#1 Rule on Twitter

Thanks to Scott Hampson for this great comic.

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Dear Tweeple,

I know the social media gurus tsk-tsk this, but I don’t use Twitter exactly the way they say I should. I use Twitter primarily to learn about the craft of novel-writing, and to read about topics which I find interesting. I also share information- my own and others’. Yes, I occasionally chat and have fun, but too much of that and I lose focus. I don’t follow tons of people because I’m not trying to be “cool.” I’m not trying to help others be “cool.” Until recently, I didn’t think this personal decision mattered to others.

I don’t like walking into a huge stadium full of people where everybody is talking at once. And that’s what Twitter feels like when I follow a lot of people. I know not following people who follow you is a big no-no according the The Big Book of Social Media Rules. I know I’m supposed to follow anybody and everybody who clicks on my “follow” button. But I don’t. I use Twitter because it’s fun and useful. Following hundreds of people isn’t fun or useful to me.

I know I’m supposed to have at least a thousand followers, or I’m not “follow-popular.” But I’m not a “follow-popular” kind of person. Even the social media guru who told me to get on Twitter in the first place unfollowed her own advice and unfollowed me. Maybe I wasn’t uncontroversial enough. That’s A-OK. I’m not hoping the popular kids won’t make fun of me today, and I’m not wondering why I don’t get invited to any parties. I didn’t join Twitter to re-live high school. I’m an adult now. I have no interest in social posturing, and I have no interest in empty follows.


I’m not going to follow a ton of people only to corral them into a TweetDeck “IGNORE” group.


Most of the people I follow do NOT follow me back- and I’d be a little weirded out if they did. I am an aspiring fiction author, and of the people I follow, over half have nothing to do with fiction writing. They promote science blogs. I follow them because they’re saying something I find interesting and unique. Most of them don’t follow me because they’re not interested in what I’m saying, or I’m saying something they’re already reading elsewhere.

Yes, I’m trying to build a “platform.” My particular platform is “to share information about fiction with fellow writers and readers in the spirit of genuine mutual interest.” Maybe I’ll even impress a potential agent with my writing and consistency someday. I’m not interested in amassing a bunch of followers who have no interest in anything I say or do beyond getting a “follow back.” I don’t believe people who would who follow me just to get a “follow back” would have any impact my author career. I know there are people who say they have the skill and time to make every follow count, but I’m not one of those people.

I read somewhere if I don’t follow people back, I’ve snubbed them. NO. Somebody followed me. I did nothing. Doing nothing is not snubbing. I read that if I unfollow somebody it means I don’t like that person, or I am playing a numbers game. NO. When I unfollow someone I am trying to reduce the amount of NOISE in my Twitter stream. And my Twitter stream is ALL noise- dozens of people all talking about something different. My brain can’t handle a hundred conversations, one after the other.

If you want to follow me, follow me BECAUSE YOU WANT TO FOLLOW ME, not because you want me to follow you back. Follow me because I’m saying something interesting and unique, not because you want another notch in your Twitter belt. Because I don’t auto-follow back. I swear on a stack of my yet-to-be-published novels I absolutely like your online personas and I would give you the shirt off my back, but I’m at my limit. I’m doing as much as I can and still having fun at the same time.

Oh yeah- the #1 rule on Twitter is:




p.s. Here’s another shitastic Twant.

Odd, Bookish, and Popular Social Networking Websites


Here’s a list of social networking websites which I personally think are either odd (in a fun, gawkish sort of way) or bookish (great for writerly types). I also threw in ones I know are popular enough (or advertised enough [<-there’s a lesson to be learned from that, I’ll figure it out later]) to warrant a mention. I’ve only used a few of these, (I won’t tell you which ones) nevertheless, I can personally guarantee that all of them are major time-sucks.

Now back to that lesson thing. Advertising. Social networking. Selling books.

Are there any writers or authors reading this? Good! I’ve figured it out and I’m sure you have too:

aNobii– Find, shelve, and share books.

aSmallWorldLa di da. This is for the European jet set and world-wide social élitists. BTW, it’s invitation only. In your face, jet set and social élite wannabes!

blauk– Anonymously let others know what you thought of that anonymous stranger. Confess your secret crush. Insult your friends and neighbors. The Jersey Shore of social networking websites, except it’s anonymous (Snooki’s ghost writer hones her writing skills here). Age 10+ only, please.

Care2– Get your green living and social activism on at this petition-heavy network. For tree-huggers and left-leaners.

classmates.com– Connect with former or current institutionalees and institutionalizers. Share your stories of institutionalization. Age 18+ only, please.

dailybooth– Obsessed with your appearance? Like to take pics of yourself? Go here.

Daily Strength– Lean on me, I’ll lean on you. Mental and physical health support community.

delicious– Discover, share, and store your favorite websites on this website.

disaboom– Disabled? Find support and friendship within an online disabled community.

facebook– Get bombarded with endless game and quiz invites, and get your personal info put on display against your will at the same time. For mental masochists. Age 13+ only, please.

flickr– Photo-hosting and networking. Age 13+ only, please.

foursquare– Make a game of location-based networking. Mobile.

früehstüeckstreff.de (frühstückstreff)- What?? Yoüe’re not on früehstüeckstreff.de (frühstückstreff)?? That früehcking süecks. Müest live in Eüerope or Aüestralia, and müest be a hüengry morning person.

G+– Share info and read info via circles (segregated groups). You can’t stop the Google. Must have a Google account. Age 13+ or 18+ only, please (you choose).

gays.com– Get your gay on. Network with other LGBTs. Review and read about the LGBT scene.

goodreads– Looking for a good book? Have a good book? Check-out here.

italki.com– Share, learn, and practice over 100 languages, including Yucatec Maya, Luxembourgish, and Esperanto!

Jaiku– Microblogging. Google-owned. You can’t stop the Google. Age 13+ only, please.

Jammer Direct– Share your art. Or bitch and moan about being an unsigned artist. Or laugh and jeer at unsigned artists bitching and moaning.

LibraryThing– Gotta thing for libraries? Gotta thing for book lists? Swoon here. Age 13+ only, please.

LinkedIn– For yawning, business networking, and yawning. Also for yawning. Did I mention yawning? Yawn. Age 18+ only, please.

Livemocha– Learn 38 languages in an interactive community.

Meetup– Plan offline hookups meetups for various kinks activities. If you live in the UK, you may get lucky and hook-up meetup with this guy. Age 18+ only, please.

Myspace– View the fake profiles created by pedos, and the kids they cyber-stalk. Try to guess which is which. Age 13+ only, please.

Ning– Make your own websites and networks here. Age 13+ only, please.

OUTeverywhere– Come OUTy, come OUTy, where every you are! LGBT

ReverbNation– Socialize with musicians, managers, and groupies. Age 16+ only, please.

ScienceStage– Multi-media science platforming and networking. Video streaming.

Scispace– For scientists, by scientists. Invitation only. But don’t despair, you may request an invitation.

ShareTheMusic– Free and legal music listening and sharing.

Shelfari– e-shelve your books here.

SocialVibe– Network for charity.

Stickam– Get your chat on while you ogle and be ogled via video streaming.

StumbleUpon– Stumble your way through interesting websites.

Tumblr– Microblog. Real time- or auto-post.

Twitter– Microblog. 40% pointless babble.

Wattpad– Authors and readers unite! Also e-book sharing.

WAYN– Plan traveling rendezvous with fellow travelers. Age 18+ only, please.

weRead– We read books and talk about books.

WiserEarth– Organization-based social and environmental justice network. Age 16+ only, please.

ZOOPPA– Artists, work for free and sell-out at the same time here. Age 14+ only, please.

Here’s a longer list.

Do you have a strong opinion of a particular social networking site?

Writing Realistic Disabled Characters

Throughout my live, I’ve known and befriended a number of people who were physically, mentally, or psychologically disabled, so it makes sense that I’ve written a few disabled characters into my novels. The disabilities I’m most familiar with- schizophrenia, autism, and mental retardation, are featured prominently within some of my main and supporting characters. Because I personally don’t have these disabilities, and I write realistic fiction, I’ve been especially mindful of how I portray these afflictions in my novels. I’ve come up with my own guidelines to writing realistic disabled characters:

1. Research the facts of the disability- but not too much. Disabled people are people, not books. Research as much as you need show the relevance and accuracy of the impairment.

2. Interact with disabled people. Interact just like you would with a non-disabled person. Those who aren’t disabled and don’t have a friend or close family member who is disabled often “look the other way” when given the opportunity to smile or say hello to someone with a significant mental or physical impairment. Befriending a disabled person will give you as much potential story information as befriending a non-disabled person.

3. Watch movies and read (or re-read) novels that feature disabled characters in a non-comedy genre. See how other actors and writers portray disabled people. Consider what seems realistic and what doesn’t. Often a disability is shown but not named, and this adds to the immediacy and integration of the disability in the story. Some movies I recommend: Rear Window (1998 version); Sling Blade; and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Some novels I recommend: Meeting Rozzy Halfway, by Caroline Leavitt; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey; and Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. Note that some of the novels have excellent movie counterparts and vice versa.

4. Write your disabled characters “as is.” Avoid exaggerating daily struggles in an effort to portray a sympathetic character. Depending on the type and severity of the disability, many disabled people are able to live reasonably normal lives that aren’t that much different from the lives of non-disabled people. On the flip side, avoid glossing over daily struggles in an effort to portray an admirable character. Everybody, regardless of ability, must work through obstacles and overcome crisis. If your disabled characters face major obstacles or crises directly related to their disabilities, it makes sense to accurately describe those specific struggles in your novel. (See #1)

Have you written a major character with a significant mental, psychological, or physical disability? What worked for you?

Writing Wrongs

“Sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear that is inherent in the human situation.” -Graham Greene

A traumatic event in your life will activate the visual cortex and limbic system in your brain- the areas which control emotions and the bodily manifestations of emotions. In turn, this deactivates your brain’s speech-production centers. So an image of the trauma is imprinted into your brain, and the memory of the trauma will seem to be incompatible with language. “There are no words to describe what I’ve experienced,” is a common lament of people with posttraumatic stress disorder or depression. By forcing a connection between the traumatic event and language, the memory of the event is encoded differently in the brain. This language-centered encoding is often the first step to healing trauma and depression.

Writing therapy is the recording of words for the purpose of emotional healing.

Write a poem                                                            expressing your phobia 

Keep a journal                                                             about your crappy job

Start a book                                                            addressing past abuse

Try some free-association                                                            exploring anxiety

Commit to a diary                                                            to vent at the end of a day

Write a letter                                                             about a failed relationship

It doesn’t matter much what form the writing takes, or if anyone else ever sees the writing. It’s the act of writing itself that is healing. Some people prefer a free-form approach to writing therapy. Others prefer a structured approach:

“Writers can treat their mental illnesses every day.” -Kurt Vonnegut

0.999… = 1 ?!


A few days ago I read an article about math-comprehension enhancement through electrical stimulation of the brain. I saw the word “dycalculia.” Oddly enough, I think that was the first time I had seen that word (Wiki’s “Dyscalculia” page has been heavily edited since I wrote this post, and now gives little useful info about dyscalculia. I am, however, leaving the link as I am fairly confident the information will be corrected and expanded.) even though I now know I am dyscalculic. I did some research, and now my life-long math anxiety makes sense. Dyscalculics are people across the IQ range who, regardless of traditional schooling, don’t have a solid sense of numbers or how they interact. Dyscalculics also usually have difficulty mentally fixing their own bodies in space, interpreting spacial relationships in general, and ordering events in time.

School was surrealistic for me. In grade school I was at the top of my class in reading and spelling. But I struggled with multiplication tables. I simply could not memorize them, even under the threat of a paddling in front of the class. I was always the last in my class to finish in-class math assignments. On the school bus, I would ricochet off the seat edges while walking the aisle. I learned to tell time well after the other kids, and I took remedial math classes during the summer. My piano teacher was embarrassingly kind. She every week she sat through 50 minutes of  1-minute songs that each took me about 5 minutes to play. I didn’t understand how the dots and lines and spaces on the music sheets fit the keys on the piano.


In high school, I flourished with vocabulary and reading comprehension, but math was rotten. In algebra, I used the same pre-filled-out “show your work” paper for each homework assignment when the teacher walked the aisles to check our homework.  He would always pause at my desk while I sunk in my seat. But he always wordlessly moved on. I frequently forgot the order of my classes and my locker combination. Running a straight line for track practice was impossible. In chemistry, my teacher went to grandiose lengths explaining the definition of a “mole.” To this day I have no working conception of it, even after re-reading its definition. My chemistry tutor patiently re-explained how to set up and calculate chemical equations every week until we both gave up.

In college I took what was described as a basic math class. The professor spent the first couple weeks teaching matrixes without quizzing the class. I tried to mentally pound the numbers into my brain, but they would crash and smash instead. The look of utter confusion on my face was so obvious, the professor called me into his office and asked me why I wasn’t “getting it.” I didn’t have an answer, so I dropped the class and finally swore off math for good.

Now, as an adult? . . I can’t immediately recall my own telephone number without the act of writing it. I still sometimes forgot how to do basic division and still transpose numbers. The few money-handling jobs I’ve had were nightmares. I don’t drive. I don’t think I’ll ever write another check. Hotels and shopping centers spontaneously morph into mazes, and I don’t know north from a hole in the ground. Even though I have perfect vision, I still sometimes run into walls while turning corners, or trip on chair legs. Keeping score in card games is baffling. I love science- except for the math parts. I know math is the language of the universe. Math is magic. But I’m not a magician.

I used to think I was just “numbers lazy.” That if I just tried hard enough, I would “get it.” Now I am relieved to know it’s not laziness, but a physical brain difference. Dyscalculics are often strong in language, perhaps to compensate for their math deficiencies; or perhaps the same mechanism which weakens math ability strengthens language ability. I don’t “get” the language of the universe, but I revel in my own language. I think I wouldn’t change a thing.

0.999… = 1 ?!