Sunday, February 15, 2015

Book Trailer Love Fest - Voting Begins Today


Voting begins . . . NOW!

Book Trailer Love Fest 2 Show your support of over 30 authors including USA Today bestsellers by voting in the first ever Book Trailer Love Fest. Watch the trailers, vote in the polls, and share the contest with your friends! The voting is live from February 15th to February 22nd. Winner will be selected on the February 23rd. This is a fun, free contest made to support all authors! So hop on over to booktrailerlovefest.com and get your vote on! Here is a list of authors participating in the contest:

USA TODAY Bestselling Authors:

Amazon Bestselling Authors:

Award Winning Authors:

Also featuring these fabulous authors:

Susan Laqueur
J.R. Smith
Angelica Dawson
Katherine Jean Pope
Everett Robert
Charity Tober
Tam Linsey
W K Pomeroy
Jordan Mierek
Elle Jacklee
Support your favorite author by voting for his or her trailer!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Photography: Winter Birds in Maryland

Downy woodpecker



White-breasted nuthatch



Red-headed woodpecker



White-breasted nuthatch



Canada Goose




Blue jay



Cardinal


Dark-eyed Junco




Winter Wildlife Watching - Cold Weather Doesn't Have to Hamper Your Nature Photography

 
Last year, this was just about all the
wildlife photography available in my
backyard.
I’ve been an avid photographer for most of my adult life, and I love wildlife and nature photography. What I don’t like, though, is being cold. So, most of my winter nature photography – unless I can arrange to be in the tropics, or a place like California, Nevada, or Arizona, with mild winters – has consisted of photos of the deer that come to my backyard in winter here in North Potomac, Maryland.

I like (trying) to get good photos of birds, maybe because it’s so difficult to do well. I’d never really thought of doing bird photography in winter except for the occasional shots of the Canada geese that winter in this area. But, then, my daughter and her husband moved to Woodbine in Howard County – a beautiful rural area, where they have six acres of forest for their yard. They put in bird feeders, and as the weather began getting cold in November I noticed the number of birds of different species still around their house.

That gave me an idea, and thanks to my daughter who bought us a feeder in December, I wanted to see if I could do some winter wildlife watching beyond the occasional deer.

My wife and I installed the feeder in our backyard, in one of the trees that are on our property. Just beyond that is a really nice undeveloped forest park, which is home to deer, fox, badger, squirrels, chipmunks, and many species of birds. I’ve been trying, for instance, to get a picture of a blue jay for the past two years to no avail – until this winter.
Nuthatches feeding during one of this
year's snowfalls.

It took the birds about three weeks to discover the feeder. But, when they did, they began visiting in significant numbers. First came the white-breasted nuthatches, followed by the dark-eyed juncos. Within a week, we also had cardinals and a blue jay dropping in. These are shy birds, so my photos of them aren’t as sharp as I like – I got myself a new camera, a Canon EOS Rebel T5, in January, which is far superior to my Canon PowerShot or Fuji Film Finepix – so I think I have that problem solved.

Back to the wildlife watching. There are mixed views on whether or not winter bird feeding is a good idea. The general opinion, though, is that it is helpful, as this article on the Nature Conservancy blog says. What it is good for, as the photos you see here attest, is attracting birds – and, it turns out, other animals as well – when the weather is not what you might think good for such activities. Between my backyard and my daughter’s place, I’ve managed to get more photos of wildlife (primarily birds) this year than ever before, except when I was in southern Africa.
A cardinal.
                                                          
Finally got a photo of an elusive blue jay.   
                                                                     
In southern Africa, especially Zimbabwe,
I was able to photograph nature all
year long.


First came the birds, followed quickly as you might imagine by the squirrels. Thankfully, our feeder is squirrel proof, so these pesky little critters are relegated to scarfing up the seeds the birds scatter on the ground. After the birds, the deer came in greater numbers this year than previously. And, to my surprise, the fox actually came to the edge of the forest long enough for me to get some good shots. I think they were attracted by the squirrels, that were smart enough to make themselves scarce, so there’s been no bloodshed – yet.



















So, if you want a great bird watching winter, consider installing a feeder in your backyard.  

Not one, but two red fox visit my backyard.



Deer foraging in the snow.


The squirrels, you always get the squirrels.

Canada goose flying over my house.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why I Don't Watch the Super Bowl


Super Bowl 49 is over, and the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 on an interception in the final seconds. I know this, not from watching the game, but from reading this morning’s news reports, which are dwelling more on the controversy of the Seahawks’ Coach’s final play call than the game itself. Oh, and I also read somewhere that the half-time show was, as usual, a subject of tons of comment – plus and minus.
But, I saw none of this. I am among what is no doubt only a handful of American males born in the state of Texas who wasn't glued to the idiot box yesterday evening watching the Super Bowl live.
In fact, I’m having trouble remembering the last time I watched a Super Bowl game. Now as a former Texan, I know that means I’ll never be welcomed back home, considering that in Texas, football and openly carrying firearms is akin to a religion. I’m opposed to the latter, and not impressed by the former, so I’m an apostate of the first rank.
Oh, I like the game of football well enough. I played in in college, and when I was in the army, I was on the flag football team of almost every unit to which I was assigned. It’s just the Super Bowl that doesn’t get my juices flowing.
I guess I should explain this, though, for those who are shaking their heads at this point, and wondering if this is some kind of joke. It’s not. When I was a youngster, I watched the Super Bowl – like most Texans, religiously. Then, some time after 1963, my work (first in the army, and then after 1982, in the Foreign Service) had me serving in faraway places where the time zone difference meant that in order to watch the Super Bowl live I had to be up at three or four in the morning. Ain't gonna happen. And, watching a recording of the game, when I’d already learned the score, didn't impress me either. So, over time, I got used to not watching the Super Bowl.

If the inconvenience of widely displaced time zones was bad, the direction the game began taking some years ago was worse. Pre-game publicity is often more about which ads will be good or bad than the game, and this year’s deflated balls brouhaha was sickening. Whatever happened to talking about the game itself? Then, there’s the post-game finger pointing, etc. Remember Janice Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction? That got more press than the game itself. I haven’t seen much about Katy Perry’s(?) performance this year – it was Katy Perry, right? But, I’m sure it’s out there – I’m just not interested enough to look for it. I did see the angst over Seattle coach Pete Carroll’s decision to go for a pass play instead of a run from inside the red zone with just seconds to play. Mistakes get made – in football and in war. At least, no one got killed.
As I scanned this morning’s news stories, I had a hard time finding one that talked about the game, per se. There was the thing about the call, some stuff on a brawl that happened after the interception. I guess I’ll stop looking.

Anyway, that’s why I don’t watch the Super Bowl any more. I might never be able to go back to Texas, but given where my home state’s politics is going these days, I can live with that.

Why Dark Social Could Be the Next Big Thing in Digital Marketing

Why are marketers so excited about the possibility of tracking dark social traffic? Not only is it the quantity of traffic found on dark social channels, but also the quality of traffic there.
Everyone seems to be talking about dark social these days. The term, coined by Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic, refers to social traffic from previously untrackable sources, such as links shared via emails, messaging apps, and some mobile applications. This is opposed to traffic from open social platforms - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. - which is easily tracked.

Read more at the link below on how  #DarkSocial is changing the way we view the Internet.


See full list on Listly

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Valentine's Day Gift Guide from Photos.com



Valentine's Day Gift Guide from Photos.com

Disclosure: This post was provided by eAccountable and contains affiliate links
that may yield commissions earned at no cost to you.
photos_96124_s.jpg
For an inspired Valentine's Day gift, send a beautiful framed photo. It's worth at least a thousand words, it says "I love you" every day of the year, the flowers never wilt and the calorie-free chocolates never melt!
Many of these Photos.com images were showcased on The Ellen Degeneres Show on December 22 as part of her 12 Days of Giveaways. Therefore Photos.com is offering visitors 25% off sitewide when you use Code: ELLEN25 (promotion valid through 3/31/15).
Order by 1/31 for your gift to arrive by 2/14!
Photos.com most popular option: Unframed canvas keeps the focus on the image for a modern gallery look.
Slim Aarons ended his war service as a photographer for the US military magazine Yank with a deep distaste for war. His mission, he famously stated, was to photograph "attractive people who were doing attractive things in attractive places."
This photo was taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt during an impromptu VJ Day celebration following announcement of the Japanese surrender and the end of WWII.
The Michael Ochs collection is a stunning visual encyclopedia of American popular music, inviting you inside the lives of the greatest musicians of all time ¿ from live performances to studio sessions, at work and at play.






These would be great Valentine gifts for that special someone in your life, and they can be ordered directly from this article by clicking on the links.  Happy Valentine's Day to everyone!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The First Snow of Winter - Oh My . . .


I woke up this morning to the first official snow of the Winter here in the Washington, DC area. We had a light dusting in November, but that hardly counts – besides, November is still Fall.

Since December 26, I've been getting myself physically ready for this – shoveling hundreds of pounds of the cold white stuff off my driveway. My exercise regimen, including walking, meditation, and some weight exercises, is two days exercise, one day recovery, and for the past week, I've been feeling stronger and ready for the snow demons
.
There they were this morning – a white blanket covering lawn, driveway and street. I have a dental appointment today, and if I want to make it – I thought – the snow had to go. So, out I went, snow shovel at the ready. I was going great guns until it was brought to my attention that I’d neglected an important element of any job I endeavor to do around the house – how to deal with a micro-managing, anal retentive spouse who insists on supervising everything I do down to the tiniest detail. Believe me, a few minutes of that, when your calves are burning and your back is aching from hefting snow, is taxing. Fortunately, because I meditate, I’m able with a little effort to disconnect myself mentally from bothersome people or events, so after a few minutes of my silent heaving of snow (my way, not hers, which takes twice as long), she decided I was too stubborn and went inside to brew a pot of tea. She’s a micromanager, but she can be considerate in her own way. A hot cup of tea helped mitigate the annoyance I felt about her standing behind me trying to direct the snow shovel.


Next time it snows, I’m getting up before 5:00 am, while she’s still asleep, and removing it. That’ll show her! 

'Come, The Dark': Rebecca Hamilton's New Release!


Coula Killed Me
Thanks for stopping by to view this quick announcement on Rebecca Hamilton's latest release, COME, THE DARK, book 2 in the Forever Girl series. Although this book is the second in the series, it is a complete standalone following a completely new set of characters. And you can grab your copy today for only $0.99! Still apprehensive about reading the second book in a series? Well, you can grab the prequel, HER SWEETEST DOWNFALL, off kindle--Always Free--and on January 9th, THE FOREVER GIRL will be free also, for the first time ever! Worried you might forget the date? Join the mailing list using the option on the Rafflecopter below and you'll receive a reminder on January 9th to download your free copy anytime between January 9th and 13th!
***

COME, THE DARK

by USA Today Bestselling Author, Rebecca Hamilton
Come, the Dark 2Rose desperately wants to escape the abuse of the father who impregnated her and the dark spirits that haunt her life. Being thrust from Georgia 1961 into the era of Salem’s infamous witch trials isn’t what she had in mind, and now her daughter is left hopelessly out of reach.
The only way to return to her daughter is by facing certain death to banish the dark spirits that plague Salem. If she doesn’t eliminate these dark spirits in time, they will destroy civilization and trap her in this strange new place, ages away from her daughter.
Even if she can complete the task in time to return home to save her daughter, there’s still one problem: she’s falling in love with a man who can’t return with her. Achieving her goals will force her to choose between the only man who has never betrayed her and a daughter she can’t quite remember but will never forget.
A heart-wrenching tale of a mother’s love for her daughter, this romantic paranormal fantasy underlines the depravity of both historical and modern society while capturing the essence of sacrifice and devotion.
TRIGGER WARNING: This book deals with the sensitive subject of sexual abuse.
***
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayA-bcnpZeE]***

THE FOREVER GIRL

by USA Today Bestselling Author, Rebecca Hamilton
NOW OPTIONED FOR FILM!
Beautiful blonde with dandelionsAt twenty-two, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, a pariah after a string of unsolved murders with only one thing in common: her.
Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she'd settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous. One of them is a man named Charles, who Sophia falls for despite her better judgment. He has connections that might help her unveil the mystery surrounding her ancestor's hanging, but she gets more than she bargains for when she finally decides to trust him. The Forever Girl is a full-length Paranormal Fantasy novel that will appeal to lovers of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, witches, vampires, ghosts, paranormal mystery, and paranormal horror.
***
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urhxBAR9iJw]***a Rafflecopter giveaway***

About the Author

BeccaRebecca Hamilton is a USA Today Bestselling Paranormal Fantasy author who also dabbles in Horror and Literary Fiction. She lives in Florida with her husband and four kids. She enjoys dancing with her kids to television show theme songs and would love the beach if it weren’t for the sand. Having a child diagnosed with autism has inspired her to illuminate the world through the eyes of characters who see things differently. She is represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA and has been published internationally, in three languages. You can follow her on twitter @InkMuse

What is a Forever Girl?

Being a Forever Girl Means

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Dangerous Life of American Diplomats - In the Words of Those Who've Served

In the Line of Fire: American Diplomats in the Trenches Paperback – December 24, 2014

Edited by Ambassador (retired) Charles Ray

It’s probably no exaggeration to say that most Americans know very little about what American diplomats really do. Except for the occasional tragedy, such as the attack on the American diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya in 2013, resulting in the deaths of four Americans (including the ambassador), people don’t realized just how hazardous the life of a diplomat can be – thanks in large part to the highly distorted images in popular media that often show diplomats as dilettantes more interested in attending cocktail receptions than doing ‘real’ work.
     In this book, edited by yours truly, you’ll find stories from those who have served in diplomatic positions overseas – stories of events that often never made the headlines in the U.S., but are all too common occurrences in a diplomat’s life.

     Included are the names from the Memorial Plaques in the diplomatic lobby of the U.S. Department of State that list the names of over 200 Americans who, over the past 200-plus years have given their lives in the service to their country abroad, and who have often been unheralded except by their immediate family and colleagues. These essays represent those who serve silently – giving voice to their valor and dedication as they, in the words of one of the writers, ‘do what we’re paid to do.’

Click on the image below to get your copy now.  Also available in Kindle version.


Which Tea Party is it?

When King George III and the British Parliament levied a series of taxes on the American colonies after the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1863, American merchants protested that the they were being taxed but had no representation in the legislative body doing the taxing. One thing led to another, and, according to historical accounts, a group of some 200 Bostonians (some dressed as Native Americans) boarded three cargo ships in Boston Harbor and dumped their cargos of tea into the harbor. This incident inflamed tensions and led eventually to war and American independence. The term ‘Tea Party’ to describe the incident, however, was not used until the 1880s.
Fast forward to the late 20th and early 21st century and a political movement arises in the U.S. that is opposed to federal tax policy – which is quickly taken over by political opportunists and turned into a retrogressive force that seems hell bent on taking the country back in time. As you might imagine, some students of history object to this confederation of dunces appropriating a revered symbol of the country’s independence from tyranny to represent what is their own form of tyranny.

I would point out, though, that the Boston Tea Party is not the only Tea Party that could be an appropriate symbol for this group. In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter hosts a tea party for a collection of wackos, and somewhere in that book is a phrase where a character says, ‘things mean what I want them to mean.’ Does that sound familiar? I like to think that this is a much better exemplar of what the Tea Party now stands for than the resistance to external tyranny represented by the Boston do. What do you think?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thursday, December 11, 2014

What's Wrong With American Diplomacy?


Often, American diplomatic efforts - though quite often successful - are derided as being 'a day late, a dollar short, and too loud for the audience.' Our diplomatic service (the U.S. Foreign Service) attracts the best and brightest, but along the way, despite their intelligence and dedication, they fall into a rut. Ever wonder why? I spent 30 years in the Foreign Service, and quite often wondered why we seemed to spend so much time trying to push ropes up hills. Here, in an article written in the 1990s, a Foreign Service junior officer (using a pen name for obvious reasons0 breaks the code.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/archives/9109.crosby.html

After reading this - which, by the way, is right on the money, you'll find yourself wondering how we ever succeed at anything.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Defining Lines of Authority

This is an article in 'Armed Forces Journal' February 2009 issue about the problems of defining the lines of authority for American government organizations abroad, in particular, defining the authority of American ambassadors. Given the current debate over presidential nominees for the post of ambassador, this is highly relevant.

http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/defining-lines-of-authority/