Monday, November 17, 2014

Who thought Breaking Bad for Kids was a Good Idea?

Whether for your own children or maybe even to donate, the fact is you will probably be thinking about children’s gifts for Christmas this year. The question is, how will your chosen gift affect future generations?
This weekend, I was walking through Walmart when I saw a huge pallet of Call of Duty Mega Bloks waiting to be stocked. My mind went to my own two boys who loved Legos all through their childhood. They designed, they built and most of all they immersed themselves as they pretended with their Lego creations.
Curious, I went home and did a little research on children’s toys out this year.  I was shocked to discover a line of Breaking Bad action figures in jumpsuits with guns and bags of meth.  Yep, drugs and guns.  So what you might ask. Kids have always played cops and robbers, some acting as the cops and others as the bad guy trying to rob the bank.
I hear you. My brother loved cowboys and Indians. From one end of the hall, he’d ask me to pull out my gun which was nothing more than my oh-so-intimidating finger pointing in his direction. After my fake bang, he’d fall straight back onto the floor for at least three seconds before popping up and running off to play some other game. I’m sure my parents never worried he was going to grow up to be some lawless renegade even though he was pretending with guns, so why does it bother me so much that these are the toys we are presenting to our kids?
First of all, playtime is where kids work out most of our moral dilemmas and behavior patterns. This isn’t just my opinion. It is researched and recorded many times over. Children don’t just play for fun, that’s how they make sense of the world around them. That’s where they test limits and behaviors and learn to connect with others in a meaningful way. It’s true that kids have played army man forever, but not after watching their daddy blow people up on the video screen for hours on end first.  Call of Duty glorifies war making conflict and death a source of entertainment. Imagine how bewildering that could be to a kid. Before we connected children’s make believe to stimuli rich video games, kids created their worlds with only the limitations of their imagination and experiences. Those without real life or contrived ideas could only go so far into the world of violent play.  There was built in protection for their tender psyches but now, in the name of entertainment, we push too much on them. We steal away their ability to pace how they learn about the world around them…and for some, I believe it will mold them and not for the best.
And Breaking Bad, don’t even get me started on that.  Didn’t watch the show. I’m sure it’s all kinds of entertaining, but really does the almighty dollar mean so much that we thrust the drug culture and it’s companion, bloody violence into our children’s lives.  At what point did we think having them learn to protect their meth was a good way to learn right from wrong because they is what they are ultimately trying to do by pretending. Shouldn’t we at least give them better tools even if it means turning off our favorite show to set the example? 
A final reason we should choose our children’s entertainment carefully, adults and kids aren’t separated like they used to be. We share screens and spaces more than ever before. Our world is changing and these toys show just how much. My vote for Christmas, give kids toys that let their imaginations break free but, are at the same time devoid of the worst parts of our human nature. I believe they will astound us with their ingenuity and creativity and maybe if we are lucky care for us in our latter years with the tenderness and goodness we inspired in their youth.  What do you think?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Little Thing

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

I want someone to start a positive news channel. It could run twenty four seven and we could go on and on about people’s good deeds the way we talk about school shooters or  movie stars.
Good things happen every day in this world but over the cries of murder and mayhem, they are nothing more than a whisper in a room of screaming. Take today for example. We are preparing to put our house on the market so we had a yard sale to clean out some of the things we don’t want to drag to our next house.  After the yard sale ended, we moved the larger furniture to the front walkway and posted a sign that read, FREE, TAKE WHAT YOU WANT.

I figured now that things were free the stuff would disappear. What I didn’t expect was the note we found pinned to our tree. It read:

Thank you for sharing your things with us. You have helped more than one family today.

Then, they signed it with their actual names and it was written in beautiful penmanship. Any frustration I felt toward the hard work of the yard sale or rude people I’d encountered were gone. I’d helped someone and even more impressive they’d taken the time to tell me and to thank me.
Through the day, I marveled that such a small act had a large impact on my day.  Luckily, I think there are lots of good people out there doing small acts of kindness that have profound effects on the world at large.  Chances are I’ll never get my positive news channel but just as likely there will always be kindness in the world to offset the tragic stories.  How about you? Anyone do something kind for you today?   

Sunday, November 2, 2014


I’m so excited to tell you that The Secret Keeper is set to be published in the new year. Yep, I’m looking at the contract right now and it going to be awesome!! My new publisher is a tremendous cover artist and I can’t wait to see what she conjures up.
Here’s a little peek at the storyline, minus the really important spoilers of course.

Winter Merrill has a secret and will do anything to keep it hidden.  When a stranger tells her about a beautiful but odd woman who can make her indiscretion disappear, she not only listens, she goes to the Enchantress’s house to make a deal with her. The only catch, the next time Winter has a secret, she literally won’t be able to tell it. True to the Secret Keeper’s word, Winter’s prom night blunder disappears making her life near perfect again. Then, on the night of her eighteenth birthday she witnesses her parent’s murder. As she runs from the crime scene, the murderer, who is also her principle calls out, “If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you.” This makes her next secret the truth about who killed her parents and no matter how hard she tries, she cannot tell anyone what happened. Will she rely on the Secret Keeper once again to keep her alive, or will the enchantress’s final contract end her life first?
What do you think? I’ll keep you up to date on all the sorted details of the release, giveaways etc… and if you were wondering, I’m already working on a sequel that is just as heart-pound, nail-bitingly intense.
Until then, this is what I visualize Winter to look like:

Thanks for stopping by!