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

 

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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

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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.

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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

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“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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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