Type. Tune. Tint. – LAWNDALE Podcast with Tom Kranz

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a gentleman I didn’t know. His name is Tom Kranz, and he’s an author and has his own podcast called Type. Tune. Tint. He asked me if I would be a guest on his show, and of course I agreed!

We talked about my latest book, LAWNDALE and how we’re from the same part of the city and some of our collective history. It was a great experience and I’m really grateful that Tom reached out to me.

I decided that I should share it with you all and hope you enjoy listening to this short piece as much as I did making it with Tom. It’s entitled: Creativity Born in a Philadelphia Row home.

Enjoy!

You can listen to it here:

Here’s the link too:

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1208186/11295399

Here’s some more links to Tom’s work. He’s an accomplished author in his own right! Below is a link to his blog where he talks about LAWNDALE and the process.

Tom’s blog. He wrote a really nice post about me and my creative life. Check it out!

Thank you, Tom!

I’m super excited about being on his podcast and I hope you all enjoy it. I owe this fellow Philadelphian and neighbor a drink the next time he’s in center city!

If you’re one of the few who hasn’t gotten your copy of LAWNDALE, you can order it below.

Thanks once again to everyone who bought my book!

You can check out all of my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every week.

New Book: BELOW THE WHEEL – Behind the Scenes, Characters and Inspiration

After the success of my first work of fiction, Angel with a Broken Wing, I knew I wanted to do another book.

But, I wanted to do something different. I started writing the first draft for Below the Wheel. My first book was about a man running away from his life. He was miserable in his job and wanted to hit the road and be gone. I always loved the idea of writing a road story. I’ve driven across the United States so I understood the subject and the lay of the land.

Below the Wheel is a story about friends and relationships. Two guys who worked together for years and grew tired of the rat race. They open a detective agency in Camden, New Jersey, and the story goes from there.

I write from my heart and my gut. The first draft of Below the Wheel was a brutal piece of work. Laced with graphic sex and violence, and peppered with profanity. When I let an agent read it, she liked it but couldn’t take the violence and filth. It was just over the top. I learned from crafting Angel with a Broken Wing, that less is more. Rather than lay it all out there for the reader, I decided to take a different approach. Clean it up a bit. Let the reader picture what’s happening in the scene using their imagination. They’ll get it. You can say it without actually saying it or showing it. I’ve learned a lot from writing this book, but more from editing it.

Like Angel with a Broken Wing, I added a new chapter during the editing process. I always like to leave things a little open for the chance of a sequel. But, I felt like this book needed a little more resolution than I originally gave it. So, I added a nice twist to the story. It also fixed something I never felt completely satisfied with. I feel better about the story and the fate of the characters now. When you write you have to look after your characters. They belong to you. I’d like to someday write a follow-up to this book.

Where did the title come from? That’s a secret. If we meet in person I’ll reveal that to you.

The Admiral Wilson Boulevard.  You can read about it here:

https://www.inquirer.com/philly/news/new_jersey/20160218_Camden_s_boulevard_of_unfulfilled_dreams.html

It’s an interesting bit of history, but its portrayal in my book is accurate. In the 80s and 90s, it was a grey serpent littered with drug addicts, hookers, and vice. They only cleaned it up when the Democratic Convention came to town sometime after that. It’s all different now. Gone are the strip joints, short-stay- fleabag motels, and human detritus.

Alex Hunter: Like Christian Blackmore from Angel with a Broken Wing, they’re completely made up. I think writers sometimes base their main characters on themselves. I think that was the case here, but we always change things and add things that make them more interesting. I did quit smoking back in the 90s when my daughter was born. I didn’t want to be around my baby smelling like cigarettes. That sweet little head that smells like heaven. I just didn’t want to be the stinky smoky dad around her. I also thought of the health aspects that come from smoking cigarettes. I did use a nicotine patch to get me off the ciggies and it worked. It was rough going though. I’d get stressed back then or be fighting with my then-wife and really want a cigarette. So, I could relate to what Alex was going through in this story.

Alex also has a problem with alcohol. I like interesting characters with feet of clay. I always have. The underdog wants to do the right thing and save the world but struggles with himself. That’s why Batman is more popular than Superman. Batman’s parents were murdered right in front of him as a child. He’s got issues. But Superman was born Superman. He actually has to act like a wimp and a coward to fit in with us mortals. I like the imperfections in a character. It gives them life and relatability to the reader. Who wants to root for Joe Got-It-All? He’s probably a bore. I would much prefer to cheer for the underdog. The failure. The guy who has moments of greatness and yet somehow is undone by his own vices and devices. It just seems more real.

I hardly ever drink anymore. I just became bored with it. After so many years, it just didn’t make sense anymore. Why would I want to stand in a bar with a bunch of drunks? Why would I want to fry my liver and wreck my health? Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the occasional well-made Manhattan, but it’s just not interesting to me anymore. I certainly don’t need it to write like some authors. A clear mind will always prevail. But Alex still loves the bottle and struggles with it all the while trying to be a better person.

Scott Appel: He’s based on my real-life friend, Scott. I know most writers change the names of characters based on real people, but Scott’s my friend. We’ve been pals for over 20 years. When I told him the theme for this book he was enthusiastic about being in it with me. So we changed his last name and he came up with it himself. It didn’t mean much to me so I left it in. Why not write about what you know? It’ll make the characters more real. The banter back and forth between Alex and Scott is how we actually speak to each other. It’s all fun ribbing and slagging. That’s what friends do. Besides, Scott won’t sue me for using his name in my book. I’ve got too much dirt on him anyway!

Genevieve Bouchard: She’s the insurance agent with whom the boys share an office in Camden. This character is based on an actual girl I knew back in the 90s who sold insurance for a living. She was my agent for years. I didn’t know much about her, but she looked like the character in the book. Even though I was married back then, I always liked her. She just seemed like a cool, nice person who was down to Earth. She did have a common-law husband though. They never married and he did run a contracting business. But the Bruno Cartiglio character is completely made up. I never met her significant other. I just created him based on the biker types I’ve met in my life. He’s just a bad egg.

Dr. Ignatious Feeny: The coroner is based on a customer I knew back when I worked for First Union Bank back in the 90s. He looked like Iggy in real life. Right down to the teeth. He was an odd character. A little touched in the head. My father always taught me to treat everyone fairly. I had good customers and bad ones. But they all had money in my branch and deserved respect. This guy would always ask me if he could use the phone in my office. I let him because he told me his neighbors were listening in on his conversations. He was obviously nuts but a harmless person. Just because someone is different or weird doesn’t mean they don’t deserve respect. You’d be surprised how well people respond with a little kindness. So he gets to be the brilliant but weird coroner in my book!

Ezra Chambers: The Police Luitenant was completely made up. I just pictured Morgan Freeman in the role and he was born!

Otis Guth: I based him on this fat, slovenly guy I once worked with at a record store in the early 90s. He wasn’t like Otis Guth at all. But when I think of the character in my mind I see that guy. Just hard to look at and listen to. Otis’s history is all made up except for the bit about him pursuing the kids who stole the car. That happened to a police officer friend of mine.

Alyssa Ward: She’s completely from my imagination as well. But when I think about the character, I probably was inspired by the lovely Alycia Lane the former co-anchor at KYW-TV in Philadelphia. Google her, and you’ll see what Alyssa Ward looks like in my book. Quite the babe!

Robert Wick: He’s based on a manager I had when I worked at Security Financial Services in the mid-90s. He was a gruff hard-ass but I loved him. He was great at his job and a fair manager. I would put him in the top 3 of the best men I’ve ever worked with. He wasn’t as mean or as foul-mouthed as my character, but he had that same swaggering confidence. A brilliant guy.

Karen Moore: This poor thing was based on several drug-addled prostitutes and strippers I’ve met in my life.

Her daughter Luna, is completely made up. I just wanted to create a truly good and innocent person in this story. A victim of circumstances not of her own making. A good kid, who had great potential but had just been dealt a bad hand in the game of life. The only rose to grow in a garden filled with thorns and spent hypodermic needles.

Pastor Victor Dorath: I was once in love with a girl named Linda Bradley back in the 80s. She was from Philly and I lived in Wildwood at the time. I met her on the beach and was smitten. But I hardly ever saw her. She was a straight-A student and somewhat religious. I actually went to see a pastor in Cape May, NJ for counseling. I know it seems nuts now that I think back on it, but I just needed someone to talk to about my feelings. I based this character on that gentleman. He was really sweet and a kind ear at the time.

Darren Cain: He’s based on a manager I once worked for back in my Midlantic Bank days in the 80s. He had appeared one day from New York and seemed to have an evil streak to him. No one liked him because he was so intense. But he liked me, and I think he probably had a thing for me. (He was gay) When I think of Darren Cain I see Pete Rallo. A crazy, misunderstood guy that was drunk with power. Oh, he later died from AIDS.

Lisa Devlin: (A minor character but worth mentioning) She’s based on a girl I knew who actually did work at Gloucester County College. I was taking some night courses there back in the 90s when I was married. (Like Christian Blackmore in Angel with a Broken Wing!) My then-wife thought I should finish my education. (Her family was extremely collegiate) Lisa was this nice girl that helped me navigate my classes and credits. I ended up hanging out with her a few times at a bar called Rock Lobster that used to be on Deleware Avenue in Philly.

Did I leave anybody out? I think that’s it.

I hope you like reading Below the Wheel as much as I did writing it. I think my next book of fiction may be something different again. I was thinking maybe a music story about a kid who rises in the music business in early 80s Los Angeles.

I still would like to release a collection of stories from my youth in Philadelphia, and Wildwood, NJ. But we’ll see.

You can get it here on Kindle and Paperback:

This song is dedicated to my sister Jane.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

New Book Published: BELOW THE WHEEL – Now Available on Amazon!

After publishing Angel with a Broken Wing last Summer, my next thought was… what do I do now? Go to the beach?

After much rumination, I decided to write another book. I wanted to create a hard-boiled detective novel that took place near Philly. Is there a scarier city somewhere across the river? Should I try to make a story inspired by true events?

Maybe…

I also wanted to make it about a couple of guys that were friends who decided to go into business together. Using the classic Hitchcockian premise of the common man getting caught up in extraordinary circumstances. I wanted to explore some of the darker sides of life, but seen through the eyes of lighthearted, unique characters. I also wanted something with a shorter, tighter timeframe than my previous book.

Below the Wheel takes place over two weeks in the lives of the characters in Camden, New Jersey in the Summer of 1998.

Alex Hunter and Scott Appel are two ex-investment brokers turned private investigators. Burned out from the competitive sales environment of buying and selling stock, they open the Watchman Detective Agency in Camden New Jersey. They spend their days investigating disability claims for insurance companies and law firms. Occasionally, they perform surveillance on errant spouses and even solve a crime now and then. But Alex and Scott aren’t taken seriously by local law enforcement. Especially detectives, Lt. Ezra Chambers, and his belligerent assistant, Sgt. Otis Guth.

Alex is the obsessive, suit and tie-wearing overachiever, who drinks too much and lives dangerously. Lately, he’s been trying to tame some of his vices by quitting smoking and seeking advice by attending church, and getting spiritual guidance from a local pastor. His life at the agency is a bit mundane, but Alex dreams of one day solving a really high-profile case.

Five years ago, he invested the inheritance of an attractive local television newswoman, Alyssa Ward. He was immediately smitten with her. But the portfolio tanked, and she lost a small fortune. She blamed Alex for the loss and never spoke to him again. Recently, her younger sister Jennifer disappeared, and Alex has taken it upon himself to find her. Jennifer always had a wild streak, and Alex thinks she may have been recruited to work in an exclusive sex club somewhere in Camden. The only problem is, no one knows where the club is located, or if it even exists.

His partner Scott, is the laid-back one. He enjoys watching cartoons, listening to heavy metal, and smoking weed. He’d be happy to just work the cases they get referred, keep the agency in the black and leave the exciting stuff to the police.

The guys share the office space with an insurance agent named Genevieve Bouchard. She’s an independent, hard-working woman, but is trapped in a toxic relationship with her abusive common-law husband, Bruno Cartiglio. When Bruno’s not involved in some sort of sleazy activity, he’s working construction on one of the nearby bridges. Genevieve hates her life with Bruno but is afraid that if she leaves him, he’ll hurt her. Scott’s attracted to Genevieve, but she’s already involved in some dangerous extracurricular activities.

During an unbearable heatwave, the boys are caught up in a bizarre case. The Camden Strangler, as the media call him, has been murdering prostitutes in the area.

A teenage girl named Luna, whose mother was the latest victim, turns to Alex and Scott for help. Scott’s reluctant to take on a client who obviously can’t pay, but Alex sees it as an opportunity to be a hero and takes the case pro bono.

Alex enlists the help of coroner Ignatious Feeny, who gives him access to the morgue and autopsy information on the victims. Alex also picks the brain of the brilliant but cantankerous Robert Wick. He’s a professor of criminology at Rutgers University. Although he’s bound to a wheelchair, he’s a master of criminal profiling. He tells Alex that the only way to solve the case is to go where the killer goes and see what he sees. Subsequently, Alex is drawn into the dark and sleazy world of the skin trade.

The boys work the case, and it’s full of twists, turns, and red herrings. Will they ever figure out who is doing the killings in Camden? Will Alyssa’s sister ever be found?

You’ll have to read the book to find out.

First and foremost, I want to thank the incredibly talented artist, Kellie Stiles who designed and painted the cover for Below the Wheel. Without her tireless efforts, we’d have… well… a book without a cover!

Special thanks to my wunderkind daughter, Kathryn. You’ve always been my greatest inspiration. A brilliant artist and musician in your own right. I appreciate you listening to me complain endlessly about the process of creating new literature and writing in general!

Thanks to the amazing team at Amazon Kindle. Without you, I’d be lost in a sea of technology. I can write the words, but you guys help me turn them into books.

Thanks to everyone at Amazon. I became a member over 25 years ago when you were just a giant bookstore. After crawling on my hands and knees to agents and publishing houses for years, Amazon finally gave me the biggest platform on Earth to bring my literary work to the world.

A special thanks to everyone at WordPress. Without you, I couldn’t publish Phicklephilly every day for the last five years! Now we’re a dot-com and I’ve monetized the site with ads from companies I’ve acquired, and we’ve also added Google AdSense! You gave me a home to bring my work to everyone! Thank you!

Thanks to all the folks over at GoDaddy. You made the transition from just another blogger to a dot-com look easy. Thanks for always being there when I needed you. You’re the best!

And of course, I have to thank my agent, JR for keeping this rocking boat afloat, and getting me steady commercial writing work to put food on the table for me and my daughter!

And last, but certainly not least…

Thank you, dear readers and subscribers, (2300 strong!) for your support over all the last 5 years I’ve been writing this little blog. What started out as a hobby to write about all my crazy dates, relationships, and people in my life has grown exponentially! You all got me to a quarter of a million page views this year! I appreciate you all and try to respond to all of your comments.

Please buy my new book. I assure you, you won’t be disappointed. It’s quite a ride! You can read it on the beach this summer!

You can get it in paperback or kindle here:

We did it again in 2021!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Excerpt From My New Book – BELOW THE WHEEL

My new novel, Below the Wheel, will publish and be available for sale on Amazon Kindle and paperback on June 22nd!

 

Here’s a sneak peek of the book.

You can read it here:

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/2021/06/15/excerpt-from-new-book-below-the-wheel/

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Angel with a Broken Wing – Chapter 2

My new book, Below the Wheel, drops on June 22. Here’s a little taste from last year’s novel, Angel with a Broken Wing.

 

TWO

The next evening, Christian relaxed on the couch watching the news on television. He glanced at his watch.

“Six-thirty? Whoa! I got class tonight.”

He leaped off the sofa, grabbed his textbook off the kitchen table, and headed out the door. He had some difficulty getting the Pinto started, but after several tries, the engine of the old ‘Gas Crisis Classic’ finally turned over.

“Going to work all day and then school at night is brutal. I should have done this right out of high school when I had the time. “I’ll be thirty-five this summer. It’ll take me forever to get my degree.”

The Pinto hesitated and bucked as he pulled into the parking lot of Gloucester County Community College. 

“This car’s a piece of junk! Didn’t they used to say that if you got hit from behind in a Pinto, the thing blew up?”

“The Flinto!”

He parked the car and began the long walk to the main building. He shivered as the frigid February wind whipped across the parking lot. It seemed to go right through his jacket and rattle his bones. 

He got to the door and a blast of warm air poured forth as he opened it, and dashed inside.

The hallway was filled with the sound of students chattering and running to class. It felt like high school to Christian. High school without the lockers.

He suddenly felt old as he trudged past the groups of twenty-year-olds that congregated outside the classrooms. He couldn’t help but notice the abundance of baggy pants, bad haircuts, tattoos, and body piercings.

“What the hell has happened to our culture?”

Christian finally arrived at his classroom and tried the door. 

Locked. He then noticed a note taped to the inside of the window on the door.

PSYCH CLASS CANCELLED DUE TO DEATH IN THE FAMILY

“Yea… Join the club, man. This sucks.”

He turned and headed back down the brightly lit corridor. The walls were lined with bulletin boards displaying upcoming student activities. Activities Christian would never attend. He was nearly to the door when a particular sign caught his eye. It was covered with brightly colored advertisements regarding travel. He stopped for a moment to read the board.

GO ON YOUR DREAM ADVENTURE! TRAVEL TO BEAUTIFUL COLORADO WITH US THIS SUMMER!

“Is it really that good? It can’t be as nice as the pictures. I suppose it’s good for the kids to get involved in something positive.”

“I wish I could go away…”

He continued to read the notes and signs on the board.

DIG UP DINOSAUR BONES!

HELP FEED THE CHILDREN!

BE A BIG BROTHER!

ROOMMATE WANTED!

NEED A RIDE!

“Need a ride?”

It was a small 3×5 card tacked to the corner of the board. Christian pulled it free from the thumbtacks that held it to the corkboard and read it carefully.

I NEED A RIDE!!! GOING WEST, POSSIBLY CALIFORNIA. WILL SHARE EXPENSES. IF INTERESTED, PLEASE CALL (609)555-2602) ASK FOR T.R. JEROP. 

SERIOUS INQUIRIES ONLY!!!

He read the card again, turning it over in his hand. He glanced up and down the hallway, and not seeing anyone, stuffed the card in his pocket. He walked towards the nearest exit. He stood in the warm vestibule and lit a cigarette before stepping back out into the bitter cold.

“What am I doing?” He made his way along the tree-lined promenade that led to the parking lot. “I should just put the damn thing back. I’m not going anywhere. Maybe I’m just jealous that this free spirit is going somewhere and I’m not. I don’t have the time, or the money to go anywhere. I’ve met so many people that would love to win the lottery and just fly away. This Jerop guy… he’s probably twenty years old, not a care in the world, nothing to tie him down. He just wants to see the country and cruise to the golden coast this summer. Must be nice. I gotta find some way to change my life. Jeezus it’s friggin’ cold out!”

Light snow began to fall as Christian got into the Pinto and drove home.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Angel with a Broken Wing – Chapter 1

My new book, Below the Wheel, drops on June 22. Here’s a little taste over the next 3 days from last year’s novel, Angel with a Broken Wing.

 

ONE

Christian Blackmore sat quietly in the law office of Timmons and Weiss in Miami, Florida. He looked around the room at his mother and three sisters as the executor read the Will for his uncle’s estate.

He ran his fingers through his blonde hair and rubbed his eyes. He still felt hungover from last night after the funeral, but the dark cloud of alcohol was beginning to lift from his head.

“And to my dear nephew, Christian, I leave the following possessions… my entire record collection, because I know how much he loves music. My 1974 Ford Pinto, because I want him to have quality transportation. All of my custom luggage, because I know how much he loves to travel. Finally, my favorite briefcase, so that when he goes off to work, he’ll always think of me! HA, HA.”

“Excuse me, sir… But what’s so funny?”

“I’m not laughing, Christian.”

Mrs. Blackmore interjected. “Mrs. Weiss, I just buried my favorite brother. I think it’s nice that he thought enough of my son to leave him some of his personal belongings. I don’t think your attempt at levity is appropriate.”

“But I didn’t laugh, Ma’am.”

“We all heard you, Weiss. It’s the part about the Pinto, isn’t it?”

“Christian, Please. You don’t understand. It says here: ‘and my favorite briefcase so that he can always think of me when he goes off to work. HA, HA.’ That’s what’s written in the will, the words ‘HA, HA.’ See for yourself.”

Christian snatched the document from the old lawyer’s hand and read it closely.

“It does say that, Mom.”

“I told you…”

Mom… is this some kind of joke?”

Her eyes narrowed. “I don’t know, Christian. I just don’t know.”

The next morning, Christian loaded the Pinto and headed back to his home in Woodbury, New Jersey.  The old ‘gas crisis classic’ held up rather well over the two days it took him to get home. As he drove he had some time to reflect on his life.

“Five years.”

For five years he had worked for Midland Bank. It was a pretty good gig working down at the seashore. Though it was very busy during the summer season, it was dead during the winter months. He had had enough of the resort/retirement community and needed something more. Something that was at least consistent twelve months a year. He had tried to get a transfer within the company to the Philadelphia area. He figured at least there’d be more opportunity and exposure in a more populated area. After months of trying he finally resigned from his position with the bank.

He took a job with a finance company in Turnersville, New Jersey. It was in Gloucester County, a few miles outside Philly on the Jersey side of the Delaware River.

He found that the differences between banks and finance companies were radical. He was asked by management to refer to the firm as financial services, not a finance company.

One day he asked his boss why, and he told Christian that the phrase finance company held a certain negative image.

Christian figured that the job wouldn’t be much different from the one he held at the bank. But he couldn’t have been more wrong. It was like comparing apples to oranges.

When he managed a branch for the bank his duties were, do your audit and compliance books, open checking and savings accounts, develop new business, oversee branch operations, and most of all, keep your tellers happy.

If you get the occasional customer who wants to borrow money, it’s a no-brainer. If he or she had even one delinquent account on their credit report, you simply denied the request. It was that easy. The bank has the lowest rates, so they only lend money to the best customers.

But what if you had a good reason for your late payments? What if you lost your job, or your child was sick in the hospital and medical bills were piling up?

The bank doesn’t care that bad things happen to good people. Sorry.

So what does this customer do to get a loan? Where can he go to get a loan to help meet the needs of his family?

He goes to a finance company. The customer needs money to buy Christmas presents for his kids, or his daughter needs braces, or maybe she needs tuition for school. Whatever the client needs…Christian is there.

As he navigated the old Pinto North on Interstate 95, He thought of the hundreds of customers he had served over the years at Midland Bank. He visualized the typical customer walking out of his chosen branch where he kept his money after being declined for a loan. The bank where he deposited his paycheck every week. The bank where he had his savings account. The place his wife made her weekly payments into their Christmas Club. The bank where his grandfather renewed his certificates of deposit every six months. This man walks out of his bank and comes across the street to see Christian. Christian Blackmore. Finance Company Man!

He thought about how the meeting would go. Turning it over in his mind. They were all just different players in the same game.

His game.

“Hey Joe, how’s it going?”

“Not good, Chris. My bank just turned me down for a loan. I’ve been banking there since the joint opened!”

“Well Joe, maybe we can help you here.”

“Really? That’d be great!”

“Why were you declined?”

“I got hurt on the job a year ago, and I got behind on some of my payments because I was out of work for a couple of months.”

“Are you current with everybody now?

“You mean up to date on all my bills?”

“Yes.”

“Absolutely.”

“How much do you need to borrow?”

“About $1,500 would do it I guess.”

“Okay, that’s going to be $63 a month for say…18 months?”

“Yea sounds good. Hey, what’s the payment on $2,000?”

“Well Joe… let me get some more info and we’ll see if we can get this done today.”

“Thanks, man!”

Christian took a sip from the paper cup filled with bitter black coffee. He turned up the radio to drown out the hammering of the old engine as it pushed the tiny old Ford through the night.

He continued to relive his daily life as he drove on. His loathing for his job helped keep him alert as he entered his sixteenth hour on the road. He thought about how that very same customer would enter his office the same afternoon to sign papers and receive his check for $2,000.

Pretty amazing, Christian thought as he lit a cigarette. Quick and easy. The client’s happy. He can send his little girl to summer camp or get his leaky roof fixed, or pay off his gambling debt to his bookie in Atlantic City.

Who cares. He’s only got to come up with $100 a month. What a super job. What a great guy Christian Blackmore is. What a satisfying vocation he has chosen. Guy had a need, and he satisfied it. The client had some delinquent payments in the past but he’s current now. Handed him a check the same day. The bank would have taken a week and charged him about 12% had they approved him.

But they didn’t.

But Christian did. He charged Joe what his boss told him to charge on every unsecured loan he made, no matter what the credit score looked like. He charges them all the State Maximum for the state of New Jersey.

That rate is 30%!

30%! That’s only 20% less than the loan sharks in South Philly charge.

Christian thought about his boss. That pig Andy. He could almost hear his voice now… “Don’t lose any business boys. If they balk at the rate, cut it back to 28%. Show ’em we’re flexible.”

“Oh yea, thanks, Andy. They’ll love that rate. Don’t people usually like to have their clothes off when they’re getting screwed?”

Christian knew he needed to get out of this job. He could feel the rage rising in him. He took a deep breath and exhaled so as to not drive faster due to his anger. He spoke out loud to himself in the car.

“They love that low payment I quote them. Yessiree! That low payment is packed with Life, Disability, and even Unemployment insurance. It’s sick! People pay so much in interest and insurance we pack into these loans. We make a fortune from their misfortune. ‘At least we get ’em the cash when they need it.’ Andy says.”

“Yea… but what a price they pay. Jeezus, what I do to these hard-working people every day is criminal. I should just go put on a mini skirt and a pair of fishnets and heels, and just grab a handful of credit applications, and go stand on the corner of Mickle Street and the Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Camden, and peddle my wares with the rest of the hookers!”

Christian maneuvered through the traffic around the beltway in Washington, DC. The little Pinto would sputter and buck whenever he would gun the accelerator. He thought about how a huge part of his job was collecting payments from slow-paying customers. That was the worst part of the job.

“I gotta find another job. As soon as I get back, I’m going to do it. I don’t know what I’m waiting for. Damn slow accounts. Calling those people every Tuesday and Thursday night to see if they’ll make a payment on the overpriced loan I made them.”

Christian pushed on for another three hours until he arrived home. He pulled into his driveway. He began unloading his ‘inheritance.’ He was too tired to carry all the junk into the house so he locked it all in the garage, went inside his house, and fell onto his bed to disappear into blissful sleep.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

New Book Coming Soon: Below The Wheel

After publishing Angel with a Broken Wing last Summer, my next thought was… what do I do now? Go to the beach?

After much rumination, I decided to write another book. I wanted to create a hard-boiled detective novel that took place near Philly. Should I try to make the story inspired by real events? Maybe…

I also wanted to make it about a couple of guys who were friends and decided to go into business together. Using the classic Hitchcockian premise of the common man getting caught up in extraordinary circumstances. I wanted to explore some of the darker sides of life but seen through the eyes of lighthearted unique characters. I also wanted something with a shorter, tighter timeframe than my previous book.

And, Below the Wheel was born.

Below the Wheel takes place over two weeks in the Summer of 1998.

Alex Hunter and Scott Appel are two ex-investment brokers turned private investigators. Burned out from the competitive sales environment of buying and selling stock, they open the Watchman Detective Agency in Camden NJ. They spend their days investigating disability claims for insurance companies and law firms. Occasionally, they perform surveillance on errant spouses and even solve a crime now and then. But Alex and Scott aren’t taken seriously by local law enforcement, especially the chief of detectives, Lt. Ezra Chambers, and his belligerent assistant, Sgt. Otis Guth.

Alex is the obsessive suit and tie-wearing overachiever, who drinks too much and lives dangerously. Lately, he’s been trying to tame some of his vices by quitting smoking and seeking some spiritual guidance from a local pastor. His life at the agency is a bit mundane, but Alex dreams of one day solving a really high-profile case.

Five years ago, he invested the inheritance of an attractive local newswoman Alyssa Ward. He was immediately smitten with her. But, the portfolio tanked, and she lost a small fortune. She blamed Alex for the loss and never spoke to him again. Recently her younger sister Jennifer disappeared, and Alex has taken it upon himself to find her. Jennifer always had a wild streak, and Alex thinks she may have been recruited to work in an exclusive sex club somewhere in Camden or Philly. The only problem is, no one knows where the club is located, or if it even exists.

His partner Scott is the laid-back one. He enjoys watching cartoons, listening to heavy metal, and smoking weed. He’d be happy to just work the cases they get referred, keep the agency in the black, and leave the exciting stuff to the police.

The guys share the office space with an insurance agent named Genevieve Bouchard. She’s an independent hard working woman but is trapped in a bad relationship with her abusive common-law husband Bruno Cartiglio. When Bruno’s not involved in some sort of sleazy activity, he’s working construction at one of the nearby bridges. Genevieve hates her life with Bruno but is afraid that if she leaves him, he’ll hurt her. Scott’s attracted to Genevieve, but she’s already involved in some dangerous activities.

During an unbearable heatwave, the boys are caught up in a bizarre case. The Camden Strangler, as the media call him, has been murdering prostitutes in the area.

A teenage girl named Luna, whose mother was the latest victim, turns to Alex and Scott for help. Scott is reluctant to take on a client who obviously can’t pay, but Alex sees it as an opportunity to be a hero and takes the case pro bono.

Alex enlists the help of coroner Ignatious Feeny, who gives him access to the morgue and autopsy information on the victims. Alex also picks the brain of the brilliant but cantankerous Robert Wick. He’s a professor of criminology at Rutgers University. Although he’s bound to a wheelchair, he’s a master of criminal profiling. He tells Alex that the only way to solve the case is to go where the killer goes and see what he sees. Subsequently, Alex is drawn into the dark and sleazy world of the skin trade.

The boys work the case and it’s full of twists, and red herrings. Will they ever figure out who’s doing the killings in Camden? Will Alyssa’s sister ever be found?

You’ll have to read the book and find out.

Planned Release Date: June 22, 2021

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

New Book Coming Soon: BELOW THE WHEEL

After publishing Angel with a Broken Wing last Summer, my next thought was… what do I do now? Go to the beach?

After much rumination, I decided to write another book. I wanted to create a thriller/detective novel that took place near Philly. Should I try to make the story inspired by real events?

Maybe.

I also wanted to make it about a couple of guys that were friends and decided to go into business together.

Alex Hunter and Scott Appel are two ex-investment brokers turned private investigators. Burned out from the competitive sales environment of buying and selling stock, they open the Watchman Detective Agency in Camden, New Jersey.

During an unbearable heatwave, the guys are caught up in a bizarre case. The Camden Strangler, as the media call him, has been murdering prostitutes in the area.

It’s a hard-boiled police procedural, using the classic Hitchcockian premise of the common man getting caught up in extraordinary circumstances. I wanted to explore some of the darker elements of life but seen through the eyes of lighthearted unique characters. I also wanted something with a shorter, timeframe than my previous book.

Below the Wheel takes place over two weeks in the lives of the characters.

I hope to finish it in the next few months.

Planned Release Date: June 22, 2021

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

SUN STORIES – Tales From a Tanning Salon, Now Available on Amazon

Yes. It’s now available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

I was working at a local media company here in Philadelphia. One of my advertising clients was a tanning salon. I became friendly with the owner. He was always complaining about his staff. I asked if I could start moonlighting there for some extra income.

He immediately hired me. One shift became two, then three, and within a month or so, I became full time. I was tired of working at the media company where I was currently employed. A publication that was no longer relevant in this city. Print was basically dead… but tanning salons were hanging by a thread.

But I enjoyed working there. It was a fun job. I met a lot of great people during my time there. But with every job, there’s always challenges… and temptations.

Sun Stories: Tales from a Tanning Salon, takes you on a sunny, and sometimes dark journey of my time working there. It’s filled with funny, unique, and sometimes cringe worthy tanning stories. But there were other forces at work there. What began as an easy part time gig, slowly evolved into a story filled with love, obsession, sex, and misadventure.

When I was editing Phicklephilly 2, I had a revelation. I realized that Phicklephilly 2 was all about the relationship I was in with my girlfriend, Cherie. The love affair, the passion, and the infidelity of that glorious celebration of two people coming together.

But, I looked at Sun Stories, and saw that it ran parallel to Phicklephilly 2. It was a complete documentation of my work life during that period. Phicklephilly 2 was about my relationship with Cherie, and Sun Stories was my work life.

They’re both happening at the same time. I have to release them together.

That’s my whole life between 2016 and 2018. It’s everything. I have to release them both.

Cherie. I loved her. But after Michelle and Annabelle, I was now armed with how to navigate my future relationships. Secure myself and see what happened. I’d never enter into another relationship without my armor on.

I was working at the media company that was the last cool paper in the city. When I think about going to that publication, I think of Ronnie James Dio. He once said that when he joined Black Sabbath to replace Ozzy Osbourne, he called it, the second coming… or going, of Black Sabbath.

That’s how it felt when I joined this dying publication. I loved all of the people I worked with there, but knew the paper was doomed. It’s greatest days had come and gone. I only did it because I was about to be fired from the start up where I was working. I had such high hopes for what I was going to build with that little start up. The money was great, and I’m forever grateful for that. But they never followed through with the investors to build it out into a national site.

That site is dead now.

It was heartbreaking for me to leave them, but I’m sure the owner was relieved he no longer had to pay me. Why did he never follow through? It makes no sense. I guess I’ll never know. We could have built something wonderful. I jumped to a local free publication and made a go of it. That old publication was in a state of flux, and the changes that unfolded for that sweet paper destroyed the very thing it once was. I worked hard at what I’m good at. Acquiring accounts and building the business.

But the writing was on the wall. They had brought in a fool to run the daily operations. He systematically destroyed the advertising department at the paper. Can you imagine that? The guy gets a job to grow a struggling business and all he knows how to do is ruin it.

He did that. All of the meetings. The Monday morning kickoff meeting. The Wednesday Sales Meeting. The Thursday One on One. He should be horse whipped. He broke the spirit of everybody who worked there.

There are no clients in any of your foolish meetings you silly asshole.

How could he be such a failure as a leader when he seem like such a nice guy?

Detritus.

My father passed away, and I was fed up. I was the only sales guy on the floor. Rocco was a fixture and an account rep. He can’t sell. The new manager brought in a couple of retards, and I could see there was no future there. The place was a rotten husk.

It kind of sucks, because back in the day, I LOVED that publication and the CITY PAPER. They were god to me. If you wanted to see what was up in Philly, they were the papers you grabbed. They were in honor boxes around the city. I would always read them every week. Everything I needed to know was in those sweet papers.

But, here I was working at this anachronism. It was over. My daughter will never touch a newspaper. It’s over. It’s been over since 2008. Print is dead.

Oh, but here we go…

Tanning is dead too.

I had a client who actually spent money with me to advertise his brand. I did my best for him. I believed in his products and services. I gave my all. I came up with creative ideas because I cared. I wrote killer copy for his ads. I did what I’m good at.

I liked it so much, I went to work there to escape the dungeon of selling print advertising in a paper whose epitaph had already been written.

But I had no idea it would open a flower I had never seen before.

This is the most lurid book I’ve ever written.

So let’s begin.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new books, Phicklephilly 2 and Sun Stories, are now for sale on Amazon!

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

PHICKLEPHILLY 2 is Now for Sale on Amazon and Kindle!

“He found love… but can he keep it?”

“Love is a many splintered thing” – Andrew Eldritch

Here it is! The long awaited sequel to the best selling Phicklephilly! Thanks to everyone who bought the first book, and to all of my readers and subscribers on this blog!

Without all of you, none of this would be possible!

You can get it here!

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

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. 

Please join me on my continuing journey.

 

You can get it here:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

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