, 2009 – shortly after my first novel was released – because I had heard it was a good way to network and market.

At the time I looked at networking and marketing the way a St. Bernard looks at catnip.

When I met Armand Rosamilia a year later I think I had about 80 twitter followers. Armand showed me how to use twitter and, most importantly, how to avoid being intimidated by its rapid fire, life-at-a-million-miles-an-hour pace.

Within a month I was up to 600 followers.

Here we are, just four years later and I have crossed the 10,000 follower mark – something I never thought possible.

twitter 10k

I thank you all for your support! I am truly appreciative for every single twitter follower as well as facebook fan and everybody else connected to me through social media.

 

An Audiophile’s Dream

When 2013 ended I was doing two radio shows on Surf 97.3.

Tim Baker’s B-Sides, Deep Cuts and Cool Covers (Friday night from 7-8 pm) was in its infancy and I was also partnering with Armand on Friday Night Writes (Friday nights from 8-10 pm).

In the early months of 2014 Armand’s schedule took him away from the show, leaving a two hour void in Friday night’s programming. B Sides cover

This void gave birth to The Tim Baker Friday Night Music Extravaganza.

At the suggestion of station manager DJ Vern I took over the 8-10 block, flying solo and replacing the writing-related talk with good ole’ fashioned rock and roll.

The show airs on Friday’s from 7-10 pm EST on Surf 97.3 FM and http://www.Flaglerbeachradio.com. It has been fun for me since day one and has developed a loyal, if not somewhat rabid, following!

Every Friday night I spend “the best three hours of my week” entertaining people with music, but even if nobody was listening I would still love doing it (although DJ Vern might not be too thrilled)!!

 

Oh! The Horror!!

Those who read my work know that my genre (the one that defies classification) will never be confused with horror, yet 2014 saw me contributing stories to two horror anthologies.

The first story was called Dying Days – Angel and appeared in the anthology Still Dying 2… an anthology of stories released by Armand Rosamilia based on his Dying Days zombie series.

I also submitted a story called Road Wearier to a collection of short stories called State of Horror – New Jersey. SoH New Jersey

I surprised many of my readers with these stories, and to tell the truth, I surprised myself a little too!

 

Singin’ the Blues

In the fall of 2014 I released my 7th novel – Eyewitness Blues.

Eyewitness Blues is the story of Martin Aquino, a young man with less sense than luck, and a knack for landing in bad situations.

Convinced that his life is beyond salvage, Martin decides the witness protection program will provide him with a fresh start.

Sort of like hitting the reset button.

Eyewitness Blues final cover

Unfortunately he hasn’t witnessed anything and things go downhill from there!

Practically from the day it was released Eyewitness Blues has been receiving great feedback.

Several readers have told me that, of all my books, it is their favorite. The reviews on Amazon are extremely flattering.

 

The Off-White Knight Rides

It seems that Ike took on a life of his own in 2014.

The final project of 2014 was a collection of short stories featuring my enigmatic anti-hero.

The book is called Path of a Bullet – A Collection of Short Stories featuring Ike.

The title came from a quote (by Ike) in one of the stories where he tells his compadre, Brewski “The shortest distance between two points is the path of a bullet.”

Florida author Susan Nicholls  penned a very nice foreword for the book and internationally acclaimed author Seumas Gallacher wrote an amazing review.

Six other writers contributed their own stories about Ike to the book. I don’t know how other writers feel about fan fiction, but I take it as a huge compliment. The fact that my character made enough of an impression on other people to inspire them to write their own stories is incredibly flattering and (at the risk of sounding cliché) why I write!

10807997_4705964944190_673894021_nSales of the “Ike has my back” tee shirts were better than expected too!

The Ike Anthology has been so well-received that work has already begun on the 2015 edition. I plan to write at least twelve stories for it and there will be additions from 11 other others.

Stay tuned for a blog post in the very near future formally announcing the other participants.

 

Speaking of 2015

I am hardly a prognosticator, but I’ll do my best to let you know what’s on tap for 2015…

The aforementioned collection of Ike short stories is planned to be released in early December and is tentatively being called Muzzle Velocity.

Many of you have heard the story of my ill-fated, 1988 attempt to write a novel called Full Circle. Well the time has come to drag Full Circle out of the closet and give it the attention it deserves.

From the day I began scribbling it down in a spiral-bound notebook all those years ago I have always felt it was a book that needed to be written – and now its time has come.

I have spent the past few weeks gathering & reviewing the 15 or so chapters I had written back in the day. I’ve also been going over the many thoughts & notes jotted down on everything from post-it notes to cocktail napkins (and never thrown away!) as well as compiling some new ones. As soon as the holiday madness dies down I will be diving into Full Circle. If all goes well it should be available in the fall of 2015.

I also have an idea for anBTJ coverother Steve Salem (he of Backseat to Justice) novel and I am going to try to crank that out as well.

Hopefully, a year from now I’ll be writing a recap about all three of those projects!

 

Thank you to all of you for sharing 2014 with me. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support.

I hope each, and every one, of you are blessed with peace, love and prosperity in 2015!

 

As always – thank you for reading

 

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Two Zombie Novellas for Only 99 Cents (and a nightmare about polar bears)

I got a phone call at 3:00 in the morning this past Sunday from Armand Rosamilia.

He was in a state of pure panic.

From what I could decipher through his hysterics, he had a nightmare about the two zombie novellas we co-wrote. In this nightmare he was surrounded by big, happy, fluffy polar bears. They were eating vegetables and singing love songs (that’s a nightmare for him, believe me). The polar bears were demanding that he make our novellas available as a 2-in-1 set and that the price be lowered to 99 cents.

polar bears

He called to tell me he was going to make it happen whether I liked it or not…these were polar bears, damn it!!!

My first response was…“Armand who?”-  but then I listened to his rant and told him if it meant I could go back to sleep he could do whatever he wanted.

Actually – not a word of that is true. (Except for the polar bears…he really doesn’t like polar bears)

What is true…is the pricing thing.

Siege 1&2

We decided to take the two zombie novellas we wrote, Dying Days: The Siege of European Village & Dying Days: Siege 2, and combine them into a “box set” which is now available for the ridiculously low price of 99 cents.

My advice to you is to get over there (a convenient link is provided below) and get your copy before Armand comes to his senses and raises the price back up to the normal $3.99 mark.

Click here to take advantage of this crazy deal!!!

box set image

That is all…you may now resume normal behavior.

 

As always – thank you for reading

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Another Year in the Books – 2013 Year in Review

Another year is in the books, let’s recap…

In short, 2013 was awesome.

As the year began I was still riding the wave of success brought by Pump It Up (released in late 2012). Pump was a fun story to write, and judging by the responses, it was fun to read as well.

I released Unfinished Business in June and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. This was especially satisfying when you consider the fact that I was hesitant to release it because I wasn’t sure you’d like it (read about my concerns here). It seems as though every person who reads it says the same thing…this would make a great TV series or movie.

UB cover

I take that as very high praise.

Several people also suggested a sequel. As I stated in a previous post I’m generally not a big fan of sequels, but in this case it might be warranted because there is so much potential. In fact, it could almost become a series.

I’ll take it under advisement for sure.

After Unfinished Business was released, I dove into my next project, which I am tentatively calling Protect This.

The idea for Protect This came about while I was watching the TV show In Plain Sight which is about people in the Witness Protection Plan. I thought what if somebody wanted to get into the witness protection plan, but they hadn’t really witnessed anything?

The more I thought about it, the more I loved it, so I started writing. At this time I have about 40,000 words written and I figure I’m about two-thirds complete. Look for that (probably under a different title) in mid-2014.

I worked on two other projects this year (both completed!).

Both projects were collaborative efforts with my friend Armand Rosamilia.

The first was the sequel (there’s that word again) to our 2012 zombie story Dying Days: The Siege of European Village – and it was called Dying Days: Siege 2.

Siege 1&2

I’m not a horror/zombie author but Armand and I have so much fun writing together that I couldn’t say no.

Finally (as for writing projects) Armand invited me to contribute a short story to his anthology of zombie short stories called Still Dying 2 (yet another sequel!). I was honored to contribute when I saw the list of names included in the book and I’m not ashamed to say that my story is among the weakest in the book.

2013 saw one other big, new development in my career.

Back in the spring Armand and I met Vern Shank, local DJ/musician/writer/entrepreneur, and he told us about his latest venture…he had purchased a radio station.

Before I knew what was happening Armand and I (along with Becky Pourchot) had a weekly radio show devoted to writing and other artistic endeavors. Becky has since left the show, but Armand and I can still be heard Friday nights from 8:00 – 10:00 EST on www.flaglerbeachradio.com.

cover4

In addition to that show, I also have a show of my own, airing Friday nights from 7:00 – 8:00 called Tim Baker’s B-Sides and Deep Cuts. For a music lover like me, this is a dream job!

I’d say that any year where you can claim 3 new releases and land 2 awesome gigs on the radio is a really good year.

blimp

And of course I owe it all to you – thank you all for buying and reading my books. You are the ones who make it possible for me!

Let’s hope that a year from now we’re still doing it!

As always – thank you for reading

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

“Dying Days: Siege 2” Hits the Shelves (or: Will the Dying Ever End?)

Remember when the world was going to end last December?

Thankfully it didn’t…because on that very night Armand Rosamilia and I held a book release party at Farley’s Irish Pub for our collaborative effort Dying Days: The Siege of European Village. (not coincidentally – Farley’s happens to be in European Village)

cover2

It was a great party…probably the best party ever thrown (if you missed it, you have no way of knowing if that’s true or not!) and we sold 50 books in about 2 hours.

Talk about “Writer’s Problems” – I sold out of books at my signing so I had to take people’s names and email addresses so I could let them know when I would have more.

Yeah – nice problem to have!

This year, the world isn’t scheduled to end (at least not that we know of), but Armand and I will be having another release party – this time for the sequel to Siege.

We haven’t planned the party yet, but the book is available.

We went round and round about a title…Armand was really pushing for Dying Days: The Siege of European Village II – Electric Bugaloo  while I was pushing for Dying Days & Wild Summer Nights: The Siege Continues – but we decided to go with something completely unique and trend setting…

Dying Days: Siege 2.

Cover DDEV2

In case you missed my blog post about the sequel you can jump over and read it now by clicking here…go ahead, we’ll wait.

Much like the first one, we had a blast writing it (read about the first one here) and much like the first one we used the names of several of our friends here in Flagler County as victims…I mean characters.

If you didn’t read the first one you can find the kindle version here  (it’s on sale for $.99!!!) and the print version here.

The kindle version of Siege 2 is available here – Dying Days: Siege 2

The print version is available here.

This is my second zombie novella – and I must say, it was fun.

My regular readers will be pleased to know that Ike and Brewski are just as good at kicking undead ass as they are that of living scumbags!

So maybe it’s snowing where you are, or there’s nothing good on TV tonight…download these two books, grab a beverage, kick back and take a trip to European Village…just be careful not to trip on the corpses.

As always – thank you for reading

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

cover4

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 – FlaglerBeachRadio.com 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

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Social Media Marketing for Indie Authors (and Dummies)

One thing I hear quite often from readers is that “writing a book must be hard.”

Well, it’s definitely not easy, but truth be told, writing the book is the easy part. It’s the “getting it out to the world” that’s the hard part.

Ask 10 Independent Authors about their marketing strategy and you’ll get 20 different answers.

The good news is, there is a ton of ways to promote your work. The bad news…you have to figure out which one(s) will give you the most bang for your buck.

I hang out with two other indie authors on a regular basis (Armand Rosamilia and Becky M. Pourchot) and we have devoted a lot of conversation time to the “best” marketing ideas. We’ve discussed ideas from newspaper ads to radio broadcasts, we go to art-related events regularly and we routinely harass local businesses into selling our books and hosting signings. We also discuss the value, or lack thereof, of giving bookmarks to potential readers (see Armand’s blog post about it here) and even the advantages, or disadvantages of giving books away.

After we’ve beaten the above ideas to death, and beyond, we move on to social media – which, although mostly free, is not without issues. There is no doubt about its value as a marketing tool, but be careful how you use it or it can do more harm than good. It’s taken me about 5 years to get a handle on it and I’m still no expert, but here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned so far…

 

Lesson #1 – The internet is free publicity…unless you count the old adage “time is money.”

time is moneySure – you can sign up for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads and a slew of other social media sites and plug yourself until the cows come home – but how much time are you willing to spend every day keeping up with all of it. If you want to establish an on-line presence you have to be active. Keeping a facebook page dynamic enough to draw interest requires constant attention. Not letting your Twitter feed become stagnant takes time, and your Goodreads page isn’t going to remain up to date by itself. I think you see the way I’m steering the boat…

 

Lesson #2 – Using the internet is so easy a 12-year-old can do it…problem is, I’m not 12.

baby on facebook

I have enough trouble remembering 47 different user-IDs and passwords, never mind figuring out how to link my Facebook feed to my Goodreads page. Every time I try to update my website, it’s a two-hour ordeal, and before it’s over I have usually invented a handful of new cuss-words. And why can’t things look and act the same on my phone and Kindle as they do on my PC? I swear, the first thing I’m going to do after Steven Spielberg makes a movie from one of my books is hire an IT Department.

 

Lesson #3 – Be careful with your content…you won’t sell a book to someone who thinks you’re an a$$hole.

political postsWhether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn or Pinterest it is wise to avoid controversy. I used to enjoy engaging people in “spirited debates” on Facebook, but Armand finally convinced me that it was not the best business decision, since I ran the risk of alienating people who had opposing viewpoints. Yes, I am entitled to my opinion, as is everybody, but by voicing those opinions I was running the risk of pissing people off, so I backed off and now I only engage in non-controversial (for the most part) discussions. I suppose if I were Stephen King, I wouldn’t care about it, but…

 

Lesson #4 – Sure, the idea of being on the internet is to sell books…but don’t actually ask people to buy them.

salesman

Talk about contradictions, right? You want to use the internet to reach the world and sell your book (or song, or painting, or whatever), but if you do nothing but bombard the feeds with “buy my stuff” posts your sales numbers will be less than staggering. You might as well put on a cheap suit and shout “…but wait! There’s more!!” Nobody likes a high-pressure salesman. Social media is meant to be, as the title implies, social…so socialize (bearing in mind Lesson #3). Share content that is interesting, funny, philosophical or thought provoking…then every now and then slip in a casual reminder that you happen to have something for sale.

 

Lesson #5 – Social media is a two-way street…make sure you go both ways.

two way

Imagine you meet somebody at a party, begin a discussion and within minutes you realize that this person talks about nothing but themselves. Pretty soon you’d be wishing for somebody to interrupt so you can casually slip off to the bathroom. Social media is no different. Don’t be “that guy” (or girl). Contribute to conversations you didn’t start, acknowledge pictures of peoples children or pets with a “like”, “favorite” or “+1” (whatever the case may be). Show people that you’re interested in them and they will respond in kind. Pretty simple, actually.

 

Lesson #6 – If you can’t be original…at least add some creativity when you plagiarize.

duplicate original

There’s really nothing new under the sun, and social media drives that point home like a sledge hammer. There are going to be times when you share a picture, retweet an article or repin an item. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just try to do it in such a way that doesn’t leave you looking like a parrot. Mix it up, add some original content and try to make it (at least partially) your own. If you’re creative enough to write a book, you should be creative enough to come up with a caption more original than “LOL” under the picture you stole form your high school buddy. And try to avoid reposting content that has been around the block a thousand times…

I think that’s about enough for now. One other lesson I’ve learned about the internet…don’t overshoot the attention span of your audience!

And speaking of the internet – here are links to connect with me out there on the interweb – stop by and say hello.

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Amazon

Pinterest

LinkedIn

Website

And if you want to find me quickly, do a search for #Ike

 

As always – thank you for reading.

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Who the Hell is Ike?

 

It’s no secret – I live on Facebook. I admit it, I’m a Facebook junkie.

As an Independent Author, I find Facebook a great place to market myself. It reaches millions of people and it’s free – can’t beat that with a stick.

Even though I use it as a marketing tool, I try not to come across like a used-car salesman. Everybody has their own methods…some of my other author friends post links to their books daily.

Me? I’d rather post a picture of a guy wearing a Batman cape and mask along with rainbow stockings standing in a fountain. Something to make you laugh.

Occasionally I will post something philosophical, just to make you think.

But I hardly ever (not never – but rarely) post anything that asks you to buy my books.

Why not?

I guess I don’t want to be a nuisance.

With all that being said, I have come up with, what I think is a clever marketing gimmick.

I’ve started taking iconic photos from movies and TV and inserting my own “Ike-isms” into them.

Here’s an example:

you can't handle Ike

The idea came to me after I created one for my friend, author Armand Rosamilia. It was from the movie The Breakfast Club and, after I made it, I thought, Hmmm – I need to do something similar for myself.

So I started with a Mother’s Day themed one. It was an image of the most iconic TV mother I could think of – June Cleaver – and I inserted text that said something to the effect of “Give your mom what all moms want – a healthy dose of Ike.”

Before I knew it I had made about 25 of them and had to create a new folder on my jump drive to hold them so I could post them at various times. After about the 3rd or 4th day I started getting private messages from people asking me “Who the hell is Ike?”

The plan was working, I had raised curiosity about Ike (and by default, my books) without becoming a pain-in-the-ass.

So – let me tell you about Ike:

Ike was written into my first book Living the Dream as a minor character. His role was intended to be strictly support, in fact I think he only appeared in three or four chapters. I didn’t know much about him then, other than that he lived on a boat and worked as an “enforcer” for a local bookie named Ralph.

In Water Hazard, I brought Ike back as the best friend of the protagonist, called in for assistance with a deadly scenario. This is where Ike’s personality really began to grow. Here it was revealed that Ike was an ex-Navy SEAL. He is 6’-6” tall and weighs about 275 lbs. He has long hair that is beginning to gray and he wears it in a ponytail. He is a ladies man and afraid of nothing. But most importantly – even though he has a tendency to bend the rules and he works for a known felon, he has a very strong moral compass.

Water Hazard

Physically Ike is a guy built like The Rock…with the looks and bad-ass-itude of Sam Elliot’s character Wade Garrett in the movie Road House, and with the charm and personality of Sam Axe (played by Bruce Campbell) from Burn Notice.

Throughout the next three books, Ike remained a key figure—sort of a knight-in-shining-armor. He was always there to make sure bad things didn’t happen to good people. By the time Pump It Up was released it was especially challenging (and a lot of fun) to see how Ike would fair in the world of transsexuals, transgenders and transvestites.

Ike is such a strong character that Armand Rosamilia, who writes zombie/horror stories, asked if I’d be willing to co-write a zombie novella with him and put Ike in it.  At first I was skeptical, because Ike lives in (are you ready for this) “the real world”.  There are no zombies in Ike’s world…so I was a little unsure, but eventually I decided that fiction is fiction so what the hell.

The book, Dying Days: The Siege of European Village, was a ton of fun to write and I have received lots of feedback from fans who loved Ike’s role in it. Adding further to the myth…now he even kills zombies!

cover2

So that’s about it on Ike – at least as far as I know.

There is not much doubt that I will eventually have to write a pre-quel to get the full story on Ike, but at this point, it’s a mystery to me.

*Update – Read the riveting sequel to this post here!!

As always – Thank you for reading.

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Independent Authors Need to Think Globally & Act Locally

Think Globally – Act Locally

It’s a phrase that gets thrown about quite a bit in discussions about the environment, but I think it can be put to good use when it comes to marketing your books as well.

The phrase urges people to think about the “big picture” (global) while focusing their efforts on a small piece of it (local).

Every author who releases a book these days understands, or should understand, the value of social media. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, My Space, Goodreads, and whatever other sites you can think of, are invaluable tools in reaching people from all over the world without paying high-priced PR Firms or Marketing Consultants—but in your quest to sell books to your many fans in Australia, don’t forget about the readers in your hometown.

Even if you live in a small town, like mine, there are still thousands of potential readers who probably don’t know you exist. Try to focus at least half of your marketing efforts on them.

Half? Crazy, you say? Why spend half of my efforts focusing on ten-thousand people when I can reach millions on facebook???

Here’s why;

Don’t think about them as ten-thousand people…think of them as ten-thousand FREE marketing assistants. Each one of them has friends, relatives and coworkers. Chances are they also have facebook accounts, twitter followings and Pinterest boards. Ipso-facto…if you can reach millions with your one facebook account, imagine your reach if you get just one-thousand of your local fan base to post or tweet about you.

viral

 

Any effort you can put into having a signing at a local library, book store, bar, restaurant or laundromat is bound to pay off way beyond the fifteen or twenty books you sell.

Let me give you an example;

Last year I met another author in my town named Armand Rosamilia. We quickly became friends and soon began tossing marketing ideas around to gain support right here at home. We both write books that take place in our own community, but we thought our local “presence” could use some bolstering. One night, while enjoying a pint at a local watering hole with several friends, the idea of collaborating on a “short story” was brought up. It soon became a full blown group discussion and it was determined that we should set the story in town and use as many local people for characters as possible.

Our goal was a 10,000 word short story featuring several locals as characters with the action taking place in a well-known local setting.

What we ended up with was a 24,000 word novella. We also included preview chapters from each of our recent releases along with bios and lists of our back works.

cover2We arranged a book signing at the bar where the idea was conceived and spread the word by creating a facebook “event”. Naturally, we told all of the named characters about it and invited them to attend and guess what they did?

They came, they brought friends and relatives and they facebooked, tweeted and pinterested the crap out of it.

Both Armand and I saw immediate spikes in sales of our back catalogs and the little novella we wrote (in roughly four days) sold fifty copies at the signing in less than two hours. Our facebook and twitter followings increased greatly as well.

So when you’re working on your marketing strategy, by all means incorporate social media as much as you can, but don’t forget the power of good-old-fashioned word of mouth. Build your local following as much as possible and let them work for you as well.

Think of each local reader as “patient zero” in your efforts to go viral.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Dying Days are Here Again…as the Summer Evenings Go

As you all know – unless you haven’t been following me on twitter (@blindoggbooks) or facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BlindoggBooks) – I began working on a collaboration effort with my friend Armand Rosamilia (@armandauthor) a couple of months ago.

Armand is a zombie/horror author, and he asked me to co-write the next installment in his Dying Days series, to which I happily agreed.

For the setting of our story, we used a local business/condo complex called European Village and we thought it would be fun to include some of the people we see there on a regular basis – from business owners to patrons and employees.

Right from the get-go, it was a blast. We had fun brainstorming, writing together and putting our friends in all sorts of zombie-filled situations.

The story is finally finished and the Kindle version can be found here. The print version will be available with two weeks and I will let you know how to secure a copy as soon as it is.

I want to thank Armand for including me in this adventure and I hope you all enjoy reading the story as much as we enjoyed writing it (a little cliché, I know, but it’s true).

And now – without further ado – here are the first two chapters of Dying Days: The Siege of European Village

cover2

Dying Days

The Siege of European Village

Armand Rosamilia and Tim Baker

 Darlene

       Darlene Bobich, wishing she had a nice pair of sunglasses, shielded her eyes with a hand as she swung the baseball bat and felt it connect with the face of the dead man. When he tumbled backward, landing on the ground and thrashing, she finished him off by bashing his rotting brains in.

“I think he’s dead,” John Murphy said behind her.

“Technically, he was already dead.” Darlene smiled. “Where to now?”

A1A was deserted and this stretch had trees on either side, the grass long and unkempt. They’d just passed a torched Publix and a bank, and there was nothing left to salvage. Up ahead was an overpass.

John carried his compound bow, a bag of arrows slung over his shoulder, and his machete dangling in the loop at his waist. He pointed at the overpass. “I think it leads over to Palm Coast. We should use it to get over the Intracoastal. Maybe the area hasn’t been picked clean yet.”

The farther they scavenged from St. Augustine, the fewer needful things they found. Darlene wiped the sweat from her exposed, eternally burnt arms. She liked Maine weather so much more. “Should we go back for the SUV?”

John looked back down the desolate road. “I’m not walking back two miles in this heat.”

“Always a gentleman,” Darlene said. “You can’t expect me to hoof it by myself. I’m a girl. I’m fragile.”

John snorted. “Fragile is not a word I would use to describe you.”

Darlene swung the bat in a mock threat. “What are you trying to say, Murphy?”

He just smiled. “If we get over the bridge and there’s nothing to see, and the road is clear, I’ll get the SUV.”

“That sounds fair.”

“Of course it does, to you. You don’t have to walk it back.”

“But then I’ll miss your stunning conversation. What will I do in the meantime?” Darlene asked. “Actually, if there isn’t anything amazing over the bridge, I think we might need to turn it around and get back home.”

“You called it home.”

“It’s easier saying home than the stilt house I currently reside in, just south of the Matanzas Inlet, overlooking the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean. Gorgeous when dead bodies and zombies aren’t being washed up on the beach, that is.”

John smiled. “It does make sense. Let’s move out.”

They followed the signs for I-95, coming around a bend in the road where a car had been abandoned and torched months ago. The grass and bushes to either side were beginning to push into the street, growing between cracks.

It won’t be long before most of these roads are overgrown and nature takes them back, Darlene thought. She marveled at how quickly everything man-made broke down when there was no one to fix it and no constant maintenance. Even though only months had passed – or could they count it in years now? – it looked like it had been a decade with all the rust, weeds and destruction.

They stopped at a crossroads. Before them was a torched area, with only sporadic grass poking from the ruins, and the faint smell of charred wood lingered in the air. To their left looked like a development, the security fence breached and warped in several spots.

“To the bridge,” John said and nodded at Darlene. “Do you want my bow?”

“I’ll tell you where to put your bow,” Darlene said. She’d tried and failed miserably when John had tried to teach her to use it. While he was a near-perfect shot, she had yet to kill anything with it. Heck, she barely managed to hit a zombie at all.

Darlene shook her baseball bat and patted her machete. “I think I’m set. I like to get up close and personal with them.” She grinned. “Using long range weapons is so cheating and unmanly.”

“I’d rather you called me a girl and I’m still alive. Trust me.”

The bridge was relatively clear of debris, with a makeshift fence, long since breached, before them. They walked up the bridge, and Darlene loved the view despite the heat and the danger of being trapped. They were always in danger, though.

“What if we find something useful?” she asked quietly as they moved up the steady incline of the road.

“You go back and get the SUV,” John said over his shoulder.

John moved to his right and Darlene followed as they walked. They looked out over a sprawling network of destroyed condominiums, the waterway beneath them choked with floating debris. There were no fires and no smoke. Whatever came through and purged this area (whether zombies, looters or both) had come and gone.

They got to the top of the bridge and crossed back over to the left side.

“It’s still intact,” John said.

“And occupied,” Darlene said as she pulled him back and away from the side. “There are two men in sight with rifles.”

“Is it an apartment building?” John asked.

“Not sure.” Darlene stooped down and went back to the side for another look. The building itself was massive, with four stories and set in a triangular pattern, three different buildings connected by catwalks and ramps. “It looks like shops on the bottom floor and apartments on levels two to four.”

“Almost like a small city. The sign says European Village. Looks like a nice place to spend an afternoon. Except for the guys with rifles. Oh, and the zombies.”

“This side is gated and I’m sure every other entrance is blocked as well. It looks like a great setup for whoever is living there.”

“The problem for us is they’ve most likely looted the area for miles around.”

Darlene snickered. “When we are out, we’re scavenging. When others do it you call it looting.”

“Exactly.” John sat down on the hot pavement. “What do you think?”

“I think we’re wasting our time here. Going into Palm Coast will end up being a bust. We need to get back on A1A and find another neighborhood.”

“Where? Everything out there has been picked clean already. Even the extra supplies we couldn’t carry and left at the Golden Lion on previous forays have been moved.”

“Did you say foray? Really?”

“Shut up.” John’s smiled faded. “We have company.”

Two zombies, both older men, were shuffling slowly and silently toward them, dead eyes locked onto John and Darlene.

Darlene pulled her machete out and marveled at the gore covering it. She didn’t even bother to clean her weapons much anymore, since they were always running into trouble and hacking the heads off dead people. Funny how a zombie apocalypse can raise the bar on what you find socially acceptable.

She knew the trick was going to be dispatching the zombie without getting shot by the two riflemen watching the bridge. If she stood, she’d be screwed. Darlene decided to chop at their knees and drop them to the pavement. That sounded like a plan.

John had his machete ready, squatting at her side, as the two approached.

The nearest one bumped against the road barrier, drooling dark blood from a multitude of open sores and cuts.

And then his head exploded with a wet sucking noise, brains and mush flopping into the air before splashing to the ground.

Darlene closed her eyes and forced the puke back down her throat. You never get used to this, even after all this time, she thought.

Still holding back the vomit and the stinging tears in her shut eyes, she heard the second shot and the second body hit the ground.

“Wow,” John was saying next to her, back against the barrier and out of sight. “Are you okay?”

Darlene opened her eyes and wiped her tears, giving John a smile. “Just another day on the job. This still beats selling makeup in Maine, though.”

“Does it?”

She sighed. “Not really. I’d give anything for minimum wage, a shitty boss yelling at me, and an actual coffee break.”

“I’d be out on patrol, shooting bad guys and bank robbers, making the Florida Panhandle safe for the common man,” John said.

“You were a mall cop.”

“There’s really no difference,” John said. “Fighting crime in the mall is pretty intense. Damn kids with their skateboards, no free tables in the food court… it was pretty intense.”

“I can imagine.” Darlene loved the way he made her feel, and how he didn’t dwell on her panic attacks or bursts of girlie emotions. John Murphy was quite a catch. “Now what?”

“I say we stoop down and I follow you to the other side of the bridge and away from men with guns.”

“Why don’t you lead?” she asked.

“If I follow behind I get to follow your behind. Get it?”

“Jerk,” Darlene said but smiled. “We can play the Guess What Color Thong Darlene Is Wearing Today game.”

“Sweet. After you, ma’am.”

“Such a gentleman.” Darlene slid past him, keeping her head down, and began moving slowly along the barrier.

“Red is my favorite color,” John whispered behind her. “Wow. This never gets old.”

“I can’t imagine it does for you,” Darlene said as they got to the other side and out of visibility and range of the riflemen.

It didn’t for her, either.

 Ike

Ike unscrewed the gas cap and shook his Harley between his legs, listening for signs of how much fuel he had – not much.

The Bridge of Lions lay before him littered with carcasses, both human and automotive, making his ’74 Shovelhead the only way to cross other than the shoe-leather express. He detected movement on the far side, more of the undead, for sure. He checked the clip in his .45, half-full. He topped it off from the supply of ammo in the leather bandolier across his massive chest.

He had enough fuel for about 15 miles, not enough to reach Brewski and Didi in Palm Coast. He’d have to make a fuel stop on A1A on the other side of the bridge. There was no way he was going to stop on the bridge to siphon gas and leave himself in a potential rat trap.

He started the bike, the rumble of the V-twin sounding even louder in the complete vacancy of St. Augustine. He took a look at his boat, The Knight’s Mare, bobbing peacefully in its slip, and hoped it would still be there and in one piece when—if—he returned.

He popped the Harley into gear and let the clutch out. The full heat of the day was still a few hours away and the moving air felt good, despite the lingering smell of death.

He wove his way across the Bridge of Lions, navigating around corpses and between abandoned vehicles. The drawbridge section of the bridge was slightly misaligned and he had to negotiate the 4 inch step carefully. As his bike was straddling the hump, movement to his right startled him; reflexively, his right hand released the throttle and drew the .45. The shot was fired before he fully determined what his target was.

The pelican’s body exploded and slid down the windshield of a torched Toyota.

Ike hung his head and exhaled slowly. His Harley rumbled under him, almost as if to ask if they were going to continue or not. He re-holstered his weapon and nudged the bike forward until the rear wheel was over the hump. On the opposite side of the drawbridge, he was able to generate enough speed to ride over the step, which was slightly more than a foot on this side. As he approached the bottom of the bridge, he readied himself.

A pile-up of cars forced him onto the sidewalk and into the parking lot of a sport’s bar called The End Zone. A dead body dangled over the sill of a smashed window in the buildings front façade. As he maneuvered his bike onto A1A, he saw the movement ahead. Crouching behind a car on the far side of the road, a zombie waited for him. Ike stopped on the yellow line and pushed his kickstand down. Stepping off the bike, he moved slowly around the car and drew his .45.

In all his years as a Navy SEAL, he had never had to make a tougher shot. His target crouched a mere six feet in front of him. It wasn’t lying in wait to pounce on him; it was hiding. Ike looked over the front sight of his weapon at the mutilated face of a girl who couldn’t be more than 11-years-old.

Ike looked into the dead eyes and thought he saw a struggle between the new instinct to feast on human flesh and the fear of a little girl who probably wanted her mother.

His finger tensed on the trigger. This was not a target; this was a little girl. She didn’t deserve to have her head blown off.

The voice of an old drill instructor burst through the haze.

“Pull the fucking trigger!”

A shuffling sound behind him completed his wake-up call. He dropped to a knee and spun. His first shot hit the zombie in the left shoulder, slowing it, but not dropping it. His second shot obliterated the head.

He thought he could relax and get back to his bike, until he heard more shuffling behind him. He turned to see the zombie girl lunging for him.

The .45 exploded before he even thought about pulling the trigger. The body of the girl dropped to the sidewalk in a cluster of weeds which had pushed their way through the concrete in a defiant statement of determination.

He reloaded his clip as he walked back to the bike.

“This is fucking unreal,” he muttered to himself.

He holstered the weapon and popped the clutch. The Harley roared off on A1A, making slow arcs around the bodies of the fallen and the ruins of the town.

*   *   *   *   *

Eight miles up the road Ike pulled over next to an abandoned mobile home. He took a hose from his saddle bag and siphoned a tankful of gas into the Harley, keeping one eye open for unwanted visitors. Ten minutes later he was back on the road. As he rode the double-yellow line, he constantly scanned for signs of life, or un-life.

Somewhere near the intersection of Route 206 and A1A, the road opened up and Ike was able to open the throttle and get the bike up to 70 mph. As the desolate road stretched out before him like a portal into a foreign world, he wondered how Brewski was doing.

It had been three days since Brewski and his girlfriend, Didi, had left for Palm Coast to look for Didi’s uncle. Uncle Brian lived in a condo in Palm Coast in a large complex called European Village. At his age, Uncle Brian was unable to fend for himself so Didi insisted on a recuse mission. Ike woke up on the boat three days ago to find a hastily scribbled note from his friend.

Gone with D to Palm Coast – If not back in 3 days call the President. Brewski.

Ike would have appreciated the humor if he wasn’t fairly certain the President was either hiding in an underground bunker or one of the undead himself. Ike had given Brewski 2 days to return before deciding to strike out and find him.

Ike had an idea for an escape of sorts and wanted his two closest friends to be with him. Once they returned to the boat, they would set out for Key West. With a small population and limited access, Ike figured there was a decent chance the undead hadn’t claimed it yet. If he was wrong, they would find another island.

But first he had to find Brewski.

As he approached the Matanzas Inlet, he checked the horizon carefully—another bridge. The tactical advantage of a bridge was common sense in the military, but Ike had been out of the service for a long time and had let his instincts return to civilian habits as much as possible. Now he was bringing them back and pressing them into service in a hurry.

Crossing a bridge in wartime was not something to be taken lightly—the risk of ambush was too great. Being alone didn’t make things any easier. He opened the throttle a little more at the approach of the bridge—hoping to cross the thousand yard chasm quickly and without incident.

Ordinarily, at this point in the ride, he would enjoy the fresh air and the view of the ocean as it rushed under the bridge. Now he examined the horizon carefully for activity. When he reached the crest of the bridge, his mind automatically returned to the time he had dove over the parapet to save the occupant of a car that had crashed through the barrier.

It was a strange feeling to look back on such an event nostalgically.

At the far end of the bridge, Ike spotted movement in the parking lot of a restaurant that used to be called, naturally, The Matanzas Inlet. As he drew near, a slender blonde woman ran from the parking lot toward the road, waving frantically. As she reached the edge of the cracked pavement, Ike pulled to a stop about 50 feet away and climbed off his bike.

The woman ran toward him with the fear of death in her eyes. Without the roar of his Harley, he could hear her screams of terror. As she threw herself into his arms, he drew his .45 and immediately began looking for whatever she was running from.

“Please, help me, please help me,” she begged.

Ike moved her off the road and to the parapet wall where he crouched low and peered toward the restaurant. The woman crouched behind him, crying hysterically about somebody named Bob and how they ate him. Her words were almost indecipherable between her sobs.

With no signs of pursuit, Ike turned to her and held her by the shoulders, looking into her eyes.

“Okay,” he said as calmly as possible. “It’s okay. You’re safe now.”

I hope, he thought.

“Take it easy,” he said.

The woman took a few minutes to gain some semblance of control.

“My name is Ike,” he told her when her breathing began to approach normal. “What’s your name?”

She looked at him as if she didn’t know how to answer.

“Your name,” Ike repeated. “Tell me your name.”

“Ummm,” she brushed a long clump of curly blonde hair out of her face. “Angel, my name is Angel Godwin.”

“Okay, Angel, you’re okay now. Do you understand?”

“No,” she shook her head violently. “They’re coming. They killed Bob and now they’re after me.”

She stood to run, but Ike pulled her back down.

“Okay,” he said. “We’ll take care of it, but running isn’t the answer. We have to stand and fight.”

Her eyes told him she thought he was crazy.

“How many were there?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I don’t know, five?”

“Were they close behind you?”

Again, an unsure headshake. “I think, I don’t…maybe.”

Ike took her hand in his and stood.

“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go.”

She glanced at his motorcycle with relief, until he started walking toward the restaurant. She yanked her hand from his and ran for the bridge. Ike caught her after a few steps and picked her up with a massive arm around her narrow waist.

Angel fought and kicked, demanding he release her. Ike put her on the ground and looked into her eyes.

“Listen to me,” he said with authority. “You can’t out-run these things. You might get away from this group, but there’ll be another group waiting before you get a mile. And where exactly are you gonna go? There’s nothing north of here and even if there was, how far are you going to get alone?”

She looked at him with large, wet brown eyes, her mouth moving soundlessly and her head moving slowly back and forth. After several seconds, she collapsed into his arms, sobbing.

Ike held her, but gradually turned their bodies around until he was facing the restaurant. When she began to calm down, he held her at arms length and looked into her eyes.

“We have to do this,” he said.

She nodded and held his hand.

“Let’s go,” she said with a nod.

Ike followed his .45 off the bridge to the entrance of the restaurant. The parking lot was a good four feet below the road so their pace quickened as they followed the overgrown gravel entrance downhill. They approached a food service delivery van and Ike gave it a wide berth. He stopped at the front corner of the van and looked back at Angel giving her a shhh sign. She nodded her understanding and they took a step forward.

Two zombies emerged from the front door of the restaurant ten feet away. Ike raised the .45 and fired two shots. Each one a direct hit. The two headless corpses fell harmlessly to the ground in a cloud of dust. According to Angel’s estimate, there should be three more.

They worked their way around the building to a deck overlooking the inlet. A pair of corpses lay on the deck in a dried puddle of blood, while a pair of vultures sat on the deck rail waiting for Ike and Angel to vacate their dining space.

At the rear entrance, they heard a loud crash from inside like that of a pile of pots being thrown about. Ike pulled the door open and they entered the dark dining room. The smell was staggering and the buzzing of flies was the loudest white noise Ike had ever heard. The swinging doors to the kitchen were blocked open by the body of a zombie—once a college aged girl—lying in a heap on the floor. She had been killed by an arrow through the left eye. It reminded Ike of one of those novelty items where the two ends of the arrow are connected by an arched metal band that fits over your head giving the appearance of a through and through.

Ike could see a zombie shuffling around the kitchen in search of anything living. He quickened his pace and stepped over the body blocking the doors open. There were two zombies in plain view. Without hesitation, he took both of them out with perfect head-shots.

One more.

Ike stepped into the kitchen and surveyed the room. The stainless steel door to the walk-in freezer stood open.

“Wait here, I’m just going to check the freezer,” he said to Angel.

Ike trotted across the kitchen to the freezer and sprung into the doorway like a cop making a bust, gun drawn in the classic shooter’s stance.

Nothing.

He turned back toward Angel.

“Angel,” he said calmly as he walked slowly toward her. “I’m going to count to three.”

She looked at him with confusion; he held up a hand to stop her from asking any questions.

“When I say three,” he continued, “I want you to fall to the floor. Understand?”

She nodded slowly without taking her eyes from his—understanding the situation now.

“One, two,” he timed his strides with his count, “three.”

Angel dropped to the floor and Ike fired three shots at the zombie who had been approaching her from behind. Another two steps and he would have been on her.

“Let’s get out of here,” he said.

In the parking lot, Ike opened the sliding door of the delivery van and stepped inside. He holstered his weapon and filled an empty box with cans of non-perishable foods. Angel was leaning against the van when he stepped out.

“I think you should come with me,” Ike said to her.

“Charlie?” Angel said.

Ike furrowed his brow, about to ask her to repeat what she had said when he saw her looking past him. He turned around quickly, dropping the box and reaching for his gun. The zombie had come around the van and was only four feet from him. Ike leveled the gun and squeezed the trigger.

Click.

Ike reached for Angel’s hand.

“Come on,” he said, meaning to drag her far enough away to buy enough time to reload his magazine.

She stayed put.

“Charlie,” Angel said again, “Is that you?”

The zombie shuffled toward her. If it was Charlie, he didn’t respond to her question. He had probably been a handsome man before he joined the ranks of the undead. Now his face was contorted into a melted rubbery mask and his eyes were vacant black holes. He wore a blue polo shirt and khaki cargo shorts. His bare feet scuffled on the gravel parking lot.

Ike loaded a single round into the chamber of his .45 and fired at Charlie, hitting him in the throat. Charlie turned to Ike with a quizzical, albeit dead, stare.

“Shit,” Ike cursed. “Angel, come on!”

He moved quickly to his right, hoping to distract Charlie enough to give Angel a chance to join him. Instead, Angel bent down and picked up a can of onion soup. She took two quick steps toward Charlie and slammed the can into his temple. Charlie fell like a bag of rocks and Angel pounced on him, pummeling his head with the can until there was nothing left to hit.

Ike grabbed her arm and lifted her off Charlie’s corpse. The stench of death filled the air and, immediately, Ike’s head was filled with the Jethro Tull song, Locomotive Breath,…old Charlie stole the handle and the train it won’t stop going…no way to slow down.

“Nicely done,” he said with a grin.

“He used to hit on me,” she said. “I was the photographer at his wedding for Christ’s sake, and he would still try to get me to go on business trips with him.”

“I guess you don’t have to worry about it anymore,” Ike said.

Angel dropped the can onto Charlie’s body and stepped away. Ike collected the rest of the food and reloaded his magazine. They walked to his bike where he transferred the canned goods into his saddle bags.

“Never thought I’d have to scrounge for food again,” he said.

“Again?” Angel asked.

“Military,” he answered. “Spent a fun-filled year in the jungles of South America. You know, if you cook a python the right way, it’s pretty tasty.”

“South America? We didn’t have any wars in South America. Did we?”

“The war on drugs,” he said. “The kind of stuff you don’t see on CNN. I guess it’s all declassified now,” he added with a chuckle.

“Yeah, I guess it would be,” she said.

“Anyway,” he said as he started the bike. “It’s nice to meet you, Angel Godwin. Shall we?”

She threw her right leg over the bike and wrapped her arms around his waist.

“It’s nice to meet you too, Ike,” she said. “Let’s roll.”

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized