a writer who believes in writing what you know ... a woman who's proud to be called "mom" ... a wife who has met her match ... a friend who can listen over a cup of coffee and shop for the best deal ... a television enthusiast who secretly watches reality shows (like everyone else)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cyber Relationships... Real, Fantasy, or Just a Way Out???

Why write a novel about Facebook? Simple answer...it's never really been done before.  With over seven hundred million users on the most popular social network alone, a new society has developed with real people, situations, events, games, etc...  All functioning together, well more like a dysfunctional family, all with different agendas, some secretive, others honest, but all are known simply as a "friend."

What happens next ... a separation occurs when people are tested. Is it simple curiosity, the temptation of the past or something exciting and new, or just a blatant way of getting out of your current situation?  Cyber relationships can have an endless backstory...single man, single woman reconnect after so many years apart, single "friend" reaches out to a married "friend" from the past, if confirmed, the single friend flirts with their ex, causing friction between the married friend and their spouse, or single friend and married friend rekindle a friendship on Facebook until they discover an emotional connection causing married friend to second-guess their current situation.  The list can go on, the different variations on many of the same stories...the people can change but the reality in many cases can end up the same.

I recently wrote an article about this very topic and was fortunate to have it posted on many online sites and newspapers:

Cyber Relationships ... Real, Fantasy, or Just a Way Out?

After an exhausting day, all you want to do is put your feet up and spend time with the person you care about the most … and then your spouse walks into the room.  Upon their arrival, you close your computer hoping you don’t appear too startled to raise suspicion.  Sharing intimate details of your life on Facebook with someone else probably wouldn’t go over so well with your significant other.  Your relief is temporary, because this will likely become a reoccurring theme when you continue to “network” with that special person.

This deception happens every day when a person decides to carry on an affair, especially one where social media plays a prime role.  With over 700 million users on Facebook alone, many of those ask themselves, “am I crossing the line?” when they carry on with another “friend” either new or old.
Things become foggy when you’re consistently tempted to look up an ex or confirm a friend who may not be the greatest choice to allow back into your life.  The lines begin to blur and lies turn into infidelity. Before becoming just another statistic, ask yourself these three questions:
IS THE RELATIONSHIP REAL?  Cyber relationships are tricky.  Either you begin to correspond or communicate with someone after a reconnection or you meet someone entirely new.  This excitement or newness resembles the easier days without responsibilities, work, and children. You feel special from all the attention solely focused on you, swept away with the thought of a less complicated life.
The reality may be difficult to swallow when you realize that the person you make that connection with a. may not be the person you thought you knew or b. turns out to be very similar to the person you’re currently with when the fun times fade and reality slaps you in the face. Social networking hands you the opportunity to be anyone you want to be. Someone living in a fantasy may not grasp the impact on their family and themselves. Their new relationship is real to them, but could it be masked by all the hype that surrounds social networking. When you take away Facebook, and you’re just one on one, can you look at the person and feel your new reality will stand the test of time?
WHAT IS LIFE LIKE? Lonely or feeling like you want more out of life? Vulnerability, mixed with the ease of connecting (or reconnecting) with people, is a recipe that may derail one’s path.  A person may feel they’re receiving more support from a friend than a spouse. This attention sometimes leads to a tighter bond with your social media “friend” than the person you sleep next to at night. But is this new relationship based on finding the support, more so than the person giving it? 
Sometimes the relationship is not about the attraction or compatibility but the needed strength to get out of a difficult or lonely situation. Ask yourself, are you using this new relationship as an out? Do you truly believe this person will be around in six months? Be honest with yourself with where you are in life, and why you’ve pursued another relationship in the first place.
 WHY TAKE THE RISK? Some people are going to cheat, whether facilitated by cyber relationships or not. Others may look for their ex and get into trouble pursuing the past or innocently be struck out of the blue with a connection they never thought would happen. Are you impulsive and want to just go for it? Have you thought about the consequences and decided to cross the line anyway? Ask yourself, are you risking your marriage or relationship because you found a more exciting and passionate person; think this is your soul mate; or feel this is your way out of your current situation?
Even if you get wrapped up in the hype and the temptation seems too much to handle, there’s always that split second before you post something or encourage communication when you know you shouldn’t.  Your actions could destroy the ones you love and change your life completely.  Ask yourself, why would I choose to face those consequences? If you deal with the truth before you cross the line, you may save yourself from making a huge mistake.
Couples are now citing Facebook on their divorce papers as one of the reasons their marriage fell apart.  Can social media be blamed for giving everyone such an easy tool to cheat? Words of advice, be honest with yourself, because your decisions are yours, and only yours, to make.
Social networking sites aren’t losing sleep over your choices, that job is solely your responsibility.

Tell me what you think! 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Below is an article I wrote that just hit online and newspapers...

 Do you have your own rules when it comes to social networking? 
Let me know!

Just in time … six (unofficial) rules to live by when using Facebook

Over 700 million users on Facebook have faced this dilemma … confirm or ignore a friend request.  We’ve all been there, weighing the options of allowing yet another friend into our lives.  Some may be nonchalant about adding friends, “the more the merrier.” Other users may be more selective, only allowing “specific” friends into their lives.  One thing they all have in common… there aren’t many rules when it comes to Facebook. 

Social networking is a huge force to be reckoned with.  We are consumed by posting on news feeds, giving status updates, and sharing pictures with our “friends.” But what does all of this mean?  More than you think… here are six (unofficial) rules for using Facebook.

1.     Know your friends.  First and foremost, would you randomly walk up to a total stranger, and show them a picture of your adorable and innocent children? Most likely not, but yet people accept friend requests from friends of friends they barely know, or strangers who happen to know someone they’ve met once.  Participating in the world of social networking doesn’t mean you have to throw all your regular rules out the door. Just because you can’t see the predator at the door doesn’t mean they aren’t lurking in cyberspace when you’re safety guard is down.  When you’re chatting with someone, are you chatting with a true “friend?”   Think about the person you’re adding, and who’ll be seeing the most intimate details of your life.  Posting your husband will be out of town for a couple days is probably not the best idea, but numerous times a day, people do share this type of information.  Would you post a huge note on your front door reading, “My husband is not home, he’s away on business until Friday?” Common sense and knowing who you’re friends are will help keep you and your secrets safe within your inner circle of friends.

2.     Know what matters to you. People often join Facebook on a whim, but don’t really grasp the enormity of what social networking has become. Why are you choosing to be a member? Do you want to catch up with old friends? Do you want to share your life with everyone you know, or are you just nosy and want to snoop around and not participate? If you’ve identified yourself as at least one of these people, than you’re a step ahead of everyone else.  Always remember the real reason you joined a social networking site in the first place. If you start straying from that truth and allow outside influences to distract you, anyone’s judgment can become clouded.  Stick with what matters and be honest with yourself.  If you own your actions and the way you handle yourself on Facebook, you’re less likely to run into trouble.

3.     Know what to share. Who are your “friends?” Do you care who sees your posts or pictures? If the answer is no, than go about your day but still have your eyes wide open for your sake. For people who want to share their information and details of their life with just “friends,” think before posting or downloading. Once you click the button, there’s really no turning back. Yes, you can delete your post or pictures, but who is to say someone hasn’t already taken your words or photos and saved them to their account or computer? An innocent post or picture can be timeless in the world of social networking. Don’t take the power of social media lightly.

4.     Know if you want to please people. Are you “liking” everything in sight? Do you encourage and comment on “friend’s” posts constantly? Do you say things you really don’t mean, because you don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings?  Facebook and social networking can mirror high school, the days where acceptance and fitting in were staples in the world of adolescence.  Fast-forward five, ten, or twenty years.  If you had the chance to do anything over or be someone else, would you? Being true to who you are is probably one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Don’t sell out or pretend to be someone you’re not, and sacrifice a part of you for that acceptance.  Try not to compromise yourself for people who you didn’t really care for in the first place.

5.     Know to anticipate the “what ifs.”  No one really thinks confirming a friend is difficult, but it’s not as innocent as it seems.  What if your ex friends you out of the blue? Do you confirm them as a friend? What if you’re married? Do you tell your mate your ex has friended you…or is it none of their business? What if your spouse finds out you confirmed an ex without disclosing or discussing it first? What if you aren’t prepared to allow someone back into your life? Temptation has never been this close. With a click of a button, you can see what your ex is doing at that very moment and instantly communicate with a person you haven’t seen in years.  Are you prepared for what comes next? Curiosity can lead to the “what ifs” being answered, even if they aren’t necessarily good.

6.     Know your boundaries. How far is too far?  You’re married but speak with an old friend, sharing more intimate thoughts with that person than your significant other. An emotional connection can lead to something more dangerous … a physical affair. Can a friendship with an ex be platonic? Is discussing intimate topics, meeting for coffee or dinner, and becoming more secretive and withdrawn from your significant other crossing the line? Can you look in the mirror, and know you’re not doing anything wrong? Temptation and availability can cloud someone’s judgment, leading to mistakes and regret. When have you gone too far? Difficult questions that should be answered before it’s too late.

Nowadays, Facebook and other social networking sites are under a microscope. Without many rules, people are making mistakes and paying for them.  Have you encountered anything in life that hasn’t had some form of rules or regulations? Temptation is a driving force within social media. People simply can’t help themselves, but what are the consequences? Recent scandals show no one is immune to scrutiny and the negative spotlight that comes from making a mistake on social networking sites.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Speaking with the ladies of Broad Topics in LA & more...

My radio interview with the ladies of "Broad Topics" from LA Talk Radio. We chatted about Facebook...the good, the bad, and the most juicy topics coming straight from social networking:

I've been very fortunate in the last week or so to chat with many radio hosts across the country...I wanted to sincerely thank them for speaking with me about, with just one click, and the current headlines revolving around social media.

I'd also like to thank Samantha over at Chick Lit Plus... I'm so excited for my blog tour that is coming up in July!  If you enjoy chick lit books, she has great recommendations and reviews on so many interesting and entertaining books!


***The timing is ironic that I'm promoting a book about relationships/friendships on social networking and there is so much in the news currently about this same topic.  With seven hundred plus users on Facebook and not many rules to adhere to, people navigating through social media are left to their own devices.  I think this highlights the fact that this topic is so timely, because we are trying to figure out what all this social media really means...the good and the bad.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

FIrst Reading/Signing...

I was fortunate to have my first book reading/signing for, with just one click, at the Andover Bookstore on May 26th.  Besides the heat that night, I was overwhelmed at the amount of support for the book and me!  Here are a a couple pictures from the event:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

with just one click KINDLE 3G GIVEAWAY!

I'm very excited to announce the with just one click... Kindle 3G + WI-FI Giveaway!!!

The details:

One lucky winner will receive a brand new Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology(worth $190!)

Contest runs from May 4th, 2011-June 17th, 2011...

Enter by 1.) purchasing a copy of with just one click,(doesn't matter if it's in hardcover, paperback, or ebook) during the contest dates 2.) emailing me one picture of both a.) your receipt with the order/confirmation number and date of purchase (feel free to cross out all personal information) and b.) your copy of the actual book or Kindle/Nook version...


One entry per person unless you suggest or mention the contest to someone else. If you get another person to enter the contest, email me with the name and email address of that person. Once I receive confirmation of their entry, you automatically receive five more entries into the giveaway...that's five chances closer to win our super prize!) 

Email - info@amanda-strong.com 


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I've talked about being self-published and the reasons behind it...I've also chatted about how there are ups and downs with this process I've ventured on...but today made all of that worth it.  This morning I did my usual rounds and checked Amazon to see if by any chance, with just one click was there...every day for the last nine weeks, the same thing would happen...nothing.  BUT today was different...I knew when I saw the number of books in the literature & fiction section under the title...there were two additions(yes, I made a mental note of how many books were in that category...hate to admit it, but it's true!) And yes, low and behold, in front of my eyes, the title, with just one click, stared back at me...I was finally out in the "public" for everyone to see. I immediately checked Barnes and Noble...and was happy to see, this wasn't a fluke.

My feelings were all over the place...excited, nervous, and even a little overwhelmed...this day is a BIG deal for me.  Starting a year and a half ago, I placed a pen in my hand and began my journey...and I've never looked back.  Today represents a start of the next leg of my journey as a new author. Most people don't know who I am or that the book is available yet...BUT this day is so much more than that.  This day represents one part of a puzzle piece that was missing in my life...the sense of my own accomplishment...the feeling that I did this...I put faith in me and my work and didn't allow myself to sabotage or get in my own way.

I'm sure everyone has done this before...you start second guessing yourself, doubt creeps into your head, and you begin to sidestep, ultimately bowing out of something. I know I've done that myself and the only thing that brings is disappointment and more excuses.  Today, I stand on my own two feet knowing that taking a chance on yourself is the ultimate gift. Of course, there could be failures and disappointments ahead, but without those, a person can't grow and learn from their mistakes.  Will I make a mistakes...probably? Will I succeed...maybe? That's the beauty of today... if I didn't take that leap of faith and go forward with this novel, no one would ever know about it.  If I decided to allow the negative thoughts to cloud my judgement, with just one click might've been trapped in my computer as a Word document for MY EYES ONLY forever!

Funny, I was watching The Biggest Loser tonight(I warned you already about my habits on watching reality shows) and one of the contestants had this epiphany about being able to stand on her own and accepting accountability for her own actions.

Today, I stand owning every decision I've made up until this point.  Do I feel the weight and pressure on my shoulders? Of course...but that isn't going to stop me from moving ahead to my ultimate goal...being recognized as a respectable author in contemporary fiction.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Self-Publishing and the RISK...

Self publishing is a whole new world to me...I'm flying solo, learning as I go...you might ask why I chose this form of publishing instead of the traditional way...well, I surprised myself when I took on this uphill battle.   When I was writing, with just one click, I had every intention of submitting the manuscript to literary agents...during that process, someone had mentioned Lulu.com. I stored the information in the back of my head with no real intentions of looking into the self publishing world.

Now, what happened next is sort of  one of those moments where you rethink EVERYTHING and wonder if somehow this isn't a mistake. Before submitting the book to agents, I decided to use Lulu's services, mainly paying for an editorial analysis for a professional opinion.  I researched on how much the service would cost, and when I finally went to purchase the analysis...my computer wouldn't let me.  Literally, the button where I could choose to add the service to my cart was NOT there.  I emailed Lulu and they started looking into it...a day went by, I'd check and still nothing.  Two or three days went by and then it happened...I started rethinking my options.

 I took this delay as a sign....at that moment, I CHOSE to self publish.  Now, I didn't choose this lightly, but once I made the decision, I was at peace and only looked forward.  Being serious about the book, I chose to purchase a pre-publishing package with Lulu that included an editorial analysis, a full edit, and professional help with the front & back covers.  And from then on, I forged ahead with reviewing over hundreds and hundreds of photos on Fotolia.com (a royalty free photo website) for the cover. (I even used some photos from this site when I created my book trailer!)  The process went extremely well, and I felt like I was dealing with real professionals when I received the analysis, edit, and layout of the covers. I took this entire process seriously...so much so, I opted for a publicity package offered through Lulu-I will be working with Smith publicity on a three month campaign once the book hits Amazon(any day now!)

I know some people hear self-publishing and think, "Oh, you couldn't get a publisher so you resorted to publishing your book anyways...even though it probably got rejected by the REAL professionals. If your book was worthy of publishing than a literary agent would've wanted to take you on as a client."


Are those authors not to be taken seriously too?  Stereotyping and grouping a whole community with a "not-worthy" title just because they didn't follow a traditional path doesn't seem right to me. That's like saying, all authors who are tied to traditional publishing are legitimate and automatically worthy of a readers time. What about judging the actual contents instead of how the novel was published?

My reasons for self publishing was about TIME...with just one click is a current novel that surrounds Facebook and social networking...if I began to submit the novel to literary agents the process could've taken six to eight months...and that's just to get an agent.  I felt very strongly this novel needed to be available sooner than later... this doesn't mean I don't see myself one day in a traditional publishing situation...just not at this very moment.

I am taking a HUGE risk...but in an ideal world, I self publish the book, and do everything possible to give this book a chance (and with a bit of luck, my efforts may payoff.) What's life without taking risks? I feel like I'm up for the challenge!

I have to be, "ALL IN," to even have a chance for the publishing world and readers out there to take me seriously, especially coming out of the gate for the first time. As the author, if I'm not excited and passionate about the book, why would anyone else be?? That's why for me, I NEED to know at the end of the day, regardless of what happens, I did everything I could possibly do for the book and for myself as an author.

Self publishing is definitely an uphill battle, a risk that can only be described as a roller coaster, everything falls to me, the author. Are there times I say, "what am I doing?" Of course, especially when I'm doing things now that were foreign to me up until a few months ago. BUT I don't second guess my decision to self publish. How could I when I'm just in the beginning of a long journey? I liken this process to running a small business ... there are long hours, the commitment has to be there, it may take awhile for your effort to be recognized, there will be criticism, and you have to hope for the BEST!

Share your thoughts about self publishing and traditional publishing with me... How do you select the books you read?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why did I write, with just one click?

MY BACKGROUND: Whoa...my first blog entry...here we go!  First of all, writing has always felt natural to me...I even went to college for scriptwriting and minored in writing, but never fully developed any of my projects after graduating.  I got married, had two children, and kind've placed my passion for writing on hold...shoved into a closet for "another" day.  Well, THAT day finally came.  I guess I could say the very life I lived and still live in typical suburbia actually inspired me like nothing I'd ever experienced before.

THE STORY: A couple of years ago, I started to hear things about Facebook.  I found the sorted details fascinating, because one day I would hear one thing, then the next week I'd hear something else.  REAL stories, happening to REAL people...all coming from the world of social networking. After awhile, I'd kiddingly say to my husband, "I should write a book about this." Months went on, I heard more stories, and I started to say, "That's going in the book." Finally, after repeatedly "joking" about writing a book, I said, " I'm going to write a book."

BRAINSTORMING:  When I realized I was actually going to do this, I sat down and wrote out an outline for the book.  This was the most important part of writing the novel for me...I knew I wanted to have multiple themes that were relatable but unique in some way.  The most intriguing part of Facebook for me are the relationships...there are so many layers of social networking. I wanted to try to peel back just a few of them to reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly.

with just one click: The title represents the meaning behind the book...there are three women with three very different stories-there's Chloe, friended by an ex who left her standing at seventeen with a note in her hand, there's Morgan, a loyal wife and mother who finds out her husband is friends with a flirtatious and single ex, and there's Brynn, a married, but lonely forty year-old who begins to have an emotional relationship with a friend. Each character has a moment where, with just one click, their life has changed. I'm not saying for the better or worse, that's up to the reader to debate and conclude on their own.
Here's the rundown-Chloe's life will change whether she clicks the button to confirm or ignore her ex-boyfriend...if she accepts, she allows a person back into her life who she hasn't forgotten or fully forgiven.  If she denies the request, the lingering thoughts of,  "what did he really want" or the, "what if's" will always be with her.  Morgan's life is a little bit different, because she doesn't have the control...she didn't click the button.  If her husband didn't choose to confirm his ex, she would've never known anything and their solid marriage would've continued...but by choosing to accept this friend and not tell his wife, his actions cause her to become jealous and paranoid.  Brynn's life is all about her choices...she chooses to accept an old boyfriend back into her life and risks losing her family and marriage.  If she didn't confirm this man as a friend, would she still face the same issues...or did Facebook contribute to her problems?

THE RESULT: After I decided on the central themes in the book, the characters just came to me.  I spent most nights between 9pm to 2am writing this book.  It took me a  year to write the novel...with 180,000 words, I think I could've had three novels, but I did knock that down to roughly 128,000 words.  I felt I needed to give justice to the three main characters and tell their complete story, but there's a reason why they aren't separate--the reader finds out when the time is right!

***This book gave me back something that had long been missing...the one thing that I could call my own...writing is what I love to do, and this novel has made me believe in myself and my dreams again...people always say you should do what you love. I do not know what the future holds, but I know I'm going to give everything I have and try my best.

Tomorrow, I'm going to talk about self-publishing, the risk I'm taking, and why I feel like I have to be "all in"to be taken seriously.

But before I go, let me know if you or anyone you know has faced some of these same situations on Facebook? (without naming names, of course!)