The Choice – Gwen Plano – #SoCS

We are at the bar, and we have a special guest here to help us deal with Linda G. Hill’s fun Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. I should mention that this post required more planning than a typical SoCS post.

“Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is ‘roc.’ Find a word with ‘roc’ in it or use it as a word all by itself. Enjoy!”

While the book isn’t new, I have only just recently finished reading The Choice. If we were having a beer, I think Gwen will help us knock that prompt right out of here.

“Hey Dan. Cheryl said you’re having guests here today. Would you prefer a table?”

“One guest, Skippy. I think we’ll be fine here at the bar.”

“Guest? I didn’t know we were having a guest. Why didn’t you tell me, Dan?”

“I did tell you, David. Last week, I said…”

“Gwen, Gwen Plano, that’s right. I remember now. Well, where is she?”

“Give her a minute, David. I told her three o’clock, it’s still early. Skippy, I’ll get the tab today. When our guest gets here, please pour from the top shelf.”

“Depending on what she wants, you might have to help me with that.”

“Dan, I have a confession, I haven’t read The Choice. Can you tell me a little about it?”

“I think you’ll have to ask Gwen, David.”

“OK, one cold Corona, one glass of John Howell’s Bourbon, one snifter of seltzer and a glass of ice and some cherries. Dan, it looks like your guest is here.”

“Skippy, the cherries go in the bourbon, not the ice.”

“Gwen, welcome to our little slice of paradise. Let me introduce you to David, oh, and the guy rearranging the cherries is Skippy.”

“Thanks Dan. It’s great to be here. David, I feel like I already know you, and Skippy, it’s nice to meet you.”

“Thanks Ma’am. What can I get you to drink?”

“Hmmm, I rarely drink alcohol these days, but it’s a special occasion, so, in keeping with my Irish and Scottish heritage, I’ll have Scotch.”

“On the rocks, or in multiple glasses as is the habit with some people?”

“On the rocks, with a splash of water. No offense, David.”

“None taken. I just don’t like to dilute John Howell’s Bourbon.”

“You know, John and I co-wrote ‘The Contract,’ the story that precedes The Choice. I think he’d be happy you’re keeping his bourbon pure.”

“You know John Howell? That’s cool. I almost met him when he was here, but Cheryl, that’s the regular bartender, bumped me.”


“Yes David?”

“The scotch, off you go. I’d recommend Macallan’s”

“Speaking of your previous co-author, Gwen, did you always plan to write the subsequent books yourself?”

“Truthfully, we didn’t have a plan. John began The Choice with me and then decided to finish another book he was working on, so I proceeded alone.”

“Here you go, Macallan Eighteen on the rocks. Can I get you guys anything else?”

“Nothing else for now, Skippy, thanks.”

“No problem, Dan.”

“Thanks Dan, and cheers Gwen. I have to apologize, I read ‘The Contract’ but I haven’t read ‘The Choice.’ Can you give me a quick synopsis?”

“Certainly, David. Especially since Dan told me you’ll be buying the book later today.”

“He what… I mean, yes, I will, but I wasn’t aware he told you. Anyway…”

“The Choice picks up where ‘The Contact’ ends, at an Air Force Base in norther California. The base commander invites Brad’s former Navy SEAL instructor to help him figure out who was behind the murder of Brad and Sarah. It’s evident that their deaths are part of a bigger plan, and the commander wants to stop that plan.”

“That sounds like an exciting story.”

“Take my word for it, David, it is.”

“Aww, thanks Dan.”

“Gwen, that brings me to a question I’ve been wanting to ask since I started reading the book. There is a lot of exciting military action in the book. Is that the result of experience or research?

“I never thought about writing a military thriller until I started waking up with a haunting story that ultimately resulted in ‘The Contract.’ There are many in my family who have served – my husband is a Navy veteran, as is my brother, and as was my father. That said, none of them talked much about their experience, but they did read the manuscript for accuracy. Otherwise, I depended upon research.”

“Early in the story, one of the military characters, the guy who lost a leg in combat, downplays his loss. He says ‘The way I look at it, the loss of a leg is so much less of a big deal than losing your life. Also, I’ve known some who lost neither, but through fear, seemed to have lost much more.’ You came back to that comment again. Is there a reason you gave that such importance?”

“When I worked in college administration, I oversaw Veteran Affairs. The college was near Camp Pendleton, a Marine base in Southern California. I worked closely with these young men and women and remain deeply moved by their courage and sacrifice. Many were injured, even more suffered from PTSD. To this day, I consider them part of my family. We could all learn a lot from their stance in life. They stand up while others might recoil.”

“Do you need another beer. Dan?”

“I do seem to be at the bottom of this one, Skippy. Thanks.”

“No problem. Do you guys want any food?”

“Not right now, but that reminds me. Food is featured throughout your book, Gwen. It’s kind of fun to see your characters working through such a complex plan while munching away. Is there anything special about the food?”

“I’m chuckling now because I’d forgotten about the food. It really was just a means of situating conversations to build the story.”

“You know, Dan, the idea of people working around a complex conversation while munching on, say a large pizza, does sound interesting.”

“You’re right, David. Skippy, David would like to order a pizza.”

“No problem.”

“Gwen, with all the bad guys in this book, I was picturing you using some elaborate org-chart to keep track of them. How did you manage that?”

“I didn’t have an org-chart, but I had a list of characters at my desk always. And with the list, I kept tabs on what they were doing in the story.”

“What they were doing? Gwen, weren’t they doing what you told them to do?”

“Well, David. When I write, I’m dimly aware of the trajectory of the story and its conclusion. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night with scenes and conversations and try to capture these revelations as I write. It’s unsettling at times, but with this series, I accompanied the characters. “

“Now I need more bourbon. Skippy, can you bring us all another round?”

“Sure, David.”

“That’s a good idea, David. Gwen, there’s a soft religious undertone in the book. Is that a carryover from The Contract or is that something you would have included anyway? I like the way it makes the characters seem more robust.”

“I’m glad you like it, Dan. I think the undertone is simply part of me. I’ve a background in theology and when I was younger, I spent five years in Japan practicing meditation. It’s natural for me to bring in spirituality.”

“Here’s another glass of bourbon, David, Ma’am, here’s another glass of scotch and one more Corona for Dan. Your pizza will be up in about ten minutes.”

“Thanks Skippy.”

“No problem.”

I want to thank Gwen Plano for joining us today. I have one more question, but it’s not about The Choice. I recently purchased “The Culmination: a new beginning” the third book in this series – I find the subtitle interesting. Is it less of a finale, or is it more complex than that?

“That’s an interesting question, Dan. Without revealing what occurs, I’ll admit that it brings the reader to an international turning point. The Culmination is my favorite in the series, but that is because it transformed my way of thinking. I spent enormous time researching all-things-military. Missile systems, military bases across the planet, locations of our carrier strike groups, political investments, etc. I tracked troop deployments and kept a huge map of the Middle East in my office. Through it all, I stumbled on information that still haunts me.”

If there are others like David who are still planning to purchase “The Choice” or Gwen’s other books, you can follow this link to her Amazon Author Page.


  1. Aaaah!! How do you mean, 32 degrees?? I’m pretty sure we didn’t have that much this year yet. Currently it’s 11 and windy and covered. And tomorrow I have three gardens to tour… Pretty beasties, all of them, especially the bunny.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We too are tickling 90, and quite suddenly, but it seems to be very cool in your bar. I can almost hear the clink of the ice. And what a great place for a book review! A good way to begin my Saturday!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a fun interview with Gwen. I never took her as a Scotch drinker, so that was fun. :) It was great to learn more about her writing process and her motivation for these books! Thank you for being such an accommodating host, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jan. I was s bit surprised at the scotch order, but it certainly made it easy to accommodate “roc” as the prompt. I always worry (with a planned post) that I won’t be able to work around the prompt. I’m glad you enjoyed this. I hope you have a great weekend.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I enjoyed learning the thought process that your guest Gwen goes through as she’s working on a new book. I never gave much thought to the amount of research that an author has to tackle. It makes me appreciate even more the finished product.

    Glad to see the 3 M’s are faring our ‘heat wave’ well. The bunny looking through the gate looks so sad. Great shots of the birds! Mama squirrel needs a nap! 🤗

    Hope you all enjoy a safe, relaxing, and fun weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked this, Ginger. It is fascinating to learn the behind the scenes details.

      Mama squirrel is very tired, as is Mrs. Smokey. Mr. Smokey is bouncing all over the yard. The Editor has been making comments about those who make babies and those who tend to babies – do I need to mention which squirrels are getting the bigger peanuts?

      The bunnies appear to be on the move. The babies have been seen wandering in all the neighboring yards. I think mom tossed their fuzzy little butts out. I guess moving into Mom’s basement is only a human thing.

      I hope you have a good weekend. Stay cool (I know, 6 weeks ago it was stay warm).


  5. The book(s) sound very intriguing. It was so nice to meet you Gwen! Good luck with everything. It looks like Skippy took care of you g

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Uhhh! I was typing my comment above and it just posted partially with no warning. Normally I have to do a song and dance and add my profile. Anyway, I wanted to say it looks like Skippy took care of you guys well. 👍🏻 I love all the animal shots. I miss the little chipmunks. That bird looks very familiar. What a marvelous set of images of the mother bird and her baby. Just perfect! 😊Hope you have a great weekend,

    Liked by 1 person

    • I updated the caption. It’s a catbird. I figured the anonymous comment was you. I hate when that happens. Skippy did a pretty good job, Cheryl. I couldn’t afford a big distraction. Hopefully you don’t mind working the holiday weekend next week ;-)

      Lots of animals today. I finally remembered to take my camera out with me when sitting with Maddie. I hope you have a great weekend, too.


  7. Great interview. I’m with Gwen heading for the scotch, but I’ll take mine neat, please. Skippy did a great job in looking after you guys. Wishing Gwen all the very best. 🙂💕
    Thanks for a fun post, Dan 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What fun to join you today, Dan. Meeting David and Skippy is an extra treat. I’m elated you enjoy my books and am honored by your comments. BTW your photos belong on National Geographic – incredible! 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Gwen. I am so happy you agreed to visit with us. You’ve been so kind with your comments for a long time, I was happy to return the favor. I’ve enjoyed both of the first two books in this series and I am looking forward to reading The Culmination. I hope you have a great weekend.


  9. I confess that I have not read any of these books yet. At first glance, they did not seem to be in my usual reading genre, but your post today got me to take a closer look, and I just clicked to buy the kindle version of The Contract. The mention of soft religious undertones and Gwen’s experience got my attention. I lived at Camp Pendleton for three years when my dad was stationed there in the 60s. After Vietnam, his PTSD was much worse than any of his physical war wounds, though I did not know that until decades later. Now, I’m learning more about Vietnam and writing our family history. Thank you to Gwen for caring about veterans. I’m looking forward to starting this series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • JoAnna, I am so happy to bring this book to your attention. The books are thrillers, which is not my normal choice to read either, but Gwen (and John) brought an added dimension to the table. It’s these little things that give characters a certain depth and makes me pull for them. I hope you enjoy the book(s).

      I wish you well in working on your family history. Vietnam was and still remains a misunderstood war, and the people who served were not treated well. Thank you for your father’s service.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks, Dan. It’s no wonder that my thoughts and feelings about the Vietnam war are complicated. I’m glad we are beginning to understand more in spite of the complications.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Dan and Gwen, I greatly enjoyed the interview and I’ll take a look at the books later as I do enjoy thrillers. Although I read voraciously, I don’t think I could ever write a book because of all the conversation I’d have to try to come up with. :-) I find it interesting to see how authors work and where they get their ideas. There are a few authors who are almost prescient in their writing and I always wonder how much is insider information followed by informed guesses. Fascinating. Thanks again, Dan, and for the always enjoyable photos. Happy Saturday.

    janet (who’s actually somewhere cooler than where you are today!)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dan, you’re a good blogging promoter to share Gwen’s book and story. And a good fur friend to always share photos of the critters both inside and outside your home. Have an awesome weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what happened to me, Robbie. I read The Contract, but I forgot about The Choice, and then I realized Gwen had written the third book. I was happy when she agreed to join us today.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Dan and Gwen, I think I’m channeling Billy Crystal and his “Marvelous” catchphrase, because that word pop into everything I think about this post. The series is marvelous along with the way Gwen and John were able to collaborate. I know that is not easy, but they really did great.
    Everyone at the bar is… yes, marvelous. And the gallery is extra marvelous. And so are both of you. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You were no where to be found today, Dan! Not in my email and not in my Reader. Somehow you just disappeared?! What is WP doing? So I have followed you again. I wish they would stop messing with this stuff. Anyway, the photos today are wonderful. The squirrels in conference is so cute. Little bunny at the gate–I hope your neighbor is nice! That is the sweetest photo, as is weary mama squirrel. We are clicking up into the high 80’s, but the humidity is staying low. Thankfully. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for going on a scavenger hunt for me, Lois. I’m not sure what’s going on. I have to get back with the Happiness Engineers, but I am none too happy.

      Weary momma squirrel seems so tired. We’ve been extra generous to her. I think she must be ready to kick the brood out of the next and put her husband to work building a luxury spa 😏

      We will hit 90° tomorrow, and it’s way too early for that up here.

      I hope you’re having a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. What a great interview, and I love the ideas and scenes came in dreams
    I loved all three books and eagerly awaiting the next one:)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Who is that bartender, and what has he done with Skippy? Good artistic choice, though: don’t want him upstaging the guest. It sounds like Ms. Plano has done a stellar job of taking a collaboration and continuing solo with a project the original collaborator can be proud of helping launch. Oh, what a richness of birds and animals! That gray jay or catbird is GORGEOUS.

    Liked by 1 person

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