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.
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!


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]***


by USA Today Bestselling Author, Rebecca Hamilton
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.


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.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

C.M. Skiera's Blog: Book Review: Techniques of the Selling Writer

C.M. Skiera's Blog: Book Review: Techniques of the Selling Writer: Although Dwight V. Swain's  Techniques of the Selling Writer is older than I am (which is pretty darn old), it stands the test of time ...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

I've Just Got to Have a Pair of Bickering Birds

A wall is just a wall, but a wall with a piece of art on display is a work of art in and of itself. A great painting or photo on a bare wall converts a blank space into a haven of repose.
Now that I’m fully engaged in writing and publishing – what was my pastime to engage my creative energies while I worked for the federal government is now my day job – I've turned my attention to making my home office look inviting and be a place that inspires my creative impulses. 

That long, lonely walk from the master bedroom, down the hallway to my office on the left is bare. When I was working outside the house every day; more often than not out of town or out of the country; my wife and I had paid little attention to the décor of our home’s second floor. Heck, we only saw it twice a day – when we got up in the morning and on our way to bed at night. Now, I see it all day long, and that bareness is depressing.
Thank goodness I decided to monetize my blog, and one of the advertisers I feature just happens to be Getty Images. Photos.com by Getty Images offers a collection of stunning framed photos that are guaranteed to enhance the walls of any room or office. Just the thing, I thought, to spruce up my home office. So, I went browsing on the site to find something. I immediately ran into a problem. There are so many great photos it’s hard to choose. I finally did, though. As a photographer, I love taking pictures of birds and animals. I’m currently in the process of documenting the birds of Maryland, so I thought, what better to decorate my office’s entrance area than a photo of a bird or flock of birds.
And, I found just what I was looking for – Bickering Birds – a photo of two birds on a limb that look like they’re engaged in a heated debate. With three different sizes to choose from and five different surfaces (canvas, paper, acrylic, aluminum, and birchwood), along with a tasteful black frame, it’s a steal at $200. And, then I learned that I can save 20% off that using the coupon code BLOG20, which applies to anything ordered from Photos.com. Now, you just can’t beat that with a stick. Birds aren’t the only thing they offer photos of landscapes, sports, news, animals, travel and entertainment.

What’s that? You’ve no more time to read, you have to go shopping for photos. Well, by all means. You can go directly to Photos.com.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Turning the Pages: Blog Tour ~ The Body by d. Nichole King

Turning the Pages: Blog Tour ~ The Body by d. Nichole King: The Body (The Spirit Trilogy Book 2) by d. Nichole King They vowed to never return. Their lives depend on it. With last summer be...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New Release! Prunella Smith: World Within Worlds

Have you heard about reviewers who have endured attacks by disgruntled authors upset with their review, or about authors being hounded by other authors determined to destroy their credibility? Do you wonder how you might handle such a situation yourself?
Anyone interested in these topics and the issues they raise will find much to enjoy in AIA Publishing’s latest release Prunella Smith: Worlds Within Worlds, a metaphysical thriller. The book has an unusual structure in that it weaves together several strands of experience, tangible and intangible, that together create the rich tapestry of the central character’s life.

‘The barrier between the worlds shatters like the window. The beast is loose. My nightmare has become real. The guy has totally lost it. If he finds us here, we could die. No, I don’t doubt it; we will die.’
Author and editor Prunella Smith inhabits a multilayered reality. Physically, she lives in the Australian bush with her crazy cat Merlin. In her work world, she edits the love story of Kelee, a Magan Lord’s daughter, and in the cyber-world of social media, she’s subjected to slanderous attacks by a disgruntled author. To complicate matters further she sees things through the eyes of a Tibetan Yogi, has strange dreams and relives forgotten memories.
Separate worlds, interconnected and complementary, but can they help when Prunella becomes victim to a real life stalker and her sanity is threatened?
Worlds Within Worlds has a unique perspective on the nature of creativity. Its touch is light, its humour distinctive but it reaches deep into the nature of human experience.

Comments from readers:

“This is riveting stuff, part magical realism dreamscape, part taut psychological thriller, and I was literally on the edge of my seat when the final twist—and what a twist it is—came around. Phew, what a ride! I can honestly say it is the best book I have read this year.” Frank Kusy, author of Rupee Millionaires.
 “This book will make you think. Considering the deluge of new works streaming from authors these days, that may be the highest praise a novel can receive.” Amy Spahn, literary critic.
“A fascinating insight into the mind of someone using meditative techniques to deal with stress.” Kevin Berry, Awesome Indies reviews.

About the Author
Tahlia Newland, author of six books, including the award-winning Diamond Peak Series (AIA Seal of Excellence in Fiction and BRAG Medallion for Outstanding Fiction), writes heart-warming and inspiring magical realism and contemporary fantasy. She is also an editor and the coordinator of Awesome Indies Books, a website that accredits and showcases quality independent fiction.
Tahlia began writing full time in 2008 after twenty years in the performing arts and a five-year stint as a creative and performing arts teacher in a High School. She has had extensive training in meditation and Buddhist philosophy and lives in an Australian rainforest south of Sydney with her husband and a cheeky Burmese cat, who features in most of her novels.

Purchase outlets


The paperback will be available from all outlets in early December.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Foreign Service: In Search of Diversity

Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace

After a big lunch

Black Friday is Bleak Friday for Many

Coined in the 1960s to mark the start to the Christmas shopping season, ‘Black Friday,’ or the Friday after Thanksgiving, is one of the major shopping days of the year in the United States. It is the period when most businesses move from ‘red’ to ‘black’ profit-wise.
While it’s not an official holiday, coming as it does after Thanksgiving Thursday, many workers (except those working in retail stores) get it off. While Black Friday might be a happy day for owners of stores that finally start to show a profit, it has to be Bleak Friday for many of their employees who often give up Thanksgiving with their families for the sales that sometimes start on Thursday. Retail giants like Walmart and J.C. Penny, for example, begin their Black Friday sales the afternoon or evening before, meaning that their workers have to give up a significant portion of their holiday. While I’m sure they get holiday pay (at least, I would hope they do), it hardly seems to compensate for the missed time with family.
Now, I have to begin by confessing that I have never done a Black Friday sale. When I do Christmas shopping, it’s either done in September and October, or the week before Christmas. I don’t really celebrate, but I do buy gifts for my children (when they were small) and now for my grandchildren.
Being aware of how Black Friday impacts many retail workers, I’m glad I’ve never been tempted. Added to this, there’s the fact that we have this period celebrating conspicuous consumption at a time when nearly 7 million households in the U.S. don’t have enough food to eat, and nearly 4 million are unable to provide sufficient, nutritious food for their children. We have more than 40 million people living in poverty, and some 20 million live in extreme poverty (making less than $10,000 per year for a family of four).
While many politicians seem to delight in blaming the poor themselves for their poverty, the U.S. political and economic systems are primarily to blame. In our free enterprise economy, companies are not creating enough jobs for everyone, and the top echelons of business tend to allocate the lion’s share of profit to themselves. Our political system, which one would think would focus on the needs of the people, tends to have other concerns. Military and security expenditures, for instance, make up half of U.S. federal discretionary expenditures; corporations and the rich have greater lobbying power, and as a consequence tax breaks and subsidies tend to benefit them more; and, the Democratic Party; once the party of the working man, focuses on the middle class, often to the detriment of the poor.

As a consequence of this, we have a culture of inequality, with people segregated by income and sometimes race or ethnicity. With jobs scarce and wages low, the lack of income leads many low income people to dysfunctional behavior, creating a vicious cycle – in other words, poverty often leads to more poverty.

With all this on my mind, I can hardly see Black Friday as a time to celebrate. If you want me to notice the day, maybe it should be changed to Bleak Friday – a much more appropriate appellation.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

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Sunday, November 2, 2014

It's Daylight Saving Time Again - As Charlie Brown says, Good Grief!

As I begin writing this, I look at my watch, the clock on my computer, and the clock on my cell phone. They all show 11:44 a.m., November 2, 2014. The latter two are automatically set to change to Daylight Savings Time. My watch agrees with them because I changed it just before going to bed at 11:00 p.m. last night.
The problem is, my circadian rhythm insists that it’s really 12:45. My stomach is reminding me that I’ve missed my usual 12:00 lunch, and my brain keeps telling me it’s later in the day.
People blame Ben Franklin for Daylight Saving
Time, but he only proposed getting up earlier.
 I go through this twice a year when the clock changes – been doing it for as long as I can remember – because my body just doesn’t understand the concept. The concept of rising early in the spring in order to make better use of natural daylight was first introduced by Benjamin Franklin. Daylight Saving Time (DST) is now in use in 70 countries (although it’s not used by every state in the U.S., and in Indiana, it’s a county option, so there are two times in various parts of the state all year long). The purpose is ostensibly to make better use of daylight and conserve energy. The first country to actually implement DST was Germany in 1916. It was put into use in the United States by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II from 1942 to 1945, and ended when the war ended. It is now part of our legislation, although it has changed a number of times over the years. The current schedule, introduced in 2007, begins on the second Sunday in March and lasts until the first Sunday in November, and is observed in most of the U.S. except Hawaii and most of the insular areas, and most of the state of Arizona. The justification is the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
There’s as much myth about DST as fact. Franklin, for instance didn’t actually propose setting the clocks forward – he actually suggested getting up earlier. Many people believe DST in the U.S. was intended to benefit farmers, but this is not the case. From the beginning, because of the disruptions it caused to their normal schedules, farmers have opposed it. The argument that it saves energy, while it might have had some merit in the early days, is debunked by the fact that the savings in use of lights in the summer are offset by the extended use of air conditioning. The extra hours of daylight also increase fuel consumption as more people engage in outside recreation activities. In fact, the additional demand for air conditioning makes DST an expensive proposition in most places.

My complaint, though, is that it causes me several days of disorientation every year as my mind and body adjusts to the one-hour change. I also have a problem with a bunch of legislators telling me what time to set on the clocks in my house. Before I retired from government work, I had two periods each year when my work schedule was disrupted, and now that I’m retired and writing full-time, it’s even more irritating to have to suddenly change my personal schedule – determined by my internal clock, to comply with some externally imposed law that I’ve never understood or agreed with. Having to run around the house twice a year changing every clock – think about the number of items in your household that have clocks (microwaves, DVRs, etc.) that don’t automatically reset themselves. Where’s the savings? I haven’t seen any yet. There are a lot of issues we could be spending our time on, so I’m not calling for a mass movement to outlaw DST – but, it is something to think about.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

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