Category Archives: #WTGV

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.

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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.

2011 Recap from the Woods

This past year has been a bit of a challenge in terms of life choices.  I made some big ones, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

After meeting my amazing agent at a conference, I struggled with three major priorities: full-time mom, full-time preschool owner and full-time writer.  Throwing in my part-time freelance work as a writer and court advocate meant the day was about  twelve hours too short.  Not to mention that my efficiency level suffered in every area–including sleep.  Something had to give, so I sold my preschool.  Which, by the way, I miss more than words can say.

Despite the tough decisions, 2011 had many successes, some personal and some writerly.

  • My kids are much happier with me back at home and able to attend all their events/needs–or is it the taxi service they like so much?
  • DH enjoys eating again before midnight.  Okay, that’s only slightly exaggerated, but a healthy rebalance to say the least.
  • Two of my dear writer friends e-pubbed some amazing novels.  If you haven’t checked out Diary of a Small Fish by Pete Morin or Viridis (and its steamy sequel) by Calista Taylor, I’d recommend these for your newly unwrapped e-reader.
  • Another wonderful writer friend, Sophie Perinot, is awaiting the 2012 spring release of her historical novel The Sister Queens.  I’ve already preordered my copy, and  you can too.  Not to mention a fellow crit partner, and extremely poetic writer, also reeled in a contract for her historical fiction.  I wish Icould tell all, but I can’t spill the beans until she does.
  • Aaaand, in case you missed the buzz, Mindy McGinnis received a huge, two book contract for her YA, Not a Drop to Drink.  I’ve critiqued a few pieces by Mindy (aka BBC) and have to admit I’m thirsty for her debut.  I promise–promise–it will be a splash hit when it reaches the shelves.  This deal came shortly after Jessica Khoury’s news about selling her debut novel–another much-anticipated YA read for me.
  • I read–and conversed with–Sarah Darer Littman.  I must say the author of Want to Go Private? is as sweet as they come.  Her novel is a must read for every human walking this technologically unsafe Earth.  Seriously, if you love a kid, you have one last day to get your name in a drawing for a free copy of this amazing YAContest details found here.
  • In my personal writing news, I’m a site moderator over at AgentQuery Connect–the absolutely BEST writing community on the net–and a contributing member of From The Write Angle, a writing blog by writers of all levels for writers of all levels.  I also wrote my way to another NaNoWriMo victory and partook in the Epic Paranormal Romance Blogvel: The Skeleton Key.
  • Christmas came too fast.  With no snow on the ground and only a few flakes to our fall/winter season, it doesn’t quite feel like the end of the year.  In fact, Eldest golfed yesterday.  Not that I want a repeat of last year and the 27 snow days we had, but come on?  Where’s the white?
  • Oh yeah, and I have a short story coming out in an e-book anthology this spring (details to be announced later), so it’s just one more reason for you to buy a Kindle and enjoy the e-revolution.

All in all, 2011 has been good to me.

How about you?  What wonderful news do you have to share–writing or otherwise–that made 2011 worth every hour? 

P.S. In case you were wondering (and I know you were), Sock Dog came back from training as a full-fledged hunting dog.  She no longer runs the other way from birds and her nose is amazing.  So much so, that the trainer offered to buy her.  If she keeps chowing socks, I just might give him a call!

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?