Tag Archive: young adult


5 reasons I care about Google Glass

1. I’m a nerd. (Duh; have we met?)

Thus, of course I was attracted to Google’s #ifihadglass program: a chance for a few thousand consumers (read: NOT developers) to get an exclusive sneak preview and beta tester status for Google Glass wearable technology and its “Glassware” apps/platform. Up to that point, only developers who’d attended last year’s Google i/O conference had gotten a chance to preorder it.

2. I’m a techthusiast.

I took Computer Science classes in high school, but my techthusiasm didn’t fully develop until I began to work for digital marketing firm Critical Mass in 2007. As a Senior Copywriter there, I’ve gotten the chance to brainstorm websites and apps for clients from Pampers to United Airlines, and even a project for Google. Dreaming up these solutions made me realize how smart and helpful technology could be. This work also showed me that I could help shape its future. Awesome, in the truest sense of the word.

My first #throughglass pic

My first #throughglass pic

3. I make up worlds with different technologies – for fun.

In 2009, I wrote the first draft of my young-adult speculative fiction manuscript 30 Decibels. The technology in the story stems from a separate set of circumstances: in a future society, only some people can talk and the rest have to whisper. These “Whisper Rules” took effect after social media-triggered food shortage riots killed half the world. Tech and social media are as regulated as possible, and each person’s volume signifies their level of access. Whisperers use a few devices for text-based messages while Leaders still have all the networks and devices we do – and more.

4. Glass seemed so familiar…

30 Decibels is set in the year 2123, and the tech is well removed from ours. Or so I thought. See for yourself, with a quick excerpt where main character Ava sends a message to her best friend:

Maybe I should warn Michele. I hold down a button on my specs ’ponder and sweep my eyes left to bring up a list of who’s around. After selecting “Robby,” I type the rest using gestures along my left temple. My movements are well-versed enough that most people probably don’t notice – including Robby – but my heart races anyway. Holding down all the buttons sends my message:

FIGHT W/ROBBY.

More on ‘ponders (“transponders”): To create messages, you’d use your voice, mouth movements, or combo of touch, eye tracking, and location-based info. Security “scentsors” identify you by your unique smell, so your ‘ponder only retrieves your data when you’re the one wearing it.

As you can probably guess, when I first read about Google’s plans to introduce Glass, I geeked out. Sure, the “specs ’ponder” described above works a little differently – for instance, Glass’s user interface doesn’t use an eye-tracking interface (yet), and gestures are made on the right side rather than the left. But, I’ll be honest; I sure felt smart.

5. Google picked me (nerd-girl Margo!) to try it.

My #ifihadglass entry, submitted via Google+ in February, wasn’t groundbreaking; I listed a few primary ways I’d use it on a regular basis: hands-free navigation while riding my bike (my only wheels), recording new ideas on the spot (also hands-free), and showing my son what my Los Angeles life is like between visits back to Chicago. Frankly, I expected nothing to come of the entry.

On March 27, Google invited me to be a Glass Explorer.

Hearing the news set my heart on overdrive, not only for all the ubernerdy reasons above and because I wanted to get my hands on Glass, but also – admittedly – because it meant the judging panel may have considered me savvy with the social medias… the Facebooks, Twitters, YouTubes, the G+es. I’d heard the selection process would consider applicants’ influence through social networks. (Note: A few peculiar Glass invites early on triggered speculation about Google’s judging process, but most of that has been cleared up.)

My career as a copywriter in the digital space often has me thinking in the languages of social media and branding, at levels ranging from mom ‘n pop to conglomerate. I can’t guess how many research abstracts, insight briefs, and articles I’ve read on the subjects in my 14 years of ad & marketing experience.

The philosophy I try to follow with self-branding is to spend only the time with it that’s enjoyable, and no more. Case in point, to SO many people, I am the WORST EVER blogger because I don’t write posts at least once a week. Sue me; I’m too busy writing for other brands – United, HP, USAA, for instance. (Now; if only I’d put that writing into blog posts. Sure I’d get into HUGE trouble with work clients, but man would I look prolific!)

An invite to Project Glass meant my online “presence” may’ve had an impact – and that made me glad and proud I’d taken personal branding (at least semi-) seriously. Professionally, receiving the invite was a bit like receiving the ultimate LinkedIn recommendation – from effing Google! Pardon my effing French.

I picked up Glass at the Google office in Venice, CA. The experience is well-documented here, in the LA Times. Fair warning: nerd-girl appears throughout the featured video.

Google Glass through the eyes of an early adopter [LA Times]

Google Glass through the eyes of an early adopter [LA Times]

Read the follow-up post: 7 things I’ve learned #throughglass.

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Boy Toy: Playful title, haunting read

Cover of "Boy Toy"

Barry Lyga‘s Boy Toy opens with a list devised by main character Josh Mendel.

Ten Things I Learned at the Age of Twelve:

1. The Black Plague was transmitted by fleas that were carried throughout Europe by rats.

2. If you first paralyze it, you can cut open a frog and watch its lungs continue to inflate and deflate.

3. There are seven forms of the verb to be: am, being, been, is, was, were, and are.

4. In order to divide fractions, you invert the divisor to arrive at the reciprocal, which is then multiplied by the dividend. (Mixed fractions must first be converted to improper fractions.)

5. In Salem, the witches weren’t burned at the stake – they were pressed to death under big rocks… or hanged.

6. Islam was founded in the year 610. It is the third of three world religions worshiping the same god.

7. Each point on a “coordinate plane” (created by the joining of an x-axis and a y-axis) can be described by an ordered pair of numbers.

8. “Monotheism” is a belief system centered on a single deity, while “polytheism” subscribes to belief in multiple deities.

9. The area of a circle can be determined by using the formula πr2, where r is the radius of the circle.

10. How to please a woman.

At first glance, the list seems almost tongue-in-cheek. But as soon as you know you’re about to launch into the story of one boy’s sexual abuse by his seventh-grade history teacher, your brow furrows. Your heart begins to sink.

For the most part, the story’s told through Josh’s eyes, five years after the incident in question. You start to piece it together from Josh’s harrowing “flickers,” little memories from months of abuse that tend to interrupt any given moment without warning. A clearer picture emerges from a number of sustained flashbacks, and the years since have given Josh a chance to reflect. But two inciting incidents drive the relationship back into his consciousness, almost to a breaking point: 1. Josh’s abuser is freed from prison early, and 2. After years of avoiding the classmate who brought his situation to light, he runs into her and must face his own wrongdoing.

Like any seventeen-year-old’s life, Boy Toy does have its light moments. These become essential in heavier stories like this, both to keep readers going with something to smile about, and to ensure the action and tension remain true to life.

For Josh, seventh grade and its aftermath turned into a battleground of control and manipulation – without his even realizing it. Afterwards, despite frequent visits with a psychologist, he continues his fight against others’ views of control. But alongside several surprising reactions to everyday events (some culminating in a sudden violent side), Josh begins to make painful decisions of his own. It’s not that Josh’s abuse forced him to grow up. It forced him to see how un-grown-up he’d really been, through it all.

This book will mean something unique and unforgettable to everyone who reads it.

Find Boy Toy on Indiebound and Amazon.

After a few fantastic casting sessions and a challenging decision-making process, I’d like to introduce you to the lead actors for the Thirty Decibels trailer:

Ava (known in real life as Freya)

Ava's love interest, Ben (Cole)

Ava's BFF Michele (Katherine)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cannot wait to see Freya, Cole, and Katherine bring the story to life! Each of them seem to naturally embody their characters, which made our casting sessions quite enjoyable – and maybe even a little surreal.

I’m thrilled beyond belief about the level of talent involved so far. Along with these awe-inspiring actors, I’m also working with an amazing director, Sehban Zaidi of Palinopsia Studio. (Here’s Sehban’s reel.)

Right now, we’re finalizing storyboards and scouting locations, and we’ll shoot within the next six weeks.

We need Chicago-area locations.

If you know of a choir rehearsal space (as you’d find in a school), a library, or a theater/stage space (all in/around Chicago, to appear in the trailer), please give me a shout. We’re in need!

…And stay tuned for more behind-the-scenes updates.  :)


Win a free advance copy (ARC) of Divergent by Veronica Roth!

I can’t remember reading a book faster.

That’s my seven-word review of Divergent. I missed my train stop while reading it. Oh, hey! There’s my eight-word version.

In Divergent, author Veronica Roth deftly plunges you into a future Chicago. A dystopian Chicago, where sixteen-year-old kids must pick one of five factions to belong to for life. Where faction ties are stronger than blood, and unrest between factions has begun to knock them off-kilter. Where, after learning in an “aptitude test” that she’s a wee bit unusual, protagonist Beatrice Prior makes a choice that surprises even her.

Hooked already, no? Okay, well, you’ll sense almost immediately that Ms. Roth is a true devotee of sci-fi goodness. She draws from a little Ender’s Game, a little Giver, and a whole lot of originality. I’ve even heard talk of Divergent hitting the big screen.

I’m highly impressed with Veronica Roth’s debut novel, and I’ll keep an eye on her work, starting with the complete Divergent trilogy.

Want an advance copy of Divergent before it comes out next month?

Comment below by Wednesday, April 27 and you could win! I’ll use random.org to pick a winner.

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