Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Facts and Myths About Suicide

There are many resources out there in today's world. Here is just one article with facts and myths about suicide that I found in less than 5 minutes of searching...http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20507781,00.html 

I think it's important for people, especially in the days of social media to do some research before getting on the internet and stating things as facts when they are either completely wrong or just opinions. 

Suicide is one of the things that is so often stereotyped, and that is hurting people not helping them.

 For example, saying that all suicides are caused by clinical depression is wrong, it also makes people afraid to admit they have thought about it, or gone through a rough patch.

 The only fact about suicide is that when people do it they are doing it for one reason, and that is,  a way out, that's it. A way out of pain, a way out of a situation, a way out of a life they don't want.

 It's a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and while yes, some suicides are caused by mental illness, not all of them are.

If you are feeling suicidal PLEASE get help, if someone judges you, go to someone else. You are NOT alone, and people do understand and people will be there for you. 


If you know someone who is struggling, instead of telling them that they are mentally ill, listen to them and then share links or numbers to someone who can help. If you are not a trained suicide specialist/therapist, know that you can't save them, you need help, they need help. Be careful of telling them that they are clinically "depressed" or "bi-polar" or anything like that. 

I recently had a discussion with someone on Facebook who was saying on her page as FACT that everyone who has even thought about it is mentally ill. That is a problem, because it's not true. She sent me private messages saying that she has the right to her opinion, and while that may be true, what if she just made a statement that lead someone to hurt themself because they were just told that they have a mental illness? They may, but they may not. It's dangerous to claim opinions as fact especially if you aren't trained. 

As well, if you have a mental illness, that does not mean that everyone else does. Yes, it's great if you want to share your experiences to help others, but also know that not everyone has the same thing. 

The only facts are that some people who commit/ or attempt suicide have a mental illness and some don't. 

Please think before you judge others, especially those in need. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

AT LAST: *Press Release* RFP to Construct Suicide Deterrent on the Golden Gate Bridge‏

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District requests proposals from qualified bidders to construct a suicide deterrent on the Golden Gate Bridge.  The details of the RFP may be found here:http://goldengate.org/contracts/documents/2016-b-01-notice.pdf
“This is an important and vital step in building the suicide deterrent,” says Chief Engineer Ewa Bauer.  “We have been in the planning and design phase of the project for several years, with a lot of work happening behind the scenes.  Today signals a change to the construction phase.  We are all eager to put this deterrent in place and diminish future tragedy from suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge.”
The bid process will take several months to complete.  Interested bidders must sign a non-disclosure agreement, submit identification for background checks, and tour the property with District staff.  After the pre-bid, information gathering time passes, the District will begin accepting bids in January.  The District will vet vendors based on several factors, including past work experience, current staffing, compliance with DBE and other regulatory programs, cost.  Per state regulations, this construction project will be awarded to the qualified vendor with the lowest bid. The bid will be awarded in the spring of 2016, following approvals of the selected vendor by CalTrans, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Bridge District’s Board of Directors.
The suicide deterrent design is a long, stainless steel net along the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, on both sides.  The cantilevered net will be located about 20 feet down from the Bridge sidewalk, extending out 20 feet, with a slight upturn at the outside edge.  The net is not soft, but rather, will be made of very hard and durable metal.  Anyone jumping into the net is likely to experience the sort of significant injury expected from falling two stories onto a steel platform.  Since such nets have been installed in various locations over the past decade, they have been very successful in preventing suicide attempts. 
The steel net and its supports will be manufactured off-site.  The public will begin to see installation activity in late 2017.  The contractor will install the net first along the east side of the Golden Gate Bridge and then the west side. The project is expected to take three-and-a-half to four years.
The Golden Gate Bridge suicide deterrent project is expected to cost at least $76 million, with $22 million through federal Local Highway Bridge Program (HBP) funds programmed by CalTrans, $27 million in federal Surface Transportation Program funds (STP) programmed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), $7 million of California State Mental Service Health Act Funds (Proposition 63), and $20 million from Bridge District reserves.
Here are some renderings to show what the suicide deterrent will look like, from two vantage points.  Please cite Courtesy of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District in your use of these images.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Do you want a GREAT YA novel about a truly sad, messed up kid dealing with overwhelming grief? Read NOT AFTER EVERYTHING by Michelle Levy
*I chose the above photo because to me, it says everything about the main character in this story. I found it on the internet, but here is the actual cover.
This book is the BEST book with a boy lead that I have read in years. I can say that immediately it reminded me of S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS, and J.D. Salinger’s THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. I was obsessed with both of these books as a middle school kid going through more than any kid should-and they are why I became a writer.
When I opened Michelle’s book I couldn’t stop reading it. Although since I was on a plane headed to a workshop for writers, I had to. I picked it back up on the return flight and finished it. The day I finished it, I started again from page one and read it a second time. I rarely reread a book the same day that I finish it, but I wanted to savor every single word because it’s so authentic, gritty, raw and tragic.
To say that I love this book is a gross understatement. I beyond loved it. The reason? TYLER-the main character is so REAL that it’s scary. If I didn’t know Michelle personally I would swear this was written by a man because she nails the voice of a teen boy. I even have read passages from it to my boyfriend who agrees wholeheartedly.
*I also write boy leads from the POV of the boy, so this gives me so much inspiration to know that I can do it. Michelle is my female-writer-boy-POV-guru! :)
This book reminds me of Andrew Smith’s work. Andrew is the author of many teen books with male leads such as GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, 100 SIDEWAYS MILES, STICK, and my favorite WINGER (and now the sequel STAND-OFF). When I first started reading Andrew’s books, I was taken in immediately by the voice. Michelle Levy does the same thing in NOT AFTER EVERYTHING.
I don’t like reviews that give away everything in a story or rewrite a synopsis so I will spare you that. But I will say that this is a tremendous look into grief, heartache, pain, addiction, social bullshit that comes in highschool and financial hardship. TYLER has lost his mother to suicide before we even meet him. His plans for college and his future have been undone by the actions of his mother. He is struggling to find his way back throughout the book. He discovers a lot about himself through his new friendship with Jordyn-a goth girl at school, who he used to be friends with before he became popular and she became weird.
At the beginning of the book, he isn’t playing football anymore, and things with his girlfriend are falling apart. The only time they are together she is using him just to be seen helping the sad, sad, boy. Told in the first person point of view, the reader gets an awesome insight into the mind of this kid going through hell. When they break up, he is even more alone and depressed. Then he reconnects with Jordyn and she is the only one who isn’t pussyfooting around him, feeling sorry for him, or treating him differently. While it takes them a bit to connect when they finally do, it’s amazing.
There is a part in the book where he hooks up with a random girl who he meets at his job. I especially like this passage because the way he feels when she leaves is HONEST. He feels even more alone than he did before she came over, which is very real, even for guys.
Now onto the big issue his mother’s death by taking her own life. Suicide is a particularly hard thing to deal with, especially for a teen. Whenever we lose anyone in life, it’s hard. When the person is a family member, it’s really hard. When the person is a family member, and they kill themselves, it’s devastating. How we react is everything about who we are. How Tyler reacts to his mother’s death is tragic, hard to watch and yet beautifully sad at the same time.
This book was compared with a couple other books that I just don’t understand. If I were to say anything about where this belongs on the shelves, besides the TEEN BEST SELLER list, it would be with Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and Jennifer Niven’s ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES. Not just because they are books that involve suicide and death because they are books that deal with the way characters handle suicide and death.
Or I would say, and am saying this. If you like Andrew Smith’s WINGER, and you like Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, you’ll LOVE Michelle Levy’s new book NOT AFTER EVERYTHING.
If it were a few decades back, I would say the same but replace the above books with S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDES and J.D. Salinger’s THE CATCHER IN THE RYE.
Buy this book, tell your friends about it, because it’s deserving of it, and you will love it. If you really want to get inside the head of someone going through some tough times, read this book.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Yup, You Know You're A Southern Californian When....(I am)

I have been fighting, and not sure why, the idea that I have become a true Californian, and more importantly, a Southern Californian. I guess stereotypes exist for a reason, and that doesn't mean that I, or anyone, walks around saying "dude" or "like" all day long-that said, many do, and sometimes I do say like, but I rarely say dude.

It means that I have lived here so long that things that seem normal to me in everyday life, really aren't in the rest of the country.

I do belong to two gyms, yes TWO, most of my friends belong to at least one, and then go to a specialized yoga, zumba, piloxing, cardio barre or something. I belong to two that covers all that. OMG I am such a stereotype!

Recently I was at a week long writing workshop in the middle of the country, and not in the middle of America, in the middle of the rural countryside of PA. It was awesome, but Oh. My. God, It was so quiet, that it freaked me out.

Growing up in New England for the most part, even though I like to call myself a New Yorker, most of my childhood was spent in Southern Vermont. It wasn't that quiet because we were in a town, even in snow you could walk to a store, or something and there were street lights. The countryside was close, but not where we were. In fact the street I grew up on there was much like every suburb here in Los Angeles, except with just a little more land between properties, but even that, it was really like the burbs here, just with a main street full of quaint shops etc.

So at this workshop-which was awesome-things that made me realize how much of a stereotype I have become started to become apparent.

The one thing that I don't yet have is that, I don't think it's cold at 70. Oh how I wish that I did because my life would be so much better. I still have all my back eastness there. 40-60 is awesome. 70-80 is hot, 80-90 is nasty, 90-100 is beyond nasty, and 100-120 is evil. I don't like to be hot. I also don't like to be in the sun, and I don't live at the beach. I guess that's two things, but honestly SoCal is divided into two groups, the ones who love the beach & surf, and those of us who still need mountains, hiking and being surrounding by trees, I am the second kind.
Runyon Canyon

The San Fernando Valley

And we walk everywhere. The myth that no one walks here is just that a myth. Everyone walks everywhere, if they can. Meaning not in certain areas with known gangs, etc.. but everywhere else, yes we walk.

FOOD!! Okay, years and years ago I went to visit my sister in New Orleans, pre Katrina, pre Andrew (or whatever that other big one was in 1998), and pre it becoming one of the trendy culinary cities that it is now. We went out to eat and the choices for salad were "houses" salad and "mixed" greens. Being from L.A. I ordered mixed greens. I was so excited! They brought me; iceberg lettuce, one tomato slice, on slice of cucumber and a carrot. I said, "Sorry I didn't order the house salad" only to be horrified that there a mixed greens salad was iceberg lettuce mixed with one tom, one cucumber and one carrot, and my sister saying, "sorry she's from California". SIGH. (It's much better now, and New Orleans has great local foods, that I basically filled up on when there-most of it blackened and most of it rice and beans).

So at this workshop, I was really in a state of shock at the food that they thought was healthy. Here's an example. Putting out romaine lettuce and oil & vinegar and calling it a healthy meal is strange to me. That was the salad-the only salad. I CRAVED veggies & beans. It was weird to me. They are awesome at this place and really try to make everyone happy. I realized quickly that it was where I live that was the problem. My issue, not there's. They were GREAT. I just want to make that clear. 

People were like, "what do you eat?", and I'd say, "I eat healthy" only to get perplexed expressions of complete and utter confusion back.

When I said that I ate a lot of rice and beans with veggies, people were really confused.

Here is what I eat normally: avocados, eggs (they did have eggs for breakfast and sometimes slices at lunch, so I ate a lot of eggs there), cucumbers, tomatoes, red-yellow-orange-green peppers, onions, (at least three or four different kinds) garlic, zucchini, squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes, (like three different kinds) black beans, rice, plantains, cashews, broccoli (which they did have once or twice), french green beans, chick peas (as hummus and plain), corn, kale, spinach, arugula, romaine, etc.. all the salad mixes, fresh herbs, sometimes pasta, rice-especially with beans. Salmon, and tuna sometimes. Fruit smoothies, tons of green juices. Meat usually twice a week-sorry vegans, my body needs it. And, this is just off the top of my head. I follow the Blue Zone diet-it's a healthy way to eat. I am not extreme in either direction.

Oh and like once every two weeks, salad pizza. Which is a pizza base, no sauce, some kind of cheese with fruit, and then a salad on top-I know this is super California, but it's awesome.

I don't eat, processed cereals, chips, cookies, etc.. that they had out. I found myself starving. Out of desperation, I grabbed a trail mix at Walmart, (cuz a few of us needed things and that was 8 miles away) and ate Kashi cereal in the morning, with whole milk that I had to ask for. I guess back east people still think that low-fat milk is healthy, it's not, it's heavily processed.

Everyone else loved the food-well there were a few of us who by Thursday talked in our own little group about how starving we were, but since everyone else was happy with it, that was as far as it went.

The things they had that I did eat, and do eat in real life, just not every day, was cheese, and tuna. They made a great tuna salad with white beans one day at lunch that was amazing, it didn't have mayo or anything and I loved it, but it was only once.

I lost 8 lbs, and was sick every night on a non planned fast/cleanse, and was craving real food. I lost eight pounds in a week.

About midweek, I realized. HOLY SHIT I'M A CALIFORNIAN! I guess I thought that everyone eats this way. They don't. I honestly believe that here there are staple foods; red-yellow-green peppers, onions, black beans, red beans, rice, corn, cilantro, tomatoes, etc..and then all the greens, we eat a lot of greens here, and AVOCADOS! Yes I eat them every day, I do. Someone actually said, "you eat those every day??" Like I was from Mars. Yup, I do. I missed them.

It's okay, I'm embracing my new realization, and I will be more mentally prepared next time I leave my little world here. Unless I go to a city, I will plan to eat differently.

I am happy that I lost 8 lbs, it's nice to come home to my clothes being a little looser. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Social Media Blunders

Sometimes social media can be difficult, mostly because people do a lot of things that they wouldn't do in an office or social event.

For example:

Last week a long time FB friend deleted and blocked me, since I have known her for a while, I asked her why via email, and she said. "you posted about the confederate flag and.. yadda yadda."

I replied "Nope that wasn't me, I never posted about it on my page or replied to a comment on someone else's."

She said that it was on her friend's page-someone I don't even know. I replied back telling her that, and she said, "I don't have time to deal with this, I'm not even reading it." so.. now guess what?

 She deleted the wrong person. It doesn't bother me, but my suggestion for people who do this kind of thing, be sure you are paying attention to who you are deleting etc. This kind of behavior causes unneeded drama. Now I don't care, whatever, it's her life, but what if she did that to someone who is not as nice as I am?

Another thing to avoid is complaining on your page about your agent, editor, boss or peers. This happens all the time, it's a real problem.

Cyber bullying or stalking someone.

Etc.. so just remember DO ONTO OTHERS.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

I Posted About Equality Today and What Happened Next Shocked Me

Today something amazing happened in this country----yup you know it. Finally equal rights for everyone on marriage. This is a huge and I'm so happy to call myself an American-FINALLY, I can stand up tall and be thrilled with news. I was so excited in fact, that I posted three articles about it on Facebook.

Little did I know. 

Three words often used in literature to lead into something bad... little did I know that..

I was about to be sent a friggen' ISIS video to "teach me a lesson" from a fellow (aspiring) teen author.

This person actually deleted me from FB, because I posted the news, but before she did that, she sent me this HORRIFIC video, that I can't ever get out of my mind now to show me what non Christians (her words not mine) do to Christians, and the world needs to be rid of people like me. (again her words.... who does that sound like? WOW--rid of people like me... the words are raw, stale and full of hate.)

 Now, I'm not sure how me posting articles about equal rights makes me the same as a terrorist, but in her eyes we are the same. The video was of a few men being drowned. I wish I could ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND it out of my head. I can't. I wish that I had not opened it. I wish that there wasn't so much hate in the world.

I also do my best not to judge others for their beliefs, but I don't know what version of the bible she is reading that has taught her that having love for all people is the same as carrying out an act of terrorism. I think that she needs to reread it because I'm sure she has missed the point entirely of what it's teaching.

She went on to say that people like me (SIGH) shouldn't be allowed to write for kids, and she is going to write a letter to the head of the SCBWI to tell them that all members need to be "Christians" because we need to teach kids this, and it's unsafe to have people like me as members-all because I posted the news today.

I can't believe that she did this.

I knew this woman was conservative because she was in a writing group that I was in and she read my first chapter of one of my novels and promptly bitched me out for having the teens at a party drinking and what teens do at parties. Yes she is older, she could be my mother, and yes she is conservative, but today she went too far.

Instead of teaching teens hate, shouldn't we be teaching them about LOVE, and EQUALITY for everyone? Shouldn't we lead by example? 

I don't understand why it matters to anyone who gets married to whom, and who sleeps with who--I don't understand the hate.

I'm so disturbed by this woman's behavior today.

I for one, am so happy that we finally have equality in this country. Aren't we supposed to be the leaders in this kind of thing? Other countries, have had equality for years.

Today I am proud to be an American. It's been a great week, and our president is awesome.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

RIGHT TO WORK Contracts & Copyright, What it Means for Artists

RIGHT TO WORK Contracts & Copyright, What it Means for Artists

(mostly in this blog I'm talking about children's books)

 Earlier this week on Facebook,  there was a discussion from an artist about taking work for hire work as an illustrator and whether or not she could ask for royalties, it was/is a great discussion, but it did get side tracked and turned into a conversation on copyright.

I am just sharing information.

 One of the persons in the conversation said that artists automatically keep the copyright and just look in any book on the shelves-those are NOT "work for hire" books, they are from big publishers and yes that is the case, artists do retain the copyright. It is standard for artists to retain copyrights, but if an artist is signing a "work for hire" contract they do need to add in a "right of use" clause or just have a right of use contract instead of the work for hire.

I am talking specifically about WORK FOR HIRE here, not traditional publishing.

There are exceptions to every rule, and yes many authors and illustrators pair up and work together for splits, that is their choice, but for illustrators working for flat rates, for hire, etc.. they do need to know that they need to have this clause in there, or they will not hold the copyright.

It's just like working for a big company like Disney, etc-here is a link about the law-this is worldwide, not just in the USA.

I am sharing this information not to be a know it all, but just sharing so both authors and illustrators understand.

I didn't know any of this until about my 5th book and my author said, "you signed a work for hire, so I own all the drawings." I did get credit from her, but she was the first one who told me what "work for hire" meant in that way.

 I posted about it on my FB personal page and about 60 other artists confirmed my worst nightmare, that I did NOT own the copyright anymore.

So now I do "right to use" so I don't get burned, it works well. If I let the copyright go, then I charge a lot more; unless of course this is work on an existing property.

All of this information can be found with a little time and Google. The Writers and Illustrator market books are also good, and the SCBWI, and the Graphic Artist Guild. I apologize to anyone if my comments offended anyone, as that is never my intention. I just want to share what I've learned. Thanks so much and I hope this helps clear it up. http://worksmadeforhire.com/ I'm in the US so I am posting the US one, but in that other thread I posted one about world wide copyright.

It's a very tricky thing for artists and we all need to be aware. Just read your contracts thoroughly before you sigh. Most authors have no problems with the "right to use" clause.  ;)