I admit I was terrified of Twitter back when my good friend @johnwhuffman told me it was essential for me to tweet. I didn’t understand the format. I didn’t get what the #s and @s were about, or what the little links were.
The concept of following and followers made me feel as though I was trying to start a cult. Eventually, I plunged in. As intimidating as it was, I found comfort in the fact that nearly everyone on the feed was either writing, or promoting their books. I was stunned. Where I work, I've always felt I simply don't belong, a real case of oil and water. Like many of you, I live in my head. The guys at work usually talk beer, trucks, hunting and, the injustices at the hands of management. I have nothing to contribute to those conversations.
Even at home, I drive my pretty wife to tears with my diatribes about books and writing. She's thankful for all of you that gave her husband an outlet to discharge the convoluted contents of his mind.
I recall following @LanieMalone, simply because I’d written a script several years ago, and the lead female’s name is Melanie (Lanie) Malone. I had no idea how to “twitroduce” myself, so I remarked on her name. Now I know enough about @LanieMalone to understand that I’m fortunate she tweeted back. Who would’ve thought that barely two months later, she’d become a huge fan of my first novel #TheGaze. Her blog review made me feel on top of the world.
Backtrack to that initial tweeting count of a whopping 3 followers…
I felt rather foolish for not coming up with something creative like other handles I’d seen. I was in fact about to change it into something enigmatic when I came across @PatriciaParis1, hands down one of the coolest names ever! In fact, with her blessing, a character of mine will be named after her. @PatriciaParis1 surprised me by calling my name, the coolest name ever. As a result, she gained a fan, and I kept my handle.
When I finally caught up somewhat, and after becoming intimately familiar with #bitly , I started opening up the little links. I discovered a world of advice, guidelines, anecdotes, and a wealth of writing that inspired me to share my own musings. A few weeks later, I noticed several tweeps introducing themselves with a “buy my book!” theme. I’m ashamed to say I hopped on that wagon, not knowing any better, and feeling like slime because of it.
Then I came across a blog that advised on a radical approach: be yourself first. Let them get to know something about you, and introduce your wares when asked.
At the time, my followers numbered at an improbable 57! Only then, I discovered the magic of the RT button. I came across some of the most wonderful articles, not just on writing, but on life itself. And to my utter shock, I started receiving thank you tweets, for simply sharing their work with my 57 followers. I don't know about the rest of you, but that has a way of humbling you that I never expected, particularly when the tweet came from someone with 46k followers.
My mother, who once was the toughest, roughest, meanest disciplinarian, was big on manners. (Today she the most pliable grandmother on the face of the earth, of course). I began responding accordingly and my handle was mentioned under labels like “cool tweeps to follow”.
Since then, I've made it a point to respond individually to each follower. When someone has the accidental click that brings them to my page and they follow me, I immediately check their profile and often comment on anything they’re proud about, as revealed in the intro.
Sometimes, a tweep has nothing on their intro. I can type "TY for the follow" faster than you could blink.
Other times, you can see a wealth of information, just in the way someone smiles at the camera. @CassidyJonesAdv is one of the most polite, and infallibly caring tweeps you’ll ever be fortunate to follow. Her Emery Phillips is by far one of the best characters ever created. Because of him, I was swept away in the #AdventuresofCassidyJones. This gifted author sees superheroes in her own children, just like I see in mine. It’s a tough world nowadays, and our kids have much more to contend with than we did! I was so happy to share that feeling with someone who’d understand.
I exchanged a tweet with @ChristinesWords and discovered that she and I were going through similar growing pains soon after our release of our first novel. We shared some of the doubts and apprehension, and ultimately decided to shrug it off, relying on the quality of our work. Now she knows I got crushed out on her Sunny. She can arrest me any time after meeting her in #SomeLikeItInHandcuffs.
I built a blog (without a follow button for like… ever) and was shocked whenever @JanRomes and @jvonbargen retwitted my little musings. They’re some of the classiest tweeps out there.
I remember obtaining a TY for the follow from another bilingual author. @momilp and I tweeted over commonalities that made me feel that she and I were classmates at the same Roman Catholic School in another lifetime. Her book #ThePriest has become one of my all-time favorite reads, and I’m ecstatic that @momilp drew such joy out my review, even if I failed miserably to convey what a journey her story was through the eyes, and heart, of her Mauricio.
I once tweeted about a review I obtained in #Amazon and I received a reply, “yay for you.” Text like that can be easily misconstrued,and I didn’t know if that was sarcastic or what. I looked up the profile and followed, mainly because @KafeCastro took the time to tweet, sarcasm or not. Today, I’m one of her biggest fans, for she writes like no one else I’ve ever come across, and the main message of her stories, to me, is simply, “we are who we are, no apologies.” I’ve also discovered that “if it’s not over the top, it’s not #KafeCastro.” Today I’m proud to consider her one of my best friends I’ve yet to meet. She also became a huge fan of #TheGaze, so much so that her harsh critique on its sequel #TheNextChapter will make it into a story worth reading. I can't thank her enough for that.
And thus, it’s gone on.
I had the opportunity to express my gratitude to @BertCarson for the simple fact that he represents a breed of people I’ve always admired. Really, how many of us would calmly go to a foreign land to fight in combat?
I’ve gotten to practice Spanish with @teresasc15, who loves great song lyrics that touch the heart. @SerenaAkeroyd gets my goodnights to her mornings since we're apparently at opposite ends of the globe.
I’ve read eulogies to long gone authors that moved me to tears, and I’ve gladly shared a good word with a new tweep, seemingly every day.
Not all of it is peaches and cream, of course. I thanked a man for following me only to be told “of course, I’m the best author America doesn’t know about.” That was the first time I tested the speed of the unfollow button.
Then I came across @kristi_ayers who has a way of making me feel that I know much more than I really do. By being no one but herself, she’s gained a fan long before she awes the rest of the literary community with her#OnePetalFlower . How do I know that? Because she revealed a comittment to write from the heart, and that makes for the best stories.
During a midnight shift, running crane at the steel mill, @EmmaCalin lifted my spirits with just a few tweets. She was kind enough to add tags to #TheGaze on #Amazon. I’ll never forget that.
There are now…883 people crazy enough to follow @J_Robayo1974, and as much as I’d love to include every single one of them (even the office furniture tweep that follows me… weird, I know...) I’m afraid I can’t presume to hold anyone’s attention for as long as that endeavor would take.
I will make a mention of some great authors who besides doing their own work, are now constantly pushing the rest of us to the forefront. Their efforts will not be ignored. @KathyReinhart, @Hotlitbooks, @JadeVarden, @MarlaAMadison, @Clive_SJohnson, @dcPriya… so many…
Thank you all, each and every one of my 883…. Wait, make that 884 followers, even you, yes you, office furniture tweep. I look forward to that next blog, your next announcement of your new release, you crazy pictures, and all the Retweets.