Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Facebook: Another Way to Eff Up Our Kids?

Heyyyyy, thanks to Sara McClung's Blog Me MAYbe blogfest, I've decided to post again today, thereby escalating the maybe up to a surewhynot. Today's topic: May I Ask You Something?

So, I read this article on Yahoo ("The Facebook-Free Baby"), which had me questioning what a lot of us may be doing on a regular basis re: social media. The gist of it was this: YOU MAY BE EFFING UP YOUR CHILD'S LIFE BY POSTING THEIR EVERY MOVE AND THEIR PHOTOS OF NEKKID REARS ON FACEBOOK. (Not in those words) It cited a number of different reasons why this is a really bad thing. The first of which is this:

"...parents are discovering that once content becomes digital, it can be easily copied and redistributed willy-nilly...The result: photos of kids in compromising, colorful circumstances, and status updates recounting even more compromising, colorful circumstances, intended for a select few, are now spread out over the Web for everyone."

Frankly, this has always scared the schnit out of me.

But the difficulty in controlling what happens to digital content is only one reason the author of this article, Steven Leckart (Wall Street Journal), has decided not to post any information or photos of his child on Facebook (or presumably any other social media). Essentially, he says, by posting a regular stream of our children's activities and photos, we're documenting their lives in a very permanent, sequential way, thereby passing on to them a "digital legacy." And a digital legacy can be really hard to shed.

Thanks, Mom, for posting this on Facebook.*
Unlike grownups who have the option of deleting oops updates minutes after we stupidly post them, children may be staring down the barrel of twenty years' worth of oops updates about them. Things like how they missed the potty when they pooped at two years old or how they were so tragically dumped minutes before the prom--things, which at the time we post them, may merely be tools to find solace and support, or perhaps, to make a funnyhaha, but may become your future-self child's worst nightmare (or for some kids, the current self).

Leckart doesn't necessarily condemn "oversharingting," however. He's merely explaining his choice to not participate in it, while urging caution when sharing the lives of our own children on social media. Something I'd urge you to do, too, if you're not already. OBVIOUSLY don't go posting nekkid pics of your kiddos on the net. It may be cute to you, but OMeffingG there are creepsters out there.

If you're friends with that Facebook Carol off to the right there (up a little), you may have already guessed my view on things, as I don't post pictures of my children or information that actually reveal anything about them publicly. Things like personal info. Or their faces. Or tan lines. It's not that I'm not hugely proud to be their mom, or that I don't want to show off how totally sweet and precious and amazing they are. It's that I'm paranoid and overprotective and rather hermitish and super private. But, too, my goal for that Facebook account isn't so much a personal one as a professional one. So, there's that.

I actually think a lot of us are very cautious already, especially parents, thankfully. And the truth is I love, love, love to see photos of your families and read about what y'all are up to. I realize this totally makes me a hypocrite. But I do think about the potential pitfalls of sharing (in particular when it becomes oversharing)--not just of the lives of our children, but of ourselves.

So, my question(s) to you guys is: Have you ever started to post something too personal and stopped yourself? Or posted something that you either deleted or later changed its settings to private? Where do you draw the line? What constitutes oversharing?

*This is not actually a photo of me or anyone I know. My mom did NOT post this on Facebook. Or anywhere. She's way nice.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A New Trailer: SKYLARK by Meagan Spooner

If you've seen my tweets on SKYLARK, you already know I read it in one day and couldn't stop thinking about it afterwards. I'll save the review for another day, but if you haven't added it to your Goodreads or TBR list, I highly recommend it. Very enjoyable, intricate, twisty plot. For now, I've got a couple other things for you. First, check out what Meagan Spooner had to say when we sat down to chat. And then be sure you watch the video trailer below the interview. It's pretty awesome. May have you tracking down the publisher begging for an ARC (What? You think I did that? *shifty eyes*)

SKYLARK by Meagan Spooner

Vis in magia, in vita vi. In magic there is power, and in power, life. 

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley waited for the day when her Resource would be harvested and she would finally be an adult. After the harvest she expected a small role in the regular, orderly operation of the City within the Wall. She expected to do her part to maintain the refuge for the last survivors of the Wars. She expected to be a tiny cog in the larger clockwork of the city. 

Lark did not expect to become the City's power supply. 

For fifteen years, Lark Ainsley believed in a lie. Now she must escape the only world she's ever known...or face a fate more unimaginable than death. 

Everybody welcome Meagan! *Applause*

Hi Meagan! So happy to have you visit. I spruced up the place just for you. What do you think of my new sculpture?
Wow, I didn't know you could use chocolate mousse as a sculpting medium! How do you get Jared's hair to stay up like that?

Um...saliva actually. For real. Okay, then, in three words or less, please tell us ALL about yourself.
Psychic. Fire-eater. Astronaut. (What, they pay me to make stuff up for a living. You wanted truth?)

Truth is negotiable...In ten (true) words or more, please tell us what inspired you to write SKYLARK.
The world came to me before anything else did--a world where power was both literal and figurative, where magic was the line between sanity and madness, life and death. I wanted this enclosed city with dwindling resources, desperate for any way out, anything that could save them. After I'd imagined that world, the character became obvious. Of course the story would follow the one girl with the power to save them. And Lark came from that--I knew exactly who she was as soon as I realized why the city wanted her. 

There are days where I could use a little magic to keep from slipping into insanity, so I totally get this! Is there anything in particular you’re hoping readers will take away from SKYLARK?
There's a lot of darkness in SKYLARK. I tend to be the sort of author who, when stuck, thinks, "What's the worst possible thing I can do to my characters right now?" But the thing is, despite Lark's struggles, and the terrible things that happen over the course of the book, I think there's beauty and hope there too. She discovers that while the outside world is dangerous and terrifying, it's also beautiful in a way she'd never have experienced if she'd stayed inside her domed city. And while she faces terrible betrayal, she also discovers true friendship and human connection, beyond anything she had in her previous life.

Lark doesn't start off as this bulletproof tough girl--she's scared, and she's running for her life, and she doesn't know anything about how to survive beyond the Wall. But she's determined--she learns how to cope. She gets stronger. She gets smarter. She has to become the hero, because she wasn't born that way. 
 SKYLARK, at its heart, is a book about stepping outside your boundaries--it's utterly terrifying, and sometimes you get hurt. But sometimes it's amazing, too. And sometimes it's what you should have done all along.

I loved that Lark didn't start out all kickass at first. How many girls really do? This feels so much more genuine and relatable to me.

Alright, it’s time for some invasive questions.
London or Fiji?
London, hands down! I'm not a big beach person, and warm weather makes me irritable--I actually prefer rain and fog, like the total weirdo I am! Plus London has just amazing history. I never get tired of it.

Beans or filet mignon?
Filet mignon. Lark may be a vegetarian, but I'm a meat-eater through and through!

Croissant and cappuccino or biscuits and gravy?
Can I substitute the cappuccino for a cup of tea? Because dang, a croissant sounds amazing right now.

Chocolate or Jared Leto?
This is the easiest one yet: JARED. Because he'll bring me chocolate. Just look at him--you know he would.

Dude, it’s been so AWEsome to have you here, I want to capture this moment forever with a picture. Smile. *waits* Meagan??
Let me tell you guys a story. Because let's be honest, I can't even set out to take a picture without stories coming out of it. 

It's the story of a girl named Meg, who is pretty camera shy--but everyone's always told her there's nothing to be scared of. It's just a picture. What's the worst that could happen? So she was determined to produce some kind of fabulous photo deserving of this fabulous blog. So she sits down at her webcam with her movie star sunglasses ready to model it up. But she quickly realizes that she looks pretty silly, so she takes the sunglasses off. Unbeknownst to her, when she puts the sunglasses down, they slide off the desk... and land upon a monster that lurks beneath it. The monster awakes... 

As Meg continues to try and take a decent photo (something rarer even than the elusive perfect first draft) the monster climbs up behind her, always hungry, always lurking. She sees him in the computer screen, captured by her web cam--but it's too late! He's already at her throat! She cannot move for fear of provoking the beast. 
And then... just when it seems the creature might lose interest and let her live... HE STRIKES.

The end.

(The role of the monster in tonight's performance will be played by Icarus the Cat.)

Thanks so much for stopping by, Meagan! What a pleasure to chat with you...and Icarus (who I suspect drank all my chocolate milk.). BYE!! *Waves*

Oh hey. It's the book trailer for SKYLARK! Meagan, you dropped something!

YES. I'm keeping it. *Stuffs trailer in pocket*

Find Meagan Spooner:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Kindness Project

Too often kindness is relegated to a random act performed only when we’re feeling good. But an even greater kindness (to ourselves and others) occurs when we reach out even when we aren't feeling entirely whole. It’s not easy, and no one is perfect. But we’ve decided it’s not impossible to brighten the world one smile, one kind word, one blog post at a time. To that end, a few of us writers have established The Kindness Project, starting with a series of inspirational posts.

Be the Someone You Need(ed)

Have you ever gotten to that point where everything starts to feel too big and your ability so small that it's tempting to hole up somewhere, maybe under the covers or behind a closed door and just stay there? Or maybe you go about your regular life there but not entirely present, mumbling an "mmm hmm" every time someone asks a question. Ever get to that point when the weight of every choice you've made and every choice you still have to make becomes so burdensome you think your lungs might just give out from the pressure? That point where the world seems entirely too unkind or too unfair or too apathetic? That point where it doesn't seem to matter what you do because the end result will always be the same anyway?

And all you really, truly want is for someone to tell you, "You don't have to worry. I've got this."

But you know that person, those words, may never come along. And even if they did, would you believe it?

It's a scary place to be. Like Dr. Seuss says, The Waiting Place.*

How many times have you been in that place, hoping and praying that something amazing would happen to show you you're worth more than what fate has dealt you, that you're worth more than the choices you've made? How many times have you wondered if maybe you really deserve to be where you are?

I've been there. I think we all have. Or will be. That's humanity for you, life sucking at least part of the time. If you luck out there will be people in your life who care. Or maybe just one person. That's all you really need anyway. But if you're really, truly lucky and you open your eyes--I'm talking all the way wide--you might realize that one person is you, and you will find a way to make you care enough about you. You might just be the person you need. "I've got this," you will say to yourself enough times that you start to believe it.

I've. got. this.

And then someday, when you're no longer in that waiting place, you might come across another person that reminds you of the old you. And when you look down you will see their feet still mired in the muck and filth of that dark, dark space. And you will remember what it felt like. You will feel it deep inside. How much it hurt. How scary it was. And the words will come tumbling out of you, "You don't have to worry. I've got this."

Perhaps you will be a little shaky and sound uncertain at first, because you're not sure you're really capable after all. But you'll say it anyway: "I'm here for you."

And you'll find you really mean it. Because you've been there.


Posting today for The Kindness Project:

Carolina M Valdez

Edit: Adding Christa DesirJessica Corra, and Alina Klein. Thanks for joining, Christa, Jessica and Alina!

Be sure to check them out :D We post the second Wednesday of every month. Want to join us? Grab our button and spread a little kindness.

*Dr. Seuss. Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May I Tell You Something About Me? [Explicit]

I rarely participate in blog challenges. Mostly because I'm overcommitted in my non-online life, so committing to anything online is a venture fraught with inevitable failure. Then I heard about Sara McClung's Blog Me Maybe blogfest and was entirely captivated by the "Maybe" aspect of it. Because that's pretty much my motto when it comes to blogging (Or lately, more like "probably not.") But now I feel like a toad since I signed up and haven't yet participated.

So...I've been thrashing my brain to come up with a post about me (since it's Tuesday and that's today's prompt). Actually there is something heartfelt I want to tell you. It might explain for you why I haven't been blogging much. But every time I've tried to write it, the words seemed all wrong on the page. So I will save that for a vlog, perhaps. The problem is every time I come up with something else to write, I nix the idea as too boring or stupid or wayyyy TMI. And with nothing left, I can only do what remains. Tell you something that is boring, stupid and TMI.

Okay, so.

I don't yet have any tattoos. No, that's not the TMI thing. But I made a rather cliched pact with the universe that when I publish a book I will get a tattoo. Still not the TMI thing. I don't really know what the tattoo will be. I have several books, see--so it depends which book publishes (first). Maybe it'll be a tattoo of a rose that starts with one petal, and every time I publish a new book, I add a petal (man, I'm clever). Or maybe it'll be a Chinese character that I think means "peace" but actually turns out to mean "broccoli." Or maybe it will actually be broccoli. Not sure.

But I'm thinking I'll put it somewhere less conspicuous so as not to freak out Moms o' Suburbia. Or my own mother. So, you know, not my cheek bones or my knuckles (not the first tattoo, anyway). I don't really want it to be on my lower back either, or anywhere on my backside, because then I have to look in the mirror to see it. I don't want it on my feet, because ouch. So, I've decided it will go...dun dun dunnnnnn...

Yeah, I can't tell you. So I'll tell you something else.

When people really tick me off for being jackholes, I try very hard not to get visibly angry. Not always easy (such as the time I really let a lifeguard have it for asking my kiddo to get out of the pool so she could take a fifteen minute break after she'd spent the last hour on her cell phone while simultaneously plowing down Cheese-Its), but usually I manage. I'll smile, even, and tell you to have a nice day. And then I'll thank you very much in a garbled, less than intelligible way that is remarkably satisfying for me and won't have me hauled off to jail for yanking your ears off your face. I learned this trick from Lily Allen, actually--from a song of hers. I'd post it for you, but it's a bit (a lot) explicit and this is a pg-13 blog.

But I will post the link to the video. Just because I think we all need to learn this trick. And we all need a happy song we can listen to after a jackhole encounter.

F#$% You Very Much by Lily Allen*

You're welcome.

*It is very explicit. If you don't like bad words, skip the link.