The 10 Best Book Covers of All Time

Obviously, this list will be super subjective.

With that in mind, I won’t comment on why I believe each cover to be among the best.

I’ll leave that to you.

And I’ll let the art speak for itself.


 


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And then of course…there’s these.

Nadya the Deathless – A new short story by J Edward Neill

Mother to a slain child…

Hunted for her power…

Some fear her…

Others adore her…

Those who know her best have named her…

Nadya the Deathless

Episode 8 in the Hollow Empire series

Now available on Amazon.

10 WAYS TO EXERCISE WHILE DOING EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES

You’re busy, right? Really busy.

Aren’t we all?

What you need are ways to squeeze in a little exercise into the gaps of ordinary life.

Here’s ten simple exercise solutions. Try a few or do them all.


1. Park in the Farthest Spot Available

It’s funny how people operate. The fittest guy or gal, even when driving to the gym for a vigorous workout, will usually pick the closest, most convenient parking spot. It makes zero sense when you think about it. Forget about driving around the mall or the airport trying to find the best spot. Park way, way out there, and burn some calories on your way in/out of wherever you’re going.

Another bonus to this tactic: never having to fight with other drivers over parking spots.

 

Look at all that exercise waiting to be had. 

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2. Take the Stairs Instead of the Elevator

Three floors up? What’s the problem? Bypass the herd waiting outside the elevator doors and sprint for the stairs. As far as time spent, taking the stairs will cost you…what? An extra 5 seconds per floor?  Instead of standing idly inside a big metal box, you can stretch your legs out nicely.

Bonus: Carrying luggage while scaling the stairs.

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3. Take the Stairs Two at a Time

Ever notice how close stairs are to one another? It’s almost like they were built to accommodate children and octogenarians. So why are you, a robust thirty or forty-something, taking them one at a time? Come on, man! Move those legs and climb at twice the speed!

Bonus: Taking stairs two at a time…while on an escalator

I’d climb stairs with her ANY day.

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4. Do One Set of Pushups Every 20 Minutes (while doing household chores)

Stop. Drop. Give me twenty.

You’re doing laundry? Do a set of pushups after hitting ‘Wash’ on the machine. You’re waiting for pasta to boil on the stove? Do another set. You’re waiting for your computer to boot up? Drop to the floor and knock yet another set out. I’ve been doing this for years, and sometimes at day’s end I look back and realize I’ve banged out 500 pushups. You don’t have to do 500. Just do what suits you…while setting aside only a fraction of the time you would have for an actual trip to the gym.

Bonus: Set weekly pushup goals. Then shatter your own records.

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5. Buy a Push Mower

Sometimes I peek out my front door and see my neighbor (who’s twenty years younger) riding around his tiny little yard on a $1,500 John Deere mower. And sometimes I see my other neighbor, a former marine, striding slowly behind his self-propelled mower. First of all, these machines cost way more than a typical walk-behind mower. And second of all, these guys are mowing outside on a beautiful summer day…somehow getting no exercise at all. You can get a push mower for $150-$300. Slap on a mulcher (bagging your grass will slow you down) and get going! Studies show that with a medium-sized lawn, you can walk 1-2 miles while mowing.

We have another word for all that walking: exercise

Mow your way to fitness.

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6. While Playing Video Games, Ride a Stationary Bike

This one is among my favorites. I’m a video game nut (see this and this) and yet there’s possibly no activity in the world that’ll kill fitness quite like plopping on the sofa and not moving for hours on end. Solution? Buy a stationary bike and pump out the miles…while crushing your favorite games. I’ve found that the higher energy level the game requires, the faster you’ll tend to bike. Once, while playing Zelda – Breath of the Wild, I biked for two-and-a-half hours without really even noticing.

And afterward, I’d gotten both a gaming fix and a really satisfying workout.

Bonus: Play Mario Kart while on a bike and pretend you’re racing along with the game. Seriously. It works.

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7. Take the Printer out of your Office

Humans are always striving to increase their level of convenience. But at what cost? This suggestion isn’t just about printers or other office hardware. It’s about purposely not obsessing about convenience. So you’ll have to get up and walk thirty steps every time you print something? Big deal. Just do it. So you’ll have to carry your laundry upstairs? I’m not sure I see the problem.

Force yourself to move. Get out of your chair. Savor every step you have to take.

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8. Carry Hand-Baskets in the Store instead of using Shopping Carts

What’s that you say? A shopping cart with just six things inside? Nope. That’s hand-basket territory. You know what a hand-basket is, right? The little things with handles stacked just inside the grocery store entrance.

Bonus: If you must use a shopping cart, push it all the way back into the store rather than into the cart corral

This woman makes me proud.

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9. Install a Chin-Up Bar in a Household Doorway

They don’t cost much. They’re surprisingly safe. And chin-ups are an awesome way to tone your shoulders and boost your core strength. My suggestion is this: install a bar in a doorway you pass through 5-6 times every day. And then…every single time you pass through that doorway…pump out 5-10 (or more, if you’re buff) chin-ups. Even if you can only do 1-2 chin-ups per pass, it’s fine. They’re quick, and it’s a fantastic exercise.

Hrrrrnnnnggggg!!

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10. Walk Faster

No, don’t be a fast-walking robot. Just be swift. While taking a stroll at the park, pick up the pace a little. While watching the kids play at the park, walk brisk circuits around the playground. Slogging along through grocery stores, parks, and parking lots is the same as sitting in traffic. Get off the surface roads and onto the highway. Move those feet and get your heart-rate rising!

Bonus: On moving sidewalks, actually walk. (Most people just stand there and let the sidewalk float them into oblivion.)

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You’ve started exercising your mind.

Now click here and pump some iron with your brain.

 

It’s Etsy’s Birthday, and We’re Discounting ALL Our Art!

June 18 – June 22

Lustrous prints

Original 3D sculpted art

Fantastical & dark paintings

Everything 15% off ALL WEEK LONG!

Visit our shop – ShadowArtFinds – right here.

View a few samples of our latest art right here:

Everyone is a Philosopher

Everyone is a Philosopher

(They just don’t know it.)

 

 

It’s 8:30 PM, and I’m at a party in suburban hell.

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I said, “Yeah, I’m in.” I mean, I’m at least ten years older than everyone else here, probably more than that.

I’m also single. I’m dressed like a douche. I’m tired. And I’m the only one in the room not glued to his phone.

Yeah. That’s the truth. I’m in a house with twenty people, most of them strangers, and everyone except three little kids is nose-deep in their phone. I count four Xbox controllers lying dormant in front of a paused game on TV. I see plates of half-eaten food and abandoned drinks. Even the music, probably something-something by Justin Bieber, thumps a little quieter in the background.

It’s as if the Biebs himself is ashamed to be heard at a party at which no one is talking, flirting, or looking up from their phones.

I figure I have three choices:

Leave. It’s not as if anyone will notice.

Drink a ton. And then hope a beautiful woman walks in the room in time for me to make a horrible first impression.

Or option three: wake the zombies from their phone-induced slumber.

The way I see it, one and two are boring.

Option three is where it’s at.

In a room full of twenty-somethings, I clear my throat and crack the overwhelming silence. People I’ve never met look up as if to say, “Who the hell are you to distract me from Facebook?” It’s ok. I’m not shy. I’m running on four Krispy Kreme donuts and three Solo cups of liquid courage. There’s nothing in the universe capable of embarrassing me now.

“Anyone here ever heard of the train question?” I blurt out.

Five, maybe six people nod their heads. Everyone else looks confused.

“You know, the train question,” I continue. “If you pull the lever, a mother and her son get smacked by a runaway train – if you don’t pull the lever, five random strangers get run over by the same train. Anyone know what I’m talking about? Anyone?”

At first, only a few people in the room start mumbling. Sure, they’ve heard of the train question. It’s just that no one has asked them anything philosophical since…ever. In this case, it’s the party’s host and his wife who chime in. Yes, they’ve got answers. She says pull the lever because only two people will die. He says, “Nope. Not pulling it. If I divert the train, I’ve directly killed five people.”

The room doesn’t know it yet, but they’re hooked.

Everyone is a philosopher.

* * *

That was three years ago. The night turned out better than expected. People’s shells were broken. Phones were put away. Conversations – real conversations – happened.

And that’s what it’s all about, right?

Anymore, we spend so much of our time talking about weather, about news stories, politics and television shows, we don’t talk about life anymore. We pay attention to what other people are saying, and we miss out on our own stories.

Just under the surface, we’ve all got a story.

And it’s probably more interesting than we assume.

* * *

Dusk approaches. I’m feeling a little fat after devouring a dinner of pasta and bread with my little one, the G Man. In truth, all the food inside me is a good thing. Like pretty much everyone else, I operate better with a full belly. In this case, a little extra full.

Fatter philosophers are better philosophers.

Maybe.

I’m sitting in my house. It’s a small suburban bachelor pad, all mediocre art and empty wine bottles. Tonight, my drink of choice is a Hook & Ladder pinot noir. It doesn’t have the most nuanced flavor, but I’m a fan nonetheless. Not all that long ago, my favorite bartender Sam suggested I try it, and I was sold from sip number one. Sam’s the type of human I really like. She serves a mean drink, carries conversations better than anyone, and served me cake at her kid’s birthday party.

We should all have a good bartender in our lives.

We should all have a Sam.

Sam’s bar, which we’ll call the M, is more or less my haunt. I’m not sure if people have haunts anymore, and I’m doubly unsure whether most people know what a haunt is. What I am sure of is that I spend a lot of time at the M.

I’m quite literally the guy whose name everyone knows.

The guy who helps other patrons with drink selections.

And the guy who’d prefer to dine at the bar with strangers than at a table with friends.

It’s amongst strangers I thrive. And while plenty of people would disagree, it’s amongst strangers at bars the best conversations can be had. One never knows what kind of person might co-haunt one’s favorite bar. And when alcohol hits everyone’s bloodstream, one never knows what might happen.

In my experience, plenty.

If we exclude the obnoxious types and people who are deadly serious about not being spoken to, we’re still left with a huge population of interesting bar-hopping strangers.

There’s the hopeful loner, awaiting someone, anyone, with whom to strike up a conversation.

There’s talkers, the types who will happily invade your conversation and let you invade theirs.

And we’ll find friendly couples, storytellers, broken-hearted romantics, and slightly-too-tipsy people. Most are willing to offer way too much information about their personal lives.

They’re out there.

You just have to know how to spot them.

* * *

Continue?

Wait…why exactly do authors need reviews?

Let’s turn back the clock a few years.

…just for fun.

For argument’s sake, let’s say it’s 1999. Everyone’s prime concern is Y2K, and whether or not our computers are going to self-destruct on New Year’s Eve.

In other news, the human population on Earth has surpassed six-billion people. Two idiots just shot up Columbine High School. SpongeBob SquarePants has hit children’s faces everywhere. And J.K. Rowling just published Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

What a year, 1999.

Feels like centuries ago.

So about that J.K. Rowling Harry Potter book. How’d J.K. get so famous, anyway? Did she debut on Amazon with ten-thousand five-star reviews? Did Dumbledore himself hand-deliver her new book to readers across the world?

Nope.

See, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban wasn’t a self-published book. J.K. (deservedly so) had a traditional publisher, just like pretty much every other author on the planet in 1999. Between a powerful marketing team and an already fervent fan-base, J.K.’s new book couldn’t fail. It wouldn’t have mattered if no one on the planet left her an Amazon review. Her success was all but guaranteed.

Guaranteed to succeed….despite the wonky cover art.

Here we are, two decades later.

Everything is different.

Why?

It’s simple…

Back in 2007, the game changed. Amazon.com (you’ve heard of Amazon, right?) debuted a little something called Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP. What’s KDP, you ask?  It’s a program that allows anyone to publish anything at any time. Writers who would never have come close to publishing a book suddenly had access to publish ALL their books. Instantly. The five companies who’d previously controlled nearly all the publishing in the world shivered in their boots. The market they’d cornered for decades had suddenly opened up.

…to everyone in the world.

And so began the flood. Authors, poets, and illustrators invaded KDP in force. At first, tens of thousands of new, self-published books hit Amazon. And then…millions more. Anyone who wanted to publish something, no matter the quality of their writing, had an easy outlet to push their novels onto the scene.

Sounds great, right? Freedom for authors everywhere! The creative masses, liberated!

Yes!!! Now I can publish my new book series, ‘Gary Cotter and the Jailer of Kazakhstan!’

So…

Doesn’t KDP sound like the most amazing thing ever?

Well…yes.

And no.

When the flood of new books hit the world, everything seemed great. Writers were no longer shackled to the five big traditional publishers. Thousands of fantastic new books landed atop the market…which never could’ve happened without KDP.

But along with thousands of good books came tens of thousands of really bad ones.

Poorly edited books.

Books with misleading descriptions.

Books with horrible art, lousy plots, and just plain crappy writing.

A new challenge arose. Readers who’d long been funneled into book-buying decisions by the big five publishing companies faced a whopping armada of new titles. “Which books are good?” they asked themselves. “How do I know if this epic sci-fi thriller is amazing…or total crap?? Which new authors are legit, and which ones are just here to make a quick profit???”

The answer lies in the stars…

No, no, no. Not THOSE stars.

THESE stars.

Before Amazon, before KDP, the average reader would’ve almost never posted a book review. Reviews were something handled by professionals, most of whom worked for newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals. Readers’ only engagement with books was to buy them, read them, and maybe tell a friend or two about them. That’s it. Nothing more.

But it’s not 1999 any longer.

It’s not even 2007.

Nowadays, we’re in a new era. Self-published books outnumber traditionally published works. Thousands of new novels hit the web every single day. Many are sub-par, but many are just as good…in some cases even better…than what you’d find in bookstores around the world. And yet many of the best books by the most talented writers fall into the shadows. Why? Because no one reviews them. No one clicks the little ‘write a customer review?’ button.

No one cares.

So why should you?

Why should readers, having already paid for and read their book of choice, give any thought to posting a review for a book they enjoyed?

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Here’s why:

Like any product on Amazon, more reviews means a brighter spotlight.

In the case of a good book, a brighter spotlight means the author (of the book you just enjoyed) is more likely to produce additional good books.

Which is what we all want, right?

Without the marketing power of a traditional publishing house, the burden falls on the author to promote his or her own work.

And the biggest promotional tool available? The Amazon review system. 

Even better, the average review takes 60 seconds or less to complete. Don’t believe me? Check this super-fast tutorial.

There’s even a handy tool to help readers decide how many stars to give.

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It’s simple, really.

If readers want good books, it benefits them directly to leave honest reviews for what they read.

Otherwise, the market will continue to be invaded with sub-par, poorly-edited clutter.

…which no one will be able to distinguish from genuine, well-written books.

I’m a reader, too. And as a reader, I’m heading to Amazon to leave an honest review for every book I can remember reading.

And I’m doing it today.

I urge you to do the same, fellow book-lovers.

Get in there. Click a few stars. And move on with your lives.

Sincerely,

J Edward Neill

 

 

 

 

The Day I Decided to Start Running

I remember one Friday.

A smoking hot Friday in the dead of July.

A hazy Friday.  A humid southeastern US Friday.  A Friday that promised to be hotter than Lucifer’s jockstrap.

Most Fridays like this one, I’d have been busy in my workshop painting. Or writing. Or mashing buttons on my Xbox controller.

But this Friday was my first truly free day in a long time. My son was away at summer camp. I didn’t have any plans. Any lunch dates. Any ideas. Somehow, someway, none of my borderline-alcoholic buddies had rung me up for a long afternoon of pounding scotch and making fun of my non-existent dating life.

In short, I had no effing idea what to do.

I guess maybe I should’ve known it was going to be a different sort of day.  I’d woken early – long before the crack of dawn. And I never wake up early. Bright-eyed and bursting with directionless energy, I’d trotted outside my tiny apartment and breathed the already-warm air.

I’ve been locked up in here too long, I thought.

It’s time for something different.

Flashback to a few years prior. A ex-girl of mine, a marathon runner, had mentioned a trail she liked to run. “In Suwanee,” she’d said. “Beautiful, wooded trail. Eight miles one way.” Back then I’d never cared much about running. I mean, I worked out and all, but usually in my garage. Or my attic. Or in an overpriced, sweat-scented gym. It’s not that I didn’t like the outdoors, just that I’d never much cared for sprinting along smoking hot sidewalks in the brutal Atlanta heat.

It hit me then.

I’d no idea why, but the idea of running bounced into my thoughts.

I remembered what my ex-girl had said. No, not that time she said I was an ‘real sh*thead.’ I remembered something else. The trail she’d talked about. The Suwanee Greenway. The place runners go to run when they don’t want to pound pavement.

And I realized I lived in Suwanee now. I’d just moved there. Not two weeks prior.

I gotta find this trail.

Today.

When I get ideas into my head, I go overboard. It’s either a fault, a virtue, or maybe both. Like that time I started a foam-sword fight club behind my house. Or joined an MMA gym and pounded my hands against heavy bags every day until they bled. So now, as I realized I might live near this fabled Suwanee running trail, a new idea took shape:

I want to run.

A lot.

I crashed into my computer like a breaking Pacific wave. My fingers moved like the wind, my search terms as sharp as seagulls’ beaks. ‘Suwanee Greenway running trail’ I hammered into the keyboard.

“0.1 miles away” said Google Maps.

I’d had no idea. I was pretty much an idiot. Sitting outside my apartment door, not a hundred meters beyond the stand of pine trees behind my parking lot, sat the Suwanee Greenway trail. It’d been there all along.

In a flurry, I popped into my ugly orange sneakers, slid into an even uglier tank top and shorts, and sped out the door.

I’d never been a runner before. I liked to keep active, don’t get me wrong, but I’d never felt the urge to run. Not in the summer heat. Not in the woods. Not alone. There seemed no reason to run other than to feel my heart hammer against my ribs. To get shin splints. To hurt.

And then I found it. I found the Greenway. The fabled land of trees, creeks, and north Georgia swamps.

The Greenway. A few hundred yards beyond my door.

You know those disclaimers? The ones saying ‘Consult a doctor before beginning any new exercise routine?’ Nah. I don’t listen to ’em, either. My feet hit the trail and within moments I’d forgotten everything else about my week. About my plans. About my life.

Yeah, it was hot. And yeah, the humidity made me feel like I was a macaroni noodle tumbling in about-to-boil water. But I didn’t care. Suddenly, as if my sneakers had worked some strange magic, I felt the pendulum move inside me.

I’m going to run.

I want to be a runner.

Forever.

I overdid it on that first fateful day. I ran six brutal miles in one direction, and walked six miles back. By the end, my breaths were ragged, tortured things. My calves were knotted up like old oak trees. My skin, which I’d forgotten to cover in sunscreen, sizzled the same as bacon in a cast iron skillet.

But I felt good.

No, not just good.

Trans-effin-cendent.

Let’s talk about the Greenway. It’s a place I wished I’d found a decade earlier, but was happy to discover when I did. They call it the Greenway because all eight miles hunker beneath the trees. In some spots, in the heavy shade beneath birch trees, the air is a full ten degrees cooler than in the sun. In others, the trail is almost dark even during midday, and the leaves so dense as to blot out the sun entirely. Parts of the trail are paved in wooden planks, and others with a softer-than-concrete asphalt/rubber hybrid. And in many places, the Greenway runs alongside creeks, small rivers, and a sopping wet marshland stocked with geese, ducks, bluegill, herons, and even the occasional beaver.

The Greenway – flanked by marshland on both sides.

Twelve miles later, I spilled back into my apartment. My body ached. I was cramped, hungry, thirsty, and tired. But I also felt sublime.  The ‘runner’s high’ my ex had talked about turned out to be a real thing. I felt as if I were floating among the clouds, my sneakers like Hermes’ winged shoes, my muscles singing with pain and pleasure.

Sure enough, not long after I finished my first run, a buddy called me. I rehydrated…and then spent the rest of the evening out on the town committing treason against my liver. I’m sure I didn’t once shut up about my experience on the trail. To my buddy’s credit, he just smiled and nodded.

He understood.

On that day, something had changed.

It was as if I’d reached back into my childhood and stolen some of the freedom my ten-year old self once experienced.

Out there on the Greenway, I’d been in heaven. No phone. No bills to pay. Not a care in the world beyond the next place my ugly orange sneakers landed.

Since that day, and for the last four years, I’ve been out there running. I use the Greenway most days, but also a number of other nature trails. In autumn, when leaves blanket the ground and the wind begins to bite, I’m alone in a season of my own. In spring, when every bird in the universe descends onto the marshes, I run to their raucous music of their honks, quacks, and cheeps. Most times I keep moving fast. But some days I stroll along without a care. Some evenings, I’ve only got enough daylight for three little miles, while others I head out early to conquer the entire trail. I prefer to run when I’m alone, but on particularly pleasant days I’ll find other people running with me, walking their dogs, or wheeling their twin babies along in awesome bicycle/stroller hybrids (here’s to you, bicycle/stroller guy.)

The absolute best days are the first days of the Atlanta winter…just before twilight…when crickets, owls, and leaf-stomping squirrels surround me. No one else is on my trail. No one else exists in the entire world. It’s just me and the road ahead.

And I’m as close to Heaven as I’ll ever be.


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I run, and I also drink wine.

Join me on my bounce between bottles right HERE.

 

 

 

10 Terrifying Ways to Break Up

Ten Terrifying Ways to Break Up…

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Vanishing Act

I used to think ‘ghosting’ was only for people who were dating. Usually, at least the way I understood it, one person in a relatively new relationship would suddenly cut off all forms of contact—i.e.; they’d ghost their partner.

Ok. Well. I was ghosted by my husband of seven years. I came home from work to find all his clothes, electronics, and a few pieces of furniture gone. He didn’t leave a note or anything. At first I thought we’d been robbed.

The next day, his lawyer called me. I was being served with divorce.

The only time I ever saw him again was about two months later in the courtroom. He didn’t look at me, speak to me, or acknowledge my existence.

To this day, I still don’t understand.

– Kim

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Kicked to the Curb

My ex, who fancied himself an MMA fighter, always liked to play wrestle and box with me.

It didn’t bother me much until one time he play-kicked me in the knee and blew out my ACL.

I was on crutches for seven months afterward.

Dick.

– Cassie

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Straight Outta the 50’s

Shortly after getting married, my new husband informed me that my body belonged to him.

In other words, he meant he could have me whenever and however he wanted.

I suppose some women might find it flattering to be desired that much.

But I’m pretty sure our vows didn’t include, “To have and to hold…and to have sex with whenever you want.”

We’re still married, but we haven’t been intimate in years.

– Kelly

*

One Story. Zero Winners.

My former girlfriend was high-maintenance.

Beautiful, but vain.

Smart, but ignorant.

She used words like ‘bae’ ‘fleek’ and ‘nice burn.’

She looked great in heels, but refused to pump her own gas.

She took two and half hours to put on her makeup…only to later decide she wanted to stay in.

They say beauty comes at a price.

And that price, my friends, is just too high.

– Anonymous

*

What about Pokemon?

She said Dragon Ball Z is stupid.

I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.

– Bart

*

Long & Hard Road to Recovery

My ex was a self-admitted porn addict.

She (yes, she) watched the stuff several times every day. She used it for her own private pleasure, and she tried to get me to watch it wayyy more than I normally would. I guess she thought everyone would have the same reaction to porn.

I really didn’t mind at first. We were still kind of in the ‘honeymoon’ phase of dating.

But eventually it became such an integral part of her life that she couldn’t orgasm unless she watched highly-specific scenes at the same time as having sex.

All the porn had the opposite effect on me. I eventually lost my attraction to her.

I don’t think she minded breaking up that much. It wasn’t like I could do any of the things her favorite porn stars could do.

– Anonymous

*

#

She used hashtags.

A lot.

Every text she sent me had #winning or #loveforever or #youforgottotakeoutthegarbage or any one of a million other things.

It was only mildly annoying at first. But then she started using them in actual conversation. As if holding her fingers up to make a # sign and saying ‘hashtag – don’t talk to me right now’ was an effective means of communication.

I pity her next boyfriend.

He’s in for a #surprise.

– Jerry

*

Now THAT’s how to Break a Heart

One day while doing some spring cleaning at our house, I found a stack of letters handwritten by my husband. I couldn’t help myself. I read them all.

They were love-letters, and were addressed to ‘the love of my life’ and other adorable terms.

While reading them, I was absolutely positive the letters were meant for me. I felt my heart swell up with so much happiness I thought I’d burst.

But when he got home and I smothered him with affection, he looked at me with a blank stare.

He hadn’t written the letters to me. They were for his side-girl, Tristin, who I’d never known about before that moment.

They’re married now. Still kinda stings when I think about it.

 – Cal

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Denture Adventure

I used to believe her teeth were real.

I mean, she was only twenty-eight.

But those chompers of hers…fake. All of them.

Turns out she was a recovered meth addict.

I’m glad she got past it.

But even gladder I got past her.

– Anonymous

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Sharing isn’t always Caring

 He decided he wanted to get into the nudist lifestyle.

He wanted us to go nude camping, attend naked music festivals, and join all-nude social groups.

I tried to play along at first, but it quickly got weird.

The final straw—he suggested I sleep with several other men during a camping trip.

It wasn’t just about being naked. It was this weird cult-like fad populated with ugly, unshaven people who wanted to sleep around.

– Anonymous


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Read five MORE brutal breakups right here.

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And get more than one-hundred of the most unbelievable breakups HERE.

The 7 Instagram Personality Types

I recently decided to join the modern world.

And *gasp*  create an Instagram account.

I use it mostly to promote my art and post pics of my obese cat.

The longer I scroll through the thousands of daily photographs, the more I learn.

For instance, did you know nearly every Instagram user can be dropped into one of seven categories?

Yeah.

You’re welcome.

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The 7 Instagram Personality Types



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THE FOODIE – Pretty normal, I guess. I mean, most people like to eat their dinners. But some people, I’m assuming gourmet chefs mostly, prefer to dress up their food to look better than most supermodels. The Foodie type of Instagram user makes a pretty compelling argument. When faced with the choice of eating a brick-oven pizza or simply photographing a brick-oven pizza, I always…  Wait. No. I think I’ll just EAT it. Thanks.

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THE ANIMAL LOVER – This archetype of social media user is without a doubt the most common. In fact, most Instagram users are Animal Lover types in addition to whatever other type of user they might be. Whether it’s dogs, cats, sleeping dogs, sleeping cats, gifs of dogs and cats, funny-faced dogs and cats…the variety is almost endless. My day definitely isn’t complete unless I scroll through Facebook and Twitter and Instagram to find at least a 50% ratio of dogs & cats compared to every other type of post. Hey, I get it. My cat’s cute, too. Only she’s too fat to fit in a single photo frame, so I’ll make a nine-part Instagram photo series to encompass her beautiful body. K?

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THE SCRIBBLER – The number of artists (and photographers) who flock to Instagram is staggering. It’s what drew me to the site, and what keeps me there. Every day, I find dozens of amazing drawings, paintings, tattoo art, and sculpture to die for. But…and this is a BIG but…to get to the good stuff, one must pass through legions of Scribblers. Yeah, you got it. We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of actual third-grade pencil pieces. For my own protection, whenever posting art of dubious quality, I always tag it with #WIP (work in-progress) so my followers won’t know just how much I really suck.

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THE SEIZURE-INDUCING GIF MAKER – Oh boy. Now we’re getting somewhere. I’m not sure what compels people (mostly ladies, sorry) to make half-second long repeating gifs of themselves gesturing aimlessly into the void. I’m not sure I wanna know. If you stare at the wrong gif too long, I’m convinced you’ll catch cancer. Or Ebola. Or maybe you’ll just die a little bit inside. Whenever surfing Insta videos, I always make sure to keep a bottle of Ibuprofen handy. Because I’m going to get a headache. It’s only a matter of time.

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THE MODEL – Yes, you’re beautiful (or so heavily filtered no one can tell the difference.) I get it. We ALL get it. It doesn’t matter where I tumble on Instagram, I see you there in my feed, looking hot, wearing almost nothing, covered in tattoos, doing something funny with your mouth. Look, I’m not complaining. NO one is complaining. But the philosophical part of me wonders what you (yes YOU, model girls) get out of posting dozens of hot selfies every day. Is it validation? Cash? An unending stream of creepy dudes DM’ing you for sex? I’m assuming you get all three. I’m just wondering if it’s worth the effort. Maybe the old saying is true – if a hot girl bounces through the forest and no one’s there to see it, did she really happen?

 

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THE WANNABE MODEL – For every one person willing to put in maximum hours working out, tanning, dressing up in uncomfortable-looking bikinis, and applying the best possible filters, there’s ninety-nine more people who say, “F it. I’m doing this my way.” I’m talking about you, girl who just woke up and took a 6AM selfie. And you, guy in the gym who’s obviously on steroids. And yes, you too, single mom of three kids who’s just fishing for a compliment (or twenty.) Look, we can’t all be beautiful. Despite the hashtags #everyoneisbeautiful #plussize #bringingunibrowsback and #Igaveupworkingouttenyearsago, perhaps it’s best if we leave the modeling to the most willing to sell their souls for cash most beautiful people out there.

 

 

 

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THE PERFORMANCE ARTIST – You’ve seen them. They perform glorious physical feats, leap to incredible heights, and paint themselves with peanut butter and hot dogs. I admit I’ve watched some pretty cool ones. Like the guy who stood on his motorcycle seat while going 100 mph, or the other guy who fell off his motorcycle while going 100 mph. I’ve seen a girl beat a tree to death, a dude somersault over two cars, and a woman bounce her boobs to the beat of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’ Narcissism, man. It’s a beautiful thing sometimes.

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RUNNERS UP:

THE MUSICIAN  Usually a DJ for some crappy downtown club, he really, really, really wants you to check out his mixtape.

THE LONELY MOM – “Hey, guys! I’m stuck at home with seven children. And I’m going to Snapchat bunny ears onto ALL of them!”

THE CAPTION QUEEN – Usually…and I’m only being honest here…it’s a teenage girl posting a pic of herself looking sad while complaining about tomorrow’s math test.



For more fun, here’s my list of Top 7 Facebook personalities.

And I did one for Twitter, too.

Stay tuned for next week’s HUGE article, ‘The Zero Types of Linked-In Users’

J Edward Neill

 

Tyrants of the Dead – An Epic Fantasy Trilogy

In a far and ancient land, Emperor Chakran dreams of conquest. His desire to resurrect the evil, world-ending Ur casts a dark shadow across an unsuspecting world. But as his army butchers its way across the realm, leaving only a vast, storm-riddled graveyard in its wake, a small band of warriors rises up to oppose him. They know what will become of the world should Chakran succeed. They know the Emperor is but a puppet to the true evil – the Tyrants of the Dead.
Follow Rellen Gryphon, Garrett Croft, and Andelusia Anderae on their voyage to stop the darkness.
If they should fail, the sun will die.
…and the night will forever reign.

Tyrants of the Dead – The Complete Collection includes all three epic volumes in the series:
Down the Dark Path
Dark Moon Daughter
Nether Kingdom

Reality is Best Served with $0.99 Books

Books to give as gifts.

Hilarious autobiographies.

The world’s funniest breakups.

Soft-hitting philosophy.

This spring from April 23rd – April 26th, get all my best non-fiction books for $0.99 or less. Read ’em. Love ’em. Review the heck out of ’em!

 

Things I want my son to know

Being a dad isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

It’s much, much better.

Long ago, in the months before my son rocketed into this world, I dreamed of all the challenges I would surely face. I was younger then, and full of doubt. Let’s be honest…I was frightened. I thought to myself, ‘Raising a kid is going to be the hardest thing I ever do. How can I possibly be a guide for another human being? Everything will change. And it’ll happen in ways for which I can never prepare myself.’

Well…

I was wrong. And right. And everything in-between.

Not long after my one and only son (the G Man) arrived, I realized three things:

  1. I’m not frightened to be a dad – I’m thrilled
  2. This is going to be far more exciting than I’d expected
  3. Also…I’m about to be a single dad

Just like that, it happened. The G Man was only two-years old when he and I found ourselves thrust out of our suburban paradise and into a tiny apartment. Suddenly, his life completely changed, and all my expectations for child-rearing flew right out the window. It wasn’t as terrifying as it sounds. The word I use to describe it: spectacular.   We were broke. We were cramped into a tiny space. We lost all our previous friends and family.  We were two dudes on a tiny island.

And it was mostly awesome.

Somehow, we survived. Three-thousand trips to the local park. A million-and-a-half hours spent poolside. Strep throat. The flu. A few hundred band-aids. A rescued Japanese maple tree. Four-hundred thousand fish sticks. And several Christmases, just me and him, waking to our annual two-man treasure trove of gifts.

And then there was the day he decided he wanted to grow a ‘Devil lock.’ Thank you, Glenn Danzig & The Misfits…

Here we are, five years later. We’ve left our tiny apartment and moved into a slightly-bigger-than-tiny-house. We have cats. Most weeks, we treat ourselves to Taco Tuesdays and breakfast-for-dinner Thursdays. We do all the ordinary dad/kid stuff, only we do it alone instead of within a typical family unit.

This is our life.

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It’s a Tuesday night, and the G Man is relaxing on the couch. He’s in the middle of reading literary classic, Calvin & Hobbes – Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons. Meanwhile, I’m in the background painting something on a canvas. It’s a pretty typical evening for us. We skipped Taco Tuesday in favor of our latest dinner invention, a little something G Man calls, ‘Chicken with onions in its butt,’ which tastes even better than it sounds.

During a lull in my painting progress, I lean back in my chair and consider the night. As far as weekday evenings, it might not get any better than this. Our bellies are full. We’re listening to an uber-relaxing album – Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss. It’s almost bedtime. But not quite.

What’s next? I wonder.

The G Man is at his most impressionable age. I remember being his age (seven) and it was the same for me. Everything my friends told me, I tended to believe. Everything I saw on TV, I absorbed as if it were utter truth. As I look upon him now, I understand his vulnerability. The things he learns during his next few years, he’ll carry with him for the rest of his life.

This is the task for which I was born, I think. I must become both teacher…and student.

The G Man looks up at me. He sees me staring in his direction, and he’s annoyed.

“What?” he asks.

“Nothing,” I reply. “Just thinking.”

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And it’s true. I think too much.

Some of the things I worry about:

  • Will the G Man get bullied?
  • Will he be a bully?
  • Will he like sports?
  • Or science?
  • Or both?
  • Will he continue to be hard on himself?
  • Or will he find the same confidence I did?
  • Will he keep reading books?
  • Or will he become an iPhone zombie – addicted to social media, selfies, and rabbit-eared Snapchat filters?
  • Will he think critically? Will he study every situation based on its own merits?
  • Or will he see something on the internet and automatically believe it’s true?

These, and a thousand other questions stew inside me. But like all things, they quickly pass. I can’t yet answer these questions. And ultimately, no matter the subtle lessons I try to instill in my son, he might very well do the opposite of what I teach.

And it’s ok.

When I look around myself, I realize we’re in a tough world. Actually, it’s always been tough. As a whole, humanity has a tendency to group-think, to segregate into specific herds, and to compel each other to believe what the rest of their chosen herd believes. It’s not particularly healthy. To be honest, it’s poisonous. The worst part of this isn’t what the adults decide is truth. It’s that the adults tend to pass the herd-mentality on to their children. They don’t teach their children how to think – rather they teach them what to think.

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Believe what mommy and daddy believe.

Go about life the same way.

Love the same things.

HATE the same things.

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As I look upon my son, I understand something. All the small lessons I worry about on a day-to-day basis…they’re just that – they’re small. The real lesson is singularly large.

It’s this:

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BE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE

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You want to be Link? Fine. But you might want to wear shoes. Hyrule isn’t always the softest place to walk.

Be what you want to be. Easy to say. Sometimes hard for parents to accept, and often even harder for kids to comprehend. For me, what this means is my son doesn’t have to live up to my expectations. He doesn’t have to follow in my footsteps. If he doesn’t want to go to college, fine. If he decides he wants to become a god-fearing, bible thumping preacher, ok. Go for it. If he looks at his life and decides what he really wants is to be a beach bum who smokes weed all day and kicks sand in society’s eyeballs, I’ll shut up and deal with it.

It’s not a parent’s job to mold children into perfect little statues. Quite the opposite.

It’s not even our job to prepare them to become a integral part of society. Society doesn’t care about people. Only people care about people.

It’s our job to open our children’s minds to possibility, to teach them to adapt, to accept risk and reward, and to know the difference between belief and truth. Above all these, it’s important to teach them how to think critically, especially when dealing with us. We aren’t the unfailing gods and goddesses our children think we are. It’s ok to let them see us fail. Actually, it’s essential.

And sometimes the best way to teach these lessons isn’t with ‘we need to talk’ conversations, but instead through subtle everyday interactions:

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He asks a question? I ask my son the question right back.

He wants to discuss a topic about which I know very little? I admit I don’t know and we research the facts as a team.

He asks for my help with something? I challenge him to resolve the problem by himself.

He asks for a tough answer regarding religion, politics, or sex? I don’t surround him with my own biases, but instead open the door for him to decide on his own.

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I realize this thinking is in the minority. A quick observation of other parents reveals a wide spectrum of techniques, many of which include healthy doses of indoctrination. That’s fine. It’s the way it always has been and always will be.

As for the G Man and I…we’ll be doing it our way.

We’ll have plenty of questions. But not always the answers.

We’ll be individuals, not clones.

And we’ll definitely invade Hyrule while wearing shoes.

Our new heavy metal album cover…

For more stories about me and the G Man, go here.

J Edward Neill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eaters of the Light Glossary

Three Books

Countless Worlds Destroyed by Vampiric, Star-Eating Aliens

Eaters of the Light

Welcome to the official Eaters of the Light glossary. Herein you’ll find descriptions and blurbs for every major character, place, historical event, and technological advancement appearing in the Eaters of the Light book series. This appendix is for all the folks who’ve read the books AND for those who are thinking about it. Fear no spoilers! No major event taking place in any of the three books will be revealed.

Scroll down to begin!


Characters

Aly Armstrong – Sister to Joff Armstrong, Aly isn’t the naïve girl she pretends to be. It’s all an act ordered by Earth’s government.

Babar – A brave pilot from the planet of Hermes.

Callista (Lightbringer) – Cal, a powerful artificial intelligence made of nano-light particles, is created to accompany Joff Armstrong during his voyage between the stars. Little does Joff know, Callista serves many purposes her makers have not yet revealed.

Castyn Clarke – An ice cold news anchor for the Dusktime Dispatch, Castyn tells only the stories her government pays her to tell.

Doctor Abid – He’s not a real doctor. But he is tasked with preparing Joff for his voyage into space.

Doctor Tiana – Abid’s beautiful assistant, her appearance is copied by Callista in the hopes of charming Joff.

Griff – A nano-light AI similar to Callista, only less powerful and with more inhibitors to his personality.

Hephast – The Emperor of a powerful human settlement on the garden world of Sumer.

Joff Armstrong – A young farmer from Earth. He enjoys his simple life and loves his family, but he’s meant for much greater things.

Kira – A soldier of planet Hermes. She’s fought the Strigoi her entire life, and doesn’t want anything to do with Callista Lightbringer.

Lukas Mosk – A smuggler working for off-world weapons manufacturers. Lukas’s real mission is to aid the settlement of Ebes in its battle against the Strigoi.

Mahtim (Captain) – The second in command of planet Hermes’ military. He believes he should be in complete control.

Maliah – The Calipha of planet Hermes, Maliah trusts no one, least of all Callista.  She desires only to maintain her iron grip of Hermes’ affairs.

Maura – A human woman from the Sumerian city of Mercuria, Maura is in love with Joff Armstrong.

Mina – A young pilot of planet Hermes. She has to choose between leaving her daughter behind or abandoning her position in the war.

Rami – Commander Strope’s little brother. Rami is a young, prodigal scientist who accompanies his big brother during all his battles.

Samison – Husband to Maura, also a skilled astronomer and physicist.

Siraya – A lonely young woman who keeps her great-grandfather’s artifacts secret from the powerful Arcadian government.

The Strigoi (aka: the Varkolak) – A vampiric alien race desiring the death of all light in the universe. They typically appear as three-meter tall skeleton machines, but they have many other forms unknown to humanity.

Strope – The Commander of planet Hermes’ interstellar fleet. He’s young, brash, and brave. He also keeps too many secrets.

Sylpha Frost – The leader of planet Ebes’ military. She’s willing to do anything to destroy the local dark planet – aka: the Strigoi homeworld near Ebes.

Tabir – Husband to Joff Armstrong’s sister, Aly. Governor of the city of Arcadia.

Wendall Wight – A sicario tasked with assassinating anyone unwilling to help the causes of Planet Ebes.


Locations

Arcadia – The largest city on planet Sumer. The humans here live decadent, opulent lives.

Atreya & Kokab – The binary stars around which planet Sumer orbits.

Donva – A highly-advanced Earth city located roughly near modern-day Colorado.

Earth – Hundreds of years in the future, Earth is largely depopulated. Wars, evacuations to off-world settlements, and famine have changed everything.

Ebes – The large human settlement founded on planet Ebes faces the most direct threat of extinction by the Strigoi.

Grave B-7 Black – A giant Strigoi homeworld in the Andromeda Galaxy. Rumored to house enough weapons to destroy millions of stars.

Grave DD-9 Ebon – The largest source of Strigoi in the Andromeda Galaxy. Grave DD-9 boasts a mechanized moon used to create weaponry for the war against humanity.

Hades – The home galaxy inhabited by the Strigoi. All of Hades’ stars and life have been destroyed. Only the Strigoi remain.

Hermes – An icy cold planet in the Andromeda Galaxy. Hermes is the vanguard of human resistance against the Strigoi. Its people worship the small, remote star of Sufi.

Lun-Dun – The ruins of London, destroyed by nuclear fallout after a massive exodus from Earth.

Nosfera System – The source of the Strigoi infestation in the Milky Way galaxy. Nosfera houses a giant, planet-sized weapon used by the Strigoi to kill stars.

Sumer – A giant planet many thousands of light-years from Earth. Sumer has no native animal life, only giant plants and trees.

Zeus & Hera – The binary stars shining on planet Ebes.


Events of Historical Significance

The Exodus – A period of two-hundred years during which millions of scientists, humanitarians, doctors, and scholars abandoned Earth for the hope of a better life among the stars. Many believe the Exodus was triggered when a few select people became aware of the Strigoi plan to annihilate Earth.


Technology & Weapons

Coffin Engines – These massive Strigoi craft can turn large swaths of interstellar space into graveyards, destroying light, planets, even gravity.

Death-Beams – Deadly ‘dark’ plasma weapons used by the Strigoi. They both burn and freeze whatever they touch.

Dream Makers – Tiny devices capable of triggering powerful hallucinations in humans.

Hypo-Chambers – A device which allows humans to exist in stasis while traveling through deep space.

Interstellar Rings – Whenever large groups of humans want to travel at FTL (faster than light) speeds through space, they take their journey using powerful Ring transport ships, which have their own gravity and boast immense food & energy supplies.

Gamma Suit – A super-powered battle-suit constructed for Callista, it’s far more powerful than Joff’s original Vezda suit.

Sabre – The universe’s most advanced interstellar warship. The Sabre packs enough weapons to destroy entire Strigoi planets.

Scythe Ships – Fast and armed with terrifying death-beams, the scythes are the primary warship used by the Strigoi. They’re made of the same bone-like substance as the Strigoi themselves.

Skypads – Small, flat, and sticky, Skypads can be adhered to any surface and used as video screens and high-powered computers.

Sprites – Tiny floating sprites flutter around humans’ heads, providing them information, entertainment, and guidance.

String Reprogrammers (S.R.’s) – Powerful missiles capable of turning all matter in a given area into something else. For example, rock could be changed into hydrogen…or light. S.R.’s can also make stars go supernova.

Tombspire – A giant Strigoi construct capable of tearing wormholes in deep space.

Vezda Suit – A powered battle-suit constructed for Joff to wear during his fight against the Strigoi. Virtually indestructible, it boasts a powerful array of weapons and movement systems.

Xiphos Warships – Slender and swordlike, the Xiphos ships are planet Hermes’ first line of defense against the Strigoi hordes.

 


The Eaters of the Light trilogy is now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Buy it today.

…plunge into the darkness between the stars tonight.

If you like fantasy more than sci-fi, you’ll love my Tyrants of the Dead glossary.

Eaters of the Light

The stars will fall, one after another.

Their last light will be an echo of everything that could have been…

…but now fades out of reach…

The Eaters of the Light

Breathers of darkness.

Builders of tombs, vast and empty, in which to bury all life.

…forever.

All three books are available here.

A cool glossary for the Eaters of the Light series is here.

 

Fantasy & Sci Fi Spring Book Sale

Dark magic.

Evil sorcerers.

Fiery Witches

Ghoulish creatures.

Star-destroying vampires.

Get your spring reads right here. This week only (April 9th- April 12th) All titles are $0.99 or FREE.

 

Fine Photo Friday – Flowers at the Office

If you are serious about your photography, always have your camera with you and take advantage of every opportunity.  This shot was while my wife was at the doctors office.  I just took the camera and wandered around the parking lot edges – proving you never know what you’ll find if you’ll just get out and look!!

Find Larry Winslett on Facebook and Flickr.  His photos are available as prints and fine art cards.

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For previous Fine Photo Friday submissions, go here.

Interested in submitting your work to be featured on Fine Photo Friday? Go to this Facebook account and send in your submission via message!