Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sneaky is good...Right??

My oldest two granddarlins went from sweet little princesses to this thing called "fan girl" and proudly proclaim themselves to be geeks. They usually have both books and cellphones in hand and for the last few weeks its been a crazy dash to help them finish their cosplay duds. 

    When their mom was that age (14) I ended the "I need designer" phase in a sneaky manner. She had to make of everything needed for school, then what she wanted for the new school year. Then I handed her an envelope and told her what ever was left- went into her pocket & that was absolutely all the money she would get for the items. She became best friends with the "everything for $5" store. Quickly she became the queen of sales and her mantra is "she who gets the most for the least...wins" She handed this down. Which led to many excursions to thrift stores and yard sales & I now know for certain, the spray paint for plastic lawn furniture, doesn't really like clear plastic umbrellas- but light coats, multiple times will make it happen. 
     Jess, the newly turned 12 yr old is sitting at the sewing machine slowly joining the material she salvaged from an ungodly yellow formal (Think Gone with the Wind) with a Caribbean blue trim removed from something else. Her bag full of goodies to work with cost $2 and it was amazing to watch her carefully lay them out and then fold and roll and secure the bundle with a couple of belts and then ease it into the bag, "Well, you don't want it to tear." Yeah, that came along with the know, the one that says drift with me snowflake. She managed to fit enough in there for five days of Leakycon. 
    Tala on the other hand, turned 14 earlier in the month. She asked for several things but it was the conversation with her mom that resulted in my pick of presents. "OMG! Mom, she's gonna be there!" She did this funky dance and her face lit up, "She's going to be singing books too--can we afford it before then?" Yep, she got Coke float cupcakes and the book. "Fangirl" by Rainbow Rowell. I have never seen a smile that big. 
     I asked what was so special about this Con...both girls jaws dropped, finally Tala said, "Gramma, it's the best. There will be 45 of the best actors from Harry Potter and a bunch of other movies and authors will be there and musicians and we can all be weird together and dress silly and no one looks at us strange." She managed a deep breath there, "There's panels on how to create costumes on the cheap, and other things and its five whole days of coolness." The whole time she was gushing about this, she was patting my arm, sort of like 'poor silly gramma', and then she smiled and said "Haven't you ever been to one?" 
     No thanks to my husband, but I managed to talk her out of dragging me along- not because being in the old Orlando Convention Center, which is beyond huge, surrounded by hoards of people in costumes wouldn't be fun- I simply can't walk that distance any more. They've promised to take a gazillion pictures so they can educate me more after it's over. 
   Later their mom, my oldest child gave me the side eye- "Wha choo talkin 'bout" I tried to play innocent. I failed. Busted--almost. "You've been talking about doing Comic con for what?? Four years?" 
    My response left her chuckling, "ahh, well yes, but they don't know that. I'll be the cool one when I catch on quick like and then we'll do grilled pizzas and I'll be golden." 

   Then this morning I got all wrapped in up in a conversation and before I knew it, I had been hoodwinked, conned, by a friend and writer who will be there-I'm getting one of her passes for a day to go sit at her table while she's on a panel. I can't wait to see the faces on the girls.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Is Social Media the New Moral Police for our Society?

Courtesy of Creative Commons via Flickr

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m the author of the best-selling Super Spies series and I’m here today to talk about how social media has become the new moral police of this century.

I know what you’re thinking, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are the moral police? How do you figure?

The reason I’m drawing this conclusion is because this is the first time in our society where someone can take a picture or video and post it on a social media site. Where it can be viewed and probably shared by literally thousands. The post can go viral within hours.

Remember last year when an overweight bus driver was bullied on her bus?  Someone videotaped that particular scene and the post went viral. As a result, the bullies were reprimanded, even though the reprimand probably wasn’t severe enough, they didn’t get away with it.

We see all kinds of posts of celebrities behaving badly. We also see posts of Business owners engaging in cruel and heartless activities. The one I’m thinking of is the one about Michael Vick and his treatment of Fighting dogs who don’t quite make the grade.
Is this good for our society? 

Yes and no. Yes because it means everyone will be held accountable for their bad behavior. Celebrities and Power Players won’t be able to sweep things under the rug, like they have in the past.

The reason I feel it’s a problem is because; with our technology we have the ability to doctor up our videos and “create reality.” What I mean is we can make someone look like they’re behaving badly when in fact they aren’t.

This is scary. Imagine how this will affect our political campaigns. How do we prove whether or not a video has been doctored before the public sees it? We can’t. The video or post could go viral within a matter of hours before the victim can take steps to counteract this. In my opinion, it’s hard to recover from this type of sabotage. 

Needless to say, this type of situation can have life altering consequences.
What do you think about the role social media is playing in our society? Is it good or bad? I’d love to read your thoughts, so please leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.

This book opens in a small town in Michigan where fifteen-year-old Sarah Cole is stuck spending the summer at her Aunt and Uncle’s with her sister, Lacey. She’s not happy with the situation until she befriends a girl named Jackie. The three girls stumble upon the ruthless murder of a reclusive neighborhood woman. One of the officers investigating the crime believes the girls are responsible for her death. Fearing that this officer will frame them for the murder, the girls organize their own detective squad. They become the Super Spies and start their own fact-finding mission.  The Super Spies can’t understand why anyone would want to murder the “Cat Lady” until they start digging into her past and discover a horrible crime that happened thirty years ago. They uncover a connection between the two crimes and attempt to bring this information to the police, only to be reprimanded for meddling in the inquest. Not only are the girls upset by the admonition, but they also struggle with the fact that their exuberant investigating could provide a legal loophole allowing the killer to go free. To make matters worse, the police don’t even believe them. Frustrated by this turn of events, the Super Spies realize it’s up to them to snare the Cat Lady killer, or die trying…

This book opens in a small town in Michigan where Sarah and her sister Lacey are now living with their Aunt and Uncle. Still reeling from the fact her parents have disappeared, Sarah starts the school year with her new friend Jackie Jenkins. When Sarah learns the school has been bombed, she’s filled with dread. Uncle Walt is a teacher, and he was in the school when the bomb exploded. Taking matters into her own hands, Sarah decides to search for him. The rest of the Super Spies are right behind her. When a fireman chases them away from the school, Sarah becomes suspicious. She decides to investigate. The FBI arrives on the scene. Sarah realizes this bombing could have even bigger implications. Searching for the bombers, Sarah is introduced to the world of terrorism. She fears that the bombing and her parents’ disappearance are connected and terrorists are involved. To make matters worse, the bombers are determined to finish the job. Can the Super Spies find the bombers before it’s too late?

Sarah Cole and her sister Lacey are at it once again when their missing parents’ cell phone is traced to Alden, Michigan. When the FBI declines to continue the investigation, Sarah takes matters into her own hands. She calls upon the Super Spies and they delve into the situation. Suddenly the teens find themselves immersed in small town intrigue and mystery involving a menacing stranger, who Sarah dubs “The Stalker.” But when Sarah finds out he’s connected to her parents’ disappearance she’s determined to find out what that connection is. The Super Spies embark on a journey that leads them into a web of corporate corruption at its highest level that leaves innocent victims in its wake. Can the Super Spies stop the greedy corporation before it’s too late?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Inspiration in the Strangest Places

Like many writers, I find my inspiration in the oddest places. Every year when I hit the local Pride events I come back full of color, life and writing ideas. I'm not used to coming back from a visit to urgent care with a niggling idea in the back of my head, only to have it come flying forward during an impromptu visit to Florida.

I'm the first to admit I'm very spoiled by the men in my life. My husband spoils me rotten, as well as my BFF since forever.  I had a chance to fly down to Florida for a mini-vacation, courtesy of my BFF who has a time share there. While I was off gallivanting around Orlando, my husband stayed home and held down the fort.

Rather than hit DisneyWorld on a hot, steamy summer weekend, we opted instead for some more traditional Florida sites. One was an airboat ride through the swamps with Captain Kenny, a very fun, knowledgeable former Marine who really knew his birds. As we were zooming around the lake, looking for the giant snails that are ravaging the swamps, a variety of birds and some more momma alligators, I noticed a few eyes peering at me above the water.

Captain Kenny had explained how the alligators pull larger prey down into the water to soften it up to be able to pull the meat off. They swallow their meals whole and don't have the teeth for chewing. I knew that already but something about dragging their prey down started a series of story ideas for my Jess Barker series. Now I just have to figure out where/when to put this storyline.

As I mentioned, it started off with a trip to urgent care after I overworked my knee and ended up with an ultrasound and x-rays. That had started me down a path with Jess making a visit to an ER, but I wasn't exactly sure why she was there as she's the one that usually ends up hurt. Seeing the bull alligator's eyes just peeping above the waterline is what pulled the story out of hiding.

Funny how an alligator's eyes could get me to crank out 5,000+ words. Inspiration, it's a strange thing!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Where Does The Time Go?


by Patricia Kiyono

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here, and I’m really embarrassed about dropping the ball! For the first two years of our author rotation I posted on the first day of each month, without fail. And now I see it’s been three months since my last post!
A lot has happened since that last post, and the goals I set back then have not been met. I could blame it on family issues, and the resulting exhaustion. I could say that my health (lower back pain) has prevented me from completing the novel that should have been finished by May 30. But those would be excuses. Authors with far less time manage to write novels and get them submitted. People with much more serious health issues manage to do the chores that have been ignored in my house. So my excuses would be silly.
The truth is, I waste time. Lots of it. I don’t HAVE to play 15 games of Words With Friends at a time. I don’t HAVE to check Novelrank several times a day. And if the television (which is on for about 18 hours a day) distracts me, I CAN go to another room or put my headphones on. I need more discipline. I found I get a lot more done when I have a to-do list to start my day. If I write my list before I go to bed, I find I tackle it much sooner just so I can cross things off. I’ve read more than one article citing the advantage of doing this – apparently once it’s on paper, your mind lets go and you can sleep better. You can read one of the articles HERE.
So I’ve decided to use the To-Do List strategy for my writing. Before I shut down my laptop for the night, I’m making a list of the things I need to tackle in my manuscript. Specific things, like a scene in which my heroine realizes she’s in love with the hero. Or character profiles for my hero (I just realized I know a lot about the guy, but I don’t actually know what he looks like!). I’m hoping this will help me use my writing time more effectively. If not, I’ll let you know next month!