Gone Writing

Phyllis Entis


My Jeopardy Challenge

For the last couple of years, I’ve been taking the on-line Jeopardy! Challenge, hoping to get a chance to try out for the show and fulfill this item on my bucket list. Each time, I am reminded of how little I know (or can remember within the 15-second time limit).

fullsizeoutput_1584The last on-line test was held some three months ago. I had already put the outcome out of my mind when I found an email in my Inbox with the header, “Jeopardy! Contestant Audition in San Francisco on July 11th at 2pm.”

My first reaction was to suspect a hoax – not such an outlandish thought in this era of scams, hacks and phishing. But it was the real thing.

On Tuesday, July 10th, my husband and I loaded our luggage and our Australian Cobberdog into the car for the drive to San Francisco. We booked into The Lodge at the Presidio, a brand, spanking new dog-friendly inn located in what is described as an Urban National Park. Our room looked out on the Golden Gate Bridge.

The next day, I boarded a free PresidiGo shuttle bus, which dropped me a brisk five-minute walk from the audition venue in downtown San Francisco. I had time to kill, and spent most of it strolling up and down Market Street, soaking in the city’s sights, traffic and noise. Quite a change from tranquil Carmel-by-the-Sea! I used the rest of the time to fortify myself with brain food – a Ghirardelli Hot Fudge Sundae – in advance of the audition.

Upon arriving at the audition venue, I found myself to be one of about 40 hopeful candidates. After the Jeopardy! team took attendance and photographed each one of us, they divided us into two groups of 20 and shepherded us into separate conference rooms, where we were greeted (via a video presentation) by Alex Trebek.

The first phase of the audition was the most nerve-wracking, consisting of a 50-item quiz. Each clue was flashed onto a screen at the front of the room, and we had eight – count ’em, EIGHT – seconds to scribble down each answer. At least we didn’t have to phrase them in the form of a question.

The other part of the audition consisted of a series of mock Jeopardy! games. We were invited to the front of the room in groups of three. We each were given a signalling device and told to ‘ring in’ just as if we were on TV. After we survived the answer-and-question experience, we were each given a couple of minutes to talk about ourselves.

The entire audition lasted more than two hours. It has taken me two days to decompress.

You are probably wondering how I did. Whether I made the cut. The short answer is that I can’t tell you, because I don’t know. I won’t find out whether I made it into the final contestant pool until (unless) I get “THE CALL” – the phone call inviting me to appear on the show.

On the plus side, I walked away with some minor swag – a Jeopardy! ballpoint pen and a set of Jeopardy! ear buds – and a fun story to share with family and friends.





No one ever told me…

When I sat down to write my first novel, no one ever told me that choosing a cover would be harder than writing the book.

In the last few months, while awaiting the publication of The Gold Dragon Caper, fourth book in the Damien Dickens series, I have been redesigning the covers for the first three books.

No one ever told me that the third cover would be the most difficult!

cover-art-4The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper is a book very close to my heart. I wrote most of the first draft in the months following the death of Quintzy, our 13-year old Chocolate Labradoodle. His photo graces the original cover of the novel.

Woven through the various major plot elements is the question of whether or not Damien and Millie will accept a puppy from a friend who is launching a new dog breeding program. The tension between the husband and wife over whether or not to acquire a dog colors some of their actions and decisions as they work together to solve a pair of interwoven mysteries.

In redesigning the cover, I first looked to the various settings and plot elements: shenanigans surrounding the management of a Caribbean cruise line; a chocolate factory; a hit-and-run attempt on the life of one of the characters; and a photo-journalist.

While some of the  images were intriguing, none of them really called to me.

I just couldn’t bear to leave Quintzy off the cover of The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper.

At last, I allowed my heart to overcome my head and I decided on this image of Quintzy’s first visit to the beach. He was only 14 weeks old and wasn’t sure what to make of the experience. The tag that is dangline from the ‘C’ in ‘Caper’ was the ID tag Quintzy wore as a puppy.

TCLC ebook cover small file

I hope you enjoyed sharing the story of my adventure in cover design.

My eternal thanks to my cousin, the talented Hilary Quint, who has guided me with great patience and insight through the redesign of all three book covers. I hope you will take a moment to visit her blog site, The Smitten Image.

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Well, I’m Chuffed!

I’ve always thought of The White Russian Caper as my middle child.

For whatever reason – and it’s probably no one’s fault but my own – the second book in the Damien Dickens series has received less attention, and garnered fewer reviews, than either of its siblings.

That all changed on Friday, when I was greeted by the following:


Re: IHIBRP 5 Star Recommended Read Award Badge for “The White Russian Caper”

Hello Phyllis. Congratulations! Today is a wonderful day! Why? Because your IHIBRP 5 Star Recommended Read Award Badge is here!

You can find out more about the IHI Book Review Program at Author JB Richards’ website. While you’re there, I would encourage you get to know JB and her work.

If you are interested in finding out more about my Damien Dickens Mysteries, please browse through the rest of my Gone Writing website.

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Steel My Soldiers’ Hearts

imagesIt is my custom to commemorate Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, usually by posting pictures of my family members who served during the two World Wars.

This year, I have decided instead to share a passage from Steel My Soldiers’ Hearts, by Neil J. Stewart.

“The fighting did produce several memorable episodes for those engaged on Hill 195 that day. Sergeant John Andrews was advancing his tank with the rest of his No. 3 Squadron comrades along the east flank of the hill, when an 88 mm shell crashed through the hull, severing fuel lines and igniting an immediate fire. The crew bailed out quickly and began creeping through the grass and weeds to a safer refuge, away from the pyre behind them. Sergeant Andrews noticed that one of his crew members, the co-driver, Moe Lutsky, was not with them. In the face of considerable enemy sniping and mortaring, he immediately crept back to the burning vehicle from which he had just escaped. There he found Lutsky, still in the tank, and dangerously wounded, with both feet shot off. Andrews dug him out of his seat and slowly dragged him back to shelter and treatment, which undoubtedly saved Lutsky’s life. The award of a Military Medal for Andrews was approved almost automatically.”

Moe Lutsky, the man Andrews saved that day on Hill 195 was my father’s brother.

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DOWNSIDE UP is Here! — janethornleyfiction

I’m delighted to be a part of fellow-author Jane Thornley’s blog tour, celebrating her new release, Downside Up.

Please follow the link at the bottom of this page to read Jane’s blog.

Have you ever taken a stroll on a summer’s eve and chanced to glance into someone’s window? Maybe there were people inside and maybe not but, either way, it was a glimpse into another world, and perhaps it caused you to pause long enough to wonder what those lives were like. Yes, I know that […]

via DOWNSIDE UP is Here! — janethornleyfiction