Hacked and I am so Hacked! by Debra H. Goldstein
I woke up recently to a flood of e-mails from friends telling me that my Instagram account had been hacked during the night. Great! I’d wanted to sleep late and now I had to handle the aftermath of being hacked. It was such a little thing. They took my official Instagram name and added a _. I was hacked about being hacked.
Several people wrote that they had reported the hacking. For that, I was grateful, especially because I didn’t know what to do respecting an Instagram hack. Frustrated, I went to the Help section and typed in “Fake accounts.” Wrong!
Although the articles listed were close, they weren’t on point to someone impersonating me. Figuring the impersonation was key, I typed that in and found directions I could follow. I filled in the form, as required, but balked at having to send a government ID with my picture (what if it was another hack?), but finally did — with my thumb strategically placed to block my driver’s license number (which didn’t keep anyone from learning my address). Having to provide this ID made me almost feel more violated than the hack did. Steam was coming from my ears. Oh, was I hacked!
Then, I realized it was the weekend. I had no idea what time it was where whomever was going to review my report was nor when they would get to it. Being resourceful I went to my Instagram account and tried to post a comment about being hacked. Zilch luck doing that. I needed to post a picture. Okay, next step was typing a hacked message in word, taking a picture of it with my phone, uploading it to my account. TMI and Too Much Time, but it was done.
Messages started coming in that people were appreciative of knowing about the hack and were removing themselves from the new account and taking the hacker, who they now found following them, off as a follower. What an annoyance for all.
I’m hacked at being hacked. Have you ever been hacked? How did you handle it?
by Bethany Maines
A New Holiday Novella
Oh my goodness! COVID down time actually came through for me this year and I have finished, yes that’s right actually finished, the holiday novella I’ve been planning on getting around to for last THREE years. Way back in 2017 I completed what I would consider a long short story called Oh Holy Night about a graphic designer and a bank robbery that goes badly. And then I followed that up with the award-winning Blue Christmas the following year. Blue was about a college student, an adorable French Bulldog and a whole lot of smuggled diamonds. As you can guess from the descriptions, these aren’t the traditional Hallmark Christmas stories. But they are romantic funny adventures about people who learn to love the Christmas season.
What Christmas Carol is Next?
Winter Wonderland completes the trilogy with a story about Bah-Humbug photographer Marcus Winters and a set designer Larissa “I love Christmas” Frost who find themselves involved in a robbery gone wrong and must solve the mystery of “whodunnit” before Larissa ends up in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. The fun part about the novella is that it let’s me get back in the mystery writing zone. And jeez, now I remember why that was hard! The clues, the suspects, the timeline! Every time I write a mystery, I respect other mystery writer’s even more.
What is the question?
Every book has a question in it that the protagonists are trying to answer. Whether that question is philosophical to themselves and their world or whether it’s something literal like “where’s the money” the question has to be answered in a satisfactory way order to deliver on the promise of the book. But with a mystery, not only are the protagonists trying to answer the question of “who committed the crime” the reader is too. And staying a step ahead of the reader and the characters in the story is hard work for a writer. Authors can fall back on several tricks to make the mystery work–choosing when to reveal information, letting information exist on the page without drawing attention to it, deliberately calling out false clues (red herrings!)–but in the end, a mystery only works if the crime is solvable and for that a writer cannot whimsically wave their hand at the end. An author has to know how, who, where, and why and then, if your me, also toss in a romance, some character development, and hopefully a decent turn of phrase.
It has been fun to venture into the mystery world once again and I’m more than pleased to complete the story that’s been on my to-do list for three years. I hope that readers will enjoy it too. Look for Winter Wonderland in November of 2022.
Want to know more about Winter Wonderland?
Click Here: https://bethanymaines.com/romanticsuspense/
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Bethany Maines the award-winning author of romantic action-adventure and mystery novels that focus on women who know when to apply lipstick and when to apply a foot to someone’s hind-end. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and BookBub.
by Gay Yellen
I was a shy child who spent a lot of time reading. At twelve, I fell in love with Shakespeare. I dove deep into the leather-bound tomes that lived on a bookshelf in our den. Comedies, tragedies, history plays. They fascinated me.
My favorite was Romeo and Juliet. I read Juliet’s balcony speech so many times, I had it memorized. Alone in my room, I would act it out over and over again.
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love
And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.
Fast forward to college, when I needed one more requirement to graduate: a semester of Shakespeare. Rather than take it during the school year at my alma mater, I opted for a summer course offered by a university in my home town.
That decision almost ruined Shakespeare for me forever.
Instead of teaching us about Shakespeare’s gift with language, or the political tenor of the times, or the nature of tragedy, etc., the professor went on for hours interpreting his characters through an extreme Freudian lens. In every play, he’d point out that a dagger or sword represented the male sexual apparatus, poison stood for the biological exchange of body fluids, and so on. (Please don’t ask me about Desdemona’s handkerchief.)
Of course, Shakespeare plays can be bawdy, sensual, and full of innuendo. But that professor made everything icky. A summer (and tuition) was wasted. At least I got the credit, and I’ve learned a lot more since then, like this:
Shakespeare never meant for Juliet’s “balcony” speech to be delivered from a balcony.
According to a recent article in The Atlantic, that particular architectural construct did not exist in England when the play was written. Nor did the word “balcony” exist in the English language at the time.
Well over a decade after the play was first performed, a British diarist in Italy marveled at something he’d never seen in England: “a very pleasant little tarrasse, that jutteth or butteth out from the maine building, the edge whereof is decked with many prety litle turned pillers, either of marble or free stone to leane over… that people may from that place… view the parts of the City.”
If my old professor had known his history, I’m almost sure he wouldn’t have missed the chance to mention the thing that “jutteth” and “butteth.”
It’s okay to reinvent Shakespeare’s works with spoofs and spinoffs. Many writers have done it, and still do. Shakespeare borrowed from other writers, too.
The other day, I accidentally came across Shakespearean Hokey Pokey, in which punsters attempt to set their own Elizabethan-style lyrics to the tune of the popular children’s dance.
Hokey Pokey Shakespeare could also describe my bizarre Midsummer Night’s Dream experience in that weird professor’s classroom. But if you love The Bard, that’s not what it’s all about.
How do you feel about Shakespeare?
Gay Yellen writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mystery Series: The Body Business, The Body Next Door. Coming soon, The Body in the News.
by Donnell Ann Bell
One of the greatest rewards in life is if a person can go to work every day and enjoy what they’re doing. I had such a job during my tenure at the Colorado Springs Business Journal. It was a place I learned the ins and outs of the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual and learned the importance of teamwork.
Especially on print day.
On print day, everyone who came and went during the week, was required to meet in one large room so we could put the paper to bed. This included the editor, writers, digital formatter, layout specialist, and copyreader/proofreader. Ad execs would often buzz into the room with a last-minute ad copy, meaning an article would have to be shortened or even scrapped, depending on ad size. Of course, the owner would pop in several times during the day to ensure we were meeting our deadline. He had the final responsibility of getting the paper to the printer by four p.m. sharp.
Sounds like a stressful time, and it could be. It also generated camaraderie, a sense of purpose, and pride in our content and the paper’s reputation. We often scooped the daily in business news.
Working at the CSBJ was also incredibly fun. During this helter-skelter time where everyone was busy, we listened to music. Naturally, everyone had their preferences. Our formatter loved Pink Floyd and hard rock, our proofreader preferred classical, another liked golden oldies, while I was partial to country—much to everyone’s chagrin.
Because everyone had their favorites, we had a contest every week. Whoever could name the song and the artist owned the channel until they were toppled. I knew my country music and I rarely missed.
One print day, after I had successfully named every artist and song for hours, everyone in the print room revolted. Our graphic artist, known for spouting more than a few expletives anyway, said if we didn’t change that @#$%^ channel, he was going to throw the radio out the window.
Poor sports if you ask me, but since we’d be lost without the music, I, the undisputed champion, graciously agreed.
I left that job to work for Pikes Peak Parent Newsmagazine, and, later, my love of writing would lead to my fiction career. Country music inspired my first novel. The unpublished title was called Walk Away Joe based on the song by Tricia Yearwood and Don Henley. My editor and Bellebooks/Bell Bridge Books changed my debut title to The Past Came Hunting.
Hmmm. Now that I think about it, I wonder if my editor could have been in cahoots with the graphic artist.
So, how about you? Have you ever been fortunate to work at a job you love, and did something about that job influence you the way music inspires me?
About the Author: Donnell Ann Bell is an award-winning author of four bestselling romantic suspense novels and two mainstream task force suspense novels. Until Dead, a Cold Case Suspense, the follow up to Black Pearl, was released on May 31, 2022. Currently, she is working on book three. Readers can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or BookBub. For social media contact or to learn more, find her at www.donnellannbell.com
by Linda Rodriguez
This past week, we have been treated to the spectacle of the heads of of the hugest publishing companies in the United States sitting in a federal courtroom under oath, testifying about the publishing industry. We have heard things that were patently untrue, even if the CEO making the statement is sworn to tell the truth under pain of perjury, things such as, “$100,000 is a relatively small advance anymore”. Cue writers across the land for insane laughter at this preposterous statement.
We have heard things that were quite unbelievable and yet, apparently, true, simply because they were unfavorable to the executives testifying, their publishing company, and the cause for which they are suing. Statements which admit that the current CEO of one huge publisher has totally mismanaged his company (but he still wants the government to allow him to acquire another huge publisher, apparently so that he can mismanage that one as well?), or that even the largest publishers have absolutely no idea which books will sell or how to sell the books they have acquired, or the admission that they give no marketing budget and make no marketing efforts for the vast majority of their books which fall below the $250,000 advance mark.
These court proceedings have been live-tweeted by reporters for several industry publications and others with a strong interest in the industry. Their live tweets have been seized upon by writers across the country, who have been simultaneously horrified and stunned into laughter by some of the incredibly ignorant and inept statements these CEOs have made under oath. As one writer tweeted in all-caps response after a CEO agreed laughingly with the judge that their P&L statements had no validity, “An entire industry run on vibes!!”
Most of us who have been involved in this industry and with the Big Five publishers for any length of time have not been surprised at much of what has come out in this hearing. It tallies with what we have experienced and what we have suspected all along. We have had few
doubts about the mendacity and ignorance of the people in ultimate power at these houses (as opposed to their hard-working and wonderful editorial staffs). How could we, especially after seeing and experiencing events such as the purge by one of the houses in this case of all of its
cozy-mystery writers, no matter how successful, and of their knowledgeable cozy-mystery editors, only to sign a new set of inexperienced cozy-mystery writers for vastly smaller advances than normal? (Perhaps this irrational act played a part in the fact that this company had a
disappointing record of sales for the past few years and its CEO had to publicly admit to mismanaging it?)
But even veteran writers have been stunned by the sheer extent of the lies, the ignorance, and the deliberate mismanagement this week’s testimony has displayed publicly. These men are being paid multi-millions of dollars per year, yet are clearly incompetent in their roles. At least, if the goal is what the company publicly states it is–to acquire and publish books successfully and profitably.
On social media, writers across the country are moaning, laughing, and despairing as they read about each day’s testimony. I find myself wondering how many writers, who would otherwise have had a career with traditional publishers, will turn to self-publishing in disgust at the practices so callously outlined, most of which exploit, abuse, and humiliate the very writers upon whom this industry rests. This trial has only begun. We have weeks more of this testimony ahead of us. Will publishing ever be quite the same afterward?
By Lois Winston
A few years ago, I got hooked on crossword puzzles. I attribute this addiction to my dear friend Janice. She passed away in 2019 after an eight-month battle with Stage 4 cancer. I spent much of that time taking her to doctor appointments and chemo treatments and visiting with her during several hospitalizations. Janice always carried around crossword puzzles. As a retired R.N., she knew the importance of keeping her mind sharp, and she did so by exercising her brain in two ways: She was a voracious reader of mysteries and romances and a diehard crossword puzzle fan.
Having sat with her during hours of chemo, I know how difficult it is to concentrate on a book during these sessions, given the constant chatter from fifteen other chemo patients, their accompanying friends or family members, the nursing staff, and a TV always blaring in the background. So Janice passed the time working crossword puzzles when she tired of conversation.
I worked my first crossword puzzle after returning from her memorial service. It had been an extremely emotional day, especially since, as her oldest friend, I was one of the speakers. Perhaps she was somehow sending me a subliminal message from Heaven that day. She had always believed in angels, ghosts, and premonitions. I’ve always pooh-poohed the supernatural. Was this her way of telling me she was right, and I was wrong? Maybe. Because ever since that day, I’ve worked the online crossword puzzle in my daily newspaper as a way of honoring her memory and our lifelong friendship.
A few months ago, that newspaper purchased Wordle. I’d heard about Wordle, but I’m not someone who spends time playing games on my phone or computer. I have books to write, and contrary to my reluctant amateur sleuth’s hopes, I have no intention of refraining from dumping dead bodies at her feet.
I also have a staggering number of unread books piling up on my bookshelves and in my Kindle. I’ll need to live well past the century mark before I get to them all. And yet, I keep buying more books! Then there’s life in general, including family responsibilities, and of course, the need to sleep at least several hours a night.
Yet, there it was—Wordle, the word game taking the world by storm. Wordle beckoned like a Siren. Of course, I got hooked. I even learned a secret for helping solve the puzzle in the allotted six attempts: always begin with “adieu.” The word contains all but one of the five vowels. My next word will always include a word using the green letters from “adieu,” plus an “o.”
My mornings now begin with a cup of coffee, the daily crossword puzzle, and the daily Wordle. How about you? Do you start your day with a word puzzle, work one while taking a break, or reward yourself with one at the end of the day?
USA Today and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Her latest book in the series is Guilty as Framed, currently available for pre-order. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.
When I was a little girl, my mother made sure I was exposed to books, music, movies, and live theater. She explained these were important ways to learn about and experience culture. The lessons “took,” and my support for the arts cemented. My entire life I’ve been an avid consumer and patron of the arts. (In fact, one of my job titles for several years was Fine Arts Department Chair at Thornton Township High School.)
Arguably, the least accessible of these forms of art is live theater, yet it is the most potent. I’m exhilarated every time the curtain rises, and I’m right there in the same room with the entertainers. Whether the show is a concert, a play, a comedy act, a dance troupe, acrobatics, or a visit with a celebrity, I’m enthralled by the talent and energy emanating from the stage.
For me, the arts are what make civilization civilized. They spin the threads that connect people of all races, creeds, and nationalities, so much so that throughout history, tyrants have sought to subvert the arts. One need only look to a society’s artistic expressions to understand its heart.
I’m proud to be a patron and supporter of The Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, Texas, my hometown. The Grand is one of America’s historic theaters. The building itself is a treasure. The art deco touches make the view from the stage, according to performer Michael Buble, “a veritable birthday cake.”
The Grand’s new season opens on September 17 with Three Dog Night. The rest of the season is stellar, as well, with shows as diverse as Fiddler on the Roof, the music of Sam Cooke, Seong-Ji Cho pianist, and Jose Feliciano.
I’ve served as program chair, executive board secretary, and president-elect of The Grand, and I’m excited to take the reins of the presidency next month. I’ll continue to work hard to keep our theater the vibrant hub of culture it is in our city, and to keep the arts alive in all communities across the globe. I hope you’ll do the same, and if you’re headed my way, let me know. I’ll send you information about The Grand!
Saralyn Richard is the author of five books, including Naughty Nana, Murder in the One Percent, A Palette for Love and Murder, A Murder of Principal, and Bad Blood Sisters. She loves connecting with readers and invites you to subscribe to her monthly newsletter via the website: http://saralynrichard.com.
by Paula Gail Benson
I began reading Saul Golubcow’s stories in the issues of Black Cat Weekly Mystery Magazine. His protagonist, Frank Wolf, survived the Holocaust with his daughter and resettled from Vienna, Austria, to New York City. In his earlier life, Frank was a scholar, but proof of his academic background was destroyed by Nazis. Unable to pursue a career as a professor, Frank became a security guard for a library. Then, eventually, he set up an office as a private detective.
Meanwhile, Frank’s daughter marries and has a son, Joel. When Frank’s daughter is widowed, Frank steps in to help raise Joel, who makes them both proud by attending law school in the 1970s.
So far, there are three Frank Wolf mysteries, now collected in The Cost of Living and Other Stories.
I enjoyed these stories so much that I wrote Saul a fan letter. He graciously responded and agreed to answer questions for posts here and on Writers Who Kill. Today, he tells us about his background and previous experience with writing. Next Monday, we’ll talk about his stories.
I can’t say I’m an up and coming young writer but rather a “been there” baby boomer ready to write. As a member of what is called the “Second Generation” child of Holocaust survivors, I was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany after the World War II and came to the United States when I was two. I don’t remember how I learned English, but I am told my first English words were “push me” when sitting on a swing at my cousin’s house in Brooklyn. But even though we did not speak English in our house when I was growing up on a poultry farm in South Jersey, I somehow at a very young age came to love the English language, its nuances, choreography, possibilities for expression and meaning (perhaps much like a musician who is drawn to sounds and rhythms). I was that one kid in sixth grade who loved sentence diagramming.
I cannot remember a time I wasn’t reading, and so I believe expression through language became a part of me waiting for the right time for it to come out. I dabbled in high school writing immature fiction and newspaper articles. In college at Rutgers, I wrote short stories for the literary magazine, and my writing was noticed by an English Department professor who was the editor of a prestigious literary journal (I won’t drop names). He encouraged me to tend bar in New York after graduation as a way of nurturing my writing. But I am not temperamentally a Hemingway, or Kerouac, or Mailer type of person. I might properly be called “the writer as a homebody.” For instance, I am now married 50 years and still love my wife. So I used the Vietnam War and draft as an excuse why I couldn’t follow his advice and, instead, went into VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America, the stateside Peace Corp) and served in the South Bronx (an experience as good as bar tending).
I then worked for a weekly newspaper before heading off to graduate school at SUNY-Stony Brook earning a doctorate in English Literature (I got to read voraciously with a payoff). I wrote my dissertation on “Baseball as Metaphor in American Fiction.” As I indicate in the “Acknowledgments” section of my book, “in graduate school, I had started to scope out stories about Jewish Holocaust survivors in the United States. I had wanted to offer my perspective on these extraordinary people who came with their shattered lives to this wonderful country and, somehow, emphasized living and the future despite the death and destruction they had experienced.” One such character was to be Frank Wolf, loosely based on the personality of my father-in-law. I put these notes away in a desk drawer thinking I would soon come back to them. It took 50 years, as life including raising two wonderful children happened. I taught university level English for three years before leaving teaching and entering the business world (mortgage also happened). During those decades I wrote “thought” pieces on various American and Jewish cultural issues that appeared in different local outlets.
After receiving my doctorate, I taught English courses in Western Pennsylvania at a Penn State University campus and at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. My wife Hedy was also an academic, and when she was offered a position at the University of Maryland teaching school psychology, we couldn’t turn down such an opportunity, so we moved. But at that time in the late 1970s, we were in the midst of hard economic times (stagflation) with few jobs opening in English. So I left academia to work (ala Wallace Stevens) in an insurance company as a project director (two children and a mortgage driven also). But I did enjoy my work and also did pro bono teaching of my beloved English grammar to customer service representatives whose enthusiasm and thirst for growth was wonderful. From time to time, I tried to write fiction, but I think the exigencies of work and home life did not allow me to create new worlds (and perhaps I still had more growing to do). So I wrote non-fiction opinion pieces which were much easier to construct. But when I retired, the opportunity to create opened to me, and I said, “It’s time.”
When I retired six years ago, my writings increased dramatically. But I wasn’t satisfied as regularly I would pass by that desk with the aging notes inside. Finally a few years ago, I opened the drawer, retrieved the notes, and felt I was ready to fulfill my younger days’ mission. I’m not sure having tended bar would have hastened the fictional output, but my own version of “bar tending,” living my life and growing up and becoming older made me more ready. So I started writing stories about Holocaust survivors in the United States, and when I published a short story with Frank Wolf as Holocaust survivor turned private detective, I wanted (and encouraged by readers) to keep writing about him.
Please join us next Monday when I ask Saul about his fiction. If you haven’t already discovered him, I’m sure you’ll want to add him to your “to be read” list!
by Bethany Maines
There comes a time in every author’s life when they just go mad and shout “EEET’S ALIVVVVVVVVVVE!” like a mad scientist. Usually that time is 12:01 am on the release day of their latest book.
Yesterday was that day for me. Maverick, the latest in my Paranormal Romance world of the Supernaturals launched itself out into the world. Each release day is a little different. Sometimes we do it up big and smash champagne across the bow and sometimes it’s more of a Bon Voyage as we wave from shore.
Maverick is more of wave from shore launch. The Three Colors Trilogy that set up the world were done in a “quick release” style with a book coming out every five weeks. And while that was fun, it was also tiring. Maverick is a stand-alone book in that same world, that for fans will answer some “but what happens next?” questions and for readers new to the world will be a fun introduction. And while I’ve scheduled a few things, I didn’t feel up to an entire launch sequence.
I enjoyed writing Maverick because although it is part of an existing world it isn’t part of a series. Series are great because the world of the books gets developed and fleshed out, but they do cause all kinds of chaos and headaches in the plotting. But with Maverick, I got all the fun of writing in a world where I knew all of the rules, but I didn’t have to worry about setting up the next book. And the romance ends with a happily ever after (of course) and we can safely the main characters to their happy ending with out any cliffhangers or worrying that it will all be upended next book.
So if you’re looking for a spicy dose of paranormal romance and adventure that won’t leave you hanging – check out Maverick. Or check out the Three Colors Trilogy for more shmexy shifters with their shirts off. bethanymaines.com/supernaturals/ I hope readers will enjoy them as much as I have!
MAVERICK: Maverick Lacasse—shifter wolf, bank robber, rebel—didn’t mean to take Deya Jasper with him on his way out of Littleton Texas, but fate had other plans. But as the two flee for California, vampires dog their every step, and both Deya and Maverick find themselves questioning if the unexpected bond they feel can withstand the dangers they face.
ADD MAVERICK ON GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60863243-maverick
BUY NOW: https://amzn.to/36CMNti
LEARN MORE: https://bethanymaines.com/supernaturals/
Bethany Maines the award-winning author of romantic action-adventure and fantasy novels that focus on women who know when to apply lipstick and when to apply a foot to someone’s hind-end. She has published several independent novels, two novels with Atria, and many short stories. When she’s not traveling to exotic lands, or kicking some serious butt with her black belt in karate, she can be found chasing her daughter or glued to the computer working on her next novel. You can also catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and BookBub.