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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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Kill Your Darlings (maybe I misunderstood)

“Kill your darlings.”

If you’ve been in the writing game for any length of time you’ve heard this quote. Some people attribute it to Allen Ginsberg, others to William Faulkner, some believe Stephen King said it. The earliest known use of the phrase actually came from Arthur Quiller-Couch, who used it in his 1913-1914 Cambridge lectures “On the Art of Writing.”

darlingsRegardless of who said it when…the context of the quote is the need for writers to be relentless in the editing of their work…to eliminate unnecessary fluff…to get rid of every paragraph, sentence and word that doesn’t contribute something essential to the story.

Given the work of King, Faulkner and the others, I’d say it’s advice worth following.

I think I may have taken it a bit too literally while working on a short story this week. The story will be included in my upcoming anthology tentatively titled The Path of a Bullet. The stories in the anthology will focus on my anti-hero, Ike. Most of them will be written by me and there will be a few written by other writers who happen to be fans of Ike.

As I was writing this particular story I decided to kill one of the characters who has appeared in all of my books.

The killing wasn’t necessary.

I could have made the story work without having a good character meet their demise.

It also wasn’t gratuitous.

I think the story is much better because of it.

Either way…it’s still tough to kill one of your darlings.

When I wrote my first novel, Living the Dream, I created what would inadvertently become a cast of characters who worked together to right wrongs perpetrated upon innocent people.

Living the DreamThe unlikely band of Samaritans is led by the aforementioned Ike, an ex-Navy SEAL who has a tendency to bend the rules a bit in order to see that order is preserved. As one reader described him in a review… “Robin Hood on a Harley.”

Ike is the right-hand-man to a wheelchair bound bookie named Ralph Donabedian. Despite the fact that Ralph is, for all intents and purposes, a criminal, he is the unofficial mayor of Flagler Beach. Nothing happens in the small beachside community unless he allows it.

Whenever Ike needs help he calls on his best friend, and resident bad-ass, Brewski. With ties to a local motorcycle gang and a bit of an attitude problem, Brewski tends to lean toward a shoot first, shoot again, have a cigarette, and then ask questions policy. Fortunately, Ike keeps him reined in…most of the time.

Perpetually perched on the back of Brewski’s Harley is Didi—a wise-cracking, chain-smoking, no-nonsense biker-bitch who would like to slap the stupid out of everybody (because everybody is a dumb-ass).

Making fewer appearances than the others, but nonetheless an important member of the group is Bob Butler. Another close friend of Ike’s, Bob Butler (who is always addressed by both his first and last names, never one or the other) is an honest family man who turns a blind eye to some questionable tactics out of respect for Ike’s motives.

So, as I was saying…I recently wrote a short story for my Ike anthology and I decided that it was time to kill one of my darlings.

I’m not going to tell you which one, you’ll have to read the book to find out. For now I’ll just call them “X” (pretty dramatic, huh?).

I will tell you this—it’s not Ike – that would be like Elmore Leonard killing Raylan Givens…Robert B. Parker killing Spenser or JK Rowling killing Harry Potter.

Moving forward I’ll have to figure out what, if anything, I should do to fill the void left by X. Fortunately writing books is not like cooking. If you don’t have a key ingredient required by your recipe you could end up tipping a driver for delivering your meal.

With books, the loss of a character does not have to be the end of the story. In fact it could lead to a new, maybe even better story.

I guess we’ll find out when I write my next book.

Between you and me, I’ve already got an idea of how to move forward and I’m pretty sure it will be a seamless transition.

In the meantime, The Path of a Bullet is scheduled to be released before Christmas. My beta-readers have enjoyed all of the stories so far, so I’m sure you will too.

This is not the cover of Path of a Bullet...it's just a cool picture.

This is not the cover of Path of a Bullet…it’s just a cool picture.

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Short Story Contest : Follow Up

Back in February I announced the “Second Quasi-Annual Blindogg Books Short Story Contest”click here to refresh your memory.

Let me start by saying I would like to thank all those who submitted entries…as usual I received some excellent stories.

Unfortunately, I didn’t receive enough entries to make a real contest out of it – so I made an executive decision…Everybody Wins.

bears trophy

That’s right…just like modern-day Little League where every kid gets a trophy just for playing – everybody who submitted a short story to the contest will have their story published.

The only difference is that instead of having them in my next novel (tentatively titled Protect This and scheduled for an August 2014 release) they will be included in the collection of short stories I am currently writing to be released before Christmas 2014.

I started writing short stories about my main character, Ike, back around Christmas of 2013 at the suggestion of my friend and fellow author Armand Rosamilia. I plan to have around 20 stories in the collection – and now I will have five or six more.

Ike shirt front

So that’s the latest news on the “Second Quasi-Annual Blindogg Books Short Story Contest” – and once again I would like to thank all the entrants for submitting their stories, and truth be told, I’m glad I don’t have to decide on the finalists. It would have been too difficult!

The short story collection will be called “Ike for All Seasons” and it will be available before Christmas!

And speaking of Ike – in the next day or two there will be another Ike tee-shirt campaign – get ready to make your Ike fashion statement!!

 

As always – thank you for reading

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Announcing the “Second Quasi-Annual Blindogg Books Short Story Contest”!!!

Last year at this time, when Unfinished Business was in the hands of my beta readers, I announced the “First Quasi-Annual Blindogg Books Short Story Contest”. The contest was very successful and I came away with two great stories, which were included in final release of Unfinished Business.

Here we are, a year later (almost to the day) and my newest work is now in the hands of the betas, so that means only one thing…it’s time for the “Second Quasi-Annual Blindogg Books Short Story Contest”.

The contest is pretty simple…I’m looking for two short stories to include in my next book (which has yet to be titled – so we’ll use the working title Protect This for now).

Let’s go over the need to knows:

  • The contest is open to anybody.
  • Stories must be between 1,500 and 4,000 words.
  • Stories can be in any genre (except porn, erotica, etc).
  • There are two categories – one winner will be selected from each category

Category one; Theme – the theme of Protect This is “Wanting a better life” so the short story in the theme category will follow that theme.

Category two; Fan fiction – stories in this category can use any theme, but must involve at least three of my regular characters (Ike, Brewski, Didi, Ralph).

  • Entries must be received before midnight March 10, 2014
  • I will pick five favorites from each category and post them on my blog by March 10 for voting
  • Voting will end at midnight March 31, 2014
  • Prizes:

First prize: The winning story in each category will be published in Protect This (the new novel) and each winning author will receive a free, signed copy of the finished book

Second prize: The authors of the stories with the second highest vote total will receive a free, signed copy of the finished book

  • In order to enter the contest, authors must “like” my facebook fan page (https://www.facebook.com/BlindoggBooks)
  • All entries remain the property of the author – however, authors grant me permission to print the stories, along with author’s name, as I see fit for promotional purposes. Winning authors grant permission for their stories to be published in Protect This as well
  • All submissions must be the original work of the contestant and may not have been previously published
  • Entries must be submitted as an attachment in an email to blindoggbooks@gmail.com

And there it is…if you have any questions please leave them in the form of a comment below so that everybody can see the answer (gotta keep it fair!)

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Making a Long Story Short

Recently Armand Rosamilia and I were talking and he planted a seed in my mind about writing a short story, featuring my main character Ike, for a local event here in Flagler Beach called The Inspired Mic.

The Inspired Mic is basically an open mic night for authors, and Armand thought it would be a good idea for me to read a new short story rather than an excerpt from one of my existing novels.

program

I agreed and wrote the story. It was an Ike Christmas story, and I had fun writing it.

It was very well received, and I enjoyed writing it so much that I wrote another one (just for fun, I told myself) about New Year’s Eve.

After the second one was done Armand suggested writing one for each of the holidays and releasing them in an anthology. I thought it was a good idea and since there were a couple of months before the next holiday (St. Patrick’s Day) I returned my focus to my current work-in-progress – a novel with the working title Protect This.

Then, a few days later, somebody posted a quote from Ray Bradbury on facebook that threw a wrench into my gears.

The quote said “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

short story

It appealed to me for a few reasons;

  • It could be a nice weekly distraction from writing a novel
  • It would be an extension/improvement of Armand’s idea
  • It would help me learn more about Ike and share it with his fans

Ike shirt front

My plan was simple: Each week I would write the short story on Saturday, leaving me Sunday and any free weeknights for working on the novel.

Saturday morning I sat down at the computer with the idea for my weekly short story and started writing. After 7 hours I was ready to quit and watch some TV but the story was only 2/3 finished.

snoopy

No problem…I’ll finish it up first thing in the morning and then dive into the novel.

Not so much…

It took me the better part of Sunday to finish, and by the time I was done I just didn’t have the mental energy to change gears and work on the novel.

So here we are three weeks later and my novel is in a holding pattern – but I’ve written three good stories for the anthology – so I’ve got that going for me.

I’ve also got a cool idea for story number four…and I had an idea for a cool quasi-horror short story…

I may need to cancel my cable TV account.

As always – thanks for reading

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Announcing the first “Quasi-Annual Blindogg Books Short Story Contest”!!!

Write a short story and it might be published in my upcoming release Unfinished Business.

Here are the official rules:

v)  Story must be at least 500 words – but no more than 2,500 words.

v ) No Porn, Erotica, Etc…

v)  Content (a winner will be chosen from EACH category)

  • Since Unfinished Business is a novel about dead people…the short story can involve death somehow. It’s up to you how…
  • If you don’t want to write about death, you can write a “fan-fiction” piece involving any of my regular characters in the story /setting of your choice

v)  Entries must be received before midnight, March 8th, 2013

v)  I will pick my five favorites from all entries in the two categories and post them on my blog – fans will then vote for their favorite from those finalists.

v)  Prizes;

  • Winning story from each category will be published in my upcoming novel Unfinished Business and the winning author will receive a free, signed copy of the book.
  • Second and Third place finishers from each category will receive a free, signed copy of Unfinished Business.

v)  In order to enter the contest and/or vote – you must “like” my fan page https://www.facebook.com/BlindoggBooks . If the contestant does not use facebook, they may have the story submitted by a proxy facebook user.

v)  All entries remain the property of the author – however, authors grant me permission to print the stories, along with author’s names, as I see fit for promotional purposes. Winning authors grant permission for their stories to be published in Unfinished Business as well.

v)  Contest is open to everybody, winner will receive no compensation for their story other than the prize listed herein.

v)  All submissions must be the original work of the contestant and may not have been previously published.

Entries must be submitted by email to blindoggbooks@gmail.com

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