New Hot Toy Lists for 2018 from SproutScout.co

Looking for toys for kids both young and old? SproutScout.co has put together 30 guides for parents and grandparents to find the *perfect* gift this Christmas. Each list has ten options to help you find exactly what your child/grandchild will want to find under the tree.

The Top 10 Best Current Marvel Toys

The Top 10 Best Current Toy Cars And Trucks

The Top 10 Best Disney Toys

The Top 10 Best Dolls For Kids

The Top 10 Best Learning Toys For Toddlers And Young Children

The Top 10 Best Drones For Kids

The Top 10 Best Ride On Toys For Toddlers

The Top 10 Best Walkers For Babies

The Top 10 DC Comics Toys For Older Kids And Teens

The Top 10 Paw Patrol Toys For Big Fans

The Top Ten Best Baby Toys

The Top Ten Best Ball Pits For Home Use

The Top Ten Best Doll Houses For Children Of All Ages

The Top Ten Best Electronic Pets For Kids

The Top Ten Best Pretend Play Toys For Toddlers Who Love To Mimic

The Top Ten Best Robot Toys For The Family

The Top Ten Best Soft Toys For Babies, Toddlers, And Kids

The Top Ten Best Toy Car Kits, Tracks and Playsets

The Top Ten Best Water Guns For Kids

The Top Ten Building Toys

The Top Ten Coolest Nerf Guns

The Top Ten Fidget Spinner Designs

The Top 10 3D Doodle Pens

Top Ten Best Remote Control Cars

Top 10 Best Children’s Bath Toys

Top 10 Best Star Wars Toys For The Whole Family

Top 10 Slime Making Materials

Top 10 Toy Sports Sets For Teaching Toddlers Sports

Top Ten Best Melissa & Doug Toys For Toddlers

Top Ten Best Hoverboards For Beginners

This CEO thinks it’s crazy to work more than 40 hours a week

If you didn’t know better, you’d think Jason Fried is more of a slacker than a CEO.

Despite this — or rather, he would say,because of it — Fried has run a very profitable and growing business for two decades.
He cofounded Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals), which offers a web-based project management tool that lets all team members seethe same information, documents, deadlines, assignments and updates. It helps dispense with unwieldy email chains, interruptions and status update meetings.
    Fried, who just had his second child, alsohas found the time to write a few critically acclaimed books.
    The latest is called “It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work,” which The Economist said is “the best thing on management published this year.”
    In it, he and coauthor David HeinemeierHansson, also a Basecamp cofounder, call BS on workaholic managers and owners, even if they pay lip service to their employees’ need to have a life.
    “Workaholism is a contagious disease. You can’t stop the spread if you’re the one bringing it into the office,” they write.
    They reject the concept of company as “family” andthe rallying cry of “whatever it takes” for anything other than a true work emergency.
    CNN asked Fried about his work philosophy and what family life has taught him about business.

    What do you say to business owners who worry that adopting your approach would just mean they’d get beaten by the competition?

    I’d say why would you think that? I’d say if you’re not getting enough sleep, enough rest, and enough perspective from other things in your life besides work, you’ll just be beating yourself.
    If the only way to beat the competition is to outwork them, well there are only 24 hours in the day anyway. If you can work them all, so can someone else.
    The competition doesn’t beat you, and you don’t beat them, by working more hours or forgoing more sleep. You do well by making smart decisions, being strategic about what you say yes and no to, and understanding your customer better than anyone else.
    Treating people well, keeping employees happy, and creating an environment where people can do their best work is yet another thing you’re in control of that’ll help you do well.
    Plenty of people have worked themselves to the bone with nothing to show for it. It’s not more work that’ll get you ahead, it’s the right work on the right things the right way.

    What penalty is there for someone who works too many hours at Basecamp?

    There’s no formal penalty, but we’ll kindly remind them that no one expects, or wants them to be putting in more than 40 hours a week.
    We’ll ask them why they feel like they need to put in more hours than that and then help them remove the nonessential things from their day so they don’t feel like they have to work longer than they should.
    There’s nothing in anyone’s best interest in working longer than necessary, and an 8-hour day is plenty of time to do great work.

    Who offered you the most helpful advice on business and life?

    I listen to a lot of people, absorb a lot of things, and am influenced by all sorts of approaches. But as far as business goes, my father’s advice is the best I’ve ever gotten: “No one went broke taking a profit.”
    I’ve held this close to my chest and make sure Basecamp, my company, has been profitable since our first year. Next year marks our 20th year in business — all 19 so far have been profitable.

    What has marriage and parenthood taught you about work?

    That eight hours is plenty of time for work! That life outside of work is incredibly rich and rewarding. Why would I ever want to squander that kind of time to put in another unnecessary hour at the office?
    Being a parent is also the best crash course on time management and figuring out what’s truly important in life.

    What do you know today that you wish you knew in your 20s?

    That most things you worry about aren’t worth worrying about.

    How many hours of sleep do you get?

    Right now between seven and eight. I aim for eight, but we just had our second baby so nights are a bit tough at the moment.
    The book “Why We Sleep” has really impressed upon me that sleep is the most important thing you can do to improve every aspect of your life. I highly recommend reading it.

    How much vacation do you take a year?

    About three weeks in total. But over the summer months (May through September) everyone at Basecamp works four-day weeks, so we all have three-day weekends for a few months. So add those days in as well and we all get an extra dose of time off.

      What’s your favorite podcast and why?

      Currently, “The Peter Attia Drive”. I’ve always been fascinated with medicine. I really enjoy his take on things, his clarity, the brilliant guests he has on, and how out of my depth it all is.

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/06/success/jason-fried-basecamp-work/index.html

      Savage Bride Reads Fianc’s Cheating Texts At Wedding Betches

      Australian brides are f*cking savage. Remember that chick who pulled a Cady Heron on her sisters so they’d gain weight in time for the wedding? Well, she’s looking totally sane after Whimn, the same website she spilled her guts to, has shared the story of yet another bride with absolutely zero chill. Welcome to your weekly dose of insane brides, possibly my favorite thing the internet has ever provided. Get ready, because this bride is going to make Cady Heron over here look like Mother Teresa.

      Our savage bride in question is a woman named Casey. The night before her wedding, Casey received a text message that honestly sounds like it was written by Georgina Sparks. It was basically a sh*t ton of screenshots of unfaithful messages and selfies with the caption, “I wouldn’t marry him, will you?”

      It turned out Alex, the dude Casey had been with for six years was having a major affair. (*Adds to ever-growing list of why I have trust issues.*) Note, Casey changed his name for the purpose of this story, which is extremely gracious of her and shocking considering what she did next.

      This extremely savage bride got up the next morning, fully got ready for her wedding, walked down the aisle, and then READ THE TEXT MESSAGES OUT LOUD INSTEAD OF HER VOWS. WTF!?

      “There will be no wedding today,” she said to her guests. “It seems Alex is not who I thought he was.”

      She then began reading the receipts, which included cringeworthy messages like, “This weekend. You and I. It is on, hot stuff. Bring your A game.” Which… ew. I think I’d break up with someone simply for using the phrase “hot stuff” in earnest. The texts also included sh*t like, “Your body is f*cking incredible. And sh*t do you know how to use it. I wish my GF had half the skills you do.”

      Does this dude read the creepy paperback erotica books they sell at the grocery store? Like, where did he learn to say this sh*t? Vom.

      Apparently, Alex dipped TF out of the ceremony, and Casey invited everyone to stay and party. “It was certainly not the wedding day I had planned, but to our credit, it was one hell of a party.”

      Sounds fake, but okay. I just feel like if this happened to me or literally anyone I know, there would be some more consideration before just like blindly believing everything a stranger says and hashing it out in front of 200 of your closest friends and family. Casey wrote that she didn’t even need to investigate and “just knew.” Ooookay, girl.

      Then again, if your trust in your relationship is so broken that you don’t even have to investigate a bunch of suspicious texts to know they’re true, it’s probably a sign you shouldn’t be getting married in the first place. Anyway, if anyone reading this has pulled off some devious plot against their fiancé, wedding party, or anyone involved in your nuptials, can you just like… gimme a heads up? Literally just spill that tea right into my inbox or into the comments section of this article. (For real, email justthetip@betches.com with your wedding horror story, and maybe I’ll write an article about you.) I’m tired of having to hear this sh*t through the grapevine. SMH.

      Images: David Thomaz / Unsplash; Giphy (3)

      Read more: https://betches.com/?p=42132

      George RR Martin says that Daenerys would benefit from reading ‘Fire and Blood’

      George RR Martin says that even Daenerys Targaryen should be reading his new book
      Image: WireImage

      A lot of Game of Thrones fans are still slightly upset that George RR Martin took time to write a 700-page book of Targaryen history, when he should be spending all waking hours finishing The Winds of Winter. 

      But, we now know that Fire and Blood does contain important information relating to GoT. And Martin just emphasized again that Fire and Blood is not just a bone he’s throwing his fans to get them to leave him alone for a while. 

      In an exclusive video published on Esquire, Martin said that even Daenerys herself should probably give the book a read to better understand how to play the game of thrones. 

      “This is a book that Daenerys might actually benefit from reading,” Martin said. 

      Image: Courtesy of HBO

      Fire and Blood is Martin writing as Archermaester Gyldayn, resident of the citadel in Oldtown, Westeros. And though Daenerys is busy elsewhere getting people to bend the knee, she would really benefit from a reading trip to the citadel. 

      “She has no access to Archermaester Gyldayn’s crumbling manuscripts,” Martin told Esquire. “So she’s operating on her own there.” 

      But he says that this text holds important information for the Mother of Dragons. “Maybe if she understood a few things more about dragons and her own history in Essos, things would have gone a little differently,” he adds. 

      If we all promise to read Fire and Blood, will you please finish the other one already, George?

      Read more: https://mashable.com/article/george-rr-martin-fire-and-blood-daenerys/

      House Democrats promise action on LGBTQ rights bill

      FILE – In this Sept. 6, 2018, file photo. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks during her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Just ahead of a midterm election they hope will deliver them a majority, House Democrats are promising to prioritize anti-discrimination legislation that would for the first time establish widespread equal rights protections for LGBTQ individuals. Pelosi says she will introduce the Equality Act as one of her first orders of business if Democrats retake the House in November. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

      Just days ahead of a midterm election they hope will deliver them a majority, House Democrats are promising to prioritize anti-discrimination legislation that would for the first time establish widespread equal rights protections for LGBTQ individuals.

      Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently said she would introduce the Equality Act as one of her first orders of business if Democrats retake the House in November. Pelosi made the announcement at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, telling the crowd the issue of equal rights for the LGBTQ community is “personal.”

      The 1964 Civil Rights Act already bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The Equality Act, if passed, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the law and expand those protections beyond the workplace. It would outlaw gender discrimination in places like restaurants and retail shops, in seeking housing, using health care and social services, applying for a loan or participating in the jury selection process.

      About 20 states and the District of Columbia currently have local gender and sex non-discrimination laws on the books.

      The House bill has 198 co-sponsors, including two Republicans. But no Senate Republicans have signed on, and social conservatives oppose the legislation. And even if the bill cleared Congress, it would still have to be signed by President Donald Trump, who has aligned himself closely with religious conservatives.

      Still, Democrats plan to move forward with the bill if they win the House majority, teeing up a test of the GOP’s willingness to block it.

      Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the legislation will be given a low bill number, meaning it would be among the first pieces of legislation to be introduced. Hammill described such a designation as “a place of honor.”

      The Equality Act is a far-reaching piece of legislation, decades in the works, that would safeguard the LGBTQ community against discrimination and bias. It was introduced in both chambers of Congress in 2015, where it died in committee, and reintroduced in 2017, but has not been voted on.

      “This is a very simple proposition,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., the lead sponsor of the bill in the House.

      “We have a long history in our country of prohibiting discrimination and promoting equality. It’s the founding principle of our country, and I believe the vast majority of people in our country think discrimination is wrong. In many ways Congress has to catch up to where the American people are.”

      A narrower bill to bar gender discrimination in the workplace, called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, passed the Senate in 2013 with 64 votes, including 10 Republicans. But then-House Speaker John Boehner, a vocal opponent, opted not to bring it to a floor vote.

      Even if the Equality Act were to pass a Democratic House, its future in the Senate — where 60 votes are typically needed to advance legislation — would be uncertain.

      Some of the Republican senators who supported ENDA are out of office or will be come January. Five remain in Congress now: Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, Dean Heller of Nevada, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who recently bucked her party to become the only Republican to vote against the controversial confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

      Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., the main sponsor of the Equality Act in the Senate, said he’s optimistic that shifting public attitudes on gay rights will propel the bill forward. He noted that in 2015, two years after ENDA stalled in Congress, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

      “This is what we need to accomplish. It is way past time to end discrimination across the board,” Merkley said. “I find it astounding that here we are in a situation where you can now take your marriage certificate from state to state, but if you travel with your partner, in one you’re treated as a citizen with full rights, and in the next, you’re treated as a second-class citizen.”

      Merkley said soon after the midterm election he’ll begin reaching out to Republican senators to discuss the legislation. But so far they’ve been hard to convince: All 47 sponsors of the Senate bill are Democrats.

      He sees one big sticking point for gaining Republican support: A provision in the bill forbids any employer or retailer from using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1993, to justify withholding services based on gender or sexual orientation. The law, which received bipartisan support, barred the government from interfering with the rights of religious practitioners. But more recently the law has been used to protect the rights of business owners to refuse service based on religious beliefs. In one 2014 case, the Supreme Court found that chain craft store Hobby Lobby, founded by religious evangelicals, didn’t have to provide its employees with contraception coverage for religious reasons.

      The Trump administration has pursued policies in line with that law when taking steps to roll back protections for LGBTQ individuals, including rescinding guidance for schools on how to treat transgender students and attempting to bar transgender individuals from serving in the military. The administration is also considering a proposal to limit the definition of gender to include only one’s sex at birth, according to The New York Times, prompting outrage from LGBTQ advocates.

      Religious and conservative organizations have been vocal in their opposition to the Equality Act.

      Mary Beth Waddell, senior legislative assistant for conservative group Family Research Council, likened it to government-sanctioned discrimination against religious people.

      “The current law in civil rights and the protected classes are inborn and unchangeable characteristics like race, ethnicity, national origin, age, sex, etc., and religion, which is expressly protected under the constitution,” Waddell said. “What the Equality Act does is it turns it on its head and allow the government to impose a belief system about sexual decisions and sexual behaviors on the nation.”

      Waddell said if the bill comes up for a vote, the group will “certainly be part of the opposition.”

      One advantage for supporters of the Equality Act is that it has overwhelming support from the business community. Since it was first introduced, major corporations including Apple, Dow Chemical Company, Amazon, General Electric Co. and more than 100 others have signed on to endorse its passage.

      “Unlike virtually any other omnibus civil rights bill, the Equality Act had corporate support from the day of introduction,” said Deena Fidas, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Workplace Equality Program.

      Read more: https://www.foxnews.com/us/house-democrats-promise-action-on-lgbtq-rights-bill

      The radical, democratising power of Instagram poetry

      Image: vicky leta/mashable

      We millennials like our poetry typed out in neat fonts on rustic pastel backgrounds, centred in a tiny square on a small screen. We read short, simple, and relatable poems which may strike a chord with us for a second before we scroll on to the next Timothée Chalamet appreciation post or #brunch pic.

      I’m talking, of course, about poetry native to Instagram. A budding genre scoffed by the literary community but loved by millions of young readers. 

      This Insta-friendly verse, with its distinct tone and aesthetic, is serving sincerity and feeling in the place we need it the most: the ever ironic, cynical internet. It’s this vulnerability on a platform that’s more-often-than-not replete with inauthenticity and polished veneers that makes it so striking. 

      Roll your eyes all you like, but Instagram poets are defining the genre for the millennial generation with a radical democratisation and push for diversity in the poetry world. Their work is accessible in more than one sense of the word, and while the critics may not always like it, their work is now being celebrated as “gateway poetry” — and that can only be a good thing. 

      Household names in the Instagram poetry realm are now also recognised names in bookstores and the literary world in general. The most famous poet of Instagram is 25-year-old Rupi Kaur, whose poetry has — apart from securing seven-figure sales numbers — reached the level of popularity and recognisability where it is now a (frankly hilarious) meme. R.M. Drake, or Robert Macias, is perhaps best known for being reposted by the Kardashians, but he is also the author of several bestsellers. British poets Charly Cox (read her poem about kale) and queer poet Yrsa Daley Ward are making strides in Europe. Not to mention Nayyirah Waheed (read up on her plagiarism dispute with Kaur for real-life Insta poet drama), Tyler Knott Gregson, Amanda Lovelace, and Lang Leav. 

      This is a diverse group of poets, many of whom have long since graduated from Instagram to print poetry, causing some to argue that the term”Instagram poet” is a lazy one, that their medium is the least interesting thing about them. But these poets do have more in common than their platform of choice, poetry experts say. The Instagram poets have given birth to a genre of their own.

      “What the poets of Instagram tend to have in common is what I would call emotional relatability or accessibility, and a tone and vocabulary that is reminiscent of the self-help or self-improvement movement — many read like motivational quotes,” says Dr Eleanor Spencer-Regan, digital director of the Institute of Poetry and Poetics at Durham University.

      “It is not really about complex language, it is more about easily translatable universal emotions.”

      It is precisely this relatability that makes Instagram poetry so resonant among millennials. Rather than alienating a young audience with convoluted language or complicated form, the ultimate goal of the Insta poets is always to connect directly with their audience. 

      Judith Palmer, Director of the Poetry Society, says that one of the defining characteristics of Instagram poetry is that it’s less about flexing your linguistic muscles and more about gaining instant understanding from readers. “The language isn’t often being pushed and I don’t see a complex vocabulary,” says Palmer. “It is not really about complex language, it is more about easily translatable universal emotions.”

      While short form diary-style writing has been an internet culture staple pretty much since the days of LiveJournal, Insta poets are breaking new ground by insisting that their writing is poetry and demanding it be viewed and respected as such.

      According to Martha Sprackland, Associate Editor at Poetry London, that’s one of the things that sets high profile Insta poets apart from your average inspirational quote account. 

      “There has long been light verse, slogans, inspirational quotes, whatever else; what’s more recent is their determination to be included in the bounds of ‘poetry,'” Sprackland tells Mashable. Per Sprackland, their dedication to belonging in the poetry genre is part of what has helped them gather an eager young audience around poetry. “I know that the rise of Instagram poetry has changed the perception of ‘poetry’ as a whole for large numbers of young people,” says Sprackland. 

      While Instagram poets have achieved great mainstream commercial success, literary critics have unsparingly criticised them and their supposedly “amateur” writing. With their style and medium of choice, they are leading a commercialisation of the poetry genre and diluting the quality of poetry, a once high-brow literary genre. 

      Poet Rebecca Watts argues in the poetry journal PN Review that Instagram poets are ruining poetry as an art form. “In the redefinition of poetry as ‘short-form communication’ the floodgates have been opened, writes Watts. “The reader is dead: long live consumer-driven content and the ‘instant gratification’ this affords,” Watts writes in the piece entitled ‘The Cult of the Noble Amateur.’ 

      Watts wants the literary community to “stop celebrating amateurism and ignorance in our poetry, ” and insists that the size of one’s following says nothing of the quality of the writing (Watts even goes as far as to make a comparison to Donald Trump).

      There is of course some truth to the point that a massive following does not ensure quality, as one trickster poet attempted to prove when he obtained thousands of followers writing four word poems on Instagram. 

      But, according to the poetry experts, we’re looking at emerging poetry the wrong way. The exposure that Instagram has brought to the genre is a good thing, despite the fact that they’re taking the genre in a direction that the critics might not like. 

      “What are those critics doing over there?” Sprackland asks. “It’s not for them. It’s a different genre, and it’s daft to try and approach it bristling with all the usual tools of the ‘contemporary page poetry’ critic,” Sprackland says. “It’s not a case of merit, but of misfiling, of mislabelling, and then a wilful refusal to admit that mislabelling for fear of either causing offence or appearing snobbish.”

      But, this critical snobbery to newcomers to a genre isn’t exactly a new thing. Spencer-Regan points out that frowning upon art in a new more accessible medium it is “definitely not a new response.” 

      “The emergence of this new kind of poetry can really make us question what poetry is and what makes it good. But these poets do reach large audiences, and their work clearly resonates with a lot of people — though it may not be to the personal taste of many academics and literary critics,” says Spencer-Regan. 

      “It’s giving opportunities to many women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people who publicly disclose mental illnesses.”

      Spencer-Regan argues that the Instagram poets have, in fact, succeeded at securing more diversity in a genre traditionally perceived to be dominated by white, straight people (both when it comes to both readers and writers). Spencer-Regan argues that these poets and their strategic use of social platforms have in fact reinvigorated and democratised the poetry world. 

      “This is a radically democratic method of publishing that is giving opportunities to many women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people who publicly disclose mental illnesses,” says Spencer-Regan. “These people are rejecting the old rules of a literary world that they feel may have rejected them.”

      According to Palmer of The Poetry Society, the Insta poets have successfully managed to bring poetry into people’s everyday life. Many poems deal with topics found in all sorts of Instagram content, such as body image, sexuality and gender. 

      “What we’re seeing is contemporary life reflected and that is the big appeal. People have for too long had this idea that poetry is a small world, and that poetry is one thing. This is an unnecessary narrowing,” says Palmer. 

      And, like it or not, Instagram poetry has introduced young people to a genre that, in the recent years, hasn’t had much of a hold on them. 

      The poetry of Instagram may not be to the critics’ likings, or the likings of some adult readers, but that shouldn’t make us write it off as meaningless, trivial diary scribbles.

      “Poetry will no longer be something remote or intimidating, but an art form that these young readers feel they can claim as their own.”

      “You could argue that some of the poetry is trite, clichéd, bland or derivative. But we’re coming to it as more mature, more sophisticated readers,” says Spencer-Regan. “I can imagine being 14 and then finding these pages — they would speak to me in a whole other way, giving voice to feelings and experiences that I perhaps couldn’t have articulated for myself at that age.” 

      Spencer-Regan sees Instagram poetry as a harnessing of the power of social media to get young people excited about verse. 

      “We talk about Harry Potter as a ‘gateway’ book, and I suspect that these poems can work in the same way — to make young people curious about poe,” Spencer-Regan says. “Poetry will no longer be something remote or intimidating, but an art form that these young readers feel they can claim as their own.”

      Whether you like or dislike the poetry in your feed, or you relate to the minimalist relatability of the Insta poets, their influence must be acknowledged. After all, if you have haters, you must be doing something right. 

      Read more: https://mashable.com/article/instagram-poetry-democratise-genre/

      Interview with Rebecca Rosenberg, Author of The Secret Life of Mrs. London

      Rebecca Rosenberg is the author of The Secret Life of Mrs. London: A Novel by Rebecca Rosenberg

      San Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

      As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

      The Secret Life of Mrs London looked like a fabulous book and a person that I don’t think anyone has written about before. And I’m a big fan of historical books, so seemed like a great opportunity to ask Rebecca some questions about her book and her writing styles.

      1. Have you ever gotten “reader’s block” and how did you get through that?

        If I do not know what comes next in a story, I take an hour to free write from the protagonist’s point of view, to get things flowing. I reread the last scene and think about the goal of the character. What does she want next? Then I think of the best or most unusual way she can get it, to make it interesting to write and read!

      1. How did you balance writing your story your way and giving readers what they want?

        Interesting question. I think they are one in the same! I write novels about real women who lived fascinating lives. Telling their stories well should result in a great read, if I have selected the right women to write about and give it all I’ve got! For example, Charmian London was Jack London’s wife, a, spirited, intellectual, fee-loving, adventurous woman that helped Jack London write his 50 books in 15 years. And Bess Houdini, a tiny showgirl, under 5 feet, but a giant spirit that kept Houdini safe from his own death-defying urges. Compelling women equal compelling stories, I think.

      1. What was an experience you had when you discovered the power of words/language?

        I love how you can change the meaning of a sentence with a word. For example: She walked across the room. She skipped across the room. She strutted across the room. She dragged across the room. She swayed across the room. The right word paints a powerful picture.

      2.  What’s your favorite under the radar novel?

        I love The Underground River by Martha Conway. It is an intriguing story of freeing slaves on the riverboats in the Midwest, only this particular boat is a showboat which adds to the fun and intrigue.

      3. How much did real world people influence your characters and do you feel a debt to them?

        Since I write about real women, I definitely feel a responsibility to tell their story truthfully, but also, with as much enthusiasm and insight as I can infuse into their story.

      4. How many unpublished or unfinished books do you have? After successfully finishing this book, do you feel any of those could be revisited?

        I am currently working on GOLD DIGGER, the story of Baby Doe Tabor, a 20 year old girl who goes west with her husband for a gold mine, becomes pregnant and abandoned, yet becomes the richest, most famous, most scandalized woman in America. True story! Hopefully it’s the last rewrite before it goes to my agent and publisher! GOLD DIGGER was the first novel I wrote ten years ago, and I never felt it was finished. Whereas, THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON was finished in two years.

        I already have a first draft and outlines of my upcoming series, CHAMPAGNE WIDOWS, about the 5 widows between 1800 and 1973 that made champagne a world-wide phenomenon. It takes a lot of discipline to finish the book, before moving on to the next!

      5. What did you edit out of this book?

        The scenes that get cut are scenes that may be fascinating, but do not move the story forward. When I write the first draft, I don’t know which scenes those are. It becomes apparent in later drafts.

      6. Do you read, or plan on reading, reviews of this book? If so, how do you deal with the good and the bad ones? THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON has 4 ½ stars on Amazon and Goodreads, and yes, I’ve read them all! Here is an example of a one star review:
        “Liked everything but the last two books were horrible. ”
        Does that make sense to anyone? Obviously a one star reviewer did not like the book, but many are mean spirited, and I wonder why they bothered to leave them. Of course, I love reading the 3-5 star reviews, because they enjoyed what I was giving them, and I love learning what they liked and didn’t.

      7. 10. Do you like audiobooks, e-books, or physical books better? Why?

        I do love physical books, such a pleasure to read words on paper. But, I admit I have 200-300 books on my kindle, and I love that rich feeling of books waiting for me to read!

      8. What is the most unusual or surprising element of your writing routine?

        I start writing at 4am, with a candle lit and coffee. It is quiet, and my characters can find themselves.

      9. Do you share books before they’re done or wait until you have a completed draft?

        I meet via ZOOM with my writing group of Stanford novel writing grads who live all over the world. We share scenes for critique. Other than that, I wait until the novel is complete before sharing. If any of you would like to be part of REBECCA’S REVIEW CREW, please email me at rebecca@rebecca-rosenberg.com, and you can review the ARC (advanced reader copy) of GOLD DIGGER!

      10. Do you start out with a concrete plot or let an idea or ideas lead you?

        I believe in story structure, which allows you to develop a rough outline and does not stifle creativity.

      11. Do you read any of your own work after publication?

        No, too busy reading other author’s books, which feed your vocabulary and tool chest of characters, scenes, plot and theme.

      12. Do you have a day job other than writing?

        I am a lavender farmer in Sonoma Valley, across from Jack London’s Beauty Ranch, which is what inspired me to write a book about Jack and Charmian London, and their fascinating relationship with the Houdinis!

      13. How important is privacy to you as an author? Do you mind fans or plan on adopting a pseudonym?

        I invite direct contact with readers! I hope you will follow my facebook groups and check out my website, and most of all, join REBECCA’S REVIEW CREW, rebecca@rebecca-rosenberg.com

      FOLLOW: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccarosenbergnovels/

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/AmericanHistoricalFictionBookClub/

      WEBSITE: http://www.rebecca-rosenberg.com

      Email: rebecca@rebecca-rosenberg.com

       

      Buy the Book – Amazon Link – https://amzn.to/2QkMRAi

      Missouri Has Lost Track Of Nearly 1,300 Registered Sex Offenders: Audit

      More than 1,200 registered sex offenders are unaccounted for in Missouri and more than half of them fall into the “most dangerous” category, according to the findings of a new statewide audit.

      The results of the audit, which was released Monday, indicate that of about 16,000 convicted sex offenders in the state, 1,259 are not complying with registration requirements. Of that number, 794 are classified as level three offenders, which are deemed the most dangerous or with the greatest chance of committing another offense.

      State Auditor Nicole Galloway said the findings are “alarming.”

      “As it stands, the sex offender registry really provides a false sense of security,” Galloway said at a news conference in St. Louis.

      She said information examined during the audit was gleaned from the state’s sexual offender registration program. The number of sex offenders unaccounted for, according to Galloway, is due in part to weaknesses in state laws, “inadequate enforcement” of registration requirements and poor management of the sex offender registry.

      “The law requiring sex offenders to register has been on the books for more than 20 years to help keep our communities, and especially our children, safe,” Galloway said. “But if the law isn’t enforced, it’s not effective and public safety is compromised.”

      Missouri statutes require a person convicted of a sex offense to register their name, address and other information with law enforcement. The information is then made public through a website maintained by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. A registered sex offender must also verify the information at regular intervals and notify authorities if they change addresses.

      Anyone who fails to register as a sex offender could face additional felony charges. However, the audit found offenders are escaping prosecution. Arrest warrants have only been issued in approximately 10 percent of the cases involving noncompliant offenders, according to the report, meaning no one is actively pursuing the missing sex offenders.

      “Law enforcement can’t track the location of registered sex offenders if sex offender laws are not enforced,” Galloway said. “This also takes away the ability of Missourians to effectively use the sex offender registry when making decisions to protect themselves and their families.”

      Jackson County is reportedly responsible for more than one-third of the missing registered sex offenders

      In a statement to the Kansas City Star, interim Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forte said his office has spent the past five months actively monitoring and investigating registration violations.

      “We will continue to allocate resources to keep our community safe,” Forte said. “I assure the community that we will continue to aggressively enforce the protection of the vulnerable and the innocent from predators.”

      The Associated Press reported similar problems have been found in other states. An August audit in Wisconsin reportedly identified 2,735 missing registered sex offenders and a 2017 audit in Massachusetts revealed authorities did not know the whereabouts of nearly 1,800 registered sex offenders.

      Send David Lohr an email or follow him on Facebook and Twitter. Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.

      Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/missouri-lost-track-1300-registered-sex-offenders_us_5bb39a16e4b00fe9f4fb04f7

      Book Series To Binge While You Wait For ‘Game Of Thrones’ To Come Back Betches

      Summer is officially over and I know this because yesterday a girl in Uggs spilled her pumpkin spice latte all over me. We’ve now moved into that weird in-between stage of seasons where summer is dead but none of your favorite shows are back on so you don’t have an actual excuse for why you ignored your BFF’s text about getting your ass down to the bars ASAP. Like, b*tch LET ME LIVE (my best life on the couch). But never fear, because where there’s a will, there’s a way for me to get out of being social, and that way is to binge read myself into a coma. That said, we’ve got some bangin’ book series to educate you with that are legit better than binge watching all seven seasons of Game of Thrones. You’re so welcome.

      The ‘A Court of Thorns and Roses’ Series by Sarah J Maas

      I’d been hearing about this series for years and never picked it up because I thought it would be another boring YA fantasy series, and also because I’m stupid. But once I started reading, I could not put these books down. It has all the intrigue and action of Game of Thrones but with twentysomethings and hotter people (if that’s possible). The books follow 19-year-old huntress Feyre who accidentally kills something she shouldn’t and ends up having to spend the rest of her life in a faerie realm. If I lost you just there, HEAR ME OUT THOUGH. At first it’s a little like Beauty and The Beast, but it’s so much more than that by the end of the book. Think epic world building, feuding kingdoms, and badass leading ladies who aren’t afraid to scheme the sh*t out of some men. The books are long AF, but, like, so is a Law & Order: SVU marathon and you people never miss that sh*t.

      A

      The ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Series by Kevin Kwan

      Would it be a comprehensive reading list if we didn’t include Kevin Kwan and the bougiest family we’ve ever f*cking seen? I think not. The Youngs make your family drama look like child’s play and theirs goes down on private jets. Advanced warning: You might want to settle in with your own order of dumplings, otherwise you’re bound to get very, very hungry while reading. And then go see the movie.

      The ‘Addicted To You‘ Series by Krista & Becca Ritchie

      Just gonna be real up front and say right now that this is a romance series, so don’t @ me in the comments when you get all hot and bothered on the subway because someone said the word “climax.” Let’s be real, these books are no dirtier than whatever you’re texting your ex after three vodka crans. Just saying. The books follow Lily Calloway and Loren Hale, two members of Philadelphia’s most elite families who both happen to be battling secret addictions while also trying to date each other. If that sounds a little heavy, that’s because it kind of is, but in the immortal words of Kim Kardashian West “it’s the good kind of baggage, like Louis Vuitton.” Seriously, this series is INSANE. Think Kardashian-level family drama meets the lux inner circle of Gossip Girl. Now go forth and binge.

      Addicted

      The ‘Thousandth Floor’ Series by Katherine McGee

      I know I keep comparing sh*t to Gossip Girl, SO SUE ME. It’s not my fault that show was the voice of a goddamn generation. Anyway, moving on. Set in a futuristic Manhattan, the Thousandth Floor series follows five teens who live at the Palace hotel but on, like, steroids. You’ve got all the Upper East Siders and a Lonely Boy living in the year 3000 where not much has changed but they live underwater. I paraphrase; the book actually takes place in 2118. Whatever. In any case, it’s about a group of rich teenagers who all are hiding dark secrets. Dun dun dunnnn. This book is a fast AF read. It reads like a thriller element because each book opens up with someone dying—and you know we betches love death. Feel blessed, because there’s three books already out so that’s at least four happy hours you can miss in favor of binge reading.

      thousandth

      The Last Time I Lied’ by Riley Sager

      This isn’t technically a series but both of Riley Sager’s books involve campy, Final Destination-like plots that are seriously addictive from page one. We love, love, LOVED The Final Girls and the author’s second book is just as binge-worthy. The book follows Emma Davis who, in a very Pretty Little Liars twist of events, realizes all of her BFFs have disappeared after playing a game of two truths and a lie at summer camp one night. It’s kind of like if all the Liars went missing and only Aria had to find out what happened to them (god help them). I’m telling you right now, once you start this book you won’t be able to put it down.  

      The ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ Series by Jenny Han

      Look, I’m not trying to be judgmental, but if you haven’t watched Netflix’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before THEN WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE. I’m sorry, that was aggressive. But really, I’ve never loved a teenaged boy more and I hate how that sounds coming out of my mouth but it’s the honest goddamn truth. If you watched the movie and have a pulse then you obvi fell in love with Peter Kavinsky. I’m telling you now, the books are even better. Plus there’s already three books out in the series so if you’re looking for some more Peter in your life you’ve got at least 900 pages worth of reading material. You can thank me in the comments.

      To

      When’s Happy Hour? By The Betches

      Not a series, but you should read it anyways because it’s our third book and we wrote it and it will literally change your life. YOU’RE WELCOME.

      Images: Vanessa Serpas / Unsplash; Amazon (7)

      Read more: https://betches.com/?p=36997

      Eric Trump Accused Of Anti-Semitism For Bob Woodward ‘Shekels’ Criticism

      President Donald Trump’s son, Eric, is accused of making anti-Semitic comments in reference to Bob Woodward’s new book about his father’s White House.

      The president’s son appeared on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning and denounced Woodward’s book, Fear: Trump in the White House, as fiction.

      It all started when co-host Steve Doocy noted that the book and last week’s anonymous New York Times op-ed criticizing the president as amoral and vapid have stirred fresh chaos in the White House.

      Eric Trump pushed back, saying the media only wants to make his dad look bad.

      “Don’t you think people look through the fact, you can write some sensational, nonsense book, CNN will definitely have you on there because they love to trash the president,” Trump said. 

      Then, in what some people interpret as a dog whistle to white nationalists, Trump added: 

      It’ll mean you sell three extra books, you make three extra shekels, at the behest of the American people, at the behest of our country, that’s doing a phenomenal job by every quantifiable metric. Is that really where we are?

      The shekel is the currency used in both ancient and modern-day Israel. Keegan Hankes, senior research analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, which tracks hate groups, noted that the term also can be used as a slur.

      “Shekels is a derogatory term used by white supremacists that ties into the myth that Jewish people only care about money,” Hankes told HuffPost. The term is tied to the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Jews control the financial system, she said, and is “used constantly by the extreme right and particularly neo-Nazis.”

      Trump’s use of the word on Fox News “certainly seems like a dog whistle,” Hankes added.

      Watch Trump on “Fox & Friends” below.

      Unsurprisingly, Trump was heavily criticized on Twitter:

      Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/eric-trump-anti-semite-fox-and-friends_us_5b9954cee4b0511db3e89ab0