Monday, July 29, 2013

"Project June Bug" on Attention Talk Video

Since I'm proud to consider myself a member of the Florida writing community, I'd like to share with you the first in a series of interviews I did for Attention Talk Radio/Attention Talk Video. It's about my book, Project June Bug, so I thought it would be appropriate to post it here. I am truly honored to be in the company of so many Fabulous Florida Writers. I hope you enjoy it!
Best wishes,


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Frank Cerabino - A Lighthearted Look at Florida Living

Frank Cerabino became a writer by accident.  It all started in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
After graduating from the US Naval Academy, Cerabino was assigned to duty on an aircraft carrier. “It was almost like being in prison,” he recalls. “You spent 80% of your time at sea. The only leisure activities were playing cards, watching awful movies, or reading books. I was never much of a reader, but I started reading by default and realized, for the first time in my life, how terrific it was to read for pleasure.” He became a voracious reader, sometimes reading for six or seven hours a day. Then he got the itch to write.

Cerabino tried writing short stories and enjoyed it so much that he took a job as the ship’s public affairs officer. There he was charged with writing press releases, producing TV newscasts and putting out the ship’s newspaper. As press liaison, he even got to work with the White House Press Corps.  By the time his stint in the Navy ended, he had decided to make writing his career.
After earning a Masters degree in journalism, Cerabino worked at the City News Bureau in Chicago for six months. Then he was offered a job with the Miami Herald and relocated to Florida. Five years later, he joined the staff at the Palm Beach Post where he’s worked as metro columnist since 1991. His humorous observations on life in Florida have won him numerous journalism awards and spawned five books that take a lighthearted look at the eccentricities of life in the Sunshine State.

Cerabino’s first novel, Shady Palms: A Condo Caper premiered in 2000 as a serialized story in his column. Set in a fictional condominium community in Palm Beach County, the tale introduces Bernie Hamstein, the put-upon president of Building C, who finds himself caught between a pregnant renter and the outraged residents of his adults-only building.  Bernie’s trials continue in Shady Palms 2: Fowl Play (2001) and Shady Palms 3: Viagra Falls (2002).

In a second series, “Pelican Park,” Cerabino regales readers with the comic misadventures of a family in a South Florida suburb. According to Cerabino, “I wanted a break from Shady Palms, something with a younger female protagonist. I didn’t want to be known as that guy who writes about old people.” In the title book of the series, Pelican Park (2005), Cerabino introduces Pinky, formerly of Boca Raton, who has moved with her two children to Pelican Park, a suburb of West Palm Beach. Pinky’s hilarious adventures continue in Pelican Park 2: Pinky Feels the Pinch (2006).
Cerabino describes his books as “a mixture of humor, pathos and suspense.” He admits that he was inspired by San Francisco writer Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City,” six serialized novels Cerabino describes as “light, but with a sense of place that spoke to the community.” He also credits his association with Miami Herald writer Carl Hiaasen for influencing his writing.

Cerabino’s most recent publication is a departure from his other works. “Writing Like a Taller Person: The Best of Frank Cerabino,” published is 2011, is a collection of columns written for the Palm Beach Post over the last 20 years.  In addition to writing five columns each week, Cerabino keeps himself busy teaching a class, biking, running, and playing the accordion. But it’s his writing that brings him the most satisfaction.  “You put a piece of yourself on paper, and there’s a sense of permanence in that,” he says. “It’s something immortal - a little marker to show you’ve been here. That’s all the satisfaction I need. Of course, I’d also love to be rich and famous.”
For more about Frank Cerabino, go to


Friday, July 5, 2013

Victoria Allman - A Chef on the High Seas

When Victoria Allman took a year’s sabbatical from her job as a chef at one Calgary, Canada’s top restaurants, she never intended to become a world traveler.  She merely wanted to expand her horizons a bit and sample some different cuisines. But that was before she met her sea captain husband and took a job as a yacht chef.  Now, 14 years later, Allman has visited some of the world’s most exotic locales and collected many mouthwatering recipes. She shares both her recipes and her adventures with readers in two unique books – Sea Fare and SEAsoned.

Allman’s voyage from kitchen to writer’s desk began in Canada where she wrote food features for a Canadian magazine. When she moved to Fort Lauderdale and joined the crew of a luxury yacht, the magazine wanted stories about the places she visited. “I knew what I wanted to say, but not how to say it,” Allman explains. So she took some classes and joined a critique group.  Soon her columns were appearing in other travel magazines like “Dockwalk,” “OceanLines,” and “Marina Life.”  Then she hit on the idea of compiling some of her articles into a book. Seven years later, Sea Fare: A Chef’s Journey Across the Ocean was published. 

Sea Fare, a book Allman describes as “an adventure travelogue,” is a collection of essays that focus on food and travel. But her concern about privacy issues prevented her from sharing some of her more colorful experiences. “Truthfully, I was worried about keeping my job and seeming disrespectful to people, so I ignored the funny situations the crew often found themselves in. I didn’t want to insult anyone or give away any personal secrets,” Allman explains. “Even though I received wonderful reviews,  everyone wanted to know the real story, the gossip.” So she decided to address this in her next book.

In SEAsoned: A Chef’s Journey with her Captain, Allman fictionalized her life. The stories are true, and Allman and her husband, Patrick, are still the main characters, but the adventures take place on a fictional boat with a fictional crew. Allman did this “to facilitate the story of Patrick becoming captain of his first yacht and all the craziness that goes along with such an uncontrollable situation.”  She admits she had more fun writing SEAsoned because she was free to tell her stories without worry. She also received help from other Florida writers. “The Florida writing community has been so supportive,” she says. “They pointed me in the right direction.” Allman even earned  Royal Palm Literary Awards from the Florida Writers Association for both books.

One of the distinctive features of Allman’s books are the recipes that end each chapter, recipes she learned from locals in the places she visited. According to Allman, “The recipes are 100 percent authentic. I was learning how to cook as I traveled. ” With this in mind, she planned to write a third book which would pick up where “SEAsoned” left off  - with Allman and the crew embarking on a world tour. Unfortunately, the tour had to be cancelled due to the yacht owner’s hectic schedule. “Life in yachting changes faster than the weather,” Allman says.

Not to be deterred, Allman changed course and is close to completing her third book, SEAside. It is the continuing story of Allman’s nautical journeys closer to home, in America and the Bahamas. The story focuses on the relationships between ten crew members living in close quarters as they serve an ever chaotic flurry of on-board guests. Allman says that her stories have been cited as “the ‘Downtown Abbey’ of Yachting.”

Allman hopes her books will open up the world for her readers. “I want to inspire people to travel more,” she says. “It’s hard to harbor hate and bigotry when you travel. It’s a big world, and we all have to eat. So despite our differences, we’re all connected in that way.”

For more about Victoria Allman, visit her website at

Next: Frank Cerabino - A Lighthearted Look at Florida Living