Friday, July 14, 2017

Featured Author: Phillip Vega

Welcome Today's Featured Author 
Phillip Vega!!!

 Last Exit to Montauk:

When he approaches her at the market, he has no idea the next three weeks of his life would change him forever.
It’s the late 1980s, summertime, on the North Shore of Long Island. The air stirs with possibilities as it often does during this time of year. And so begins the romance between one Hispanic seventeen-year-old male, on the verge of manhood and ready to conquer the world, and one beautiful and intelligent young woman named B.
 It is much more than romance, though. B will forever become a part of this young man’s soul. He will never forget her.
This is a coming-of-age story, a love story, replete with milestones, tangled emotions, and adventures that are the embodiments of first love. Not just for the young, but for the young at heart.

 Sneak Peak:

The bowling alley was located at a strip mall near my house. We checked in with the guy behind the counter, who assigned us a lane, then gave us each a score sheet and a pair of really fashionable bowling shoes. You know the ones. Red and black separated with a white stripe down the middle, white soles, shoe size emblazoned on the back. To this day, they still remind me of clown shoes.
We found a couple of black bowling balls and put them in the ball return area. I placed the scoresheet on our bowling desk and wrote our names down. 
Back then we didn’t have electronic scoreboards, so you had to know how to keep score. You had to know the difference between a strike and a spare, how to score it properly, and what happened in the last frame if you threw one. Of course, each table had the rules written down, so if you didn’t know how to keep score, you could read the directions and learn the rules. It was bowling, not rocket science.  
We were playing the best of three. Like tennis, the loser would buy pizza. “And don’t take it easy on me. I plan on winning again,” she warned me, grinning. 
I laughed. “Oh don’t worry; I don’t plan on losing two days in a row. I hope you brought your wallet.”
I wasn’t much of a bowler and only played now and again. I was lucky if I broke a hundred, but don’t judge. How many famous Hispanic bowlers do you know? I bet you could rattle off a few hundred Hispanic baseball or soccer players though, right?
 Besides, most kids in the neighborhood didn’t come to the bowling alley to bowl. We came to play video games. I remember when they got Ms. Pac- Man. Adults and kids would put their quarters down on the lip of the machine and patiently wait their turn. While you waited, you could play another video game, like Asteroids, or play pinball. 
They had the classic pinball games like Kiss and Pinball Wizard. Today, it’s all about X-Box, iPads, Sony PlayStation, and online computer games. Man, times have changed. But that day, we were there to bowl.
She bowled first. She did a quick stretch, blew into her right hand, and picked up her ball. Before making her approach, she bent over and stared down the bowling pins as if to say, “You’re mine.” 
What a view. 
She inhaled, held it, and exhaled. Then in a very fluid motion, she took a few steps and released the ball, knocking down nine pins. She twirled around, smiling, and looked over at me, raising her eyebrows. “I hope you brought your A game!”
Oh, crap! 
I just smiled back. Her ball returned, and she picked it up. She went right back to her previous spot and picked up her spare. She yelped and did a fist pump. She then turned around and bounced back to the bowling table as if it were no big deal. So, she can bowl. Who knew? 
Maybe she got lucky. Yeah, that’s what it was—luck. Just like tennis yesterday. Luck. 
“Do you know how to keep score?” she asked. 
“Yeah, I know how to keep score. This isn’t my first time bowling,” I replied. It’ll only look like it. 
We spent the rest of the afternoon bowling without a care in the world. Strike! Spare! Gutter ball! Seven/ ten split! Spare! We laughed. We high-fived. Most importantly, we had fun. We only played two of our best of three games. Yes, Charlie Brown lost again . . . sigh! 
I just laughed it off. Besides, she had distracted me with her awesomeness. 
 “So where do you want to go for pizza?” she asked. 
“I know a joint,” I joked. 
Like most Long Island strip malls, this one had a grocery store, liquor store, card store, record store, Carvel ice cream parlor, drugstore, dry cleaner, Chinese food, and, of course, a neighborhood pizza joint. 
On Long Island, every neighborhood has a locally-owned Italian pizzeria in every shopping center. You had Tony’s, Vinnie’s, Mario’s, Johnny’s, and an assortment of other places that were names ending in a vowel. The very best pizza on the planet, in my opinion, was our neighborhood’s local pizzeria—Giuseppe’s. 
If you want to get into a pissing contest, make the mistake of saying your pizza place was better than someone else’s. You know the expression about never discussing religion and politics? Well, when you’re on Long Island, add pizzerias to the list. You will argue for hours. 
When the pizza chains started to open up, people would order from them only if they didn’t feel like driving, or were in a jam; otherwise, people looked down their noses at those places. You never admitted to ordering from Domino’s, or being seen in Pizza Hut. 
It wasn’t raining very hard, so we walked a few stores down to Giuseppe’s Pizzeria. We ordered a couple of slices each and Cokes and found a booth toward the back. And that was how you ordered it: “Let me get a couple of slices and a Coke.” 
Back then, you didn’t have a great selection. You couldn’t order a Hawaiian slice or a Meat Lovers slice. Gourmet slices like goat cheese and truffles or escargot pizza were not yet in vogue.
 For those of you wondering, yes, I was the one who once had eaten escargot pizza. Yes, it was awful, and yes, there was a girl involved. Fortunately, the girl I was trying to impress that day, still agreed to marry me the in the mid-’90s. The lesson I learned that day? Don’t be a shmuck! When in doubt, go with pepperoni. Okay, back to the story . . . 
“Did you let me win again?” B teased. 
“You were there. Did it look like I let you beat me? Besides, you only beat me the last game by two pins. And I do recall someone coughing real loud as I threw my last ball. I’m not making any accusations or excuses, mind you, I’m just saying.” 
She tried to hide her smirk.

 Phillip Vega;s Events:
  • July 15: Online Last Exit To Montauk Reader's Circle - Facebook Link 
  • August 19: Local Author Event, Barnes & Noble in St. Petersburg, Florida, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm - Store Link

About Phillip Vega:

Phillip Vega has always been a storyteller, but he’d never put pen to paper until a few years ago. Suddenly, he had a publishing contract, and in the midst of the vortex of marketing, analytics, refining, and continuing to write, he discovered what he defines as his true calling, his passion. He is now fully and happily immersed in the whirlwind that is the publishing industry, even as he diligently continues his work in software sales. Phillip is a Long Islander with Hispanic roots, now living Florida, and it is from those memories of summers in Long Island that he crafted his book, Last Exit to Montauk. Now he can’t stop his brain from working through new ideas for future stories. His hobbies, aside from enjoying his ongoing work as a published author, include many of the other art forms: singing, performing, and reading. The beach is always home to him . . . and laughter, whether his own or someone else’s, is an unsurpassable joy that he embraces whenever possible. Phillip lives in the Tampa Bay area with his wife of twenty-three years. He has four sons and “two and a half dogs,” which actually is four dogs, but three out of the four are Chihuahuas while the fourth is a shepherd mix. So he calls it at “two and a half.” Comfortable in a room full of people or one on one, he welcomes opportunities for guest appearances, interviews, and book signings. 

Twitter: @authorphilvega 

Interview With Phillip Vega:
1.     Can you tell us a little about your book?
    • It’s an inter-racial/multicultural coming-of-age romantic tale of young love, based in the 1980's and summertime in Long Island. Though the main characters are in their late teens, this is not classified as a new-adult novel, though it certainly could appeal to readers in that category.
    • Instead, I see it as a love story for any age. And my readership thus far attests to that, talking about memories of first love, or Long Island, or summertime anywhere, or the icons of the 1980's—or all of the above. It’s also received endorsements from some heavy-hitters in the book industry as well.
2.     When did you know you wanted to write a book?
    • That’s the funny thing, I didn’t. It wasn’t ever on the roadmap. It just sort of happened. My wife and I came home from shopping one rainy Saturday in August 2015. After putting the groceries away, she and the dogs went in for a nap, while I sat on the couch and started surfing.
    • There was nothing on, and I found myself playing on my iPad. The next thing you know, I opened Pages, and starting typing. Something inside me sparked, and I couldn’t stop writing. I had to get this story out. Fast forward to six weeks later, mid-October, and I completed my manuscript. It was close to 800 pages.
    • I never intended to publish it. I just had to get it out of me, you know? My wife asked me what I planned on doing with it, and I had no idea. Over dinner with friends, I mentioned I finished writing a story. They put me in contact w/ an author friend of theirs, Russ Elliott, who put me in contact w/ my editor and publisher, Janet Fix, thewordverve, who wasn’t accepting new clients.
    • For some reason, she asked me to send it to her anyway. It felt like a pity date, and I never expected anything to come of it, to be frank. A few days later, she emailed me back, and told me about the visceral reaction she had. She laughed and cried, and asked to work with me.
    • Fast forward to May 2, 2017, and my debut novel, Last Exit to Montauk, hit the market, and has been performing really well.
3.     What inspires you to write?
    • Life. Since writing Last Exit to Montauk, the mental floodgates have opened. One day I’ll be driving, listening to music, and an idea will hit me. Or, I’ll be doing yard work, and a scene will flash in my mind’s eye. It’s like being asleep and awake at the same time. It’s the funkiest experience.
4.     If you ever experience a case of writer’s block, how do you cure it?
    • Even though I’m still new at this whole “writing thing”, yes, I’ve experienced writer’s block. I cure it by saving the piece, closing Word or Pages, and stepping away from it. You can’t force it. I find music gets me back in the zone, most of the time. That and laughter.
5.     Do you work with an outline, or just write?
    • As I continue to explore this new medium, I’ve read how other’s do it. How they start with an outline, and then fill in the blanks, I guess. I’ve done this for a few of the stories I’m in the midst of writing, but for the most part, I just sit and start typing. It just flows out of me, is the easiest way for me to describe it.
6.     Do you have a favorite spot to write?
    • Yes, my home office. I will either listen to SiriusXM streaming online, or to the YouTube music channel I created for myself. It contains music videos from the 60’s through today.
7.     If you were a super-hero, what powers would you have?
    • Well you’re talking to a super-hero junkie/freak. I have a pretty extensive comic book collection, dating back to the late-70’s. Like many comic book fans, I’m sure, I’ve thought about this question. My current power would mirror Superman’s. He’s my favorite superhero, so if I had powers, I’d want his, only without the Kryptonite vulnerability.  
8.     What are you working on next?
    • I currently have 15 stories in the queue. Like I said, the floodgates have busted, and the stories are just flowing out of me, at this point. While most of my stories are “love stories”, not all of them are. I have a comedy and thriller respectively in the queue as well.
    • Since I’m a new author, I’ve been advised to stick to a certain category, so I can build a following. I wish my mind worked that way. At this point, nothing is off the table. I’m just letting it all flow, and will sort it all out later.

1 comment:

  1. I just finished this book. It was amazing. It is very "real" and reads like a walk inside someone's life. I don't know if this was based on real events, but it feels like it. Definitely an author to keep your eye on.