5 Steps to Internet (and IRL) Safety and Privacy for Writers

I’ve been a little MIA again and I am sorry for that. This summer has been interesting to say the least. This November I plan on getting back to a regular blogging (and writing) schedule, so please stay tuned.

In the meantime, I am reblogging a post from Carly Watters. In this age where the line between reality and digital is often blurred, one has to be alert and aware when networking online. These are good tips to keep in mind for your privacy while networking with social media.

Carly Watters, Literary Agent

There are many ways to think about internet safety, but with the fall publishing season book launches coming up I wanted to take the time to share my thoughts about staying safe when you’re used to interacting on the web. I consider safety physical or intellectual.

I definitely think everyone clearly knows how dangerous the web can be, but sometimes we all think we’re immune to it and take risks when we don’t know we’re doing so. It’s the thing that happens to *someone else* not us.

5 Steps to Internet (and IRL) Safety and Privacy for Writers:

Tweet or post when you’re leaving somewhere, not when you’re getting there. DM the people you’re meeting up with at the book launch instead of broadcasting it to the world. Instead of tweeting on the way to an event, why not tweet after you’ve gathered your thoughts and maybe taken a picture or…

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What is your #cherished object?

Last month, the #CHERISHED blogfest was born. This weekend, bloggers across the world are invited to share stories about one little item that they possess which brings them joy. My little cherished item is a turquoise charm that I bought one year while traveling extensively all over the US. During my travels, I became worn out and sick. A dear friend of mine, out of deep concern, suggested I carry a piece of turquoise while traveling. She, being one who believes that nature provides all we need to heal, indicated that the stone’s properties are for protection, healing, and grounding. All aspects that I needed in my life at the time.


Not owning any turquoise of my own, I stumbled across a little gem at the Baltimore airport during a long and unexpected layover. I was exhausted, cranky, and wanted nothing more than to just curl up in my own bed. As a distraction from my exhaustion, I decided to kill time by walking through one of those fancy jewelry stores that airports use to entice one to spend money… because one has nothing better to do while waiting for their connecting flight. Upon entering the store, I was immediately drawn to a little blue stone that seemed to emanate some kind of energy. A beacon that instantly drew me in.

I am usually not one to spend money on jewelry, but there was something about the blue of the turquoise that captivated me. Something inside my head said to splurge, and so I did.

As much as this necklace is a symbol of protection and health, as my dear friend Susan says it is intended to do, the stone actually means something more. I obtained this piece of turquoise in the midst of an eventful year traversing the US. And as such, this charm serves as a reminder. A reminder that there is a huge world out there, and I have only seen 15% of it. A reminder that I need to stop letting time pass by and achieve those dreams that I aspire to reach: Travel, publication, enjoying life to its fullest.

Everytime I look at this little blue charm I see our world, Earth, the planet that I yearn to explore and to write about.


Are you taking part in the Cherished Blogfest? If you are, this weekend (24-26 July) please post about your cherished object, and visit others on this LINKY LIST. Share on all social media with the hashtag  #CHERISHED. If you haven’t signed up yet, you still can. The linky list is open for two more days. What is an object you cherish? What sort of memories does it bring back? What does the object mean to you? Write about your #CHERISHED object in 500 words or less!

You Might Be a Writer If…

Great inspiration from the amazing Kristen Lamb. As a writer, I can relate to pretty much this entire post. How many of these “You might be a writer if…” traits apply to you?

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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A lot of “stuff” has been going on in my life lately. Hard stuff. Heavy stuff. The kind of stuff that just makes me want to write massacre scenes….except I am so brain dead I had to google how to spell “massacre.”

Masicker? Missucker?

WHAT AM I DOING???? *breaks down sobbing*

I am supposed to be an adult an expert okay, maybe functionally literate. Fine, I give up! I have nothing left to saaaaayyyyyy. I am all out of woooords *builds pillow fort*.

I figured it’s time for a bit of levity. Heck, I need a good laugh. How about you guys?

We writers are different *eye twitches* for sure, but the world would be SO boring without us. Am I the only person who watches Discovery ID and critiques the killers?

You are putting the body THERE? Do you just WANT to go to prison? Why did you STAB…

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Uncovering Literary Obessions

I never obsess over anything. Oh, um, I should probably rephrase that. My friends are rolling their eyes. OCD is something that I slightly suffer from. Some days it really causes havoc in my life. But this isn’t a post about my neurosis in making sure that when locking a door I check it three times. No, this is a post about an obsessions of things.

A minimalistic life is one that appeals to me. I can happily live the remainder of my life with what I have at this very moment in my apartment. I don’t have a lot and I don’t need a lot. So imagine my surprise that during my recent move, I uncovered something absolutely horrific about myself.

A few weeks ago, I moved into a new place. All boxes were packed by yours truly and about 85% of everything was carried with my very own hands (I am only so proud to state this because I spent the following week in utter pain). The first things to transition was kitchen stuff, then clothes, then cycling gear, and then random stuff from the basement.  At this point everything was gone but the furniture and 14 boxes. When I packed these specific boxes, I did not think there was really that many of them. It was just 14 boxes. And they only contained my most prized possessions, so this amount was not bad. However, when I went to lift the lightest box, and nearly snapped my back, it was then I realized I had a sickness–a secret obsession.

I am fatefully addicted to books. No! Cursed to be fatefully addicted to books.

They draw me in with their eye catching covers, earthy paper smell, and delicately inked pages. When I see a book, it whispers “pick me up… take me home”. There has never been a time when I’ve walked into a bookstore and walked out empty handed. It is a rare trip when only one book is purchased.

What a sickness. A heavy sickness (but I can’t give it up–I won’t give it up).

So to move these boxes, I had to break the 14 big boxes down into 20 smaller boxes, which I could still move on my own (but they were still dreadfully heavy).

I went through hell for my books and I would gladly do it again. I know I will do it again because I am a habitual mover. The only bad thing is that with each move, my obsession only hurts me more. The next move will be worse because there will be even more papery tomes to schlep to a new abode.

And before a single one of you asks–no, I will not switch fully to digital. Even if I move halfway across the world, my precious books will be at my side. There is something magical about cracking open the cover and smelling the pages. Inhaling the literature with your nose as well as your eyes. It’s addicting.

Now that I have admitted my obsession, there are four facts you should know:

  1. Don’t lend me a book. If I like it, you won’t get it back. If I hate it, I will probably still keep it and pawn it for a new book that I like.

  2. Don’t ever touch my books. Ever. Never Ever. I will break your hands and steal your fingernails.

  3. I have actually thrown away clothes on a trip to fit several newly purchased books into my carryon luggage.

  4. I have 4 boxes of books left to unpack and need to buy another bookshelf. Pictures of ‘Shrine 3’ are forthcoming.



Shrine 1 – An ode to horror and comics (and The Walking Dead)


Shrine 2 – My life long collection of literature



I Read Banned Books!

I must say, I’m addicted banned books.  Maybe it is because when I read one, it’s like giving the middle finger to all those who try to place restrictions on literature.  Banning books in schools is something that I never understood.  I’m privileged to have gone to a school district, where during my tenure, there were no literary restrictions.  While my school’s libraries were structured to conform to the reading and age level of students, I cannot recall any books within those levels ever being labeled as “banned”.

This was something that I took for granted.  In my naivety, I did not realize the gift that was bestowed in going to a school district that didn’t really ban books.  The first “adult” book that I ever read was Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton.  They day I discovered this book is forever burned in my memory.  My school district’s middle school was 6th through 8th grade, and on the first day of school in 1994, a lucky band of new 6th graders were having school orientation.  One of the first stops was the library.  As the librarian was giving us a tour of the vast shelves of books and card catalogues, I spied on a shelf a white paperback with the trademark T-rex skeleton silhouette.  Before I even read the title, I knew what the book was.  The breath caught in my throat.  Up until this point I had no clue that this specific book even existed.   The only knowledge I had of Crichton was that he helped write the screenplay to the Jurassic Park movie.  How could I not have known that he wrote a book that the movie was based upon? (note: this was an era before the Internet)  With pure euphoria, I snatched the book off the shelf, checked it out, and devoured it the moment I made it home that afternoon.

Thinking back on that time in middle school with this specific book, by the standards of what is considered a “banned book”, Jurassic Park should have been listed.  But at my school district it wasn’t.  As a 6th grader, I had full access to read it any time it was available.  It existed along with a plethora of other books that helicopter parents and censorship leaders normally deem as “demoralizing” and “disturbing”.i_read_banned_books_-_button_pin_badge_1_1_2_inch_46ca04c4

To this day, Jurassic Park is my most read book.  And honestly, the content, at least during the 90’s, was very mature: visceral slashing of Velociraptor claws across fleshy human abdomens, crunching of bodies by the mighty jaws of a T-rex, the processes of being eaten alive.  Even the “F-bomb” was thrown into some strands of dialogue here and there.  As a child of the 80’s and 90’s, we were not wholly privy to this kind of violence or language.  It existed, we were exposed to it in moderation, but not like today where it appears in every day commercials and TV shows.  Children today are much more desensitized to these things, and yet they are the one who are having literature stringently banned.

My senior year of high school, in regards to the literary world, was eye opening.  It was during that time that I realized the brevity of the “book banning” situation that was being more strictly introduced in school systems across the United States.  It disgusted me, especially as a girl who was on the cusp of adulthood.  To an extent, I do understand not wanting certain pieces of literature due to violence / language / sex to be available for certain age levels of children.  However, the idea of this type of literature from being inaccessible to older teenagers is, quite frankly, ludicrous.  These teenagers are about to become young adults and move on with their lives, away from controlling school systems.

I don’t give my school district a lot of credit, however, in regards to literature during my tenure, there was no better place to attend.  And truly it was due to the English department, more specifically my senior AP English teacher.  This was a woman born of books and literature coursed through her blood.  She loved the written word so much, that she was inspired to create and produce a High School musical production of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.   This is the teacher who gleefully gave us 1984, Brave New World, Catch 22, The Catcher in the Rye, Siddhartha, The Sound and the Fury to read and dissect without giving any regard to the content of the stories.  Sadly, these specific books rarely grace the halls of schools today as they are at the top of the banned list.  It is such a shame these stunning, inspirational, and poetic works are being withheld from students.

Earlier this week, in the LA Times,  I read an article “The most banned and challenged books of 2014“.  Needless to say, this article sent me spiraling into a rant that is today’s post.  After a few days of grumbling, spewing, and cursing, I have finally calmed myself enough to eloquently write about my dissatisfaction of banning literature.

This is the 21st century and by some unrelenting force, we are being pushed back to what seems to be a “Victorian” era.  Why, in this age of expansive knowledge and technology, are books being banned in public schools?  The specific books listed in that LA Times article absolutely floored me.  First off all of those books, when read at the appropriate age level, are perfectly acceptable.  There is not one thing in those books that cannot be found on television at any hour of the day.  Granted the comic book Saga has illustrations that are sexually explicit and should not be seen by anyone under 18.  I agree it is not “school” material.   However, that being said, listing a reason for Saga’s ban is due to “anti-family” values is extreme.  If the censors are going to make that claim, then remove every one of Shakespeare’s plays from school textbooks, because the context of Saga is purely Shakespearean with a sci-fi twist.  The relationship of Alana and Marco in Saga are, in a way, a futuristic Romeo and Juliet without the suicide (at least as of issue #23 there is no dual suicide.  I am a little behind in reading).  The family lifestyle of these two couples have many similarities, yet Romeo and Juliet is allowed in schools with its anti-family values (and double teenage suicides) while Saga has this category marked against it.  Also, just to add fuel to the fire, Shakespeare’s work is so laced with tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendos that it, to a point, out does any graphic sexual imagery in the Saga comic art.

This post isn’t meant to be a dissection on why certain literature is allowed and other literature is not, but merely a statement to ask “Where does the line get drawn?” if schools are going to continue this extreme banning of books.  In my opinion, there will never be a line.  More and more of these precious works will be banned for the most insignificant nuances because one parent is so upset that a book contains a lesbian or a Goddess or drug use or the word “damn” or someone farts.

Let’s stop this and stop it now.  Libraries in schools should be an area of freedom where any book, given the students age and reading level, is available for his or her reading pleasure.  Does it matter if the book contains magic or dinosaurs or homosexual parents or a single mom or an abducted teenager?  NO!  If you don’t want your child reading these kinds of books, then be a parent and tell your child what they are or are not allowed to read.  Other children should not have to suffer and have Harry Potter taken away from them because one child’s parents doesn’t want to see magical world of Hogwarts appear in their child’s school.


I once had a dream and wanted to be able to say that I had a publication that made the banned book list.  It would have been a badge of honor, but I am changing that tune.  It is not what I want anymore.  My new dream is to see the ban of books in schools eliminated.

I hope I never make a banned book list, because I no longer want the ban on books to exist.

Mark you calendars:  Banned Books Week is September 27- October 15, 2015.  Make sure you celebrate the freedom to read!