A Trip of a Lifetime

Depositphotos_1686237_originalHello all,

Beginning tomorrow, June 25th, my family and I will be winging our way to Italy for a very special trip.

You may or may not know that I’m a musician. About a year ago, my wife’s sister told us about a trip her choir was taking. They would have the opportunity to sing at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican and perform in Florence, Assisi and Venice as well. My wife and I came up with the brilliant idea that we might tag along and sing with the choir. It seemed like such a long time ago and a bit surreal, but now the trip is here and we couldn’t be more excited.

Rome, Vatican cityAmong the highlights is singing at a mass for the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul which will be presided over by Pope Francis. We will combine with the Sistine Chapel Choir and provide the music. Pretty cool.

Needless to say, my blogging will be intermittent from the 25th through July 5th when we return. I will be at hotels with Internet capability, but I’m not sure how much time I’ll have to sit down at the Chrome Book and answer comments and such. My cell phone will take on a role as a camera only when I don’t have Wi-Fi.

Along with the musical part of this trip, I will be researching locations and story lines for upcoming stories and books. My ten-year-old daughter, Lillie, is planning on doing daily video entries on her YouTube channel. I’ll try to put up some pictures and videos of the performances along the way. This choir is very good and I’m looking forward to being a participant.

My regular features, my short story/serial installments, my weekly Indie news and my author interviews, have been pre-scheduled for the most part. I will try to chime in and share as time and Internet connectivity allow.

I look forward to sharing memories of the trip with you when I return.

Get Ready for Your [Writing] Audition

Check out this great post from the Novelty Revisions blog comparing writing to other creative pursuit auditions.

Novelty Revisions

Writers and actors have a lot in common.

They’re both creative professionals who start with nothing and do the best they can to work their way up to their dream careers.

They both also have to, in some form or another, stand up in front of strangers and try to prove, on the spot, they’re worth hiring.

The biggest difference is that, most of the time, writers only do this with words.

Query letters, proposals, cold pitches, contest submissions — no matter how you’re presenting yourself to a potential agent, publisher, editor, or publication on paper — often the first and only thing a stranger judges you by are your words.

From the first email to the sample article to everything in your online portfolio, what you write matters. It basically sums up everything that makes you a writer. And with those words, you’re expected to prove you’re either right…

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We Were Just Young and Restless and Bored

Check out this great post from the Confessions of a Mystery Novelist blog on the consequences of boredom in crime fiction stories

Confessions of a Mystery Novelist...

Have you ever gotten so busy that you almost wish you could be bored? You might even think what a luxury it is to have enough time for boredom. But, before you get too envious of those who are bored, keep in mind that it has its own challenges.

If you look at crime fiction, you see all sorts of negative consequences that come from being bored. Boredom, especially among young people, can get one into serious trouble. Here are just a few examples to show you what I mean. I know you’ll think of lots more than I could.

In Karin Fossum’s When the Devil Holds the Candle, we are introduced to two young men, Andreas Winthur and Sivert ‘Zipp’ Skorpe. They are best friends; in fact, you could say that they’re each other’s only real friend. They are also bored with life, and without much purpose. Their…

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Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links

Check out this author inspiration and writing links from this post on Staci Troilo’s blog.

Staci Troilo

Before we get down to it…

Happy Birthday, Dad! Love you!


Okay. This week (yesterday, in fact), we in the Northern Hemisphere saw summer officially arrive. Some of us have been feeling it for weeks. Months, even. But it’s finally here, and I’m glad to welcome it. Something about the sun puts a smile on my face.

Nothing about pollen does, but we take the good with the bad.

And speaking of the bad, that brings me to my inspirational quote of the week.

Winners never quit, and quitters never win.

It’s been a rough week for me. I swear I caught some kind of plague. It made work rough; I usually give my employers 5,000 words a day (minimum) Monday through Friday. I fell short of word count all week and missed a soft deadline by one day. Something I’ve never done in my life. As it so happens, the work was completed before it…

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…my life gives me writing… my writing gives me life…

Check out these words of wisdom from author and man of the world, Seumas Gallacher from this post on his blog.

Seumas Gallacher

…this ol’ Scots Jurassic scribbler has come to understand that being of a certain age does not necessarily bring enhanced wisdom… indeed, all too often, it highlights remarkable nuttiness… but it can breed the indulgence of pockets of awareness of some self-spun truths… my introverted philosophies can creep out of what remains of the wee grey cells at any time… and I confess, I do enjoy these interludes… one such minor epiphany struck me today… that my life gives me writing… my writing gives me life… my career, travels, experiences, and relationships, spanning more than five decades and four continents, have more than amply filled the mem’ry bank with material for a hundred-fold of the books I’ve written so far… my fiction, as with that of most authors I know, is an amalgam of all I have seen, heard and felt, mixed with a sum’times over-imaginative brain… but it cannot…

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How to Build a Landing Page that Markets you as an Author

Check out this post from Nicholas Rossis’ blog on how to build a landing page that markets you as an author

Nicholas C. Rossis

Ted | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookThis is a guest post and infographic by Ted of iceCube Marketing, a digital marketing agency in Singapore that helps local small businesses acquire leads from channels such as Facebook and Google. It offers a wonderful examination of what a successful author home page may consist of and can even serve as a great checklist for you when you design a new one or update yours.

How to Build a Landing Page that Markets you as an Author


The title of your landing page is important. It serves as a hook to grab visitors’ attention. It also gives them a reason to look deeper into your website. The title of your landing page may or may not be the same as that of a book. Either, have a title that is benefit-driven and arouses curiosity.

Your First Impression

The first thing visitors should see is an image. The image…

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Check out the book, The Contract between heaven and earth, by John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano

The CONTRACT between heaven and earth

By John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano

Thank you, Don, for inviting us to join you today. We are honored to share blog space with your new author services blog. Thank you!

The Contract

Available on Kindle and Paperback

Kindle priced at $0.99 for the introduction.

The CONTRACT is a different story for writers John W. Howell and Gwen M. Plano. For either of them, it is their first attempt at co-authorship. After a year of Hurricane Harvey and other challenges, they have created, what they have termed, an inspirational thriller that bridges heaven and earth.

Here is the blurb:

The earth is threatened with a catastrophic political event which could result in international warfare and destroy all life on the planet. In heaven, a divine council decides that extraordinary measures are essential. They call for an intervention that involves two souls returning to earth. The chosen two sign a contract that they will work to avert the disaster.

Brad Channing, a Navy SEAL, and Sarah O’Brien, a teacher, become heaven’s representatives on earth. The story follows them as they individually and then together face overwhelming obstacles and eventually end up on a strategic Air Force base in California. It is there that they discover a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States. The terrorists have a plan for global dominance, and they are determined to complete their mission. Although military leadership appears to have the President’s best interests at heart, it is not clear who can be trusted and who should be feared. The action is rough and tumble as Brad and Sarah try to figure out the culprits for the plot that will turn into a worldwide conflagration unless stopped.

If you enjoy thrillers, this is one with enough twists and adventure to keep you riveted and guessing. If you like your thriller along with a good romance, Brad and Sarah’s initial attraction and eventual love will sustain you as they live out their heavenly and earthly desires.


Here is an excerpt.

Halfway across the world, Peter and an angel stood in a darkened alleyway in Afghanistan. The crumbling stone buildings on either side of them appeared vacant of life. They heard no children’s voices, no dogs in the streets, and no sign of movement—just an eerie silence.

“Look there, Peter. See that hulk in the dark over there?”

“I do.” He felt uneasy.

“His name is Brad. He and the squad he led got ambushed. Four of his teammates are alive and pinned down around the corner. Brad took a number of bullets and got slashed across the torso.”

“And he is dead?”

“Yes, but you will assume Brad’s body, and it will seem as though he did not die. Right now, three others in his squad are also dead. You must hurry. Please, remember I will stay with you. Once you enter Brad’s body, you will forget everything about your mission, and you will become Brad. Your biggest challenge will come in getting out of this place and taking your squad with you.”

“Itrainedfor this, so I’m ready.” Peter focused and took measured steps toward Brad. The man lay on his side next to his weapon. Peter lay down beside him,and in one quick movement,assumed his body.

Authors Bio.

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John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. His first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. The last, Circumstances of Childhood is a family life thriller story and launched October 2017. All books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

John lives in Port Aransas, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

John’s other books.

Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell

Gwen had a lengthy career in higher education, and it was there that she published her first book, Beyond Boundaries, for students interested in volunteer work in developing countries. After she retired, she wrote her award-winning memoir, Letting Go into Perfect Love.

Gwen lives in Branson, Missouri with her husband.

Gwen’s books

Available on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2wdXsrn