Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Still Counting by Phil Fragasso (Author Interview / Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Still Counting by author Phil Fragasso! 

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Phil!

Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself. 

After a career as a marketing executive, I left the corporate world to focus on activities that were more fulfilling on a personal level and more contributory to the world around me. Today I focus on writing and teaching. I’ve often said “I live the American dream” and that is indeed how I feel. With a wonderful wife, two grown children, great friends and a couple of rambunctious Labrador retrievers, I stay very active and involved.

How long have you been a writer?

Truly my whole life. Like many kids I starting writing goofy stories for my own enjoyment and to share with friends. I sold my first article when I was 16.

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career? 

Writing is now my focus though I’m also an adjunct professor at Boston College and still do some consulting on the side.

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer. 

I truly had no choice. It’s what I always wanted to be. My first book was a YA novel. Since then I’ve written several books of humor, two nonfiction books, and several adult novels.

Please give a brief description/storyline about Still Counting

A young couple (Adam and Nina) share an immediate and powerful connection to each other. Nina sees life as a 1000 shades of gray, while Adam tends towards black-and-white. Their conflict – and the resulting damage to their relationship – revolves around Nina’s bisexuality. Adam somehow equates bisexuality to promiscuity and feels he now has to compete not just with other men but also with every other woman in their circle of friends and colleagues. Nina wants trust, but Adam delivers irrational jealousy.

What was the inspiration for this story? 

I wanted to write something like Erich Segal’s classic Love Story for a 21st century audience that revolved around contemporary themes. I’d been holding onto the first line – “The first time I saw her it was raining.” – for a long time and finally had a place to use it. I think it served well as a powerful springboard for the characters and plotline.

How did it feel to have your first book published?

I was thrilled beyond belief. It had been a lifelong dream. It also provided affirmation that I wasn’t the worst writer that’s ever lived and encouraged me to continue – and maybe push the envelope a bit in terms of subject matter.

Do you write books for a specific genre? 

My interests are quite broad so I tend to write in a variety of genres and on a broad array of topics. My focus now is on fiction that provides insight into male-female relationships – e.g., romance, chick-lit and women’s fiction.

What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why? 

I’ve always had a soft spot for what I would call “mainstream/commercial literary fiction” – books like The World According to Garp, The Art of Racing in the Rain, and This Is Where I Leave You. They’re all funny, sad, and universally relatable. Also loved Still Alice and The Notebook – both of which combined stories of true love with the inevitability of aging and death.

Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing?

I have two primary writing spots in my house – a small den where I work on a MacBook Air at my desk or while sitting on a comfy chair with a “lap-desk.” I also have an iMac set up in a nook in the basement, and I work there if I need the larger screen or am creating supporting multi-media like video trailers.

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books? 

I got a million of ‘em. Seriously, I have way more ideas, characters, and plot twists than I could ever use. I can’t point to how or why, they just pop into my head.

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes? 

I’m very disciplined. When I wrote Still Counting I had an objective of at least 500 words a day, 7 days a week. If you wait for inspiration, you’ll wait a long time.

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most? 

I love writing dialogue and short scenes. I’m not a big fan of long detailed descriptive passages; I often skim them in books I read and I know I’m awful at writing them.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing? 

My wife and I have two yellow Labs and we take them for a walk or two every day in nearby woods. I’m always reading two books at once – one novel and one nonfiction title. I could perhaps be defined as a Netflix addict but I prefer Netflix “enthusiast.” In all honesty, however, writing is my favorite thing to do.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received? 

Just do it! You can think about it and agonize over minutiae but it’s all for naught unless you actually put words on paper.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer? 

I love to hear that something I wrote touched the reader or provided insight. There’s nothing better than that.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans? 

The usual suspects – Twitter, my Facebook Author Page, and blogging.

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination? 

I don’t believe there is any fiction that has not been influenced by real-life experiences in some way. Having said that, the storyline is purely fiction and the characters are not based on particular individuals.

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer? 

I most loved Steinbeck, John O’Hara, and Philip Roth when I was younger. Still love Anne Tyler, Nick Hornby and Elizabeth Gilbert. The commonality is their writings focus on interpersonal relationships and always offer a few ah-ha epiphanies.

What is your definition of success as a writer? 

Being read and enjoyed by a wide audience.

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us? 

I have another book, Going Both Ways, coming out on March 18 from Wild Rose Press. It’s a gender-shifting paranormal romance. I’m currently writing two novels -- a black-comedy and a road-tripper.

Thank you Phil for stopping by Jersey Girl Book Reviews and sharing with us a bit about yourself and your writing career!

About The Author

I sold my first article at the age of 16. Since then I’ve written and published a wide variety of books, articles and essays. After many years as a corporate marketer, I left to pursue endeavors that were more fulfilling personally and more contributory on a societal level. Today I focus my time on writing and teaching. I’ve often said “I live the American dream” and that is indeed how I feel. With a wonderful wife, two grown children, great friends and a couple of rambunctious Labrador retrievers, I can’t complain about a damn thing.

Author Website
Author Blog
Chick Lit For Guys Website
Chick Lit For Guys Blog

Book Review

Still Counting by Phil Fragasso
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: January 29, 2016
Format: Paperback - 300 pages
               Kindle - 609 KB
               Nook - 285 KB
ISBN: 978-1509204939
BNID:  2940158066603
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Romance / Women's Fiction

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours. 

Book Description:

Adam Donatello and Nina Morales share an immediate and powerful attraction, and their future together seems assured. But love is difficult enough without adding complications—real or imagined—to the mix. Nina sees life as a thousand shades of gray, while Adam tends toward black-and-white. He wants to move fast; she needs time. Nina sees her past liaisons with women as immaterial to their relationship, while her disclosure drives Adam to a state of irrational jealousy. He doesn't know how he could compete with a woman, and his suspicions—which Nina views as hypocritical—lead them both to make decisions they may live to regret.

Book Excerpt:

Nina came to me and touched my face with her hands. “There’s nothing sweeter than an anchovy kiss.”

She leaned in and our lips fluttered against each other before proceeding to a full-frontal embrace. I’ve always viewed first kisses as a blindfolded ride on a runaway roller coaster. You never know where it’s going or when it’s going to end. So you just have to have faith and abdicate control to your partner. That’s my philosophy at least. A lot of guys would disagree. They like to take charge, set the pace, and make the next move. Some women prefer that approach as well. They like strong men who know what they want. I’m more of a girlie man. I need permission and encouragement. I want to get laid as much as the next guy, but I want to make sure that’s what the woman wants as well.

Our kiss was more like a pillow fight than a bare-fisted brawl. It was soft and gentle like the kiss of long-separated lovers.

Nina pulled away but kept her eyes closed for a long moment. “We need to go.”

I took her hand and we walked to her car. She opened the passenger door for me and got in the driver’s side. We made it to Starbucks in less than five minutes and neither of us said a word. She pulled her car alongside mine and turned towards me.

“I’m really sorry about Casey,” she said.

“I know you are.” I paused and tried to read her eyes. “I had a good time tonight.”

“Me too.”

“Could I see you again?”

“I’d like that. Give me your phone.”

I handed her my cell and she tapped in her contact information.

“I’ll call you,” I said.


I leaned towards her for a goodbye kiss, but she pushed me away. “I don’t kiss in cars,” she said. “It’s gross.”

My Book Review:

Still Counting is a fresh modern love story that deals with complicated relationship issues from the male perspective.

Author Phil Fragasso weaves an intriguing tale set in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that follows the complicated romance of twenty-nine year old English teacher Adam Donatello and twenty-two year old aspiring artist Nina Morales. Adam meets Nina in the veterinarian office parking lot after he had to put down Casey, his beloved seven year old chocolate lab.

Told in the first person perspective, Adam easily draws the reader into the development of his romantic relationship with Nina. it is a relationship that is interwoven with witty banter, humor, angst, and complicated issues dealing with trust, openness, and jealousy. Adam wants nothing more than to find his soul-mate and have true love, but when Nina reveals her past relationships with women, Adam's insecurities and fear of commitment rises to the surface and jealousy rears its ugly head. Can Adam and Nina resolve their differences and allow their relationship to grow, or will Adam's self-destructive tendencies tear them apart?

I thought that the author did a wonderful job of providing the reader with a well written and refreshing new take on romantic relationships through the male's perspective. I found myself on a seesaw when it came to embracing Adam in regard to his relationship struggles, at times I sympathized with him and wanted to hug him, but at other times he exasperated the crap out me enough that I wanted to smack him upside the head. I really enjoyed the sassiness in Nina, she kept it real as she dealt with the challenges in their relationship. I loved their witty banter and sarcasm intertwined with the poignancy of how they dealt with the realistic challenges that arose in the development of their relationship.

Still Counting is an entertaining and modern story about the intricacies of romantic relationships.


Book Trailer

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

February 15 – Chick Lit Plus – Excerpt
February 16 – Change the Word – Q&A
February 17 - Erin Cawood - Excerpt
February 18 – Chick Lit Goddess – Excerpt
February 18 – The World As I See It – Review & Excerpt
February 19 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt
February 19 – Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt
February 22- Around the World in Books – Excerpt
February 22 – Novel Escapes – Q&A


  1. Thank you for hosting this stop of my blog tour. Love to hear from any readers with questions about the book, writing, or anything else I can help with.

    1. Hi Phil! Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event. I really enjoyed reading Still Counting. :)

  2. Thanks for your review. Sounds interesting; lively characters. :)
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal - Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

    1. Hi Diane! Thank you for stopping by today, I appreciate it.