books, Hacking, indie books, indie writer, stories, writing

Having Fun with Hackers

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So, I opened my email and there was a notification from Facebook. It said that someone had opened my ten-year-old Facebook page. At the beginning of Facebook if you forgot your password, you couldn’t get back into your account. I had created another account. A few years later Facebook asked me if I wanted two accounts and gave me the ability to close one. I was smart, I had used two different emails to open them, so I knew which one it was.

I thought maybe this happened after I had tried getting on Facebook during a period when they were down. Either way, it said click here if I was not the one who had done this. Of course, I clicked, and it took me to a page that said it couldn’t pull up that account. Then it asked me to check in to Facebook with my regular account.

Thinking that doing this would bring me to the original notification, I did. Except it only took me to my current account. In fact, nowhere could I find this notification. Nor could I find anywhere that I could contact Facebook. I did spend an hour chasing my question and reading a lot of self-help for navigating Facebook. Finally, I found an obscure area where you can inform Facebook of a problem. Which I did. And got a polite canned ‘thank you’ for my input.

I’m very suspicious of anything like this because I have encountered many a ‘phishing’ scam. At this point I was worried it was a trap to get my real Facebook information. I waited two days to hear anything back. Then I decided if Facebook wasn’t going to do anything, I would. So, I began to think like a hacker.

I knew where they got my old email. It had been hacked some years back when my phone apps had been open when I crossed into Mexico. A few password changes fixed things, but someone had gotten some old information. Experian had informed me last year that some of my personal information was on the dark web.

While thinking like a hacker, I knew that if they truly had re-opened my account on Facebook, all I really needed to know was what email they used. I went to Facebook and simply told it I had forgotten my password. A few minutes later my new password was verified. Sure enough, there was a new page under my old name. I had re-married since then and it wasn’t my new married name.

So, I had some fun.  392530_463065353734398_408935834_n

I noticed first off there was no picture of me in the banner. They had filched an old picture of my granddaughter on a show horse, and it was in the timeline. It had been put up the day the Facebook had notified me. Also, interestingly enough, only five of my friends were listed there. The ones I had had ten years ago when supposedly Facebook deleted the account. To protect them, I went and unfriended them.  Then I noticed I had thirty-one new friends who had suspiciously sounding Russian names. No joke. So, I unfriended all of them!

Next, I checked for personal information. Again, nothing current. It was a bare-bones account. Like they were still building it and adding to it. I wiped it all clean. And I changed the name of the account to my deceased husband. He had never been a computer person and never had an account on Facebook. He would have found it extremely funny. Just for fun, I also changed the password!  To something like “Satan Be Gone”. If they were ever able to crack it, they would get the hint. But I highly suspect if they are serious about trying to use it again, they would just do what I had done and request a new password.

Then I went and deleted the account all over again. Not sure if that will help, since Facebook gives you thirty days before they supposedly permanently delete it. This is so you can get pictures and information off it. And remember, they said they had deleted it once before!

166070_578733068837720_1553312875_nIn all my research I couldn’t find anything the hacker had put out there yet on this account. But hopefully, I messed things up well enough they know I’m on to them.

This taught me several things. You can’t contact Facebook directly, period. It is all canned response and content. And all it takes is someone knowing what email you use to be able to get into your Facebook account. Since Facebook makes it so easy to get in when you forget a password, a hacker can easily make a dummy account. Also, nothing, and I mean nothing, is safe on the Internet. You may have security and firewalls, but note how easy it was for me to think like a hacker and find a way in. Last but not least, it proves that nothing is ever non-retrievable on the web. Even old, outdated or deleted material can be resurrected.

My biggest mistake in all of this was assuming that the notification was really from Facebook. Even though it was my email, it was not addressed directly to me. When Facebook sends me notifications about my changing my password, they always include my name. That wasn’t in the message I received and so I’m still not sure if Facebook sent it or what the hackers were after exactly. I did change my passwords for all my email and Internet accounts just for added protection.

I just hope sharing my experience can be of help to someone.  Be careful out there in cyber space.

 

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books, indie books, indie writer, stories, writing

The Icing on the Story is Editing

IMG_20181119_191005_059You have done it. You have written your first novel and now you want to self-publish. Welcome to an exciting time. Here are some friendly suggestions from someone who has been there and done that.

You are going to hear this a lot, only because it is true and shows the difference between an amateur and someone who wants to be successful. Make sure your book has been edited by an editor. Not by you, by a true editor.

First, find a Development Editor. This person reads over the story and finds plot holes, places in the story that don’t need to be there, the general flow of the story, and character development. Have too much backstory in the first chapter? Have enough backstory throughout? Have you forgotten to tie up an end to a character? Does each chapter close in a way to draw the reader into the next? And are there any other story problems.

Next edit would be the Copy Line Edit.  This is where an editor goes over word choice, rhyming sentences, and repeated words. Have you used too many she’s and he’s in paragraphs? Have you started too many paragraphs the same way? Do you have a favorite word you overuse? This edit can be done through an online program called Grammarly. I have found it invaluable. I have a habit of starting all my sentences in the same way sometimes and using the same pet words over and over and over. I think you see my point. Notice the last three sentences all started with “I”.

Then there is the Proof Edit. At this point, it is about grammar and punctuation. You can try depending on a program like Grammarly to do this as well. The problem is sentence structure. You can have a correct sentence, but it may not make much sense. Every writer has a ‘voice’. Something that is unique to each of us in the way we string together words. How we talk, how we think is an individual thing. A program won’t pick up on that. Another human can.

Finally, create a group of Beta Readers. You find these saintly souls in writing groups. They are your peers. People who will read your story, usually in trade for you returning the favor. Don’t ask your family to do this. You need someone who can be dirt honest with you. Someone who reads a lot and knows what they like in a story. They will find all those typo errors that may have been missed in the first three edits. They will tell you of any problems the story may have, like where it bogs down, or where a character may need a little tweaking. This is the opinion stage and can be quite harsh. This is where you really must be an adult and have a discerning ear. To hear the critiques without becoming insulted. You must be in a learning mode. Hear the opinions and pick through the ones you feel are right.

As a writer, I know when I have a rough patch of dialog. Or when a plot is thin, or I have just been lazy and not written it as well as I should. There are those “little darlings” that we think makes us sound like a literary genius but creates yawns or confusion for our readers. I always know when my beta reader is spot on. They always find the places I knew where not as good as they should be. Sometimes, it may be an opinion on the subject and you will instinctively know whether you need to change it or not. But be humble. Go into it for the learning.

We have all been here. Writers of all ages, education, and walks of life, we know how it is. You have poured over it, certain that you have caught every mistake. Aunt Bertha loves it. Mom loves it. Everyone is excited. Well, until your editor is excited, it’s not ready. Why do you think the publishing houses hire editors? You don’t see your mistakes. Simple as that.

The greatest complaint out there is that self-published authors do not edit their books, creating a poor quality read. Don’t give the community a bad rep. It is a little more expensive, but it is well worth the investment.

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Historical Realism – Guest Post by Jaq D Hawkins…

Re-blog from The Story Reading Ape. Excellent article by Jaq D Hawkins on how today’s reader can view historical fiction.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Among my favourite genres I read for my own pleasure is Historical Fiction. What makes Historical Fiction of interest to me as a reader is the opportunity to learn about a period of history by living it through a character’s eyes. The story must be well written to be enjoyed and the characters, fictional though they are, are what will make the story work. However, accuracy in the historical backdrop is essential to me.

Some allowances for Alternative History are a different matter. We know that airships have never frequented the skies and putting them into a Steampunk story adds a Fantasy element. However, the other details of the story are what will make the story ring true. I don’t want my history whitewashed or romanticised, I want as much realism as can be mustered.

Like most authors, I periodically have a look at any new reviews of my books…

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books, indie books, indie writer, journaling, stories, writing

Changes and Face Lifts

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It was time. Almost ten years ago I ventured timidly onto WordPress to do the thing all authors were raving about, building and writing a blog. I am technically challenged. Took me forever to figure out WordPress. I am an introvert. Write about myself? I would rather go through labor again.

So I got on the chat line, which is a perk of having a business account, (which I love) and got a very nice tech who was polite and patient. With their help, I was able to change my site name from Common Sense Experiences to A Journey Thru Words.

When I first started I figured I would blog about a wide variety of things. But it soon became obvious I was writing more about my experiences as an author. So this site needed a more modern name, and a new facelift.

I was in luck. WordPress has updated and created new, easy to use templates that transfer immediately. I won’t talk about how you used to have to do it in the past. I love the new perks. Also, now that I have managed to author five books, I decided it was time to look more like an author. A dear friend and life coach, Cherie, (http://totalwellnesscenter.net/ ) found a beautiful background pic and create a new banner for me.

I welcome you to my new, improved blog and website. I am looking forward to guest blogs, impromptu writing, keeping you up to date on my next book in the historical Vikings series I am doing, and an occasional re-blog on industry news.

Meanwhile, I invite you to visit another blog that I follow and have learned a lot from. Chris recently had me on his site as a guest and did an awesome job with all the bits and pieces I sent to him.  The interview link is below. I hope you will continue to follow and enjoy my writings.

https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/author/thestoryreadingape/

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Author Friends – Jack Eason

 

I first met Jack on a little chat site called BookRix. Eventually, we all migrated to Facebook to offer our wares.  There, we began to chat on occasion after I left a review on one of his books. The time difference has been a challenge at times, but through hit and miss communications I learned a lot from my author friend.

I have enjoyed the camaraderie-ship, sharing those little things that only authors understand.  We encouraged each other and shared our newest literary accomplishments. We chatted about our lives and families. And even though we have never met, we learned what all humans should, that we all have common ground simply through being human. We dream, we strive, we hurt and we all go through life ‘s phases. and even on Facebook, we form bonds.

I asked Jack to give me a little background and this is what he sent.

“Jack Eason lived in New Zealand for forty-two years until 2000 when he returned to his birthplace in England. As far as he is concerned he will always consider himself to be a Kiwi. After military service in the 1960’s, he traveled the world, visiting exotic lands and making many friends. Now in his seventies, he is content to write and travel via the Internet.

Besides writing novels and short stories, he contributes to his own blog “Have We Had Help?” His literary interests include science fiction, history, both ancient and modern, and humorous tales like those written by his fellow writer Derek Haines, such as “HAL”. He lives in semi-retirement in his home town surrounded by his favorite books, ranging from historical fact to science fiction. His literary icons are J.R.R Tolkien, George Orwell, Arthur C Clarke, and John Wyndham.”

He recently finished another literary gem, “Autumn 1066: When Anglo-Saxon Dominance Ended.” Click on the link above to find out more. You can also visit his blog, “Have We Had Help?” Quite often he has some interesting information on new publishing trends as well as an eclectic collection of blogs on happenings in the world.  His recent new goal is trying to reach having 1000 followers on his blog and I hope he succeeds.

Meanwhile, I’m just grateful to have such a friend and I hope his book becomes a best seller!

 

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Time to Viking Up!

Viking ship

NORSE HEARTS IS IN PRINT ON AMAZON! Ebook to be released 11-23-2018

The biggest item in my Bucket List is done! Since the first time I read a romance book, I desired to write a historical romance about Vikings.  I have always been fascinated by this culture that burst upon the world in the 800’s. Their tenacity to survive, their code of honor and their impact on the world created a respect that resonates with me.
The original story and characters that I have lived with for so many years surprised me when I finally had the time to sit down and write. I realized that the prologue, which described a scene about their parents, was actually a story unto itself. I’m not sure you start a series with the last story first, but that’s what happened, This is the beginning of actually five stories now. Each one related, but each one different.
So, at last, the book is written. But it took me far longer to produce than I had anticipated. Real life, with real death, interrupted the process. Of course after the loss of a spouse your whole life changes. Then there is the grief to deal with. In the end, these characters could not be silent anymore and Norse Hearts is now finished.
You can find out more details on this book on the website page marked “Norse Hearts”.  Unlike the characters in my first book, Windswept Hearts, you will find Serphina and Einar to be individuals who are hard-headed and opinionated. They were a delight to write about and I hope they entertain you as well as they did me.

So I invited you to get a taste, feel and glimpse of a time long ago as you entered the world of the Vikings. It’s time to VIKING UP!