Elle Cosimano

Where I've Been

I’m shaking the dust off my blog and realizing it’s been a while since I’ve been here. Too long.

Truth is, I’m in the process of re-designing. My talented friend, Tessa Elwood at Pop Color Web Design (oh, did I  mention she’s also a brilliant writer and photographer?) is working up an amazing custom site and I can’t wait to unveil it. Meanwhile, I’ve been guest blogging, interviewing, and visiting some great places. In case you missed them, here’s where I’ve been and a sneak peek at some of the exciting places I’m going.

Recently, I was a guest blogger at the YA Muses where I talk about writing The End.

blogged at Ink & Angst about Artist Statements and my acceptance into the Nevada SCBWI Mentor Program. I’ll be spending three days in Lake Tahoe this May with NYT Bestselling author Ellen Hopkins, working on my WIP. It still feels strange and wonderful to say this out loud.

My book recently appeared in RT Book Reviews Book Buzz. Find it under “Young Adult” in the section called Piquing Curiosity.

Here is my Author Interview at Greenhouse Literary Agency. Yep, I’m official!

I’ve become a member of The Lucky 13s, an amazing group of children’s and YA authors debuting in 2013.

Here’s my SAT Interview at Writer, Writer Pants On Fire. LOVE the name of this blog!

I recently appearared in the Big Sur Writing Workshop Blog and the Henry Miller Memorial Library Blog.

My book recently appeared in Bookshelves of Doom: Upcoming YA Titles and Daisy Chain Book Reviews.

My book has been added at Goodreads and Library Thing.

I’ve joined the International Thriller Writers Association.

I’ve registered to attend The Writer’s Police Academy in September.

I’m donating a query critique for Crits for Water in June.

Finally, this Monday, April 9th, you’ll find me guest blogging with the fine romance authors at Chicklets In The Kitchen where I’m sharing my favorite Passover memories and a recipe for Matzo Brei.

Whew!

That’s it. Why are you still here? Go read something.

Apr

05, 2012 |

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I promise you won't go blind…

(Disclaimer: This post is about masturbation. All those too chicken to talk about it may abort now. I promise you won’t go blind. But you may stay ignorant. I can’t help you with that.)

So here we go…

I have a Facebook page with a small clan of loyal followers (mostly friends, family, and old colleagues). My “Average Daily Users” hover in the neighborhood of five. One of them is usually my mother.

It’s cool. I get it. I’m not very important.

This morning, just because I was curious, I checked out my Insights Report, neat functionality that allows me to see a snapshot of activity (or lack of) on my page.

Here’s what I saw…

Active Facebook Users Feb 7 Daily Post Views

My “Average Daily Users” and my “Average Post Views” shot up to 85 on February 7th.

From 5 to 85 in one day! WTF?

What did I post on my page on February 7th? So I went back to my Wall and looked.

This huge spike in traffic occurred the day I posted a link to “Sticky The Movie” — a documentary about masturbation. I can’t embed the trailer, but here’s a link. If you haven’t watched it, go ahead and check it out now, and then come back… I’ll wait.

So I crunched a few numbers with a calculator (cut me some slack… I failed Basic College Math 101 all three times) and then I threw the calculator out the window. But here’s my best estimate:

Video link + masturbation theme = a big freaking increase in traffic in one day… for one post.

And yet, not one “Like” or one Comment. And not one person shared the link. Hmmm…

Obviously, everyone is very interested in the subject of masturbation. And we all know everyone’s done it. (Any brownie points you think you earn by denying it are wasted. You just wipe them out by lying about it.) Is it possible, that in this modern day of progressive and liberal thinkers, we are still too afraid to talk about masturbating? Seriously?

So, you might say “Elle, your followers are all teens who are probably just too embarrassed to talk about “it” [giggle into your hand and insert creative euphemism of choice here].”

But you would be wrong.

The vast majority of my followers are not teens. And I’ll prove it…

Facebook Page Gender and Age chart

So now you say, “Big deal. We’re grown ups and we don’t have to talk about it.”

To which I respectfully call bullshit.

Those of you in the big, fat column marked “Ages 25-44” are also probably parents. Many of you are parents of teenagers, or will be very soon. My guess is most of you have not, and will not, talk about masturbation with your kids. Most don’t. And we can’t rely on MTV or American Pie (as awesome as that movie is) to do the job for us. These are just vague references, watered down in bathroom humor and flashy lyrics. (Most of my adolescent friends and I thought Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop” actually was a dance move or a day-glow plastic o-ring bracelet, and The Divinyls “I Touch Myself” didn’t come on the scene until I was college-bound.)

So my point is, no one is really talking about it.

And here’s a true story about that.

When I was a freshman, one of my best guy-friends from high school called me. (For those of you who’ve known me that long, no, I will not share his name, so don’t ask.) For today’s story, we’ll call him Fred. Fred was a little late to bloom and struggled a bit in the cruel and sadistic middle school/high school social mix. He was distraught and crying on the phone (yes, guys sometimes cry).

Fred told me he thought there was something wrong with him and he wanted to kill himself. So I asked him why. He told me he’d touched himself. I asked him if it felt good, and did he make a big mess. He said yes. I assured him his plumbing was fine. There was nothing wrong with him, and not to forget to wear a condom if he had any plans to do it with anyone else.

That’s the problem, he said. Fred assumed his desire to touch his own penis (yes, I said it… go ahead and get your giggles out now. We’ll probably say it again… penis, penis, penis…) must be an indication of sexual preference. He assumed it meant he was gay. And he was devastated by the sudden and frightening implications of what he’d just done to himself.

So I asked him, Fred, what were you thinking about when you got excited? He told me he’d pilfered his Dad’s Playboy (back then, porn came delivered to your house in conspicuously inconspicuous paper sacks) and he was thinking about the centerfold, a blonde with particularly large breasts.

Scary dilemma #2 was solved. No, Fred, you’re probably not gay, I said. And touching yourself when you think of naked ladies is normal. And even if you were fantasizing about boy parts and hot guys, there would still be nothing wrong with you!

But it’s a penis, he argued. He didn’t like penises. Why did he want to touch one? And if it was normal, and all the other guys were doing it, why wasn’t anybody talking about it?

Fred raises a great question. Why isn’t anybody talking about it. Not joking or giggling or making up dance moves about it. Really talking about it. I couldn’t answer that question then. I still can’t. But here’s what still bugs me about this…

1- Fred was scared to death because he touched himself, and he felt dirty and guilty and wrong for doing it.

2- Fred wanted to kill himself because he thought he might be gay.

Now here’s the real eye opener…

3- What if Fred was your teenager? What would you say to him if you could? What if you never got the chance?

Three really good discussion points. Who volunteers to go first?

I know we can’t expect the schools to tackle this subject in Health Ed. And frankly, there are a few teachers I can think of who might be the exception to the “everyone is doing it” theory. Or maybe it’s just been too long since they’ve tried. Not sure how effective that class lecture might be, and a little afraid to think about it.

So where do we begin having some intelligent adult conversations?

Here’s a start. If you’re curious (don’t lie, we all know you are) here’s where you can watch the trailer, “Like” the trailer, and/or share the trailer. “But Elle,” you whine, “people will see I liked it on my Wall. What will they think?” Who cares what they think! You’re a progressive individual with an open mind, and you’ve got backbone!

And most importantly talk to your kids. If you need ideas, here’s where I plan to start with my boys once they’re old enough to hear it. I’m starting with two Health Ed lessons too often forgetten.

#1 – It’s okay to love yourself, both physically and emotionally.

#2 – You’re okay, and I will love, respect and support you, no matter who you love.

Feb

24, 2011 |

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My Pajama Road Trip

Copy of an upcoming Guest Blog post for the popular parenting blog “The New Perfect.” Release date to be determined.

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What, you ask, is a Pajama Road Trip?

Think of it this way… If you could go to a rock concert without fighting traffic, worrying about who will be the designated driver, scrambling for on-street parking, doing your hair, scheduling a sitter, cover charges, and worrying about the kids while you’re gone, would you go?

My answer was yes!

As a mom, I miss the freedom of a night out with the girls in the big city.  I miss live venues and being near adults who talk about things other than diapers and formula and which dangerous teether toys are on the recall list. I work from home and live in the middle of nowhere. I have two small children and a fabulous babysitter who’s not yet old enough to drive and has an early curfew. Needless to say, I don’t get out much, and most of my relationships are cultivated online. Some may argue that I have no life.

So last month, I attended my very first Pajama Road Trip into the world of Second Life to attend a live performance by one of my favorite bands. Second Life is a virtual world, in which you can assume a body, a costume, and a name, and role play in social hot spots via a totally online experience. Bands can book stage time at the various virtual clubs within the Second Life community, and live-stream their performances over the internet. I was skeptical at first, but after trying it a few times, I must admit, there are some very appealing benefits for those of us who are socially challenged by the daily burdens of parenthood.

I know what you’re thinking… only RPG geeks and basement-of-the-science-building types play around in virtual worlds. But honestly, what’s keeping moms from trying it too? Nerves? Fear of the unknown? Prejudices about the types of people who live in virtual communities? If that’s all that’s stopping you, let’s tackle a few myths…

I am afraid of online strangers. If you are reading this blog post, then you already understand the power of social networking, and have an appreciation for how the internet shrinks miles and brings opportunities within reach. You may even have online pen pals, bulletin-board BFF’s you’ve never met in real life. Really, when you think about it, it’s not that far-fetched a notion that you could take one more step into a virtual world. And I ask you… what is so different about the people you would meet in a club or a bar in real life? There are as many strange people out in the real world as there are inside the web. And there are potentially an equal amount of people just like you, who are just trying to enjoy themselves. Same safety and common sense rules apply. You don’t have to interact with anyone you don’t want to. And no one online is going to steal your wallet or slip a ruffie in your drink.

I’m afraid to go alone. Then don’t go alone. If you’re not the kind of person who would feel comfortable going to a concert by yourself in real life, chances are you might not feel comfortable doing so online either. Bring friends. Make it a Girl’s Night Out. Help each other pick hair styles and clothes and silly names. Dance and hang out together. It’s a social world and you don’t have to break into it alone.

My Significant Other wouldn’t approve. So take a date with you! My last date night with my husband was almost ruined by a case of the sniffles. It’s nice to know we could have cancelled dinner reservations, put the kids to bed early, and gone to a concert together on the couch, sitting in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine in our pajamas. Date night is just time spent together doing something fun. It doesn’t have to mean leaving the house. And for some couples, a virtual date in an exotic place in dressy clothes, can be a romantic escape from the tedium of parenting. We tend to think of cyber worlds as a secret place, something to hide, but there’s no rule saying you can’t explore these worlds as a couple.

What If I’m Not That Social? If you’re just in it for the music, then there are solutions for you too! Many bands now offer live-streaming audio of their shows through online chat rooms and even through Facebook. You can lurk, if you’re more comfortable doing so, or you can participate by “chatting” directly with members of the band. I regularly attend streaming shows of one of my favorite bands. I can comment on the performance, and even request my favorite songs as they play. It’s an intimate venue in the comfort of my own home. And best of all, if the kids wake up and need me, I can step in and out of a chat performance with the click of a mouse.

I’m not very technically savvy. How would I get there? Online road-tripping is a lot easier than I originally expected. Chat rooms are a great way to get started. My favorite band, drumfish, posts a link on their Facebook wall with simple instructions before each performance. It’s literally 3 clicks to hear the live-feed and jump into the chat room, and I can continue surfing other sites simultaneously. To actually attend a virtual show, Second Life offers a free membership into the online community. Once inside, you can search for music performances, times and locations, and then “teleport” directly into the shows. It takes some practice, and may be a bit confusing the first time, but once you have the knack, it’s easy.

I’ve learned countless lessons as a parent, but perhaps the most valuable are those that have taught me the importance of preserving and nurturing my sense of self and my own happiness. I try not to let my lack of physical freedom restrict my ability to make new friends or experience new adventures. Sometimes, by stepping outside our comfort zone and trying something new, we find we’re really not as isolated as we often allow ourselves to feel. My version of the Pajama Road Trip might not be perfect, but it’s a life, and I’m making it more satisfying every day.

SLdrumfish

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Image shown is a screen shot taken during a live rehearsal of drumfish in Second Life.
Note: I will be attending their real live concert this weekend at the 8×10 in Baltimore.

What's a Book Soundtrack?

The chapters of my books roll through my mind like scenes of a movie. I can see them as clearly, and hear the dialogue in my mind. They have moods and texture. When these mini-movies play in my head, they are accompanied by background music that sets the tone. The music puts me in the right frame of mind to translate what I am seeing and feeling into written words. What I am left with is a collection of songs that reflect not only my moods while creating the story, but a soundtrack that correlates to various scenes in my book. Essentially, a book soundtrack is the author’s playlist.

I’ve shared my playlists for each of my stories under the Extras section of my website.

There is one particular band that appears several times on my playlists. The recent success of drumfish inspired me to complete my first manuscript, Nearly Missed. I hope you will join me at their concert in Baltimore at the 8×10 on February 5th.

Nov

28, 2010 |

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