by Gwen M. Plano
This week we lost a hero, Senator John McCain. He lived his truth by trying to make a difference in the world. Politics aside, few people could have accomplished what he did. He “fought the good fight” and in doing so, taught us a lot about life.
When I read author Ronovan Hester’s Haiku prompts for this week, I wondered if he had Senator McCain in mind. The two words he selected are diametrically opposed. They are hero and coward.
My Haiku attempts to address that which is at the heart of courageous action.
If you would like to know more about Haiku, please click on Ronovan's name and you'll be directed to his webpage
by Gwen M. Plano
Every week author Ronovan Hester invites readers to participate in a Haiku challenge. This week he provided these two words as prompts: rebel and change. If you'd like to participate, just open the link above and you'll find "how to" information and guidance.
Since I grew up in the Sixties, I thought about the idealism of that time when I created my 5-7-5 syllable poem.
I wasn't exactly a "flower child" but my parents certainly saw me as a "hippie." They didn't know what to do and finally told me I could not write to the family about politics or religion. Even at the height of my rebelliousness, I recognized and respected the wisdom of their request.
Considerable time has passed, but my idealism remains. It has, however, become much more moderate. What I didn't know at eighteen was that we humans don't like change - unless we are the ones creating it.
What do you think? Have you discovered that to be true as well?
by Gwen M Plano
I have a fondness for the Noah's Ark cartoon below, which I stumbled upon years ago. If you live in a wooded area, you know how pesky a woodpecker can be. They have a way of destroying an otherwise serene day with their incessant pecking on the sides of your home. I’ve tried one gadget after another to keep them at bay, but nothing seems to work. So, the bird and I coexist.
Today I thought of the Ark cartoon when I read the following statement by Jennifer Egan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author: I’m happiest when apparently mutually exclusive states can somehow coexist.
I’m pretty sure she was referring to differing opinions and perspectives and not to irritating birds. But, truthfully, don’t we all have woodpeckers in our lives? They may not create holes in our houses, but they surely disrupt our day. And, horror of horrors, each of us may be someone else's woodpecker!
I’ve been thinking about my personal woodpeckers, the real ones outside in the trees and the figurative ones who might be neighbors or elected officials or Heads of State. The heightened divisions between people and countries give me pause, especially when I realize I might be contributing to it.
Like the Noah cartoon, we have to find a way to live peacefully on this beautiful crowded planet of ours. And so, I’ve created a silly mantra. It is, the woodpeckers and I are one. A few months from now, I'll let you know if it's helped me become more loving or if I found more woodpeckers instead. ☺ Have a fabulous day.
by Gwen M. Plano
Each week poet Ronovan Hester sponsors a Haiku prompt challenge, and folks (like me) try to follow his lead. This week the two words are time and movement. If you have interest in this poetic form, please click on his name, and you'll be guided to his website where you'll find detailed instructions.
When I read the prompt words, I thought of my neighbor who struggles with gait. I thought of a friend who lost his leg; and, I reflected on how we take our movement for granted.
by Gwen M. Plano
Four years ago, I published my first book, blissfully unaware that I needed to promote it. I hadn’t thought about such practical matters; my focus was simply the mechanics of telling my story.
At the suggestion of a local writer, I signed up on Twitter but did not know what I was supposed to do. I sent out a couple of tweets and otherwise stared at my screen, terrified by the volume of messages rolling past me.
I was drowning in a sea of hashtags and unknown followers until a writer in Greece (Nicholas C. Rossis) threw me a lifesaver. He invited me to join the Rave Reviews Book Club.
I did, and not only survived, I eventually found my way.
Today is my 4-year anniversary in the Club. So, what has changed?
The Club, under the direction of the CEO author Nonnie Jules, has given me sea legs, which is to say – confidence. I’m no longer lost, I am found.
I’ve discovered a community of authors and readers who value serious writing and who share freely of their talents. I met John Howell, the co-author of my second book, THE CONTRACT, through the Club. And, within the Club membership, I’ve met editors and promoters. Importantly, I’ve learned – about marketing, about good writing, about service, about life.
If you are a writer or a reader or someone associated with industries tied to writing, I invite you to join. I think you too will soon realize that you have friends and family scattered about our beautiful planet. You may even discover a miracle or two.
by Gwen M. Plano
Have you ever wondered about prayer? How it works or if it works?
Recently, I faced a medical challenge because of a CSF Leak. As part of the pre-treatment, I underwent 3.5 hours of radiological testing which required cage-like restraints. I could not move and because of this fact, I grew anxious. As I lay confined, I began to pray for help, as I didn’t know if I could manage the situation.
It was then that the first miracle occurred.
I saw in my mind's eye, a friend praying for me. I looked into my friend's eyes and focused on her kindness. I felt her genuine care, trusted it, and let go. Temporarily, I surrendered my fear.
With this release came the second miracle.
I became aware of an absorbing silence. And, I realized there were many, many others with me - my deceased mother and aunts, unnamed angelic figures, as well as friends and family. I was buoyed by love; I just hadn’t noticed it before, because my attention was on fear.
Finally, the third miracle.
I had longed to understand prayer. Through this experience, my questions were answered. I realized that prayer is simply love extended.
Some may pray loudly, passionately; while others might pray quietly, meditatively. Whatever our mode of prayer might be, the only thing that matters is the heart’s intention. Is love offered or restrained?
I believe the heart reaches what the mind cannot fathom. The truth is, we are loved beyond belief and when we participate in this powerful dynamic, miracles occur.
Thank you one and all for your caring thoughts during my medical adventure. I don’t know how to adequately express my deep gratitude. I can only hope that you know that your kind thoughts touched me deeply, giving me strength when I had little, hope when I lost my way. Know this, your goodness continues to reverberate profoundly throughout our universe. Prayer, heart felt, can indeed move mountains.
Thank you for helping me realize that love is our destiny.
by Gwen M. Plano
Each week poet Ronovan Hester sponsors a Haiku prompt challenge, and folks (like me) try to follow his lead. This week the two words are woke and up. If you have interest in this poetic form, please click on his name, and you'll be guided to his website where you'll find detailed instructions.
When I read the prompt words, I was brought back to when my adult kids were teenagers. I thought of how grateful I was to be awakened by their laughter, no matter what time of the day or night it might be. I suspect all parents share this experience. ♥ We're happy when our kids are happy - and safe.
By Gwen Plano
Each week poet, Ronovan Hester sponsors a Haiku prompt challenge, and folks (like me) try to follow his lead. This week the two words are days and old. If you have interest in this poetic form, please click on his name, and you'll be guided to his website where you'll find detailed instructions.
When I read the prompt words, I thought of how time passes much too quickly. We imagine we can begin living tomorrow only to discover that tomorrow came and went weeks maybe months even years ago. How did it happen that we were so unaware? ♥
by Gwen M. Plano
1968 is often referred to as the “most turbulent” year of the century. The Vietnam War was at its peak, evoking confrontations between student protesters and police. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and just a few months later, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was murdered. The young were disillusioned and angry, the old were lost in a world they did not understand. It was a very difficult time.
I was a student at San Diego State University in 1968, and fifty years ago today my first child was born. I had married the year before, and the birth of my son followed ten months later. When nothing made sense, when everything that could go wrong went wrong, I had a precious baby to hold. He was my miracle, a concrete sign of hope during a time that appeared hope-less.
Fast forward fifty years and what has changed? Turmoil persists. Adversity and mistrust are rampant. Perhaps the biggest change I see is the internet. Now we don’t need to talk with neighbors or listen to speeches or pick up a newspaper. We can check our smartphones and find out what people think about any topic.
Tempers flare easily when we’re upset with impersonal entities: such as the Republicans or the Democrats, the Christians or the Muslims, the Blacks or the Whites. But, if fifty years have taught me anything, it is that truth is elusive.
During this time of extraordinary change, hold on to what is precious, find reasons for laughter, and know that this, too, will pass. Happy Birthday, dear son. Could it really be fifty years?
By Gwen Plano
Each week poet Ronovan Hester sponsors a Haiku prompt challenge, and folks (like me) try to follow his lead. This week the two words are unite and chance. If you have interest in this poetic form, please click on his name, and you'll be guided to his website where you'll find detailed instructions.
We live in a time of great turmoil, and when I read the challenge words, I thought of John Lennon's Give Peace a Chance. The song and its hope motivated my poem. ♥
Helen Valentina is a poet and novelist from Australia. She just completed reading THE CONTRACT and wrote an amazing review. I share it today, because it warmed my heart immensely.
Thank you, Helen. I am deeply grateful to you, and to all reviewers, for the thoughtful comments about this book.
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Full disclosure: I’m a sucker for anything about angels, redemption, universal love and honour. So The Contract, by John Howell and Gwen Plano, had me ‘at hello’ – or ‘chapter one’ as they say in the literature world.
This is a truly unique book – a cross genre meeting of spiritual, action, thriller and romantic minds. One part evocation of spiritual growth and destiny, one part thrill ride through a rollicking mystery and political action rampage, one part one of the loveliest and most affirming romantic stories I’ve read in years. I’m not giving anything spoilery away by noting the story is about two souls that willingly contract to go to earth and avert a political disaster. But how this all unfolds is delicious and should be read by the reader, not told by the reviewer here.
I must say I’ve been a long time fan of John Howell’s writing. It is fun, fast paced, warm and engaging – much as I suspect the author would be. The fascinating thing here is how seamlessly his style and Gwen’s mix. I truly couldn’t tell which parts were written by which, so well did they merge from one to the other. It was very much like a harmony of two perfectly attuned instruments in a symphony.
They are the ideal writing partners to tell the story of two other perfect partners – of a different kind - as they fulfil their heavenly contract. ( And I loved the meta tip of the hat to this at the end of the book -very clever!) This makes me want two things: that they quickly do the sequel they promise at the end, and also I want to check out some of Gwen Plano’s other writing too now.
I thoroughly recommend this book to one and all – its genre mixing offers pretty much something for everyone, and by the end you will have enjoyed a wonderful, action packed, politically on point thriller that is also a romantic and life affirming ride.
As I said at the outset, I’m a sucker for honour and the spiritually uplifting, so I shed a few happy tears indeed in the final chapters. If this isn’t what the spiritual world is (and I for one hope it is) then it should be! Don’t miss out on a sublime experience – get your copy now!
by Gwen M. Plano
Each week poet Ronovan Hester sponsors a Haiku prompt challenge, and folks (like me) try to follow his lead. This week the two words are child and safe. If you have interest in this poetic form, please click on his name and you'll be guided to his website where you'll find detailed instructions.
As a mom and grandmom, children are an active part of my life. I've entitled this poem, Her Smile.
It is my pleasure to introduce award-winning author Mae Clair. If you have not read one of her books yet, it's time to pamper your curiosity and treat yourself to writing at its best. A glimpse of what you will find follows, for Mae introduces her latest masterpiece, Cusp of Night.
Hello, Gwen, and many thanks for having me on your blog today! I’m delighted to share my newest release, Cusp of Night, which features dual timelines—one set in the past and one in the present.
Take a stroll down this dark alley to check out the blurb:
Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.
Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house--a woman whose ghost may still linger.
Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .
I hope I’ve intrigued you.
For this book, I did a lot of research related to spiritualism in the nineteenth century. It’s interesting to note this was a time rife with sham mediums and charlatans who tried to pass themselves off as being able to communicate with the dead. The Society of Psychical Research (SPR) was often called upon to investigate for fraud. I found the account of Daniel Douglas Home particularly interesting.
Born in Scotland, Home was adopted by his mother’s sister, immigrating to America with her and her husband when he was nine. Home (pronounced “Hume”) was an odd child, often sickly. There are reports of his cradle rocking by itself, then later, furniture moving of its own accord when he entered a room. His aunt’s home was often filled with strange rapping sounds whenever he was present. The noises and unexplained movements of inanimate objects grew to such a level that Home was eventually asked to leave.
At eighteen, he gave his first séance. Unlike many mediums of the age who held séances in darkened rooms, Home usually conducted his during the day, or in brightly-lit surroundings. Two of his most famous demonstrations involved levitation.
In the first he caused a table to move about the room. Several men tried to hold it down without success. The second—his greatest feat—came when he levitated out a third story window , then entered through a different window into an adjoining room—all in the presence of three respectable witnesses. There are numerous accounts of this feat and the debate continues as to how home accomplished the deed. Conclusions run from hypnosis and illusion to hidden ropes or other trickery.
Harry Houdini—famous for debunking charlatan spiritualists—claimed the stunt was an illusion and that he could duplicate it. It’s said Houdini’s assistant got cold feet at the last moment, and thus Houdini never followed through with the attempt. Houdini clearly planned to use an assistant. Did Home have an associate aiding him that his guests didn’t know about?
Despite giving over a thousand performances during his career, Home was never exposed as a fraud. Was he a gifted magician and illusionist posing as a medium, or were his spectacles authentic? Either way, he lived in an era populated by people who held an interest in “Summerland”—and all of that makes for good fiction.
Each week poet Ronovan Hester sponsors a Haiku prompt challenge, and folks (like me) try to follow his lead. This week the two words are bliss and brawny. If you have interest in this poetic form, please click on his name and you'll be guided to his website where you'll find detailed instructions.
As a native Californian, now living in the Midwest, brawny brings up one image in particular. I've tried to capture this image in a Haiku I've entitled Summer.
by Gwen M. Plano
My dad was not a man of many words. In fact, if you wanted to know about his work in the CCC camps or his military service, you'd have to ask him directly. And, even then, he would not say much. But, if there was a job that needed to be done on the farm or any where else, my dad was on it. He was a living example of "show don't tell."
Dad didn't trust words. Too many he knew were hurt by them. "If you love someone, you show them," he'd tell us. And he did.
It wasn't until adulthood, however, that I understood my dad. He gave me and my siblings a gift not easily wrapped in pretty paper. And, as he neared the end of his life, I thanked him for this extraordinary gift.
Leaning over his lift chair, I whispered, thank you, Dad, for teaching me how to survive. He didn't respond, but tears welled and rolled down his face. I had received his gift and in doing so, I had embraced him.
To all dads, thank you for your self-gift, spoken or silently offered.
by Gwen M. Plano
Each week poet Ronovan Hester sponsors a Haiku prompt challenge, and folks (like me) try to follow his lead. This week the two words are tyrant and hope. If you have interest in this poetic form, please click on his name and you'll be guided to his website where you'll find detailed instructions.
Think for a moment of a tyrant. Who comes to mind? A political figure, a parent, an employer - someone who tried to control you? Stepping back from this person, this memory, what or who do you see?
I've tried to capture what I see in a poem I've entitled Unmasked.
By Gwen M. Plano
For much of our lives, circumstances define who we are: a wife or husband, a mother or father, a teacher or businessman or nurse or doctor. We give little thought to who we might be separate from our roles and titles. There is work to do, children to care for, meals to fix, a home to support.
In our retirement years, however, we are gifted time. And, it is from this vantage point that we begin to see a little differently - the shadows and the miracles of life. As we do, we have a greater sense of who we are.
When author John W. Howell and I began work on The CONTRACT between heaven and earth, we brought with us our realizations about life and our imaginings about eternity. Both of us are retired, and we have the time to search for explanations to the mysteries we encountered. Nevertheless, sometimes we wrote blindly until the answers came.
Last week, the book went live on Amazon.
A number of writers and bloggers have welcomed us to their websites, where they are graciously introducing The CONTRACT to their readers. I cannot begin to explain the profound gratitude I feel, for by their kindness, they recognize our efforts, and they acknowledge the journey.
Thank you one and all.
by Gwen M Plano
by Gwen M. Plano
Each week poet Ronovan Hester sponsors a Haiku prompt challenge, and folks (like me) try to follow his lead. This week the two words are faith and choice. If you have interest in this poetic form, please click on his name and you'll be guided to his website where you'll find detailed instructions.
This poem is entitled Building Tomorrows.
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