Category Archives: author

A Quick Poll. Please Help Me Name My Next Book!

The sequel to Time To Lie has been written and edited. I have sent it off to the publisher. I have tentatively titled it The Last Locked Door. I’m wondering if that’s a strong enough title to lure readers in. Many a book, movie or other product have been either successful or done poorly based on the choice of name. I want your opinion on the title The Last Locked Door. Vote in the poll !

Thanks everybody! I really appreciate your help. Have a great Sunday! ~Phil

Second In Command: The Debut Novel by Sandi Van!

I’m proud to introduce you to my neighbor, friend and author Sandi Van. Her first published novel Second In Command, is available TODAY on Amazon! Sandi is a writer, counselor, and former special education teacher from Buffalo, New York. She blogs at Caravan of Composition, and for all of my WordPress blogging friends, she is a WordPress blogger, so go give her a follow. Her work has also been featured in Adoptive Families magazine.

Second In Command synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Leo dreams of becoming an Eagle Scout and, someday, a police officer. He makes sure to always do the right thing and be responsible. With his mom deployed and his dad constantly working, Leo is often left in charge of his two younger siblings. Then Leo’s brother, Jack, gets caught up in a dangerous plot that rocks the community. Can Leo keep his promise to stand by his brother no matter what, or will he stand on the side of justice?

Me: Hello Sandi and welcome to The Phil Factor! Although your cover, pictured above has the title Second In Command, on Amazon the title is Second in Command (YA Verse). I know that YA means Young Adult, but what does the Verse refer to?

Sandi: A verse novel is a story told entirely through poetry. It follows the same narrative structure as a traditional novel (in other words there is a character with a goal, and there are obstacles preventing him from reaching his goal that increase in peril as the story progresses), but instead of chapters there are poems. Not to fear, the novel is aimed at reluctant readers and was written for anyone to enjoy, despite their experience in the realm of poetry.

Me: How did your own personal experience influence the plot and characters of your novel?

Sandi: The story is about a family affected by their mother’s deployment. The main character, Leo, is 16 and expected to help take care of his younger siblings. My husband serves in the Navy and was deployed for most of 2003. I witnessed firsthand the stress deployment can have on those left behind, particularly young families. The characters are loosely based on our next door neighbors from that time period. Mom was deployed and Dad worked long hours, leaving the kids to take care of homework, meals, and laundry. I was impressed with how responsible the oldest son was, and years later he inspired me to create the character of Leo. 

Me: When and how did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

Sandi: In fifth grade I was chosen to be part of an experimental group that tested this newfangled 1980’s software that could create a sort of choose your own adventure story. My story was about a witch, and I had a lot of fun coming up with ideas and watching the completed project spill out of the dot matrix printer. Around seventh grade I discovered Edgar Allan Poe. Between that and various episodes of unrequited love, my poetry flowed heavily and with abundant angst. There is also a box full of old journals in my basement my husband and children have been instructed to burn upon my passing. I started my first blog in 2008, and in 2013 I found myself without a job and with an idea for a novel but no clue how to write it. Fate brought a writer into my path who introduced me to a whole bunch of other writers and helped me figure out how to turn my ideas into a book. The book wasn’t very good. But the process of writing, editing, and putting it out into the world made me believe I could actually be a writer.

Me: So what comes next? Is there a sequel to Second In Command, or do you have something else you’re working on?

Sandi: Oh the million dollar question. No, there won’t be a sequel to Second in Command, although I’d love to write another verse novel. Currently I’m working on a story about a young Naval Reservist who serves on the funeral guard. On her way to a funeral she gets stuck in a snow storm and learns how to cope with a personal tragedy through her interactions with other stranded motorists. I was born and raised in Buffalo and although thankfully I’ve never been trapped in my car during a storm, I’ve always been impressed by the way people come together and help each other during heavy snowfalls. 

Thank you for sharing my story with your readers, Phil!

Me: You’re welcome Sandi! A book about someone stranded in a snow storm? With the weather this week, it’s too bad you can’t launch that one right now!

Even though Second In Command is her debut novel, do you know how you can tell that Sandi is a big time author? (Aside from the fact that she’s featured on The Phil Factor. ) Hardcover! Her first novel is published in both hardcover and paperback!  Hardcover is big time. Hardcover is James Patterson/Stephen King big time. Michelle Obama’s first book came out in hardcover and so did Sandi’s!

Thank you again Sandi for appearing on #ThePhilFactor. I wish you the best of luck with your new novel and we look forward to what’s next. Please check out Sandi’s novel on Amazon . You can find her at her website and please give her a follow at Caravan of Composition and Twitter!

Have a great day! ~ Phil

The Magic of Emotional Intelligence by Magician James David

At 7:30 a.m. I boarded a flight to Detroit. I made my way down the aisle to the coach section where we were packed into our tiny seats like eggs in a carton. I found myself seated next to a young serviceman. Army I think. He was in uniform and had carried on a duffel bag as if he were headed back to his base. A moment after we had both gotten situated, a guy makes his way back from the first class section, stops at my row and says, “Go take my seat. I’ll switch with you. You deserve it.”  Woo Hoo! It’s my lucky day, I thought. He must be a fan of The Phil Factor. 

As fate would have it, he was talking to the young serviceman next to me. Little did I know that both the young serviceman and I were in luck that day. My new but extremely weary travel companion was magician James David. He must have pulled at least $40 in change out of my ear during the hour long flight. I’m kidding of course. His real trick was staying awake. He had performed until late in Buffalo the previous evening and then during the night drove over an hour to get to Rochester where his flight was leaving from and he hadn’t slept all night.

This is James’ third time appearing on #ThePhilFactor, but it’s his first as an author. You can read his other two interviews HERE and HERE

Me: I have yet to see a job listing for magician on LinkedIn. How does one become a magician as a career?

James: Hey Phil, well one doesn’t just get to pick a job as a magician from Linkedin.   You have to receive a letter from an owl saying you have been accepted to Hogwarts.  Everyone knows that Phil!!   However,  if you are not that lucky (like myself) then learning from a book or a website is a good place to start.  Once you master the basics of magic and get good enough at them you don’t have to “apply” for a job, the jobs just come to you.  When I started to get really good people would just ask me if I did this for a living and how much did I charge?  All I had to do was answer yes!  So the short answer to your question is LOTS of hard work and practice.

Me: What led you, a magician, to decide to write a book about sports team chemistry?

James: Long before I was a magician I was a basketball coach.   In fact, I started learning magic to entertain my students and my players when I felt like making the atmosphere a little more fun. It gave the kids and myself a mental break from reality. But as I learned more and more about magic, I realized magic and sports/life are identical.   What I mean is that they both have fundamentals.  The more you practice a skill set the better you get at it and the better you get at mastering the fundamentals the more it looks like “magic”.   The same is with building chemistry with someone.

I was turned onto the topic of emotional intelligence through a conversation I was having with a friend one day.  It fascinated me and the more I researched the topic, the more I realized it had to do with building chemistry.  But my coaching mind never shuts off and I just kept saying to myself, “This is team building stuff.”   From there I realized that building chemistry is the same as magic and sports.   There are certain fundamental of chemistry as well.  Those fundamentals are self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management.  If you work hard at them and developing emotional intelligence, you will build chemistry!  (It’s explained in more detail in the book)
Me: What has been your most unique or exciting experience working with sports teams?
James: Since I am by heart a basketball guy, my two favorite team to work with have been UCLA men’s basketball and the Portland Trailblazers.  I just loved talking hoops and being able to help professional athletes think about team chemistry in a different way.  But UCLA was my favorite team growing up and it was special to work with a historic program like UCLA because of its rich history in winning championships and because of their former head coach John Wooden.   In fact, John Wooden has a lot of high emotional intelligence principles in his coaching style which is what helped him win so many hearts of his players.   They loved him because of it.
Me: What does your book offer for someone who isn’t in sports coaching?
James:  It was funny you asked this question because when I was having people pre-read my book, I picked some people  that knew sports and some that never played.  One consistent thing I heard back from people was that not only did they learn how emotional intelligent relates to sports, but that it also relates to life!   You do not have to be a sports person to get the value of emotional intelligence. You just need to be willing to learn  and apply it.   When you do that whether you play sports or not, your life will improve.
Me: Thank you James. I appreciate you stopping by The Phil Factor again. Best of luck with your book and your magic.
If you’re interested in learning more about James you can find him at JamesDavidMagic and you can find his book on Amazon! Have a great Wednesday! ~Phil

Some Suggestions For Getting Your Kids Away from Their Phones

Denzil Walton , a friend of The Phil Factor, has written a fascinating book. If you’re a parent I’m sure that the title of this blog post caught your attention. How in the world do we get our kids off their phones and interacting with the “real” world? Denzil, a lover of nature, the great outdoors and birds in particular has some great ideas.

Author Denzil Walton

His highly rated book is available for Kindle on Amazon USA, Amazon in the U.K. , and on Kobo . If you’ve got kids who are already spending a little too much time looking at life online instead outdoors I encourage you to check out Denzil’s book! ~Phil

Do you want a FREE Kindle copy of my book?

What’s better than free, right? My giveaway on Amazon has ended, but if you still want to get a unique interesting and funny time travel novel for free to read on your Kindle, the first four people who reply to this post with a comment will get a reply to your comment from me with a link for a free download! If you want to read the reviews before you make such a big commitment, click THIS LINK

Have a great Sunday! ~Phil

19 Gates of Hell: A Book Review

If you enjoy Halloween and a good horror story, then this is the book for you. 19 Gates of Hell is a new anthology of, you guessed it, nineteen stories of horror. Each story is by a different author and each is a gripping, blood curdling tale of horror in the vein of some of the great classic horror writers like Poe and Lovecraft.

Marie Lanza

I was gifted a copy of this book by friend of The Phil Factor, radio personality, author and Queen of Zombies, Marie Lanza who is the only other person to have written a Top Ten list for The Phil Factor. Check out Marie’s website for more info on all of her books. For 19 Gates, Marie contributed the story Facing Death, which is, in my opinion, the cream of the crop.

Other world famous authors in this anthology include: R.L. Burwick Rich Restucci Sean DevilleJames Watts Frank Martin Alberto Pupo Jacob Floyd Byron Craft, and Titan Frey  

If you love horror, you can’t beat this anthology. Pick it up from Amazon  as an e-book or paperback and find your new favorite author.

Have a great Halloween! ~Phil

The Contract by John W. Howell and Gwen Plano

The CONTRACT between heaven and earth

By John W. Howell & Gwen M. Plano

Thank you, Phil, for inviting us to join you today. We are so excited to be featured on your blog:  The Phil Factor, where sarcasm gets drunk and let’s its hair down. We promise to be on our best behavior and not take any silverware.

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.

The general rose from his chair and walked around the room with his brow furrowed. He looked at Brad as if he didn’t see him. Then he switched the topic of conversation. “Tell me about the chopper. Military?”

“No, sir. Fast, though. Looked like an MD500. I’m not sure, though.”

“A corporate chopper. I’ll see what we can pick up. Now, the plan.”

The general laid out a map of the base on his desk. He circled Quarters twenty-three. “What’s it near, Sailor?”

“It backs up to the ball field.”

“Exactly. Rutherford wants to take out the President and eliminate you as a side benefit. I’m not sure whom he works with, but he has connections. The Agency will handle Bruce; we’ll make sure the President gets protected. Do you feel ready for another assignment, Sailor?”

“Yes, sir.”

“All right. At sunset, an airman will come by for your SUV. He’ll take it to a detonation site, and the team will remove and expend the explosive. They will check your car end to end for any other devices. Then they will return the car to you. Be sure to show the airman the tracking device that you found in the headliner. If it is as you believe, they will put it back into the car so that Bruce suspects nothing.”

Authors Bio.

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