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!

Relationship Advice By ‘LawCrossing’

Sometimes I surf through the internet, a little here, and back, a little there and back… and lately I was searching for an answer for my new book and found LawCrossing, ‘America’s Top Legal Job Site’. An interesting article there caught my eye: What You Should Know Before Getting Into A Relationship With A Lawyer.

I will show the entire article here because I’m not sure everyone can read it on it’s original pate. The link will be here on top and also on the bottom.

But what interests me most: Who can confirm if that’s true? Let’s say I’m curious for personal reasons. Let me know in the comments.


What You Should Know Before Getting Into A Relationship With A Lawyer

  • Attorneys are aggressive and argumentative.
  • They are also very busy and difficult to keep plans with.
  • So knowing this, how can you still be attracted to an attorney?

If you don’t know so by now, you should realize attorneys are a different breed of human. No, they’re not zombies, at least not some of them. Nor are they some throwback pre-human, like for instance, the Neanderthal, though some may question even that.

Nonetheless, attorneys are different. They think differently and at times tend to behave differently. Attorneys are deductive, tend toward the darker sides of issues, and if an attorney is good at…well…being an attorney, they are more than likely doggedly tenacious toward their knowledge and beliefs.

But let us not forget that with all the toughness that calluses beneath their Brooks Brothers’ suit and tie, there still stands a human. The question, however, remains; are they the correct type of person for a long-term relationship?

The fortunate aspect of lawyers is that their personalities are about as apparent as a muzzle on a dog’s face. This means you will get to know rather quickly if any lawyer is worth investing your time, and most importantly, your emotions into.

In fact, there have been people who have learned within a single day if they are or are not lawyer material.

“These (certain) characteristics make great litigators especially, and great lawyers as a profession. But they counter to what works in emotional intimacy and even in good parenting skills.”

The above are words from psychologist Fiona Travis, author of “Should I Marry a Lawyer: A Couple’s Guide to Balancing Work, Love and Ambition,” which can resonate strongly with those who are in relationships with an attorney.

And while there’s quite a bit of distance between being in a relationship with an attorney and marrying that attorney, there is some validity to Travis’ comment. Lawyers do not necessarily make for good mates, while others have experienced the polar opposite.

With that established, instead of arranging the pros and cons of getting involved with a lawyer into a typical (albeit overused) list, this article instead puts a relationship with an attorney into real-world context where a person and their attorney “friend” spend a Sunday together.

So hold on tight as we slide down the legal rabbit hole in pursuit of, or at least to better understand, our prospective lawyer boyfriends and girlfriends.

  • Sunday brunch can be a bit trying.

Lawyers are direct. When they say they want their eggs scrambled soft, no two ways about it, they better be scrambled soft. This is one aspect of lawyers every prospective mate should know about. Attorneys are demanding. Life, life’s circumstances, and its various scenarios, have to be their way, or it is the highway for any person or issue that stands in a successful, yet demanding attorney’s pathway.

Lawyers, by their very nature, are extremely detail oriented. Their work has to be meticulously completed with every detail accurately showcased and put perfectly in line. Of course, these work traits can spill over into a lawyer’s personal life, where such a meticulous and demanding attitude can have a strong effect on anyone who is close to this lawyer.

  • Attorneys are very Type A

So brunch is over, and one of your Sunday plans is to check out this month’s swap meet at the nearby Rose Bowl. And yet, riding in your lawyer friend’s gleaming high-five figure German sedan quickly becomes a needling, if not annoying scenario in which you can crack the passenger’s side window only so low, adjust the seat only so far back, and turn up the stereo only so high when you hear a song that you like.

This can explain the attorneys much talked about and very little revered (except in a law firm) Type-A personality. For an attorney, everything has to be planned out, and when it’s not, such as you two getting a bit lost on the way to the swap meet, the conflict of trying to get back on track can mount with anger, disappointment or bewilderment.

  • Lawyers Don’t Think or Analyze Issues Like the Rest of Us

Lawyers are objective thinkers. Essentially, the black does not mix with the white, leaving very little room for the subjective gray. So, while at the swap meet, where you stumble across a very nice coffee table, your lawyer friend may not see the potential you do for how the coffee table can be utilized. Aside from using it as a table and nothing more, your attorney friend can’t imagine the numerous uses you plan for the coffee table as, for example, an end table or a surface on which you could put plants or cherished photos of loved ones.

What the attorney sees is an old, half-beaten, nicked-up table that can’t be worth the money the seller wants for it. If the table were new, then yes, the price might be worth it. Or if the table had an incredible pedigree, then sure, the price makes reasonable sense. But for the attorney, the cost is not rooted in emotion, desire, or even lust. The table’s wherewithal comes from objective reasoning that has been instilled in him or her since law school. In short, they know no other way of thinking other than with pure and steadfast objectivity.

  • Conceited to the Max

Law school and the practice of law within a Big Law firm can leave an attorney confrontational and jaded, both of which are masked over with a strong sense of confidence. While it’s nice to have a significant other who is confident, that confidence can seep into everyday life, putting your relationship with your lawyer friend at risk.

Case in point: You two are still at the swap meet, and though you missed out on the coffee table, you do see an armoire you like. Your lawyer friend recognizes that you like it, yet they insert themselves between you and the seller to haggle and negotiate to the point that the seller is exhausted and simply gives up.

The problem is, just because the seller gives up doesn’t mean you get the armoire at a reduced price. It only means you are now associated with a person who thinks highly of him or herself for having won another argument while the armoire salesperson considers your attorney friend as just another holier-than-thou a-hole who probably wasn’t going to let you buy the armoire in the first place.

  • Lawyers are always on call

Your attorney friend’s cell phone rings, and for reasons you’ve experienced in the past, you understand a phone call at this hour on a Sunday means your Sunday may effectively be over – at least your Sunday with your attorney friend.

While on the phone, he or she nods. They ask follow up questions. They say, “Right away – on both accounts.”

“Both accounts?” you later ask.

Your attorney friend answers that there’s an afternoon party they now need to attend, then afterward, they have to go into the office for a post-party meeting.

This shows you another aspect of what life can be like when dating a lawyer. Attorneys are always on call. Yes, they are given assignments throughout a typical weekday morning to the early evening schedule. However, attorneys are also assigned tasks late at night, early in the morning, and even during dinnertime. Now, when it was promised both of you would have a nice Sunday together, it’s all dashed since your lawyer friend now has to get ready for a sudden Sunday afternoon cocktail party, and afterward, what will probably be a near all-night stint at their firm.

Sure, it may seem unfair, but again, this is the profession of law; a profession which knows no time off. And as your lawyer friend wants to make partner someday, bring in tons of business which for him or her means tons of personal revenue, they can’t afford to pass up work, a social obligation or any other duty that goes with being a lawyer. As for you, these are the breaks, negative as they are that you have to be aware of while in a relationship with a lawyer.

  • Dating a lawyer can legally empower you while distancing you from others.

If you’ve ever wanted to read your cable contract with more clarity, understand the warranty buried deep inside the paperwork given to you by a local car mechanic, or realize your rental agreement isn’t as watertight as it should be, then dating a lawyer can have its advantages.

Where the disadvantages lie are with the preconceived notion of what an attorney is – some of it being true of course. Your family friends may, in fact, not like that you’re dating a lawyer. They may think of attorneys as pushy and arrogant, regardless of the money they make now or in the future.

Then there are other family friends who might applaud you for your lawyer friend, simply based again upon the money your friend makes now and may make in the future.

  • Student debt, regardless of an associate’s salary.

Law school is as fleetingly expensive as buying a pricey sports car. In other words, for some, the return for the money spent may take a while before any value comes to fruition. All that’s directly apparent about a legal education is that it is very expensive, and will take a long time to pay off.

While an associate’s fee isn’t too bad these days as it lies comfortably in the world of six figures, paying that fee off can be a burr in both your saddle as well as your lawyer-friend’s saddle.

This is what you might forget as you imagine life outside of an apartment dwelling and inside a cute little starter home you pulled to a stop next to at a traffic signal – a little house that eventually your attorney-beau or lass shakes their head against.

“Remember, I have law school to still pay off,” he or she says, dashing the notion of cozy fireplaces or warm evening sit-downs on the back porch overlooking the pool and yard.

Well, at least undergraduate student debt wasn’t brought up, although who’s to say that isn’t part of the money-owed equation for you two as well.

  • You’re dead in the water as far as arguments go.

Argue about anything. Argue about how today – Sunday – hasn’t gone along as planned, and if your attorney-friend decides to argue back, good luck defending yourself.

Just in the way an attack dog is designed to sink its incisors inside anyone it’s told to attack, it is the same case with an attorney and his or her instinct to argue. If you choose to argue with an attorney, you’re in for a rude awakening of what it’s like to word volley with a pro that was trained to do this mercilessly.

In short, be prepared to lose.

  • You’re going to be lonelier than hell.

Those social parties like the one that for the most part, put a damper on your Sunday, those late nights at work, the continual need to argue, out-negotiate, crush an opponent during litigation, that desire to win – no matter what, can amount to a lot of lonely days and nights on your part.

While nearly all nine observations above suggest a rather gloomy, argumentative and stressful existence, all of which are the cons of being in a relationship with an attorney, there are some pros that should be considered. For instance, some of those pros are:

  • Accompanying your attorney friend to business parties.

By now you probably know that your lawyer friend is obligated to attend social gatherings where contacts can be made for future business opportunities. Well, as boring as that may sound, these parties can in fact be fun, in which there’s a strong possibility you will meet interesting and compelling people.

  • Free negotiations on your behalf.

If there is one way a person will nearly always offend an attorney, it is by engaging in what the attorney presumes are unfair business practices. Whether purchasing a piece of furniture at the now-forgotten swap meet, contesting a perceived imbalance to a rent increase, or any other scenario that appears biased, it’s good to have an attorney in your corner, better yet if that attorney is a boy or girlfriend.

  • Attorneys are not boring.

It would be a mistake to think that a person who spends his or her day reading, writing and arguing will be an abject bore to a significant other. On the contrary, legal cases of all types can be compelling, lyrical, and even poetic.

Sure, your attorney-friend may relay a case in a deductive, fact-by-fact manner, yet remember, by nature of their ability to interpret the law and legal issues, attorneys can be very creative as well as intriguing while they relay points, findings and incongruences of a legal case.

Whatever negative characteristics people note as part and parcel to an attorney, the flipside is attorneys can tell some damn good and forceful stories, particularly about their cases.

  • An attorney’s success can be infectious.

Successful attorneys are built to win. While that building process begins in law school, then further intensifies once an attorney begins working at a large, prestigious law firm, much of what makes up a successful attorney is pure raw personality and survival instinct.

A definite positive of being involved with an attorney is that their hunger for success, not to mention their confidence, can rub off on you and potentially add to your own confidence and desire to win throughout aspects of your own life.

  • Attorneys are heroes.

While generalizations of lawyers as money-grubbing, selfish a-holes can have some validity toward some attorneys, “heroic” has as much validity, if not more for the majority of attorneys.

Believe it or not, most attorneys want to be helpful. If they perceive an injustice of any type has or is occurring, many attorneys will spring into action. In some cases, if an attorney deeply believes in an angle toward a certain legal issue, that attorney may forego charging the client altogether, opting instead to work the case pro bono.

As difficult as it may seem given the broken plans, the late nights at work, the ‘til death do us part dedication to their job and overall aggression of their personality, to imagine your attorney friend as having compassion and concern for a person’s case, can be utterly heartwarming.

This reveals to you as well as to your family and friends, that while attorneys probably do have a tougher exterior shell than our own, they are still humans with human instincts.

Attorneys are heroes, not heels. The sooner this is known to the public at large, the sooner attorneys will be accepted for doing good by people, as opposed to being negative and selfish.


In Conclusion


To be honest, there is a risk when getting involved with anyone. The question is, do the benefits outweigh the risks? The same must be asked with attorneys: in short, are the long lonely nights worth the deep, albeit sometimes argumentative conversations over dinner (or Sunday brunch)?

Are the long hours, continual evening and weekend interruptions, and the overall hunger to make partner a bumpy journey that you can withstand as well as your lawyer friend?

If yes, then you may have yourself a keeper.

Just remember, every profession is hard and can put a strain on not just a Sunday spent with your legally assiduous boy or girlfriend, it can significantly affect the relationship you share with them. If a profession is worth vigorous pursuit, then it must be a good profession that is worthy of a significant other’s support and understanding.

Given your relationship is strong, with both sides applying as much effort into the relationship as they can, the relationship itself will have the wherewithal to outlast any type of law practice.

Now that is commitment.

(Source: https://www.lawcrossing.com/article/900049095/What-You-Should-Know-Before-Getting-into-a-Relationship-with-a-Lawyer/ )

The Occasional Bad Day – And Taking It With Humor


I knew today wouldn’t be my best day ever. I had to face a few quite hard facts. I was behind everything, but in particular, I was delayed on a few things I had to do – and should have done quite a while ago.

After waking up with a hammering headache, the prospect of getting something done that I had secretly postponed day-by-day-by-week wasn’t compelling. However, I knew it was time to get it done and over with. I was still within ‘the deadline’, but I was definitely on the ‘late’ side, which I don’t like. But so far, everything else has seemed to be more intriguing than sitting down and getting that stuff done.

But a deadline is a deadline is a deadline. And yes, Douglas Adams has something to say about deadlines:

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” ~Douglas Adams

I knew I couldn’t wait until that deadline flew by and moved over to my office. On the way, I stumbled over Charlet, my black tabby cat, who decided to cross my path just as I surrounded the corner from the living room to the office.

Thank God I could catch myself and didn’t fall, but in my haste to see myself, I hit two fingers on my desk, and one of my fingernails folded over – backward. Now, if you have nails as hard as mine, that hurts! I howled like a hungry wolf on a full moon. But that was no reason to delay. However, it was a reason to go back to the kitchen, get me a glass of buttermilk and wait until the pain had lessened a bit. Unfortunately, from yesterday to today, the buttermilk in question has gone sour.

Well, I got myself apple juice and shuffled back to the office.

Then I sat down and worked intensely for five hours to get my task done. That worked fine… until I found out that this wasn’t the only task I had. I promised to record something and send it out – which I did too. Two jobs are done. And I had to write a blog post for tomorrow, which I am doing right now, three tasks done.

I had to go to the bathroom in between, which I didn’t bother to slip into my house shoes, and stepped with my bare feet into a cat hairball… what a mess!

When I returned, I found out I had not finished the September Newsletter yet, which means, instead of getting ready for bed, I’ll get ready to get that done as well.

After all, it wasn’t a perfect day for me today. When I surfed through some quotes for this post, I found that quote from English author Douglas Adams and laughed loudly.

I know precisely, my day could have been much worse! There are people with horrible problems! (Even though I do have a few things that cause me stress and anxiety…)  But this quote made me laugh, and only the laughter made me feel better!

And I remember that very often, laughter can help. Look for something to giggle, for something to laugh about, look for a movie, a quote, a memory, or a couple of kitties, that tickly your humor center – and you will survive!

And with that, I’ll let you read a few more giggles from Douglas Adams. Giggle – and feel good about it!


Douglas Noel Adams was born on the 11th of March 1952 in Cambridge. He was an English writer and dramatist. Adams went to Brentwood School in Essex from 1959 to 1970. Until then his interest lied more towards Science rather than Arts. It was not until the age of ten when after achieving a full score in an essay, his teacher Frank Halford, encouraged him to follow a career in writing. While Adams was studying in Cambridge he hitchhiked from Europe to Istanbul, working various jobs to generate funds for it. After he left school in 1970 to follow his career as a writer, Adams was certain that success was eminent. However, the truth was far from this. After being discovered by Graham Chapman and John Lloyd he also made brief experiences in the series ‘Monty Pythons Flying Circus’. But Adams writings were not aligned with the style of radio or television of that time which proved to be a great hindrance in his success.

To make a living Adams tried several jobs including hospital porter, barn builder, bodyguard and chicken shed cleaner. Nevertheless Adams continued his efforts, though few of his works were accepted. In 1976, however, his career escalated a little when he wrote and performed ‘Unpleasantness at Brodie’s Close’ in a festival. But by the end of the year, he was in strife again. This left Adams with great depression and low self esteem. Slowly he learned to cope with his situation and decided to keep working hard for success.

His early works include ‘The Burkiss Way’ (1977) and ‘The News Huddlines’. In the same year later he worked once again with Graham Chappal to write an episode of ‘Doctor on the Go’. Adams most notable work is ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ which reached immense heights of success with the book being the number one seller in UK. He also became the youngest author to have received the Golden Pen Award for his book. ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ moved on to become a television series, a record album, a computer game and also theatrical plays. In 1980 he wrote another successful book ‘The Restaurant at the End of the Universe’ followed by ‘The Universe and Everything’ in 1982 and ‘So Long and Thanks for All the Fish’ in 1984 and ‘Mostly Harmless’ in 2002. Douglas Adams sold more than fifteen million books in United Kingdom, The United States and Australia and was a best seller in many languages including German and Swedish.

His works received many awards some of which are the ‘Imperial Tobacco Award’ (1978), Sony Award (1979) and ‘Best Program for Young People’ Society of Authors/Pye Awards for Radio (1980). In 1982, three of Adams books made it to the New York Times bestseller list and the Publishers’ Weekly bestseller list making him the first British author to achieve this target after Ian Fleming. His phenomenal book ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy’ was at the 24th number in the Waterstone’s Books and Channel list of the 100 greatest books of the century.

Douglas Adams died in Santa Barbara, California in May 2001.


All pictures in this post are courtesy of Google.com

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!

A Dark Day In History – Remembering 9/11 – 20 Years

Twenty years ago, I sat in an office in Europe when our boss came in and informed us that the World Trade Center in NYC was burning due to an accident… it was the first airplane hitting the North Tower. I politely asked if I could check that please online, but he refused. His words were something in the line of: “We need our internet for significant things…”

I was working temporarily for that company and decided to call it a day. It was already afternoon in Western Europe, and I went home to find out what happened.  I turned the TV on and started crying. I think I didn’t stop weeping until 11 pm.

It’s been 20 years that nearly 3,000 people lost their lives in terrorist attacks, born out of purest hatred and evil.

But something else happened that day: It united the US. The United States of America has proven to be ONE UNITY. There were no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ There was no exclusion, no dividing… families lost loved ones and needed help. Victims were mourned, no matter who they were! Memorials were held for ALL of them! And American people united to help.

I pray that the US finds that solidarity again – WITHOUT such a horrific catastrophe.

But also, and most of all, I pray that we never forget the lives lost that day, 20 years ago, when the sky over the US burned.


Dear Lord

Would you please help us remember the souls who wandered to Heaven that day, 20 years ago? Let us burn a candle for them, deep in our hearts. Please, let them rest in peace forever.

Amen

Picture courtesy of VideoHive.com

Where were you when the world stopped turnin'
That September day?
Were you in the yard with your wife and children
Or workin' on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin' against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger, in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?

Did you weep for the children, they lost their dear loved ones
Pray for the ones who don't know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out with pride for the red, white, and blue
And the heroes who died just doin' what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you
The diff'rence in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope, and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turnin'
That September day?
Teachin' a class full of innocent children
Or drivin' down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty 'cause you're a survivor?
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you love her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?

Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset for the first time in ages
And speak to some stranger on the street?
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watchin'
And turn on I Love Lucy reruns?
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Stand in line to give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you
The diff'rence in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope, and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love
I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you
The diff'rence in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope, and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love

And the greatest is love
And the greatest is love

Where were you when the world stopped turnin'
On that September day?


God Bless America Photograph by M James McAdams

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!

An Exciting Anniversary For Me

Today is an extraordinary day for me.

After a massive restart in my life in July 2019, I decided to add another significant change a mere two months later. Scared to screw up, I didn’t want to tell too many people about it. But today, I can say I think I did surprisingly well.

Now, what am I talking about? I refer to my former habit to smoke. Yes, you got that right. I said former addiction!

Picture courtesy of Google.com

I did quit; I’m proud to be a quitter! I’m not saying it was easy – but it went better than I expected, and I didn’t fall off the wagon – no exceptions, not even once. Not that I was never weak – but I was also too scared to get back to where I was all that time ago.

There are so many ways to quit smoking.

  1. Cold Turkey (no outside help)
  2. Behavioral therapy
  3. Nicotine replacement therapy
  4. Medication
  5. Combo treatments

I decided on the first method. Literally, I ran out of my favorite cigarette brand and chose not to buy any more of them.

Therefore I’m in no position of recommending or giving any advice for a future quitter. I heard others tried different ways and only found out what works for them after several attempts.

I’m not going to warn smokers how unhealthy it is because I always hated to hear that. I know about the danger; I took the risk. I don’t need a speech, a seminar, or a medical report. I would say: Once you’re ready, you’ll know; and then quitting will work for you. But the decision needs to come from deep inside of you.

That worked for me. I decided to quit; I made a plan, I followed it through. And that’s why today I’m so thrilled to celebrate two years smoke-free! Thanks for celebrating with me!

Picture courtesy of QuitTrain.com

National Hug Your Sweetheart Day – August 23

Today, as I was recently informed, is ‘National Hug Your Sweetheart Day.’ What a cute day of a small celebration between two people. (Let’s say, for this post, I will exclude all pet owners equally, who insist the only other living creature in their life they need, is their pet).

Well, to celebrate this day, there’s not much needed, right? A hug – and a Sweetheart.

As for me: I’d love to celebrate, I really would. Too bad I’m missing one of the two key ingredients.

And now it gets a little tricky…

Because theoretically, ‘he’ does actually exist. He just screwed up – and he knows.

However, I’m not going into details today… after all, it’s supposed to be a wonderful little celebration day – for sweet couples – and the ones who plan to become one (maybe at least temporarily.)

Hug – feel each other, enjoy each other’s company as long as you can.

A hug is the most wonderful excuse to be close.

To all you couples out there:

HAPPY HUG YOUR SWEETHEART DAY!


Picture courtesy of 123Greetings.com

HELP SAM AND ROSCOE MOVE TO THEIR NEW HOME – Written By Juliette Kings

Most of my readers know that I belong to the amazing writing group Writers, Poets, and Deviants. We publish themed anthologies with the fund going to MS charities. We also support and mentor fellow writers. Our goal is to be supportive and celebrate the success of all of our writers, providing a hate free, negativity free, and safe writing community.

None of this would have been possible without writer and my friend Mandy White. Mandy gives us all moral support, makes us laugh, give expert advice on publishing and writing, edits our books, coordinates all of the anthologies, runs our publishing group, and keeps us going in so many ways – all without pay. She is not only a phenomenal horror writer, but a phenomenal human. 

Now Mandy need our help. Please see the message below, check the link, and help if you can.

CONTINUE READING HERE

A Child’s Nightmare

Earlier this year I had a task to fulfill: Write a one-page short story, not more than 400 words, Fiction/Drama. I did that, submitted it, and waited. A while later the reading was ready. It took quite some time until the information got to me, but finally, it’s here. Listen to the Short Story Reading below.


1pg. Short Story: A Child’s Nightmare

by A.J. Alexander on Vimeo


A Child’s Nightmare By Aurora Jean Alexander

I waited in my grandmother’s salon. The entire house seemed to walk on tiptoes. Did they really think I didn’t know what my parents wanted to tell me?

I was in the living room yesterday when they broke out in one of their arguments.

“I think we should take Stephanie to that boarding school. It would be easiest for her not to see her home being sold, our belongings split up, and us moving to different cities.” My father had said.

My mother replied acidly: “Yes, like you cared a lot about our girl, when you came home, day and night, drunk, reeking of perfume and other women.” My father yelled. “Stephanie never saw anything like it.” He lifted his hand as he wanted to slap her, but my mother screamed fearfully: “Don’t you dare to hit me again, not in my house!”

A calm and controlled voice behind her said: “The way I see it, this is still my house, daughter. I don’t want to hear one more word about it. As for you, soon-to-be-former-son. I don’t want to see you ever lifting your hand again against my daughter or anyone else in this family. It is time you both move on with your plans. Does Stephanie even know you separated and will get a divorce? You cannot just ship her out like a package and expect her to accept everything upon her return.”

My mother replied sourly: “It was his job to tell her. But we all know he is a coward.” My father hissed at her. “How dare you saying that.”

My grandmother shook her head and made up her mind: “I’ll tell her tomorrow.”

Now I stood in front of her in the salon. The door to the back fields stood wide open. My grandmother explained in a few words: “Listen, child. Your father and mother will get a divorce. They planned to have you go to school somewhere else to save you the trouble of listening to their arguments any longer. But I insisted you stay here instead, live with me for the time being. Is that okay?”

I nodded. “Yes, grandmother.”, tears streaming down my face. Then I turned around, darted through that open door, and did what I would do all my life. I ran towards the sun and light, into freedom, away from those who caused me pain and darkness.

(Copyright, March 2021)

Picture courtesy of ‘Teen Magazine’