The Wretched State of News Reporting


Newspapers from around the worldIn bygone times, newspapers printed news stories based on triple-checked, verified facts. OpEd pieces were also based on proven, validated facts, though shaped by the well-thought-out opinions of subject matter experts.

Enter the Internet and digital reporting. For a while, the standards were the same for print and online – proven, corroborated, or witnessed actualities. Then news sources like Fox News and the New York Times, always right- and left-leaning respectively, moved even further apart on the spectrum, and their OpEd pages became less well-thought-out. The increased need for content production for the plethora of digital news outlets led to increased editorial pressure and reduced editorial oversight. We began an inevitable slide into sloppy and unsubstantiated reporting.

According to The Guardian, an anonymous reporter said, “There is definitely a pressure to churn out stories, including dubious ones, in order to get clicks, because they equal money. At my former employer in particular, the pressure was on due to the limited resources. That made the environment quite horrible to work in.” (https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/apr/17/fake-news-stories-clicks-fact-checking)

What we’re left with now are “news” articles which are not fact-checked, and which may be based on bias, opinion, and fallacious inference. Some examples:

1. http://www.wealthwire.com/news/economy/2769:

One-Percenter Leaves 1% Tip
by Brittany Stepniak, Wealth Wire
February 28th, 2012

This story went viral, picked up by CNN, Huffington Post, and numerous other outlets. It made the rounds of social media, and whipped up a frenzy against the 1%-ers. In fact, the restaurant where this supposedly took place did the research the reporters failed to do, and found out the whole thing was a Photoshopped hoax.

2. http://gopthedailydose.com/2014/04/28/photo-michelle-obama-proves-hates-democracy/

PHOTO: Michelle Obama Proves She Hates Democracy
by sophia, GOP The Daily Dose
April 28, 2014

In this instance, the “reporter” doesn’t even use her last name. What are we supposed to make of her journalistic training and objective reporting style? The referenced photo shows the First Lady joining in the fun with street music and folk dancing, not angrily waving Communist flags as this report claims.

3. http://www.dailystormer.com:

Empress Melania Attacked by Filthy Russian Kike Julia Ioffe in GQ!
by Andrew Anglin, Daily Stormer
April 28, 2016

If the headline for the article doesn’t already turn your stomach, how about this excerpt: “Unsurprisingly, the Russian kike Ioffe has made a career out of attacking Glorious Leader (EAST). She also met privately with the African dictator of America in 2014 and agreed to push Syrian war propaganda.” Is any of this even remotely true? It’s so steeped in bias it’s really hard to pull anything out of this except that Andrew Anglin is a horrible, hateful person.

And lastly, we have the world of social media, the ultimate in biased statements having little to do with facts of any sort. Where the educated meet the illiterate, the closed-minded face off against the liberal, and anonymous hacks and haters can spout their filth with zero accountability. Check out some of these, if you have the stomach for it:

1. Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Zachary Davis was fired over Tweets comparing African-Americans in Baltimore to apes: “It’s time to start using deadly force in Baltimore. When they start slaying these ignorant young people it’ll send a message.” And then, “Baltimore the last few days = real life Planet of the Apes.”


2. South Carolina Republican Todd Kincannon flings insults liberally. On Nancy Pelosi: “?The Crabby C— from the California Coast? Would you prefer Nancy the Crooked Whore? More accurate, but also more words.” On transgender persons: “I have plenty of compassion for trannies. They should all be locked up in mental institutions and their care paid for by the state.”


3. Some hate-filled anonymous douchebag on Harley Quinn Smith, daughter of Kevin Smith: “You’re ugly as shit. And that steaming horse shit of a movie, yoga hosers, should be banned. Fuck your talentless cunt of a father for trying to compare it with the matrix. You’re cancer and I sincerely hope you end up like Lindsay Lohan and dead.”

To the legitimate, serious journalists out there who fact-check and verify, keep it up! You might be a dying breed, but you’re the sole reliable source for news on this planet.

To shoddy producers of questionable Internet content, please take pride in your work. Take the extra ten minutes to verify your facts before blasting them out into cyberspace. Once out, it’s out there forever.

To the cowards who hide behind anonymous Twitter handles or fake Facebook profiles, remember the New York Times rule: If you wouldn’t be comfortable with what you write being on the front page of the New York Times in 3” high letters with your real name right there for everyone to see, don’t put it on Facebook. Similarly (and probably more importantly), if you wouldn’t say it to your mother, don’t Tweet it.


When Fiction Authors Write What They Don’t Know*


Boy Reading Book on a Stack of BooksConventional writing wisdom says that an author should write what he knows, because it lends credibility to the writing and brings it to sparking life. This is great advice. My military stories feel authentic, because I understand the language, mannerisms, and mindset of the military culture. But what happens when an author tries to write what she doesn’t know?

A storm of controversy swept through the writing community last week, focusing on a particular workshop scheduled for a particular writers conference. The crux of the matter centralized on the idea that an author should not write a disabled character because she, herself, was not disabled. I’m not going to rehash that drama, but it got me thinking about fiction writing.

Fiction is, by definition, “literature…that describes imaginary events and people.”1 Contemporary novelists write books set in 18th century England or Feudal Japan. Gays write straight men, and men write female protagonists. A wealthy Russian living in Germany finished a book set in New England about a poverty-stricken child while he was studying butterflies. Yes, I mean Vladimir Nabokov.

Franz Kafka penned a seminal work about a man who’d been transformed into some sort of ceiling-crawling insect, though he remained categorically human. William Golding was never stranded on a deserted island as a boy, but Lord of the Flies remains one of the most exceptional books ever written about human nature, morality, and a descent into barbarism. Watership Down follows the adventures of rabbits. Rabbits? Yes, and it’s a wonderful book. I highly recommend it. But Richard Adams is not, nor has ever been, a rabbit.

My point is that we write what we don’t know all the time. How do we do it? We research. We interview specialists and scholars. We observe our subjects in their native habitat to understand their particular psychology, and read what historians, biographers, and sociologists have to say. We read foreign newspapers and current magazines, and look at photographs to help us get a feel for an uncommon setting or unique fashion trend. And then we imagine.

But the far more relevant question is, “Why do we do it?”

At a fundamental level, we write to immerse ourselves fully in the astonishing diversity of the human experience. A desire to express ideas which might transform another in a meaningful way. To inspire, to educate, to amuse. As therapy. As a legacy for those who come after. An author should write words that speak to him (and others) in a story that happens to be set in Alabama or Fiji or Mars. A story she would love to read but doesn’t yet exist, so she writes it. I’m not only talking about literary classics or the Great American Novel. The same ideas and ideals apply to mysteries, romances, legal thrillers, and Westerns. To fantasy and horror and science fiction. We throw ourselves joyfully into the miasma of the Unknown to cage a small sliver of it, and then we free that sliver into the wild for others to experience.

So if you only read gothic novels written by hunchbacks with an advanced knowledge of French architecture, suspense books written by an assassin who’s suffered memory loss, or fantasies written by elves, you’re shorting yourself. Spread your wings a little, trust the author to take you on a wild ride, sit back, and enjoy.

*For the purposes of this article, ‘he,’ ’she,’ ‘his,’ and ‘her’ are used interchangeably.

1 Definition of Fiction in English:.” Fiction: Definition of Fiction in Oxford Dictionary (American English) (US). N.p., n.d. Web. 27 June 2016.


The 2016 RITA® Best First Book Finalists Blitz Event


Today we are sharing an incredible giveaway hosted by the 2016 ‘Best First Book’ RITA® Nominated Authors! They are giving away 2 $50 Amazon Gift Cards, and a copy of each of the nominated titles. There will be 3 winners total. Be sure to sign up below and check out the authors who are participating and their incredible titles.


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NO BETTER MAN by Sara Richardson

Book Blurb:
When it comes to business, Avery King always comes out on top. So after a very public breakup, work is the perfect excuse to flee the Windy City for the gentle breezes of Aspen, Colorado. Her mission: acquire the land of a rundown mountain ranch. Avery expects an easy win . . . until she meets the rugged and irresistible rancher who won’t give up his property without a fight.

Bryce Walker is stunned by the stubborn beauty determined to get what she wants. But what she wants is his last connection to the life he used to have. Bryce has plans to return the ranch to its former glory and no way will he sell his family home. Yet the more time he spends with Avery, the more her sweet touch makes him forget his painful memories. Now Bryce must decide whether living in the past is worth losing his future . .


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NIGHT HUSH by Leslie Jones

Book Blurb:

Night Hush is a 2016 RITA® nominee for Best First Book, and the winner of the New England RWA’s Reader’s Choice Award.

In this gripping and action-packed debut, an Army Intelligence officer and a Delta Force soldier must race against the clock to stop a catastrophic terrorist attack …

When Army Intelligence officer Heather Langstrom’s military convoy is ambushed and she’s taken prisoner, she knows she’ll need all her strength and courage to survive, escape her captors, and report the whispers of unrest brewing in the Middle East.

Delta Force Captain Jace Reed isn’t one to throw caution to the wind, but when his team stumbles upon beaten and weak Heather fleeing the terrorist training camp they’ve been dispatched to destroy, he’ll risk everything to get her to safety.

Once back on base, they learn her convoy’s ambush was no accident … she’d been targeted. As the evidence of an impending attack mounts, Jace and Heather uncover a deadly terrorist plot that could kill hundreds of civilians.

But Jace’s protective instincts and Heather’s fierce independence put them at constant odds. And as they close in on the extremists, they must learn to trust one another in order to save innocent lives … even if it means sacrificing their own.


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Strongest_Steel (1)

Book Blurb:
“An incredible story about healing, pain, and trust…you don’t want to miss this one!” –New York Times bestselling author Jen McLaughlin

“I know what you’re up to,” she said.
“And what would that be?” he asked with a devious smirk.
“You know.”
“Is it working?”
She looked over her shoulder to where he was still reclining against the wall, watching her patiently. All the reasons she’d vowed to stay alone, to remain uninvolved, fled as he grinned at her.

In Scarlett Cole’s The Strongest Steel, Harper Connelly never expected to find herself outside of a tattoo parlor at one in the morning. The scars that decorate her back are just one more reminder of things she’d rather forget, the past she wants to leave far behind her, but before she can move on, she needs him.

Trent Andrews has his own reasons for specializing in inking over scars. And there’s no way in hell he’s going to turn Harper away. Not when a swirling mix of tenderness and desire slams into him every time he sees her. Being with Harper is like going ten rounds in the ring―exhilarating, powerful, and dangerous. She stirs feelings in him he thought were long gone… if he can only get past her carefully constructed defenses.

Running was the only thing that saved Harper last time, but each session at Second Circle Tattoos brings her closer and closer to Trent. His lingering touches seduce her, making her believe in a life without fear, where she can be happy, whole, in love. But when cryptic messages start appearing on Harper’s phone, strange deliveries arrive at her door, and Second Circle is vandalized, Harper is convinced that her ex-boyfriend has tracked her down, and worse, that he knows about Trent. She ran from her past once before; this time will she have the strength to fight back?

“This book gave me so many feels! Angst, passion, and love all set in Miami, my favorite city. I can’t wait for more from this author and I can’t recommend this book enough.” – Sidney Halston,USA Today bestselling author of Against the Cage


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ALTERED by Marnee Blake

Book Blurb:

When “normal” ends, survival begins…

The sickness came on suddenly and violently. When it was done, waitress Blue Michaels was different in a really strange way. And the entire town of Glory was dead…except for her.

Only that’s not exactly true. A handful of people made it, including U.S. Army Specialist Seth Campbell, who was caught in the wrong town at the worst time. He’s fierce and protective, and way too good-looking. As much as they need a leader—as much as Blue wants to trust him—there are too many questions and not enough time for answers. Now they are hunted. But what their pursuers don’t know is each of them has strange new powers. And they’ll use their “gifts” to survive…no matter who stands in their way.


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Book Blurb:

Immortal Vikings are among us.

Leif Skarsganger and his elite band of immortal warriors have been charged to protect humanity from the evil Norse god Loki.

Under attack from Loki’s minions, Leif is shocked to encounter a dark-haired beauty who fights like a warrior herself. Wounded and feverish, the Viking kisses her, inadvertently triggering an ancient Norse bond. But when Naya Brisbane breaks away and disappears before the bond is completed, Leif’s warrior spirit goes berserk. If Leif doesn’t find her fast, he’s going to lose himself to permanent battle fury.

But Naya doesn’t want to be found…and he’ll do anything to track her down. Because they’re both running out of time.


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KRISTI ANN HUNTER_NobleMasquerade (1)
A NOBLE MASQUERADE by Kristi Ann Hunter

Book Blurb:

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.


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Book Blurb:

Imagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.
It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision-a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.
Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.
In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo-a hellish prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes.
But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all-Callie, herself.


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PAIRING OFF by Elizabeth Harmon

Book Blurb:

American figure skater Carrie Parker’s Winter Games dreams were dashed when her philandering partner caused one of the greatest scandals in skating history. Blacklisted from competing in the United States, her career is over…until she receives a mysterious invitation and is paired with the most infuriating, talented—and handsome—skater she’s ever met.

Russian champion Anton Belikov knows sacrifice. He gave up a normal life and any hope of a meaningful relationship to pursue his dream. And he’s come close—with a silver medal already under his belt, the next stop is the gold. All he needs is a partner. While he’s never forgotten the young American skater he seduced one long-ago night in Amsterdam, he never expected to be confronted with their past…never mind share the ice with her.

When what starts as a publicity stunt grows into something real, Carrie and Anton’s partnership will test their loyalties to family, country and each other. With only a few months to train for the competition of a lifetime, can they master technique and their emotions, or will they lose their footing and fall victim to the heartaches of their pasts?


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Release Day! Band of Bachelors: Alex


Cover of Band of Bachelors: AlexToday I’m pleased to announce the release of Band of Bachelors: Alex by NYT bestselling author Sharon Hamilton. And it’s on sale!

For a chance to win a free ebook copy of Band of Bachelors: Lucas (the 1st book in this series), read the short excerpt below, then tell me your favorite part in the comments.

“I want more out of life than life’s given me so far, but I’m not complaining. I just want more of it. I want the juice of life, not to live life. I’m looking to get a good partner and travel the world playing volleyball until my knees ache and my back or shoulder gives out. And after volleyball? Who knows what I can do at eighty?” She gave him the smile she’d given so many other dumbstruck men over the few years since she’d been dating. It was always the same. It also usually got same reaction.

But this time, she saw something ignite inside Alex. The backdrop of lonely sea gull cries, the salty gentle breeze and the sounds of metal clanging as work began late at the docks, only enhanced the excitement brewing in her belly. She was struck with the beauty and power of something maybe dangerous about this man. And also something so beautiful, her eyes watered.

Can’t wait to keep reading? Take Alex home today!

Amazon: http://kindlel.ink/alex?release=authors
Barnes & Noble: http://nookl.ink/alex?release=authors
iBooks: http://ibooksl.ink/alex?release=authors

Amazon UK: http://kindlel.ink/uk.alex?release=authors
Amazon AU: http://kindlel.ink/au.alex?release=authors
Amazon CA: http://kindlel.ink/ca.alex?release=authors
Amazon FR: http://kindlel.ink/fr.alex?release=authors
Amazon DE: http://kindlel.ink/de.alex?release=authors
(Print & audio versions coming soon!)

Getting Serious About the Stanford Rape Case


Photo of Brock Turner

The Rapist

Reprinted with the permission of Kim L. Jones, CISM, CISSP, M.Sc.

I am on a college campus regularly now. As you can imagine, the Stanford rape case is getting a lot of airtime in the corridors, amongst the students, and around the faculty water coolers. This prompted me to reflect on some things that I felt like sharing.

In 2007, when my son Scott turned 13, I put together a small booklet for him entitled “What is a Man?” It contained some lessons and thoughts that I felt it important for him to know as he began his transition into adulthood. Here’s an extract of some of the things that I wrote to him about women:

* * * * *

“Men treasure women. Women are the only creatures in the world who can create human life and carry it inside of them. They are to be treasured, respected, and admired.

“The only area in which a woman is weaker than a Man is in physical strength. In all other things, women are superior to men. They are smarter, more mature, and more emotionally balanced than us. Men know this…and are not threatened by this. Men treat women as equals.

“Men do not hit women under any circumstances. Our physical size and strength makes this the only advantage that we have over women. To use this advantage is to be cruel…and cowardly.

“As you mature physically, your feelings toward women will change as well. You will move from friendship to an awkward like-hate reaction to genuine attraction and affection. Understand that these feelings are perfectly normal…however, understand that how you act upon these feelings is indeed important. Above all else, Men understand that when a woman says ‘no’ regarding intimacy it means no. Period. Men never, ever, EVER force themselves upon a woman.”

* * * * *

Being a male is the result of genetics. Being a Man is a choice…one that must be made every day. For those of you looking to stop the violence toward women in our society, turn to every parent of a male that you know and remind them to raise their boys to be Men.

The world needs fewer males…and a damned sight more Men.

My two cents…

Kim Jones HeadshotKim L. Jones
Director, Cybersecurity Education Consortium
Arizona State University

Kim L. Jones is a 29-year intelligence, security, and risk management professional with expertise in information security strategy; governance & compliance; security operations; and risk management. A sought-after speaker and industry thought leader, Professor Jones is a former Chief Security Officer who has built, operated, and/or managed information security programs within the financial services, defense, healthcare, manufacturing, and business outsourcing industries. 

Jones holds a Bachelors Degree in computer science from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and a Masters Degree in Information Assurance from Norwich University.  He also holds the CISM and CISSP certifications.

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