Friday, June 28, 2019

✩Once Upon a WolfPack - A Short Story Anthology✩

If you read my last blogpost you already know that I am a member of a supportive writing group called the #WolfPackAuthors. You would also be aware of the fact that, as a group, we put together a short story anthology called, Once Upon a WolfPack, that was published on May 19th. If this information is new to you, please go back and read the last blogpost to catch up on the anthology project -- why we did it and what it means to us.

Go ahead - I'll wait.  ⌚ tick... tick... tick

Oh good! You're back! Now that you're all caught up, let's continue.๐Ÿ˜ƒ

I am very honored to say that I have a story included in this book filled with amazing, talented writers. I am extremely impressed with the stories found within the pages, and since I have read them all, I am going to give a short review of each. My intent is to give you an idea of what to expect when you download your own copy of the ebook, or the paperback arrives in your mailbox.

So, here we go:

Listed by genre, title, and author --

Cozy Mystery - Yuletime at Cherrywood Hall: Veronica Cline Barton

This is a wonderful story to begin your adventure through 'Once Upon a WolfPack'. At its core it is a lighthearted love story, but with tense undertones of jealously weaved throughout, it'll keep you slightly on edge. Secrets are uncovered as the story unfolds, revealing jealously as the motivator for things that might have been. This tale has all the elements of a great Hallmark Cozy Mystery movie - It's the holidays, there's a sublime buildup to a crime, skillfully deceptive storyline, and, of course, romance. What more could you want? This short is a delightful introduction to Veronica Cline Barton's world of the Cozy British Mystery with an American twist.

Fairy Tale/ Parody - Unfairy Prosecuted: J.W. Crawford

This is not your mother's fairy tale. You must suspend your believe system held for the unbelievable world where fairy tales exist. A unique telling of the story of the big bad wolf crosses with several other "children's" story characters, giving more of a naรฏve personality to the wolf. There are twists and turns around every corner, and I found myself willingly playing along as some of my favorite characters took on slightly different roles. Is there a happily ever after? Decide for yourself. This story is the perfect way to dive into the world of J.W. Crawford.

Fairy Tale - Poppy: Tia Fanning

A magical tale told by a young woman who is taken in by her grandmother when it becomes evident that her parents are not fit to care for her.. This is an unconventional fairy tale that twists and turns through an enchanted forest, whose woods are filled with dark secrets. When the young woman meets a man who is taken with her, she finds he holds a dark secret of his own. Her grandmother sees the man for what he really is, and fears for her and her granddaughter's lives. That is, until she sees the love shared between them. This appears to be a very liberal telling of a tale loosely based on a story about a wolf, a grandmother, and a girl who came to wear a cloak with a hood. Sound familiar? Well, that's where that familiarity ends. This is a truly original fairy tale for today's believers. It is a unique story, and one written outside of her normal box, and introduces you to the very talented Tia Fanning.


Fantasy/ Supernatural - For the Love of the Pack: Sharon Lopez

A young woman's awakening as to her true self sheds light on the strange feelings and abilities she can no longer ignore. Deep down, she always knew she was part of a pack. And now that she's turning and her inner wolf has emerged, her friends, her family... her pack, can help her understand, adjust, and keep her protected. But danger for the pack is right around the corner, and comes in the form of estranged family. Long ago secrets are revealed, and choices that need to be made become clear. This is a story of love, hatred, sorrow, and loss. But it's also a story about new beginnings and the strength found in survival of the pack. It is an exceptional way to experience the writing talents of Sharon Lopez.   

Horror/ Meta horror - The Untold One: B.L. Clark

This is an impressively written tale told in a very interesting and unique way. As the horror unfolds through a series of notes written by the story's protagonist, the reader is kept guessing about what is truly happening. Is the beast of this world or is there an otherworldly presence causing the carnage left behind? This short is tightly written and hits you hard and fast. It's not so much what is written in the notes, but what is not, that keeps you on the edge of your seat. A great introduction to the bizarre world of B.L. Clark. 

Horror - Frost Harbor: Alexander Pain

This is a fascinating story told in the form of a flashback by a Naval Veteran to his grandkids. It's a gruesome account of an armed conflict left off the books due to its unbelievable nature. The tension builds slowly, but when the action begins, it comes fast and furious. Did the story really happen as the old sailor remembers it, or is it a creative way to cover up a battle action that went terribly wrong? Read it and come to your own conclusion. This is a great way to discover the darkness inhabiting the mind of Alexander Pain. 

Literary - Omega Road: Lee M. Tipton

Omega Road speaks to the hidden truth within a family where the children are perceived as property. And as soon as they became a woman in body, if not in age, they're virtue was treated as a commodity worth selling. This is the story about one of the daughters, and how a chance meeting with a kind old man helped to save her from her parent's narrow-minded, and often dangerous ways of treating her for their own personal gain. When she finally becomes trusting enough and is able to confide in the kind man and his neighbor, they help her through her situation by teaching her how to survive on her own, and helping her find the confidence to succeed in life. This is a powerfully written narrative that introduces you to the amazing literary world of Lee M. Tipton.

Magical Realism - An Early Snow: Andi Marchal

Dr. Rowan Prescott has dedicated her life's work to the tracking of wolves and believing that they will return to areas where they are now extinct. A video, that was taken near a cabin in the Catskills, that she frequented as a young girl, could prove that wolves have returned to the area. Against her colleague's better judgement, she immediately plans a trip to verify the find. What she finds is much more than she anticipated, and it awakens a memory buried deep within her. A memory that couldn't be real... or could it? This is a heartwarming magical story of a little girl, now grown, finally discovering who she is, and accepting her new reality. A wonderful way to introduce yourself to the writing styles of Andi Marchal.

P.I./ Detective - The Wolf: Joe Congel

Wisecracking PI Tony Razzolito, puts his sleuthing skills to the test when he is asked to help locate a former mob assassin who went missing from the Witness Protection program. The Razzman enters this case wrestling with thoughts of how much he really wants to be involved with a missing persons case that centers around a Mafia hit-man who turned his back on La Familia. The Razzman, as he is known to his friends, is smart, not afraid of hard work or danger, and although a bit more contemporary, stacks right up there with more traditional gumshoes, like Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. This short is a great way to become immersed into the fictional detecting world of Tony Razzolito through the eyes of Joe Congel.     

P.I./ Detective, Cozy Mystery - Mrs Solberg’s Problem: CW Hawes

As always, CW Hawes has written an interesting tale starring my favorite brother/sister detective team of Harry and Justinia Wright. This time they are asked to help a woman find out if and why her husband may be cheating on her. If you love a great detective story with substance and great characters, then you will enjoy this short story, AND most likely become a fan of Minneapolis' finest detective duo. The mind of CW Hawes expands beyond mystery and detective stories, but this is a great introduction to one of the many worlds hidden inside the creative side of his brain.

Poetry - Wolf Pack United: Angie-Marie Delsante

Although at times, they may be down in numbers, you can never count them out. This is a haunting poetic tribute to the strength of the wolf and their dedication to the pack, and how it takes the pack to ensure the survival of their family. This a wonderful introduction to the creative mind of freelance and multi-genre writer, Angie-Marie Delsante.



Poetry - Welcome to the Den: Lori Katherine

Told through the mind's eye of the wolf, this poem shows the strength and powerful bond the alpha feels with his pack. He is responsible for their well-being, and he is dedicated to ensuring their survival. This is a wonderful introduction into the mind of the amazing poetic wordsmith, Lori Katherine.


Romance/ Supernatural - The Soap Maker’s Mother: Christina van Deventer

A life for a life. What would you do for love? What if the person you loved was actually a werewolf, and you, a witch? You could keep each other safe, but at what cost? Such is the dilemma Maria must face for a deal she made with a demon years ago. Can the debt be settled in such a way as to allow for a long and wonderful life? This is a tale of love, hardship, and perseverance. It tells of the struggles endured and the realization of how cruel and unfair life can be. This is a story of love and survival. It is a wonderful introduction into the worlds created by Christina van Deventer.

Science Fiction/ Military - Sacha: Jeff DeMarco

How do you fix a problem you helped create? When Sasha and others like her--beings beyond human--tried to raise the standard of the people for a better tomorrow, they found that the trappings of humanity, like greed and power, had seeped into those chosen as the new leaders. This caused Sasha and her team to feel the need to correct the mistakes of the past. But how? By taking out the very leaders they had put into place. While she waited for orders to eliminate her target, she felt a presence. The wolves had come and Sasha was forced to make a choice. A choice of destruction, or perhaps of discovery. This is a story about how a simple decision is not so simple after all. The consequences of the actions must be considered for survival. A well-written introduction into the strategic, military mind of dystopian, scifi writer, Jeff DeMarco.

Science Fiction/ Paranormal - Wolf Cry: Z Gottlieb

A companion piece and continuation of her wildly popular, scfi story, Connor's Gambit, this tale finds Brad having strange dreams of being the alpha in a wolf pack. The dream is real enough that he feels the need to search for the wolf and the cliff where his dream takes place. Brad is used to fighting aliens and protecting the earth. He is not used to a wolf, who has the ability to call to him through his dreams. How is this happening... and why? This story has everything you want in a scifi/paranormal story -- spaceships, aliens, alien technology, and wolves that have ways to communicate their need when in danger. This is a fun voyage into the mind of writer Z. Gottlieb.

Science Fiction/ Paranormal - Circus of the Night: Stefan Angelina McElvain

I was quickly drawn into this story. It has otherworld beings, mind control, telepathy, wolves, a sexy element, and the big top! However, this is not like any circus I've ever attended! There is a dark element that is slowly revealed as you follow along with the main character's journey of self-discovery after he joins up with a traveling circus troop. This is one of the longer stories in the collection, but as with most interesting and entertaining stories, I was so immersed in the characters and how they played off each other that I found myself wanting more. This is a satisfying introduction into the sexy, sci-fi, paranormal world of Stefan Angelina McElvain.

Urban Fantasy - True Nature : Luna Selas

This story has all the elements you are looking for if you're a fan of vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters, and spirits. What really struck me was the way the character's non-human, immortal existence is handled so matter-of-factly. The story opens with friends, one who just happens to be a Vampire, one a Werewolf, and one an Irish Spirit Bean-Sidhe, who are just hanging out like any other friends. They're enjoying each other's company, having a few drinks, and lounging around the house. But someone, or something, is killing off lycanthropes in their human form and this has the friends worried. They are especially worried when the Bean-Sidhe has a vison, referred to as a calling, of the death of someone within the family, killed in their wolf form. The clock is ticking while they try to figure out and hopefully prevent the next death from happening. I loved how this story could've just as easily been ripped from the headlines about a serial killer striking terror in a community. The community, in this case, just happens to be otherworldly in nature. This is an excellent introduction to the paranormal worlds created by Luna Selas.

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So there you have it - Fifteen 5⭐stories and two 5⭐poems, all tied together by one common theme -  Wolves. This anthology will provide you with a couple of hours of entertainment and allow you to lose yourself in the worlds of some pretty terrific storytellers. But more importantly, you will help fund a great cause, as all the proceeds are being donated to the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center.

From their website:
The Lockwood Animal Rescue Center (LARC), offers a therapeutic work environment for our returning combat veterans and a forever home to wolves, wolfdogs, coyotes, horses, parrots and other animals. Located on a 20-acre facility with a 3,000-acre buffer, we offer both the veterans and our rescued animals an opportunity to heal and thrive in a back-to-nature setting. You can learn more by clicking here: LARC To purchase your copy of 'Once Upon a WolfPack' CLICK HERE _____________________________________________ As always, I welcome any comments you may have. I also encourage you to visit me at the following links, where you'll find more information on me and be able to purchase a book or two๐Ÿ˜Ž:

Find all my books here: amazon.com/author/joecongel


Follow me on twitter: @JoeCongelAuthor


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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

#WolfPackAuthors

I belong to a wonderful, supportive group of writers called The #WolfPackAuthors. We have been working on an anthology book of short stories that are tied together by one thing - Wolves. It's called, 'Once Upon a WolfPack', and it will soon be released as an ebook and paperback.

Now, that doesn't mean that every story is about the animal. What it means is that every story was written using the idea of a wolf, interpreted by each individual author. Like the writers in our group, each story is vastly different, providing a fantastic variety of well-told tales that are sure to warm the palate of our readers.

We've got some fantasy, sci-fi, cozy mystery, a touch of romance, detective fiction, literary fiction, military fiction, horror, and even some poetry--truly something for everyone.

Putting together this anthology wasn't easy. Everyone of the #WolfPackAuthors members are involved, and our group consists of people from all parts of the world. We had to have patience as we were dealing with different time zones, sometimes up to eight hours apart. We dealt with internet problems, weather issues, and even life issues that everyone has to consider at times. All of this had to be factored in when such a large group working via social media, email, and not face-to-face, are working on the same project. Some of us wrote the stories, while others handled the editing. Some put together the graphics you will soon see as we begin to advertise the book, while others worked on the artwork for the cover. Some generated ideas that pushed us all in the right direction so we could end up traveling on the same road to completion for this project. There were deadlines to be met, and we had to put in that extra effort to meet those deadlines while working around our other, individual projects. We burned the midnight oil. We reached out to one another for advice. Friendships among the group members deepened. It was, and is, a labor of love.

We believe you, dear reader, will enjoy the stories within the pages of our first anthology. More importantly, we want you to know that all the proceeds for this book are being donated to the Lockwood Animal Rescue Center in California. They offer a therapeutic work environment for returning combat veterans. It is a 20-acre site that acts as a forever home for rescued wolves, as well as other animals. It is designed to help veterans and the rescued animals have an opportunity to heal. It also provides a back-to-nature setting where the animals can thrive. We felt this was a worthwhile organization and we hope you will too - check them out for yourself by clicking here: LARC

……
Here is an excerpt from my contribution to this anthology. It's a PI Detective story starring my ever-loving gumshoe, Tony Razzolito:

The Wolf
A Tony Razzolito PI Short Story


Johnny Willis had been slinging hotdogs at the ballpark for close to ten years. It was not where he imagined he would be at this point in his life. He thought he’d be retired and living every day in the lap of luxury on some island in the Caribbean.

   It’s not that Johnny was a dreamer, he actually had a plan in place that should have put his butt in a beach chair with a fruity drink by now. Up until ten years ago, Johnny had led a very different life. An exciting life. One that afforded him the kind of income one would need to retire on an island without a care in the world. But instead of enjoying the sun and burying his toes in the sand, he was sweating in the sun and burying hotdogs in mustard and relish.

   Johnny’s cart was positioned on the left-hand side of the concourse at Intimidators Stadium, home of the Kannapolis Intimidators, Class A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox baseball team.

   The crowd at tonight’s game was somewhat rowdy, thought Johnny. Something that always seemed to happen when the season was still young and full of promise. The Intimidators were having their best start in the last three years, winning fourteen of their first twenty games, and the diehards were already predicting a post-season playoff berth. A good start for the team meant better than average crowds on the weeknights, not just the weekends, which meant better than average sales for Johnny’s business.

   Johnny was one of several food vendors who bid yearly for a spot at the park. He understood and knew how to grease the palms of the powers that be, the people who made the vendor placement decisions. He was able to secure the same piece of real estate—right next to one of the two beer concession booths—every year.

   When it was busy, Johnny would get into such a rhythm slinging his dogs that he would hardly notice the customers as they ordered, paid, and moved on. So, he didn’t realize that the guy standing in front of his cart, placing his order, was someone he knew until the man spoke.

   “It’s been a long time, Salvatore.”

   Johnny was topping the man’s hotdog with mustard and stopped mid-squeeze. Without looking up, he said, “You’re mistaken, sir. My name is Johnny.” He went back to preparing the man’s meal as ordered.

   The man snorted. “Johnny! That’s a good one. What makes you think you could pass for a Johnny?” The man stared hard at the hotdog vendor. “You’ve got the nose and the hairline of an old Italian man, Salvatore.” He paused as a smile crept across his face. “Or do you still refer to yourself as The Wolf?

   Johnny was trying not to let his nerves get the best of him. Although he always knew this day would come, he had gotten comfortable as the years passed.

   He had picked the lazy southern city of Kannapolis because he had never heard of it. He just figured that anyone who might be looking for him probably never heard of it either. But now, here he was, facing a man from his former life who was most likely going to kill him.

   The man looked around the ballpark. It really was a busy evening, and the line was growing. He smiled at Johnny. “We’ll talk later,” he said. He paid for his meal and walked to the seating section nearest to Johnny’s cart. He sat in the top row and glanced back at Johnny, making sure he saw him and knew he was right there… waiting.


To be continued... 



________________________________
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Monday, February 18, 2019


Exclusivity vs. Going Wide

Putting all of your eggs in one basket. Whenever I hear that phase, it immediately conjures up thoughts of limiting myself in any situation where there are other possible choices to consider. In today’s lingo, the acronym, FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is probably the way most people would describe that same feeling.

Sometimes FOMO will thrust you forward, pushing you to make a choice where the possible positive results, although not guaranteed, will outweigh the negative of not making that particular choice. Sometimes, it simply freezes us in place. We know there are other, perhaps better choices out there, but the fear is not of missing out, it’s of change. The change is not guaranteed success, so the FOMO in this case, is missing out on what we already have if we leave it behind to try something new.

In the world of indie publishing, the fear is leaving behind the comfort of staying exclusive with Amazon, or branching out into the many other electronic bookstores where we can place our books for sale. Think of it as like being a baby bird that doesn't want to leave the nest and venture out into the scary, unknown world. The nest is all we know. The nest has been there for us, perhaps even good to us. But to really learn and grow, leaving the nest may be the best choice. 

As with everything, there are two sides to every story. Most of us got our start as an Indie Author by first publishing our books on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). There is an option to include your work in their Kindle Unlimited program, which allows the customers who pay for that service to download and read your work for free. Our payment comes from the customer actually reading the book. The payout for this is determined by the amount of page reads your book accumulates through the program. It sounds like a great idea. People can read your book for free and you still get paid for all your hard work! The catch? You have to agree that you will not offer the electronic version of your book anywhere else while you are participating in the KU program. Your commitment is for 90 days, and is auto-renewed every 90 days. If you’re not paying attention, you can be in this program for a long time. And just because someone downloads your book, there is no guarantee that it will ever be read at all. I have personally experienced this… you get a spike in your sales ranking when someone downloads your baby, your blood, sweat and tears—the book you possible spent years writing. And then nothing. The line on the graph on your reports page never moves. Why? Because the book was downloaded but never opened or read by that customer. Perhaps they came across it and were intrigued enough by your cover and blurb that they decided to add it to their TBR, and downloaded it right then and there. But it is way down their list of books to read and it may be weeks or even months before you see any reward for your efforts.

Now, some Indie Authors swear by the KU program. They get a ton of page reads and make a decent living being a part of this program. But for a lot of us, it’s just the opposite. So what is the alternative? Keeping your book available for sale on Amazon, because, let’s face it, they are the juggernaut. But if you also opt out of the KU program before the auto-renewal kicks in, you are now free to distribute your book to other book selling platforms, while keeping it for sale on Amazon.

I have recently been trying to make this decision myself. I’ve had my book, Dead is Forever, exclusive to Amazon and KU since it was first published in May 2017. Now, as a first book, by an unknown author, it has fared pretty well overall. Without being specific, I sold over 100 copies of Dead is Forever by the end of 2018, which was about a year and a half from the publication date. It’s not a best seller, and I understand that in the scheme of things, it’s not even a lot of books. But I’ve been happy with the results since a lot of first time authors never sell more than a couple of copies of their first book. And 2019 has started off pretty good. Over time, I’ve had page reads through the KU program, but not enough to keep it in the program.

And now, I feel like it’s time to take Dead is Forever, wide, as they say. Wide, simply means that I am making it available through other digital bookstores. It will still be available at Amazon, but no longer available for Kindle Unlimited download.

This was a decision I didn’t take lightly. As a matter of fact, I’ve let the KU auto-renew happen several times rather than jump into the wider sea of opportunity. Mainly because of that reverse FOMO—Fear of Missing Out on what I already had. I mean, I had page reads. Was pulling my book from the KU program a mistake? Would it eventually catch fire and I would be missing out on profits accumulated from more page reads over time by just leaving well enough alone?

After much deliberation, I finally pulled the plug on the KU program for Dead is Forever. The exclusivity ran out on February 15th and I did not renew.  

There are a few ways I could’ve gone to distribute my book to the other platforms. I could upload my book to each bookstore individually that I wanted to be on, or choose one of a couple of distribution sites to do it for me. I decided that trying to do it individually was more work than I was willing to take on right now. I work a full time job, and have grandkids to spoil, leaving me little time for writing most days as it is, so I decided to let Draft2Digital do the heavy lifting for me on this new chapter in the publishing side of my writing life.

I can’t tell you how awesome and scary it felt to hit the PUBLISH button on the D2D site. There was no turning back as soon as I clicked on that button.

I sent my first born out into the world of other bookstores last night. I went to bed wondering if I’d made the right decision. When I awoke this morning, I had several emails confirming publication to several of those new bookstore sites. I immediately went searching for my book. The first one I looked at was Barnes & Noble. I knew I’d made the right choice as soon as I saw my book available for purchase and download on the B&N site.

It’ll still be a few days before Dead is Forever is available at all the other bookstores, but I know in my heart that it was a good decision for me.

Putting all your eggs in one basket, in this case, the basket being Amazon, was not the best choice for me. I am looking forward to seeing how my book performs at the other bookstores. Yes, I know that I will still most likely get most of my sales from Amazon. However, I really like the idea of branching out to these other platforms. I will move Deadly Passion and The Razzman Chronicles off the KU program and onto other bookstore sites as soon as their current 90 day commitment has ended.   

I’ll provide an update on how this all flowed at the end of the year. I’ll let you know if it was a successful move or if I should have ignored the FOMO itch. But for now, for me, the FOMO of what could be with the other bookstores, won out over the realization of what has been with the KU program on Amazon.
__________________________________________________
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Thursday, February 7, 2019

SALE ** SALE ** SALE 
Looking for a new book for your Kindle device? How about a fun, PI Detective mystery?


FOR ONE WEEK ONLY, you can get DEADLY PASSION: A Tony Razzolito PI Story 
for JUST 99¢ US  /  £0.99 UK
  
Starts Saturday 02/09/19 at midnight PST / 02/10/19 GMT in UK (that's 3am US East Coast)

PI Tony Razzolito pieces together long forgotten clues as he tries to solve the twenty-year-old murder of a young high school grad, that is somehow linked to a recent brutal killing.
                                                          
But as he works through the list of suspects, he finds himself battling the seasoned homicide detective who couldn't solve the murder the first time around.

Can the two forge a partnership long enough to solve both murders, or will their egos prevent a killer from being caught?


DEADLY PASSION: A Tony Razzolito PI Story


Get your copy by clicking here:
 Amazon UK Site: £0.99

Regular price: $2.99  
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Monday, December 31, 2018

A Look Back / A Look Forward

As I sit here writing this blogpost, it is early in the evening on December 31st, and 2018 will be over within a couple of hours. Like a lot of you, I have spent the day reflecting on what I've accomplished, what I liked, and disliked over the past year. Overall, 2018 was a pretty good year for me. I lost thirty pounds in the first few months of the year, released Deadly Passion, book two in The Razzman Files series, featuring PI Tony Razzolito, and we welcomed our second grandchild into the world just a few days ago.

That was the good stuff.

Now in all fairness, some of this good stuff was actually stuff I set as part of my goals for 2017. My doctor told me to lose the weight in 2017. I didn't. I originally had planned on releasing Deadly Passion by the end of 2017. I didn't. Be that as it may, I did both of these things - it just took me a little longer than I wanted. So, I'm gonna refer to those two goals as a part of my two year plan.๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Losing weight is never an easy task. Losing weight as a 59 year old with arthritic knees makes that task even harder to accomplish. I'm very proud of the fact that I lost 30 pounds. My doctor was ecstatic!๐Ÿ˜€ Mostly, I did it by changing the way I eat. But I also crossed over into the dreaded Mall-Walkers club this year. Yes, I am now one of those older folks who walks around the neighborhood shopping mall to get my exercise. And yes, I am one of the people that always thought that dressing up in sweats and putting on a pair of New Balance shoes and then power-walking around the younger people strolling through the mall was just plain silly. I used to think that way. I don't anymore. I am now the guy who the young moms shoo their even younger children away from, as I speed by them donning my sweat pants and New Balance shoes.

I released Deadly Passion in April. I felt a real sense of accomplishment when I finished that book. I think it is better than the first book, Dead is Forever. Mainly, I think I'm a better writer than I was when I wrote the first one. I've learned a lot about story, and structure, and research, between the time I wrote book one and book two. I believe I found my writer's voice through the main character, Tony Razzolito, and I knew all of the characters and their personality quirks better this time around. So, the story was actually driven by the characters... I just put their words on paper.

My first grandchild was born in 2017. His personality blossomed in 2018. My daughter and I took him on a road trip back to my hometown, to visit with family and friends in August. It was a special trip for me because I really had a chance to spend some quality time with the two of them. My daughter and her husband were to welcome a new baby by the end of the year, so this would be the last time we would probably take this trip in the way we did, since the dynamic was about to change. That's not to say that the new dynamic wasn't going to be great... because it is. It's just that when my kids were, well... kids, we would take this trip every year. My son, daughter, and their mom would make the trip with me and we would visit family and friends. As time marched on and things changed, those trips also changed. Now that my kids are adults, each has made the effort to occasionally tag along. But, they are both married now and have lives of their own, so they don't come along as much as I would like. When my daughter asked if she and my grandson could go with me this year, it touched me deeply. If you are interested, you can read a bit about that trip here, on an older blogpost. Just click on the summer trip blog under the September tab.

My granddaughter was born on December 21st, and I can't think of a better way to cap off the year. I now have two beautiful grandchildren. I am very blessed.

As the remaining hours of 2018 tick away, I look forward to the new year. 2019 holds a lot of promise, but then so does every bright and shiny new year. What matters most as we cross over into 2019 are the promises kept and the goals achieved throughout the upcoming year, and not the promises made or the goals we set at the beginning. Most likely, the promises, goals and resolutions we take into the new year will change and be modified as we bump into the, for now, unknown challenges that are bound to get in our way. We all usually go into the next year believing that this will be the year we change, the year we prosper, the year we find love, the year where we finally realize all of our dreams, etc. And for some, that's how it plays out. But for most, it takes a lot of hard work and commitment to stay on task, or to even remember what we set out to achieve once the year gets rolling. I'm guilty of that, myself. Every year I start out strong, only to let it go in the middle of the year, and then push during the last month or two, trying to accomplish what I promised myself ten months earlier. The third book in The Razzman Files, Dirty Air, fell prey to this. I wanted to release it before the end of the year. I will not be doing that.

But this year is different. At least it is for me. I will mark a milestone birthday in 2019. I turn 60 years old in May. So, the finish line I am now most concerned with goes beyond the end of the current year. I have a lot of stuff I want to do yet. And 2019 is a great time to push the pedal down a little harder and get busy.

That being said, here are a few things I would like to continue, or get done in 2019:
  • Be the best grandpa I can be to my grandbabies
  • Spend less time concerned with things I cannot change anyways
  • Set foot inside a gym and begin the weight training and toning I should have included when working on my weight loss last year - and maybe even lose a few more pounds 
  • Release book three, Dirty Air 
  • Complete a short story that will be included in a WolfPackAuthors anthology book, coming out in the first half of the year - proceeds to be donated to charity (Follow me on Twitter for more information)
  • Start and FINISH the fourth book in The Razzman Files series
  • Write on this blog with a little more regularity - perhaps even hold to a schedule๐Ÿ˜
  • Continue to learn and grow as a writer
  • Read and REVIEW more books than I did in 2018
  • Be the best, supportive partner I can be in the Twitter Writers Community    
I am certain this list will grow and change a bit over the year, but nonetheless, it is the list I plan to follow and accomplish by the time the ball drops on the last day of 2019.

Until next time - Happy New Year!
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As always, any thoughts or comments are welcome! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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