Monday, December 18, 2017

A Florida Homeoming - A Guest Post by Christine Kling

 This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger Christine Kling. Christine is the author of two mystery series set in Florida - the Seychelle Sullivan mysteries, a five-book series about a female tugboat captain, and the Shipwreck Adventures featuring Maggie Riley, a female solo sailor and maritime archeologist/conspiracy nut) Cole Thatcher. Christine’s latest release, Mourning Tide, is the fifth Seychelle Sullivan book. Christine was our featured writer on August 4, 2011, and guest blogger on June 12, 2014.  

It’s great to be back here on Jackie Minniti’s Fabulous Florida Writers blog to share the news of the release of Mourning Tide, the long-delayed fifth book in my Lauderdale-based Seychelle Sullivan series. Though I am something of a sailing nomad these days, I still call Florida home, and returning to this series was a homecoming of sorts for me.

Back in 2007, when I finished Wreckers’ Key, I had left my tug and salvage captain Seychelle Sullivan in a distressing fix–and I didn’t know what to do about it. Throughout those first four books, Seychelle had convinced herself she would make a lousy mother, therefore she never wanted to have kids. And then I went and gave her a kid. 

I know. Crazy, huh? I tried other endings, but nothing else seemed to fit. Of course, this is what suspense writers do–and it’s our job to figure out how to get our characters out of those fixes. But this time, I had no earthly idea how to write about Seychelle as the mother of a newly adopted infant. In addition, my publisher for the series, Ballantine, was not interested in buying a fifth book, so I set Seychelle aside and started a new and very different series of international thrillers. 

It was eight years later while cruising aboard a sailboat in the South Pacific that my thoughts returned to Seychelle. We had both matured and changed: I had become a grandmother, and I finally began see how Seychelle could grow into her role as a mother and how she would relate to her partner B.J. I was also feeling a little homesick for Florida, and I wanted to spend time there again, even if only in my imagination.

Once at a ladies’ luncheon at the Don CeSar Hotel on St. Pete Beach, I was seated next to a sweet-looking lady in her Sunday best. With a crust-less cucumber sandwich in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, she leaned close and announced in a scolding tone, “I think Seychelle is reckless.” I was surprised at first, but the more I thought about it, I decided she was right. The word reckless means having a defiant disregard for danger or consequences. Seychelle was a character who cared deeply about saving or “salvaging” the lives of others, often putting herself in danger to do so. But that wouldn’t work for a mother of a small child, so how could she get involved with crimes as a mother and an amateur sleuth? I decided that the decision to adopt a child would mark her retirement from sleuthing and help to explain the time gap from the last book to this new one.

So, the next question was what would bring her out of retirement? Again, my ideas as so often pulled from real life. Way back when Florida was hammered by Hurricane Charlie, I received an email from a fan who wrote that about a month after the storm, the authorities were raising a sailboat that had sunk in the Caloosahatchee River and when they pumped it out, they found a human femur in the mud inside. The author of the email had written that this was something that Seychelle needed to investigate. Part of me wanted to write back and ask, “You do know she is imaginary?” That story had always stuck with me, though, and I decided it was time for Seychelle to find those bones.

One of the big challenges of writing about Florida and the Bahamas is that the area changes very quickly. The restaurant that looked over the marina last year has been razed for a new condo tower this year, or the much beloved local pastor has been arrested on corruption charges. So it goes in the Sunshine State. Fortunately, the arrival of new grandbabies afforded me the opportunity to fly back home from Fiji to do the research to stay up-to-date on the evolving landscape of Lauderdale. 

Since I wrote the first book in this series, I had become an even more avid sailor, and I wanted Seychelle to do some real sailing in the new book. I decided the plot would take them to the Abacos, my favorite islands. As luck would have it, my husband and I sold our boat, and a friend hired us to deliver a catamaran from the Caribbean through the Bahamas to New Smyrna Beach, so I was able to visit those locations first hand as well.

While it was great fun returning to Seychelle and her friends in Lauderdale, my current WIP is something altogether different. Some fans have asked me if Mourning Tide will be the last Seychelle book. I don’t have an answer for that, but I have learned that you can go home again.

For more information, visit Christine's website at or her Amazon Author Page.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Conversation with Honey Ingersoll - A Guest Post by Jean Harrington

This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger, Jean Harrington. Jean is the author of two cozy mystery series - Murders by Design and Listed and Lethal, as well as two historical romances. Jean was our featured writer on  November 4, 2014.

Hello to all, and a big shout-out to Jackie Minniti for giving Florida writers such a fabulous venue to showcase our work. As for my work, well, the last several years I’ve been busy writing cozy murder mysteries. 

My first series, Murders by Design, was set in Naples. Though it was great fun to write, going forward I wanted to challenge myself by creating stories in a brand new setting with a brand new cast of characters. For that, I turned to Middle America with a heroine from the heartland. The result, Murder on Pea Pike, Book #1 in the Listed and Lethal Series, was released on September 1, 2017. It’s the story of Honey Ingersoll, a girl who’s had a rocky beginning in life but is determined to remake herself.  I’d tell you all about it, but Honey’s here and dying to tell her own story, so I’ll turn the mic over to her.

As Jean mentioned, my name is Honey Ingersoll. I was born and bred in Savannah which accounts for my southern drawl. As for my blond hair, that’s from Daddy. My smile, so I’ve been told, is from Momma. I surely didn’t get that from Daddy. He never smiled. Not once while I was growing up. Which is one reason why when Momma died I left the family trailer—a double wide—right after high school.

Except for missing Momma, I never regretted escaping from Daddy, but I sure did regret hooking up with Billy Tubbs. We weren’t together long, though. I moved out the day he gave me a black eye for no reason except he felt like it. A week later, while waitressing at Josie’s Diner, I met Saxby Winthrop. I was pouring him a cup of Josie’s left-over coffee when he asked if I’d like to work in his real estate office.

“That would be wonderful, Mr. Winthrop,” I said, as he stared into my eyes, “but I don’t know a blessed thing about real estate.”

‘Not a problem, Honey.’ He smiled and took my free hand, the one not holding the carafe. ‘I’ll teach you everything I know.”

And so he did. At the time I didn’t expect his lessons would include an insider’s knowledge of the realty business, but I learned about that too. Actually I learned a lot under Saxby—mortgage rates, contract terms, liens, blind trusts, short sales, foreclosures and, most import of all, how to close a sale, Saxby style.

No surprise there. Saxby was one of the two most successful real estate brokers in Eureka Falls, Arkansas. He owned a block of office buildings, half of Main Street, and an antebellum mansion on the edge of town he never once invited me to step foot in. When I found out he didn’t want his momma, Miss Eloise, to know about me, I realized I had to change into the kind of girl a man didn’t hide behind the barn like a pile of manure.

Out went my big hair, platform stilettos and cherry-flavored chewing gum.  I used fewer “y’alls” and more “how are yous?”  I even stopped having Cindy Mae color-streak my hair and tossed all my tube tops. Didn’t buy another one, not even when Belinda’s Boutique put them on sale. Instead I bought a navy blue suit, the kind where the skirt matches the jacket, and a white cotton shirt I kept buttoned at all times.

None of this was exactly a college education, like going to Emory or anything, but it helped. And when I left Saxby to run the real estate office of his arch rival, Sam Ridley, I was twenty-two and ready to take on the world. Or so I thought.  But I hadn’t planned on finding a dead body in the first house I had up for sale. That’s another story, though, so if y’all don’t mind, I’ll give the mic back to Jean.

Thank you, Honey. You know folks, Honey’s complete story—the tale of what happens when a hot property meets a cold corpse—which she’s too modest to relate here, is available in e-book and trade paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold. 

Thanks for listening. Enjoy!

For more information, visit Jean's website at

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Nina Romano - Family and History

Nina Romano’s love of storytelling began around her grandmother’s table. As a child listening to her family’s stories, Romano had no way of knowing they would eventually inspire five poetry collections, two poetry chapbooks, a short story collection and a trilogy of novels that would earn her several awards and rave reviews from readers.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Romano was an avid reader whose writing talent blossomed early. “As a child, I wrote little love notes to my parents and left them by their bedside,” she recalls. “I began writing poems when I was thirteen.  I started my first novel at sixteen but put it away when I realized I had no life experience.” She graduated from Ithaca College and went on to earn a Master of Arts degree from Adelphi University. After several years as a middle school teacher, she moved to Italy with her husband, Felipe, where she lived for the next twenty years. It was here that Romano began submitting her poems to magazines and even self-published a few poetry books.

 In 1990, Romano returned stateside and settled in Florida where she made the decision to seriously pursue a writing career. She enrolled in Florida International University and earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing. “I took five grad courses in poetry from Campbell McGrath,” she says. “My final portfolio was a fifty-page stack of poems.” This served as the basis for her first poetry collection, Cooking Lessons. Inspired by her years in Italy, Cooking Lessons was praised by Midwest Book Review as … “a poetic treat not to be missed.”
Romano published three more poetry collections, ending with She Wouldn’t Sing at My Wedding, a book she describes as “one long, elegiac narrative poem in fifteen sections” written for her dying mother. She calls it “one of my best and most difficult.” Romano then turned to short stories with the publication of a collection titled The Other Side of the Gate. According to Romano, “Short stories are the most difficult to write because you must be concise. I read poetry before I begin writing fiction. Something transfers that makes it easier to begin.”

Romano’s transition to novels actually began with a short story. As a child, she was enthralled by her grandfather’s tales of his experiences in the Italian Navy during the Boxer Rebellion. After two visits to China, Romano wrote a short story titled “The Rain,” which was published in Hong Kong’s Dim Sum Literary Magazine. The story grew into her first full-length novel—The Secret Language of Women, a haunting love story of a Eurasian woman and an Italian sailor. The book is written with a lyrical beauty that elevates it to the level of literary fiction and echoes Romano’s poetic soul. It was awarded a gold medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards.

The year that her first novel, The Secret Language of Women, was released, Romano also had her fifth poetry collection published.  Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows was written for her dying brother, her first cowboy hero.  Romano then signed on for two companion novels to create The Wayfarer Trilogy.  Lemon Blossoms, the second book in the series, is set in Sicily and chronicles a woman’s struggle with love, loss and intimacy. The final installment, In America, is a coming-of- age story set in New York during the Depression. It follows a young Italian-American girl’s quest for her true love and true self. All of Romano’s novels were finalists for book awards.

Having completed her Wayfarer Trilogy, Romano recently finished a Western novel set between New Mexico and St. Louis, Missouri.  For her next writing projects, she’s contemplating a mystery set in Leningrad in 1950 and a WWII novel based on the life of her one hundred and three year-old aunt who lives in Italy. “The past makes me what I am today,” Romano explains. “My family background influences everything I write. In all my writing, there are lots of family stories and family history. It’s beautiful to investigate how things could have been and to envision how they might be. Times past help our understanding of the era we’re living in.”

For more information, visit the author’s website at

Monday, October 16, 2017

Love, War, and Ever After - A Guest Post by Catherine Underhill Fitzpatrick

This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger, Catherine Underhill Fitzpatrick. Catherine is the author of two novels, and her articles, stories, and essays have appeared in numerous newspapers, literary reviews, magazines, and anthologies. Her new family memoir, Voyage: A Memoir of Love, War, and Ever After, is a family saga that spans five generations. Catherine was our featured writer on July 2, 2016.

What to do when you're cleaning out closets in your childhood home and discover a hidden cache of love letters and fading photographs of relatives you never knew existed? If you're a former newspaper feature writer and the author of two novels, you write a memoir. For some time, I'd been thinking of researching my family story. When I lifted the lid of an old wood trunk and found more than 100 World War II letters and a velvet-covered photo album, I knew I'd hit the jackpot.

After my dad died, Mom went downhill. In the end, two of my brothers kept vigil with me at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center. It was early December. I sang Christmas carols at her bedside, book-ending the lullabies, she sang to me decades earlier. Beneath the sheet, she tapped her foot to “Silent Night.” When I got to the part about heavenly hosts, she drew her last breath. Eventually, it fell to me and my siblings to do what so many adult children are called upon to do: sort through a lifetime of treasures and trivia accumulated by parents who thought no one would ever see some of them, or who hoped that someday, someone would.
My new book, Voyage: A Memoir of Love, War, and Ever After (eLectio Publishing, 2017), unfolds with a trampoline timeline that melds wartime letters my father wrote to my mother with vignettes in which I describe their mid-century family life in St. Louis, and with essays in which I reflect on my forbears with post-millennial insight.

During World War II, my dad, Bob Underhill, was an affable junior officer serving aboard a Navy minesweeper, a fellow from working-class New York. Merrilee Ann Meier was a stunning St. Louis County socialite entering the halcyon period pretty girls from established families swam into after they finished a degree in anything and before they marry a newly minted lieutenant. In the letters, Bob pours out his affections to Merrilee on wafer-thin military stationary, but glosses over the delicate maneuver required to snip the trip-wire of an underwater bomb, and live. Interspersed with stories-within-the-story, we follow Bob and Merrilee through a 58-year marriage in which they confronted holiday fiascoes and funeral foul-ups, windless regattas and catastrophic tornadoes.

I eliminated some of my father’s letters, those that didn’t reveal character, describe a riveting scene, or advance the plot. At the publisher’s request, I whittled the number of vintage family photos to a dozen or so. A number of happy memories could not be included, for there were so many that a reader would conclude my parents were Ward and June Cleaver. In other cases, I alluded to difficult experiences, but chose to not deal with them expansively. I think the reader had enough to get the drift. For example, the hardest part of the book to write was discovering why my paternal grandparents were never seen, never heard from, never visited, never mentioned. And coming to grips with that.

A good story worth the telling should take matters to their proper end, as well. This one does so early and often, in essays I wrote about how Bob and Merrilee went on to forge a life together, to weather adversity, achieve a measure of prosperity, and rear children during changing, challenging times Theirs is a story that spans years of war, decades of peace, and the breadth of human emotion, and it all began more than seventy years ago, with a letter signed “Just, Bob.”

For more information, visit the author's website at

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Ian O'Connor - The 95% Solution

If you’re on a quest for novels that read like non-fiction, a book by Palm Beach Garden author Ian A. O’Connor might be the perfect solution.  O’Connor has penned five novels he describes as “95% fact interspersed with 5% fiction to confuse the reader,” and his stories will have you puzzling over what is true and what is the product of the writer’s fertile imagination. 
Born in England, O’Connor came to the U.S. by way of Canada. He wanted to pursue a career in law but joined the Air Force because of the draft and became a career military man.  Before retiring as a full colonel, he held several leadership positions in the field of national security management and was called back to active duty during the first Gulf War. He lives in South Florida with his wife, Candice.

Although he graduated with a degree in Political Science, O’Connor always enjoyed writing.  “About 20 years ago, I found myself drawn to writing like a moth to a flame,” he recalls. He began taking college graduate-level writing courses, attended seminars and writing workshops, and in 2000, completed his first novel, The Twilight of the Day, a thriller set in 1973. It is a powerful story of human triumph in the face of impossible odds, a story of one man's resolute faith in God and country when lesser men would have succumbed. Navy Captain James Vincent Trader endured years of relentless torment as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese but his true descent into hell began when he and nine others were sold in 1973 to a rogue country for 70 million dollars. Who was the buyer, and what was expected of these men? The answer is found in a closely guarded secret held by this extraordinary fraternity of pilots.  “I knew too many pilots who had been shot down but never returned home, and that was my motivation for writing the book,” O’Connor explains. “I still believe people were deliberately abandoned and left to die, especially in Laos, and I didn’t want that to ever happen again.” On September 9, 2017, O’Connor was honored by the Military Writers Society of America in San Antonio, Texas, with the Bronze Medal Award for The Twilight of the Day.

O’Connor’s next book, The Seventh Seal, introduces retired FBI agent Justin Scott who is hired by the Vatican when its ambassador to the accused of murdering his mistress.  The Seventh Seal was voted a 2017 Semi-Finalist in the Sixth Annual Kindle Book Awards for best Thriller of the Year. (The winner will be announced on November 1, 2017.) The second book in the Justin Scott series, The Barbarossa Covenant, is based on a fictitious letter penned by Winston Churchill and author Ian Fleming to thwart Hitler’s planned invasion of England. When the letter turns up in the Vatican decades later, Scott is called to verify its authenticity before Doomsday arrives. Kirkus Reviews praised the book as “…a nifty thriller that...holds reader interest with his breakneck plot...”

 O’Connor‘s latest novel turns from Justin Scott to a doctor based on a 20-year-old exposé in the Miami Herald. The Wrong Road Home tells the compelling story of Desmond Donahue, an Irish immigrant who spent his life masquerading as a surgeon.  Armed with nothing more than a GED and some bogus medical diplomas, Donahue manages to evade discovery despite many close calls, but at tremendous cost to his personal life. O’Connor was a close friend of the real-life “Desmond Donahue” who requested that O’Connor tell his story. “I knew him for years,” O’Connor explains. “Even as a friend, he was always reserved and distant. He seemed very lonely. He called me one Saturday night in tears and told me his life was ruined. The next morning, I opened the paper and saw a story on the front page about a prominent Miami physician who had been unmasked as a fraud.” Florida Weekly describes the book as “…a highly realistic psychological portrait of a man addicted to a dream and determined to attain it.”

O’Connor has completed the third novel in his Justin Scott series, The Masada Option, which is scheduled for release in 2018. The story unfolds at lighting speed over a five day period in May when a rogue element inside Israel's Intelligence Service takes matters into its own hands and prepares to launch a devastating nuclear first-strike against the Muslim World from about a hijacked British Trident submarine with its arsenal of nuclear missiles capable of destroying most of the earth's major cities. Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Malaysia, and the entire Arabian Peninsula will be obliterated in one fell swoop, rendering Islam powerless for the next thousand years. This fanatical band of outlaws are willing to sacrifice the State of Israel to nuclear retaliation only because they believe Judaism will survive in flourishing communities in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.  The Prime Minister of Israel does not know who he can trust inside his own government to stop the madness and turns to the one man he believes can find the solution to avert an imminent worldwide calamity. That man is his friend, retired FBI agent Justin Scott. 
While promising an edge-of-the-seat reading experience and plots that read like today’s headlines, O’Connor hopes his books will leave readers satisfied that their time and money was well spent.

For more information, visit the author’s website at

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Wonder Where the Money Went? - A Guest Post by Diane Capri

This month, Fabulous Florida Writers is pleased to welcome guest blogger Diane Capri. Diane is the  New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of the Hunt for Jack Reacher series based on Lee Child's enigmatic character. Her latest novel, Jack the Reaper, (Book 8 in the series) will be released on September 26. Diane was our featured author on January 18, 2015.

Jack the Reaper is the newest novel in my Hunt for Jack Reacher series. When I began writing this spin off series back in 2009, I had no idea whether readers would embrace the concept or not. Eight years later, the series about two FBI agents, Kim Otto and Carlos Gaspar, on the hunt for Jack Reacher has now sold well over a million copies, hit the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists several times, been nominated for a few awards and even won a couple of them. The series has found readers around the world. Let me tell you, I couldn’t possibly be more thrilled about all of that!

Perhaps the question I’m asked most frequently is where I get the ideas for my books. I usually joke and say I buy them at But the truth is that I don’t always know. Sometimes, ideas simply pop into my head. Other times, like this book, real life events inspire the story.
 In the case of Jack the Reaper, what sparked my interest were the secrets being revealed by whistleblowers and watchdog groups. As a lawyer, I’m required to keep confidences and secrets. If lawyers reveal private matters, we can lose our license to practice, which means losing our ability to feed our families. All of which meant I was intrigued by the big scandal the media dubbed The Panama Papers.

Do you remember that one? A Panama law firm’s files were hacked. Private information about thousands of offshore tax havens was exposed. Prominent people found themselves in embarrassing situations. Some of those situations, it turned out, were also illegal.

How might Jack Reacher be involved in all of this, I wondered. After all, Reacher is one of the least likely men on the planet to be hiding hordes of cash from tax collectors. Reacher seems to care very little about money at all. He cares even less for paperwork. It’s not likely he’d have an offshore shell corporation holding boat loads of pre-tax cash. Not likely at all.

Where would he get the money, for starters?
It turns out that Reacher did have access to nine million dollars of untraceable cash at the end of in the Lee Child novel, The Hard Way. Nine million is a lot of money, for sure.

What if Reacher went back to The Dakota where the money was hidden after he dispatched the bad guys?

What would Reacher do with all of that cash?

What if more bad guys wanted that money back?

Jack the Reaper developed from questions like these. Like all of my Hunt for Jack Reacher series novels, this one uses a Lee Child novel as its source book and springs from the characters, settings, and events in The Hard Way. Coming up with a compelling story that isn’t a sequel to the original but retains the flavor of a Reacher novel is a challenge every single time.

But when the magic happens and an exciting story results, it’s well worth the effort. Don’t you agree?

 In Jack the Reaper, the exposure of sensitive banking records leads to a thrilling chase from Iraq to London to New York and Palm Beach. Agents Otto and Gaspar are caught up in deadly situations they don’t understand. Everyone knows more about Reacher than they do. They’re forced to learn fast to stay alive.

And what exactly happened to all that cash?

For more information, visit my website:

Monday, September 4, 2017

Gino Bardi - Remembering the Sixties

There’s an old joke, “If you remember the sixties, you probably weren’t there.” For those of you who were  - or weren’t, and wish you were - a new novel by Hudson writer Gino Bardi will take you on a magical mystery tour back to those turbulent times. “Those years were a highlight of my life,” he says.  “Get it? High light? Okay, never mind.”

Bardi began writing for local newspapers and magazines while still a high school student in West Islip (Long Island), New York. He attended Cornell University in the late sixties, a time of campus unrest, where he met and later married his college sweetheart. After graduating with a degree in English/Creative Writing in 1972, Bardi wrote copy for an advertising agency and film scripts for a training and development company in Washington, DC.  He and his wife eventually owned and operated a commercial printing business in upstate New York. They sold the business in 2008 and retired to Florida after deciding “winter was an unnecessary evil.” The move turned out to be a pleasant change in more ways than the weather.

“The best thing about Florida is that it’s filled with writers,” Bardi says. “I was amazed by how many writers there are, how good they are, and how nice they are to one another. In New York, they were much more competitive.”  After trying to fill his time with typical retiree activities like fishing, golf, and tennis (which he admits he “did badly,”) he joined a writers group.  “I’m a guy who likes to take the path of least resistance,” he admits. “Writing was the only thing I could do, so I decided to write something.” He began working on a short story about a young man finding love- and fun- in a demanding, stressful university, “Much of the story really happened to me,” he explains. “But when I got to the point where I needed an actual plot – that’s where the road parted.” He soon discovered that writing a novel was very different from completing an assignment for an ad or a magazine.

Fortunately, Bardi found “a very generous mentor” - author David Edmonds, the moderator of the Tarpon Springs Writer’s Group.  “When I got to the point where the character’s life grinds to a stop, and what had really happened wasn’t too interesting, I wasn’t sure where to go with it,” he says. “I moped around for a while, like the book’s main character, Tony.  David Edmonds encouraged me to keep going. I let the characters tell me how to finish the book. It turns out they couldn’t be pushed around. The story took on a life of its own. It was amazing!”  The result was Bardi’s first novel The Cow in the Doorway: Love and Loss in a Time of Pot and Protest. He describes the often humorous, sometimes poignant book as “a coming-of-age, new adult, historical romantic comedy - it’ll be the only book on that particular shelf!” The protagonist of the story is Tony Vitelli, a reluctant freshman focused more on babes than books. His search for romance in the midst of tremendous political and societal upheaval teaches him some hard lessons about life and love. “Tony learns that, at some point in life, you have to figure out what you want and what you have to do to get it,” Bardi notes. “The title is a metaphor for whatever stands in your way, whatever keeps you from getting what you want and need.” The Cow in the Doorway is a rare example of something that will make you laugh and break your heart on the same page. It received the Florida Writers Association’s prestigious Royal Palm Literary Award for both Best Unpublished (2015) and Best Published New Adult Novel (2016).

 Bardi has recently completed Three on a Match, a collection of eleven humorous and quirky short stories examining aspects of relationships from many angles. On schedule for early 2018 is a full-length novel, WKDZ, about a younger Tony Vitelli (from The Cow in the Doorway) who, along with a team of miscreant high school kids, builds a powerful radio station and gets into an incredible amount of trouble. Also in the works is a futuristic crime spoof, titled Freezer Burn, whose protagonist has been dead for forty years and emerges from a deep freeze to cause all kinds of problems for the world.

 In all Bardi’s books, the protagonist eventually gets the girl. “And that’s how you know it’s fiction,” he is quick to point out. Creating offbeat stories and characters that can make readers smile is part of the joy Bardi gets from his craft. “When it comes to writing, there’s very little I don’t like,” he says. “And I can always make myself laugh, which is a real treat.”  

For more information, visit Gino Bardi’s author page, Both The Cow in the Doorway and Three on a Match are available on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wayne MacDowell - A Literary Tribute to the Greatest Generation

Of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII, less than million remain. According to the National WWII Museum, “Approximately every three minutes a memory of World War II – its sights and sounds, its terrors and triumphs – disappears…the men and women who fought and won the great conflict are now mostly in their 90s. They are dying quickly – at the rate of approximately 555 a day, according to US Veterans Administration figures.” So it is imperative to honor them before they disappear into the annals of history. This was the inspiration for Not Just Another War Story, St. Pete Beach writer Wayne MacDowell’s tribute to the young airmen who risked their lives in the skies over occupied Europe.

Having spent his career in Sales and Marketing for national tea and coffee companies, MacDowell traveled widely throughout the United States. It was during one such trip that he got the idea for a story about a college football player who finds romance during a summer job. “I started the story on hotel stationery, writing ‘A Short Story’ at the top,” he recalls. About 370 pages later, the story became a novel he titled Not Just Another Love Story. While MacDowell had no formal training as a writer, he had on-the-job experience writing marketing and sales plans, and he published Not Just Another Love Story in 2000.

MacDowell’s next book, Not Just Another War Story, would be nine years in the making. Because of a football injury sustained while he was a college student, MacDowell was unable to pass the physical to become an Air Force pilot. Instead, he channeled his energies into a 40-year involvement with the 305th Bomb Group Memorial Association as a tribute to his uncle and godfather, 1st Lt. Wright E. Gerke, a B-17 “Flying Fortress” pilot. “The idea of what could become a story came through my attendance at the 305th annual reunions where I spoke with those heroes of long ago and listened to their stories,” MacDowell says. “In the book, I wanted the story to be absolutely genuine – right down to the weather and each plane’s serial number.”

MacDowell describes Not Just Another War Story as “the story of the hopes, dreams and loves of a B-17 crew.” It is the tale of young Steve Carmichael, a University of Florida graduate who loves to fly.  Having learned to pilot a plane at the age of 12, Steve decides to join the Army Air Corps. He eventually realizes his dream of piloting a four-engine B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber into battle. While stationed in Britain, Steve meets an attractive British nurse at a USO dance, and sparks fly. “The book doesn’t center on just the fighting war,” MacDowell points out. “It also shows the human interaction and feelings, plus a beautiful romance in a war-torn world.”  For MacDowell, the best part of writing the novel was “watching my characters come to life and become people.”

 While promoting Not Just Another War Story, MacDowell travelled to England's Isle of Wight where some of the book takes place. Sandown, a family resort town on the Isle of Wight is the St Pete Beach International Sister-City.  He then went on to London where he hosted a book-signing at Harrrod's Department Store. He also visited Margroten, Holland where the Netherlands-American Military Cemetery is located. “I did a book signing there, giving the proceeds to a local charity,” he says.  Not Just Another War Story is dedicated to 1st LT Wright E. Gerke, a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot who was killed on a mission to Gelsenkirchen, Germany. This visit was my 23rd to place flowers and visit with my Uncle-Godfather. I know the number only because there is a sign-in family book. Like all of the overseas military cemeteries it is well worth the visit to these hallowed grounds which are beautifully maintained. They are American soil. While there, take a stroll out past the reflecting pond, past the memorial tower/chapel and into the cemetery where 8301 American ‘kids’ are buried. Walk out toward the American flag pole and over on your right in Plot 0 Row 6 Grave 6, stop by for a moment to visit Lt Wright E. Gerke.” MacDowell plans on returning to England and The Netherlands in the fall of 2018.

 Another memorable experience for MacDowell was an invitation to do a book signing with the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA).  “They flew their B-17 Flying Fortress into the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport in June for a couple of days as a flying exhibit,” he recalls. “We worked out that some of the proceeds would go the EA. We sold out, and they asked if I would come the following week to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport for an additional signing. Again, we sold out and, at the end of the day, they invited me to fly as copilot on their 1928 Ford Tri-Motor former TWA plane. It certainly was fun! The old girl flew at just under 100 MPH and with the huge wings, was as steady as can be.”

MacDowell hopes readers will enjoy Not Just Another War Story and come away with a renewed appreciation for the sacrifices made by WWII veterans. “I hope the book will give the younger generation – those who had a father or grandfather who served – an understanding of what they went through during that time,” he says. “I try to bring out the toughness of that group of people who certainly had to grow up way too soon, and the joy of lifelong friendships made with individuals from all walks of life. To have the reader come along on the story-adventure and give them a front row seat was most important to me.”

For more information, visit the author’s website at