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booksWhy the Heck Would I Need an ISBN?

Okay, so I have never actually asked myself that question, or asked anyone else.  I have always known what an ISBN is since I was old enough to understand that every book had one.  It is that long number that every printed book has, somewhere on the book cover and on the page inside the front cover listing the copyrights.

Yes, there is more to it than that, but that is all I knew and all I needed to know as a lover of reading books that I had always only picked up off the shelf of a library or used bookstore, at a charity run used book sale, or at a garage sale.  That’s how book lovers feed their reading addiction when they don’t have any money.  I spent years playing at writing before ever becoming seriously involved in actually considering publication as a goal.  There was a lot I did not know, and there is still a lot I need to learn.  Being an author, and a published one, is a never-ending journey of learning.  Just when you think you are getting there, the landscape of publishing changes and you have new things to learn.

For today, the focus is on ISBNs.

All books have them, but why?  What are those ISBN numbers on the copyright page and book jacket of every book for?

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number.

We should get one thing clear first.  Getting an ISBN is not copyrighting your work.  The ISBN has nothing to do with copyrights and does not guarantee your copyright rights.

The ISBN serves one purpose only – it is a marketing tool.  The ISBN is a catalogue number.

Is an ISBN necessary?  By my research, absolutely not.   At least, not if your publishing intentions are very limited.  You can even epublish on some sites without an ISBN; however it limits your markets.

If you are just going to get a few dozen or a hundred copies of your book printed at a printing company (note I say “printing company”, not “vanity press”.  They are two very different kinds of businesses, and for this purpose I would recommend using a printing service that promises only to create a printed product and nothing else) to give to family and friends, or share them in ebook form through emails or on your blog, then the ISBN is unnecessary.

If you plan to publish through a publishing company or self-publish, in print or ebook, and sell your book in the hope of selling many copies, then you will probably need an ISBN.

If a publisher picks up your book they’ll look after the ISBN.

If you decide to self-publish you’ll need to get one yourself.

Some Ebook sites and self-publishing print services, including Amazon, won’t let you put your book up on their site without an ISBN number.  And that goes whether you are charging $6.99 for your book, $0.99, or offering it for free.

Smashwords will allow you to put your book on their site without an ISBN, but they recommend having one.  Sony and Apple require ISBN’s.  I recommend reading Smashwords’ information on ISBNs before deciding whether to use their free one or get your own.  Note: Smashwords’ free ISBN has Smashwords as the registered publisher and should not be used anywhere else.  In other words, you would need a separate ISBN number for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc, rather than to use the free one provided by Smashwords for those sites.  Some of those sites may required their own ISBN number anyway, listing them as the publisher.

Special note:  being listed on the ISBN records as the publisher does NOT make them the publisher.  It just means they are the entity who paid for and registered the ISBN number.

If you are using any kind of a self-publishing printing service or vanity press, they will likely have an option to include the ISBN as part of their services.  But before you go ahead and take their ISBN number you need to answer one question.  Who do you want listed as the publisher?  The printing service or vanity press will most likely be listed as the publisher for the ISBN they provide you.  If you want yourself to be listed as the publisher you have to get the ISBN yourself.
What is an ISBN?
ISBN – International Standard Book Number

This basically is just assigning a catalogue number to a book.

The ISBN is broken down into parts.

isbn breakdownEAN – Bookland country code.  Apparently books live in a world of their own separate from ours called “Bookland”.  In the land of books, this identifies what country the book comes from.  Luckily for us non-book beings, the numbers also coincide with the countries of our own world.

Group – identifies the language the book is written in

Publisher – identifies the publisher of the book (aka the person or business who filed the ISBN number for the book)

* oddly enough, it seems that when a publisher exhausts its block of ISBNs, instead of receiving an additional block with the same publisher identifying number, they are given a new identifying number for the new block of ISBNs.  I don’t know why this is.

Title – identifies the book title

Check Digit – this is akin to a spell check for the people assigning ISBNs.  If this number is not what they are looking for, then an error was made.

What the ISBN does is it simplifies a retailer’s search for a particular book.  Making it easier to find your book instead of, say, the same title by another author will make the difference on getting that sale.

You will also need a separate ISBN number for each edition of a book:  one for hardcover, one for paperback, and one for ebook.

If you do minor typographical corrections it is considered a reprint and new ISBNs are not necessary.

If there are major changes, additions, or deletions, then you are publishing a new edition of the book and need a whole new set of ISBNs.

Obtaining the ISBN

Of course, how you obtain your ISBN and what it costs depends entirely on where you are located.

In the United States, ISBN’s are sold by a commercial company.  Naturally, they charge accordingly.  After all, they aren’t doing it simply to be kind.  After getting your ISBN, it is up to you to have it registered with RR Bowker, the database for the ISBN agency.  www.bowkerlink.com

If you plan to publish a lot, it’s much cheaper per ISBN to get a block of them instead of just one.  Once you have them, you can use them as your books are published, registering the book information at that time.

In Canada, the Canadian government offers the ISBN for free.  Isn’t this just a wonderful country to live in?  Okay, it’s a perk that Canadians enjoy, but it doesn’t make the rest of publishing easier.

Typically, publishers will obtain blocks of ISBNs at a time because of the cost.  This includes small presses and indy publishers, self publishing services, and vanity presses.  In most cases, you can get that ISBN included when you have your book published with them.  It may even be a requirement.

Come and Get Your Free ISBNs!

Some organizations may offer “free” ISBNs or an ISBN as part of a printing package.  One source said that even Bowker, the company in the U.S. where publishers get their ISBN numbers from, offers free individual ISBNs.  However, I haven’t found the Bowker link to confirm this.

AUTHOR BE WARNED:  While it might not cost you a dime for that free ISBN, you are in fact giving up having your own name listed as the publisher.

It sounds pretty dire, doesn’t it?  That is exactly the tone I got from some articles I read on ISBNs.  But it is a tone I disagree with.

You will still be listed on the book as the author.  You are the author and nobody can take that away.  If someone listed themselves as the author of your book, that makes you either a paid ghostwriter by choice, or a victim of plagiarism.  But that is a topic for another day.  You just won’t be listed as the publisher in the records for the ISBN number.  This is a distinction that may be completely unimportant to you since very few people will actually look up your ISBN number to find out who the publisher on record is.  It’s much easier to just read the publisher name on the copyright page at the beginning of the book.

Not being listed as the publisher is entirely to be expected when dealing with an actual paying publisher.  After all, they are the publisher while you are the author, and nowhere in the ISBN is there a number specific to the author of the book.

Publishers are buying the publishing rights to your book, paying you royalties, and will list themselves as the publisher of note.

However, if you are self publishing or publishing through a vanity press (best to be avoided), or through a self-publishing service (different from a vanity press), and are trying to brand yourself as such, then you will probably want to be listed as the publisher.  However, when it comes down to it and nobody except the ISBN people ever see that, it probably really doesn’t matter.

When an organization or individual obtains a block of ISBNs, the publisher digits will be assigned to that organization or individual and are non-transferable.  As I said before, however, being listed in the ISBN records as the publisher really just identifies the company or person who has filed the ISBN, regardless whether they are the actual publishing house, self-published individual, or a publishing provider like Amazon filing on behalf of a publisher or self-published author.

That means, even though you are self-publishing, it will forever be noted in the annals of history within the offices of the ISBN people, aka the records likely no one else will ever see, that for that particular ISBN number XYZ Publisher is the publisher of that book and not you.  Chances are you may end up with multiple ISBN numbers listing various companies as the ‘publisher’ if you a publishing on multiple platforms like Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

On the bright side, you can go through the entire process to get a new ISBN for your book any time you want.

So, while some may argue that you should never to let your self-published book be listed as published by anyone but you on the ISBN records, it really doesn’t matter beyond a personal preference.  All your readers will see is an ISBN number like this, and will never see the information on the paperwork filed away in some dusty filing cabinet:

ISBN 978-1-63066-051-2

(This particular ISBN happens to be for

Where the Bodies Are print edition

published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC.

But you would never know that from just the number)

 ISSN – International Standard Serial Number

This is the same thing as the ISBN, but is for periodical publications (ongoing series), such as magazines or a book series.

Sources for this article include:

http://amydeardon.blogspot.ca/2009/02/ownership-isbn-digital-rights-and-self.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Standard_Book_Number

http://isbn.org/standards/home/isbn/international/html/usmfaq.htm

http://publishingcentral.com/articles/20030119-21-3060.html

http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/isn/041011-1000-e.html

http://www.ebookcrossroads.com/isbn.html

http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/isbn/us/isbnqa.asp

http://www.thebookconsultant.com/LPMArticle.asp?ID=151

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/03/isbn-for-self-publishers-answers-to-20-of-your-questions/

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2010/11/isbn-101-for-self-publishers/

author dreamIt struck me when I recently saw some comments on a few social networking sites that there are a lot of different ideas of what a writer is.  Even among writers themselves, there is a wide range of ideas and hopes when it comes to writing.

Myself, I think of being a published author as the book nerd’s  version of the pro athlete dream.  Droves of people around the world sit pounding out words into stories with the dream of someday making it big.  That does not apply to all writers, of course.

The simplest reality of being a writer is that it is damned hard to be published and earn money from it.

With the growth over these last years of accessibility to self-publishing, the very landscape of publishing has changed in leaps and bounds.  Not that long ago just the mere mention of the words “self” and “publishing” together in an online post risked being immediately mobbed, tarred, and feathered by others in the online community accompanied by rants about vanity presses.

For the unpublished, being published was like a secret club that you just could not get into and self-publishing was treated like cheating.  Somehow, you were breaking all the rules if you wanted to self-publish and those who followed them seemed in large numbers to resent that.

For the most part that attitude has changed in these past years, self-publishing is still becoming increasingly more accepted, and has been widely embraced by many who long to be published authors.  You will still encounter those who argue on what actually makes an author, how many books qualifies you, what kind of publishing, how big the publisher has to be, and whatever criteria they personally place on it.  Others will say that if you wrote a book, published or not, however it’s published, you are an author.

No matter what kind of author you are, what genre, how you are published, or the quality of your writing or book cover, there is one reality all writers share.  Making money doing it is damned hard.

Networking is imperative to success, just as it is in any business and many occupations.  Whether you are published by a big publisher or self-published, writing for magazines or business, or any other market, for the large part you have to promote yourself and your writing on your own.  Even the big publishing houses have limited budgets for promoting their writers and books.  There are reasons they tend to stick to publishing guaranteed successes, and that is just one of them.

Sales is also all about supply and demand.  The explosion of self-publishing has over-saturated the book market.  With the glut of books over-saturating the market, you are very small in a big world of books, a single tiny voice in an overwhelmingly huge mob.  To get sales you have to get noticed.

While so many dream of being a published author, that has become fairly easy with self-publishing compared to actually earning a living doing it.

Being a writer means wearing many hats.  You are The Mad Hatter.  As a writer, you need to be your own social networking guru, IT specialist, and marketing team, among many other jobs.   You also have to write a fantastic piece of writing and be able to expertly edit it to perfection before you even send it to an outside editor.

You need to learn what makes a good book cover, and what kind of book titles pop and which flop.  You need to learn how to write blurbs, sizzling book jackets, and single line promotional punches that make people go “Wow! I want to read that!”  You need to learn how to write queries that won’t be lost in the slush pile if you want to be published by a publisher or get picked up by an agent.

Writing takes commitment.  It is a lot of work.  And to be published by any means takes even more work, commitment, and professionalism.

For most, the dream of being a full time writer will only ever be that, a dream.  Of the millions of writers worldwide dreaming of making it big, like the sports dream, very few will ever make the kind of money the likes of Dan Brown, Stephen King, and J.K. Rowling make.  For most, writing is a passion that is fulfilled in the gaps between real life; working to earn a living, family, and everything else life throws at you.

Does that make it a hobby? Many might argue yes.  Most writers might give you an odd look when you ask that, as if you are speaking a foreign language they do not understand.

Does the fact that you very likely will never earn any real money doing it make it a waste of time?  That all depends on you and what you want out of it.

You Fail Only If You Stop Writing

Write; because it’s a passion, not a pipe dream.

thLOBMMAGPWhat can be harder than being a writer? Being a Canadian Writer.

Of course, there are other countries that similarly have their own challenges when it comes to writing.

As Canadians, much of our experiences are influenced by our neighbors to the South. Most of our online feeds are filled with U.S. content. Our world news feeds tend to be dominated by their news events. Our own Canadian made movies and television content even seems to be lacking in comparison to what is available on U.S. television, with the notable exception of Vikings, which is a Canadian/Ireland co-production filmed in Ireland and written by Michael Hirst, and Englishman.

If you search publishers, both large and small independent publishers, literary agents, book printers catering to the relatively newly accepted (and still growing out of the slop-heap of disdain by non-self published writers into acceptability) self-publishing writers, you get long lists of possibilities.

The problem is that almost all of them will be South of that border that is not only a barrier to free movement of people back and forth (you have to line up and make offerings by way of showing your passport and answer questions that make you feel like you are interviewing to join some special and secret club to pass in either direction to visit your neighboring country), but also is a barrier to the simple and free movement of joining the ranks of going from some guy or chick who wrote a book to being some guy or chick who has a published book.

That’s great if you are a U.S. citizen, not so great if you are Canadian.

The Canadian publishing market in all ways seems almost non-existent compared to our neighbors to the South.

We have a handful of just a few literary agents, compared to the much larger population of them over the border. Although, in recent years it seems that most of the U.S. agents I followed online have moved on to other forms of employment. (Could the literary agent be a slowly dying breed?)

Odds are, any attempts to contact and court one of these very few Canadian agents in the hope they will consider you as a client will be met with … nothing. They won’t even bother to take the time to respond because they are very few.

Similarly, getting a response from a publisher if you are a U.S. citizen sending query letters to a U.S. publisher are about a thousand times more likely to receive no response at all than a polite rejection. And a thousand times more than that likely to not receive an invitation to send your manuscript.

The Canadian market for authors seeking publishers is the size of one of those little nubby things on a new car tire compared to the number U.S. publishers of various sizes (the whole tire being all the U.S. publishers).

Canadians are notoriously charged more for most things than our U.S. neighbors are too. Everything from clothing to food to raw materials to services like book printing cost more North of the border. If it is shipped to Canada, you can pretty safely assume the price was hiked because they can get away with charging more. That makes the both the cost of living and the cost of doing business higher than it would be otherwise. Books and other printed material are one of the products where this is obvious. In Canada, books must list the Canadian price too, which is always considerably higher.

That means you can expect to pay more for any services associated with publishing and being published, and having to charge more for your books to recover your expenses.

So, what is a Canadian writer to do?

With the added challenges of trying to be a Canadian published writer, your odds of success are likely none to something North of there. If you have not made a name for yourself to attract the attention of Canadian publishers and agents, it’s going to be like finding intelligent life on another planet, seemingly forever out of your reach.

Your best chance is to open yourself to markets outside of Canada. But that too has its own set of challenges. You can be published anywhere in the world, as long as you are not actually being paid for it.

Being a Canadian writer published outside of Canada and being paid for it is a whole new challenge, especially if you prefer to not be taxed by both countries on that income.

Author Interview: Ben Hale

Ben Hale author photoBen Hale, author of The Second Draeken War series and The Chronicles of Lumineia series joins us so we can dig a little into the psyche of a writer.

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Let’s join Ben in this author interview.

  1. Is there an author or book that inspired you to write, whether to become a writer or just to write a specific story?

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Not one specifically. However, when I was a kid I read a lot. One night as I fell asleep I decided to come up with my own character. It turned out to be a relaxing way to fall asleep so I kept doing it. (Twelve year old problems are so stressful, I know.)  This practice became a habit that continued for almost fifteen years. By then I was married and my wife asked me why I fell asleep so fast. I responded by telling her I had a story I thought about. At her request I began to tell it. It was the first time I had voiced the ideas, and I was quite surprised to realize how much there was. In spite of her prompting to write it, I did not feel that writing was within my skill set. Fortunately she overcame my hesitation and the next thing I knew I had started Elseerian. Because I’d imagined it in such detail it was easy for me to write, and within a month I realized that the story I’d thought of would not fit in one book. The Chronicles of Lumineia began with a single idea and now spans ten books, two series, and ten thousand years.

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  1. What is your last story and what made you want to write it? What was the inspiration, the drive that started the idea for it?

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The last story I wrote was The Forge of Light, the end of my second series, The White Mage Saga. It could be compared in some respects to Percy Jackson or Harry Potter but there is a marked distinction in its scope. I always liked the stories of magic being hidden in our world, but was curious what would happen if it became public. What could compel mankind to believe that magic was real? Who would be strong enough to unite the magical world with the normal world? I also wanted to explore a blending of a fantasy book with real world military elements. The series contains mages that fly and stunning magic, and yet characters that are navy SEALs and a former marine sniper. The combination is hopefully unique and fun to read.

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  1. It is the age-old debate: scene setters vs. seat writers. What is your writing process like? Do you outline extensively, carefully mapping out your story ahead, or do you just go with the flow writing as it comes to you?

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I am certainly a planner over a blurter. My outlines span thousands of years, multiple series, and hundreds of characters. If I didn’t outline it I would lose track, and the story would ultimately crumble. I also practice what I call layered writing, which means there are more layers to a plot than are first visible. For example, one of my more subtle plots will ultimately span several multi-book series before finally being tied into the overall story. Hopefully it will make the story exciting on subsequent reads as readers discover hints and connections they had not noticed before.

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  1. We all know names hold a certain amount of power to give us all a pre-judged idea of what a person is like. You want to hate someone just for having the same name as a despised ex, a strong sounding name makes you think they must be strong, and a name like Poindexter, well you get the idea. How important are your character names to you? What resource would you recommend for someone having trouble finding names?

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A term I frequently use is, “The impression given is more important the text used”. The name does not matter as much as the connotation of the name. I choose names that inspire images of innocence, evil, or morality, to name a few. Since coming up with names on the spot can be difficult I have become a collector of names. When I need one, I go to my list and look for one that fits the character. Google and a thesaurus are always good backups.

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  1. Each writer has their favorite type of scene, the kind of scene that just flows naturally for them. Is there a certain type of scene you find hard to write?

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When I started writing, conversation was difficult for me. It was hard for me to write it so it did not feel stilted. Writers that excel in conversation can bring tension and intrigue without drawing on the conflict in the scene, but that was not my strength from the beginning. Part of my problem was due to a lack of vocabulary. As my vocabulary has grown I have found that writing conversation is easier. Now I’m happy to say that writing conversations are much easier after ten books.

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  1. If you could give only one piece of writing advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

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Write, write, write. Set a goal to write every day and stick to it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a couple hundred words or a few thousand. Consistency is what matters. Professional writers maintain a pace. Also, if I was to choose a second most important item it would be to edit, edit, edit. My first book I edited 24 times before I published it, and I still think it’s not as good as I would like. It’s good to remember that there is just as much creation in the editing as there is in the writing.

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  1. What is your best do or don’t marketing tip?

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Time is the most precious commodity for a writer, so don’t waste it. I’ve met authors that are engaged in endless marketing of a single book, and end up writing very little. The more you write the more you have to sell, and the more your marketing efforts matter. Keep your marketing time to a minimum by remembering one thing; a book release is the biggest marketing event you can have.

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  1. What is your pet peeve when it comes to writing? It could be about any part from the writing process to publication, marketing, fans, etc.

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The perception that it is free. With indie publishing it is now possible to publish for free, but that does not mean the preparation is. Invest in an editor, cover designer, and if needed, a book coach. It costs money to do it right because you are investing into something. The lack of knowledge and quality can cost you a career as a writer.

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  1. Reviews can drive writers to distraction; looking for them, yearning to get them, and scared of getting them. At the same time it takes a certain kind of reader to put themselves out there and actually post a review. How do you go about encouraging your readers to rate your books or stories and post reviews? How do you respond when you get a negative review?

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I make an effort not to solicit reviews. That said, I do request one if someone has said they liked my books. The unfortunate truth is that reviews carry a lot of weight—especially the negative ones. Some reviews are given because the reader didn’t like you, or they read a couple of pages and tossed your book aside in favor of another interest. The good news is that reviews tell you things, and you should listen to them. Even the bad ones give you an idea of how your writing is perceived. Again, perception is more important that the actual words—and far more important than the idea itself. Your idea as a writer may be stunning, but it will not matter unless it is perceived as such.

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  1. And finally, the question every author’s fan wants to now: What are you working on now? What is your next published project going to be?

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I haven’t announced it yet, but I have started a new trilogy in the Chronicles of Lumineia. I will say it follows a fan favorite, and that he is a rock troll. Feel free to post a guess on my facebook page! I hope to write and publish his trilogy this year. With five kids and starting a Masters program, it’s going to be a busy 2015 for me. Good luck to all of you in your own works, and feel free to contact me if you are looking for a book coach.

.Assasins Blade Ben Hale

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You can find Ben Hale and his books on his Amazon author page. .

Visit Ben Hale’s website at The World of Lumineia

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.Eiseerian Ben Hale

Your Life With Rhuematoid Arthritis by Lene Andersen

Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis by Lene Andersen is raved as an insightful resource for people living with rheumatoid arthritis.

Check out this review  of Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis written by Wren on RheumaBLog

Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo books, iBooks, Smashwords, CreateSpace

L Andersen author photo

Lene Andersen blogs at

The Seated View
Lene and her book can also be found at:

Lene’s Amazon Author Page

And

The Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis website

fish & lureI’ve noticed a new breed of phishing scammers lately. They’ve gotten more sophisticated in their attempts to trick, cajole, and outright scare you into falling into their trap. The emails are written by someone fluent in English and are even doing a pretty good job of mimicking the company they are pretending to be.

The scammers of old seem to have fallen away, those all too predictable and obvious pathetic attempts with poorly spelled words, atrocious grammar errors, and the glaring obvious that they know very little of the English language and are completely oblivious or just don’t care.

As published authors we have to put ourselves out there, always marketing and schmoozing online like the girl at the young teen dance who so desperately wants to be asked to dance, but no one seems to notice her in the corner behind all the other girls desperate to be asked to dance.

The problem with making yourself visible to as many others as possible in the hopes that just one or two might actually buy your book, is that you are also making yourself visible to the spammers, phishers, and hackers.

Apparently a phisherman of this newer breed noticed me on Amazon. I suddenly am getting all these urgent messages that my Amazon account is in dire peril.

How do I know it phishing? It’s not that hard to figure out, really. Just be smart and stop and think before you panic and click that link or give any information. And when in doubt, just back out. Stand up and take a step back and close that email. Picking up a phone to call customer service (if they have one!) will sort it all out. If they have no real people working for them, then go to the actual legitimate website and contact them with all the details. They will no doubt tell you that you just got phished.

Keys and tips to protect yourself from phishing:

  1. Don’t make your email public. Really, how many of your “fans” need to email you? There are safer ways to do set that up. Do you think Stephen King put out his private email to the public? Not a creepy clown down the sewer chance! Of course, that’s sometimes easier said than done whenever media site defaults to publishing your email.
  2. Use multiple email accounts. Use a spam email for social networking sites where you know you are likely to get spammed by the site or phishing scams. Never use the same email that you use for banking and other important business.
  3. If the email is asking for personal information, bank account or credit information, passwords, or for you click a link to log in securely – IT’S A PHISHING SCAM! As soon as you log in through their link they have your username and password, giving them full access to your account.
  4. It doesn’t matter what the account is: your bank, Facebook, Paypal, Amazon, etc they will never contact you asking for you to click a link and provide information that gives access to your account. They will instead direct you to visit their legitimate site to access your account securely or contact them.
  5. Check the IP or senders email. Big red flag: all the Amazon’s calling and your account is in grave danger and has been shut down emails are coming from “noreply@amazon.ca”. Now here’s the dead giveaway: the sender’s email shows up as “noreply@azon.ca“. But that is almost Amazon you say? Yes, but do you not think a multi billion-dollar corporation would get that right?
  6. Did it even come to the right email address? I’ve had plenty of warnings that my bank accounts are in imminent danger. Usually the first giveaway is that it’s a bank I don’t have an account with, or sent to the wrong email.

The phishermen may have gotten smarter and more sophisticated, but common sense is pretty smart and sophisticated too.

Michael John Sullivan The Greatest Gift-Book CoverThe Greatest Gift is the final installment of the trilogy that started with Necessary Heartbreak, followed by Everybody’s Daughter.

 

In Everybody’s Daughter we were left hanging with Michael Stewart and his daughter Elizabeth still missing after being transported back to ancient Jerusalem when it was a dangerous world ruled by Roman soldiers and brutality. Elizabeth was murdered by a Roman soldier who owned Michael’s beloved Leah through fear and became obsessed with owning Elizabeth too. The only way to rescue Leah and Elizabeth had been to kill the soldier, but it was too late for Elizabeth. Michael and Elizabeth were miraculously reunited when she was brought back to life.

 

Michael and Elizabeth still had no idea how they could possibly get home to their own time.

 

Back home in the present time the desperate search is still on for Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished, and for her father Michael, who is the prime suspect in her disappearance. While his sister Connie and his friend Susan both refuse to believe Michael could have had anything to do with his daughter’s disappearance, the FBI has a very different opinion and are convinced his later disappearance only seals his guilt.

 

 

The Greatest Gift continues the story …

 

Still trapped in ancient Jerusalem, Elizabeth is pulled into greater danger just as Michael finally had her returned to him alive. His beloved Leah, who lives in that time, is rediscovered and lost to him all at once, having found someone else and married in his absence. But now Leah and Elizabeth are charged with the soldier’s murder and Michael must do everything he can to save them. Posing as a Roman soldier, he travels with them and finds himself helping an Apostle by writing part of his Gospel, an act that does not go entirely unnoticed back home in present day.

 

In the present, Connie and Susan are at odds with each other, disliking each other immensely as the tensions of Michael and Elizabeth’s disappearance drove a wedge between the two who could have been allies with their shared goal.

 

Special Agent Hewitt Paul is as determined as before to find Michael and charge him with his daughter’s disappearance. And now he believes Michael’s friend Pastor Dennis is somehow involved and possibly hiding Michael. For him everyone is a potential suspect in knowing something that might reveal Michael’s whereabouts.

 

Pastor Dennis is the only one who believes Michael’s claims before his disappearance that he had travelled to ancient Jerusalem and back.

 

Somehow Michael must rescue Leah and Elizabeth and return to the present with his daughter. Meanwhile Connie and Susan are pulled together against their will against a bigger foe, the FBI agent who wants to put Michael away. They must try to avoid Special Agent Hewitt Paul while also searching for Michael and Elizabeth, but Hewitt Paul is not so easily avoided.

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Gift brings us to the conclusion of a paranormal story of faith and sacrifice where the unbelievable is the only answer. Michael John Sullivan gives us an enjoyable mix of hope, desperation, and drama that all readers can enjoy.

 

 

The Greatest Gift is published by The Story Plant.

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