Friday, September 04, 2015

It Takes Two to Tango...and a Cover Reveal!

It has become difficult to watch the news of the Ashley Madison data breach because something is really, really bothering me about it. It's something I read the first day it happened...

"The hackers mocked the site and the customer base, saying that 90% to 95% of the users were male."

Why had we not heard that data before? I looked up that statistic and found the company was once sued by an employee who claimed she was injured typing up thousands of fake profiles. Was she angry-typing?

But there is actually even more proof than that. Gizmodo conducted research into claims that the site was mostly female. Their investigation found that most of the members were, indeed, male. In combing the data, the Gizmodo reporter found that very few of the females on the site had ever even checked their inbox messages. Two-thirds of the men had checked their messages at least once. So who are the men communicating with on the site? Are they logging in to find empty inboxes on a regular basis? If so, wouldn't the site have died long ago?

The answer? ROBOTS! The reporter describes Ashley Madison's membership as "a science fictional future where every woman on Earth is dead, and some Dilbert-like engineer has replaced them with badly-designed robots."

After being challenged by Ashley Madison, Gizmodo dug a little deeper and found evidence that male users of the site had been contacted by bots on a fairly constant basis. They even demonstrated the computer code the site used to regularly communicate with men.

So these men were chatting with computers. Which is kind of funny, when you really think about it!

We've all seen the question, "Is online flirting cheating?" But this brings a new question. Is it cheating if the person at the other end isn't even a human being?

And now for today's cover reveal!!! S.K. Anthony will be guesting here when her book comes out in a couple of weeks, but in the meantime, check out her beautiful cover!


Kevin Pierce is a teleporter, a ladies’ man, and a loyal friend . . . or so he thought.

As a genetically altered Luminary, he helps the government bring down some of the most dangerous criminals. Not very challenging if you have his special abilities. But when a group of rebel Luminaries attacks his Organization the fight for survival begins.

One shattering event after another tests the depth of his relationships, his sanity, and his powers. Emotionally torn, Kevin must choose carefully where his loyalty lies. In the middle of all the unexpected chaos he gets the biggest shock of his life when he’s faced by a betrayal he never saw coming. Angry, injured, and ready to even the score, Kevin goes Static . . .

Add it to your Goodreads *here*

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

IWSG: #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means hundreds of us will be posting about our insecurities. If you're a writer, join in!

Over the summer, the hashtag #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter seemed to take over the sizable writing community on Twitter. It even got the notice of

Novelists, journalists, and freelancers from all backgrounds joined in to share their frustrations. It was amazing how passionate people were about the topic.

As a full-time freelancer and novelist, I've heard it all. From "Since you aren't working..." to "We'd love to have you write for us. We can't afford to pay, but it's great exposure."

(We make fun of people who say that last one in the freelance writing community, by the way!)

In the middle of all of this, I was at a writer's event, speaking to a fellow writer. She's just starting out in her career, having published her first novel only recently. I was telling her about my own journey and mentioned how many times I was rejected when I was writing romance.

"Really?" she said. "I wouldn't think any romance novel would ever be rejected."

The way she wrinkled her nose made it clear...romance was beneath her. I knew exactly who she was in that moment.

The sad thing is, romance novelists work hard at the craft. They spend years honing their writing skills and learning to craft the perfect story. More than a billion dollars each year is spent on romance novels. 

Some of the ONLY writers I know who are able to afford to write full-time without supplementing their income are romance novelists. Yet every time I post about it, someone in the comments section says, "They're all trash." Most of them haven't glimpsed the inside of a romance novel in at least a decade...they just have this stereotype:

So that's my #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter. What's yours?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Never Let 'Em See Your Card

Earlier this month, I wrote about my credit card being stolen. The thief charged $500 twice at a series of fast food restaurants, totaling more than $5,500. Here were a few of the charges:

Everyone was so supportive in the comments, but it seems that a few people didn't realize when your credit card is stolen, the bank covers it. As much a pain in the butt getting your card stolen is, it isn't nearly as painful as actually being forced to pay for $5,500 worth of someone else's Big Macs.

When your card is stolen, you hope for a warning call from your bank. Some banks just cancel the card and let you learn from your cashier when you try to pay for groceries.

Then the real work begins. You have to go to the bank and dispute every charge on a computer screen. You could have printed it out and handed it over, but usually they conveniently wipe out your online statement as if you never had a credit card at all.

If the stolen card was a credit card, the bank has 30 days to "provisionally" take it off of your credit card. They can still investigate after that, but it becomes permanent if they haven't found after 90 days that YOU were the one who bought all those Big Macs.

Having a $5,500 balance on your credit card sucks, but it isn't the end of the world. However, as the bank employee pointed out, if it's debit, $5,500 is gone from your bank account for a full ten days. That's the amount of time they have to put the money back "provisionally" if your debit card is stolen.

Fortunately, we've always followed fraud experts' advice to use our credit cards for all our purchases and pay the balance off every payday. But I'm now afraid to shop online, since I'm pretty sure it was stolen from Shutterfly as part of a widespread security breach. (And neither I nor the fraud investigators know why anyone would want $1,000 worth of McDonald's food!)

Have you ever had a credit card stolen?