Friday, December 27, 2013


Hi, All.

Now that another Christmas has come and gone, we are now faced with the closing of yet another year. 2013 certainly has had many exciting moments ... ecstatic as well as devastating. Many of us have been published ... Congrats to all of you! And, sadly, many of us have lost treasured family members. Our hearts go out to all of you ...

Many of us have had health issues, accidents, and trauma, BUT through it all ... WE HAVE SURVIVED. With the grace of God and our treasured community we have stuck together and have been there for one another during our greatest triumphs and sadnesses.

I expect nothing less for 2014. As we enter into the unknown it is so comforting to know that I have all of you to face my hardships and ESPECIALLY my successes, because without you the joys are less than amazing.

As you look back over the year, PLEASE don't be hard on yourself if you haven't achieved your goals. Perhaps this was your year for growth. I've had many of them. When it's your time to reap your rewards it WILL happen. Never give up your heart's desire. Continue to write, to learn, to grow. Be the best you can. Keep your heart open, for a closed heart is a sad heart. Allow people into your lives. Don't hide behind your computer screen and dream of the "what ifs ..." That doesn't do any good and only prolongs your ability to soar.  The sky is the limit, but in reality it isn't ...  we have the universe too ... so don't give up.

May 2014 enlighten you. Enrich you. And most of all give you the ability to survive another year with as much love, health, respect, and kindness we all deserve.

HAPPY NEW YEAR and BEGINNING My dearest friends!

Now on a much lighter and FUN note. Today, my co-Knight, David P. King is holding a very festive party at his lair. SO PLEASE, drop by there. You are sure to get a laugh and it will CERTAINLY put a smile on your face.... And he has a fun giveaway too!


Your fellow blogger buddy,


Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Hello my dearest friends ... WELCOME.

At this time of year I can't help but think about my childhood Christmas' in New York with my family. I was the youngest of three boys and believe me my parents had a hand full. Christmas Eve and Christmas day were spent in our cozy home with my grand parents close at hand. Precious days. And beautiful memories.

My present Christmas eve and Christmas day will now be spent with a close friend. My parents' spirits moved on and my two brothers live in different states and have their own lives. I am sure I am not alone in this kind of situation. Many of us spend the holidays with extended family. Friends play an extremely important role. My family memories can never be replaced, but a dark void of loneliness and sadness for my loss is definitely filled with these kind, caring, wonderful people.

Three years ago I was accepted by another family. One that doesn't judge. One that always listens. One that helps without asking for anything in return. One that has enriched my life more than I could ever express in words.

At this special time, I wish with all my heart that all of you have a special, magical, and wonderful Christmas. Jesus Christ was born to teach us love, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. Traits many of us have in abundance. SO whenever you feel lonely, sad, confused, depressed, anxious, angry, or lost, REMEMBER a family member is just a click away.

May we all have health, patience, prosperity, and clear minds for the coming year. And don't forget to keep you hearts open for only with an open heart can you truly live the life you are meant to live.

Today is the most special day of the year. Hug your children. Smile at a stranger. Release your tension for it is now time to celebrate.

Today many of us are posting for Mark Koopmans' Fifty States of Pray ... if you have a free moment, please drop by his blog and others in this hop and share the Christmas spirit!


Monday, December 23, 2013


HI, All,

Well, thankfully I made it back to Chicago safely. Thanks to all of you and your positive wishes. The weather was a bit sketchy in Indiana with a twenty-five minute mini blizzard, lol. But I managed to get through it fine. When I arrived in Chicago, it was a clear, chilly, 34 degrees. Not too bad.

I arrived last Tuesday and it has taken me all this time to put up a few... and I mean ... FEW decorations. It took me a few days to get through all my mail. But I did have three wonderful surprises waiting for me ...

First, I won a copy of L. Diane Wolfe's book... YAY... Thanks, L. Diane! This book is loaded with fantastic information for those who are self publishing. Make sure you get your copy if you are contemplating that journey in the coming new year!

Second, I received a BEAUTIFUL signed copy of The Ghosts of Aquinnah by Julie Flanders. Julie was kind enough to send me an autographed copy since I designed the cover and wrote the blurb. I was to excited actually seeing it in print. Even thought it's not my book, it's the next best thing! Thanks, Julie... it was such a thrill to work with you on your fantastic novel....

And finally, I received a signed copy of Memories of Murder, by Yolanda Renee'... This was my first profession blurb writing job. It was so cool to see my blurb published on the back of this amazing novel. Thanks so much, Yolanda!

Playing "Catch UP" is taking me quite a bit longer than I had planned. There are just not enough hours to do all the things I need to do. So I do apologize for not visiting. I know you ALL understand and that's why I love you guys so much!


Yes, you've read correctly, lol. I am planning a REALLY fun blog hop. I wanted to do it during this festive holiday season, but since we are all CRAZED with family, shopping, and celebrating, I think it's best to wait a bit for things to calm down. I think we'll ALL need a JOLT of caffeine to jump start our year. So let's plan on a New year's blog hop... sound fun?!!! We will all be dragging by this point .. LOL. I hope to have the badge done and the linky up for the fest within the next few days.

In honor of my trip to Colombia, I plan to give away a few pounds of AUTHENTIC COLOMBIAN COFFEE... For all you coffee lovers, and I know there are LOTS OF US ... you will REALLY appreciate the sensational aroma, rich color, and robust taste of this elixir of life... lol. Seriously though, the Colombian coffee you buy here is NOTHING like what I have sneaked in... lol.

I am really looking forward to sharing my good fortune with a few of you. All you have to do for the hop is state why you LOVE coffee. EASY... EASY.... If you want to add a comment about including chocolate or a homemade biscotti with it, that is fine. I'll also be sharing my amazing biscotti recipe with you, too! Nothing like a cup of Colombian coffee and an Italian biscotti!

So, please stay tuned.

Tomorrow is a very SPECIAL hop, hosted my our wonderful blogger pal, Mark Koopmans ...

Even though it is Christmas Eve, what better way to connect with our blogger family than through prayer ...

So, I'll be seeing you all for Mark Koopmans' Fifty States of Prayer TOMORROW!



Monday, December 16, 2013


HI, All,

Sorry I've been missing in action for a while, but I've been driving around the state of Florida for the past week. On Wednesday, I traveled to South Florida to have lasik surgery on my eye. My astigmatsim came back in my right eye and I needed it ZAPPED to see distance again. On Thursday, I could see again … Thank God!!!

Then traveling back to central Florida for one night. Yesterday I headed toward Tampa to meet a ver special BLOGGER PAL, PK Hrezo… ALWAYS a great time with Pk. I've been fortunate to touch base with her on most of my trips down here. BUT, yesterday was special because I am contemplating moving to South Tampa after I sell my condo in Chicago.

PK was a fantastic host. We traipsed around Hide Park… which is BEYOND special. Hopefully I'll be able to swing one of those sweet bungalows! We had a latte an we were lucky enough to hit upon a Christmas parade on BIKES…. Thankfully none hit me. LOL.

Afterwards we drove around the Davies Islands and then she took me back to my hotel. It was a wonderful few hours with a special writer friend. There is NOTHING like talking writing with a FELLOW writer IN PERSON!

Today I'll be heading home… a very LONG drive. Hope to make Southern Kentucky if all goes well.

But, now it's time to share more about my trip to Bogota …

I found this city quite interesting. With a population of TEN MILLION, one is really AMOUNG the people. They are EVERYWHERE!!!! Kind and inquisitive, this gringo could really see the Indian roots of these sweet people. In the three weeks I was there I had only saw ONE other person with blue eyes and fair skin like myself … and that was my friend's sister-in-law, who is from another city in Colombia.

Heads turned everywhere I went. The children in particular were most intrigued. As I had mentioned before, traffic is one living nightmare. A person could actually walk faster. I'm not kidding.

But what I found the most fascinating is the mix of architecture. In the old part of the city, mission style stucco buildings grace most of the extremely narrow streets. Sadly, most are run down and full of graffiti. This does not only happen in our inner cities. A tourist must be AWARE in these sections. I was warned not to take pics with my new iPhone 5 because it would be ripped out of my hands. I was so disappointed… especially in the AMAZING wooden churches build in the 16-1700's. And no picture taking was allowed. But let me just tell you the gold leafed icons sparkled brilliantly against the rich dark wood aged for centuries. Truly breath taking. During this festive season, wood carved nativites held center stage. Stables were recreated just like one would imagine seeing at the time of Christ's birth. Colombia is a very religious country and Colombians all feature nativites as part of the holiday season.

Even the modern, high-end malls have stunning nativity displays. Luckily once I headed for the north and more exclusive end of the city, I was able to take some beautiful Christmas display pics…  This is the Hacienda Santa Barbara mall… is reminiscent of a colonial era home. Terrace on multiple levels it is by far one of the MOST UNIQUE and STUNNING shopping centers I have ever been to, and believe me I've been to a LOT… all over the world!!!

Their outdoor and open indoor Christmas displays were truly amazing. Let me know what you think!

Yes, this is PART of the mall!

Wonderful place to have a coffee …. when it's NOT raining….

One of the many stunning Nativity scenes ….

Camel ride anyone? …

They certainly love their camels…

Well, the rains interrupted the rest of my picture taking…. and although December is NOT the time to visit Colombia because of the afternoon thunderstorms and evening rains,  a visitor will be AMAZED at how green, lush and surpassingly similar to FLORIDA Bogota is… Yes, you read correctly. Add mountains along with the hibiscus, roses, bougainvillea, and PALM trees and you will see Bogota.

I hope you enjoyed a Bogota Christmas. Have an awesome Monday everyone.

I plan to return to Chicago by Tuesday. Please send positive vibes and prayers that I get home safely. Snow is predicted for Indiana and Chicago on Tuesday. So I hope to get through. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013


The flash of a wing in flight graces the rocky coast as a seagull’s cry pierces the awakening dawn. High over the cliffs a crescent moon shines, casting subtle beams of light on soft, rolling waves, puddling onto the sandy shores of Martha’s Vineyard.

Coral streaks the sky as if an artist’s hand brushes the horizon. The receding waves mirror the aurora , doubling its beauty. Blinding the senses. As each new splash of color blends with the indigo, shadowed clouds define themselves, taking on a more dominant form. 

The wind sighs as a new day begins, just as it has for millennia. Generations have come and gone, yet these visions transcend time.

The peaceful lap of waves ripple as a hooded figure glides silently toward the cliffs and fades away. Not a trace of a footprint is left behind. 

For over a century this mysterious figure haunts the peaceful shores of Aquinnah. 

But, who is she?

What tragic tears mingle with the never-ending salty waves?

Surely someone knows her story?

*      *      *      *      *

A young woman stares into the face of the mysterious cloaked figure. Their eyes lock, and an unspoken conversation erupts between them. 

Hannah jumps back from her computer screen the moment the woman fades into the lingering mist. She closes the webcam. I understand now. I must go to Aquinnah. 

She arrives on the island and soon discovers her identity. The mystical woman is Stella Winslow. Her story as turbulent and crushing as a nor’easter storm. Hannah abandons her current research on lighthouses and unravels the truth about this woman trapped in time.

It’s a story of true love.

A story of sheer determination.

A story with an unfinished ending 

The Ghosts of Aquinnah 

Thank you all for joining in on the launch of Julie Flanders' newest book, The Ghosts of Aquinnah. I hope you all enjoyed the intro and plan on reading the story. Julie has created such an amazing tale of a powerful love that transcends time. Please help spread the word and remember to drop by Julie's blog to wish her well.

I was honored to be chosen by Julie to create the cover, blurb, and intro. It somehow all fell into place so effortlessly. Both of us on the same page. Here's to all the success in the world, Julie! 

During this special time of year, I wish to thank all of you for your love, caring, and support of our wonderful community. We ALL truly created a utopia to spread our wings and soar on our writerly journeys.

Have a special day everyone ...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Hi, All,

Well, it's the first Wednesday of the month, and WE ALL know what that means by now. It's time for another IWSG post.

SO much has happened to me over the past several months. In August I was run over by a cyclist and left battered and broken. In one split second three months of my life had changed. I was lucky.

I healed. But the reprecussions linger on.

I did manage to go on my South American trip, but like the Andes themselves, my adventure was riddled with both soaring highs and bottomless lows.

Before leaving for my trip my novel was rejected by the new publisher I had created several logos for … I was surprised because as the process continued all seemed very positive until the end. My insecurities took flight on multiple levels. BUT … as many of you know me … I ALWAYS try to turn the negatives around and remain hopeful.

One of the three editors contacted me and offered her time and expertise to work with me on my novel. She sees the potential and believes in my story. I was blown away. How incredible. SO never give up on your work … your dream. You just never know what your next journey will be.

Traveling to a foreign country off the beaten track should be a concern for every traveler … and I was no exception. I was anxious about the altitude and for good reason. I had been to Colombia before in 2000 and had a very difficult time breathing. So my concerns for this trip were that as well as the concussion I had attained with the accident. With nervous on high alert, I boarded the plane and hoped/prayed for the best.

Sadly, I did have some issues there, but my aggressive spirit pushed on. I tried to stay focused and get through each day. The altitude and constant weather change beat me down. Cold, damp, and rainy with only morning sun greeted me each day for three weeks.

But even though there were obstacles, the beauty of the misty mountains, and warm gracious people kept the smile on my face. Bogota is a fascinating city. TEN MILLION people. Cars everywhere. Traffic horrific. And yet, Colonial architecture blends seamlessly with glass high-rises. The irrisistble aroma of freshly baked goods from charming cafe's and bakeries mingled with car exhaust that in a way  created its own fragrance which was not totally unpleasant.

Graffitied walls of historic buildings shocked me at first, but in some, the artistry was truly remarkable. As a writer we must all keep our minds clear and eyes wide open. Even in the bustle of a very active cosmopolitan city time stands still long enough for us to observe the wonders of another land.

As a stranger to this land where English isn't spoken at all, the poetic spanish language flows through the city like a breath of fresh air. It carries on the mountain breezes. It moves in unison with its lively music. It's on the lips of the native people whose Indian ancestry is carved in almost every face. I a constant curiosity. A white boy from NYC stands out like a blazing moon. But their inquisitive spirit almost always brought on a smile.

My insecurities washed away with each passing thunderstorm. A strong will is necessary to retain ones health. It's not all physical. The brain is a necessary part of our healing process. So remember this. Do let your insecurities take hold of you life. Always think positive. No matter how difficult it is, you will find your inspiration. Take a walk through your neighborhood when your thoughts burden you.

If you have time PLEASE drop in on the other group members for more inspiring stories. Here's the link for the list… As we all know Alex J. Cavanaugh has the master at his blog.

Tomorrow I have a VERY special post. I hope you all can make it so please drop by…

For those of you who had missed my first Colombian post with pics, please scroll down ...

I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Hi All,

Well, I am finally back and ready to share the sights, sounds, aromas, and experiences of my travels WAY SOUTH of the BORDER.

As I was whisked away south to the top of the Andes Mountains, I had a few concerns. Bogota, with its 9000 ft above sea level altitude, gives even the most "in shape"body an unexpected lung workout. I had visited there in 2000 and did have considerable difficulty breathing, so my concerns were justified. However, this time I was much thinner and in better shape, so I hoped/prayed it wouldn't be too much of an issue.

The first day was going to be a busy one. After arriving at the airport at 4am for a 7am flight,  the Jet Blue departure check in was mobbed with people. The doors were locked. What happened? A potential bomb scare? I was already on "high alert" because of my concerns and flying. One would think, after traveling around the world with my former career, I wouldn't mind flying…. well, back then it wasn't an issue. Now …. Just jitters, nothing too major.

A fire inside had caused all this commotion. Oddly enough there were no fire trucks. I had my suspicions. The truth may have been concealed to keep the masses calm. No one freaks over a fire, but a bomb scare… you bet!

Anyway, checking in wasn't too bad. The lines moved quickly and after stripping through security, I made it through customs. It took about 90 minutes total. For those of you who travel internationally, you know that was a miracle in itself.

My buddy, informed me that his brother had invited us to a charming small village about 90 minutes south of Bogota for the weekend. A place called Boche. If any of you ever traveled on the roads in South America, let's just say they are like heaven in this country, even under the worst construction conditions.

Thankfully the flight was an overall good experience. We landed in Bogota, on time, in hazy 50 degree weather. I had met my friend's brother before on my first visit and he was as gracious as ever. We loaded the luggage into the car and off we went on a the treacherous roads of Bogota. Our first stop …. another brother's condo to repack for the weekend and then off to Boche.

A good thing my breakfast was well digested by this point. The pot hole ridden streets and the rolling hills (imagine more mountains on top of this hilly plateau. San Francisco is prairie land compared to this…)

Unbearable traffic bottlenecked everywhere. I learned that Bogota has TEN MILLION people and each citizen seems to have a car! Imagine they are only allowed to drive on odd or even days, depending on their license plates! And yet, the traffic was still bumper-to-bumper. What is even more distracting … NO LANES…. these drivers create their own, AND, add motorcyclists to the foray, squeezing in between! One really does appreciate our rules and pavement here in the states after THREE weeks of that.

After a few hours of unnerving traffic, we were on our way out of the city. Thankfully the altitude didn't seem to affect my breathing, but the car exhaust certainly did. AKKK!

Motoring through the Colombian countryside was a visual feast. Peddlers selling amazing fruits, arrepas (Colombian pancakes.. sort of), incredibly beautiful flowers, and all sorts of goodies which I could hardly make out. After about an hour we stopped for petrol. Now this was a shocker … full service … with a SMILE …. AND …. free COFFEE! Yup. The charming attendant handed each of us a steaming, aromatic, and unbelievably DELICIOUS cup of coffee. I was blown away.

Most of the small towns we traveled through were old, peeling, and congested. Stray dogs pranced through the narrow streets where the locals sat on their front stoops chatting with one another. It was like stepping back in time. No high rises, no chic business people, not trademark stores. Only an hour outside a major city, it seemed time stood still for decades.

We arrived at Boche. A charming haven of elegant terraced condo homes, dotting the mountainside. Here is where all the wealthier citizens of Bogota have their country homes. We entered the gates of a lushly landscaped pagoda. Bougainvillea draped, palm trees swayed in the cool, humid breeze, and roses of every color exploded to life. Was I still in South Florida? I couldn't believe my eyes. Tropical vegetation flourishing on the top of one of the tallest mountain ranges in the world? Amazing…

As a non-speaking Spanish guest, I was challenged. Although my friend's family did EVERYTHING in their power to make me feel comfortable, I felt like I was in a paralleled universe. They all spoke at once… non stop chatter. My friend did his best to keep me involved in the conversation, but it was just too overwhelming for him and for me.

I sat and observed. The casas were just what one would expect. Terraced, white washed villas with terra cotta tiled roofs. Sweeping oversized tiled terraces, overlooking the lush, green mountains. Stunning. Flowers bursting from terra-cotta pots added vibrancy and incredible beauty. Winter there is misty, cool, and damp… perfect for keeping the mountainside emerald. A sweater is a must. No heat in this country. So layering to keep warm is necessary. Thankfully the aromatic, hot coffee flowed. Truly the elixir of life.

Not soon after, the table groaned with sumptuous Colombian cuisine. My buddy is a gourmet chef. But for his family her went the traditional route. Red beans and rice, fried plantains, spiced ground beef, avocado(no guacamole, that's Mexican… LoL), amazing freshly baked pain, filled with local fruits. I wish I could describe the aromas wafting from the table. It was just incredible.

That evening we played LuLu… a very interesting Colombian card game for MONEY of course. I lost, but had fun.

I was looking forward to the next day for my hike around the town and mountains….

These pics will give you a good idea of just how beautiful nature at its purest can really be … I hope you enjoy them…

Yes, those are birds in the trees…. what a cacacophy of twittering….

Here's a few friends I met along the way …

Well, these are just a handful of pics I took in Boche. I hope you all enjoyed them. I truly enjoyed this part of the trip. the air was fresh and fragrant. The vistas endless. And, the serenity unsurpassed. Escaping the insane activity of Bogota for a few quiet days here was certainly one of the highlights of this trip.

On Wednesday I will delve into the life, sights, and sounds of Bogota. I hope to see you then. On Thursday I have a very SPECIAL POST, so I hope you all can make it then.

Thanks for stopping by today. I MISSED you all terribly, and now that I am back in the states with INTERNET, you will be seeing me.

Have a WONDERFUL day everyone!!!