Chapter 1 of “Beware the Sleeping Dog”.

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When I moved back to mid-coast Maine, my life seemed perfect. I’d slammed the door on my not-so-recent past and left my troubles behind. Or so I thought until my mechanic shattered that illusion. She told me there was a global positioning device mounted inside my Jeep’s left front wheel well. Apparently someone was tracking me.

Suddenly the strange things that had happened to me over the past few days—and that I’d dismissed as coincidence or just plain bad luck—didn’t seem so random. The GPS was intentional and personal.

Continue reading

The agony-ecstasy of publishing.

My heart beats an irregular staccato; my pulse races; my stomach is queasy. Why am I so stressed? I just e-published my first mystery/suspense. Will people hate it or worse yet ignore it? Why would I put myself through such misery? I’ve accepted this risk for the pure adventure of writing and finessing my own novel; with the hope that others might be entertained by it; and because I am passionate about confronting humanity’s abuse in its many forms.

Product Details http://www.amazon.com/Beware-Sleeping-Dog-mystery-Walker-ebook/dp/B00N1XO0RW/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1409228499&sr=1-1&keywords=beware+the+sleeping+dog%5BKindle Edition]

Mavis Walker has a stalker, but that’s not her only concern. Her past is dogging her as well. The more she struggles to cope, the harder her troubles hound her.

 

Chapter 3 of BEWARE THE SLEEPING DOG (Chapters 1&2 may be read in earlier posts.)

Chapter 3

Back inside the sheltering warmth of the house, I went into automatic mode as I moved through my morning routine. I showered, lingering a little longer than usual under the soothing spray. I stood unfocused in front of my closet, my thoughts on things other than what to wear to work. Finally I chose an outfit I considered suitable for today’s faculty meeting.

I ran a few purposeful brushstrokes through my shoulder-length hair. Catching my reflection in the mirror, I pulled my shoulders back to stand straighter. I consciously maintained good posture and worked my body hard in the hope of defying my aging process. The posture was a carryover from childhood days when Dad challenged my sister and me to stand tall and face the world with aplomb. As teens we took his words to heart and practiced the cliché of walking with books balanced on our heads. Continue reading

Chapter Two of Beware the Sleeping Dog

(To read  Chapter 1, see posting for July 28, 2014 or go to “Beware the Sleeping Dog” tab. Chapters 3, 4 & 5 will be offered in subsequent postings on this blog as previews for Beware the Sleeping Dog.)

Chapter 2

Snowflakes gently poofed against the frosted skylights. The windows, like two eyes above my bed, offered a privileged view of the weather and the sky. I closed my eyes and envisioned melting snowflakes almost soundlessly splattering against the cold glass and sliding along like teardrops down a cheek.

Sprite stirred softly on her cushion beside the bed. I snuggled down, deep into my quilt, luxuriating in the last minutes before the alarm sounded. My mind drifted peacefully. I reflected on my blessings, a habit I developed to survive difficult times and continued to practice through good times. I was thankful that my parents gave me life, protected and nourished me, and taught me to be content with what I had. My children were thriving and were a source of profound joy for me. I lived in a country that provided a safe haven from religious persecution, oppressive government, and tyrannical dictators. Continue reading

Congressional Servants vs Military Service Personnel

When Democratic Congressman Jim Moran refused to answer a disabled veteran’s legitimate question Friday night, I wish the town meeting attendees had walked out in outrage. Our military personnel put their lives on the line, why must they also have their economic solvency put to risk? Far better ‘twould be for members of Congress—our public servants—to sacrifice their own pay for their lapse in consensus and appropriations.

The veteran asked Congressman Moran what our government would do to assure that our military personnel received their paychecks, even if Congress failed to pass a FY 2011 appropriations bill by the midnight deadline. Congressman Moran rudely refused to answer the question.

Is it not disgraceful that our nation’s leaders would put the pay of our servicemen and women on the cutting block without first sacrificing their own pay? Where is their sense of honor?

GE, billions; US, nothing.

I’m appalled that some U.S. corporations still evade taxes through tax loopholes, but I’m delighted to see FOX–most notably Bill O’Reilly and Lou Dobbs–publicizing the travesty.

While researching for my “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?” novel, I discovered that a long-enduring (more than 45 years!) U.S. tax deferral clause enables our multinational corporations to defer paying U.S. taxes until their overseas’ profits come home. Those transfers often do not happen for years, and in the meantime, companies bolstering the U.S. economy and our welfare are subject to a thirty-five percent—or more—corporate tax.

Also during my research, I found a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on the web that listed a multinational U.S. technology and services conglomerate that parked sixty-two billion dollars in undistributed earnings offshore; a U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant that boasted sixty billion dollars of tax-deferred earnings; and an industry leader in energy, oil, and gas that kept fifty-six billion dollars languishing in the loop-hole.

That certainly helps to explain why our U.S. jobs are going anywhere but here.

Some key findings on this issue according to the website listed at the end of this blog:

• “The United States is the only large economy that taxes corporate income worldwide with a tax rate exceeding 30 percent.
• During 2009, both Great Britain and Japan enacted territorial systems, giving their multinationals a major tax advantage over U.S.-based firms that are saddled with a worldwide system. Over 80 percent of developed nations now have territorial systems.
• Whether the U.S. moves to strengthen its worldwide system by repealing deferral or follows the international trend by adopting a territorial system, there will be unfortunate incentives created. In both cases, though, lowering our corporate tax rate will mitigate them.
• A reasonable upper-bound target might be a combined federal-state rate of roughly 25 percent, implying a federal corporate tax rate of roughly 20 percent.”

I think one of my characters in “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?” expresses a consensus on this issue:

“Speaking of the tax deferral loop-hole, it encourages corporate leaders to move manufacturing and other businesses offshore. It breeds contempt for the average U.S. citizen. It’s shameful the way U.S. corporate leaders jump at the opportunity to dodge paying U.S. taxes. Do they care about our economy? Our people? Do they consider the ethics of stomping on others to gain more and more for themselves?”

References:
http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/25842.html

A New Era in Publishing

This morning I read a dialogue between Barry Eisler and Joe Konrath at http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/03/ebooks-and-self-publishing-dialog.html. It offers a strong argument for choosing the self-publishing and e-book path over legacy publishing and paper. It’s titled “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing”, and it is an excellent read.

I’m still opting for the standard route of submitting to literary agents. But it feels good to have a viable back-up plan.

What does it mean to self-publish? In the words of Barry Eisner: You become your own “editor, line editor, copyeditor, proofreader, jacket copy writer, bio writer, cover art designer, and digital formatter”. And you assume “various marketing and sales elements, too”.

Quite daunting, but perhaps, most rewarding–from a profit perspective and as a model for success.

Less for a Vet’s Widow

I’ve read conflicting reports about whether or not our government will be cutting veteran benefits. I don’t recall reading anything about it being a done deal.

However, when I took my 77-year-old widowed neighbor grocery shopping on Friday, she gave me the facts. The annuity amount that she receives for her deceased husband’s military service has been cut by $24.20 a month effective March 1st. The explanation is that new tax laws and new tax tables require additional federal income tax payments from her.

Now that may not seem like much of a cut. However, it’s less than what it was. And now that small monthly check no longer covers her grocery costs.

That just doesn’t seem right to me. In fact, it seems underhanded. And I ask, have our legislatures experienced a decrease in their monthly take-home pay? If not, why?

Do our public servants consider themselves more privileged than the people who have personally sacrificed for our freedom? More privileged than we, the people, who voted them in to ethically represent out best interests?

Elementary, my dear Watson

We humans have finally found a match for our wits. Actually, we have been surpassed by IBM’s Watson. Not only does the whiz kid computer interpret questions, but ‘he’ also learns and adjusts ‘his’ responses accordingly. ‘He’ proved this by outperforming against Jeopardy’s two all-time champions in three consecutive airings of the show.

This is beyond sci-fi. Mind-boggling.

For more information, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watson_%28artificial_intelligence_software%29
and http://www.youtube.com/user/ibm/#p/u/19/rya9qaUJfeY