Tag Archives: want to go private

COPPA for Kid Lit Writers

In today’s society, it is too easy to interact with virtual strangers. We share information like everyone in the world will keep our secrets and protect our innocence…just because it’s the right thing to do.

That’s not the case.

Books like Sarah Darer Littmans’s Want to Go Private? prove that the internet isn’t a safe place.

Because of scammers and predators and other sinister-minded cyber peeps, it’s a writer’s job to make interactions as safe as possible for their potential readers. In particular to children.

COPPA is an act that sets out to protect children and the information they provide on the web. If you engage with children under the age of thirteen via chats, websites, etc where you may either actively or passively gather information about them, you absolutely must educate yourself on COPPA and your responsibilities as a blogger or website owner.

Info about the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act can be found at coppa.org.

As a parent, how do you protect your children from online issues? As a writer, what are you doing to protect those you engage with? Also, as a blogger, what types of info do you collect and what do you do with it?

Curious minds want to know.

Online News from My Writerly Muse

I’ve got some great things going on despite the date and the fact that I’ve spilled every single plate/cup/bowl/dog dish/etc…that I’ve picked up.  As a precaution, I shall steer clear of ladders, black cats and dastardly villains like Freddy and Jason for the rest of the day.

  • I’ve signed up on GoodReads.  If you’re a member, friend me and we can share our literary loves.  I know my bookshelf is empty (sidebar at left), but I told myself I wasn’t going to add books until I read them–after I joined.  That means all the great novels I’ve read in the past will remain off my shelves unless I read them again.  I do, however, have several great novels on my to be read shelf of soon-to-be debut authors.  It’s never too early to start thinking about future publications and even preordering them to show up on your doorstep upon their release.
  • I have three winners for my #WTGV (Want to Go Viral?) book give-away.  One lucky student (Lisa), parent  (Sharon) and professional (Angela) have received a free copy of this amazing book.  Thanks to all who helped spread the word regarding the best must-read book ever, Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman.  If you haven’t heard about it yet, click on my #WTGV tab at the top of my blog.  Even though we didn’t reach our million people mark by the end of December, I’d still like to give away one more copy of Want to Go Private?  Anybody who comments on my blog between Friday the 13th and Friday the 27th will be put in another drawing for a free copy.  Participants must reside in the US for shipping purposes.
  • Speaking of books: another writer friend and AQCer got a two book deal. He might sound familiar, as I’ve talked about R.K.Lewis before and provided links to his online articles over at Criminal Element.  Mister Lewis writes gritty noir with more voice than the pages can hold.  Congrats, Robert!
  • In contrast, Susan Keogh’s nautical fiction takes history to a whole ‘nother level.  Susan is a fellow crit partner, AQCer and a lyrical writer.  Her debut novel, The Prodigal, was recently picked up by Fireship Press.  So, if you haven’t been keeping track over the past months and are a writer, you might want to join AgentQuery Connect.  There’s a whole slew of good stuff going on over there: friendship, critique help, writerly support, agent offers and publishing deals.  Seriously, what are you waiting for?
  • And one last thing.  I blogged over at From the Write Angle today.  There I unveiled my Friday the 13th terrors in regards to being a writer.  But never fear, I did leave you with some tips and tricks to keep your body and mind sound during your writing journey.
  • Oh yeah, Dear Hubby and I are going out with some friends.  While sweating my way through my work out this morning, I got us a date.  Yay!  So, if ever you feel lonely, hit the health club.  You’re sure to run into like-minded peeps.  Even if your calendars don’t quite mix, those few moments of socialness are as uplifting as the 500 crunches I do each day.

How about you, dear readers?  How does your Friday the 13th go?  Is it filled with a bad case of the dropsies and unlucky ladders, or do you have some shining moments to pull you out of the doldrums?

Curious minds want to know.

Tales from My Christmas List

I hate buying gifts just to buy them.

I like when gifts have a meaning and a purpose.  I like when they fit the personality of the receiver.  I love when their potential impact is so much more than a casual glance on Christmas morning during the rush of wrapping paper ripping.

Dear Hubby and I braved the mall on Saturday and found some good deals on clothes for the kids on our list.  But my real shopping success came on Sunday when I found the neatest site EVER online.

gifts.com

I officially swear by it for finding unique gifts.  It’s like having your own personal shopper pointing you in all the right directions.  And much to my delight, many of the shops practice green giving with tons of recycled and handmade gifts that are as beautiful as they are functional.

So what did I get?

My Top 2011 Picks

  • Through Heifer International, my kids will learn that not all gifts are created equally.  If you have expendable cash–even a teeny bit–or your annual gift giving has hit a wall and you find yourself buying simply to buy, please consider this fabulous organization which strives to educate, not just donate.  The money we would typically spend on my extended family will go toward the purchase of animals.  Thanks, Mom, for this great idea.
  • National Geographic Magazine.  Whether you are an itty bitty or a moldy oldy, you can appreciate the beautiful pictures and the enlightening stories found within the covers of a variety of National Geographic choices.  And it’s cheap.  Seriously.  A year subscription to one of the most gorgeous and educational magazines out there is $15.   And you can order online. 
  • Step Into Reading books for beginners.  These amazing books cater to any literary taste and reading ability.  Nonfic is hugely popular with boys (sharks, bugs, whales, dinos) while the classic Biscuit books and Amelia Bedelia are great choices for girls.  And the best thing?  When you shop at Barnes and Noble, you can quickly add a Step Into Reading book to your purchase which then gets donated to local children in need.  How cool is that?  During the buying frenzy, you won’t even notice the missing $3.00, yet the child receiving a brand new book of their own will be eternally thankful for your generosity.
  • Teen Pics are a bit trickier, but I’ll share my purchases with you.  Both my big kids are rounding out trilogies this season or starting new ones based on beloved authors.  Dear Daughter: Beautiful Chaos by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, as well as Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick.  Eldest: The Dragon Heir by Cinda Williams Chima.  Next up for him, the first novel in the Seven Realms series, also by Chima.
  • And if I haven’t mentioned it enough, Want to Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman is the must have book for teens this season.  If you’ve never heard of it, check out my #WTGV tab for reviews and your chance to win a free copy.  Think it’s only for girls?  Think again.  I’ve had several boy readers tell me this was a great book and that everyone should read it.  “Everyone,” was the recommendation from a non-reader who just got snookered into it because I bug him so much about reading.  He finished it in three days.
  • Discovery Channel dot com is AWESOME for educational toys that challenge little brains while keeping them so busy they don’t realize they are learning.  Lots o’ great gifts were found there for the nieces and nephews.   Additionally, puzzles are known for their role in honing fine motor manipulation and practicing preliteracy skills.  Melissa and Doug (brand of nicely crafted wooden toys) make fabulous puzzles for tiny fingers while places like Discovery Channel and National Geographic have amazing educational puzzles for expanding minds.
  • Lastly, JC Penney’s online turned out to be a rockin’ place for finding unheard of deals.  For the little Rembrandt in the family, we found a fully loaded art desk for a fraction of the price.

Another online site I found, I liked, but didn’t buy from was Build A Dream Playhouse.  This ground floor business (started by a daddy and his posse of tiny testers) provides unique cardboard creations for hours of imaginative play.  Castles, snack shops, vehicles and more are all a click away.

All in all, I’m much more satisfied this year with our Christmas purchases than I usually am.

How goes your Christmas battle?  Are you finished or just getting started with your shopping?    Please share any fun, unique sites with the rest of us, as well as any gift buying tips you may have for those less jolly about commercialized Christmas giving.

Get Off Your Soap Box: Personal Safety

In case you missed it, this week is when I get off my soap box and do something about the things I believe in.  In line for today is personal safety.

Yesterday, my little sister called me.  She’d found Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman on our shared Kindle account.

“After I finished reading, I curled up in my bed and cried for forty-five minutes.”

We then talked for forty-five minutes about how important this book is and about whom should read it.  While I know Ms. Littman wrote Want to Go Private? to initiate conversation between parents and their children, Little Sis believes far more people should read this book than just parents and teens.

“Everyone,” was her exact assessment.  And she’s right.

Personal safety is a taboo topic.  Nobody wants to hear about sexting scandals between young teens and thirty-year-old men.  Nobody wants to hear about incest or the assault that took place in the back seat after the homecoming game.  Everybody turns away from rape victims and ignores the pain they must have gone through.  Or worse yet, they blame the victim, not the predator.

Sadly, this mindset is so pervasive that even the victims blame themselves and predators are left to pray on others, untouched, unchecked and smarter with each perpetration.  It is sickening and debilitating.  It’s wrong on many levels.  And nobody is exempt.

Child pornography infiltrates many a household.  Significant others fall victim to the twisted whims of their partners and can’t escape the escalating behavior.  The elderly are emotionally manipulated for their money in the same way that vulnerable teens are culled by sexual predators.

I’ve worked as an advocate for children.  I’ve seen the fall-out from such abuse.  I’ve also seen just how horrifying these experiences can be.  And yet, we don’t take charge of personal safety the way we do drinking and driving.  The message is not on billboards and public radio.  The message does not make television commercials or magazine covers.  As a society, we prefer not to talk about it, because then it might not exist.

But it does exist.  Every day, potential victims are groomed by perpetrators.  Every day, victims are left to navigate the after-math of their experiences.  Every day, somebody blames the victim.

“They should have known better.”

“She asked for it.”

“It’s his own fault.”

The truth is, relationships are easily manipulated and perpetrators learn how to manipulate emotionally vulnerable individuals in a way that would make your toes curl.  They practice it, hone it, and perfect it like normal people do with their hobbies.  They get good at it so they can be more effective at luring their victims into a one-sided relationship that feels safe and fulfilling.

Well, I’m here to do something about your personal safety.  I am getting off my soap box and telling everyone I know that personal safety is hard to hold onto in this day and age.

Today I launch #WTGV, a book give-away of Want to go Private? 

#WTGV (Want to Go Viral) is my way of educating anyone who loves someone enough to care about their personal safety.  From November 1st-December 31st, I’m hosting a three book give-away of Want to Go Private?

If you simply want to enter your name in the drawing, hop over to my #WTGV Book Give-Away page and follow the rules posted there.

If you want to help make the message of personal safety  go viral, please visit my #WTGV page to learn how you can help spread the word.

If you care at all, please stop by the #WTGV tab and see what’s new between now and the end of the year.

So, who wants to go viral?

Author Loyalty

This morning, Dear Hubby started packing.  His hunting gear taunted our geriatric lab as she watched him pile guns, boots, jackets and shock collars.  She got herself so worked up, she was foaming at the mouth and quivering by the time Eldest lifted her into the back of the truck.

Truth be told, I feel that way about certain authors and their new releases.

While I never camped out in front of a book store for two days, it nearly killed me to wait for each new installment of The Hunger Games trilogy and The Bartemaeus Trilogy.  I’m still drooling for Bitterblue.  Likewise, I darn near gave myself hives waiting for the release of Jackson Pearce’s Sweetly.

Back in the day–when our family didn’t have a television set, we lived smack dab in the middle of cornfields and our only library was the teeny traveling bus visiting from lands unknown–I had no clue when my favorite author of the time would release her next book.  Scholastic book orders were my literary life line.

One day, I’d open the book order and see the cover for the first time.  Descriptions didn’t matter.  The author’s name did.  At home I’d meticulously fill out the book order and drop my ninety-nine cents in an envelope.

My method of book-buying has changed.  Now I keep very close tabs on the authors I adore.  I know when their next books will be released and have preordered some because I’m impatient and me-centric when it comes to reading.  I’m also fiercely loyal to my beloved authors.

Give me a great book and I’m  yours.  Give me two and I’ll grovel at your feet.  I’d even exchange my first born for your next release if I thought you’d want a 17-year-old who looks like my hubby.

In some ways, I’m an author stalker.  I’ll buy e and dead tree versions.  I’ll follow you across genres and age groups.  I’ll even buy your nonfic when it comes out–and I don’t read biographies.  But only if you deliver.  Otherwise, your paper back will be tucked into a box in the basement, only to come out for the library book sale fundraiser.

Dear readers, do you have a bad case of author loyalty?  If so, which authors do you love and why?  Are you willing to genre hop with your beloved author or are you more apt to find a replacement the moment BA writes outside your preferred reading list?  What kinds of things make you ditch your BA in favor of a new beloved?

Curious minds want to know.

*Also, check out our MAD review of Want to Go Private? to get the teen perspective of Sarah Darer Littman’s engaging novel on cyber predators.

The Ultimate Wake-Up Call to Parents: Want to Go Private?

I’m going to be honest, I struggled with reading Want to Go Private.  Not because of the writing, but because of the content.  And because I’m a mom with a daughter, and the mother of three sons.  Also, because in my career as a child advocate I’ve seen first hand the impact that poor choices have on a teen’s life.

Want to Go Private?

Those very words strike fear into my heart, and have since my (much younger) brother and sister caught the first wave of internet chat rooms.  After reading Sarah Darer Littman’s YA novel, these words rip me apart.

If ever there is a call to challenge books, this would be it.  It’s graphic enough to make me queasy and personal enough to make people extremely upset.  Yet for all that, I applaud Ms. Littman for writing a book that needs to be available to a generation of children who live and die (sometimes literally) by the rulings of the internet.

What am I talking about?  Sexual predators who have easy access to our children’s innermost thoughts, fears and information.  But before you shake your head and say, “Impossible.  Not my children.  They know better,” hear me out.  Or rather, read Abby’s story yourself.

Starting highschool is difficult in the best of times.  For shy, fourteen-year-old Abby, being on the bottom rung of the social ladder is the catalyst for engaging in online chats with a “boy” named Luke.  As she struggles with a failing friendship, an unrequited crush, clueless parents and an annoying little sister, Abby retreats into a cyber friendship with the one person who actually listens to her.  Cares about her.  Accepts her.  And, eventually, loves her.

The first part of Want to Go Private? was frustrating to read.  Abby’s a smart girl.  She knows all the reasons to stay away from strangers.  She’s a good kid–just like yours and mine.  I wanted to shake her back to reality whenever she fell for Luke’s game.  I wanted to ground her for life when she began sharing far more than her thoughts.

At times, I felt like Ms. Littman rushed Abby’s physical responses.  Yet, the emotional ones were spot on.  In a few short months, Abby had believably become addicted to her relationship with Luke.  Ms. Littman’s execution of it will help parents and teens understand just how vulnerable kids are when it comes to their emotional attachments, how easily they are swayed by seemingly inconsequential events and how fiercely loyal they are to those they trust.

And so ends the first part of the book.

The second one had tears streaming down my face.  My heart literally ached for the anguish and uncertainty brought on by Abby’s careless behavior.  In this section Ms. Littman masterfully unravels the layers of a teen’s me-centric world in a way that should help teens understand their every action does, indeed, affect others.  It also proves just how easily we can lose control of our lives.

Logically, I feel like every teen and every parent should read this book.  Emotionally, I struggle.  I don’t want my daughter exposed to some of the content.  Particularly by my choosing.  And yet, it tells a tale of misplaced loyalty and betrayal far better than any lecture by any adult will ever be able to.

Kids tune parents out.  Kids listen to other kids.  My daughter will hear Abby’s words in a very different way than she will ever hear my own.

This book needs to be read.  It also needs to be discussed.  Before handing over my copy to my Dear Daughter, I told her that it was one of the most difficult books I had read.  I explained that it was graphic, though not gratuitous.  I told her parts of the book made me want to throw up.  I also told her I loved her and wanted her to remain safe.  She knows I’m here for her when she gets to the tough parts.  She knows, from past experience, that we’ll discuss the book when she’s done.

For the record, we have.  You can read our MAD Review of Want to Go Private? here and see just how much this novel affects teens.

Parents, if you have a child active in social networking, this is a must-read.  Before your child ever picks it up.  It is an amazing tool to open the door to the emotional side of our lectures.  It will help you remember what it was like to be a kid and how uncaring your parents sounded when they harped on you about things like grades and sports.  How you simply wanted somebody to see you, understand you, listen to you and love you.  Anybody.

Even a boy like Luke.