tried it both ways....
tried uploading the custom template to ../wp-content/connections_templates, activating... didn't display
then I tried
uploading the custom template to ../wp-content/plugins/connections/templates, activating... didn't display
tried editing the my template that appears in the editor (connections/templates/COTCcard-tableformat.php), still doesn't display
so as a test, I set up the page in question so that the "Featured Listings" ask for a specific template (template="COTCcard-tableformat") and the rest of the listings used the default.
results are different but neither is my custom template
for the results
I really do appreciate your help on this but rather than wasting more of our time on this I think I may just have to start over and edit one of the standard templates.