Surviving Social Media Series Part 2: Stereotypes and Fact-Checking

Welcome to Part 2 of my Surviving Social Media Series. You can read Part 1 here.

Also, before I dive into Part 2, I wanted to announce that I was interviewed by Libby Heily last week, and it’s up on her blog, so please check it out! It will give you a little insight into my book and about working with Fantasy Works Publishing. Please pop on by!

And now, without further ado…


Did you know that people think they know a lot about you from your favorite social media account? There are actually plenty of people out there who firmly believe they know you based just on that. I must give them a hell of a time predicting with my collection of social media.

If you use Facebook, you’re a sheep, one of the crowd. I mean, come on. Great-Grandmothers use Facebook.

If you use Twitter, you’re a rabid fan, looking for contact with celebrities. You probably only got on there to talk to your favorite actor and you probably have never received a reply to any of the thousand tweets you’ve tweeted @him.

If you use Instagram, you are either self-involved and proving it with a countless number of selfies, or you are lying about your life and are proving it with well-lit photos of your surroundings looking perfect. Just out of frame of your perfect healthy meal is the tremendous bag of Oreos.

If you are on Pinterest you are a stay at home Mom or a perfectionist. After all, who else makes pretty DIY crafts like that?

If you are on Tumblr, you are probably a social justice warrior! And a hipster! You silly person, you. You couldn’t possibly have a decent opinion on real things, you delusional equality-believing artsy dummy! (written as an avid Tumblr poster since 2010).

So, how do you feel about that? Does any of that fit you?

Probably not. And there’s a reason for that.

Stereotypes of anything are bullshit.

The truth is that many different people post many different things on social media. The things we complain about are everywhere. But for every annoying post we run into, there is the ability to get news spread faster, the self-esteem boosting posts, people sharing love for their friends, the ability to find homes for animals, and just an increased awareness due to the spread of social media.

So we have an increased awareness of important news topics. And we also have an increased awareness of every. Single. Thing. That one poster ate in a given day. It comes with the territory and we’ll discuss that part further in a later edition of this series.

But for now, let’s talk about that glorious spread of information. When it is good, it is very very good, but when it is bad, it is HORRID.

6beThough this meme is obviously a joke, it is a satire about the way people post incorrect memes all the time. Nobody in social media fact-checks. When some new bit of dubious information arises, it spreads like a damn plague before anybody realizes it could potentially be false.

This is one of the major problems about the spread of information in the age of social media. We repost, we share, we retweet and reblog and pin, and we often don’t know the truth of the news we are sharing. We often don’t know what agenda the initial disseminator of the information has. We don’t pay attention. As Captain Smek from Home said of the internet, “The Internet does not lie.”

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Sure, it doesn’t. The internet is a connected web of computers. It doesn’t lie. But the people who are putting information out to be shared through the web of computers? They lie. They lie plenty.

So remember, folks, if it’s on a website that is solely about your ideological bend, whatever that may be, you might want to double check those facts. And if you think you know something about a person based on what kind of social media they use, you might not want to base your stock portfolio on that great predictive mind of yours.

I’m sure you’ve all run into people like the ones I mentioned above. Feel free to share your tales of woe in the comments. And stay tuned for next week, when we discuss a need for approval and social blackmail.

 

Author Spotlight: Ismael Manzano

It’s funny. I do these author spotlights every now and then, and while the writers involved are often my friends, I have never done something like this for a person I know better than I know myself, about a book I read in its nascent stages, a story I’d heard about for years in various possible incarnations before it became what it is today. But here I am. My author spotlight today is for my husband, Ismael Manzano, and his novel, Soulless.

Now, below you will find a whole lot of press release type information, and I want you to read it and enjoy it, because it’s good stuff. But before I even get to that, I want to tell you the truth about this book.

I love this book. And not just because it’s my husband’s book. The story is imaginative, and I connected with the characters immediately, particularly the main character, Charlotte. Learning about this world through her eyes has been an exhilarating experience.

But more importantly, I love the writing, the way he weaves words together and takes you on a ride with them. I speak a lot about writing on this blog, but I rarely point out this fact – I am only a writer because I was inspired by Ismael. He not only told me I could, but he challenged me, and he showed me what dedication to the craft looked like, and without him I’d probably still be auditioning for acting jobs with my own stories dancing in my head. I got very lucky. I got to marry my favorite author. And I’m so very pleased to help create some of the fanfare surrounding this book.

So, without further ado, here’s a little about Ismael, and a little about Soulless.


Available Today!

Soulless
by Ismael Manzano

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Synopsis:

The devil’s not the only one buying souls; both sides need bodies to fight their war, and both have something to offer in return. Nearly anything is possible, if you are the type of soul they’re looking for. Charlotte Furio learns this the hard way, when a spirited and mysterious woman named Trisha follows her home one night and gives her ailing father a simple choice: a healthy body for his immortal soul.

His decision introduces Charlotte to the world of soul brokering, and Charlotte is not only drawn to it, but finds she has a knack for it. Having lived the last decade of her life with only one purpose—to care for her increasingly disabled father—Charlotte sees this as her chance to give direction and meaning to her own life, and the lives of other people. To help them as Trisha had helped her father.

This mission is quickly derailed when Charlotte is framed for the murder of one of the brokers’ leaders. Where she once had only one purpose, now Charlotte has two: get her father’s soul back and find a way to prove her innocence before it’s too late.

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Excerpt:

I walked around the car so I could jump into the passenger’s seat, waited for the crowd to thin and calmly—barely holding onto my senses—asked for the knapsack. It weighed nothing, but when I opened it, I found a parchment resting peacefully and eagerly inside of it. The full moon was out, and the sky was cloudless and unobtrusive, so when the pale, silvery light touched the papyrus, it was not reflected but enhanced. Trisha started the engine, and put the convertible’s top up to block the moonlight, then adjusted her mirror. Her face glowed nearly as bright as the papyrus.

The windows were tinted so I felt safe removing the parchment completely from the bag. The second my hand touched it, I felt a rush of something inexplicable, like a jolt of pleasurable lightning traipsing through my nerves and extending outward to the world at large. At first, I thought Trisha had pulled out a taser gun and had shocked me, but nothing hurt. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to enjoy the strangeness of the sensation. Shivers passed through me randomly, tingles that lit my skin. Without knowing how, I knew those shivers were my body’s reaction to people passing alongside the car. It was as if I was connected to the air through which they moved. I heard the wind pushing through the desiccated leaves still clinging to their branches, and it sounded like water rushing around a brook. The smells of the city, even through the confinement of the car, assailed my nostrils as if someone had bottled it up and threw it—concentrated—into my lap.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon | Smashwords | Nook | Kobo

Author Bio:

Ismael_Head shotIsmael Manzano was born and raised in New York City, and has lived his entire life in the Bronx, first with his parents, and then with his lovely and talented wife, Justine, and now with their kinetic maelstrom of a child, Logan.

Ismael is an avid reader of fantasy books, and knew at an early age that he wanted to be a writer. He worked his entire life to hone his craft to achieve the goal of removing the prefix, ‘aspiring,’ from his title, and referring to himself as a writer.

He has written many reviews and social commentaries for the web magazine, G-pop.net. Recently, Ismael has found success publishing his short stories, Playing in Shadows, at This Dark Matter and Cold, published in July 2015, at Grey Matter. In 2015, Fantasy Works Publishing signed his Urban Fantasy series, Soul Broker.

Ismael loves watching historical documentaries and listening to audio lectures about Medieval England, Ancient Rome, and Egypt. He considers himself an amateur historian, and has never met a BBC historical drama he didn’t like. One of his favorite things to do is to watch shows like the Tudors and movies like Elizabeth, and try to pick out the discrepancies between fact and fiction. He also hopes to one day solve a Rubix Cube puzzle, but that dream, sadly, seems to be the greatest fantasy of them all.

Website: IsmaelManzano.com

Twitter: @IsmaelManzano76

Facebook: Ismael Manzano – Author

 

I HAVE A BOOK COVER, EVERYBODY!

You guys, I am SO excited. I have just received the final version of my book cover! Created by Tiffany Heiser, Graphic Artist at Fantasy Works Publishing, here, without further ado, is the cover of The Order of the Key.

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Please check out Tiffany’s website and facebook page for more about her art. For a reminder about what The Order of the Key is about, see the blurb below:

Jacklyn Madison has a thing for heroes. She reads about them, watches them on TV, and would very much like to become one. When a mysterious beast makes an attempt on her life, she discovers she is a hero—the long lost member of The Order of the Key, a group of humans with unique gifts that protect humanity from creatures that come through inter-dimensional rifts.

It’s all fun and games until training reveals the Order’s out-of-touch views—Keys like Jacklyn are protected, while Guardians like the rest of her family are considered expendable. As she rails against their value system, she finds herself in the center of a power struggle between the group’s leader, Lavinia, and her idealistic son, Kyp. Believing Lavinia to be engaged in hidden criminal activity, Kyp spearheads a secret effort to overthrow the leadership of the Order, and Jacklyn quickly signs on.

As Kyp’s efforts to protect his team from his unpredictable mother entangle them in a mire of danger and deceit, Jacklyn must find a way to keep the people she loves safe—from those the Order was chosen to fight, and those operating within.

So that’s my big announcement! Stay tuned for more info, soon!

Genre Choice

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Being asked by a friend who only reads true literary fiction what I am writing used to feel like a pop quiz I was sure to fail. “Hi, my name is Justine and my current works in progress contain a computer virus alien race, a divorcee with an imaginary friend, and superheroes who fight monsters that come through inter-dimensional rifts. Please do not throw tomatoes or insults at me.” I would say it with shyness, with shame, as though what I was writing was any less valid than your normal everyday literary work. There’s literary fiction and there’s commercial fiction, and my muse just happens to like superheroes who fight monsters that come through inter-dimensional rifts.  So sue me.

But the truth is, this is where the muse takes me. It takes me to weird stuff, and, in this case it takes me to fantasy. When I came up with the idea for The Order of the Key, it only made sense that the main character, Jacklyn, would be young. She couldn’t be too young, for reasons I can’t really express without spoiling the plot for Book 1, but she had to be in that stage where she was figuring out who she was as a person. Initially, because some of the themes could run a little dark, I attempted to write Jacklyn as an adult, but it didn’t track well. The voice Jacklyn had placed in my head was plucky, young, and irreverent.

There was also a very specific theme that I wanted to explore, and that was this idea of dreams vs. reality. Jacklyn has this love for comic books, superheroes, and all things geeky. So, at first, when she is pulled into this world where she is the superhero, it seems like a dream come true, even if the circumstances surrounding it aren’t the best. But, as she struggles with the responsibilities of actually living that dream (risking those around her, putting herself on the line, being forced to do things she wouldn’t otherwise enjoy doing), she grows to understand that there is a big difference between imagining a situation and enduring it. And I think this is a hard won lesson for many—this idea that we’re going to grow up to be something amazing, just to have that amazing thing turn out to be…not so amazing. And it was important to tell that story in a YA framework, because I feel like that is a lesson worth teaching to kids who are about to head into college and out into the real world—to feel free to dream, but to inject a little practicality into it. Dream big, but dream smart.

In the end, I didn’t so much choose my genre as my genre chose me. What genres do you guys write? Read? Tell me a little about why in the comments!

Author Spotlight: Hanging with Kristin D. Van Risseghem

Hi, all! Today, I’m being joined by Kristin D. Van Risseghem, a fellow young adult fantasy author, whose book title just happens to have the word “Guardian” in it just like mine. Her novel, The Guardian, a Sword, & Stilettos, Book 1 of The Enlighten Series, is out on May 20th. Kristin is a good friend and a great writer and I can’t wait to read her book. Let’s hear a little more about her and her book below.

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Getting to Know The Book:

Zoe Jabril could be just another 17-year-old girl attending parties with her friends and checking out cute guys—except her best friend is a Guardian Angel, and the boy she crushes on is a Nephilim, half-Angel, both sent to Earth to protect her. A high school classmate happens to be a trendsetting shopaholic Fairy. And now there’s a new Werewolf in town.

Now Zoe has to deal with her feelings toward Shay, who spreads a strange electrical current through her body every time he touches her. She is under constant attack from Demons, trying to kill and stop her from fulfilling the Prophecy: a girl will be born who will unite the Enlightens to battle evil. Then on top of that, between boring homework and drama with girls at school, she has to control new found talents if she’s to prevent the Devil from escaping Hell.

In order to do so, Zoe must devise a kick-ass plan ASAP or watch everyone die, because she’s running out of time. She turns eighteen in two months—the date Armageddon kicks off.

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Get to Read the Book!

I stumbled into Kieran as a tremor moved through me, the hairs on my arms stood at attention like tiny lightning rods. “Do you feel that?” my voice sounded breathless, even to me.

He glanced sideways, “Feel what?”

“Look.” I held out my arms to him, “I feel strange. Like someone…” I rubbed my slightly numb hands over my forearms and sucked in a breath, as he hooked his head around. I fell into step beside him. “Never mind. It’s probably nothing.”

This happens when lightning’s about to strike, right?

The heat from the sun radiated off the few cars parked along Boutique Row, their owners engaged in mid-afternoon shopping. Store fronts displayed the new and trendy ‘must-have’ dresses, shorts, and shoes for the spring season. I paused to see my reflection. Not a hair was out of place. Thank God.

The Coffee Grind’s signature cinnamon dessert scent wafted through the air and my teeth hurt with the memory of sinking them into it time and again. What I wouldn’t give to be able to park my back end on one of their leather wing-back chairs and crack open a book, while the fire crackled next to me in the original stone hearth.

“Earth to Zoe,” Kieran’s gentle voice broke my trance. He poked my shoulder. “Are you going to order or what?”

My face flamed. “You could’ve ordered for me.” I rummaged through my purple backpack. “You know I get the same thing every time.”

Kieran watched me rub my arms, as he told the cashier, “She’ll also have an ice water.” He tilted his head toward the menu board. “Anything else?”

“Did you order me a chai?” I asked.

He nodded.

“Cause you know I can’t function without a good cup of—”

“You can’t function with it, either.”

Then I turned my attention toward the clerk, unsure if I recognized him or not. I hope he doesn’t know me. “Nothing else. Thanks.” I handed him some bills.

“How’s track going, Zoe?” the clerk asked.

Damn.

“Think you’ll make it to State?”

I realized he was a sophomore on the team. Our paths crossed during several meets. He looked thin in his black polo shirt, and I knew a mirror would reflect a similar physique in me, though my lavender sundress tried to disguise it.

I shrugged. “I have fast times, but we’ll see. If I don’t make it this year, there’s always senior year.” My fingertips skimmed the glass display of mammoth muffins and assorted pastries as we moved down the aisle to the ‘Pick-up Here’ sign. A heavy coffee aroma hung in the air.

A figure in dark clothing with yellow-tipped, spiked hair stared at me from outside the glass entrance door. His eyes narrowed on contact with mine.

Chills rushed through my body.

 

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon        Smashwords             Kobo

 

Getting to Know Kristin:

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Author Bio:

Kristin D. Van Risseghem grew up in a small river town in Minnesota with her parents and older sister. And after receiving a double Bachelor of Science degree from Winona State University in Paralegal and Corrections, she worked as a Paralegal for various law firms around the Twin Cities for 14 years. Then she left the legal field and is now a Senior Buyer for a technology company.

Currently, Kristin lives in Eagan with her husband and two Calico cats. She also loves attending book clubs, going shopping, and hanging out with friends. She has come to realize that she absolutely has an addiction to purses and shoes. They are her weakness and probably has way too many of both.

In the summer months, Kristin can usually be found lounging on her boat, drinking an ice cold something. Being an avid reader of YA and Women’s Literature stories, she still finds time to read a ton of books in-between writing. And in the winter months, her main goal is to stay warm from the Minnesota cold!

Kristin’s first book, The Guardian, a Sword, & Stilettos, is published by Kasian Publishing.

Kristin’s Website     Twitter     Facebook     Goodreads

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Interview: 

What drew you to writing? I took a lit course in high school and a reading one in college. Didn’t think anything of it but enjoyed writing and reading back then. I started reading as something to do before I met my husband. Then when Twilight came out, a group of friends created a book club and it’s been downhill ever since. I read a ton. My cousin started writing and she asked me to (beta) read for her. I did but didn’t really know what I was doing. One of her friends asked me to read one of hers too so I did b/c my cousin said that my comments were spot on.

Then in January 2013 I dreamed of the warehouse scene. Didn’t think anything of it until the next night I had the same dream in the warehouse. Woke my husband up and told him about it. He said I should write it down. Of course I didn’t. The 3rd night, I dreamed of the tattoo and knew I had to start getting it down on paper so to speak. I started writing when I got home from work and wrote until the wee hours of the morning, so 7-8 hours at a time. Go to sleep a few hours and get up for work. Did that for 3 weeks.

What about your life influenced your drive to create? I go all out in everything I do. Never half do stuff. It’s an all or nothing attitude.

What kind of books to you enjoy reading? YA and Women’s Lit.

Do you have a favorite author(s)? Not in any order: Richelle Meade, Julie Kagawa, Kristin Cast, Cassandra Clare, Kristin Hannah, Sherrilyn Kenyon and Sophie Kinsella.

JK Rowling gets her own line.

Do you have other work experience? What in? I graduated from Winona State University with a double bachelors degree in Paralegal and Corrections. After, I worked as a paralegal in litigation, civil, municipal, estate, appellate, and business. I worked as a paralegal for 15 years. In the last 8 years I worked for the same company and transferred into the business area. Currently, I’m a Buyer for a tech company.

What is your favorite past time? In the summer, boating. In the winter, trying to stay warm in the MN winters.

Are you a positive person, negative, or realistic? I try to be a positive realist.

What was your last vacation like? Being like a little kid. I went to Disneyworld.

Do you travel often? I try to take an international and a domestic trip annually.

Do you work well under stress? My legal background gave me the experience for deadlines and making sure that everything is as it should be. I don’t stress about things, or at least try not to, b/c there’s nothing you can do. Do what I can and do my part well.

How do you destress? Do fun things and not whatever is the stressful situation.

Deadlines – solid dates to meet or unattainable goals to reach for? I don’t miss deadlines, EVER!

What are 3 things that you’ve not often shared about yourself? I’m adopted from South Korea (not north), I was fortunate to attend private school from K-8 (which I’m glad I did), I’ve played the violin, the flute, cymbals, bells, bass and snare drum.

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Thank you Kristin, for joining us today!