ROW80 Check-In and a Word of Caution to Authors

Progress Report:

Well I came in at 1471 words on Monday.  0 Tuesday, but that’s why I wrote almost double on Monday because I knew I wouldn’t have a moment to write yesterday with our annual retreat and my subsequent visit with my grandmother.  Her 95th birthday was lovely, thank you for asking.

I got home last night at 8 and immediately dove into finishing class prep for the start of the semester today.  I’m having total smartphone love because during the morning half of our endless staff meeting yesterday, I got about half of my abnormal class set up FROM MY PHONE.  It’s definitely not my preferred method of doing so, but it kept me from being awake until all hours last night when I got back.  So yay.

And now on to the serious stuff.

A lot of what I’m about to tell you should be perfectly obvious and common sense, but I know there are a lot of you out there who aren’t worried about it or don’t think it could happen to you.

Back when I was making the decision whether I wanted to use my pen name or a real name, one of the reasons on the pen name side that was far lower on the totem pole was from a safety standpoint.  There are a lot of unbalanced people out there.  I didn’t REALLY think anybody would fixate on me, but it was on the list.  For me it was more about keeping my lives separate.

I am really really glad I have a pen name, y’all.

I don’t want to get into the details.  I’m fine.  My family is fine.  I don’t think this person had any malicious intent.  Nothing truly HAPPENED other than my getting rather creeped out.  But you never know.

I feel a lot safer because I have a pen name.  There is no connection anywhere online between my pen name and my real name.  I do not display my address or phone number.  I’ve never posted a picture of my home or my family (other than my dogs).  I’ve been careful.

There’s this tendency for false intimacy between people online.  We develop rapid friendships with people and wind up telling them all kinds of personal stuff that we probably shouldn’t.  In most cases it’s fine.  And you can develop lasting and dependable relationships.  Hell, I met my husband online.  Some of my best friends as well.  My mother is always concerned when I meet these people that I’m going to get murdered.  I figure most people don’t spend months of maintaining a cover of being a SAHM with a small child that drives them nuts or a struggling grad student or whatever on the off chance that I’ll come to visit.  And in the case of my husband–well Mississippi is one big small town and we actually knew mutual people, so I could have him checked out.

With the brouhaha over the privacy settings on Facebook, I would hope that people are more aware that they shouldn’t be letting their personal information hang out there for all to see.  But I still see people doing it.  Because they think nothing is going to happen.

People, it could.

Statistically, it probably won’t, but it could.  And you need to be careful.

/PSA

11 thoughts on “ROW80 Check-In and a Word of Caution to Authors

  1. I’m glad that you and your family are fine, but that is still a scary, creepy thing! Happy Birthday to your grandmother!

  2. I think this is a very smart post. I chose a pen name for other reasons, but the safety should be a priority. Sometimes, I’m a little too open with people and I need to be more careful. I probably have too much info on my personal (not my author) Facebook profile. Thanks for pointing these things out to us.

  3. Great advice. Wish I’d gone with a pen from the beginning.

  4. Glad to hear everything is okay and it’s always a good reminder.

  5. Thanks for the reminder. Glad everything is okay. It’s so nice you got to spend time with your grandmother. Happy Birthday to her.

  6. Brian Hutchinson

    Great advice, I didn’t use a pen name, I do use one for the hot heavy breathing stuff, but that is somewhere else.
    Glad you and your family are okay and happy birthday to your Grandma, that is a milestone.
    One thing about scares like that, great writing material!

  7. Sad and true, both cyber stalking & cyber bulling are on the increase. Great post.
    FYI Network for surviving stalking: http://www.nss.org.uk/
    I had a similar problem and it’s very scary.

  8. Thanks for the PSA – it’s something I know, but reminders are good!

  9. I am so sorry your grandmother’s birthday was marred by creepiness. You’ve given me a lot to think about. My little ebook is barely a week old but I think I’ll take another look at security anyway.

  10. I use a pen name too. For various reasons, but I am a stalker magnet – which is why I don’t get close to people online anymore. So, I concur. 🙂

  11. Kait, I’m so glad all is well.

    I use a pen name as well – but only because I have a middle schooler and her friends were very excited about me writing a book. They expected it to be YA, and it is SO not… The pen name makes it a little harder (I’m not naive enough to think impossible) to find my writings, and their parents appreciate the effort.

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