When I started writing Phicklephilly back in May of 2016, I never realized how much it would grow and flourish as I went forward. It began as an earnest effort to start writing again. After a few false starts through the summer, I finally decided that if I was going to start writing again, I should stop talking about it and just do it.
It began like most creative works. Slowly. Once I published my first post, I thought; how am I going to do this every Monday? I had no followers and no exposure anywhere. Instead of worrying about that, I decided to dig in and start to tell stories from my recent past. But since then it’s grown exponentially. It’s a dot com now and has hundreds of thousands of page views. I’ve monetized the site and secured advertisers that generate revenue to support my work. It’s been a lot of fun!
In the beginning, my inspiration was a server named Maria who worked at a local restaurant. I sort of had a crush on her but it never became anything. But it was enough to get me writing again. When I met her I had already been in Philly for almost ten years.
My first relationship with Michelle had only lasted about three years before she left me. She was approaching age thirty and the alarms were going off in her head to get married and make babies. I had already been married and divorced years before that and had a daughter. I wasn’t going down that painful and expensive road again. The odd thing about my relationship with Michelle was, it was the first time I had a girlfriend that after we broke up, stayed friends with me. We were best friends. Isn’t that the key to all successful and loving relationships?
Michelle reconnected with her former high school boyfriend. Normally that never works but I think this time it might. I think Michelle broke up with him, left Delaware and came to Philly because the guy wasn’t on the road to success. I think Michelle needed to explore the world a bit. She did that for a while and then met me. I was new and different and we had the time of our lives together in the city. But what neither of us realized was that was all we really were. A couple of people who loved the city and it’s nightlife. The drinks flowed and the laughter ensued. But once we got an apartment and moved in together it was the beginning of the end. We didn’t know it at the time, but domestic life never suited our relationship. We were best friends who liked the social excitement of going out, and being a deadly couple in the city. Once the adventure ended it was over.
We tried it for a while, and did all of the things that couples do. Celebrate the holidays, birthdays, family stuff, and all of the other grinding aspects of domestic life. But we just got to a point where Michelle realized I wasn’t going to marry her and give her kids. We remained friends for several years after that until she moved to California in 2013 to be with her former boyfriend. He had become the man she had hoped he’d be many years ago. She married him, and at the time of this writing has a baby daughter. So it all worked out for her. She achieved the American dream.
I on the other hand started dating Annabelle in 2013. Annabelle is a failed actress and photographer. She makes her living shooting head shots and weddings. The reason things failed with Annabelle was our obvious age difference, and absolute opposite lifestyles. I was the corporate sales guy, and she lived in a world surrounded by theater people. It was like oil and water, and the only thing we shared was our mutual attraction to each other. Annabelle served as a temporary stand-in for my friend Michelle. The relationship lasted a tumultuous nine months and ended. It was fun in the beginning, but all romantic endeavors are. Once the reality sets in that you’re not a match, normally the relationship dissolves. Both of these relationships are well documented in the first Phicklephilly book.
Michelle is long gone, but her memory continues to haunt me of what could have been.
Near the end of the book I met Cherie. When I started writing the blog I realized I had to get back in the dating game. So I did what most people do. I went on Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, and whatever else was available. I went on a bunch of crazy dates, but things clicked pretty early on with Cherie.
I realized I had an ending to my first book. I had burned through a couple of relationships, and then met my love, Cherie. Everything was right in the world. She made me happy and we shared some wonderful times. Over the first couple of months we became close and Phicklephilly had a happy conclusion. It seemed like the perfect ending to a great story. I had reached my destination, and had found love in Philly!
Also, when I was with Michelle and Annabelle, I wasn’t writing. Their stories were told from memory, so it’s basically our greatest hits. But phicklephilly the blog was alive and well when I met Cherie. A rich history indeed!
But what happened after the end of the first book? We’re both in love with each other and things are going great. The story has to continue. I can’t just let the tale end there. There’s so much more to reveal.
Phicklephilly 2 is the sequel to the best selling book, Phicklephilly: One man’s journey to find love in Philadelphia. In the first book, our hero returned to the city in search of the perfect girlfriend. It was a funny, and sometimes heart wrenching tale of a man trying to navigate the pitfalls of the modern dating world.
After two failed relationships, he turns to online dating. He goes on several crazy dates, but finally finds a woman he really likes. She’s a bright, unique beauty, but like all relationships, they face several challenges.
Phicklephilly 2 continues his journey and shows you what it’s like being in a relationship, and the dynamics that play out living in the city. But several factors work against them both at every step. Will the couple survive the pitfalls and demands of being in an exclusive committed relationship?
He doesn’t always do what’s right, but neither does she. This is his intimate story of what that’s been like for him. Join him to see if he wins… or loses again.
There’s always three sides to every story. His side, her side… and the truth.
PHICKLEPHILLY 2 will publish on September 14th!
Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.
I decided to go back in my memory and try to remember all of the inspiring moments in my own life that helped bring this book to life. I published Part 1, 2 and 3 the last three Mondays, so you can check them out to gather more insight into the book. Anyway, here’s some more stuff…
Rhonda Severino: I once read that if you bring a third person into a scene it creates a different dynamic between the main characters. When reading the story, I think you can see Christian’s growing frustration in regard to his relationship with his traveling partner, Jill.
Enter Rhonda, the sexy hitchhiker. She’s one of my favorite characters in the book. I dig her raw sexuality and tough exterior. Like the rest of the characters in the book, she’s already damaged goods long before she meets up with Chris and Jill. She’s a good person who’s been dealt a shitty hand in life and compounded her problems with a series of bad decisions. That all comes from low self esteem and naivety.
Bringing Rhonda into the story created tension between Jill and Christian. I think she showed Jill that she wasn’t the only chick in Christian’s world, and her throne could be threatened. She really pushed the story forward. I love her!
The inspiration for her came from a real girl I met who worked at a dry cleaners back in Woodbury, NJ. I remember back in the 90’s I was just beginning to do some writing and I told her a piece I was working on. She said she wanted to be a character in my story. She certainly fit the profile for someone I would write about. When I asked her what she wanted her character to be she replied, “I want to be portrayed as a hot slut, who has lots of sex and then gets murdered.” At the time I thought that wasn’t much of a departure from who she already was. I never forgot her, and knew she’d be perfect for the role of Rhonda!
Things that changed: In the original draft for Angel with a Broken Wing, there were certain elements that were removed or changed in later edits. When I first drafted the original treatment for the book, I just went balls out, accelerator to the floor on my writing. There was tons of profanity and even some racist moments in the dialogue. There was also graphic, gratuitous violence and nearly pornographic/erotica sex in the book. As I edited it, I realized as my first work of fiction to be published, I didn’t think it was necessary to go that hardcore to tell the story.
So I cleaned up the language, and only let my characters curse when it was absolutely necessary to punch up the dialogue. Pepper their speech, don’t drown it in hot sauce. The violence was over the top, and in the final edits… simplified. You can kill a person without violating them sexually for no good reason. Also the sex was way too dirty. I find that action sequences are so much easier to write than sex scenes. Action and violence must come naturally to people, because I really struggled to make the sex tastefully done in Angel. In the original draft you would have felt like you were there. In the final version, maybe you just saw it through an open window. It was quite a challenge, but it needed to happen.
One of my favorite things that changed in the published version of Angel is that I got to play God a little bit. In the first draft there are two characters that both died horrible, violent deaths. But as I edited it I really started to like them, and saw their value. I could have easily killed them both off, no problem. But I liked the story so much better when I let them both live. I had to change two separate scenes, and even wrote an additional chapter a month before publication to accommodate the survival of one of them. By letting them live, it allowed me to return to them in a possible sequel where they get to continue on with their lives. I feel extremely satisfied with the way it worked out for the story.
Can you guess which two lived?
Audra Connelly: This character is based on a girl who used to come into my bank branch when I worked in South Philly back in the 90’s. She worked in sales for a payroll company and was always trying to get me to switch over to her services at the bank. She was also a customer, so sometimes we’d simply hang out together. Like the character, she has extraordinary bright blue eyes. She also loved to play volleyball, so her body was lean and muscular with calves that could stop a bullet. I don’t know what ever happened to her, and I can’t find her on Linkedin, but I hope she’s healthy, married and happy.
The band at the bar in Palm Springs: My dad listened to a lot of National Public Radio. He turned me on to Chris Isaak, and a band called Big Lazy. He would literally come down the hall and get me from my room to come listen to these artists. I ended up buying their records and becoming a huge fan of both. I was listening to a bunch of Chris Isaakand Big Lazy when I was writing this book, so their sound is incorporated into the story. If it ever becomes a movie or a series, I could literally hand the director the soundtrack. Southern Culture on the Skids, Chris Isaak, and Big Lazy, all have that kind of open road sound. Please check out these artists. It’s perfect music to listen to while reading Angel with a Broken Wing. I decide to give Big Lazy a plug by making them the house band at the bar in Palm Springs.
The Bayside Motel: That was the first motel that my friend Frank and I stayed in back in ’82 when we arrived in Los Angeles. I liked how Christian looks at the gun and the bottle of booze and sees the parallel to his old life and job at the finance company. He could pay off the loan instantly with a bullet, or by making installment payments over time by drinking himself to death. I just love the hopelessness of that scene.
Santa Monica Pier: I believe it’s flourishing now, but I’m pretty sure it was closed down for quite some time in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It just seemed like the perfect location for an exciting scene in LA. that was a well known landmark.
Christian’s Dreams: The inspiration for his dreams are from images I felt when I listen to the song, In Spite of Me, by the band Morphine. That song always resonated with me and still does to this day. Just brilliant!
I think that’s all I can reveal without giving away the story. I hope you enjoyed reading this mini series as much as I enjoyed writing it!
I decided to go back in my memory and try to remember all of the inspiring moments in my own life that helped bring this book to life. I published Part 1 and 2 the last two Mondays, so you can check them out to gather more insight into the book. Anyway, here’s some more stuff…
The Conversations: The interesting dialogue between Christian and the people in his life all came out of my head for the most part. I originally envisioned Angel as a play. It was about two people on a long car ride. The play would focus on all of the cool conversations they have together on a road trip. I wanted the stories to be diverse and engaging. Back in the 90’s, what else was there to do on a long trip? Read a magazine, listen to the radio or simply talk. I liked the idea and as the story grew, I incorporated all of those clever exchanges into the story.
The Villain: Although I’m always rooting for the hero, the bad guys in movies and books are always more interesting than the good guys. When I think about it, the villain has his on perspective of right and wrong. Both parties think they’re right. Superman wants to save the world, but Lex Luthor has his own agenda. The villain in Angel simply wants what he believes is rightfully his, and will stop at nothing to get it. I can’t really blame him, but I don’t agree with his methods. He isn’t based on anyone I know. I just envisioned the classic man in black from modern folklore.
The Route: Back in 1982, I took a road trip from New Jersey to Los Angeles, in a 1969 Volkswagen mini bus. I was with my buddy Frank Roberts. It was February when we set out, so we took the most southern route. It was interstate 10. Remembering many of the details and stops on that trip, I was able to create a similar route for Christian and Jill. Knowing that road and those towns along the way, I was able to bring the trip to life in a realistic way.
The Wagon Wheel: That’s a restaurant that Chris and Jill dine in one day. The name of the place is from a song by the band, Morphine. It’s a song called Thursday. I love that whole album, (A Cure for Pain) The lyrics always seemed so clever and illicit, that I felt that the song deserved a mention. Here’s the lyrics:
We used to meet every Thursday Thursday Thursday in the afternoon For a couple of beers and a game of pool We used to go to a motel a motel
A motel across the street And the name of the motel was the Wagon Wheel Oh
One day she said come on come on she said
Why don’t you come back to my house She said my husband’s out of town You know he’s gone till the end of the month Well I was just so nervous so nervous
You know I couldn’t really quite relax ‘Cause I was never really quite sure when her Husband was coming back
Sure one of the neighbors yea one of the neighbors
One of the neighbors that saw my car And they told her yea they told her I think they know who you are Well her husband he’s a violent man a very violent and jealous man
Now I have to leave this town I got to leave while I still can
We should have kept it every Thursday Thursday Thursday in the afternoon For a couple of beers and a game of pool
We should have kept it every Thursday Thursday Thursday in the afternoon For a couple of beers and a game of pool She was pretty good too
I just liked the song so I worked the Wagon Wheel into the book.
New Orleans: Back in 1982, on my real road trip with Frank, we pretty much stayed on highway 10. But I remember the day we left Mobile, Alabama, Frank expressed that he wanted to take highway 12 down into New Orleans. I’m so glad we did that. You can actually read about our whole trip in the series: California Dreamin’ on this blog! Just enter that into the SEARCH box and you can read the whole sordid tale. It’s such a unique and wild place I had to include it into Angel. Did I jump onstage and play with a band in a bar down there? No. But it just had to be a stop for our heroes on their trip because it’s just a neat place. I think after we left there I described it as… Sodom and Gomorrah with a two drink minimum!
Sealy, Texas: That really happened. It wasn’t as bad as I made it in the book, (the roaches!) but the whole bit about the desk clerk, his coloring book and him chasing us in his car down a dirt road, really happened to Frank and I on our journey back in 1982. Difference was, I didn’t have a bulldog .44 pistol. But I did have Frank, who was formerly a member of the Junior wing of the IRA back in Belfast, Ireland. I’ll never forget when he leaped out of the car, with an ice pick in his hand to face the guy chasing us. I obviously changed it up for the book, but yea…true story.
The Car: When I first started writing this book, I thought what kind of car should they take on an odyssey across America. The 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz came to mind. It’s an enormous automobile built for the open road. Can you imagine trying to parallel park that beast in the city? You’d never even find a spot for a car that size. Here’s a link to some more info:
It just seemed like the obvious choice for a long trip across the country. It looks like a 1950’s science fiction spaceship. Who wouldn’t want to step on the gas and let that massive chrome boat carry you to parts unknown? There was a song I heard on WXPN in Philly, (public supported radio) by a band called Southern Culture on the Skids. There was a song called Voodoo Cadillac that opens the album. It’s some good old fashioned shit kickin’ rockabilly. I loved the idea of the title. So the character, Jean from Haiti was born, and he’s the one who brings the car back to life. As we all know Haiti is where voodoo comes from. I always like the movie, Serpent and the Rainbow, so that was an inspiration as well.
I always loved the car, and even bought a little toy one when I was in Palm Springs with my wife back in the 1990’s! (I still have it!)
The Police: The two officers that visit Christian and Jill in Texas were based on a couple of my childhood friends. Michael Mitchell was a kid I grew up with in Philly. His father was a cop and he became a police officer as well. He had a decorated career but sadly passed away in April of 2020. Richard Sarlo was my best friend in Wildwood New Jersey every summer. He always wanted to become a police officer. Through the years he rose up the ranks and eventually became the Chief of Police in Collingswood, New Jersey. He’s since retired and is living a happy life in South Jersey.
Scene in the Texas desert: The scene where Jill and Chris have to hang for a day in Texas because of the police investigation, was born from an old film. One of my least favorite Alfred Hitchcock movies, To Catch a Thief was the inspiration. It’s just Cary Grant and Grace Kelly riding a scooter in I the Italian countryside. She has a picnic lunch and I just loved the vibe of that scene so I sort of dropped that into the story. To me it’s a throwaway scene from a throwaway movie.