Monday, November 29, 2021

Books That Make Great Holiday Gifts

 
 
If you are trying to decide what type of gift to give for the holidays, we got you covered and have put together some thrillers, mysteries, suspense, and romance narratives that will make great gifts for the upcoming holidays. Just click on the title and shop until you drop.

 

Frenzied by Brandon Massey - A couple, arriving home from vacation, discovers their son is behaving like a demented killer.

 

Man on the Run by Carl Weber - An inmate, who swears he is innocent, escapes from a federal prison, which may cost his best friends their freedom.

 

Nickel City Blues by Gary Earl Ross - A PI is hired to protect a singer who is being stalked by a cop.

 

Little Blue Eyes by Rob Santana - A woman finds an abandoned infant in an alleyway and calls a drug-addicted baby broker for assistance.

 

Miller Avenue Murder by Nenny May - An elderly woman is found murdered in her wedding dress.

 

Summer & Joon by Sydney Arrison - From two different worlds, a single waitress meets a successful entrepreneur.

 

Vanished (A prequel to a series of six short stories) by Clara Lewis - A detective comes across a murder file that is similar to an earlier case.

 

Agent Red - Fatal Enemy (Book 5) by Ava S. King - An undercover agent receives a tip about dead bodies showing up in a small town.

 

The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley - A down on his luck homeowner rents his basement to a peculiar man.

 

The Badge (Tessa White Series Book 1) by Nadia Siddiqui - A chemistry teacher leaves her job to find the real person who murdered her sister.

Monday, November 22, 2021

The Best Virtual Office Holiday Gathering Ideas

The idea of coming together is a theme that characterizes the holiday season for many of us. 

Despite haunting memories, you may have from past work parties, it is a key pillar in celebrating your company’s culture and your success for the year. It allows employees to get to know each other and to reflect while also permitting them to let their hair down.

This should not be any different if you have a virtual or flexible workforce because of the pandemic. By hosting a virtual party, you show that you care about the morale of your employees.

So how can you have a memorable holiday party when you cannot bring your team together in person? You are in luck as there are now plenty of options for fun virtual experiences out there.

Following are some virtual holiday activities you can do while you are still at home:

Online Cocktail Party

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The holidays would not be the holidays without some relaxed conversation along with non-alcoholic and alcoholic refreshments. Typically, this would involve corralling everyone into a venue. You can do this from the comfort of your own home and drink with your colleagues from around the world.

One simple way to approach this is to have your team purchase their drinks and then jump on a video conferencing app like Zoom. This is a good option if you are short on time and on a budget.

If you would like to make things a little chic, some companies will send you a selection of drinks to sample.

Mixology Classes

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If your team is feeling more adventurous then why not take it a step further and try learning to make your cocktails. This is a great activity if you want to give something to your team to talk about right away and connect through a shared goal. Most virtual Mixology classes send out everything you need to get going.

Karaoke

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For the bravest teams, Karaoke is a great way to get everyone out of their shells and into the holiday spirit.

You can easily find karaoke resources on YouTube, but try to get song recommendations from your attendees beforehand so you do not have to waste precious time on the call looking for music. Tools such as Watch2Gether will help sync up your internet song browsing experience to make sure everyone can keep up and are on the same page.

Meditation Classes

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While many see the holidays as a cheery time, for some it can be a stressful time for many reasons including financial, social pressures, and isolation. You can help your employees slow down a little and prioritize their well-being for a few moments.

Studies have shown that meditation helps reduce anxiety, improve concentration and remove stress. Mindfulness and presence are great skills to develop in life for any celebration. This could be the first step in a new journey for your team.

Baking Challenges

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Holidays are the time of year to indulge and give in to your sweet-toothed cravings. If your team likes their baked goods (with a hint of competition), why not propose a baking challenge?

Monday, November 15, 2021

How to Practice Being Open to Surprising Matches While Dating

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We teamed up with Pepsi Mango to help you celebrate unexpected matches — and embrace surprising pairings in every aspect of your life with a little chispa-meaning spark in Spanish.

 

If you keep tripping over the same stone (ahem, person), as the Spanish saying goes, maybe it's time to pay a little more attention to what hasn't worked for you in the past. Think about your past relationships. Do you see a pattern with the type of person to whom you have been attracted? If this is the case then it is probably time to reassess if your "type" is working for you or not.

 

We asked Sujeiry Gonzalez, dating expert and founder of Latina x Love Magazine, also known as Love Sujeiry, about how to get out of that rut and be more open to surprising matches when you're out in the dating world. How do you get out of your comfort zone when you are dating online? How you can figure out what you want in a relationship, and the number one question you should ask yourself to know if there can be compatibility with someone you just met.


Photo by Viktoria Slowikowska from Pexels



What is Your "Type?"

 

First, how do you determine if you have a type? Get a notepad and go down memory lane, Sujeiry recommended. "Think back to your last three relationships," she said. "What do these exes have in common physically and personality-wise? Do they have similar characteristics?"

 

She also said it is important to look at the dynamics within these past three relationships. "What dynamics played out when it came to gender roles, money, faithfulness, and communication? Did they all treat you the same? Why did the relationships end? Jot down any blaring commonalities. If you find a common thread (or multiple threads), then you have a type."


Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels


How to Let Go of Old Patterns

 

Once you have identified your type, consider why you were attracted to them in the first place, as well as how they ended up not meeting your needs. Some people seem to date people who work in a particular field or look a certain way or are into a specific kind of music, but you need to identify your type at a deeper level.

 

"Let's say you have a type that is a bartender," Sujeiry said. "You fall for them over and over again. Yet you struggle with their career because your love language is quality time, and they are always working when you are at home. Or you love musicians, but they get a lot of attention from groupies, and it enrages you because you struggle with insecurities."

 

This is when you need to start looking outside your comfort zone. This does not mean trying to force yourself to date someone who is the complete opposite of your type. Rather, you want to look for someone who is going to meet your needs. "In the end, what matters is that you are loved and respected and that you are in a healthy, reciprocal relationship," said Sujeiry.

OK, so you do not want to do a complete 180, but where do you draw the line then when swiping right or left. Take that list of commonalities and be mindful of these character traits when dating again. It is easy to get lost in old patterns of people we are traditionally attracted to, even if that type of person has only caused drama, loss, disappointment, and heartbreak.

 

"If you're online dating, talking to a potential mate, or even on a date, pay close attention to what they say and what they do," Sujeiry said. "Speak less, listen more. Remember how those relationships ended and why you were unfulfilled. Eventually, you will be able to pinpoint your type from a mile away; your type will turn you off, and you will turn them down. That's when you will be open to exploring other options."

 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels


Dating Outside the Box

 

For many people, dating people with a similar cultural background is a habit — and potentially a must-have. Ask yourself, have I ever considered being open to other cultures? That can be an excellent place to start.

 

Being with someone from a different culture helps you broaden your horizon and get out of your bubble in more ways than you might expect. "If embraced, you can grow as a person and as a couple, as long as there is respect and understanding for each other's cultures and open communication about cultural traditions, customs, and expectations," Sujeiry said.

 

However, some challenges are particular to multicultural relationships. "Not every culture embraces interracial or intercultural relationships, which can make it difficult to connect to relatives and cultural traditions," Sujeiry said. "This is where you need honesty and compromises. You do not have to have the same relationship that your parents did, and you do not have to raise your children one way or the other. As a couple from different cultures, it is your responsibility to choose what you take and leave from each other's respective cultures. That way, you can build a relationship identity based on both of your cultures."

 

Photo by Jasmine Carter from Pexels

One Question to Rate Them All

 

Ultimately, when there is true compatibility with someone, it does not matter if that person fits that "type" you are used to, ticks all the boxes on that list you made when you were getting over your last breakup, or shares a cultural background with you. Sujeiry said at the end of the day, what matters when thinking about if a new relationship has potential is asking yourself if you can see them as an actual friend. "Not just an acquaintance, but a best friend," she said. She goes on to say, "someone that enjoys similar activities as you, someone that you can be open with and fully yourself without judgment, someone that shares similar values about money, love, religion, and family, someone that desires the same lifestyle that you do. Friendship is the foundation of relationships, and as they say, 'birds of a feather flock together.'"


Monday, November 08, 2021

News for Travelers

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News from Travel Noire

If You Retire In These Countries, You'll Get Extra Perks As A Foreigner - If you end up in one of these places, it could mean a little extra savings on monthly bills and other expenses. So, as you plan for retirement, here are a few countries that should be on your list for consideration. Learn More→

 

4 Places In The World Where Public Sex Is Legal - If you're an exhibitionist who gets a thrill from being watched by strangers, or a voyeur who enjoys observing others engaged in the act, this list just might be for you. Learn More→

 

Jordan English: The 24-Year-Old Influencer Who Opened Barbados' New Hot Spot - A chill scene filled with mostly millennial customers vibing to Soca, R&B, and everything in between. Guests will also witness patrons chowing down on tasty eats that offer a spin on Bajan cuisine. Learn More→

 

These Unique Airbnb Homes Will Change Your Next Vacation - Unique Airbnb homes are a great way to get away from the norm. Not sure where to go on your next vacation? "Perfect." says the app. Learn More→

 

7 Fantasy Vacations For Those With Unlimited Budgets - If you're looking to travel and have an unlimited budget, we've come up with a list of fantasy vacations that you simply must try before you get too old to do so. Learn More→

 

Booking Travel With Cryptocurrency Is On The Rise, But There Are Consequences - "The number of bookings using crypto has steadily risen month over month to record highs, even during the pandemic," Juan Otero, Travala.com's CEO said. Learn More→

 

You'll Soon Be Able To Use Your iPhone For Your ID At Airport Security - "The addition of driver's licenses and state IDs to Apple Wallet is an important step in our vision of replacing the physical wallet with a secure and easy-to-use mobile wallet." Learn More→

 

Oh Wow: Travelers Share Their Stories From The 'Worst Airports' Around The World -

Several travelers in the popular Black Travel Movement Facebook group recently weighed in on some of their worst airport experiences. Learn More→ -

 

From A Hotel Housekeeper In The US To Owning A Luxury Hotel In Dakar, Senegal - "I started cleaning toilets. Today, I am the manager of my own five-star boutique hotel with 60 employees," Souadou Niang told BBC Africa. Learn More→

 

Los Angeles Has Its First Afro-Mexican Restaurant And It's Everything - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! The first Afro-Mexican restaurant features a vast menu full of different types of tamales, tacos, moles, plantains, pozole, black beans and more.  Learn More→

 

Beware: Travelers Share Tourist Traps Around The World - Redditors went IN and shared the dark side of travel. Read on to learn some tourist traps to avoid around the world. Learn More→

 

2022 On The Horizon: 7 Of The Best New Year's Eve Destinations To Celebrate - As another year without a dull moment comes to a close, why not start planning an epic, but safe New Year's Eve trip to celebrate a fresh, new beginning? Learn More→

 

Idris Elba Is Opening A Wine Bar In London This Fall And We're Already Planning A Trip - At this point... the real question is what does Idris Elba not do?  We know he's fine, canactmodel, rap, can DJ, and now, add wine bar owner to the list. - Learn More→

 

Get Free Food On Your Birthday At These Restaurants - We know what you're thinking. Is it really free? Yes. There are multiple restaurants around the country that treat their customers to a freebie meal or food item as a birthday treat. Learn More→

 

Traveler Story: I Dined In The Nude At The Only Naturist Restaurant In Paris - Have you ever dined in the nude? I have, and not only is it freeing, it's an exercise in self-love and vulnerability. Learn More→

 

La Juanita Is Mexico City's First Cannabis Coffee Shop - Since its opening in May, this cannabis cafeteria has become the place for cannabis users and non-users to learn even more about the industry. Learn More→

 

From Madrid To Turks & Caicos: November Flights For Less Than $350 Round-Trip - The year is winding down, which means these cheap flights couldn't come at a better time. With November on the horizon, you have a short time to cross off those travel goals. Learn More→

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Monday, November 01, 2021

Monday, October 25, 2021

How to Avoid Rental Assistance Scams

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If you are facing eviction for any reason, there are organizations out there that can assist you. However, there are also fake “organizations” and “charities” that can hurt you and ruin you financially.


COVID-19 has created an opening for scammers to target people who are just trying to get help with paying their rent or taking care of other financial needs. Scammers may call, email, or text you, indicating they can get you money for rent, or provide you with legal help to avoid eviction.


Whether a stranger contacts you unexpectedly, or you go looking for rental assistance, here are ways to protect yourself:

·        Never give your Social Security, bank account, credit card, or debit card number to anyone who contacts you. Moreover, even if you are the one reaching out, do your research on the organization first, before you share your information.

·        If you look online for help with your rent, search for the name of the groups you find, plus the words “scam,” “fraud,” or “complaint,” to see what others are saying. Do that before you contact them.

·        Find out about local programs that offer rental assistance and other help.

 

·        The eviction moratorium put in place by the CDC for renters in counties where COVID cases are rapidly spreading ended on August 26, 2021. The federal eviction moratorium ended on July 31, 2021. If you are facing eviction, you still have rights. The first step in most evictions is a written notice. Check with your local court system for more details about the eviction process and your rights. You also may qualify for free legal services and be able to speak to a lawyer to learn about your rights.

 

If you spot a rental assistance fraud, please contact the FTC by clicking here

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Bringing to Light - Name before the Masses Virtual Book Tour for Golden Shana: The Chase, an Erotic Romantic Suspense by A P Von K'Ory

 




An evening at the La Scala in Milan twirls the lives of five people into a web of rivalry, intrigues, heartaches, obsession, murder, loss, and revenge.

 

“… for those who love selective eroticism with substance. An exciting and sophisticated erotic thriller for the astute romance reader, woman or man.”

 

Love, a word Roman can hardly spell, hits him when he sees Shana one evening. She’s the first woman not dropping to her knees at his mere presence. Used to getting whatever he wants, he chases her. Only to discovers that she prefers the girls. Roman can’t let that deter him. But is he for once up against his own comeuppance? At any rate, he needs assistance, which comes in the form of Alyssa, Shana’s BFF. Trouble crops up when Alyssa is all too ready and willing to drop on her knees for him.

 

Roman can't get anywhere near Shana on his own. Would he start anything with Alyssa as long as this finally leads him to meet Shana in person?

 

Then there’s Marie, his current companion, who has a life-changing surprise for him.

 

Roman: I never chased after a woman. Then I caught a glimpse of the woman I would kneel for, but didn’t even know her name. Heck, I determined to find her if it took me the rest of my life.

 

Shana: He stood in the room with her. The frisson in the currents freaking between them knocked her senseless. The mutual force of predator and prey, blasting into her core ... her soul ... Danger. Keep far away from him




Was it love I felt for Svadishana? A woman I’d spoken three whiny words – Please call me! – to? Was it more than simple lust and desire? Did I want to possess more than just her body? Pondering these questions alone was so unlike me. That woman had turned me into an alien even unto my own self. What I felt, my inner voice said, was more than the thrill of the hunt. More than lust, desire, need, passion, the excitement of possession, and subjugation. Of course all that was part of it. But the basis or the source, the seedbed on which all that sprouted and was growing to full blossom in me, could well be something else.

When I thought of her, saw her image from Milan in my mind, watched how she moved in long smooth strides in YouTube, my brow beaded with sweat. I couldn’t pull my gaze away from the few photos I’d fished out of the Internet. Group photos at a family birthday or the authorized biography of her father. Her movements in a YouTube conference clip were springy and powerful even in their smoothness. She exuded strength all over the place, laughing, talking, gesticulating.

 

A breath-taking beauty. Such beauty that I dared not believe it at times.

 

And brains to go with it.

 

In love or not, I knew what I wanted and Svadishana was the answer. I wanted her and would do anything short of suicide to get her. Who knows – perhaps when it came to that as the only means available, I’d really murder too. I didn’t in the least care about the consequences, as long as they got me to where I wanted to get to.

 

Svadishana’s arms and knickers and… heart?

 

What obsession, Roman. Get back to real.

 

No chance. Real was Svadishana.

~~~~ 

6 Questions to Define Your Characters: 
My Take by A P Von K’Ory

As writers we’re familiar with the five basic elements in every story: character, setting, plot, conflict and resolution. Writer Lekic suggests six questions all writers should ask themselves to help them better define their characters. I used them to a great extent in writing Shana and Roman’s story in the Golden Shana Series. Below is my take.

1. Why is the character unhappy with his or her current life? I tend to do the contrary – I make the character as happy as a lark, to start with, then find a way to mess up that joy thoroughly and have them go through all the nasty processes in order to figure out how to achieve that sublime happiness again. This is what I do with Shana and Roman in the Golden Shana Series.

 

2. What does the character want to happen to change his or her circumstances? When I get Shana and Roman to meet for the first time, I intentionally make their meeting place the world’s most famous and revered opera house, La Scala in Milan. This very symbol of culturedness, success, elitism and wealth becomes the kickoff of their beautiful and carefree life suddenly making them aware that they have feelings, emotions deeper than spectacular opulence and comfort. I want them suddenly confronted with their abject internal poverty. That constituted a more compelling challenge to me (and my protagonists) than the well-trod rugs-to-riches. I wanted a figurative riches-to-rugs story.

 

3. Why hasn't the character done so already? In Shana and Roman, I create two people who have never really known basic unhappiness in an existential sense. Their wealth and social standing offer them joy, pleasure, privilege and power. Until they meet and are confronted with a new state of being: the lack of those privileges and power in their internal well-being. From the fairytale castle right into the sinister forest they can’t escape for all the trees and lack of experience.

 

4. What steps must the character take to achieve his or her goal? In my story, Roman’s first reaction is his usual Alpha billionaire I-get-whatever-I-want. When this strategy fails he realizes he needs to change tack. When that, too, fails and he still can’t walk away and forget his goal, he realizes he’s up against a totally different “need” deep within him that demands he recognizes it and changes himself in order to reach his goal. The zillionaire Shana, on the other hand, has her demons when it comes to men. She, too, has to recognize that there are men, other than precious Pappa and her brothers, who are trustworthy and full of honourable intentions. She has to come to terms with the fact that the infamous global womanizer and Europe’s heartthrob, Roman Castell, is capable of genuine love. She has to learn to relinquish control and accept the important bond of fealty and loyalty to a man outside her family.

 

5. What stands in his or her way? Each writer has to decide on this in accordance with their story and plot. I can’t reveal all of mine here for fear of the infamous plot spoiler alert!

 

6. What will motivate the character to persevere? And here we come (miraculously!) to the resolution, which takes us full circle back to the where we began: Why the character is unhappy, and what he or she is willing to sacrifice in order to be happy. How they do this brings in the suite of conflicts and constitutes the story.




A P Von K’Ory
A P Von K’Ory writes the kind of books she herself would like to read and is passionate about, whether romance, psychological thriller or nonfiction. She is the winner of six awards from four continents, the last one being the Achievers Award for Writer of the Year 2013 in the
Netherlands. The Selmere Integration Prize was awarded her in 2014 for her engagement in helping African Women in the Diaspora cope with a variety of domestic and social problems. The Proposal, a short story, won the Cook Communications first prize in 2010 and is published in an American anthology Africa 2012. In 2012, she won the Karl Ziegler Prize for her commitment to bring African culture to Western society in various papers, theses, and lectures. Again in 2012, her book Bound to Tradition: The Dream was nominated for the 2012 Caine Prize by the Author-me Group, Sanford, and in 2013 she was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize.

Von K'Ory is married to an aristocrat and politician of Franco-German descent, has a large extended family. She lectures Economics and Sociology in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. She’s migratory and – weather willing – lives in Germany, France, Cyprus, and Greece.

 


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