Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Networking Scams

Watch out for networking scams! As an author you want to promote your book through a variety of venues, including book signings, personal sales, an online presence or through networking.

These are good pursuits. The more you get yourself out there the better your chances of broadening your exposure. However, you also are subject to scams.

Recently, I received a letter saying, someone nominated me to become a member of a women’s professional networking organization. On the postcard, they listed their Web site for me to visit. I did that. It looked legit.

Since I am a member of the local chamber of commerce and they referred me to a reporter for an interview a month ago, I believed they could have passed on my name on this. I filled out the card, omitting my e-mail address. The card required my address, telephone number and perhaps my Web site but no other personal information. Thus I sent it in without worrying about relaying private information. If it did, I would not have completed it.

A couple of weeks rolled by and I never thought more about it until last week when I received a call from them. They asked me about the other professional organizations I belonged to and more about my business. I gave them the information and my e-mail address since they said the membership was selective on whom they would grant membership. I promoted myself, saying I was a member of such and such and my book, Seasons of the Soul, received Best of Year from and my short story, “The Silver Lining” (which is free to read on Smashwords) came in 10th on the 79th Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in the mainstream/literary short story category.

The caller stated they would love to focus me in their newsletter. I was thrilled at the extra exposure but then the woman hit with their membership dues - a stunning more than $600 for one type or $400 and something for their networking membership. “We need to place this on your credit card,” knowing earlier I selected the networking one.

Stunned, I composed myself. “That’s too much.”

“Well,” she continued, We have a $289 membership which would allow you such and such.

I replied, “I would have to ask my husband and would rather send a check. Could you send me the information?” I knew I would never submit the check.

“No, we need to confirm this through credit card. We have another membership for $189 which ...”

“Again,” I reiterated, “I would have to ask my husband.”

Exasperated, she offered me their free newsletter. “Let me connect you with processing.”

I heard the click and stayed on the line. When after several seconds no one connected with me, I hung up the phone.

What a scam. Thank God I had the good sense to not give them my credit card number but how many others were vulnerable to this technique? I do not want to give the women’s organization’s name but it is located in Garden City, New York. Watch for them or other groups portraying themselves as one thing but really a front to reach into your pocket.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mother's Day Story

The Merry-Go-Round

Four-year-old Ruth grabbed her mother’s hand as she walked through the crowd toward the fair's carnival rides. Ruth leaned against her mother's skirt.

“Come on Ruth,” her mother said. “Don’t be afraid. Remember I have your hand.”

Her mother’s words gave her comfort. It was a beautiful spring day, the sun bright and temperatures in the upper 70’s. The smell of popcorn drifted around them.

May purchased tickets, then led her daughter to the children’s rides. The daughter handed the attendant two tickets. She climbed into a small red boat which sat in a large, circular tank of knee-deep water. The boats circled several times around the tank before the ride stopped, and the children got off.

Ruth followed her mother. Several balloons floated in the air. “May I have a balloon, a beautiful yellow one?”

Her mother nodded and picked out a shiny, yellow one from the balloon man. “I will tie it around your wrist, so you don’t lose it.”

“Oh Mother! Thank you. The balloon is beautiful.”

Soon, they came to a row of food stands. “Let’s get something to eat. It’s past lunch time, and my feet ache,” May said. They sat down at a booth. She bought them hamburgers, sodas and a large order of fries.

Ruth sipped on the soda and pulled the hamburger out of the bun. She bit into it. The juices dripped down her chin. Her mother wiped them with a napkin. They finished, stepped down and headed back toward the fairway.

The little girl gazed at the people playing games at the booths. She smiled as she saw the merry-go-round in front of them. “Oh, Mother! Please may I ride the merry-go-round?”

The mother looked for horses, where the two could ride side by side. She helped Ruth onto a beautiful horse decorated in shades of purple. Its head was etched in gold. The mother grabbed the reins of a red horse. It also etched in gold.

The attendant started the ride and around the horses went as they moved up and down to the music.

Then the ride ended. Ruth, no longer a little girl, climbed down from her horse.

She now was a grown woman. Because, you see, the merry-go-round of life keeps whirling round and round as daughters become mothers over and over again. Remember Mother’s Day is May 8. Tell your mother you love her.

Excerpt from Seasons of the Soul

(with adaptation)