Social media

I Finally Get Twitter

twitterTwitter seems like a requirement for anyone with a business or a message. Everyone has it but I didn’t know a single person who actually liked it. When I asked friends if they were on twitter their responses sounded more like “Yeah I floss.”

Setting up my account for Writers Work (yes, please follow my new twitter handle), I finally saw why tweeting is fun. The key is you can’t just tweet about your own material and then never read the wall. Here’s why you should spend some time on twitter:

  • Unlike facebook, you don’t have to scroll through a thousand ads.
  • You can connect with big names. For instance, I was reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book and I wrote a message about it, using her handle, and she wrote back to me in seconds! You can’t do that with any other social media platform.
  • You can get really focused news. For instance, with my Heso twitter handle I follow a variety of people, but with my Writers Work account, I only follow writers. Now when I go on my twitter account for WW, I get to see hundreds of quotes about writing, and encouraging articles.
  • It’s really fast. Sometimes I don’t post things to my blog because it’s just a short thought, however that thought is perfect for twitter. I can post it, and go back to my writing without working for an hour to develop that thought into a fleshed out blog post.
  • It’s really easy to develop a following. I picked up 100 followers in the last week just because I’ve been posting more and following more people.

For a long time I didn’t see the point of twitter. All the hashtags and @ symbols were confusing and unpleasant to read. I didn’t spend any time reading other people posts. Nothing would happen when I posted a link to my blog. Like everything, the more you put into it the more you get out of it. You need to click the favorite button on tweets you like. You need to retweet the posts you like. Soon, people will start doing that for you!

Who are some people you would recommend following on twitter?

Flash Fiction Friday: Where to Begin

A special thanks to Mike for suggesting the spark sentence for this week’s flash fiction. Don’t forget to leave a sentence in the comment section of this post for next week’s flash fiction (if you’re confused, click here).

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journalist

The local paper called Harry and asked if he would participate in a “unique human interest piece” they were doing. He was picked at random, along with 19 other subscribers.

The reporter showed up 10 am on the dot. It was Harry’s first interaction with a reporter and he secretly hoped the man would be wearing a tan trench coat and fedora with a little press card tucked in the ribbon. He had to hide his disappointment when he opened the door to a young man in jeans and one of those baggy plaid shirts all the young men seemed to own. He hadn’t bothered to shave or comb his hair. This must be the look, Harry figured.

Harry offered coffee but the reporter smiled and lifted up his own cup of Starbucks. He sat down on the couch and took out an iPad from his backpack. Since when did adults use backpacks, Harry thought to himself while taking a seat in his favorite mustard, yellow recliner. The reporter looked at him and then ran his hands down his thighs. Harry did the same.

“So,” the reporter started.

Harry thought of all the possible questions he might be asked. What was it like to fight in Vietnam? How did it feel to outlive the love of his life?  What was retirement like? What wisdom did he have to share after 82 years on this planet?

“Did my assistant tell you anything about the piece we’re doing?” the young man asked.

Harry was surprised a man who couldn’t bother to shave had an assistant. In his 40 years as an electrician he never had an assistant. “No,” he said, shaking his head. “Can I offer you some coffee?” As soon as he said it he realized he already asked. The reporter held up his own coffee again with a polite smile. Harry feared the reporter would dismiss him as senile.

“The piece is called, A life in Tweets. We’re asking older people, like yourself, to summarize your life in a 140 characters.”

“140 characters? My whole life?” Harry covered his mouth and coughed. He didn’t know if he should be humored or insulted.

“It doesn’t have to be 140. That’s just the maximum.”

He didn’t know where to begin. Harry stared at the young man, and wondered if even his brief life could be summarized in so few words. He ran his fingers down the corners of his open mouth and then rested his hand on his chest. “I think you better go,” Harry said.

The reporter furrowed his brow. “Did I say something wrong?”

“This whole piece is wrong,” Harry said, pushing himself up from his chair. “I’m sorry you had to come all the way out here for nothing.” He moved to the door.

The reporter returned his iPad to the backpack. He stood up and swooped the bag over his shoulder in one swift move. “Seriously, I didn’t mean to offend you. We just thought this would be a fun little piece. Our research shows that younger readers stay more engaged with this brief format. We had to think of a way to compete with social media.”

Harry opened the door. “Either you care about something or you don’t. 140 characters is just an excuse to say you paid attention when all you did was take a glance.”

The reporter stood by the couch. “I’m just doing my job. We need to keep people interested.”

“Try writing a real story.”

The reporter looked as if he was going to cry. Harry couldn’t believe the boy was already out of high school and even college. Harry had pointed a gun at strangers when he was the same age as this reporter. Was this how he looked before he went off to war?

“Maybe,” the reporter paused to chew on the inside of his cheek. “We can do a full interview, and I’ll see what my editor thinks of it.”

Harry tapped the side of the door. He ran his tongue along the inside of his mouth.

“I can’t make any promises that it will get published, though,” the reporter added.

Harry shut the door and moved back to his seat. “Ok, where do we begin?”

Freshly Pressed on my Birthday

Cover of "Julie & Julia"

Cover of Julie & Julia

I must admit that when I started blogging I expected nothing less than a major book/movie deal to result from my posts. I didn’t really read blogs, but I had just finished Julie & Julia and it seemed entirely possible to make a career out of blogging.

And then reality set in.

After about six months of consistent blogging, I had about forty followers; not nearly enough readers to warrant a six-figure book deal. I viewed WordPress‘ Freshly Pressed page every day and wondered how I could get featured. Honestly, I envied other blogger’s success.

After about a year of blogging, something had changed. I really enjoyed writing, and looking back at old posts. I enjoyed reading other blogs, and building a network of online writers. I forgot about my lofty, and ridiculous goals, because really they weren’t serving me.

And then yesterday, on my birthday, I was notified that my post would be on Freshly Pressed.

I had completely forgotten about Freshly Pressed. I felt like one of those women who say that they found love as soon as they stopped looking. I have received over 400 hundred emails in the past 12 hours my post has been on Freshly Pressed. I am slowly responding to all the thoughtful comments, and viewing the blogs of the people who lived the post, but it’s going to take a while. The sudden outpour of support and encouragement felt better than I could imagine. I am so appreciative of the exposure Freshly Pressed gave me, and my only piece of advice to anyone who wants to get on it is this:

Keep writing 🙂

Social Media

There have been so many forms of social media I swore I would never use. Starting a blog was top of the list, but that didn’t last long if you can tell. Next it was twitter, but sure enough you can’t have a blog without tweeting. And last, but not least, I swore I would never join LinkedIn. I didn’t want to be on an adult version of Facebook.

Everyone seems to love LinkedIn and I had to see what all the fuss was about…so I joined.

It was so easy to create a profile, and it was a lot of fun scrolling down the list of my email connections and seeing everyone’s job titles. In a glimpse I got to see how successful my college alumni have become, and it was really motivating.

As much as I try to resist social media it keeps drawing me back. But I’m making this digital promise: I will never use four square. I have no idea what it is, and I don’t intend to.