Friday, June 26, 2015

I Dare You to be Kind

The internet was once a fun place. There were colors and opinions and every once in a while a knot that soon smoothed itself out.

For the last week it looked like this—frazzled and angry and full of hate. Yes, lives matter. But so does the quality of the life you live. Random acts of kindness are lovely and if we could make them more common, everyone’s quality of life would change for the better. #KindnessMatters

People of Earth, I would like to challenge you to make anyone’s day a little better, and I am starting here at home. We had a big storm last night and my kids have packed up brooms and rakes and are off into the neighborhood to help the elderly. They’re stopping at every house where they see an old person trying to clean their yard. They’re stopping everywhere they see a handicapped plate on a car. #KindnessMatters

You may not be physically able to clean yards but you can post something inspiring or adorable on the internet. You can comment on a post in a helpful manner. You can tell someone Good Morning or to Have a nice day. You can complement someone’s nails or tell them they have pretty hair. It isn’t hard, it only takes a few seconds.

We come together when there’s a disaster. We only need to start a little bit at a time and kindness will snowball. What good is it to live when rage is the only emotion we feel? Step out of your anger for two minutes. We have a beautiful life to live. #KindnessMatters.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Writing Teenagers and Food

Okay people let’s get something straight. Teens eat more than burgers and fries and pizza. They don’t drink only fizzy drinks. In fact, they eat pretty much what you do.

Coffee is a big thing now. There’s a Starbucks almost everywhere. Maybe you weren’t allowed to drink coffee as a child, but that isn’t the same as other people. Kids have favorite brands of coffee. They like flavored coffee, and regular, and have a special creamer they prefer. My kids are allowed to drink coffee or tea when they turn 10. A lot of my friends have kids who drink coffee. IT IS A THING. Give it up that they sound too old because they drink coffee. It isn’t liquor. Geez.

When my kids go to the bookstore, they get a coffee. It isn’t only adults who drink coffee. Just like you adults eat pizza and burgers. There isn’t an age limit on food, okay?

My children’s grandmother didn’t drink caffeine for years because there were rumors that it wasn’t good for you. You know how the health waves go. One year a certain thing will kill you, and the next it is good for you and you should have it every single day. You need to keep up and not date your writing with what you were taught as a child. (I didn’t know what gluten was as a teen—now everyone knows.)

The point is that you need to pay attention to the changes and trends in society as a whole. Gluten is bad now, so you’re going to have teen characters who don’t eat gluten. Coffee is cool now so you’re going to have middle grade and young adult characters who drink coffee. You’ll also have kids who don’t eat processed food, and characters who read every label for peanut allergies.

Food is a thing, guys. Pay attention to the world.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Social Media and Social Responsibility

Writers everywhere are trying to create a social media platform. They join every single big site. They pimp novels. (This totally does not work people) They push their friend’s books. (Also made of fail unless it is a release day). And generally, they make a nuisance of themselves. Scroll through your Facebook or Twitter and see how far you need to go to see a real person talk. They get the whole social media but they forget social responsibility.

I was looking at Facebook the other day and a lovely woman posted a picture of her friend dressed up for an event. Her friend was beautiful. She had obviously taken a lot of time with hair and nails and an outfit. Do you know what people were saying? NOT ONE THING.

 How mean was that?

Isn't it tough enough to have a positive body image in today’s society without totally ignoring a lovely person? I can guarantee you that this woman could not possibly feel as lovely as she looked. I know this because when I was younger, I was a very pretty woman but I didn't think so. Thank God that there wasn't social media then to confirm what I suspected was true. I would have never left the house. I wouldn't have met my husband or ever had my six children.

You are never going to give offense with an honest compliment. I told the woman that she looked beautiful. She did. Someone else being lovely, or wearing a pretty dress, or even showing off a new manicure does not take one darn thing away from you. Take a second of your precious time and say so. Your comment might be the one positive thing in their day. You won’t ever know if what you said mattered because you can’t know the horrors they may face in their everyday life. But maybe, just maybe, your words will turn their day around.

Everyone is all against bullying. We teach our children to be nice and not to judge or harass people. But I am here to tell you that this isn't enough. Teach them kindness and caring and start by being supportive of others and their interests not only in your real life, but online.

I think we all want to leave the world a better place. Hopefully how we act will make a mark on people and places that we love. If you’re using social media, then you have the responsibility of making the virtual world a better place, too.

We can’t all buy someone in need a car, or pay off their hospital bills, but we can all take the time once a day to give someone a compliment. It’s a little thing. But sometimes the little things are what matter the most and what make the biggest difference.