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6 Things INDIVIDUALS Need to Know About ObamaCare

You’re hearing all kinds of things about health care reform, commonly referred to as ObamaCare (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [PPACA] or Affordable Care Act [ACA]).  But how much of what you’re hearing is TRUE?  In addition to misinformation being passed around, scammers have been cropping up at an alarming rate.  Here is a list of 6 things you need to know about ObamaCare if you’re an INDIVIDUAL:

(1) Unless you’re exempt under law, if you don’t have federally approved health insurance in place by January 1, 2014, you’ll be subject to a “shared responsibility payment.”  Technically, this payment is NOT a fine or penalty–it’s a tax payable when you file your federal income tax return.  [This provision of the PPACA is referred to as the Individual Mandate.]

(2) If you have insurance in place right now, the following plans meet requirements of “approved” health insurance under the PPACA beginning in 2014:

    • Medicare Part A
    • Medicaid, CHIP
    • TRICARE
    • Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP)
    • any government plan
    • any Indian tribal government plan
    • any health plan offered in the individual or group marketplaces

The following plans will NOT be considered “approved” health insurance under the PPACA beginning in 2014:  Medicare and TRICARE supplements, long-term care, disability, dental or vision plans (when issued without health insurance), accident-only, and workers’ compensation.

(3) The shared responsibility payment for individuals is the greater of an established amount per person (a family maximum applies) or a percentage of the family’s household income. For example, in 2014, each adult will be required to pay $95, each child will be required to pay $47.50, the family maximum is $285, and the percentage of family income is 1%.  These figures increase until 2016, after which they’ll be adjusted by annual cost of living increases. In 2016, they’ll be $695 per adult, $347.50 per child, $2,085 family maximum, and 2.5% of family income.

(4) Exempt Americans (those who are not subject to the shared responsibility payment) include:

  • individuals who are NOT required to file an income tax return based on income
  • undocumented immigrants
  • individuals serving time in jail or prison
  • members of an Indian tribe
  • members of a religion that is opposed to receiving health care (meaning the religion AND members are opposed)
  • individuals whose employee-only cost of group health insurance is more than 9.5% of their household incomes

(5) Beginning in 2014, the manner in which health insurance is rated will change.  NO health insurance rates may be based on a person’s health status or medical condition(s)–meaning pre-existing conditions exclusions and limits will no longer be permitted by law. Only four elements may be used when establishing premium rates beginning in 2014:  age, the geographic location of residence, tobacco use, and whether enrollment is for an individual or a family.

(6) Premium tax-credits (i.e., federally approved reductions in the cost of health insurance) will be made available to Americans who buy health insurance from one of the Health Insurance Exchanges IF the following eligibility requirements are met:

    • the individual is not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, employer-sponsored health insurance, a grandfathered plan, and a few other types of coverage (a few exceptions apply)
    • household income must fall between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL); in 2013, the FPL for a single individual is $11,490 and for a family of four it’s $23,550

Individuals purchasing insurance directly from an agent, as opposed to through an exchange, are NOT eligible for premium tax credits.

(7) Fraudsters are already capitalizing on consumers’ lack of familiarity with the provisions of the PPACA and people are being defrauded EVERY day as the deadline for compliance approaches. Here are some links for you to learn more about the Affordable Care Act and how to avoid becoming the victim of health insurance fraud as the PPACA rolls out:

P.S. I’m qualified to talk about health insurance because I’ve worked for more than 30 years in the insurance industry as a licensed agent, consultant, instructor, and education provider. In fact, after selling the second of my two insurance agencies in 2011, I began working full-time as a course developer and writer, putting together insurance courses for continuing education and pre-licensing purposes. My clients are insurance companies, professional insurance organizations, and national and regional insurance education providers. I’ve developed and written several continuing education courses on the subject of the PPACA, including a two-hour webinar for A.D. Banker and Company that I present on a monthly basis.

P.P.S.  Check in later in the week to learn about what businesses need to know about ObamaCare.

You don’t have to be an insurance agent to attend the A.D. Banker webinars I’m presenting on the Affordable Care Act … although you do have to pay for the presentations and CE filing fees. Cost: $27. Click this link for more information about A.D. Banker’s PPACA webinar. Upon arriving at the A.D. Banker website, click on Webinar and choose Health Insurance and the PPACA.

Click this link f you’d like to subscribe to my mailing list to be notified of about other webinars and presentations. I plan to begin presenting informational webinars about insurance to the general public before January. A nominal fee will be charged for these presentation (i.e., $5 – $10)

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Book Review: LOST by S.J. Bolton

Lost may just be the most suspenseful book I’ve ever read.

Set in London, where a serial killer’s  abducting and killing ten- and eleven-year-old boys, Lost weaves together the emotional stories of a number of people living in same neighborhood. Enter Barney, an 11-year-old who’s searching for his mother … and whose father just happens to have been out on the nights the murdered boys disappeared.  Enter Lacey, Barney’s next door neighbor, a Detective Constable on the London police force who’s  on leave from her job and having a difficult time recovering from a recent job-related trauma.  Enter Lacey’s coworker DI Mark Joesbury–and his 10-year-old son…

As the number of murdered boys mounts, Bolton  delves into the lives of Barney and his friends, who are trying to find the murderer on their own.  And as Lacey struggles to remain autonomous and sane, she can’t help but be drawn back to her job and DI Joesbury.

The rapid pacing, exquisitely depicted characters, and unremitting suspense make this a must-read.

Lost by S.J. Bolton

ISBN 9781250028563

Minotaur Books – released June 6, 2013

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Book Review: A TASTE FOR MALICE by Michael J. Malone

A Taste for Malice is the second book in the DI Ray McBain series by Michael J. Malone.  (Blood Tears is the first and the third is scheduled for release in November 2014.)

I came up with a one word description of this book after reading the first chapter and am sticking by it now that I’ve finished the book:  brilliant.

Malone’s characters are real–with all their kindnesses, cruelties, and quirks.  And although this crime novel doesn’t have a single dead body in it, the tension continues ratcheting upward, causing you to hold your breath as you’re sure you know what’s going to happen next … only it doesn’t.

That’s it for me.  I’m going back to my original assessment:  brilliant.  You should be adding this to your summer reading list.  NOW!

Book Blurb:

DI Ray McBain is back at work and on filing duty. Desperate for something to do, a pair of old files intrigue him. In the first a woman pushes her way into a vulnerable family. The children adore her. At first. Then she has some ‘fun’, which soon becomes torture and mental cruelty. Then she disappears. Meanwhile, in Ayrshire, another young family is relieved when a stranger comes into their lives to help them out. McBain makes the link, but nobody is interested in what he has to say. Is it even the same woman?

A Taste for Malice by Michael J. Malone

ISBN:  978-1907869754

Published by Five Leaves Publications

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GUEST BLOGGER: Michael J. Malone

My guest blogger today is Michael J. Malone, a Scots writer published in crime fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.  I “met” Michael several years ago through a mutual friend–just before his first novel, Blood Tears, was sold.  That book’s follow-up novel, A Taste for Malice, was recently released and my review will appear on this blog later in the week.  (Hint:  you DON’T want to miss this book … or my review!)  Without further blabbering from me, here’s Michael:

More and more authors are writing across genres.  What motivated you to do so?

There wasn’t much aforethought going on here. I just went where the ideas took me.  Something came at me as a poem. Something else as a work of fiction and something else as a piece of non-fiction.

Perhaps that’s a benefit of working with a smaller publisher? I can go with the idea, express myself, and not worry that the bean-counters will forbid me from publishing what I want.

A friend of mine did point out, however, that there are similarities with my approach to each of these areas of writing – in all of them there is a narrative. A novel speaks for itself in that regard. With the non-fiction book I was telling the story of some remarkable countrymen and women of mine. And with my poems there is more often than not some kind of story layered into the language.

It appears – bottom line –  that I’m a storyteller. Who knew?

As a writer of poetry and crime novels, tell us about the different mindsets you need to write each type of work … and what writerly approaches are similar.

With poetry I often start with pen on paper. I draft an outline and then re-draft it on to the screen, cleaning and pruning the language as I go. Then I’ll set it aside for a few hours/days/weeks – months even, before going back over it. I try not to leave it too long as the motivation for the poem can wane – as can my enthusiasm for it – and then it appears on the page as a muddle. I prefer to get it on the page as soon as I can and then worry about the editing later.

When I edit a poem I’m looking for the sense of it. Does each and every word merit its place? Would another word say it better? Does what I want to say appear on the page? Am I spelling it all out for the readers or am I trusting them to bring a little bit of themselves  to the reading? Does the poem even have a point or is it a nice piece of word play with a big fat SO WHAT running after it?

Often, it’s a sprint with a massage and ice bath afterwards. A novel, is of course a marathon and requires much more in the way of dedication, persistence, and focus. But sometimes, depending on how much writing time I have, it can feel like a whole series of sprints.

I think the part of my brain that has been exercised by looking for interesting word choices in poetry also gets a workout when I’m writing the longer pieces, but I can’t afford to be that deliberate for a stretch of 100,000+ words. I’m writing what I hope is a thrilling piece of fiction and using the right words for the job. Readers want pace – a variation in pace, to be sure – but pace all the same. And interesting word play can slow that down. There are moments of description when I will allow access to the poetic part of my brain (if I can call it that) and moments of action and dialogue when I’m aware the reader will want to race through to find out what happens.

In essence, any form of writing is all about the right words in the right order. It’s all about word choice. It’s just different combinations depending on the effect I want to create in the reader’s mind. And often that is all done by instinct. It’s only later in the editing process when I can try to assess whether or not it works.

The majority of your fans live in the U.K. but you have a following in the U.S., as well.  Do you believe readers are readers, regardless of where they live, or do you find differences that other writers might want to consider when writing for international audiences?

The only reader I have in mind as I write is me. Thinking of your audience as you write is the way madness lies. Or sub-standard work.

I remember reading and loving Angela’s Ashes. And then being deeply disappointed by the follow up, Tis. Paddy McCourt hadn’t become a poor writer overnight, it was just that he became too aware of his audience. It was like the narrator in Tis kept apologising for what he was like as a young man instead of letting the words just tell the story.

I’m not sure that answers your question. But yes, readers are readers and they like what they like. You can’t try to second guess that. Which is why I write the book I think I would want to read – and then hope that if it satisfies me it will please others.

In terms of changes in taste when it comes to books transferring across the pond, there has been enough books over the last few decades that work on both sides of the Atlantic to suggest a whole lot of similarities. And certainly from the UK side, we have been heavily influenced by popular American culture, from music, TV, film, and books – and perhaps in my own case that influence has worked its way into my style and folks in the US connect with that AND the Scottish stuff. You guys do appear to like the Scots.

What always amuses me is the changes in covers. We might like lots of the same books, but we prefer them to be dressed differently. The marketing people know what they are doing. Right?

Do you think having a twin sister has given you an edge when it comes to creating female characters?

Good question.

I remember some time ago I was commissioned to write a group of poems for a novel by Margaret Thomson Davis. Margaret told me the character whose perspective I was writing from was a young girl from a repressed background. Her mother knew she was in Art School but thought she was studying embroidery – when in fact she was falling in love with a young fireman who was posing nude in the life drawing class. In these poems, I was to highlight the sexual awakening of this young woman.

At first I was daunted. I had to get in to the mind of a young woman who was, in effect, lusting over this naked young man.  How the hell was I going to manage that? And it was while talking it over with a friend I realised that ultimately we all (men and women) want the same things – love, validation, kindness etc – but just different body parts. (The friend I was discussing this with was gay. And he just scoffed at my different body part comment.) With that thought, I was freed to write what I needed to write.

I understand that some men struggle to write from a female perspective, but equally lots of men don’t.  The thing is, I often write poems from a female point of view. Perhaps being so close to my twin sister has helped create a mindset that encourages that. She has been filling my head with her worries for as long as I can remember.  (Sorry, sis.) That’s bound to have had an effect.

What is the timeline of your future releases and where can we purchase your titles that are already in print?

The next McBain book (#3 after Blood Tears and A Taste for Malice) is still in my head and has been penciled in for release in November 2014.

I have a book coming out in February 2014 that’s a blend of fact and fiction. It is called The Guillotine Choice and it is based on the true story of an innocent young Algerian, during the French colonisation of his country. He was effectively given the choice of 25 years hard labour in Devil’s Island or to send his cousin to the guillotine. To learn more, you’ll just need to wait and read the book. The man this novel is based on led a remarkable life and I can’t wait to get the book out there.

My other books are available through all good bookshops, if you live in the UK. If you insist on using the interwebs, Foyles is a proper bookshop with good online discount: http://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/a-taste-for-malice,michael-j-malone-9781907869754

Sadly, Amazon is pretty much the only party in town when it comes to ebooks.  So, go here for my author page, which, BTW,  is seriously in need of an update:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-J-Malone/e/B009WV9V4Y/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1370197713&sr=1-2-ent

For American readers, you can buy my books from the Book Depository with your credit card … and FREE shipping:  http://www.bookdepository.com/author/Michael-J-Malone

Here’s the blurb for  A Taste for Malice …

DI Ray McBain is back at work and on filing duty. Desperate for something to do, a pair of old files intrigue him. In the first a woman pushes her way into a vulnerable family. The children adore her. At first. Then she has some ‘fun’, which soon becomes torture and mental cruelty. Then she disappears. Meanwhile, in Ayrshire, another young family is relieved when a stranger comes into their lives to help them out. McBain makes the link, but nobody is interested in what he has to say. Is it even the same woman?

Here’s an excerpt from the Undiscovered Scotland review:

“He has produced one of the more unusual detective novels we can remember reading. Most crime novels kick off with a dead body within the first few pages, and build from there. What is particularly fascinating about “A Taste for Malice” is that the story does not revolve around the tracking down of a killer or serial killer. The central story, which develops in two parallel strands that steadily converge as the book moves towards its climax, deals with something altogether less wholesome.”

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Book Review: SCRATCHGRAVEL ROAD by Tricia Fields

Scratchgravel Road by Tricia Fields is a gripping mystery with enough plot twists and quirky characters to keep you reading from start to finish without coming up for air.

Why did a local woman abandon her car by the side of the road in the Texas desert … and why was her unconscious body found beside that of a dead Mexican immigrant?  Why won’t the young woman answer the questions posed by Josie Grey, the police chief of the small Texas town?  And more importantly, what caused the man’s death–and the alarming wounds found on his body that just may signal something sinister going on at the dead man’s place of employment?

As the story unfolds, the small town of Artemis, Texas is embroiled in something much bigger than whatever it is Josie Grey discovered out in the desert.  And it’s her job to figure it all out before anyone else winds up dead.

Scratchgravel Road by Tricia Fields

by Minotaur Books

ISBN 978-1-250-02136-6 (hardcover)

ISBN 978-1-250-02278-3 (eBook)

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Book Review: BLACK SHEEP by CJ Lyons

Here’s another book to be added to your list of must-reads.  In Black SheepCJ Lyons‘ characterization of FBI Supervisory Special Agent Caitlyn Tierney is excellent–especially if you’ve ever asked yourself why people behave the way they do–especially your parents…

It’s the only mystery Supervisory Supervisory Special Agent Caitlyn Tierney has never solved:  her father’s unexplained suicide after arresting his best friend for murder.  It drove Caitlyn to become one of the FBI’s best agents–and often the most unorthodox.  Her latest case is no exception:  when the man she holds responsible for her father’s death asks for help in finding his missing daughter, Caitlyn’s search brings her back to her North Carolina hometown.  The town is now vibrant with new money, old lies, and an unknown enemy who will do anything to keep Caitlyn from learning the truth–and who will kill to keep it buried.

The characters in this book come alive and the suspense kept me turning the pages.  And all the while I thought I knew whodunit, and why, I kept changing my mind.  Yep, this was one of those books I read straight through … ’til 2:00 a.m.

Black Sheep by CJ Lyons

Published by St. Martin’s Press February 26, 2013

ISBN 978-1-250-01534-1

Contact Sarah Melnyk

 

 

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Writer’s Market reports “4 Book Publishers Looking for Writers”

I subscribe to Writer’s Market, as well as an email feed.  Couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share this information:

4 BOOK PUBLISHERS LOOKING FOR WRITERSWritersMarket.com lists hundreds of book publishers for writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, writing for children, and more. Here are four open to submissions from writers:

  • Avon Romance publishes high quality romance novels. In fact, this HarperCollins imprint publishes 400 novels per year, and they take submissions directly from prospective authors. Use their online submission form.
  • Free Spirit Publishing produces 20-25 titles per year “to provide children and teens with the tools they need to succeed in life and to make a difference in the world.” Prospective authors should submit a proposal.
  • Seal Press publishes 30 titles per year. The publisher proclaims they publish books by women for women and hopes writers will take that into consideration when submitting. Prospective authors should send a query letter or proposal.
  • Shambhala Publications publishes 90-100 titles per year. This publisher is mostly focused on nonfiction topics, especially related to Buddhism, yoga, mindfulness, creativity, martial arts, natural health, and green living. Prospective authors should submit a book proposal by post.

(NOTE: If you’re unable to access the listing, it means you either need to log in or sign up for WritersMarket.com first.)

WritersMarket.com lists more than 8,000 publishing opportunities, including listings for contests, magazines, book publishers, literary agents, conferences, and more. Log in or sign up today to start submitting your work.

Click to continue.

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Interested in Insurance CE Webinars?

I’m proud to announce that my client, A.D. Banker & Companyis offering a full line-up of CE Webinar courses beginning May 15, 2013.  These are attendance based sessions with NO final exams.  Courses are led by insurance professionals with years of industry experience and can be attended from anywhere the internet is available.  CE Webinars are currently approved in the following states:  AK, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MO, MS, NC, NE, NY, NC, OH, OR, PA, RI, TN, TX, UT, VA.

I developed and wrote several of the webinars and will be presenting two of the them:  Health Insurance and the PPACA and Cyber Liability.  I’m scheduled to present Health Insurance and the PPACA on May 15, June 12, July 11, August 8, September 10, October 22, November 19, and December 17.  I’m scheduled to present Cyber Liability on May 30, June 28, August 27, October 10, and November 13.

For a list of topics, click here; from that page, click on Continuing Education at the top of the page for dates, times, and pricing.

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Why the Government’s Health Program (PCIP) is Running Out of Money

An article in today’s LifeHealthPro prompted my blog post today.  It’s about the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) that was established by the Affordable Care Act to guarantee health insurance for the unfortunate individuals who had health conditions so serious insurers wouldn’t write insurance on them.

Well, folks, the federally-run PCIP is running out of money to pay for the claims of all the sick people who purchased coverage through the plan.  Why is that? you may wonder.  Well, the government paid more in claims that it expected to pay.  Here’s my question:  Why did the government think insurance companies didn’t want to write coverage for those people?  And here’s my answer:  Because people with health issues have more claims than people without health issues do.

I’m not saying unhealthy people shouldn’t be able to have coverage.  However, since the very nature of insurance–and state insurance regulations–REQUIRES premiums to be adequate enough to pull in enough funds to pay claims, there’s only one things premiums can do when the costs of claims rise.  Yep, you guessed it.  So when the PCIP provided “affordable” insurance, it wasn’t charging enough premiums to pay the claims.  Which is really BAD news for the folks enrolled in the plan.  Which those of us who understand the nature of insurance expected to happen.  [P.S.   The PCIP stopped accepting new enrollees some time ago because the government saw the handwriting on the wall.]

I’m a nonsmoker in my late 50s who has no health issues:  my blood pressure is 120/80, my cholesterol is below 200, and I don’t take regular medication.  I don’t have diabetes or any other condition.  And I pay, personally, out of my own pocket (because I’m self-employed), $563 a month for health insurance.  I understand precisely what consumers are faced with concerning the costs of healthcare.

I’m also one of the few people who has a copy of the text of the Affordable Care Act on her computer, and who has read a good portion of that text.  (I admit it:  I haven’t read the whole thing.)  There are all kinds of provisions most consumers don’t know about.  And I’ll bet a lot of politicians don’t know about them, either.

If you’re interested in reading a brief, consumer-friendly timeline of what will be happening under the Affordable Care Act, you can visit Healtcare.gov at What’s Changing and When. Although many people know more about the Affordable Care Act than I do, I’ve  researched it extensively, written a couple of insurance courses on it, and presented a number of webinars on the topic.  I welcome your questions.

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Book Review: COME HOME by Lisa Scottoline

I enjoy all of Lisa Scottline’s books but Come Home is by far one of the most emotionally wringing novels I’ve read in years.

After divorcing, pediatrician Jill Farrow has finally gotten her life back on track.  Her 13-year-old daughter Megan is happy and Jill is engaged to marry a wonderful man.  But when her former stepdaughter suddenly appears one night with the news that Jill’s ex-husband was murdered, Jill’s world is turned upside down.  Abby insists her father was murdered and enlists Jill’s help to find the killer.

Come Home combines the nail-biting tension of an expert thriller with the unbreakable ties of family.  As Jill’s obligations to her fiance, the daughter she loves, and the daughter of her heart pull her in different directions, she battles to do what is right and bring her family home.  If you’ve ever struggled with family ties and loyalty, this novel taps into all those turbulent emotions … and love.

Come Home by Lisa Scottoline

Released 04/10/2013 by St. Martin’s Press

ISBN (hardcover) 978-0312380823

ISBN (ebook) 978-1429942324

P.S.  If you click the link above to Come Home, you’ll be taken to Lisa’s website where you can read the first chapter.

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Book Review: DON’T GO by Lisa Scottoline

I love emotionally-charged stories and characters who grow and evolve throughout them.  Don’t Go is a powerful story and as emotionally charged as any story I’ve read in a long time.

While Dr. Mike Scanlon is serving in Afghanistan, his wife Chloe falls victim to a fatal household accident.  Devastated, he returns home only to discover he’s a stranger to his baby girl, and the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death are not as simple as they seem.  Now, he must fight to discover the truth and to reclaim his life–and his daughter.

This novel touches on all a parents’ fears, and all the things that go through your mind when you’re dealing with a tragedy you’re woefully under-equipped to handle.  Scottoline taps into all our fears and the guilty thoughts and recriminations that keep us up at night–not to mention our tendency to avoid when life is simply too awful to bear.

Don’t Go is a must-read.

Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline

ISBN (hardcover) 978-1-250-010070

ISBN (ebook) 978-1-250-025999

Release date April 9, 2013

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press

 

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Book Review: THE PERFECT GHOST by Linda Barnes

I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Linda Barnes, including the books in the Carlotta Carlyle series, but she’s outdone herself with The Perfect Ghost.   I was truly awed by Barnes’  ability to build the character of Em Moore layer by exquisite layer in this tale of an agoraphobic biographer who is compelled to push her personal boundaries after the death of her writing partner.

The shy and insecure Em is forced to leave her structured world to visit Cape Cod to tackle alone the project she and her partner had begun before his death:  interviewing the dashing filmmaker and director Garrett Malcolm.  Normally the silent half of the writing partnership, Em becomes privy to family secrets and longstanding feuds, as well as the odd comings and goings of a washed-up movie star.

Everything about this novel is spectacular:  the characters, the storyline, and and the unique narrative of Em Moore.  You definitely need to add this book to your reading list.

The Perfect Ghost by Linda Barnes

Published by Minotaur Books

hardcover ISBN 978-1-250-023636

e-book ISBN 978-1-250-02364-3

 

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Proof that Perseverance Pays Off

Have you ever given up on pursuing a dream because it seemed unattainable?  Or worse, quit because someone told you your dream was unrealistic?

Take a lesson from my friend, Jaclyn:  don’t give up and don’t quit.  On April 1st, and at age 83, Jaclyn is going to see her first romance novel published.  Talk about perseverance!

I first met Jaclyn  in 1989 when I joined Romance Writers of America.  She and I served on the board of directors for the New England Chapter of RWA from 1990 to 1994 and, for years, supported each other by critiquing each other’s work.  I’m SO proud of her and her accomplishments:  she’s won numerous awards for her writing and never gave up.

Her time travel romance, The Ring, will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing on 04/01/2013; here’s more info:

 

 

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BOOK REVIEW: The Good Cop by Brad Parks

One of the things I like best about Brad Parks is that he’s funny. Downright hilarious, in fact. He’s also a terrific writer.

In The Good Cop, Carter Ross–a newspaper reporter in Newark, New Jersey, finds himself wondering why a cop committed suicide when he had everything to live for.  He had a terrific wife, two children he planned to take to Disney World, and the respect of all who knew him. When the local cops accept the suicide theory, despite the protests of the widow and others in the know, Ross does what all good reporters do:  he digs and keeps digging, despite a number of challenges, including attempts on his life.

Parks nails the setting, transforming Newark and all its many flavors into a top-notch character. The plot moves along at a good clip, tossing surprises and action with enjoyable regularity. And I love Carter Ross:  smart, witty, and human–the perfect blend between Alpha and Beta.

Brad Parks’ Bio (excerpted from his website):  Brad Parks is the only author to have won the Shamus Award and Nero Award for the same novel.  That book, FACES OF THE GONE, introduced Carter Ross, the sometimes-dashing investigative reporter, who has gone on to star in EYES OF THE INNOCENT and THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, which was named to the Kirkus Reviews’ Best Fiction of 2012 list and nominated for a Lefty Award for best humorous mystery. The series, which Shelf Awareness has called “perfect for the reader who loves an LOL moment but wants a mystery that’s more than empty calories,” has earned starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist. It continues with THE GOOD COP and a fifth, as-yet-unnamed installment. Parks is a graduate of Dartmouth College and spent a dozen years as a reporter for The Washington Post and The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger. He is now a full-time novelist who lives in Virginia with his wife and two small children.

The Good Cop

Minotaur Books, ISBN 978-1-250-00552-6

Release date:  March 5, 2013

 

Click here to read my 2009 interview with Brad Parks after he published Faces of the Gone, his first Carter Ross novel.

 

 

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Free Webinar – Insurance Fraud

In partnership with A.D. Banker and Company, I’ll be presenting a 45-minute webinar preview of A.D. Banker’s insurance CE course, Identifying Insurance Fraud, at 1:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 7th and again on Thursday, March 21st.  The CE course is available online as a self-study course and, depending upon your state, has been approved for 5 to 7 credit hours for producers and adjusters.

Click here to register for the free webinar.

To review the courses offered by A.D. Banker (many of which I developed and wrote), visit their website and choose your state and preferred method of course delivery (classroom, online, or self-study).

All my webinars, trainings, and CE classroom presentations appear in my events calendar, which appears at the bottom of each page on this website, as soon as they’re scheduled.

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Montana, Here I Come

Newsflash:

The response to my proposal for offering insurance continuing education classes in Missoula in September was SUCCESSFUL!  So, thanks to all those wonderful people who were able to receive my inquiry and respond so quickly, I’m in the process of negotiating conference space and mapping out the curriculum.

Of course, I need to submit everything to the Montana DOI for course approval, but I’m hoping to have that done within the next couple of weeks.  Once I’ve booked the hotel and scheduled the curriculum, I’ll put up a “Montana CE” page on the website for you to look things over and download a registration form.

Montana, here I come!

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Shall I Head West to Montana?

I moved back to Massachusetts from Montana two years ago.  (Actually, my puppy and I headed out for the 2,700-mile drive on February 26, 2011.)  Since that time, many of the insurance professionals who attended the classroom insurance continuing education courses I offered during the 7 years I lived in Montana have contacted me to see when I would be returning.

Well, how can I resist all the love and devotion of those people … especially after all this time? In two words: I can’t.

I’ve decided to put together 2 days of classroom CE seminars in Missoula during the mid-September if enough people register for them.  Each day will offer two different seminars totaling 8 hours of CE credit.  At the moment, my plans for topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Flood Insurance (meeting FEMA training guidelines)
  • Healthcare Reform
  • Professional Liability (E&O, D&O, EPL, and Cyber)
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Mold
  • Terrorism

If you, or someone you know, are interested in attending and want to be included on my mailing list once I’ve settled on the curriculum and reserved the date and location, email me at Linda@LindaFaulkner.com

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Free Webinar Presentations

I’ve partnered with  my client, A.D. Banker and Company, to develop and present a series of free webinars to preview new insurance continuing education courses, many of which I wrote.

The first of the webinars, which I presented on January 24th, was a preview of the two-hour insurance continuing education course, The PPACA: What Consumers Need to Know, which discusses highlights of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act–more commonly referred to as the Affordable Care Act.  We’ve scheduled repeat performances at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 7th and Thursday, February 21st.

In March, I’ll presenting webinars on the subject of insurance fraud, the first of which is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 7th.  More details about these individual webinars is contained in my Events Calendar, which appears at the bottom of your screen.

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It’s Us … It’s Not the Guns

It isn’t guns that kill people; it’s the people who wield guns who kill.

A gun sitting on a table, on your front lawn, or in the back seat of my car is never going to cause a single injury.  Yes, firearms are made by humans–as are smog, poisonous chemicals, and acid rain.  Why aren’t we trying to ban smog, poisonous chemicals, and acid rain?  Unlike those man-made substances, guns have no inherent ability to cause injury or death. It’s only when guns interact with humans that fatal outcomes occur.

Cars and trucks sitting in driveways and parking lots don’t cause deaths either.  But when people get behind the wheel, cars and trucks can become killers.  If people get behind the wheel and drive while impaired (in a variety of ways), their potential for causing fatalities increases exponentially.

The same can be said when people with impairments own and use guns.  Some people are impaired by anger, or sadness, or mental illness.  Others are impaired by bad judgment or momentary insanity.  In insurance language, a human was the proximate cause of the event in Connecticut.  Human impairment was the first event in an unbroken chain of events that led to the tragic deaths.

Our society must find the proximate causes of problems before prevent them. We must identify people who are likely to use guns for inappropriate purposes and prevent them from owning, or having access to, guns.  We must not turn away when we see an impaired individual owns, possesses, or has access to a gun–regardless of the type of impairment or the reason for it.  Far too often, every one of us chooses to look the other way rather than make an “issue” of something we know in our heart is wrong or may lead to injury. We must dig beneath the surface until we reach the root, and then rip it out from where it’s buried.

Blaming guns for the heartbreaking deaths of shooting victims is understandable … but its a form of denial. It reminds me of something I heard recently about rape:  Why do we teach people about  how to avoid being raped instead of teaching them how NOT to rape?

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How Much do YOU Know about Car Accidents and Renting Replacement Vehicles?

I’m proud to announce that my magazine article, Rental Reimbursement Coverage:  Minor Coverage with Major Impact is the featured article in the Fall 2012 issue of the  national trade magazine, Today’s Insurance Professional.  It’s actually been so well-received, I’m receiving reprint requests!

I was asked to write the article by the International Association of Insurance Professionals after being contracted by a client to develop and write several insurance education courses on the topic of Rental Reimbursement insurance–which I then presented around the country and at two of the associations’ annual conventions.

Although the article was written with insurance professionals as its intended audience, consumers will certainly benefit from ” tips” about what the coverage provides and how both personal and business auto policies seldom offer “good enough” rental coverage without the addition of an endorsement.

Care to share any of your stories about car accidents and renting replacement vehicles?

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What the Average American DOESN’T Know about the Affordable Care Act – Part II

Continuing from the blog post on Monday, here are few of the major provisions of the PPACA that will go into effect beginning in January 2014.

Most Americans will be required to be covered by health insurance or pay a penalty.  This is what is referred to as the individual mandate.   The following Americans will NOT be subject to a penalty if they aren’t covered by health insurance:

  • Members of a religion opposed to acceptance of health care benefits
  • Undocumented immigrants
  • Individuals serving time in jail
  • Members of an Indian tribe
  • Individuals with household income that doesn’t require the filing of a tax return
  • Individuals who must pay more than 8% of their income for health insurance—after application of any employer contributions and tax credits

A few facts about penalties:

  • They aren’t imposed until an individual has been uninsured for 90 days
  • Penalties are charged per person, with a family maximum, OR as a percentage of family income—whichever is more
  • Penalties, per person, per adult (children’s penalties are one-half the adult penalty) will be:  In 2014:  $95; in 2015:  $325; in 2016:  $695; and after 2016:  adjusted by annual cost of living increases
  • Penalties as a percentage of family income:  In 2014:  1%; in 2015:  2%; and in 2016:  2.5%

The following eligibility and rating restrictions will apply:

  • Coverage cannot be denied or non-renewed because of health status
  • Pre-existing conditions can’t be excluded
  • Premium rates may only be based on:  age, state of residence, individual or family enrollment, and tobacco use
  • Coverage cannot be cancelled or denied because of the enrollee’s participation in clinical trials for cancer or other life-threatening conditions

I’ll continue with more scintillating info on Friday!  So, what do you think so far?  Did you know these facts?  How do you feel about them?  How do you think they’ll affect you and your family?

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What You Probably Don’t Know About the Affordable Care Act – Part I

During the past couple of years, I’ve written numerous insurance texts that are either devoted entirely to the Affordable Care Act or that contain chapters about it.  Formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, the media refers to this recent federal legislation as Obamacare.

I won’t bore you with details about provisions you already know, like the individual mandate and employer requirements going into effect on January 1, 2014.  I will provide you with lesser-known details that will either affect you directly or affect someone you know.  This first blog post discusses some changes that will go into effect in 2013.

(By the way, I have the text of the PPACA on my computer in PDF format; although I haven’t read all 974 pages of it, I have read significant portions of it and have conducted extensive research about it.)

As a warm-up, here are some of the provisions of the PPACA that have already been put into place:

  • Dependent coverage for adult children must now be provided on their parents’ health policies until age 26 (subject to requirements for being a “dependent”)
  • Certain types of preventive care is no longer subject to deductibles and copayments, such as mammograms and colonoscopies
  • Lifetime benefits have been eliminated
  • Annual benefits limits have been restricted
  • Pre-existing conditions limits may not be imposed upon children under age 19

Beginning in 2013, tax-deductibility of medical expenses will change.  At present, taxpayers are permitted to itemize and deduct medical expenses if those expenses exceed 7.5% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income.  This means if you earn $50,000 per year, you may itemize and deduct your medical expenses that exceed $3,750.  In 2013, the threshold increases to 10%.  So, if you earn $50,000 in 2013, you may only itemize and deduct your medical expenses that exceed $5,000.

If a person has a flexible spending account, the maximum contribution will be $2,500 beginning in 2013.  Up until that time, there has been no limit to contributions to this tax-advantaged plan that allows employees to designate a portion of their annual earnings to pay for qualified medical expenses.  (These funds are not taxed if used for qualified medical expenses.)

Also beginning in 2013, the Medicare tax rate for individuals who earn more than $200,000 per year will increase.  The same holds true for married taxpayers filing jointly if their combined wages are in excess of $250,000.  The increased tax rate applies to wages in excess of the thresholds.  These same individuals will also pay a higher Medicare tax rate on their investment income.

So, did you know these facts?  What are your thoughts?

Link to the text of the PPACA

Link to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation site about the PPACA

Link to the U.S. Department of HHS about the PPACA

LifeHealthPro’s list of articles about the PPACA

Link to Healthcare Reform Article by the New York Times

 

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Book Review: When the Past Haunts You by L.C. Hayden

This is the second book I’ve read from the Harry Bronson series and it’s just as good as the first one.  Hayden sucks you into the story on the first page with her talent for devising unique and unexpected plot twists.

In a nutshell, retired police detective Harry Bronson is reluctant to even talk to his estranged sister when she calls, begging him for help.  Decades after the tragedy that destroyed his family, Bronson finds himself not only flying cross-country to his sister’s aid but also committed to solving a murder.  He winds up digging through years-old family secrets and dealing with a multitude of corruption among his sister’s wealthy and powerful friends and business associates.

The action is non-stop and, as Harry struggles to learn the identity of the murder, he must face his past.  I highly recommend When the Past Haunts You, which is available from Amazon in both trade paperback and for Kindle.

L. C. Hayden is an award winning author. Her Harry Bronson series have been the finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Novel (Why Casey Had to Die) as well as finalist for Left Coast Crime’s Best Mystery (What Others Know).

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How to Protect Yourself from Violence

Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear, may just be the single most important book I’ve ever read.  The sub-title of the book is “and other survival signals that protect us from violence.”

My biggest takeaway from reading the book is confirmation and validation of something I’ve always believed … but didn’t always know how spot on the belief was and didn’t always practice.  Here’s the takeaway:  our instincts are always right.  Doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man, if your instincts, guts, inner voice–whatever it is you want to call it–tell you something’s wrong, something’s wrong!

Contrary to what many will try to tell you, what de Becker calls instinct isn’t a 6th sense.  It’s not something woo-woo, it’s not clairvoyance, it’s not ESP.  Actually, it’s way more logical than that.  In fact, it’s precisely like the processing of a computer.  For example, I’m 56 years old.  I’ve lived on this earth for 56 years and have experienced 56 years’ worth of interactions with other people.  Every single moment of my life was recorded by the computer inside my head.  And, like a computer, my brain processed those sights, sounds, smells, and stored them away for future use.  My instincts are the embodied in the future.  When my instincts tell me something’s wrong, something’s wrong.   I may not know exactly what’s wrong, or why, but I can take the warning to the bank because the processor in my brain has evaluated all the facts and has spotted something out of kilter.

de Becker talks about pre-incident indicators, what he calls PINs.  No one is ever violent without first giving clues to the impending violence.  And, the majority of violence can be avoided if we pay attention to our surroundings and the people in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.  The PINs are always there.  He also proves that fear, when respected, is not only a survival instinct, it’s your friend.

I read The Gift of Fear on the heels of reading Fight Like a Girl … and Win by Lori Hartman Gervasi.  Although Fight Like a Girl is  touted as a self-defense book (the sub-title is Defense Decisions for Women), it’s more a how-to about how to prevent putting ourselves in situations that are threatening or violent than it is about how to physically defend ourselves.  It’s practical and after reading it, I picked up dozens of tips about how to keep myself safe.  I especially liked Gervasi’s advice about how all sorts of everyday household contents have the potential to be serious weapons in the event an unwanted person (read:  man) enters your home, threatens you, and you need to defend yourself.

You can’t go wrong reading this books.  In fact, you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you do so.  Especially if you read them in the order I did:  Gervasi’s book first, from a woman’s perspective, which views all the potential violence that’s out there and then de Becker’s book, from a man’s perspective, which is also that of a person who lived with violence as a child and grew up to be the premier security expert in the world.

P.S.  Many thanks to Alain Burrese, for recommending Gervasi’s book when he helped me with some research I was doing, and to both Alain and Gervasi for recommending The Gift of Fear.

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Life’s Rule Book

Life’s Rule Book by Linda McHenry

Rule #1 – No lying.  Not to yourself or from anyone else.  P.S.  Silence equals lying by omission.

Rule #2 – Never try to change someone else—it’s disrespectful to both of you.  People are entitled to their own opinions, beliefs, and Rule Books.  Accept this fact, work out a compromise, or move on.  P.S.  Manipulation and bullying = lying.

Rule #3 – Listen to, and heed, your instincts.  Always.  You know how to shut down your mind and heart and listen to God.  He speaks through your instincts.  Listen to Him (or Her).

Rule #4 – Being open to people and experiences doesn’t mean you have to choose them.  Ultimately, people are responsible for themselves and their choices.  If you follow Rule #3, you’ll make your choices for the right reasons.

Rule #5 – You are not a fixer.  Just because you can fix things doesn’t mean you have to fix them.  P.S.  There is no rule that says you even have to try to fix something.

Rule #6 – Today’s feelings won’t necessarily be tomorrow’s feelings.  Forever is an illusion … its path can always be changed.  Live for today.  Embrace today’s feelings for what they are instead of trying to mold them into what you want them to become.  P.S.  This rule applies to other people’s feelings, too.

Rule #7 – The most important human emotions are caring, kindness, and compassion.  True love is a combination of these three.  A person who doesn’t care, isn’t kind, or lacks compassion doesn’t truly love … nor is that person able to love truly.

Rule #8 – A sense of humor is required.  If you don’t have one, get one.  Fact:  Laughing always feels better than crying feels.  It makes your face look better, too.

Rule #9 – Faith is required.  The only people who experience true happiness and love are those with faith in their Gods and in themselves.

Rule #10 – Trust is required.  You must give the gift of your trust, knowing it will sometimes be spurned or mistreated.  Trust is a demonstration of your faith and the knowledge that life is more enjoyable when shared with others.  If you misplace your trust, it doesn’t mean you failed, you’re flawed, or that life sucks.  No one knows what it means. There is no reason … other than “because.”  How do you deal with that?  See Rules #1 through #9.