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Monday, May 27, 2013

Breaking The Broken Glass Society


For the past two decades, New York City has managed to get serious crime down to record low numbers by following what the police call “The Broken Window Theory.” Rather than just catch bad guys who kill, rape, and rob, the police enforce a strict no-tolerance policy on quality of life infractions – jumping a turnstile, people loitering, a broken window. In the process, they’d arrest punks with warrants and long records because it turns out the same person who deals crack and shoots someone is likely to commit petty offenses as well.

We now need a broken glass policy when it comes to our gadgets.  Twice this month I’ve had to shell out money to pay for cracked screens on digital devices.  Why do our electronic gizmos still seem so fragile?

Many things are disturbing about our digital universe.  If it’s not someone hacking into a company or government agency, it’s someone stealing our identities. Or someone steals our expensive devices.  Or people use the Internet to further fraud, sexual crimes, and the selling of illegal items.  All of this adds up to a condemnation of the digital world but of course we can’t just throw the baby out with the bath water.  We must address these shortcomings while continuing to advance our technology.

But what about the hardware – when will they make it stronger?

When they sell you a device, they start out by encouraging you to get a case or cover that still doesn’t fully protect it.  Then they look to sell you a warranty that should really be thrown in. This “extended” warranty covers two or three years.  They don’t have faith that their product will last a few years?

My son’s Nexus has a huge crack in it and as a result, part of it no longer functions. The store said they don’t cover that.  It is only four months old. It is already a bust.

My baby sitter’s iPhone developed a cracked screen when my five-year-old accidentally dropped it in the house.  There goes another hundred bucks to get it refaced.  She actually had it refaced less than a year ago when she dropped her own phone.

Why do we, as consumers, accept this? They really can’t build a stronger screen or have a way to replace it at no cost or at a smaller expense?

We live in a cracked glass society and it’s time to enforce a stronger policy against it.  Otherwise, the corporate criminals continue to get away with ripping off consumers.

Interview With Author Rita Arens

1. What type of books do you write? Although my first book, SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK, was a narrative nonfiction anthology (I wrote a few pieces and also had 24 contributors), I am now focusing on young adult and new adult contemporary fiction.

2. What is your newest book about? THE OBVIOUS GAME (InkSpell Publishing, 2013) is a book about control. Diana's mother has cancer, she's in love with the new kid in her high school, and when he drops weight for wrestling, so does Diana. THE OBVIOUS GAME follows her story to the edge and back. It's a hopeful book, but I didn't spare the reader the agony of mental illness during Diana's journey. It was important to me to be authentic. Quite a few people have told me in person or in reviews they were not able to understand the psychology of anorexia before reading THE OBVIOUS GAME, and now they do. To me, that means the book succeeded.

3. What inspired you to write it? I am a recovered anorexic, and I blog about that. I get emails from anorexics and their families all the time. They always ask how I recovered without in-patient care. I wrote this book to explain how I did that and also how it feels to have anorexia, as it presents a lot differently than it feels. It can be hard for family and friends of anorexics to see their perspective and have compassion for them, but the compassion is really important for recovery. I wanted this book to be both a great story and an important jumping-off point for conversations about anorexia. Many "anorexia novels" (they are not all the same) start with the anorexia already full-blown. Diana starts off completely normal and falls into the anorexia almost by accident, which was my experience, as well.

4. What is the writing process like for you? I'm working on new book now called THE BIRTHRIGHT OF PARKER CLEAVES. Whereas THE OBVIOUS GAME was an issues novel, PARKER CLEAVES is a contemporary, more commercial new adult novel about power -- is it taken or bestowed? What happens if you want power you're not ready for? I have the whole book plotted out and am in the process of writing. I'm using StoryMill software for this novel, and I find it really freeing to use software because I can work on whichever scene I'm in the mood for instead of worrying about writing in chronological order like I did for THE OBVIOUS GAME. I am hoping writing the rough draft this way will help alleviate some of the structural problems I had in early drafts of THE OBVIOUS GAME and make revisions go faster and easier.
5. What did you do before you became an author? I haven't quit my day job. I'm the deputy editor of BlogHer.com.

6. How does it feel to be a published author? It is good to achieve goals. In many ways, the world doesn't acknowledge you as a writer until you become a published author, so it's good to have that accomplishment. However, I've found publishing one book just makes me want to do it again and better the next time.

7. Any advice for struggling writers? Listen to critiques of your work without seeing them as critiques of yourself. Always be working to separate yourself emotionally from your writing so you can make it better. A great writer can produce a terrible draft -- it's a process. People are not trying to hurt your feelings when they criticize your writing, they are trying to make the writing better. (Unless they're jerks, in which case, ignore.)

8. Where do you see book publishing heading? The space keeps getting more and more crowded, so I actually think it's all about who has the bucks to market the books. It pains me to say that, because I wish the best books would get the most attention on their merit alone, but it's not the way the world works. It is important for writers to write because they have stories to tell and be realistic about the market. My small-press publisher does not have $750,000 to spend marketing THE OBVIOUS GAME, but other YA novels that came out in 2013 do and did. Writers need to ask themselves hard questions about their motivation and goals. Financial success may or may not be an option for either self-published or traditionally published authors. There aren't too many benefactors throwing money at writers these days. If you meet any, though, please send them my way


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This blog is copyrighted material by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2013 

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