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review 2017-12-07 06:11
Book Construction Blueprint - an essential reference book for self-published authors

Whenever I search the internet trying to find some information to resolve a self-publishing issue invariably an article written by Joel Friedlander comes up.


I've read a number of them and found them professional, helpful and, most importantly, understandable.


When I was offered all this knowledge free in his book Book Construction Blueprint by Joel Friedlander - Expert Advice for Creating Industry-Standard Print Books it was a no-brainer.


Book Construction Blueprint is a comprehensive guide and includes preparing your manuscript, interior book design, cover design, printing and working with professionals.


A good deal of it wasn't relevant for my needs but some was invaluable including the section Cleaning Up Your Word Files. Pretty much all the problems you're confronted with when you upload your original manuscript to a self-publishing platform can be attributed to formatting glitches in your Word file. Friedlander has some nifty tips, accompanied by screen shots, that saved me countless hours of hair-pulling frustration. They're now incorporated into my pre-upload check-list.


Ever wonder about the order of your book's front matter? What goes on the Copyright Page and does the Dedication Page come before Acknowledgements? It's all spelled out in Friedlander's book.


He also has some great suggestions on what components make an eye-catching cover, designing running heads and font choices.


I try to review a lot of new indie authors and it's very distracting and unprofessional to read poorly or incorrectly formatted books. I know what a challenge it is and mine still aren't perfect, but they'll be a lot better now that I have Book Construction Blueprint by Joel Friedlander - Expert Advice for Creating Industry-Standard Print Books to refer to.


I downloaded this book free from the BookBaby Blog



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review 2017-03-18 22:27
You Need More Sleep: Advice from Cats - ... You Need More Sleep: Advice from Cats - Francesco Marciuliano

A very cute book filled with adorable cat pictures and lots of silly cat advice. It is definitely good for a few cat-related laughs and will remind any cat owner to ponder the basic question, "Why did I ever get a cat?"

I liked Marciuliano's poetry more, because of the uniqueness that format presented, but this book was still a fun read.

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text 2017-03-08 21:59
Baby Shower Gifts?
How to Traumatize Your Children: 7 Proven Methods to Help You Screw Up Your Kids Deliberately and with Skill - Knock Knock,Bradley R. Hughes
Experimenting with Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid - Shaun Gallagher
Safe Baby Handling Tips - David Sopp,Kelly Sopp
The Inappropriate Baby Book: Gross and Embarrassing Memories from Baby's First Year - Jennifer Stinson
K is for Knifeball: An Alphabet of Terrible Advice - Jory John,Avery Monsen

Tickled my funny bone seeing these titles.


How to Traumatize Your Children: 7 Proven Methods to Help You Screw Up Your Kids Deliberately and with Skill - Knock Knock,Bradley R. Hughes 


Experimenting with Babies: 50 Amazing Science Projects You Can Perform on Your Kid - Shaun Gallagher 


Safe Baby Handling Tips - David Sopp,Kelly Sopp 


The Inappropriate Baby Book: Gross and Embarrassing Memories from Baby's First Year - Jennifer Stinson 


K is for Knifeball: An Alphabet of Terrible Advice - Jory John,Avery Monsen 

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text 2017-03-01 08:06
The Southbourne Tax Group: Stopping tax identity theft - Practical advice for CPAs and clients

Tax return and other tax-related identity theft is a growing problem that CPAs can help their clients with—both in taking preventive actions and in correcting problems after an identity thief has struck. Tax return identity theft occurs when someone uses a taxpayer’s personal information, such as name and Social Security number (SSN), without permission to commit fraud on tax returns to claim refunds or other credits to which a taxpayer is not entitled, or for other crimes.


Thieves normally file early in the tax-filing season, often before the IRS has received Forms W-2 or 1099, to thwart information matching and avoid receiving duplicate return notices from the IRS. Taxpayers sometimes discover they are victims of identity theft when they receive a notice from the IRS stating that “more than one tax return was filed with their information or that IRS records show wages from an employer the taxpayer has not worked for in the past” (FS-2012-7 (January 2012)).


In 2011, the IRS processed about 145 million returns. About 109 million were claims for refunds, with an average refund amount of almost $3,000. As of May 16, 2012, the IRS had pulled 2.6 million returns for possible identity theft, and that trend is on the increase. The IRS recently reported an inventory of more than 450,000 identity theft cases. For the 2011 filing season, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) estimated that identity-theft-related fraud accounted for approximately 1.5 million tax returns in excess of $5.2 billion.




Tax return identity theft delays legitimate taxpayer refunds because the return appears to be a duplicate return and may be a sign of other fraud or identity theft problems. IRS support to solve traditional and nonfraud problems may be delayed as well when IRS resources are diverted to combat identity theft. Other tax-related identity theft can cause problems for the taxpayer as well. If an individual fraudulently used a taxpayer’s SSN to get a job, the taxpayer may have extra W-2 wages erroneously reported (and perhaps also extra taxes withheld), leading to a correspondence matching audit. The National Taxpayer Advocate notes that time and money are spent to clear the individuals’ names, during which “victims may lose job opportunities, may be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn’t commit” (IRS Publication 4535, Identity Theft Prevention and Victim Assistance).


Further, until recently, the IRS would hold suspicious refunds while verifying the underlying W-2 information, for up to 11 weeks. With the increase in the number of cases and budget limitations, refunds may take longer. So, the IRS says, “[I]dentity theft can impose a significant burden on its victims, whose legitimate refund claims are blocked and who often must spend months or longer trying to convince the IRS that they are, in fact, victims and then working with the IRS to untangle their account problems” (IR-2012-66).


A typical identity theft starts when thieves have (illegally) bought or stolen information from individuals, employers, hospitals, or nursing homes or have used the public list of deaths with SSNs issued by the Social Security Administration. With a number or list of numbers, they file false tax returns for refunds. For example, investigators found a single address that was used to file 2,137 tax returns for $3.3 million in refunds (see TIGTA Rep’t No. 2012-42-80). Most thieves prefer to receive the refund using direct deposit or prepaid debit cards. In another example, 590 tax refunds totaling more than $900,000 were deposited into a single bank account. Although banks have strict rules to verify the identity of account holders, they don’t have the ability to monitor whether the direct deposit is for a legitimate refund.


Although the IRS planned to spend about $330 million in 2012 to combat identity theft, the IRS has limited resources and needs additional funding to combat this problem. Identity theft also happens to tax systems in other countries, but the extent of the problem is lessened in countries where the government can immediately (or in “real-time”) match income and withholding with the tax return. IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman called for real-time matching in his prepared remarks at the AICPA Fall 2011 National Tax Conference for the purpose of reducing the number of taxpayer audits, but such a system should help reduce identity theft fraudulent tax returns as well (IR-2011-108).




Common ways to obtain personal information include email or telephone phishing and Dumpster diving. Thieves are looking for “discarded tax returns, bank records, credit card receipts or other records containing personal and financial information” (FS-2008-9 (January 2008)). For example, some taxpayers receive email messages allegedly from the IRS advising them that they are under investigation or have a refund pending. To get the victim to respond, the email may threaten a dire consequence (see Exhibit 1 for a typical phishing message). Often, the recipient is asked to click on a link to access what appears to be—but is not—the legitimate IRS website.


The IRS does not send unsolicited, tax-account related emails to taxpayers and never asks for personal and financial information, including PINs and passwords, via email. The IRS advises that “[s]ince the IRS rarely contacts taxpayers via e-mail, and never about their tax accounts, taxpayers should be cautious about any e-mails that claim to come from the IRS” (FS-2008-9). (People receiving a suspicious email from the IRS are encouraged to report the email by calling the IRS at 800-829-1040 or forwarding the email to phishing irs; note in Exhibit 1 how the email uses “irs.org” not “irs.gov.”)




The IRS has several filters that address different issues. These filters are designed to distinguish legitimate returns from fraudulent ones and to prevent the recurrence of identity theft. If a tax return is caught by a filter, it is manually reviewed to validate the taxpayer’s identity. If the IRS identifies a suspicious return, it corresponds with the taxpayer to verify the correct information. Alternatively, if a second, unauthorized person is using the taxpayer’s SSN, the taxpayer may receive a correspondence audit notice informing the taxpayer that he or she failed to report income from another (erroneous) employer.


When a taxpayer’s identity has been stolen, the legitimate taxpayer may be issued a confidential identity protection PIN (IP PIN) that identifies the taxpayer as the legitimate party using the SSN and other identifying information. The IRS issues these numbers to taxpayers who have reported that their identities have been stolen, verified their identities, and had an identity theft indicator applied to their accounts. Not all victims of identity theft will receive an IP PIN—the IRS says that taxpayers who submitted Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit, and proper documentation or taxpayers whom the IRS has itself identified as victims will receive them. During the 2012 filing season, the IRS issued 250,000 IP PINs, up from about 54,000 the year before. Once the IP PIN has been issued, it must be present and correct on the specific tax return for which it was issued. For the 2012 tax year, the six-digit IP PIN is inserted at the bottom of page 2 of Form 1040, to the right of the taxpayers’ signatures.


If two taxpayers are married filing jointly and each taxpayer receives an IP PIN, the couple should use the IP PIN of the SSN that appears first on the tax return. Tax preparation software is generally equipped to ask taxpayers if they received an IP PIN. If a taxpayer is filing a printed copy of the return, however, this number will not print, and should be handwritten in the space provided. A request for an extension or installment agreement using an IP PIN must be made on paper, but the tax return may still be filed electronically.


A new IP PIN is issued every subsequent year as long as the theft indicator remains on the legitimate taxpayer’s account. Returns with an IP PIN are processed more efficiently, in that they bypass the regular filtering system, and the IP PIN prevents fraudulent returns from being processed. The IRS began a pilot program in 2010 to mark the accounts of deceased taxpayers to prevent misuse by identity thieves.




As trusted financial advisers, CPAs may be asked what to do if a client’s identity is stolen. The CPA should consider advising or helping the client with several steps:


1.For tax and nontax identity theft, report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-438-4338 or TTY 866-653-4261.

2.File a report with the local police.

3.Close any affected bank and credit card accounts.

4.Inform the credit bureaus and consider putting a credit freeze on the accounts. A credit freeze restricts access to credit reports, making it unlikely that thieves can open new accounts in the client’s name. Credit freeze laws vary from state to state.

5.If personal information is lost or stolen during the year, contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit at 800-908-4490, and complete Form 14039, if necessary. Expect to be patient, though. The National Taxpayer Advocate noted in her semiannual report that “this unit has been unable to answer about two out of every three calls it has received from taxpayers so far this year. At times during the filing season, it was answering only about one out of every nine calls it received—and those who managed to get through waited an average of over an hour to speak with an employee.”

6.Respond to all IRS notices immediately, using the name and number printed on the notice.

7.Tax preparers should ask their clients if they received an IP PIN.




Since identity theft is so prevalent and growing, a CPA may consider providing general preventive advice through newsletters, websites, and other communications. This advice may include:


1.Have clients arrange for masked SSNs where possible, e.g., on insurance cards, so that client SSNs are closely protected and circulated as little as possible.

2.Watch credit reports from the three major credit bureaus; consider offering this as an off-season service or adding a timely reminder with contact information to the firm newsletter. (Contact details for the fraud departments of the three major credit bureaus are: Equifax – 800-525-6285; Experian – 888-397-3742; and TransUnion – 800-680-7289.)

3.Advise clients to forward all information appearing to be from the IRS promptly and to not click on links or open attachments from emails claiming to be from the IRS.

4.Advise clients to safeguard their Social Security cards, store them in a safe and secure location, and not discard any documents with an SSN on them.

5.Advise clients to resist giving businesses an SSN or other personal information just because they ask for it; often it is not required, and dissemination of SSN information is risky.

6.Advise clients to protect financial information by investing in and using a shredder before discarding documents.

7.A taxpayer should secure personal information in one’s own home. For example, copies of tax returns can be kept in a locked file cabinet or safe.

8.Taxpayers should protect personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam or anti-virus software, updating security patches, and regularly changing passwords for internet accounts with sensitive information, such as online banking sites.


CPAs may be able to take additional preventive steps for tax returns, where the client is cooperative:


1.File clients’ returns early if possible.

2.E-file returns to be notified of duplicate return notices more quickly.

3.Consider truncating or masking SSNs on Forms 1098, 1099, and 5498 consistent with Notice 2011-38.

4.Communicate with the client to change client expectations: Refunds might take longer in future years as additional system security steps are taken.

5.Finally, CPAs with new online clients should be very careful to confirm the identity of those new clients, so that an identity thief cannot trade on an unwitting CPA’s credibility in filing false returns.


CPAs can find additional information at:

IRS website, and

IRS resources including the Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft page, or the Identity Protection page.

Additional resources for business accounting tips are available here.

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review 2017-01-31 15:14
How to Think About Sex (Without Overthinking It)
Action: A Book About Sex - Amy Rose Spiegel

Action: A Book About Sex is the cool guy/gal you hooked up with in high school or college who was way too attractive and confident for you but helped you find your way from theory to concept (in a sexual sense). After years of euphemisms and pseudo-psychology, and (worst of the bunch) seduction guides and self-help books, Action is the grown-up (but not too grown-up) discussion about sex we never knew we needed. It's direct, sensitive, encouraging, and mostly just a lot of fun -- alone or with friends!


Sex writing usually wavers between the sensual and the technical, Action doesn't much bother with either. It's crass and straightforward, but not demeaning. Spiegel shows that sex doesn't have to be so self-serious to be mind-boggling enjoyable, or to be meaningful for that matter. She doesn't really present any new information here, at least not to anyone buying a book about sex who isn't a 15 year-old boy, but she kind of opens the blinds on all the kind of unspoken assumptions many of us harbor about sex/dating/etc. and exposes them to the daylight. This happens in a number of ways but I wanted to focus on three themes that come out of the book. They're kind of suggestions but also demonstrated in the way Spiegel writes.


The first is openness. Spiegel says we should really be talking more about sex. About consent, about identity, about sexuality and kinks, about relationships, about positions, and everything else. Especially with your partners (obviously), but in public life too. It's kind of like talking about money, decorum tells us to hush up, but some frank discussions would do a lot of good in both realms.


Spiegel starts with a section saying as much right away, which makes openness less a theme than just a thing she says, except it continues popping up throughout the book. I mean, if the branding wasn't so bad it could be called "Talking: A Book About Sex."  Talk to new people you might want to sex! Talk with people you already sex to make sure your sex is as good as it can be (for both involved)! Talk with someone your maybe about to sex to see if they're really down with that! Talk about trying something new! Talk about a trip to the sex store! It touches on a bonus theme of embarrassment I won't really discuss, but by not talking about sex we are closing off possibilities we can really enjoy. We've all been frustrated by situations where everyone is deferring and nobody will make a decision where to go for dinner, it's like that except no one bothers to mention dinner and just hopes to happen into a restaurant and then order food for the other person.


Second: Spiegel reminds us that there are two people (or three) in the bed. Note the emphasis on people. Gender always comes second to humanity in this book, because this is obviously the treatment we've needed for a very long time. Action is a book about sex, largely for entertainment but with a lot of practical content too, and that content is about having a better sex life. What it is not is a book about seducing women, or pleasing men. Spiegel is always working under the assumption that the other party in this matter is a thinking, feeling person and would like to be treated as such.


Of course, Action gets more specific when it comes to handling genitalia, but when it comes to seduction technique or being better in bed it's not about some technique or trick or pseudo-psychology, it's about respect and openness (see above). Success isn't about who you have sex with, it's about how you feel about that person and both of you having a good time. There's no shortcut there, you just have to think about it and work it out. Actually, there's one technique she says will make you as insightful as Mel Gibson in What Women Want but you'd have to go back and read point 1. (Edit: more insightful than Gibson, he mostly uses his gendered mind-reading in that movie to be a manipulative dick.)


Lastly: Spiegel grounds the discussions in real terms and situations. Some jargon does appear here -- intersectionality, non-binary, cisgender, BONE-A-ZONA -- but Spiegel uses it sparingly and playfully. Like I said above, she is unflinching, as it should be: she's writing a book about sex, now is not the time to get coy. Her candidness makes everything better and more clear because she describes something real and specific. Here she talks about just meeting people:


"Eight times out of ten, if you introduce yourself to a new person, assume some air of great purpose about you, and tell them something honest and enticing in its irregularity (especially if it also happens to be funny), that person will talk to you."


Spiegel then spends most of the chapter on talking: good pick-up lines, having something to say, asking questions, pushing when they answer "good" or "not much." It's five pages on what is essentially you're time-tested, basic script hook up, but she demystifies it. Here's where you are, here's what you do, there's no script, just some prompts, because the biggest problems are getting the gumption up to talk with someone and have the grace to move on when it doesn't pan out. Again, it's not about seduction, it's about meeting people (see point 2). If you're open and outgoing, opportunities will arise, but if you fixate on someone you forget they are a real person with their own feelings and tastes that has no obligation to return your attraction.


When Spiegel does share tips they are broad and she doesn't claim universal, though they seem like a good idea. Spiegel admits she's into good posture, or how she digs getting oral sex while lying on her stomach, but everyone has their own preferences, it's what makes the world go 'round.


Then it all cycles back to point 1, or maybe they're all one point: talk respectfully about sex in clear terms, you wild lovechild.


SUMMARY: This was kind of a weird review, but this was also an unusual book and I was really interested in the way everything was presented. The result was something about style and about what spoke to me, but also recounting some messages from the book. This makes some sense because form is important and the way Spiegel presents the information reflects the approach she is advocating: direct, unashamed, sensitive and curious. I hope this review made sense is all I'm saying. Thanks for reading!



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