Today will mark the fourteenth time that consumers whose need to spend was not quite quelled during the long Thanksgiving weekend, will return to work and carry-on commerce in one of the latest holiday season retail rituals, Cyber-Monday.
While its easy to overlook Cyber-Monday in favor of its flashier older sister Black Friday, or its over-achieving younger sibling Singles Day, Cyber-Monday has come a long way since its launch in 2005 – when it brought in less that $500 million. This year it’s projected to bring in ~2.6 billion.
So how did what was originally a marketing scheme to extend Black Friday’s spending largesse to the online crowd grow to become a multi-billion dollar retail event in its own right?
Well it all started in
2005 – A Trend Is Named, A Legend Is Born
The term “Cyber-Monday” was first coined by the National Retail Federation through a press release issued by “Shop.org” in a late November 2005. The Press Release ‘Cyber Monday Quickly Becoming One of the Biggest Online Shopping Days of the Year” touted research done by Shop.org that noted
“77 percent of online retailers said that their sales increased substantially on the Monday after Thanksgiving, a trend that is driving serious online discounts and promotions on Cyber Monday this year (2005)”.
There had been, before the official naming, a sharp uptick in online sales and discounting on the Monday after Thanksgiving, particularly among smaller retailers that tended to get drowned out on Black Friday in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. However, with the official naming of the occasion, Cyber-Monday sales rose 26 percent in 2005 to $486 million.
Cyber-Monday also got its first mainstream media call-out in 2005, The New York Times wrote “ “The name Cyber Monday grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked.”
Angel Ramon Only 99 cents or 99p from today until next week! Happy Black Friday!
George's favorite breakfast item turns into his worst nightmare! Can George survive his worst nightmare, where pieces of bacon and pigs try to eat his brains out? George will have to kill the tainted swine just to survive. This is the first side quest of The Fifth Survivor. This is where bacon, zombies, pigs, and overly sugary sodas combine to create the ultimate Gamelit horror comedy side quest. YOU DO NOT NEED TO READ THE ACTUAL SERIES TO READ THIS BOOK. IT CAN BE READ AS A STANDALONE BOOK.
C A King ✅Ancient myths. ✅Dark magic. ✅Something is stirring..🐺Wolves, 🧙♂️witches, and 😈demons join with the 🧚♂️Fae to save realms beyond our own from the rising darkness that threatens to consume them.😍😍
Fans of Ilona Andrews won't be able to put down this collection of 20+ books about demons, witches, and demigods discovering heart-pounding love!
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If only there was a way to change history...On Halloween night, in the dead of the cemetery, Tommy is given the opportunity to do just that. A portal to the past might be the answer to his prayers, but will saving one woman really make a difference in the end?
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I rounded the 50K milestone fifth year in a row about 8:00 PM November 30. What did I write? I was retooling the first half of Book 2 of Children of Stone Going Forth By Day. The first half still had some POV issues but the second half was fine and won't really be changed.
Once again a new cover by my son Thom will be designed, to incorporate the Flower of Life that the other covers have. Another map will be added. Look for it in 2020.
Meanwhile Book 5 The Lake of Memory is still being worked because I want to have a final chapter that satisfies but isn't Shakespearean tragedy or a jolly ride off into the sunset.
So you wanted an excerpt!
On my Facebook page I asked my readers which of my writings they wanted to know more about via a new excerpt. Far and above all the others, the new version of Voices In Crystal won with 13 votes. Those who voted for other selections, don't despair. Those will be coming in later blogs.
Usually in Voices in Crystal I present the opening which is Marai singing to his goddess. We get a bit of backstory. From the blurb on the back we discover there is a young prince who feels slighted. Without too much spoiler I think I'll go with one of the first encounters between the two men (in real life) there has been dreamworld contact before. Marai (who has not aged) has been tasked with meeting the prince (now an elder scholar/priest)
As an extra note, I go with the idea that the animal headed gods in Egypt were represented by priests with masks of the totem animal, like Anubis being a wolf/jackal. Many cultures practice this.
In my writing, I give demigods and adepts shape-shifting ability to take on the form of the god they serve.
When the two men meet, Marai is already in a bad mood due to events leading up to the meeting. Count Prince Hordjedtef, the assistant of Djedi (and a son of Khufu of the Great Pyramid fame) whom he was supposed to seek, decides to humiliate him and perhaps frighten him into submission by changing shape into Djehuti/Thoth the God of Wisdom. What results is a shapeshifting face-off.
(This version is slightly abridged if the spoilers get too great)
Marai strode around the pool before his host could do more than shrink backward. He lifted the solid marble chair and carried it from the dais. Setting it down, he turned it and dragged it lightly across the floor into a better position. The marble made an annoying skreek and left a white mark where it had been dragged. Moving the drape to the back of the chair, Marai sat heavily and faced the priest. The guards who had been lurking by the plaza door rushed forward, ready to throw Marai bodily from the plaza, but the old man waved them away. His slit eyes widened in surprise. “You dare defy me, Akkad! And the power of our gods. Know they allow you life only by my intercession,” the man called out, sitting up with an attitude of ferocity the sojourner never expected. Are you serious? Marai’s own thoughts rang back, more in disbelief than anything else. I just can’t believe the Children would put me on a journey with this as the end. I should just turn around and go. He was about to apologize for his intrusion, turn and leave, when he sensed a voice whispering to his interior spirit:
Listen to his words Calm him He will teach you much. He will straighten your path
Straighten? Teach? Marai doubted. The voice had felt like his child stone, but more singular. It didn’t want him to leave. Oh, very well then. He extended his hands. “Your Highness,” Marai bowed his head from his seated position, trying to ignore the glare he was receiving from the elder priest. “I didn’t realize you were unwell.” He waited until he felt the elder’s response.Unwell? “It’s the pain in your bones, isn’t it? I’m sorry I hesitated, Highness!” Marai rose from the chair and circled behind the old man’s dark chair, noticing the elder’s eyes tracked him until his neck reached its limit. “If I had to suffer like that, it would keep me cross with the world, too. And you’re all worn out from the Shefbedet feasts, the goddess sailings, and before that, your duty.” The sojourner plumped the pillows between the old man and the back of his heavy chair and then helped the priest sit straighter, as if he were tending an ailing parent. So cold though. It’s as if he is pulling all the heat out of my hands, Marai noticed as he touched the high priest’s bony shoulders. The elder looked up at him, flashing a fake grin that had too many teeth for such an ancient man.“Marai bin Ahu, I believe my men have announced this as your name? Welcome to my house. I had not thought we would meet.” The sojourner smiled down as warmly as he could manage and began to massage the old priest’s shoulders ...(then) answered the old priest with a gentle kind of voice that mimicked the attitude he used when he charmed a wild animal. “And you are, I would suppose, Count Prince Hordjedtef, Scion of Nekheny; Bodily son of the God Khnum-Khufu.” Marai didn’t like the falseness he saw in the old man’s smile and needed to distract him. The elder’s eyes popped open.“I have not spoken my full name to you. I have not given you permission,” he sat forward out of Marai’s comforting attempts. “You read it by touching me? I could have your hands cut off, but that I appreciated the healing.” The man huffed, feeling better, but obviously wanting to keep his imperious tone. He relaxed back slightly, signaling to Marai to keep up the shoulder rub. His elder eyes slammed shut again in an impressed wince as his veined, brown hand held Marai’s hand in place. He nodded; his grin affirming that he was feeling better. “Perhaps it is just that you do not know the proper form of respect, my handsome sojourner?” his tone changed as Marai worked his shoulders, but underneath the change the sojourner sensed something dangerous like a hidden serpent moving around in the old man’s thoughts. It was as if he wasn’t capable of just relaxing and enjoying the sensation. Finally, the elder shrugged his shoulders loose and stated:“That will do. You have successfully worked my stiffness, but now on to the reason for your visit.” he beckoned for a servant, who had been lurking just out of sight to come fan him. “Oh, Highness, let me do that.” Marai quickly fetched the long handled nefet from its stand and moved it slowly in front of the elderly man’s face until the air caught in the ostrich feathers and created a cooling breeze. “That’s good,” the elder responded, pleased, “but know this: Your open ways are both bold and dangerous. You treat me casually when you know we are not cut from the same cloth; an insult for most, but I am in a condoning mood this morning because you’ve made me curious about you and your background. As an Akkad trader, were you not taught differently than to speak a man’s name without his leave? I have traveled in my youth and know something of the manner of men in such lands.” Like a snake charming a little sand mouse, Marai continued fanning. I’ll keep him talking, relaxing, and then I will see his thoughts again. He battled the distrust in his gut as he stared back into the man’s upturned, birdlike eyes that grew as hard looking and shiny as black stones. “And I was looking forward to the treat of your poetic wilderness homage,” he added, “but you have come into my place, approached me, fanned me, and even put your unwashed hands on my body.” Marai stopped fanning the old priest in disbelief, placed the nefet in its stand, and circled back to the front of the old one’s dais. You should be glad I didn’t snap your scrawny neck when I was behind you, he grumbled inwardly, but nodding obediently, he saluted with a hand reverence touching his brow and chest, and then swaying outward in a bow, to show he was unarmed.“That’s the wilderness reverence, Your Highness.” He felt his irritation building as if external forces were goading him again. The priest’s superiority continually slipped through his show of stately grace and his attitude was pushing the sojourner to an inevitable breaking point. “As for manners, I showed your man respect, and none was given to me or those dear to me.”He folded his arms and paced back and forth between the dais and the edge of the pool, no longer looking at the priest. “What sort of man is it anyway, who sends someone to attack women?” “Sends?” the priest’s stare withered as his voice trailed. “You have everything wrong about me! I sent a man on an information-gathering mission so mind what you are accusing me of doing. My second tells me he demonstrated nothing more than a love charm, for your entertainment, shall we say. These women felt violated? By you? I assure you it was not I who took to them. Is that what prompted you to visit last evening? And even so, I agreed to see you, and to see you alone, even after your attack on my men.” The more Marai thought about it, the more impatient he grew. He kept seeing the disarray in his household: Ariennu’s stupor, Naibe-Ellit nearly dying of terror, Deka being taken by mysterious forces. Fine, Marai’s thoughts reflected his surliness. The inspector might have been innocent but you, Highness, are hiding something; just sitting on your throne drawing my story and giving me nothing in return. Marai silently addressed his Child Stone. Do you yet have your fill of this foolishness enough to let me go home? I’ll just take everyone back to the wilderness where you were, and you can teach me. We’ll go into the vessel and sleep; learn there. “And another thing I deduced, my untutored stranger. Your need to protect women. It’s so delightfully provincial of you.” The elder snapped in a condescending titter. “Had you been born to the elevated state worthy of our schooling, you would understand that a woman is not a powerless creature, but is indeed the creator of the universe. A woman is the strength of a man and his creator as well; at birth, and at her breast, so much so that a king or the bravest of warriors will cry out to she who birthed him in his last moment.” Marai stood, stunned, his hands on his hips. He couldn’t think of a response. The man had been courteous and at the same time condescending. The quickening of the veins in his naked temples was the only indication of irritation. Beneath that, Marai sensed the man’s added malevolent thought: Yes, but if one does strike at the beloved one, the man is disabled. Without the beloved feminine to balance him, there is no courage and less honor. He watched the elder, because something else began to take place that he hadn’t expected. Changing shape? Looks like a bird. Marai sensed the beginnings of the water-bird taking shape over that stern and noble countenance. Hold on. He has the right to assume the shape of the Ibis of Djehuti? “You are correct, Akkad – pardon me, my outland sojourner, in seeking me. My second verified that you sought the great Djed Djedi of Sneferu and on noting he had passed, his apprentice. I am the very one you have been seeking for all your over-long years – the so-called apprentice. Although, I was more an old man’s final caretaker. And do not think because you have discovered my birth name that you can use it freely. ‘Great One’, or ‘Your Highness’ is the only acceptable form of address you will use.” The sojourner watched the transformation of man into bird continue. The elder’s bony hands became two sets of three red talons that gripped his armrests on either side as if he held himself down from impending, flapping flight. I’ve ruffled your feathers so much just by coming to see you and being who I am that you feel you have to show me the spirit of your god? Marai dropped his hands, cheerily took his seat in the chair he’d moved, and leaned forward to watch the rest of the shift. Hmm. He thought and didn’t care if the old man sensed it. Not what I thought it was going to be. I thought wizards could really change shape. This is fixing an image over the human shape so that all who see it can see the beast instead of the man. The priests’ eyes glowed a faint red in the cracks again, indicating rage beneath the cool exterior. So, you think you can see something, you ill-bred goat? Then, as if the rage fled for unknown reasons, he suddenly calmed and settled within the bird shape. Bird talking with a man’s voice, Marai shuddered, that part of the illusion upsetting him more than the shape he visualized. “Well then,” the elder restarted with a put-upon sigh. “Now that you have found me, after enough years that I am old and you still young and hearty, and now that I have given audience, what is it exactly you expect?” The slit-eyes continued to redden. “I won’t burden you with my knowledge of your story a moment longer. Suffice it to say that the Great Djedi wished for me to assist you and stated that you had promised the Neter stones as they are properly called, would be brought to me when you arrived. I see you have come empty handed,” his voice slithered. “Why would you do that, since this has been your goal?” You know why, Marai responded silently. I didn’t feel I could trust you after what happened last night. Now that we’ve met I see that I was right to leave them behind. Here you are acting as a god, and resembling the great ibis, but I can’t see the God of Wisdom you want me to see. I see a sad old man who never got a bit of joy from his long life; saw that when I touched you.
“I wanted to be sure I had the right person.” Marai insisted in his own defense as the image of the ibis faded and the shape of the priestly prince returned. “You’ve enjoyed pointing out my lack of wit and schooling, but in my homeland trust is earned, whether it is by a king or a peasant. Marai felt his hands begin to sweat and tingle. His scalp prickled. “What are you trying?” Marai instinctively shut his eyes and bowed his head. His brow pulsed at a low level of self-protection. “Now you want to cast something on me? This isn’t about me treating you as man instead of god or discovering your name, this is about your jealousy because I’m alive and able to come to see you at all. And you know you don’t dare treat me as a peasant you can have flogged or killed. You’ve grown old waiting for this day and now you know you have to go through so much more of me before you can get your bony hands on your prize? Is that it?”
The elder prince’s face creased in genuine puzzlement:“What in the name of the gods are you daring to say to me?” Then just as suddenly, the atmosphere of hostility in the open plaza vanished as if all the irritation and rage Marai had sensed had been a joke. “And the prickle you just felt? That wasn’t a curse. Trust me enough to know if I had cursed you, you wouldn’t be sitting here,” he dismissed. “I agreed to scrutinize you and you came here. Part of that scrutiny is my testing of a soul’s ability to defend itself.” The old voice airily related as if he had meant nothing by the attack
Marai noticed the priest’s left hand had risen ever so slightly and assumed he had missed the magical gesture that went with it. The priest lowered his hand and then inspected his nails as the tingling sensation Marai felt faded.
“I must say though, you do quite well for one who is not learned. I would still be the stronger were you to challenge me – and don’t insult my intelligence with your honeyed innocence.” Hordjedtef snapped. “Any friendship between us is unlikely. See,” the priest stretched and went on in a more relaxed and comfortable mode, “in protecting yourself you opened your thoughts quite handsomely to me, once again.”
His eyes opened round and shiny black; his nose looked longer and down turned; ibis-like again.
On purpose, Marai sulked privately.
“As for helping you, I will do that. Great Djehuti intends no restriction on the seeking of knowledge. Your course toward initiation will be different than most, however. Normally, as I’m certain my protégé informed you, the pursuit of wisdom takes a lifetime of devotion and study. In your case, I will unlock what was hidden in your heart with a series of daily inquiries and examinations. Then, we will see what we will see.” Hordjedtef’s voice grew dismissive again. “You do know, man of the wilderness, that if I unlock these thoughts there will be a price. Quite often, it is madness. It might cause death if your heart seizes from the shock of what you learn. You will see so many things for which you may not be prepared. I know that. Every day I live shows me that. But, you think I’m a fool and I’ll let you think that. God of wisdom, hmph! Thoughts of thrashing about the plaza and into the living quarters like an enraged bull began to fill the former shepherd’s thoughts. Idly drumming his fingers on his knee, Marai watched the transformation of priest into ibis begin once more. This must be his plan, to make me mad and force me out; see what I can do. Maybe I could do Gugulanna the Bull of Heaven. Maybe it won’t be too great of a sacrilege, he paused to watch the second transformation become even more complete than the first. Speckled feathers were forming on a head of a bird where the old mans’ head had been. If the Lady I have loved hears my prayer, speed it to the Bull of Heaven. Let me teach this over decorated turd a lesson! Marai sent a silent prayer into the universe, wondering if it would even be received or if the bull would squash him like a bug. He visualized a sculpture he had seen on a high-walled temple when he had been a child: the snout, the muscle, the lapis lazuli beard. As he imitated what he thought he had seen the elder do, he sent thoughts to the priest to distract him from appearing as a bird. I’m no pretty toy for you to control or own. His thoughts lowed like the bull in his imagination. Your gods are not mine. They have no power over me. He breathed out once, then twice. He took a deep breath again and then felt the thoughts race through him like chattering whispers. Yes. He thought of other moments as a strange and enchanted bliss surrounded him: quiet moments when he and Ariennu had been together, after lovemaking. She loved to toy with the two loose tendrils of his silvery hair. She called them his “horns”. Now these curls formed into a crescent shape, emerging from his head as the animal form overtook him. With a third breath; he rose to his feet, moved closer to the old man and blew his breath on the bird in front of him. Nothing else mattered to him now. He felt the massiveness, smelled the animal odor, sensed the stately male feel and the tug of immense sexuality, pure white like silver, yet darkly proud. The lapis beard and the other effects never appeared. Marai felt his shape evolving into that of a white bull with a glowering black face. It’s not Gugulanna the Bull of Heaven, it’s something else; feels more right though. He tried to make sense of the shape but the only thoughts that came to him were: You annoy – me – bird. His humanity had become the foreign shape as an annoying swamp bird hopped around before him, its wings flapping and curved beak prodding his wonderful flanks. With an irritated snort, the bull lunged forward, hooves striking down once at the ibis head; horns lowered to gore anything else still vertical. Then, the feeling ebbed almost as soon as it formed. Marai felt his thoughts clear. He leaned heavily on the dark stone table that separated him from the old man. The elder had drawn back into his chair. He winced in slight discomfort, but fiercely guarded himself, his hands raised in a pose of dispelling. Marai barely noticed the fine crack that stretched across the table where his fist had crashed down on it. The carved alabaster cup that had held the elder’s tea lay shattered on the floor.
“Look, you!” Marai bellowed with a voice that was both human and bull-like. He slammed his fist down on the table again with a force that widened the crack. “I know what this is about, so don’t you come at me. You rage at your own gods!” he bent into the old man’s face. “Your teacher knew very well why I was picked out among all men the Neter might have chosen. He also knew why you were not.” Disgusted, the sojourner backed away and began to pace angrily, rolling his shoulders back to shake the tension out of his arms. “I had a fair life in the Shur. I had decided to change my ways and come here with my family, but I took one goddess-ordained journey to their place that last night. The things done to me by them were a complete shock! I asked for none of this. None!” His attempt to release his tension hadn’t worked. The coat Ariennu had made from the cloud of dark linen had ripped. Marai felt the rage beginning to descend again and form into storm. The dark lightning started to come forth from the base of his spine and march up his back toward the stone in his brow. The rage hit a wall in the form of a piercing headache that suddenly spread back over the crown of his head from his stone. A word. Goddess, he knows the same control word that sesh used. Agh! And the inspector… Marai froze in place, new vistas of reality suddenly opening. …am I stupid? Of course, they’d know the word. He knew his only choice was to return to himself, but if he did, he’d be weak enough to allow more spells or curses to take hold. He continued on as a wounded half-bull half-man, roaring in misery, but about to go to his knees as the old man had wanted. “You think I’m stupid enough to be blind to your puzzling? Maybe I am.” Marai snarled, lips curling in a sneer as he bent closer to the old prince who countered by shrinking away once more. “I wish I was a witless idiot. Then maybe I wouldn’t see you: miserable, alone, and dragging yourself out as the god who won’t even answer you most of the time; putting on shows for your followers. It’s just common jealousy, greed, and revenge; a thing I saw plenty of in the wilderness. I need to go back there and let you suffer over never getting the things you wanted but actually disrespect anyway! I’m done here!” Marai shook off the last of the bull shape and stalked toward the entry tube.
Do not go from here.
The inner voice he had heard earlier rose in anguish.
Don’t. Leave me alone. No more. I let you bring me this far but I will not submit to any more of this. Marai felt angry enough to flatten anyone between himself and the gate, but a pair of sizzling coal-eyes slowed his tread to a crawl. He turned his head and leveled a glare at the old man, who was sitting upright like a reed at the river’s edge. All age and debility seemed to have fallen from him. His naked left arm glistened with sweat as his hand traced a pattern in the air. The sojourner felt another irritating prickle of heat along his back and legs, as if the lightning in his back had been re-routed downward. Don’t go! The old man’s stalwart, yet petulant inner voice rang. One of the Children? Marai heard the gentle voice in his head pleading with him to stay, but then realized the priest had mimicked and matched the voices. Wait, what?The illusion of the voice of the Children, the inner voice Marai had been hearing broke at once when the priest’s own anger found a voice.
(That's all for now. Check out the whole story to see what came before and happens after at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B081KSKPGB/
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