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3 INTERNET SAFETY TIPS FOR WRITERS

Posted by on Oct 8, 2014 in Blog, Featured, Writing Wednesday | 8 comments

Safety

October is NATIONAL CYBER SECURITY AWARENESS MONTH (NCSAM). It is a good time to take a look at how safe we are online. I conduct a lot of presentations for educators, parents and kids about online safety, as well as write about it here, and in books and articles. Today I wanted to share 3 important tips for authors.

CYBER SAFETY, ONLINE SAFETY, INTERNET SAFETY – these terms are used interchangeably. In the simplest terms, they mean to use caution and common sense for online protection.

The Internet, often referred to as the World Wide Web, is a vast computer network linking smaller computer networks worldwide. And every time we access it we are traveling the same highways as millions of other information seekers, communicators and, yes, disreputable vagabonds.

As authors we spend countless hours on the net – researching, writing, and communicating – opening ourselves up to more than great reviews. Our data is up for grabs on our on blogs and websites, publisher web pages, Google, as well as various social media sites. Some of us are constantly wired via laptops, mobile phones, tablets and social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. And while we want to be connected to our fan base, editors and agents, we can be potential targets of hackers, stalkers and viruses.

 

research

 

 

Therefore it is important for us to use caution and security measures while using digital media and information technology. Because the Internet is not regulated or controlled by any one entity, it is necessary for us to exercise caution when interacting with the public domain.

We all know not to give out personal information, open emails or attachments from people we don’t know, or send “crazy” pictures. And to back up our work using a service such as Dropbox or iCloud, and/or flash/jump drives and/or external hard drives.

 

dropbox - cloud

 

But 3 things that are equally (possibly more) important for our protection are the following:

 

  • VACATE VIRUSES

 

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As writers, we are constantly subject to computer viruses which can make their way onto computers, tablets, or smartphones simply by checking e-mail, surfing the web, or by putting jump drive into your laptop. A computer virus is a program or piece of code that is loaded without your knowledge and infects files, programs, and systems. It can spread throughout your world and, through files that you share, and/or email that you send, infect others.

For example, a Trojan is a computer virus that is designed as something that it is not. It may be sent through an email attachment or instant message. It is often something that appeals to you. Hackers troll the web – looking for you and trying to match up what might interest you and send you that very special email promising to rock your world. It seems legit – but is not. It is a non-self-replicating type of malware program which, like the Trojan horses of ancient Troy, is meant to trick you. It has a malicious code imbedded into a link which, when clicked, prompts you into giving out personal information, and/or giving a professional hacker entry into your computer, or Smartphone.

The best method of protection is to install ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE, which scans for viruses and malware by examining the files on your system for patterns of data identified as viruses. These programs have databases of known viruses throughout the world and will offer protection to you and your work. Most programs will update periodically (some automatically) as new viruses are revealed. (See Resources below)

  • SECURE SITES

 

spyware

 

 

While it is extremely important to install anti-virus programs, it is now also equally important to secure your own web site, and to ensure that sites you visit and/or make purchases from, are secure. For example, you don’t want to access financially sensitive information, such as your bank or PayPal account, on an unencrypted/unprotected network. Cyber criminals and hackers who are trolling the Internet looking for ways to steal from you, can easily intercept user names and passwords, with their own computers, Smartphones and tablets. They will install spyware on your system which will operate in your browser and allow the offender to track your movements online and record the very keys you press when you travel to sites and enter your passwords.

A secure website ensures that your information is traveling on a secure connection and is not accessible by anyone else. To know that you have entered a secure website, look for the “https://” at the beginning of the URL. This is not the standard “http://” found with most URLs. Also look for the “locked” icon on the bottom of your browser.

A secure site will offer Web Browsing Protection, Protection against Phishing Scams, Parental Control (if you need it), and Increased Security When Shopping Online

You can also install ANTI-SPYWARE programs, which will monitor your system as you use it for spyware-related activity. These programs have FIREWALLS to prevent malware from reaching devices through your network, averting attempts of intruders to connect and/or infiltrate your system without your knowledge.

 

  • PASSWORD PROTECT

 

Password

 

 

What author doesn’t appreciate a secret identity? Or two? Or three? We even have, in  some cases, pseudonyms to protect our innocence. That is exactly what passwords are designed to do – protect us! How do you choose your passwords? Birthdates? Children’s names? High school? Address? Or a combination of the above? Back in the early days of the Information Superhighway, simple, easy to recall passwords might have been passable. But in today’s dangerous hacker-hijacking-highway, the more complex your password is, the stronger it stands and the less likely even a determined bot (web robot) will be able to crack it.

The strongest passwords have little to do with your birthday, pets, kids, college mascots and day you met your mate. In today’s “Google It” world, hackers can learn too many things about you to hook up various combinations (using numerous programs) to find that special word. In fact, many experts now recommend using not just a single word, but a phrase – unique to only you (not easily discerned in your bio). Whether you use a word or phrase, mix it up. Numbers, upper and lower case letters and special symbols. For example:

Wh^&it29405***

And yes, WRITE IT DOWN somewhere!!! I have several combos I use for different things. And I keep them in a safe (very) place. It is also advisable in today’s heavily hacked world to change them frequently – especially the ones that are connected to your money, your family, your work. Many hackers cull passwords (just read the news) in large quantities, sell them, and keep them for use at a later date – when the heat is off!

You can even use a PASSWORD MANAGER to keep track of all of your passwords. These software programs encrypt your data and store them on their server, or on your computer or Smartphone. You then have to memorize just one “super password” for access to all of the rest of your passwords.

 

I hope you all have a safe and secure Cyber Month and Year!

 

RESOURCES:

The Top 10 Antivirus Software of 2014

The Best Password Managers

National Cyber Security Alliance – Stay Safe Online

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (ICE3)

 

 

Secure Web Site

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THE VALUE OF A WRITERS’ CONFERENCE

Posted by on Aug 20, 2014 in Featured, On Writing, Uncategorized | 2 comments

 

What’s a “Writers’ Conference”, anyway?

Writers Conference

 

A Writers’ Conference can be a mixture of break-out sessions and programs, insights and intensives, and social and networking opportunities.

The conference faculty will be replete with experts in the fields of writing and illustrating, editing and publishing, and author representation.

When researching and registering for a conference, keep in mind the elements that fit your current needs as a writer. Choose the conference that best addresses where you are, where you want to go, what you need to learn and how you can accomplish your goals.

WC #2

Among the many benefits of attending a Writers’ Conference are chances to:

 

LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS ABOUT THE PUBLISHING PROCESS

How does the publishing industry work? Who decides what gets published, where and how books are placed, what makes it to the front of a bookstore? Who designs the covers? How do authors get blurbs and reviews? What are the latest trends? 

HONE YOUR CRAFT

Intensive Programs – in-depth hands-on workshops of interest that explore, examine, and educate the participant in specific content areas. They concentrate on deepening the craft for the committed writer

Break-out Sessions – targeted sessionson craft and creative process, knowledge and/or insight into the publishing industry, social media, networking, marketing and promotion

Critique sessions – one on one with an agent, editor or author who reviews your work and offers insight, feedback and/or and recommendations for improvement  

FIND REPRESENTATION

Finding new writers are among the reasons thatagents and editors attend conferences. Attending a conference is a great chance to get a face to face moment with one of them. You should be prepared to tell them about your book. The best way to do this is to develop a perfect pitch – the“shortest summary of story that captures the core emotional conflict of a story”.  Have your pitch memorized for those convenient and appropriate times to deliver. Sign up for a Pitch Session if available. Your pitch is your job interview.

Business cards/Illustrator Postcards – a professional representation of who you are to exchange with authors, editors and agents

Synopsis – one page describing your narrative arc, introducing your main character(s), revealing your inciting incident, compelling core conflict and the major plot twists and turning points, divulging the stakes, describing the emotional upheaval, climax, resolution and the change that will take place (Have one in case someone asks for it.)

Manuscript – your work in progress, written in proper format, edited and revised (Have one in case someone asks for it.)

NETWORK WITH INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS

Connect with industry insiders and fellow authors at informal social gatherings, autograph parties, luncheons, open mics, and red-eyes to exchange ideas, numbers, emails and form writing partnerships.

WC #4

 

5 TIPS ON ATTENDING A WRITERS CONFERENCE:

      1. Come prepared with an iPad, laptop, or note pad
      2. Practice good etiquette andobservesocial media rules
      3. Be Professional andmakea good first impression
      4. Respect Agents, Editors & Speakers and their privacy
      5. Follow-up with a “Thank You!”

And, most of all, have a great time!

I hope to see you at my next conference:

 

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Click here to register.

 

 

 

 

 

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HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY, FALLEN PREY!

Posted by on Nov 7, 2013 in Blog, Featured | 1 comment

TODAY – The mystery continues!

 

FP Front 11.1.13

Twelve-year-old Junior Special Agent Sean Gray is in a race against time. Could there be a connection between his testimony in the trial of an international child kidnapping ring and his mysterious accident?

While the sheriff’s department and the FBI are investigating, his new friend, Gabby, gets caught in the web of an online predator and disappears. She’s been missing for more than 48 hours, and the authorities have not been able to find her.

Sean goes undercover to bait the mysterious hunter. But when he becomes the prey, how will he rescue her?

Enter to win in the FALLEN PREY BOOK GIVEAWAYa Rafflecopter giveaway

Click to read Chapter One of FALLEN PREY!

Purchase is not necessary to enter, BUT, when you order FALLEN PREY either online or at your favorite
local bookseller and send me the picture, your name is entered TEN TIMES forevery copy you purchase.

Check it out:

You can buy FALLEN PREY at Amazon!

You can buy FALLEN PREY at Peak City Publishing!

Soon to be available at all major bookstores!

Don’t forget:

You can buy HIDING CARLY at Amazon!

You can buy HIDING CARLY at Barnes & Noble!

You can buy HIDING CARLY at Indie!

You can buy HIDING CARLY at Books A Million!

You can buy HIDING CARLY at Peak City Publishing!

The FALLEN PREY contest runs from 12 Midnight on November 7 through December 7 at 11:59 PM. You have a chance to win signed copies of HIDING CARLY and FALLEN PREY.

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My Blog Tour Stop

Posted by on Oct 7, 2013 in Blog, Featured | 7 comments

I want to thank the very talented Sandra Warren, for inviting me along on this Blog Tour.
Sandra has a wonderful web site and blog, The Grateful Writer. Please stop by and read all about Sandra and her work.

Here’s what Sandra wanted to know about me and my work:

SW – What are you working on now?

AE – I am currently working closely with my publisher on the final launch preparations for the second book in the Sean Gray Junior Special Agent Mystery series, Fallen Prey. The release is scheduled for November 7, 2013.

 

Fallen Prey Web Cover 2

Twelve-year-old Junior Special Agent Sean Gray is in a race against time. Could there be a connection between his testimony in the trial of an international child kidnapping ring and his mysterious accident?

While the sheriff’s department and the FBI are investigating, his new friend, Gabby, gets caught in the web of an online predator and disappears. She’s been missing for more than 48 hours, and the authorities have not been able to find her.

Sean goes undercover to bait the mysterious hunter. But when he becomes the prey, how will he rescue her?

 

Sean was first introduced in Hiding Carly, book one of the series.

 

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Eleven year old Sean is in search of the truth. Someone murdered his father, Special Agent Max Gray, and the FBI has officially closed the case. Now it is up to him to find out who was to blame.

While investigating online, Sean stumbles upon a mysterious connection between his father and that new girl in his class. Now he has two puzzles to solve.  What really happened to his dad and what does Carly have to do with it?

In the face of danger, Sean sets aside his fear and finds the courage, compassion, and conviction to “follow the evidence.”

 

And, yes, the third and final book in the series is well underway! At least Sean is plotting and planning in my head! Untitled, the final installment, is already filled with twists, turns and tumbles. And the ending (yes, I do know how it ends) is a Sean Gray surprise!

SW – How does this book differ from other works in its genre? 

AE – The series itself differs primarily in that there are absolutely no zombies or vampires! Seriously, it centers on a young boy who helps to solve crimes and mysteries using the things he has learned from the FBI Junior Special Agent Program. I got the idea for Hiding Carly while mentoring a fifth grade student who was participating in the program. The FBI Agent that I interviewed for Hiding Carly, Special Agent Bill Malinowski, as well as others at the agency really liked the book. They suggested I write a series.

Malinowski said, “I believe any time you can reach out to young people and impress on them that doing what is right outweighs peer pressure, then we need to make efforts toward that end. The FBI’s Junior Special Agent – sometimes referred to as “Junior G-men” – Program does just that. After personally coordinating the program, I saw such positive changes in many of our youth.”

Though the books contain some universal themes, such as friendship, bullying, family, and separation and loss, they also deal with murder, kidnapping, and internet crime. These are things that affect kids today across the nation and the world. The Sean Gray Junior Special Agent Mystery series features events that strike at the core of children’s issues.

As Joseph Bowman stated in his review, Something New is “Elementary, My Dear Watson”:

 

From murder and disease to kidnapping and betrayal, Hiding Carly holds onto a tradition of dark content in children’s mystery novels – Nancy Drew, The Box Car Children and Sally Lockhart were all orphans – but it approaches the story in a way rarely embraced by children’s authors. Eisenstein chooses not to pursue the rain coat and magnifying glass, looking for footprints in the rain approach that is seen so often; instead, she focuses the narrative around the everyday crises and uncertainties faced by children poised before puberty.

The complications of losing a father, the confusion of watching a loved one slip into mental decline, a first crush, a bully, all of these take the main stage for the first two thirds of the story while the mysteries of Carly and of Sean’s father more so bubble to the surface. That bubble, though, proves indicative of something worth waiting for as the conclusion takes more twists and turns than is typical for this genre.

 

SW – Why do you write what you do? 

AE – I wish that I had some magical explanation that would dazzle and amaze. Truth is I just write the story that is in me. Most of what I write stems from my persona as an author, an educator and a psychologist. Though I didn’t start out writing for children, it has been the most natural beginning. My fiction works-in-progress encompass all genres, including picture books, middle grade, young adult and adult. I also write nonfiction and screenplays.

SW – How does your writing process work? 

Wow…let’s see. I have an overactive imagination. I pay attention to inspiration. I get an idea – or two – or three. Poof! Magic! Not really. I do add those three things together and often the character, or characters, enter the picture first. They usually bring some sort of agenda with them. Often resulting in conflict. Yea! As a teacher, I could do without the conflict. As a psychologist, I really need it to begin – but hope it’s not too troubling. As an author – bring it on! Once I have the start of story, I tend to research – a lot! I am concentrating on realistic, contemporary fiction right now, so it is important that my facts are – well – factual. As the story unfolds, I begin to plot and storyboard. I like the plan of it, the road map. My characters usually take some twists and turns that I didn’t count on, but that’s okay. I just move the scenes around or throw them out and add more. It’s a big giant jigsaw puzzle on my wall. And I love puzzles!

 

Next Monday, October 14, 2013, this Blog Tour train will stop at the pages of the following fabulous, imaginative, and gifted children’s writers:

Donna Welch Earnhardt

Holly Hughes 

Suzanne Warr

 

Please click on their links and climb aboard to discover new and fascinating things about these talented authors and what they write.

 

In the mean time, Happy Trails to you until we meet again!

 

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THE 2013 LIEBSTER AWARD

Posted by on Oct 3, 2013 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

I am still reeling from the wonderful 21st ANNUAL SCBWI-CAROLINAS FALL CONFERENCE in Charlotte, NC, last week-end. (And yes, I know that was days ago – but it was that good!!)

 

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Prior to the conference, I was nominated for THE LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD by the very talented Becky Shillington.

 

Liebster logo

 

 

According to my research on THE LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD, it is given to “up and coming bloggers.” (With followers numbering from less than 200 to 3000 – that part was hard to decipher!) Bottom line is “Liebster” is German for “favorite”. This award is the “favorite blog award”. I am honored! Thank you, Becky!

The rules for this award state that you must answer the questions asked of you by the Blogger who gave you this award.

So, I am humbled and appreciative to be answering Becky’s questions of me.  Here they are:

 

BS: When did you first know you’d like to be a writer (or illustrator)?

AE: I really cannot remember – but I have been writing since I was 3, recognizably, since I was 6!

BS: If you could meet any author, living or deceased, who would it be?

AE: J.D. Salinger

BS: Coffee or tea?

AE: Coffee!

BS: What item is #1 on your “Bucket List?”

AE: Finishing Book 3 in the Sean Gray, Junior Special Agent Mystery Series

BS: What topic do you think is most overdone in the kidlit market today?

AE: Zombie eating vampires!

BS: What is the best book you’ve read in the last six months?

AE: WonderFracture

BS: Are you an early bird or a night owl?

AE: Yes!

BS: What is your favorite opening line from a book?

AE: No way can I choose just one – but since this one is so fresh: “The first time I died, I didn’t see God.” (Fracture)

BS: Do you write better in silence or with background noise? (If you chose background noise, then what kind?)

AE: Most of the time silence is best. Sometimes I listen to environmental soundtracks – like “Thunderstorm”.

BS: What book has had the most profound effect upon your writing style?

AE: Again – how can I choose? I guess I can say that the book that spoke these words to me: “You can be a writer, too” would be Catcher in the Rye

 

Thank you, Becky, for your nomination of my blog! Now for my (DRUM ROLL) list of up an coming BLOGGERS:

 

Derick Wilder

Sabrina Campbell Colvin

Annamaria Mckoy 

Laura Colvin 

Maria Nolletti Ross 

 

This is your mission, if you choose to accept:  Link back to the blogger that tagged you. Nominate 5-10 others and answer the questions of the one who tagged you (mine are below). Then ask 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate, as well as letting your nominees know of their award. Oh, yeah—and have fun!

 

Having Fun

Here are my questions:

 

  1.  If you were on death row, what would be your “Last Meal” menu?
  2.  What is your greatest fear?
  3.  If you could return to age 20 again, what would you do differently for your future?
  4.  What is your favorite time of year and why?
  5.  If you could relive any year of your life – which one would it be and why?
  6.  What is the one word your friends would use to describe you?
  7.  What is your all-time favorite book? (Bible and cookbooks do not count)
  8.  What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
  9.  Dogs or cats?
  10. Mountains or Ocean?

 

Bonus question:

What would be the title song of your life?

 

Please give their blogs a raving review!

 

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TIPS FOR INTERNET SAFETY

Posted by on Sep 23, 2013 in Blog, Featured | 7 comments

Caution

 

Statistics show that 95% of teens (ages 12-17) are users of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumbler, Google+, and Pinterest.  In addition they text,  instant message, email, and often frequent chat rooms.

 

Teen Social Networks

 

Internet communication has become a major part of their daily lives. Most of the time, these tools are valuable, harmless and used to communicate with people that kids know in the “real world”.

 

Texting

 

Occasionally, however, there might be times when kids use these tools to meet new friends. Over half of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 communicate daily with someone that they do not know in the “real world”. Because anonymity is a key component in this type of communication, it puts them at risk. The person on the other side of that conversation can be posing as someone other than who they say they are. This false identity can hide the true identity of an online predator.

 

Predator

 

These online hunters seek out young people through social media. They troll social networking and online gaming sites. They look for kids who are emotionally vulnerable and impressionable. They form relationships, build trust, and develop intimacy with these kids. Then they seduce them through affection, kindness, flattery, and/or gifts. Gradually, they may introduce sexual content.

 

Chat

 

One in five teens report unwanted sexual solicitation via online predators. And yet, one third of all teenagers who communicate with these online strangers arrange to meet that person offline.

 

Who's She Talking To

 

Every year, millions of children fall prey to online sexual predators. In 100% of those cases, teens that are the victims of sexual predators have gone willingly to meet with them.

 

You Should See

 

What can you do?

 

  • Teach your children how to use the Internet safely. Talk to them about the sites that they can use, the ones that you want them to stay away from, and why. Bookmark the ones that you want them to use and put them in a folder with their name on it for easy access.
  • Talk to them about social networking sites. Again, the ones that they can and cannot use and why. Ask them to report to you immediately if they are contacted by someone that they do not know, or someone who says anything inappropriate to them via post, text, or message.
  • Teach them about privacy and protecting their identity and the identities and activities of other family members. Tell them to never give out personal information, such as name, address, phone number, school, etc.
  • Tell them to not upload their own or any family photos or videos.
  • Tell them to never download photos, videos, or links form people that they do not know.

 

it's okay

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

 

TEN TIPS FOR INTERNET SAFETY

***Watch for the FALLEN PREY, A SEAN GRAY JUNIOR SPECIAL AGENT MYSTERY cover
reveal on the SEAN GRAY, JSA’s Facebook page!***

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RESOURCES:

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Safe Online Surfing

NetSmartz

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) CyberTipline

National Crime Prevention Council

Enough is Enough

Wired Safety

SafeKids.com

 

 

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