How to spot common red flags in phishing emails – Written By Tim

You clicked the link in the email to reset your online banking password. But are you really sure that the bank security team sent that email? Too late. You just fell for a phishing email scam, and now your account data is compromised. 

However, most phishing emails contain glaring red flags. You just didn’t spot them in time—but you can learn how to. Sometimes it’s still the most obvious tricks that catch people out, and phishing emails are a common example.

What exactly is phishing?

Phishing is a type of social engineering designed to manipulate you into giving up sensitive personal information like your passwords, credit card, or bank details, or installing malicious software on your device. 

Phishing uses communication—usually in the form of emails or text messages—pretending to be from someone you trust, such as a company whose services you use. This is why you are willing to give your information to them.

Once an attacker has successfully duped you and has stolen your information or gained access to your device, they can log in to your accounts, change the password, and potentially access other linked accounts. 

Read more: Before your download: Is that app a scam?

According to an Avast survey of its users, 61% of Americans are at risk of falling victim to phishing scams. Phishing emails accounted for 59% of the cases where users admitted to falling for a phishing scam.

While it’s true that it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish a fake email from a legitimate one, most phishing emails still contain red flags that should make you suspicious—if you know what to look for.

So let’s take a look at an example of a phishing email and the red flags contained within.

Example of a phishing email scam with glaring red flags.

1. The email was unsolicited

As a rule, most companies won’t send you unsolicited emails. So ask yourself, why should you have received this email at all? Attackers expect you to open these emails and click the links without verifying their authenticity.

2. A shouty subject line

Attackers know they’re competing for your attention in a crowded inbox. So a common tactic is to use shouty subject lines—in this case: “Important! Your Password will expire in 1 day(s).” 

Such threats and a sense of urgency are designed to make you click suspicious links within the body of the email. This should put you on alert that something phishy might be going on. 

3. Slightly misspelled email address or domain

If you’re suspicious about an email’s origins, check the sender. Scammers often use an email address that looks very close to a legitimate one. Close, but no cigar: and that difference is vital. 

The sender name, “LegitBank Security Team,” sounds legit, right? But notice the two spelling errors in the email address: “securiity@legitbamk.com.” 

A top tip is to type the company’s name in a search engine to see what email domain it uses, or by looking up an email you’ve previously received from them. 

4. Unfamiliar or vague greeting

Organizations like your bank have personal details, including your name—so receiving an official-looking email with a vague greeting like “Dear LegitBank user” should put you on alert. If the tone of the rest of the email also sounds out of character, that’s another huge red flag.

5. Obvious spelling and grammar mistakes

Many phishing emails contain several spelling and grammar mistakes, which is uncommon from large, professional organizations like banks.

In this example, you can see the inconsistent capitalization of the subject line, the bad grammar in the email text (“Your account password is expire in 24 hours”), and even spelling mistakes in the link URL.

Don’t click suspicious links

If you’re suspicious about an email’s origins or intent, definitely don’t click any links within. 

You can even see that the link in this phishing email has a spelling mistake in the URL (LegitBank is spelled with two “i”s). If you click on the link, you’ll be taken to a fake site that may look identical to the original, where you will be prompted to enter your login details or other sensitive information like payment details. 

Sometimes, the fake site will even redirect you to the legitimate site, where you will log in again (this time for real). But it’s too late: Your logins are compromised, and the attacker can access your account. By the time you notice something amiss, they might have already changed the password and the email address for account recovery, locking you out.

Don’t click on suspicious attachments

Attackers need you to open malicious attachments, so will make them look as harmless as possible. The attachment on this phishing email appears harmless enough, instructions for updating your password—but if you’ve already spotted red flags elsewhere, think before you click.

Once opened, the harmless-looking ZIP file could spread malware onto your device (though a malicious PDF or DOC could be just as devastating), which may allow an attacker to log your keystrokes (capturing logins, passwords, email addresses, bank accounts) or install ransomware on your device, encrypting your documents to block access unless you pay a ransom. (Which is another good reason to back your data up regularly.) 

Keep an eye out for things that just look odd

Did you notice that the copyright notice at the bottom of the email is out of date? It says “2011” instead of “2021”. Big corporations are unlikely not to have updated such details in over 10 years, so even small details could be red flags.

At the end of the day, attackers who send phishing emails are relying on you to drop your guard and trust that everything is normal. So always be on alert for glaring red flags that mean something phishing may be going on. 

For more tips on cybersecurity awareness and the biggest news in tech privacy, sign up for the ExpressVPN blog newsletter.

Tim likes to keep an eye on the exciting developments in cryptocurrencies and data privacy when he’s not deep in a podcast, a TV show, or new albums.

(Source: https://www.expressvpn.com/blog/phishing-emails-red-flags/?utm_source=blog_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=blog_newsletter_20211014)


I thought, this was a warning that needs to be spread. There are still far too many people falling for pishing. I found that article on my VPN provider’s newsletter, which I get regularly. I’m using VPN for quite some time now and find it extremely useful. It offers me safety and protection. If you’d like to try it, you can do so for one month, or longer. Click here to check it out: https://www.expressvpn.com/what-is-vpn – Let me know if you’d like a link to subscribe, I’d be happy to assist you!

Writing Progress – Slowly Catching Up


I intensely wrote on a book outside of my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series; I have written about it on different occasions.

I was very enthusiastic about that book. The draft is completed… but, of course, when I write, I forget everything around me.

That means book 7 in ‘the Council of Twelve series is still waiting for me to complete the personal editing, book 8 was halfway typed into the computer, and book 9 is still waiting to be typed in.

Now, here I am, planning to do some catching up. And I started. (Sometimes I surprise myself).

In the meantime, Book #8 is typed into the computer and awaits the start of my personal editing. (Book 7 is still waiting for me to complete the editing, but it shouldn’t take much time anymore). And, I started typing in my new book.

Does that mean I’m slowly catching up? I’m not sure I am. I cannot be without writing, and I started to work on book #10 in the series. That doesn’t mean I will forget to type in. But I wrote so much, and I forgot that writing is the fun part. The real work starts after the first draft is completed.

I’m also behind my blog posts, which means I should consider writing a few of those and schedule them. It’s not easy to be a writer.

But at least, after everything got stuck and the drafts were piling up on my desk, I got the feeling that I was getting somewhere.

Keep your fingers crossed that I will keep on working on typing my drafts into the computer. It’s not the easiest or funniest part of my writing process.

I had someone telling me, why don’t you hire someone who is doing that for you? I’m telling you why:

  1. I was told my handwriting isn’t very easy to read
  2. This is only a first draft, which means, while typing it into the computer, I need to make adjustments and those are on me. Nobody can do that for me – and I don’t want anyone to try.
  3. I have an editor and a copyright lawyer, and a book cover designer… they all are a GREAT part of how my books turn out to be. But I still want to be a big part of my books and investing my time and efforts into my stories is part of the job description.

My books mean a lot to me, and the writing process they go through has turned out to be right for me. I doubt I want to change that.

What is your experience with your process? Have you changed anything lately? Let us know in the comments.

Bounty Hunter Also Accepted On ‘Indie California’

For the fourth time now I got exciting news! I was informed that Bounty Hunter, the fourth book in ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, too, now is available in “Indie California’! Read more about it below – This is so wonderful. Please, help me spread the word! Thank you!

See the message I got here below


Hi A. J. Alexander,

Congratulations, you have successfully moved into the library space!

Your book, Bounty Hunter, is now available in Indie California, a collection of books from local indie authors available exclusively on the BiblioBoard Library mobile and web platform. This collection is available to patrons of participating libraries all across your state/region. That’s right, your book is now available with just one click of a button to thousands of new readers in your state/region!

 

 

Your Book
http://library.biblioboard.com/content/1bb52116-94c9-4c39-825e-73c79a5d463d

Celebrating The End Of The First Draft Of My New Book

Picture courtesy of Google.com

In my blog post “How Not To Start A New Book” I announced that I was writing on a book outside my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series’.

I’ve been excited to tell that story ever since I started to write it. That’s one reason why I didn’t prepare as carefully as I usually do.

I needed help in the middle of writing to create the plot realistic since this time, my readers won’t face magical creatures, wings, and whatever makes my series unique.

The story faces reality, and so do my characters.

I’m not going into details at this time; after all, we are talking about me writing the first draft of the book.

Now, M.L. Davis from the ‘Uninspiredwriters.com’ blog published a post where she recommends celebrating the finalization of every book draft! And that’s what I’m doing right now.

I DID IT!

I ended the first draft of my new book last night. And today I’m celebrating. There are so many reasons…one of them is, celebrating hard work. Many people seem to imagine us typing for a few weeks, then magically, a new book shows up.

As I explained to a friend today: ‘The fun part is over, now the work begins.’ And I stick with that! Writing is the fun part; now we’re going to typing into the computer, a process that gives me the possibility to catch mistakes, plot holes, confusion, and a few other things, and then…. Oh, wait! I’m not going there yet! Today is a day of celebration!

Please raise the glass with me: “Here’s to the next steps in the process to turn this into a readable story!”

And please:

Stay curious!

How To Set Up A Smashword Widget On Your Blog

I was asked lately how to set up a Smashword Widget on your WordPress blog. It’s not very hard to do that. Basically, your computer does most of the work for you. Just let it happen.

Let’s start with creating the ‘Smashwords’ ‘button that you see here on the right side.

Go to Smashwords, open your account, your dashboard, and then click the book you would like to create the ‘button’ of. This example will be the first book in my ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series, ‘Soul Taker.’


The page opens, and on the right side, you will find ‘Create Widget’. Click it.

You will see the ‘button’ as it will look like. Below you can see the entire HTML code that you need to enter into the widget. On the left side, you can adjust the size, font, Background, Button color, Ribbon text, Ribbon Color (There is a possibility to remove the ribbon). Play around a bit. The HTML code will be automatically adjusted.)

As an extra possibility: You can make it easy: Play around as much as you want, you will see every change in the ‘button’ when you make the changes. Instead of copying the HTML code to paste it into the widget, you can also just take a screenshot from the ‘button.’


Now, let’s go over to our WordPress Dashboard and pick ‘Appearance’.


As soon as you chose Appearance, now, pick ‘Widgets.’


The Widgets on my blog ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest’ are on the Sidebar, that’s what I’m going to click:


Now, click the ‘+’ to add a new Widget. It will appear BELOW all other existing Widgets, you will have to scroll down.


Now, you can search for the widget you are looking for, in this case, ‘Custom HTML’ – OR, if you picked the ‘extra possibility,’ you can search for ‘image.’




You can now either paste the HTML code from the ‘Smashwords’ site or upload the screenshot you took from the Smashwords button.


Now you can enter a Widget title, caption, and, if you pasted the screenshot, you could hyperlink it to the Smashwords site, where your readers can buy the book.


9999


At the very end, if you have adjusted and set up your new Widget the way you want it, you can move it. I told you earlier, it will be at the very bottom of your already existing widgets. With the arrow, you can move it up or down.


Good Luck with your new Smashwords Widget. Have fun!

Warning Of ‘Award Profiteers’

The past few weeks, I got emails from ‘MainCrest Media,’ telling me that they have the greatest respect for my talent and summoning me to participate in their ‘Awards Program.’ They promise recognition and increase of sales. Their website is quite well designed, a professional invitation to step right into that well-created trap.

The moment I saw their submission fee of $99/per entry, reduced from $149, I got goosebumps, and I knew something didn’t seem right. I started my search about their practice and found several websites and articles warning from so-called ‘Award Profiteers.’

On the reedsyblog, I found a long article, warning of Author Scams and Publishing Companies to Avoid. In the middle of the page, you will find the following paragraph:

Writing Contests and Awards

Do you feel like a winner now?

Writing contests are a great way to reach an audience, solidify your writing credentials, and even make a little money in the form of prizes. There are, however, competitions that are little more than money-spinning enterprises. And you can usually sniff them out by the fact that their prizes are not really prizes.

Some contests will publish winning entries in a magazine or an anthology — which is great. But sometimes, ‘winning’ authors will be obliged to pay an ‘editing fee’ for that privilege — which is not great.

There are also some competitions in which the prize might be a trophy. The catch here is that the author will be expected to pay for the cost of the physical prize. This isn’t necessarily bad — unless you mind paying $80 for a slab of acrylic that dozens more have also ‘won’ that month.

In short, read the fine print. To find contests that have been vetted, you can look through this directory of the best writing competitions.


ALLi, the Alliance of Independent Authors, published a blog post, written by John Doppler: ALLI Watchdog, who rated and reviewed Author contests and awards on the following page: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/author-awards-contests-rated-reviewed/

According to John Doppler, the ‘watchdog’ criteria for contests and awards are the following:

Author Awards and Contests Rated and Reviewed: Guiding Principles

John Doppler

1. The event exists to recognize talent, not to enrich the organizers.
Avoid events that are driven by excessive entry fees, marketing services to entrants, or selling merchandise like stickers and certificates.

2. Receiving an award is a significant achievement.
An event that hands out awards like Halloween candy dilutes the value of those awards, rendering them meaningless. Beware of events that offer awards in dozens of categories. These are often schemes to maximize the number of winners in order to sell them stickers and other merchandise.

3. The judging process is transparent and clear.
Watch out for contests whose judging criteria and personnel are vague or undisclosed.

4. Prizes are appropriate and commensurate with the entry fees collected.
If a cash prize is offered, it should align with the size of the entry fee. “Exposure” is not an appropriate prize. Representation or publication are acceptable prizes, but only if offered by a reputable company without hidden fees.

5. Entrants are not required to forfeit key rights to their work.
Avoid contests with onerous terms, especially those which require the forfeiture of publishing rights without a termination clause. When in doubt, have an independent professional review the terms.


Another clear warning I found on one of my favorite blogs: Victoria Strauss’ Writer Beware blog. She published her article about ‘Award Profiteers’ in 2015 already but re-blogged it in 2019. MainCrest Media was not specifically mentioned. But she tells us clearly where to keep our eyes open:

– Solicitation. To maximize entries, profiteering awards and contests often solicit entries. An out-of-the-blue email or an ad on Facebook urging you to enter a contest or awards program should always be treated with caution.

– High entry fees. Profiteers charge $60, $75, $100, or even more. There may be “early-bird specials” and multiple-entry discounts to tempt authors with the illusion of a bargain. And that’s not counting the books you’ll have to send for award consideration–a considerable expense if the profiteer only accepts print.

– Dozens of scores of entry categories.To maximize income, profiteers create as many entry categories as possible and encourage multiple entries.

– Anonymous judging. Profiteers promise expert judging by people with standing in the writing and publishing field but don’t reveal the identities of these purported experts. In fact, the judging may be done by the profiteer’s staff, who may simply pick winners out of a hat. One of the things that lend credibility to a contest or award is the prestige of its judges…which is why you always want to know who they are and should always be suspicious if that information is not provided.

– Non-prize prizes. To avoid cutting into their profits, profiteers offer prizes that cost them little or nothing: press releases, media announcements, database and website listings, features on satellite websites, or in self-owned publications. Some offer little more than the supposed honor of winning the award.

– Opportunities to spend more money. Profiteers’ profits don’t just come from entry fees. They also hawk stickers, certificates, critiques, and more.

You will find her entire blog post here: AWARDS PROFITEERS: HOW WRITERS CAN RECOGNIZE THEM AND WHY THEY SHOULD AVOID THEM


I think, these are fair warnings and clearly tell us where to keep our eyes open.

Happy Writing!

Why Writers Are Readers (Or Should Be!)

Picture courtesy of Google.com

I once asked my dad why he taught me how to read when I was only a bit older than 3 1/2 years. His answer was: “Because you wanted me to.” I laughed and told him: “I don’t remember I was able to talk back then, how would you know? And he replied:” When I was reading, you often climbed on my lap and wanted to see what held my attention. And I understood you well enough.”

By the time I was four years old, I could read fluently (which threw my kindergarten teacher entirely off balance – but that’s a story for another time).

My father helped me understand my early fascination with the written word. I was never a great artist in drawing and painting, but I found out I could show a scene – any scene, simply by using words.

Of course, being four years old, I wasn’t that much into writing yet. But I read whatever I could get a hold of, even the daily newspaper. With six, I had left the picture books far behind me. When I was five, I was enrolled in school with special permission because I was simply bored in kindergarten. But even in my first school years, when the other kids just discovered the alphabet, I had a good time looking out the window until my teacher realized it would be a good idea to let me read to avoid getting bored.

And one day, our first essay was due while the other kids howled; I found myself ecstatic! I had discovered that I could write stories, not only read them, and the future writer was on her way.

I never lost my fascination with the written word, neither one of other writers nor mine. I keep reading as often as I can, the one or other book I read once a year.

Until this day, I’m convinced all the reading during my childhood and teenage years have formed me in many ways. And that’s why I think writers should never stop reading for many reasons. I’m trying to list here only a few of them.

Reading helps us with vokabular, wpeling and gramer vocabulary, spelling and grammar.

I firmly believe, the more often and intensely we read, the more we pick up on the spelling and grammar, and we extend our vocabulary. Every writer has a unique style of painting a story with words, and subconsciously we memorize their use of words.

Reading helps us with our health

It is clinically proven that reading helps with:

  • Stress relief
  • Improving memory
  • Reduction of possibility to get Alzheimer’s
  • Entertainment
  • Relaxation
  • Increased empathy
  • Reduces depression

The written word is our world

We love stories. We love the written word, we love other worlds, and we enjoy improving our imagination by diving into the unknown… we can experience adventures without even leaving our living room and with a cup of hot tea next to us. That’s where we belong.

To see samples of work

Oh, I know, that point needs some explanation. Of course, when we have a book in front of us, we look at a work sample from another writer. (Known or unknown doesn’t matter at all). But we can find out what we can ‘tolerate,’ what we are unable to swallow, what we like, what we don’t, what we enjoy, and what we love and adore.

Do we judge? Not necessarily. We are, in many cases, just finding out what works for us. Let me give you a brief example. I’m generally not a huge fan of Sci-Fi. Many purely technical explanations in space ships drive me up the walls. My technical understanding is limited, and I want to read how the story progresses. I don’t give a hoot with how many ‘Mach’s that space ship speeds through the universe and what the specially developed exhaust muffler does and does not do for the reusable energy in the ship… That doesn’t mean the book is terrible; it just means I don’t need those technical manuals included in the story.

Also, time-traveling can have its traps. I read too many stories where the accepted paradoxes made it hard to continue reading through the end. (That’s also a reason why I’m not a ‘Back to the Future’ worshipper). And I know, you can crucify me now; it’s a classic – I love Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox! I think they’re both great. But the paradoxes permitted in the script are not ‘my thing.’ Millions of people love those movies, and they’re most likely pretty good. They’re just not for me.

In reading stories, we can find out what works for us and what doesn’t. It might help us go through our story without stepping into those traps.

Reading stimulates our imagination

The more we read, the more our fantasy and imagination are tickled. We can even extend our ability to imagine things by consciously concentrating on doing so. When you read a thrilling scene, even a fight, try to imagine how that scenery would look ‘as a movie’… concentrate not only on the two faceless characters… remember how they were described to you at the beginning of the book. Please give them a face, dress them in their respective clothing, picture their weapons, the smell, the heavy breathing, the sweat, maybe the blood, the scenery around them! Focus on the particular event… and try to do that whenever you can – that is ‘living’ the book you read. If you’re practicing that often enough, it suddenly stays with you, automatically, without any further effort.

I’m quoting George R. R. Martin here, the writer who gave Jojen Reed his voice:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”

(P. S. George Raymond Richard Martin is an American novelist and short-story writer, screenwriter, and television producer. He is the author of the series of epic fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire, which was adapted into the Emmy Award-winning HBO series Game of Thrones.)

Sword Fight - TV Tropes

Permit yourself to be influenced

Reading is a good thing for writers. I heard a few writers say they don’t read because they want to focus solely on their own work. In my opinion, that kind of thinking is wrong. We can learn so much about structure, character- and plot building, writing techniques when we read. Why close up to that influence? It can help us!

Of course, by reading other authors’ work, we should try to understand what we can take and what is a good influence on our own writing. We’re not off to copy another writer’s work!

But none of us is going to discover the ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’ with our writing. (Oh well, maybe J. K. Rowling did) … but we can accept that our work can be positively influenced by what we read. A good example is a good example, is a good example.

Read other writer’s work and make them read yours

It’s easy to expect readers to stumble upon your books. But maybe that doesn’t happen. Other writers can help you with your work! They can advise you with difficulties, help you by offering to be your beta readers; they can recommend your books to their readership. They can help, read, review, support, encourage, guide, and so much more!

But in return: don’t expect anything that you aren’t willing to give back! It’s up to you to help others as well. And you sure will find hidden treasures (and not so hidden ones too!). Some authors will give their books for free if you help them. Please do the same for them! You’ll be surprised about the support you get.

And that’s why I recommend writers read as often and as many books as possible!

Of course, one or the other will refuse.

  • I’m too busy
  • I cannot afford books right now
  • I never have even one minute to relax

There are a million other excuses. Take the time to read, take the time to relax. If not, you’re going to end with a heart attack, and you won’t be able to write another word. You can get plenty of books for free from other authors when you take the time to write a review or Beta read (see above).

Read – and you’ll be rewarded in so many ways!

Unique Advice To Aspiring Writers

Picture courtesy of Goodreads.com

.

When I discovered this quote, I was laughing out loudly. Of course, the name ‘Dorothy Parker’ was anchored somewhere in the back of my head. I remember I got different information about her. Some say she’s been known more for her impertinence than her writing. Others admire her for her wit, guts, strength and personality, and sense of style, writing, and adventure. I belong to the second group.

As a quick side note, The Elements of Style is a book written by William Strunk jr. and E. B. White and is described as THE classic style manual. I read the book several times and still consult it occasionally. I love the tone it’s written in, and it has helped me many times. I’m convinced it had helped many other writers too.

(Can be ordered @Amazon)


There are many recommendations for new writers.

  • No matter how hard it will be, never give up
  • Start writing; a book doesn’t write itself.
  • If you don’t start, you won’t get it done
  • The writing itself is only a tiny part of what being a writer means

Of course, there are so many more examples, but those are the ones I heard most, with minor variations, of course.

Encouraging new writers is a good thing. Being honest about the writing is another one. Writing in Dorothy Parker’s time was quite different from now, with our possibility of self-publishing. One can say it’s far easier today to see your own story published. In many ways, that’s true. But also, the entire process of self-publishing is often very much underestimated!

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Formatting
  • Copyright
  • Book Cover
  • Release
  • Trailer
  • Marketing

Every single step of the way is a process in itself. Self-publishing does not mean you can sit down, write whatever you feel like, set it online, and become famous and wealthy. Don’t forget. There are millions of writers with the same idea – and enormous talent!

Self-publishing means you will have to deliver a nothing-less-than-impeccable final product! And part of that ‘writing process’ is quite costly. A self-drawn cover and Momma’s retired English Teacher’s editing won’t be sufficient. Formatting, copyright, cover, editing, trailer, marketing, it all needs funds. Throwing your book out there and expecting the money flowing into the bank account by the thousands is a utopia.

Even nowadays, self-published authors are still the step-children of the craft. The traditionally published authors with the agents are the ‘real’ authors. An author needs a thick skin and guts to deliver name and work out there.

Self-doubt and thoughts of giving up are a daily strain. Depression is widespread among writers, and only other writers can often understand what we are going through. Networking and supporting each other are essential and cannot start early enough in the process.

We want to read our fellow author’s work. We want to give them the famous pat on the back and want to tell them: “Well done!” We want to help and encourage, and many of us are fellow writers and lifelong friends! But we also need to face reality. We need to believe in ourselves. But also need to accept if the one or other story doesn’t work, isn’t as intriguing as we thought, or could be better if we’d take advice and the one or other suggestion.

That means, of course, the four initial recommendations above are still very accurate! And I’m convinced many more writers than just little old me are going to hear those. But it also means, as sassy as Dorothy Parker’s statement is, the one or other experienced writer can very much relate.


Dorothy Parker (née Rothschild; August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American poet, writer, critic, and satirist based in New York; she was best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th-century urban foibles.

From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary works published in such magazines as The New Yorker and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Following the breakup of the circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were curtailed when her involvement in left-wing politics resulted in her being placed on the Hollywood blacklist.

One of her most famous screens was the one for the 1937 film ‘A Star Is Born’, which she wrote in cooperation with director William A. Wellman, Robert Carson and Alan Campbell, her husband. As we all know, the film has been remade three times: in 1954 (directed by George Cukor and starring Judy Garland and James Mason), in 1976 (directed by Frank Pierson and starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson) and in 2018 (starring Bradley Cooper, who also directed, and Lady Gaga).

Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a “wisecracker.” Nevertheless, both her literary output and reputation for sharp wit have endured. Some of her works have been set to music; adaptations notably include the operatic song cycle Hate Songs by composer Marcus Paus.

Parker died on June 7, 1967, the age of 73 of a heart attack, presumably caused by the alcohol addiction she suffered from for over a decade.

(Source: Wikipedia)


However, I don’t want to end this blog post on such a ‘severe’ and almost ‘sad’ note. Leave here with a big smile on your face, please! Let Dorothy Parker make you laugh before you leave:


Martini Quotes. QuotesGram


Soul Taker Secrets – An Angelic Dish

Katie and her consort-sisters grew. They developed as a group, as a family, as strong independent powerful women.

While in the beginning, the ‘Council of Twelve’ mainly was that, a ‘council,’ the members of ‘the brotherhood’ how they called it, merely met when they had a problem to solve, work out together, regroup the troops, or some other business challenge coming up. Rarely did they meet just for fun. Of course, when you’re a brotherhood of a dozen enormously strong creatures working together, you start knowing each other. However, they barely met anywhere else than in the Great Hall, the arena, or a battlefield.

Once Katie and Raphael fell in love, the entire Council met for dinner once a month in their house. Katie was known as one of the most incapable chefs of all times, but not even one council member had the heart (or the guts) to tell her that. She knew she wasn’t that good a cook and got herself help and support. But she constantly learned. Not even Sundance could help much. Sundance was a warrior and usually ate either in the warrior common dining hall or cooked for herself. Her kitchen knowledge was limited to mostly oatmeal, coffee, or cereal.

With Zepheira and Simin, two more consorts showed up, and their knowledge and willingness to learn made the monthly meetings much more enjoyable.

The longer the consorts knew each other, the closer their connection was. They started to open up to all council members. Even though they seemed intimidating at first, the consorts included them in their circles, and the ‘brotherhood’ slowly turned into a family—a family who deeply cared for each other. The Great Hall was not only for the Council Meetings anymore, but the consorts often gathered there with the council members to support a crisis.

In an earlier blog post, we learned about the favorite ‘Council of Twelve’ dessert.

Today we find out that the Great Hall does have a small kitchen attached. In case of a crisis, it was much easier to whip something up right there than cooking in one of the houses and carrying the food for sixteen people over.

They stocked the kitchen with long-lasting nutrition, such as cereal, the ingredients for oatmeal, coffee, tea, dried ice tea concentrate, rice, dried mushrooms, raisins, nuts,  cinnamon, pasta, and vegetable and fruit cans.

Our consorts found out pretty quickly that it was easy to ‘whip up’ some oatmeal and that all council members loved it. Occasionally, if there was plenty of time, one of the consorts decided to get some fresh fruit to pimp it up a bit.

Let’s see how Katie’s basic oatmeal recipe looks like.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (such as Quaker Oats Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Desired toppings (such as sliced almonds, peanut butter, or fresh fruit)

How to Make It

Step 1

Combine oats, milk, water, salt, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.

Step 2

Simmer uncovered for 3 to 5 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Step 3

Divide equally between two bowls. Drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon honey. Add additional desired toppings and serve.

Chef’s Notes

For dairy-free oatmeal, substitute your favorite nut milk. 

(Source: The Only Basic Oatmeal Recipe You’ll Ever Need | Cooking Light)

How To Get Glossophobia Under Control

What is Glossophobia? Glossophobia is the medical term for fear of public speaking. It affects as many as four out of 10 Americans.

Why do I insist on posting about that? Well, it’s simple. I belong to the ones too. I tried to get better but found all I could do was trying to get used to it. No matter what I do, a presentation, public speaking, playing piano on stage, the fear was all the same…


                              If you have stage fright, it never goes away. But then I wonder: is the key to that magical performance because of the fear? ~Stevie Nicks~

                             I love readings and my readers, but the din of voices of the audience gives me stage fright and the din         of voices inside whisper that I am a fraud and that the jig is up. Surely someone will rise from the audience and say out loud that not only am I not funny and helpful, but I’m annoying and a phony. ~Anne Lamott~

I get stage fright and gremlins in my head saying: ‘You’re going to forget your lines.’ ~Alan Rickman ~

Andrea Bocelli, Scarlett Johansson, Jeanne Moreau, they all have it. We are not alone in this. But then, Jean-Benoit Dunckel said: “It’s good to get stage fright. It is necessary to be scared; otherwise, you have too much confidence in yourself, and you start to get pretentious and do shitty things. It’s good not to be so confident in yourself.”


What will help us then? Can it be treated? Is there a chance for us to go through that? We’re talking about publicly speaking about our books, readings, interviews, Q & A’s. According to ‘Healthline’.com, Glossophobia is a social anxiety disorder, not an illness. It’s fear of social connection, fear of failure, fear of humiliation or insult.

Common symptoms are:

  • rapid heartbeat
  • trembling
  • sweating
  • nausea or vomiting
  • shortness of breath or hyperventilating
  • dizziness
  • muscle tension
  • urge to get away

How can Glossophobia be treated?

The one or other musician has been known to reportedly treat it with a well-measured dose of weed or other drugs. Not recommendable, in many medical opinions. But there are other medications, like antidepressants, beta-blockers, that treat high blood pressure, for example. If the Glossophobia is too strong and affects someone’s daily life, doctors can prescribe benzodiazepines, such as Xanax.

In many cases, psychotherapy might help. We are talking about cognitive behavioral therapy. A psychotherapist will help you ‘switch’ your thinking for you to overcome your Glossophobia, or at least dampen it to ‘tolerable‘.


There are, however, a few things that each ‘patient’ can do to help overcome that horrible feeling of fear. On ‘Speakerhub’ Martha Payne presented us with seven strategies to help us overcome our fears. (I used her strategies and added some tips and hints for us authors)

  1.     Prepare thoroughly

As mentioned, part of the fear might come from the horror of failure. ‘What if I’m not prepared properly? What if I don’t know the answers to some of the questions? What if…? The possibilities are endless.

A. Prepare

Know your topic, your subjects, and when you talk about your book, know your characters, know the plot, know your work process. You wrote them! Be confident!

B. Avoid memorizing

Don’t memorize. You don’t need to know your presentation by heart, and you don’t need to know your book by heart! Speak freely. If the presentation is done correctly, the cues on the presentation will help you through. Of course, you can print it out and use the ‘notes section’ to help you add things. But don’t write it word by word and read it to the audience. You will lose their attention.

  1.     Don’t rush 

Rushing tells your audience that you don’t care if they follow you or not and that you’re most likely on your way to something better, or you want to get out of there as fast as possible. It changes your body language and breathing pattern, and your audience is starting to focus on you and will judge you, not necessarily in a good way.

  1.     Practice voice control

There are many opportunities for speech therapy for adults that you can leverage if you wish to practice voice control. 

At the end of the practice, you will have learned how to breathe through the diaphragm as opposed to the chest. 

Diaphragmatic breathing is an invaluable technique for any public performer, including singers, pastors, and public speakers. There are several techniques for how to exercise diaphragmatic breathing. This one  is called the rib-stretch technique:

  1. Stand up and arch your back
  2. Breathe out as heavily as possible
  3. Start inhaling slowly and gradually, taking as much air as possible
  4. Hold your breath for about 10 seconds
  5. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. You can do this normally or with pursed lips

(This section was copied from the source)

  1.     Engage the audience

Create an interactive presentation and include your audience. A few rare smiles are helpful in that case. It helps to keep the audience intrigued and focused on the topic.

Interaction. Ask your audience questions and let them discuss something among themselves, which helps you collect yourself and gives you a short break.

  1. Add questions at the beginning of the presentation
  2. Ask for their opinion
  3. Use visuals or props (short videos)

   5.     Work on your body language

Your body language tells your audience a lot about you, most likely more than what you say. Don’t let your anxiety show on your face or body.

Avoid stiffness of the back, standing somewhere by the side of the ‘stage’ and whispering what you say. Be aware of your gestures, the movements of your hands and arms. And try to avoid pacing in front of your audience (and your presentation).

  1.      Face your fears

If you try to hide how scared you are, they will discover it even faster. Concentrate on the moment and avoid thinking about what will be after the presentation.

Under no circumstances remind yourself that you shouldn’t be on that stage because you deserve it through your hard work!

Avoid checking on your audience if someone notices your fear. Focus on what you have to do!

  1.     Stage presence is key

Be enthusiastic and energetic. 

Let everyone in the auditorium feel your presence. 

Smile freely without forcing it. 

Flow naturally and show everyone that you enjoy being there.

Delivering a speech involves much more than simply learning the words and saying them to an audience. Engaging speakers use their stage presence to draw their audience into their message and keep their attention throughout the talk.

Whether onscreen, onstage or in a workshop, stage presence means you’ve considered your space and where you fit in it and how this affects how the audience sees you.

Excellent stage presence includes;

  • aligning your body posture with the tone, you are talking about, 
  • adopting powerful body language, 
  • using the space effectively, 
  • projecting your voice appropriately. 

(This section was copied from the source)


And don’t forget you’re not alone! You’ll get them!

(Screenshot from a ‘Google.com’ image)