Free Speech in the Digital Age: Jefferson Keith Langley and Ima Sumac Watkins Share Their Experience with a Cyber Bully

Free Speech in the Digital Age: Jefferson Keith Langley and Ima Sumac Watkins Share Their Experience with a Cyber Bully

This past March on Love Liberty & Lip Gloss, host Donna Lyons addressed a critical topic in the digital age: cyber bullying. While many of us tend to think of it as a problem that affects mostly teenagers, the truth is, anyone can be a victim.

Jefferson Keith Langley and Ima Sumac Watkins know from personal experience that this is true.

First, a little background.

I “met” Jefferson in cyberspace via Donna, when she mentioned his interest in being a host on the Writestream Radio Network. As with many other solid, genuine people I’ve met online, I developed an easy friendship with him. Having known Donna for several years (even though we’ve not yet met in person), I trusted her judgement and after several conversations with Jefferson, had no doubts about the depth of his character.

Soon after, we made plans for him to broadcast The Formula: What Is It?  The show airs on the fourth Tuesday of the month, featuring entrepreneurs at various levels of experience, who reveal their unique “formula” for success.

However, as Ima stated in the interview, it’s natural in the Digital Age for people to conduct internet searches on others. I’ll admit I did that with Jefferson, mainly because I was impressed by the scope and depth of his career and wanted to know more. Intuitively, I knew I was dealing with a decent, honest person, which is why it was so disheartening to come across several slanderous posts about him.

Jefferson Keith Langley.

As the owner of an internet-based business that collaborates with a variety of clients and personalities, I’m aware that anyone at any time could take to their keyboard with the intention to slander my character and harm my company’s reputation. For that reason, I save all email correspondence and document all communication with every client. I won’t pretend I don’t make mistakes; I’m human, after all. But I do my best to explain the self-publishing process, maintain a schedule, and deliver a quality product. When necessary, I own up to my errors and correct them asap.

But Jefferson and Ima’s harrowing story is definitely a wake-up call, whether or not you own a business. It’s too easy for an individual to destroy good people and companies just by taking to their computer keyboards and publishing outright lies. Because the burden of proof falls on the victim and not the cyber bully, it’s nearly impossible to remove the offensive posts — and sadly, most people are quick to believe the worst.

In Jefferson and Ima’s case, this meant a significant loss of income and clients as their business dried up. Worse, the damage to their reputations made it difficult to even find a “pay the bills” job to support their basic needs. To their credit, they persisted. I highly recommend listening to the interview by clicking below.

When I came discovered the negative internet posts about Jefferson, I recognized them as a desperate attempt to discredit a good man and his business partner. Yes, I thought about calling him up to discuss it. Then I figured he’d already dealt with enough garbage and let it go.

What was the point of dredging it up with him when I’d already concluded that this was the work of a deranged individual?

As I got to know Jefferson better over a period of several months, my faith in him was vindicated. Because I produced his monthly show, we maintained regular contact via phone conversations and text messages. I’ve also seen the multiple glowing testimonials on Facebook from happy clients who have experienced amazing results in their businesses, thanks to his expert coaching.

I support his efforts to change the laws to adjust to the Digital Age. I’m a huge proponent of free speech, but free speech should not condone personal and professional destruction by dishonest, amoral people who leverage the easy opportunity the internet provides for “revenge.” In Jefferson’s case, the perpetrator — a woman — became obsessed with him in a classic case of “fatal attraction” (though thankfully, he’s alive and well today…unlike the wife of a CEO he knows who was the target of a smear campaign, a story he shares in the interview with Donna).

Again, I highly recommend listening to Jefferson and Ima’s on-air account of their experience with a cyber bully who nearly destroyed them — personally and professionally. It’s a cautionary tale for everyone, especially business-owners who work closely with clients. Thankfully, they managed to turn things around and have gone on to achieve greater success. As a result of what they have endured, they are also determined to draft legislation and petition Congress to address this crucial issue.

I’m grateful to Jefferson and Ima for their courage, honesty, and willingness to take a stand for integrity. Circumstances reveal character, and in their case, their horrific experience at the hands of a sick individual has proven that they each possess a strong, solid, and inspiring one.

A final word of advice: question EVERYTHING you read online, do your homework, and, if necessary, confront the person with the information you find on the internet. Give them a chance to defend themselves. Don’t just blindly trust “anonymous” sources who may have nothing more than an ax to grind, simply because they can get away with it.

In the Digital Age, the Golden Rule applies more than ever.

Discover more about Jefferson and the services he provides at and

Follow Ima Sumac Watkins on Instagram and

Need help with copy writing, independent publishing, or ghostwriting? Contact me here.



The Writestream with Cybersecurity Expert Chuck Brooks

The Writestream with Cybersecurity Expert Chuck Brooks

I had the pleasure of interviewing an excellent guest today on The Writestream about cybersecurity. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an employee, a business-owner or just someone who enjoys using social media and new technology for fun and convenience, I highly recommend listening to the archive below with my guest, Chuck Brooks.

Follow Chuck Brooks on LinkedIn and Twitter. Discover more about #CyberAvengers here.


10 Literary Techniques Used in Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

10 Literary Techniques Used In Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal

As I’ve written about extensively, I employed several literary techniques in my first novel Water Signs, all of which combined, helped to draw readers deeper into the story and sympathize with the main characters. I believe a good fictional book should mesmerize the reader to such an extent that he/she loses all concept of time and place as they are whisked away on a mental vacation where the only thing that matters is what’s going to happen next.

In my loosely autobiographical story, here are the ten techniques that made it possible for me to add vibrancy and authenticity to the settings and characters:

1. Flashback – Throughout the book, I used short-term and long-term flashback as a way of building suspense and understanding a character’s motivation. This technique also allowed me to slowly share information with the reader in a future chapter by not divulging everything that transpires in a previous chapter. For example, in one emotionally tinged episode, Maddy and Ken peruse a photo album from his days in the US Navy, but it’s not until the next chapter that the story of his former fiancee is revealed to the reader — though he shares that with Maddy as they look at the photos.

2. Juxtaposition – As a reader, this has always been one of my favorite devices and I put it to use most often in the first half of my book, to help draw contrasts between characters and to create more intrigue. The best example of this occurs in Chapter One, when readers first meet Maddy and Ken as individuals, before the characters themselves meet each other unexpectedly (for them at least) at the Key West Club.

3. Italics – In Water Signs, I used italics to denote the sharp contrast between what a character says and what they are truly thinking and feeling. This is especially true of heroine Madeline, whose personal development includes learning how to effectively express her feelings, since her inability to do so in the beginning of the story contributes to much miscommunication and heartache for her and the novel’s hero Ken.

4. Music – Because my story spans 16 years in the lives of its characters and makes use of flashback, I employed musical references to help anchor the reader to the present moment in any given chapter. Thus in 1992 – the year the story begins — I reference popular songs and artists including The One by Elton John and Just Another Day by Jon Secada.

One another level, I selected certain songs not so much for their ability to connect the reader to the year at hand, but to allude to the characters’ origins. The best example of this is the reference to Then Came You by the famous Philadelphia band, The Spinners.

5. Sports – Growing up in the Philadelphia area in a family of sports fanatics, professional sports was a huge part of my life. Throughout the novel, the characters discuss many real-life events including the Philadelphia Eagles defeating the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Championship Game in 1981 and the Philadelphia Phillies beating the Kansas City Royals to win the World Series in 1980. Pro football is a shared passion of Madeline and Ken, and one of the many things lacking in the relationship/marriage he eventually shares with Erin. Similarly, Dr. Rose’s (based on my own dad) love of baseball and the Phillies helps to bring his character to life.

6. Technology – The progression of technology from 1992-2008 also helps anchor readers to the time-frame of the unfolding plot. So in 1992, unwieldy car phones are the latest rage, but by 1995, Maddy notes how phone booths will soon become extinct, having relocated to South Florida and observed their nearly ubiquitous presence (along with the now-defunct pagers). By the end of the book, she’s working for a company that provides e-proposals to the hospitality industry. Look for Madeline to expand her use of technology to include internet radio hosting in my forthcoming sequel.

7. Food – Of all the techniques I used, food was probably the most fun possibly because the Philly area is famous for its excellent culinary traditions. Whether it’s tomato pie, spaghetti with mussels or Italian wedding cookies, I employed food descriptors to evoke the ambiance of the geographical locations in which the plot plays out. Look for an e-book soon on The Food of Water Signs.

8. Branding – Another method of creating a palpable appreciation for the Philly area, South Jersey Shore and South Florida in my novel is the use of brands. From Tastykake and Turkey Hill to Wawa and Herr’s, readers get an appreciation for what’s most popular in the geographic regions from which the plot unfolds.

9. Water Imagery – Perhaps one of the most important techniques of all, water imagery is at the heart of the novel — and not simply as a means of paying homage to the title. Water in religious and spiritual traditions is a symbol of rebirth and renewal, and thus underscores one of the book’s most important themes.

It is also a symbol of the emotions, which play a significant role in character development, particularly for Maddy. She suffers for years with panic and anxiety disorder — a gross distortion of the emotions that negatively impacts the physical body — without actually knowing what it is — until she reads the packaging for the medication prescribed by her doctor. Prior to her unusual cure by a psychic, the only time she finds relief from her sometimes frightening symptoms is when she’s immersed in water, whether swimming in a pool, riding a wave in the ocean or standing under the pulsating refreshment of a hot shower.

Ken, although not a co-sufferer with this affliction, often heads to the beach or to the Deerfield Beach Fishing Pier when life seems overwhelming. In Part Two, when rocked by Maddy’s unexpected arrival in Florida — blissfully unaware of his engagement to another woman — the pier is his destination of choice when he seeks his mother’s counsel in person.

On a basic level, the coastal locations of the story, the characters’ shared Pisces sign and Ken’s US Navy service contribute to Water Signs’ “escapist” quality, conjuring up images of beach-inspired beauty, majestic ocean waves, colorful fish swimming beneath the sea’s surface and American heroes serving their country on awe-inspiring aircraft carriers.

10. Dreams/Journals – As a lifelong keeper of journals many of which I employed to fill in details of the plot, I cannot stress enough the importance of writing down your thoughts and recording your dreams (the latter I’d often do in an attempt to decipher whatever message my psyche was trying to convey while I slept). Not only did my own journals play a critical role in fleshing out the plot, so did actual dreams.

In one very heartbreaking chapter, Maddy dreams that Ken has arrived on her doorstep to announce he’s broken off his engagement to Erin because he’s still in love with her. It’s so real to her that when the alarm clock goes off, she cannot determine whether it actually happened or if it was just a product of her imagination. And a few days later, Ken really does unexpectedly knock on her door, though the conversation does not play out quite the same way in reality. This is all taken directly from real-life experience.

So there you have it, my Top Ten Favorite Literary Techniques. As a professional writer, what are yours?  Let me know in the comments….and happy writing!

Preview and purchase Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal on Amazon.