Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Open Door

I'm often struck by the idea of privacy, and its frequent absence in our constantly media connected world. It's an underlying theme in my novel Perception, and lately I've had the opportunity to question some real life issues with our expectations of privacy.

Last year a law passed in the state of Florida that prohibits educators from discouraging a parent from bringing an outside party to an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meeting for his or her child. I won't unpack all the particulars, and this isn't a post about our education system in the US or our services for people with disabilities. Of course parents should be able to bring advocates to meetings. But that protection also extends to the media. If a parent chooses, she can bring the local news team, have them record the meeting, and broadcast it publicly. And the educator can't show an emotion that could be construed as discouraging.  

You may ask, "If the educators don't have anything to hide, why would they care?" My concern isn't with the educators or the parents, but for the child.

I post photos of my kids on Facebook, and I've even put a few on my blog. At some point, they may not appreciate that, and there's not anything I can do to take it back. When they're teens, molding their own Internet-public images with pictures, videos, and words, they'll have to live with the consequences of how they choose to represent themselves. Because if they act publicly, and someone else shares their information, there's nothing they can do to take that back, either.

In the past two days, five people I encountered in real life said to me, "I saw Son #2's [insert photo-worthy accomplishment]! That's great, tell him congratulations." I didn't post this information to the Internet, and neither did my husband. I didn't even get a notification through social media that I had been tagged in said event and photo album. It's a great thing, and I'm proud of him. I'm not remotely bothered that my friend chose to share this information. But what if it had been something I didn't want public? Or something he didn't?

Future employers and friends may be able to see with one click a full biography of my kids' lives, not of their making. Big Data scares me worse than Skynet.

While I was picking up my kids from school yesterday, I watched an adult yell animatedly at the child in her care. (I was in the car with my windows closed, so I did not hear what she said.) I wondered if I pulled out my phone, videoed the exchange, and showed it to her, how she would feel. Would she be proud of words and actions? Would I have been in my rights to take that video and upload it, as an example what a screaming parent looks like? And how would it affect the child, to have that moment immortalized?

Should children have a right to an expectation of privacy? For my hypothetical child with an IEP, should a parent have the right to expose her child's disability and the comments made by a team of people about her, to the world via the local news, even if her intention was to fight for that child's rights?

Like a friend of mine says weekly, I'm glad All the Things--Internet, Mobile Phones, etc.--weren't around in this capacity when we were teenagers.

Music for today: Every Breath You Take by The Police

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Manuscript Music

This week the lovely Leatrice McKinney at Info Dump a la El is hosting Pitch Slam: Battle of the Bands!  In addition to pitching novels, each day this week we're rocking Pitch Slam Twitter Parties. Today we're sharing our writing playlists. 

My YA novel PERCEPTION is about a boy with a rare liver disorder who spends one wild night trying to forget his disease and exposes disturbing new neurological symptoms instead. Grounded, wanted by experimenting doctors and government informants, and falling for the girl who snitched on him, he faces treatment as a lab rat or freedom while sacrificing recovery. 

Here are some of the songs on my Perception Playlist!  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a blog hop created and hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk to connect and encourage writers. Please visit their blogs to join in the fun!
Click here to buy it locally through Indie Bound

This week I'm reading Cherry Money Baby by author and agent extraordinaire John M. Cusick. I'm really enjoying Cherry's distinctive voice and the authentic family relationships.


I'm 5,000 words in to the shiny, new WIP! It's taking more research than I'd expected, which has kept me from moving as quickly as I'd like. But my main character--this girl is something else. I just hope I can keep up with her. I'm even more crazy about her than I was when I started with my last MC. My goal is to have the first draft finished before my boys are out of school for the summer, and for now that seems feasible.


My friend and critique partner Angelica R. Jackson has amazing news! Her book Crow's Rest sold to Spencer Hill Press, with a release date of May 15, 2015. I can't wait for this book to make it out into the world, and I am so happy for her. Seeing her take this next step on her journey inspires me to keep up my own persistence and writing fortitude. Congratulations, Angelica!

And on another front of CP news... Since I started writing seriously, I've been looking for a local critique group. I have many amazing critique partners, including Angelica, who I've met at conferences and through the Internet. But we're spread out across the country. I'm greedy, I know, but I want more. I want more CPs and betas, with an in-person perspective. The existing writing groups in Jacksonville mostly focus on adult books, so through the SCBWI, I'm starting a local children's book critique group. We're still in the planning stages, but I'm so excited about what's to come.


It's been far too long since I went to a concert, and that will be remedied tomorrow night. Local Natives are playing here on Thursday. I've been counting down the days. They have a soulful, indie style with beautiful lyrics. Here's an example of the images they create, from the song Heavy Feet:

Powder in your hair
Staples in your jeans
Fireworks in the water
You were holding
A styrofoam cup
Held between your teeth
Telling me how you're going to outlive your body

You can check out their latest album Hummingbird here.

I can't wait to see what the rest of you are up to this week!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What's Up Wednesday

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. Please check out their blogs to join in the fun!

What I'm Reading

A few years overdue, I just finished Maggie Stiefvater's Forever. I've said it before, but Stiefvater is an amazing writer. She has a talent for fleshing out characters and writing multi-sensory descriptions. But the highlight of this trilogy is the love story between Sam and Grace. I'm glad I finally crossed the ending to this series off my TBR list.

What I'm Writing

This week I'm polishing my query, short pitches, synopsis, and the opening chapters of my YA novel Perception. This whole process should have me anxious and nervous, but I'm actually just excited to get it out there and start work on my next project. These new characters won't quit bugging me, and I'm ready to meet them on the page.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Speaking of those pesky new characters--on Monday I met with a lawyer friend to discuss a multitude of family law topics for research on my new manuscript. I didn't want to hinge my plot on legal situations that weren't plausible, and as it turns out, I have several different avenues to explore with my main gal. I am so ready to find out where she'll go, and how she'll get herself out of sticky situations!

What Else I've Been Up To

This weekend my nephew got married. My husband and my youngest son were both in the wedding, and it was beautiful. The bride is a wedding and event planner, so you can imagine just how spectacular it was. I was so grateful for the time to be together as a family, celebrating. But I also left with a secret emotion simmering below the surface. Weddings used to fill me with joy and hope for the future, but this time....I felt a little sad.

I'm hopeful and happy for the newlyweds, but I can't help thinking about how time seems to speed up when we get older. My niece's children are the young and wiggly kind who can't sit still in church. Her husband asked, sarcastically, if I missed having children that age. I'm glad mine are older now, but I felt sad because that time of angelic faces and delightful squeals just doesn't last, and I'll never experience it as a parent again.

My sister-in-law has one in college and a junior in high school. The older one? She was the flower girl at my wedding. I'm happy and excited for both kids as they make that transition into adulthood, with all of the promise it holds. But they remind me that if I blink, my sons will be in those same places, and these days of loving Harry Potter and building Lego sets will vanish like the unpredictable smiles and wonder of the little ones.

Okay, okay, enough melancholy for one day. Back to the polishing trenches! I look forward to seeing what you fellow blog-hoppers have been up to!

Music for today: Wake Up by Arcade Fire