Archive for the ‘Social Networking’ Category

A Young Man’s Fight With Cancer

About a week ago my friend and fellow author Eden Baylee sent me an email about a young man who is battling Leukemia. His name is Joshua, son of Maxwell Cynn, author of .45 Caliber Jitterbug, The Collective and CybrGrrl. Joshua is a 21-year-old with three and a half years of a 4.0 GPA complete toward a degree in philosophy. Just recently Joshua was diagnosed with Acute T-cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The cancer has spread to every part of his body. Joshua is a fighter, though. In fact, when he was told about the course of chemotherapy, his first question to the oncologist was, “How will I go to class?”

Joshua will not be returning to school, which devastated the young philosophy major. Max, a proud father, states in his blog that Joshua is the most brilliant man that he has ever known. He insists that’s not just the words of a loving father, but his peers and professors agree. Joshua would have been the first member of Max’s family to graduate from college.

The day after Joshua started his chemotherapy a couple of weeks ago, his heart stopped. Thankfully, the doctors, nurses and technicians in the Intensive Care Unit were able to resuscitate him. Joshua’s diagnosis with Leukemia is by no doubt a life changer for him and his family. Even with insurance, the cost of treatment is very expensive. Joshua also has a college loan that needs to be paid, a loan for a college degree that he was worked hard at earning but may never have the opportunity to complete.

To help pay for Joshua’s treatment, Max is putting all the proceeds from his book sales into a fund to pay for Joshua’s treatment. He also has set up a donation link on all of his websites that will go to that fund. Any donations beyond the cost of Joshua’s treatment will go toward paying his student loans. Joshua has asked that anything beyond the cost of his treatment and college loan be donated for Leukemia research.

To read Max’s complete blog post regarding this devastating turn of events click on the link below:

Max’s Blog Post

Indie Authors Unite for Joshua

In an effort to support Joshua and his family, Eden Baylee, author of Fall Into Winter, started an Indie GoGo campaign to help fund the high cost of cancer treatment and to help with Joshua’s student loans.
The goal of this campaign is to raise $10,000 which will pay for some of the medical expenses not covered by insurance. By donating to this campaign, you will help reduce the cost of prolonged cancer treatment. As a thank you for donating, the IndieGoGo campaign is offering some amazing perks for your generosity. Not only will you get your choice of a copy of Maxwell Cynn’s book CybrrGrrl or The Collective, but depending on your donation you will also get your choice of many other books and/or services that have been donated toward this cause.

For full details on how you can join us in helping a young man win his fight against cancer and also help a fellow author, click on the campaign image.

My Commitment to This Campaign

Many of us, if not all of us, have been affected by cancer in one way or another, whether it’s through a family member, friend or battling cancer ourselves. I watched the horrible effects of cancer when my grandmother passed away a couple of years ago and a friend and co-worker’s son has also had to endure the difficult fight against cancer. Cancer research has always been important to me, which is why I try to donate to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Center when I can to help find a cure for cancer. So, naturally when Eden asked me if I wanted to donate anything towards the IndieGoGo campaign she was organizing, I told her I would be more than happy to join the army of indie writers to help support Max’s son Joshua.

I have donated two copies of Pursuit of a Dream and five author spotlight interviews. Furthermore, I have decided to donate 100% of all proceeds from sales of Pursuit of a Dream that are purchased between now and the end of the campaign.

What You Can Do To Help

If you would like to help out there are a number of ways you can do so. You can either purchase one of Maxwell Cynn’s books, The Collective or CybrGrrl or you can visit Joshua’s IndieGoGo campaign site and donate there.

As a thank you for your generous donation at the end of the campaign you will receive special perks from a number of books and services that indie authors have donated (including myself) to help Joshua in this time of need.

For full details on this IndieGoGo campaign, please visit Indies Unite for Joshua. As of this post, we have already raised $1,384 of our $10,000 goal, which is awesome! Thank you for everyone who has already helped out, including those authors who have donated books and services.

(Update: We reached the $10,000 goal on Memorial Day, and as of May 30 we have raised $10,320 for Joshua!)

Thank you for those who have contributed and considering helping Joshua out. God bless you all!

I normally don’t participate in Internet chain games, but when I read that my friend D.C. McMillen tagged me, I figured what the heck. So, without further ado, it’s time to follow through with my commitment and answer these questions. I’ll then randomly choose two friends to tag at the end of the post.


I had one roller coaster of a year, so I’d have to say that my happiest moment of 2011 was 11:59 p.m. on January 31, 2011. I brought in the new year in the reception hall of a funeral home. No joke. Remember, I used to be an obituaries coordinator and advertising sales rep. One of my old business clients invited me to a New Year’s Eve party. Don’t ask where we chilled the champagne. 🙂


My grandmother passed away in September, so that was definitely the saddest moment of the year. She was 85 years old, and up until the time of her passing had never been sick enough to require a doctor in her entire life. She also had a lot of pride of never missing one day of work throughout her career.


Respond to a “Tag” chain game. Oh, you mean in 2011. I think the most unlikely thing I did in 2011 was quit a job that I enjoyed at a company that I previously saw myself retiring from.


I want to say certain individuals that I worked with, but ultimately I’m responsible for my thoughts and feelings, regardless of how I feel I was treated. Forgiveness is very important in my book.


I have a pretty good sense of humor and love to laugh, so considering that I spent a lot of time laughing in 2011, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. Although, I can tell you my Jack Russell Terrier tends to make me laugh quite a bit by the things she does. For example, after she eats she always exerts a little petite belch. It’s so cute. LOL!


After putting a lot of money into replacing the brake system and suspension in my ’81 Corvette, after a few weeks of enjoying the new brakes and suspension I stepped inside the black “Bat Mobile”, turned the key, and…well that’s when the tears began to flow. The car wouldn’t start, and I was out of money. Sigh. That’s what happens when you buy a 30 year-old car. You fix one thing and something else dies. My therapist says that it will all be okay. The withdrawal ticks should go away too.


I think my proudest moment was after leaving my career in the newspaper industry. It felt like a free fall at first, but then when I chose to dedicate my time and energy to building my own business and also focus on writing, a sense of pride filled my soul. It’s a good feeling.


The greatest challenge I overcame was quitting a job after six and a half years of employment and stepping into the unknown. I have a very supportive family and lots of supportive friends that have helped give me the courage to pursue my dream of working for myself, which has also given me much more time and energy to write.


If I could just wave a magic wand and make it happen I think the one thing I would change in my life in 2012 would be to have a successful small business and (okay, two things) have a book published that many would enjoy reading. Success doesn’t mean wealth, by the way. Although, since we’re dreaming here…I’d have a successful business that brings in millions of dollars in revenue, I’m living in a 7,000 square foot home, drive a Ferrari F-430 Spyder, and I’m dating Sandra Bullock.

And then I’m slapped back to reality where I’m poor, peddling a Schwinn, and single. 🙂


Okay, now that I’ve fulfilled my end of the tagging bargain, it’s time to choose two writerly friends to carry the torch. Drum roll! I’ll reveal my choices after a short commercial break…

Now that you’ve visited Carolyn’s site, bought her book, and came back here to find out who I’ve chosen to tag (drawing names out of hat)…I have selected Karen DeLaBar and Tess Hardwick. Your mission, should you choose to accept it is share your own answers to the questions posted in this blog and then tag two other bloggers (optional, of course).

This message will self-destruct in 5…4…3-

A Hard Day of Work Paid Off

After a long day of final editing and formatting, I am pleased to announce that “Pursuit of a Dream” (Book One of Victory Lane: The Chronicles) is now available for download on! I was originally only going to submit the book to for launch day, but I liked the idea of having the book available in several formats on Day 1. Plus, I was able to submit and test the file conversions very easily on Smashwords. Getting the formatting right was another issue altogether!

Tabs Are Evil!

When I wrote “Pursuit of a Dream” several years ago I had no idea that there would be devices such as the Kindle and Nook to publish my work on. So, when I tapped away on the keyboard I naturally hit the TAB key for paragraph indents. Oh, how I regret that now! I have learned that tabs are evil! They are a complete nightmare when it comes to publishing an e-book. While the process of fixing those dreaded tabs wasn’t complicated, when you have a 155,000 word manuscript and about half of it is littered with tabs, it becomes a literal headache. When I write Book 2, I’m not only going to utilize auto indents in my word processor, but I’m also going to remove that blasted TAB key from my keyboard! Okay, maybe I won’t go that far, but you get my drift. After surviving the dreaded formatting process I decided that I was going to reward myself with publishing my book today.

Publishing Jitters

After getting the tab situation under control and setting up my account on, I began to get a little nervous. This was it. I’m finally going to publish this puppy for e-readers. It took several upload attempts, further formatting adjustments, and testing on my Kindle, PC, and iPhone to finally step away from my computer and consider the job complete. The book is priced, all of the formats were ready, and now it’s time for marketing. Oy! I didn’t think I was going to be this nervous after hitting that PUBLISH button, but here I am, shaking like a leaf. Did I find all of the errors? Is the formatting going to work? Did I catch ALL of those blasted tabs? Did I… well, you get the point. Seriously, though, I am very excited that I finally have my book ready for purchase on Smashwords. It’s been a lengthy but rewarding process. It’s another goal that I can mark as complete.

A Special “Thank You”

In closing, I want to express my appreciation for all of you who have been so supportive of me during this publishing process, particularly all of my friends in the #PubWrite Network. Your words of encouragement, guidance, and cheering me on has meant more to me that you can imagine. I absolutely could not have completed this project without you. You are all absolutely the most incredible people I have ever met. I mean it truly from the bottom of my heart. If it wasn’t for you, my lovely peeps at #Pubwrite, I never would have followed through the process of releasing “Pursuit of a Dream” in e-format. I also never would have created You all are awesome!

Until next time, thank you for visiting and if you are interested in reading my first book “Pursuit of a Dream“, please click on the image below and download a sample (or purchase, of course) and let me know what you think.


Before I considered myself to be a writer I’ve always been a gamer for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the 80s with the popularity of arcade games and home video game systems. I still have my original Intellivision system that my parents bought at a Radio Shack in Austin. It still works.

Sharky and his Intellivision

That’s not the focus of this post, though. I’ve been asked by a number of people where my nickname “Sharkbait” or “Sharky” comes from, so I decided to write about it and post it here on First of all, I’m not a surfer (I only surf the Internet) so I didn’t get my nickname from getting bitten by a shark. Although, that would have been a great story. Sadly, my story isn’t as exciting as floating casually on a surfboard waiting for the next wave to ride, only to be mistaken as a seal by a hungry great white shark. Studies show that sharks don’t care for the taste of human flesh anyway; they typically take a bite and then after determining it’s just a surfer and not a seal, they usually let go and go elsewhere… usually. Too bad for the surfer, though!

great-white-shark-398276_1280 via

Anyway, back to the nickname. When I first started playing multi-player video games and needed a handle I chose some goofy name and rode with it for a while. I mainly played racing games at first, so I had a racing themed screen name. Well, then I started making some gaming friends and began playing first person shooters with them and quickly realized that playing games like Call of Duty offline is a heck of a lot more challenging when you’re playing real people online. And yes, I was still using my goofy race-themed username. I needed to change it to something more universal.

I thought about it for a while and then after getting blasted by one of my opponents and falling backwards into the water one time, it hit me. Sharkbait! I was getting killed so often in these games that Sharkbait seemed to fit after seeing my character getting the liquid burial treatment a number of times. So, I changed my screen name to Sharkbait and added two Ws so they would look like teeth. WWSharkbaitWW. That’s what the Ws are for. Some people make the connection, while others just call me “WW” during games.

Like I said, the origin of Sharkbait isn’t all that exciting. However, the avatar I use is a little more comical. I originally used a basic picture of a great white shark, but then I started noticing total strangers chanting “Sharkbait! Whoo-Ha-Ha!” when I entered game lobbies. At first I thought it was just funny, but I quickly made the connection to Finding Nemo. So, it was at that time that I embraced this and changed my avatar to Bruce the Shark from Finding Nemo. Now obviously Sharkbait was Nemo’s nickname, so it would make sense to use the clown fish as the avatar instead… but I have such a fascination of sharks that it just wouldn’t feel right. Plus, the shark avatar just looks cool.

My original WWSharkbaitWW Twitter account (my main account is @SharkbaitWrites) was actually only supposed to be to communicate with my gaming friends, but none of them wanted to use Twitter. I ended up meeting some writers on Twitter and the rest is history. One of the writers I met at #PubWrite gave me the nickname “Sharky”. I think it was Karen DeLabar, but I’m not 100% certain. So, if it was someone else, I apologize. Cara Michaels, however, is without a doubt the mastermind who crafted the lovely vV””Vv Sharkbait signature that you may see me use from time to time in my tweets.

Chumming with Sharky™


So, there you have it… a little history behind the nicknames of Sharkbait and Sharky. Although, it’s not very exciting I’m sure, I felt it would be a disservice to my lovely followers if I didn’t write about it for you. I hope you enjoyed the post nonetheless, and if you haven’t done so already, please be sure to subscribe via WordPress blog above (if you’re logged in) or via email on the left.

Shoot me some comments, too. I always enjoy reading your comments. Thanks for visiting!

Sharky Teeth


Profile Photo (Cropped)Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is a native Texan, video game “enthusiast” [addict], and fan of all things horror. He left a career in the newspaper industry in 2011 to pursue the life of a nocturnal author, brainstorming new and creative ways to creep out his readers. He doesn’t only write horror though. He also pens the occasional family-oriented tale just to keep from going completely nuts with all those creatures of the night whispering in his ears. When he’s not pulling ideas out of his twisted brain, you’ll likely find him on social media or fighting alongside his fellow gaming buddies where they all get shot up into Swiss cheese (or turned into little bite-sized chunks because of “Sharky’s” obsession with explosives). Medic!

Pursue your dreams . . . and never look back.

To get an email about upcoming projects and new releases, be sure to SIGN UP for Sharky’s VIP newsletter.


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The past couple of nights I’ve had the opportunity to settle down and spend some time in a little place called #Pubwrite where many of my fellow writers hang out to just relax and chat with each other about anything, everything, or about nothing in particular. I remember when I first entered the pub; it was so full of life. People were having a great time, laughing, sharing stories, and just cutting up. I also remember how welcoming and friendly everybody in the pub was. It wasn’t too long that I was included in the conversations, random ramblings, jokes, and so forth. I have made some great friendships at #Pubwrite.

So, what is #Pubwrite, anyway? #Pubwrite is basically a chat room on Twitter. By searching and ending every tweet with the hashtag #Pubwrite, you can follow the conversation… or whatever craziness happens to occur on any particular day. #Pubwrite is more than just a simple chat room, though. It is a growing community of supportive writers, published and non-published (Indie and Traditional), who log onto Twitter to hang out with other “writerly tweeps”… usually in the evenings. You never know what to expect in the pub, where by the way, Guinness is the “house favorite”. Sometimes you’ll see a few people just chatting about their day. Some days you may see folks chatting about various literary topics. Other days may get crazy and you’ll see someone giving “bare” hugs, a crazy guy wearing his pants on his head, and pudding wrestling. Yeah, the pub is one fine place to visit.

Sadly, over the past weeks the pub seemed empty. Only a few people found their way to the pub occasionally; the roar of laughter and GABRIEL! fell silent. For various reasons, the pub just wasn’t the same as it used to be and perhaps the writers took their Guinness-filled mugs elsewhere or simply “stayed home”. I was afraid #Pubwrite as I once knew it was going out of business. The “Open” sign flickered and was slowly going dim… but then something happened.

Yesterday, as I was cruising the streets of Twitterville (browsing through my Twitter feed), I decided to swing by the pub, just to see if I saw any familiar faces. I slowed down and was about to just “drive by”, but then something caught my attention. There was a crowd inside the pub. I could hear music, laughter… the pub was alive and kicking. I looked inside and saw a few familiar faces and my own face lit up. I joined the conversation and had a blast.

Monday night was even better. I don’t know if someone was giving away free drinks or what, but #Pubwrite had a great crowd. There were so many people in the pub, it was actually kind of hard to keep up with everything that was going on. It was just like the good ‘ol days that I remembered… the days that I looked forward to logging on to Twitter so I could chat with my friends. I had a lot of great laughs and saw a lot of friends I hadn’t chatted with in a while. It was a good feeling.

So, in closing, I’d like to thank everyone for making #Pubwrite such a great place to hang out again. You all know who you are when I say I consider you true friends. Your words of encouragement and just hearing (or reading) writers encouraging other writers is a great pick-me-up and inspiration to keep at it and never give up. Most of you may not know this, but believe it or not, #Pubwrite is one of the main reasons I decided to pick up writing again and the reason I even have this Web site in the first place.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the pub. Cheers! And GABRIEL!

Follow Friday: A Helpful Twitter Social Tool or Just Annoying?

I have heard different opinions on the Follow Friday #FF issue on Twitter. I think we all pretty much have a grasp on what “Follow Friday” is all about: basically send out tweets promoting your favorite tweeps to help them gain followers. It seems like a pretty harmless and even fun thing to do at the end of every week, but some people think Follow Friday is nothing more than an annoying and ridiculous way to flood the Twitter streams with endless lists of tweeps. Others think it can be very helpful in getting that “Follow” counter heading skyward, depending on how you participate. Some participate in Follow Friday as more of a Twitter tradition; it’s kind of a social game where it’s just something casual to do on Fridays.

So, where do you stand? Do you think Follow Friday is annoying and avoid it at all costs? Do you participate in Follow Friday, but only the “Lite” version? You send a few #FF lists, thank those that included you, and call it a day. Maybe you participate but don’t send lists; you try to personalize each tweet to promote an individual friend. Or is it possible that you are a Follow Friday Frenzy Fanatic? You get the shakes if you don’t send out a #FF list of every tweep you can think of because if you don’t the world may come crashing down on you. That’s a bit extreme, but you get the point.

I think I’ll touch on the scenarios I just mentioned and see what everybody else thinks about it. Feel free to agree, disagree, comment about it, or answer the poll at the end of the article. Let’s be civil though. 🙂

Are you #FFed up with #FF?

If you are among those that absolutely hate Follow Friday, this section is for you. What I have observed in the short time that I’ve been a citizen of Twitterville is that some of my fellow tweeps are starting to get annoyed with Follow Friday and some of those who have participated in the past, no longer participate or have toned it down a bit. Twitterites have complained that the #FF tweets have gotten out of hand and either ignore them or don’t even use Twitter on Fridays at all because of it. The claims are that Follow Friday is just filling the streams with just endless random lists often generated by software, such as FFHelper (or something like that). Some complaints are that no thought has gone into the #FF tweets and even the personalized ones are just cut and pasted clones from previous Fridays and therefore meaningless and ignored all together. Some have even stopped using Twitter because of Follow Friday and moved on to other social networks; they hate Follow Friday that much. I can understanding how this can get frustrating, especially if you have hundreds or even thousands of followers, and a good chunk of them are sending a lot of #FF lists throughout the day.

Do you send #FF tweets, and that’s ALL you send?

Okay, time to put on the steel-toed boots. I’m sure many of us have been guilty of excessive #FF tweeting or something similar to it (including me) at one point or another. If you send a lot of #FF tweets, I suggest going to your profile and look at your tweets. It may be a bit of an eye opener. I’ve been there! If the list of tweets that you’ve sent looks like . . .  well . . . a long list of tweeps, you may want to rethink why you joined Twitter in the first place. Social networking may not be for you. I’ve thought about that myself at times. Again, I’m guilty of this, too, so I’m not pointing any fingers. And if sending #FF tweets is just what you like to do, then by all means, have fun! I’m not going to unfollow you for it, but I’m also not reading those tweets either. The only time I’ll click that “Unfollow” button is if I see tweets that are vulgar, extremely rude in nature, or are filled with profanity. I don’t want to see that in my Twitter stream. Thankfully, I rarely see any of that, so it’s not really an issue. Okay, you can take the steel toed boots off now.

Do you like Follow Friday, but you’re switching to #FF Lite?

When I started participating in Follow Friday, I would send list after list of all of my favorite tweeps, but then after reading some general complaints (not at me directly), I decided to tone it down a bit and tried to personalize them. I also have tried to limit the amount of #FF tweets I send out; I also try to be courteous and thank those (or return the favor) who do send a #FF tweet for me, even if it’s a list. I also don’t mind getting included in randomly generated #FF tweets, because I can understand that life can get very hectic and many people just don’t have time for it. My opinion on that, however, is if I’m too busy to be creative with my #FF tweets, then I should just skip it all together. So, if I have time, I’ll send a few out and try to be creative, but at times I am guilty of getting repetitive. I’m only human . . . although, Mobster World did try to turn me into a Spam Bot one time, but that was a different article. 🙂

For those who are like me and enjoy participating in Follow Friday, but also don’t want to be annoying with the #FF tweets, let’s try to limit them and spread them out a bit. Let’s be creative, too, even if it’s simply grouping our lists to certain types of people or why we think our followers should also follow those on our lists. I know that’s easier said than done, so if Follow Friday is something that you just enjoy participating in (because it’s one of the things you do to just wind down and relax) and using lists is the easiest way to do it, then by all means, I personally have no problem with it. However, understand that others may not think the same way and you may get . . . wait for it . . . UNFOLLOWED! I know. It’s heart-breaking isn’t it?

My final thoughts on Follow Friday:

Seriously, though, I’m the type of guy who’s pretty laid back and tries not to let things get to me. I personally don’t care if Fridays are filled with #FF this and #FF that, because it’s just a Twitter thing. If I don’t like something, I just don’t participate in it. It’s as simple as that. I try not to rain on someone else’s parade if they have a particular habit or hobby that they enjoy, but I could care less for, even if I’m a bit annoyed by it. I just try to ignore it if I can. Everybody is different and has good and bad traits; it’s no different on Twitter. So, my final take on the whole Follow Friday thing is: if you don’t like it, don’t participate and just ignore it. If you like it, have fun, but try to use a little etiquette . . . and let’s not have a #FF variant for every day of the week.

Anyway, this post is just food for thought for those of us who have in the past or continue to send a lot of #FF tweets, but aren’t really using Twitter for much of anything else. Regardless of whether or not you’re a Follow Friday Frenzy Fanatic, you dab a little into the #FF frenzy, or you absolutely hate Follow Friday, let’s all try to be civil, get along, and have fun.

This post was a bit longer than I expected. I look forward to reading your comments, or if want to remain anonymous, you can participate in the poll below. Cheers!

Sharky Teeth

You might also like:

I’m a Writer . . . Not a Mobster
This Thing Called Twitter
This Little Place Called #Pubwrite
Guest Post: “Write the Exercise Way” by Steven Montano

Devil’s Nightmare by Robert Pruneda available in print and eBook formats. Click the image below for more details.
Devil's Nightmare

What The Heck Is Social Networking?

YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. What do all these things have in common? Well, I think we can all agree they are among the most popular social networking sites available. From sharing videos of some of the most ridiculous things you can imagine, to posting photos and stories about yourself, to casual chatting, to making business connections, the whole social networking thing used to be such a blur to me, with the exception of YouTube.

I have to admit that I’m still a bit of a newb when it comes to social networking. The first time I overheard someone talk about MySpace, I had no idea what they were talking about. When I did find out, I had no interest in it. I really wasn’t into the whole “share my life with world” thing, but ever since my coworkers kept showing me what was on their “wall” and what they recently posted, I started to understand how it could be a fun way to communicate.

Shortly after I finally understood what MySpace was was all about, it was replaced with a new trendy word… Facebook! So what happened to everyone’s MySpace? Well, apparently, this new social networking giant swallowed up MySpace in 2008 and is literally EVERYWHERE now. It’s not just a personal social gathering thing anymore. It seems like every business out there is jumping onto the Facebook bandwagon. You see the little icon somewhere and you immediately know it’s Facebook. The branding has been embedded into people’s brains. You see the branding in retail advertising all across the nation and the world.

So, with that said, why don’t I have a Facebook account? It’s simple… I still don’t quite understand the need for it. I mean, I know it’s a great place where you can post photos and chat and all, but other than that, at this time I find no use for it. Again, this is only because I don’t fully understand it. Businesses seem to think it’s an extremely important tool, though, so as a growing writer and aspiring entrepreneur, I’m sure I’ll jump on the bandwagon, too, someday. Just not right now. Twitter takes up enough of my time. 😉

OMG! Ashton Kutcher Had What For Breakfast?

Hello, my name is Rob, and I’m a #TwitterAddict. This wasn’t always true and I’m getting some great support from my #TwitterAddictsAnonymous group which meets every Tuesday night for about four hours… on Twitter. Seriously, though, I never thought I would ever sign up for a Twitter account. I’ve never had any interest in Facebook, so why in the world would I want to use Twitter? I mean, do I really care what Ashton Kutcher is eating for breakfast?

The answer is: “No, I don’t.” This was my initial impression of Twitter. This too was turning into a trending word around the office. I tweeted this… and I tweeted that. What the heck is a “tweet”? Then, I saw a commercial about Twitter. Oh, good! Some official information… um… didn’t help. A family is standing around outside with their smart phones and Dad is tweeting about sitting on a chair outside with his family. It was something to that degree, at least. Yeah, that sounds so exciting! Where can I sign up? Twitter was obviously poking fun at itself with that commercial, but I seriously thought that’s all there was too it. Type a short message about what you are doing, and there are people out there that do just that… and only that.

Learning The Twitter Code: DMs, RTs, #Hashtags and Spam Bots!

One day recently, I decided to go ahead and create a Twitter account, just so I could communicate with my friends on my cell phone without having to use text messaging (I don’t have unlimited texts). Yes, being cheap was the initial reason I signed up for Twitter! Well, NONE of my “real” friends wanted to use Twitter, because (big surprise) they had the same impression of Twitter that I did. Well, crap. Now what? I had this new Twitter account and had absolutely no idea what to do with it. I guess I could start following some celebrities to see what they had to say on Twitter.

I followed a few of my favorite celebrities, read what they were tweeting, and what others were tweeting to them. Hmmm… some of these celebrities were actually having actual conversations with some of the “little people” in the world. I also so all these #s RTs and DMs popping up in lots of tweets. Great, these people are speaking in code, so I have to learn a new language. Ugh! Google helped me decipher some of this Twitter code. Oh, RT means Retweet. Okay. So what the heck is a Retweet and what’s the purpose of it? And DM is Direct Message… oh, a private message. That makes sense. It took a few days to figure out the Twitter lingo before I decided to put some of it to use. I saw a lot of people asking celebrities to RT them, follow them, etc., and yes, I shamefully did the same at first. I thought that’s just what you do on Twitter. Try to get the celebrities to talk to you. Buzz! Wrong! Try again! Then I started seeing “people” follow me. I now realize they were what we in the Twitter community call “Spam Bots.” Netflix was actually the first bot to follow me, which I didn’t mind, since technically it’s not really a bot if it’s a legitimate business, right? I followed back.

Twitter: The Marketing Tool For Writers?

My fifth follower was a real live person, though. I clicked on the profile and noticed it was a Christian writer named B.K. Dell from Texas. I read a few of his tweets and realized that he was promoting his new book Don’t Ask on Twitter, and he was giving it away for free on Smashwords, which was an app that I had on my phone. That immediately sparked a little fire in my soul because I had self-published a book in 2004 and started getting a touch of the writing bug again. I thought promoting a book through Twitter was such a great idea. I followed him, downloaded his book, and sent Mr. Dell a message to let him know that I downloaded his book. He responded to me, thanked me for downloading the book, and asked me to let him know what I thought. I enjoyed reading the book and ended up purchasing the paperback version on Amazon.

Suddenly, with this “first contact” Twitter wasn’t such a useless thing after all. I started following other writers on Twitter and quickly realized that there are a TON of them out there doing just what B.K. Dell was doing. It was then that I thought about maybe revisiting my book Pursuit of a Dream. I knew it needed a lot of work, and I thought it would be cool to have it available to read on the Kindle. I just didn’t know how to go about doing that. I was still fairly shy about chatting with all of these writers I was finding on Twitter, but then I noticed some of these writers kept adding a #pubwrite hashtag to their tweets (yes, at this point I knew what a hashtag was). I read some of these tweets for days and finally got the nerve to jump into the #pubwrite “chat room.”

Little did I know that making the decision to step out of my comfort zone and participate in the conversations that went on in #pubwrite would actually start a whole new chapter in my life. More on that later…