Posted in Family, Parenting, raising kids

The Dark Side of Social Media

Photo credit: the UMF via Visual hunt / CC BY

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about the dark side of Social Media. Now don’t get me wrong, I love being able to stay connected to all my friends and colleagues. It’s great to be able to chat with someone I haven’t seen in years. Social Media is an amazing tool.

I’ve used it when I’m researching information for my stories. I contact people who are experts in their fields and pick their brains. That way, I know what I’m adding to my story is accurate. It makes my story more authentic. Please understand, the people I contact, I’ve already established a relationship with them. I just don’t follow them or add them as a friend and then start bombarding them with questions. 🙂

This is an incredible way to get information, and I can see my kids using social media to do research for papers when they get older, but there’s a dark side to the internet as well.

Not everything on social media is as it seems, and we must teach our littles the difference. First of all, social media is the image someone wants to project. People usually post only about the positive things in their lives. This is okay, no one wants to hang with a Negative Nancy, but it’s only half the picture. Everyone experiences happiness and struggles. We need to remind our kids about that so they don’t get caught up in the world where likes and follows become more important than real relationships.

Photo credit: Kris Olin via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

          It’s sad to say, but it goes even deeper. Teens are using social media to hook up. That means to get together and have sex. They send out a tweet or a post asking if anyone wants to hook up. If someone responds in the affirmative, they make the arrangements. They’re even sending naked photos of themselves via the internet.  Isn’t that scary? In my opinion, social media hinders our ability to connect emotionally as human beings.

Photo credit: Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig, Hiking.org via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

          We need to be cognizant of this trend and turn it around because if we don’t, our kids may never learn to make that emotional connection. We don’t want to lose that because it would mean we’re losing a big part of what makes us human, wouldn’t you agree?

A friend recommended this book to me and I’ve just started it, but it inspired this blog post. I believe it’s important for every parent to read, to understand the climate our kids are trying to navigate today. The cover and blurb are below.

American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers by [Sales, Nancy Jo]

Instagram. Whisper. Yik Yak. YouTube. Kik. Ask.fm. Tinder. The dominant force in the lives of girls coming of age in America today is social media. What it is doing to an entire generation of young women is the subject of award-winning Vanity Fair writer Nancy Jo Sales’s riveting and explosive American Girls.

With extraordinary intimacy and precision, Sales captures what it feels like to be a girl in America today. From Montclair to Manhattan and Los Angeles, from Florida and Arizona to Texas and Kentucky, Sales crisscrossed the country, speaking to more than two hundred girls, ages thirteen to nineteen, and documenting a massive change in the way girls are growing up, a phenomenon that transcends race, geography, and household income. American Girls provides a disturbing portrait of the end of childhood as we know it and of the inexorable and ubiquitous experience of a new kind of adolescence—one dominated by new social and sexual norms, where a girl’s first crushes and experiences of longing and romance occur in an accelerated electronic environment; where issues of identity and self-esteem are magnified and transformed by social platforms that provide instantaneous judgment. What does it mean to be a girl in America in 2016? It means coming of age online in a hypersexualized culture that has normalized extreme behavior, from pornography to the casual exchange of nude photographs; a culture rife with a virulent new strain of sexism and a sometimes self-undermining notion of feminist empowerment; a culture in which teenagers are spending so much time on technology and social media that they are not developing basic communication skills. From beauty gurus to slut-shaming to a disconcerting trend of exhibitionism, Nancy Jo Sales provides a shocking window into the troubling world of today’s teenage girls. 

Provocative and urgent, Ameran Girls is destined to ignite a much-needed conversation about how we can help our daughters and sons negotiate unprecedented new challenges.

Like I said, I just started reading it so I’m sure I’ll have much more to say on the topic at a later date. 🙂 So stay tuned, there’s more to come!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! I appreciate it! What do you think? Do you think Social Media has a dark side, or is it all sunshine and unicorns? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Writing

Research: It gives your story Authenticity

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m making some major changes on one of my stories. You know the WIP I said was done? Yeah, well I had a major epiphany and I’m changing it. I want it to be that good. So, I’m hoping it doesn’t take me a long time to put it all back together, but we shall see. I have a good feeling about this story. So wish me luck, okay?

 Photo credit: Anton Vakulenko via Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

We’re getting a lot of snow today so I’m crossing my fingers for a snow day tomorrow because then I’ll get a lot of writing done.  I don’t know about you but the holidays wreak havoc on my schedule. I just can’t seem to maintain a routine. Part of it is because my kids’ lives get busier with Christmas concerts and parties, but another reason is because there’s always some surprise event that we have to prepare for or something along those lines.

Photo credit: me’nthedogs via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

But enough about me. 🙂 I thought today I would talk about something that’s very important when writing your story and that is research.

Photo credit: Melinda Stuart via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Research? Why is that important? I’m so glad you asked. The reason is because good research makes your story authentic. I know what you’re thinking. It’s fiction. I can create my story any way I want to. Yes and No.  Authenticity is important even in fiction. If your story isn’t believable, you’re going to lose your reader.

So let’s say you’re writing a story about a man who climbed the Canadian Alps. To start your research you could use the internet or Wikipedia and you’d find a great deal of superficial information. To give your story authenticity you’d want to talk to someone who’s actually climbed them. They could give you  blow by blow details of their experience because they actually did it. See how much better your story will be?

Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images via Visualhunt.com / No known copyright restrictions

Let’s say you’re writing a story about a murder and you have to make sure you get the police procedures correct. That’s when you need to call in the professionals. I have a contact at the State Police Post and I call her whenever I have a procedural question. She always sets the story straight for me.

If I’m dealing with an emotional response to a trauma, I speak with a number of psychologists I know who provide the ground work for the victim’s emotional reaction. Again, see how much more authentic my story will be?

So when you start out on this incredible journey to write that awesome story, remember to put together your research team. There are many people who are willing to help you if you just ask. Establish relationships with those people, they’ll keep your story authentic. Trust me. 🙂

Social Media has made it much easier to establish contacts with professionals in many different fields. It is an incredible tool for writers. Have you heard this is one of the best times to be a writer? It’s true. We can make connections so much faster and easier than we used to.  Our stories will be so much better because we invested time and energy in the research. It’s true.

Photo via FirmBee via Visual Hunt

 

What are your thoughts on research? Have any great sources I haven’t thought of? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Guest Author, Writing

My Research Trip: Guest Post by Wendy May Andrews

Hello everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’ve got an awesome guest for you today. Her name is Wendy May Andrews and she’s going to tell us about the recent trip she took to do research. Did you know that you can write a trip off on your taxes if you’re doing it for research? I just thought I’d pass that little nugget along to you. 😉

Anyway. Take it away Wendy!

Research

I write historically accurate fiction so a great deal of research is required for my books. So far everything I have written has been set in Regency era England which I love, so the research is a pleasure. But in order to give the writing a sense of authenticity, accurate descriptions are required, as well as a proper understanding of how life was back in 1800. So in the name of research I recently traveled to England. It was AMAZING!! I loved every second of our trip! We had been to London before and I did a little bit of research while we were there, but it was several years ago, when I was still a newbie writer, and I wasn’t as aware of what I was looking for.

Bridge in Bath (1)

 

This time we went to Brighton, Marlborough, Bath, Chipping Campden, Oxford, and London. Wow! The gorgeous things we’ve seen! And England is really quite set up for research. We spent a lovely morning at a History Centre for two particular counties (I was specifically looking for information about Marlborough, but they had way more!). They had microfiche newspapers from the 1700’s, they even had receipts for rents paid to a Marquis who owned half the town of Marlborough! And maps! Such lovely, detailed maps from different years so you could compare how the town had developed. We could have spent days there but while my husband was very helpful and understanding, I think a few hours was all he could handle 🙂

 

Bath was the main destination for our trip because it was such a popular place in the Georgian period. I’m so glad I got to see it with my own eyes. You can find out so much on the internet, even look at pictures, but to see for yourself how big or small things were, distances, dimensions, etc, you really need to see it for yourself. I even drank the water at the Roman baths to get an idea how my characters would have felt about it. I believe it must have been good for you, because it certainly didn’t taste very good 😀

 

Blenheim Palace (1)

Our trip has provided me with many new ideas for stories as well as details to flesh out some existing pre-published manuscripts. I will have plenty of work for the coming months ahead.

History Centre

 

 

 

In the meantime, my latest book is “The Debutante Bride…”

TheDebutanteBride453x680

 

 

 

First comes marriage, then comes love.

Blurb:

Miss Elizabeth Dunseith, Beth to her friends, grew up in genteel poverty, happy despite her abusive father and weak mother. When her father sells her to the highest bidder in order to pay off his gambling debts, she fears what her future will hold but is relieved to get away from home with her new, handsome husband.

Lord Justin Fulton, Earl of Westfield, is confused by the contradictory behavior of his purchased bride. One moment she is haughty and cool, the next she is warm and endearing. When his sister refuses to help establish his new bride in Society, Justin turns to a friend’s wife to show Beth the best way to navigate the politics of the ton.

Their growing attraction just seems to confuse matters even further. Will these two be able to see past their differences to make it to happily ever after?

Short Excerpt:

As she came to wakefulness, Beth held herself very still, momentarily surprised to find herself in a strange bed, but then it all rushed back into her consciousness. She was a married lady. A countess at that. And she had only met her husband thirty-six hours before.

The thrill of freedom flowed through her as she reminded herself once more that she would never again have to return to the house she grew up in unless she so chose. Of course, she would want to see her mother again, but she allowed herself to bask in the contentment she was experiencing. She wiggled her toes and stretched her arms, reveling in the new sensation.

The unknown factor of her new husband was obviously of concern, but so far he had been remarkably even tempered. She would even go so far as to describe him as kind, at least what she had seen of him in their short acquaintance. Beth could not decide how she felt about how handsome he was. He was deliciously attractive, but she was unsure if that could be trusted. No doubt other women would find it to be a point in his favor.

About Wendy May Andrews:

WMAndrews author pic

 

Wendy May Andrews has been in love with the written word since she learned to read at the age of five. She has been writing for almost as long but hasn’t been sharing those stories with anyone but her mother until recently. This is Wendy’s third book with Clean Reads.

Wendy can be found with her nose in a book in a cozy corner of downtown Toronto. She is happily married to her own real-life hero, who is also her best friend and favorite travel companion.

Being a firm believer that every life experience contributes to the writing process, Wendy is off planning her next trip.

She loves to hear from her readers and can be found at her website, on twitter or Facebook.

Wendy’s online locations:

Website: www.wendymayandrews.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WendyMayAndrews

Twitter: www.twitter.com/WendyMayAndrews

Instagram: @wendymayandrews

Buy links:

Amazon:  http://amzn.to/1NkyfOO

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1s6qHpu

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1s6qK4A

 

 

 

Posted in Health

“Side Effects” the Movie that inspired this Post on Human Drug Testing

Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’m taking a break from discussing teen issues today and talking about a movie I saw. I went to see “Side Effects” a couple of weeks ago. It was a great movie with an awesome twist toward the end. I enjoyed it and the movie started me thinking about the new drugs that deal with psychological issues that are available on the market today.

Now, I’ve never taken a drug for depression or anxiety so I have no first-hand knowledge of what some of these drugs can do. But this movie raised some concerns for me. I asked the question, how do we know what the side effects of these drugs are? How do we test for them?

So, of course, I did some research and this is what I found:  A new drug has to go through three phases of testing before it is considered safe for the market and all drugs have to be approved by the FDA.

Phase One: This is where the drug is tested on animals. After the company does this type of testing they must fill out a “New Drug Application.”  This application is then reviewed by the FDA and a local Institutional Review Board. If the application is approved, the review board (made up of scientists and non-scientists in hospitals and research institutions) moves forward and sets up a clinical trial protocol. This protocol describes the type of people who can participate in the human testing of the drug.  The people tested in this stage are healthy humans and they are paid for their participation. The emphasis in this stage is safety. Researchers are looking for any negative effects the drug has on healthy individuals. If no major health concerns appear they move on to Phase Two. The number of participants for this phase range from twenty to eighty people.

Phase Two: This is the phase where they test the effectiveness of a drug while still keeping an eye on safety. They want to see if the drug actually works on the conditions or diseases it’s designed to help. The number of participants for this phase range between a few dozen to about three hundred.  If there is evidence that there is a positive effect from the drug the researchers move on to Phase Three.

Phase Three:  In this phase they gather more information on effectiveness and safety; testing the drug on different populations and different dosages. They also combine the test drug with other medications to see if there’s any negative reaction. The number of people tested in this phase range from several hundred to three thousand.

After this phase the sponsor of the new drug must fill out a New Drug Application. This is the formal step needed to seek approval from the FDA to market any drug in the United States.  If approved that Clinical Trials are set up and these trials are what take so long. They can take several years to complete. For more information on the New Drug Review Process please click this link.  http://www.fda.gov/drugs/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm143534.htm

It takes several years for a drug to appear on the market. As I researched this I grew concerned.  Who are these companies testing the drugs on?

Since these companies are paying individuals to be human guinea pigs there isn’t any criteria to become a test subject. Therefore, I concluded that the test subjects are usually the poor or uneducated or young people who need the money, like college students.

What happens when drug testing goes horribly wrong? As parents we need to teach our young people to value their health and not take it for granted. I know that drug testing is essential and I don’t fault modern medicine for finding new cures, but testing a new drug can be very dangerous for the volunteers. The risks are too great in my opinion. So, what are we to do?

I have an answer. 🙂 But you knew I would didn’t you?  Where can we find human volunteers? My answer is why don’t we look for volunteers in our prison system? We’ve got a number of individuals who are either serving life sentences or on death row. They would be benefiting society and drug companies wouldn’t have to pay them. Maybe that would also bring the cost of the drugs down, which could ultimately bring down insurance rates for health insurance. Hmmm….makes you think doesn’t it?

One may argue that prisoners don’t fit the criteria of a healthy individual. Well…that is a point but my response to this arguement is…most prisoners eat better than our poor and uneducated. Sadly…they are probably healthier than many of our current volunteers.

Is it considered cruel and unusual punishment? I think not…because it is on a volunteer basis. In my opinion, doctors would be able to monitor the subjects in a controlled environment, which would make monitoring the side effects of the drug easier and more accurate. 🙂 This would protect our college bound youngsters, the poor, and uneducated who have done nothing against society.

What do you think? I know this sounds a little extreme…but then you’d have to see the movie to understand my concerns.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on my opinions. 🙂 Do you think this would be feasible?

***I want to thank www.fda.gov for some of the information provided in this post.