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Dusk Gate Chronicles News

I know I’ve been a complete slacker about the blog lately. I’ve been knee-deep in other projects with the writing — editing Thorns, re-formatting Seeds and Roots for new hardcover versions, and lots of other little things. The blog is definitely what suffers. Something has to give. 🙂 If you’re ever wondering what, please feel free to drop me an e-mail, or stop by on Twitter or Facebook.

But since I have been slacking, I’ll make up for it with a couple fun news items.

First, Seeds of Discovery is FREE on Amazon today. Stop by and pick up your copy if you never have. If you don’t have a Kindle, remember that you can always read it on a free Kindle app, AND that it’s DRM-free, so you can easily convert it to epub or PDF to read on any e-reader you’d like.

Second … speaking of other formats, Roots of Insight is now available at Smashwords, and in the next few days, you’ll be able to pick it up at Barnes and Noble and other retailers. And, as a bonus, use this coupon code at Smashwords checkout for a 25% discount:  XD57C  The code is good through April 15.

And the last bit of news, I will be interviewing Nathaniel for the blog on Friday. Please comment below with questions you’ve been dying to ask Nathaniel! 🙂

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A Party

Here’s another little treat for you, as the date of release looms closer … 🙂

The dining room looked beautiful tonight; the tables were draped with purple and silver tablecloths, and enormous bouquets of purple and white flowers occupied the center of each one. Servants darted in and out near every guest, filling glasses with a thick, sweet juice that Quinn didn’t recognize. Soft music drifted through the room from a small group of musicians set up in the corner.

Everyone chatted amiably, nibbling on a mixture of roasted nuts and dried berries from silver bowls that sat between every two people. She noticed that nobody touched the glasses of juice, though, so she left hers alone.

Quinn had eaten the nut-and-berry mix before; it was a sort of appetizer that appeared before fancy dinners here in the castle. Although most foods here at least resembled things she was familiar with at home, there was one very unusual kind of berry in the mix, an odd green with an irregular shape. At the first couple of dinners she had attended in Eirentheos, she’d been afraid to try them. At Simon’s wedding though, Thomas had convinced her to taste one, and after that, she’d been hooked. Nothing in her own world compared to them.

Now, between polite conversations, she found herself surreptitiously digging through the bowl, looking for those green ones. She was just reaching for the bowl a third time, when William nudged her softly with his elbow. She looked up at him, abashed at being caught, but he only winked and dropped a small handful of them on her plate.

The heat flowed through her chest again.

After a few minutes, Stephen smiled at William, and then he and Charlotte stood. A hush fell over the room immediately.

William put his hand on Quinn’s knee then, and, heart beginning to flutter again, she looked up at him and smiled, placing her hand over his.

Thomas had a good response to his interview this week. Who do you think we should hear from next? 

An Interview with Prince Charming

Nine weeks from today – June 1, 2012 — is the official launch of Book Three in the Dusk Gate Chronicles, Thorns of Decision. In celebration, several of the characters have agreed to be interviewed here on the blog, and to answer some of the questions you may have about them.

Never one to shy away from attention, Thomas has graciously agreed to go first (or else, possibly, he pushed me into it). 🙂


I have some questions for him, and there have also been readers writing in, both here on the blog, and on the Facebook page with questions of their own. 😉

Me: Let’s start with the basic things. What is your full name?

Thomas: Really? That basic? (smiling) My full name is Thomas John Rose.

Me: Do you have any nicknames?

Thomas: (the twinkle in his eye is visible, dear readers) Most of the time I go by Thomas. But, aside from Crumple ChampionBest Brother in the Kindgom, Prince CharmingSwordsman Extraordinaire, The Older, and Better-Looking Twin, and Supreme Potentate of Emma’s Tea Parties, my siblings often call me T.  I refuse to acknowledge anyone who addresses me with any other shortened versions of Thomas.

Read the rest of this entry

Lucky 7: Lines from the 7th Page

Tonya tagged me in this fun meme, and I’m happy to play along. 🙂

Here are the directions:

  1. Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  2. Go to line 7
  3. Copy down the next seven lines (sentences??) as they are – no cheating
  4. Tag 7 other authors

My current manuscript is, of course, Thorns of Decision, which is due out June 1st. I have started initial writing on Book Four, but it’s definitely not ready for public viewing yet. 🙂

So here you are … this is from page 7 of the Word document — I don’t yet know what will be on page 7 of any other version. 🙂

“No, he doesn’t.”

“But I can’t tell him the truth!”

“Not all of it, anyway.”

She blinked. “What do you mean?”

“Okay, so obviously you can’t tell him everything. But maybe we should think of what parts you could tell him that are true.”

At that instant, the small black phone sitting next to her buzzed. The tiny sound seemed strangely ominous. Quinn jumped away from it as though it might somehow bite her.

So … guesses? This conversation is between Quinn and ? Who are they talking about? 🙂

Comment below if you don’t yet have a digital copy of either Seeds of Discovery or Roots of Insight. In keeping with the “7” theme — the first 7 people to ask can have a copy of the book of their choice, in the e-format of choice (Kindle, .epub, or .pdf — basically any e-reader or computer).

Oh, and, nope, you don’t have to have the right answer to win — just ask!  But play along for fun, anyway? 😉

Now for the tagging! I can’t wait to see seven lines from some of these folks. 🙂

  1. Kristy K. James
  2. Cara Michaels
  3. Morgan Dragonwillow
  4. Danni Menard 
  5. Jayrod Garrett
  6. Steven P. Watson
  7. Lillie McFerrin

Linnea

Okay, since I’ve been such a slacker about new posts lately, I’ll give everyone a special sample today. 🙂

Linnea is one of my favorite characters, and in Chapter Six of Thorns of Decision, we finally get to hear some of the things she’s been thinking in her own POV. 🙂

Enjoy … let me know what you think. 🙂

Linnea sighed as William and Quinn followed her father down the hallway, wondering what in the world was going on now. She’d been waiting as patiently as she could for them to return, and now there was something else going on that she wasn’t a part of.

She raised an eyebrow at how closely her brother walked behind Quinn, almost as if he were ready to catch her if she stumbled. She’d seen the subtle way that things had changed between the two of them when they’d first brought Thomas home from Philotheum, and she wondered how much more things had changed while they were in Quinn’s world.

After Philotheum, Will had no longer kept his distance from Quinn – no longer spouted off his ridiculous assertions about “letting” her get “too involved” in their world, that by being torn between the two worlds, she’d get hurt in the end. As if any of that was up to any of them, anyway. She’d met Quinn. That girl was going to do what she was going to do.

Not that he was fooling anyone in the first place. Linnea and Thomas had spent countless evenings gossiping about it while Will was in Bristlecone, and wondering when he was going to wake up and realize how he really felt about Quinn.

It had been obvious from the first night the girl had arrived at the castle. Careful, observant, meticulous Will not noticing that a girl was following him closely enough to find the gate? Right. Really, it had been clear that something was up with this girl from the first time he’d ever mentioned her.

He’d talked about girls in Bristlecone before, come home and told everyone stories about the ones who tried to get his phone number, or who asked what he was doing over the weekend. That question was always good for a laugh around the fire in the evening, because wouldn’t the unfortunate girl be surprised if he told her the answer? “Wanna come over to dinner with my family in a different world? I’ll bet you’ve never been inside a castle before. Don’t worry – I’ll take you back home after we keep you for a couple of weeks.”

But when Will had first brought up Quinn Robbins, said he’d noticed her around a lot lately, and he’d been wondering if she was watching him, it had been different. When Thomas had teased him about his “new secret girlfriend,” Will hadn’t laughed. He’d been defensive of the girl – insisting that she was only curious, not like the others – that she didn’t have a crush on him.

And once they’d all met Quinn, and seen William around her, it had become quite clear that he truly wasn’t worried that she had a crush on him. Although he’d never admit it even to himself, his real worry was that she didn’t.

In the next week or two, I’m going to be looking for beta readers for “Draft Two” of Thorns of Decision. If you think you might be interested, send me an e-mail. So far, I’ve had some awesome beta readers who have really helped shape the big questions in the story into something stronger, I think. If you’ve already beta read, and you want to do some more, you’re in. Otherwise, please know that I do give preference to beta readers who have reviewed the books on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

A Little Treat…

In celebration of finishing the first draft of Thorns of Decision, I’ve decided to share a little snippet with you all! 🙂

Here is a short sample of the very first scene in the third book of The Dusk Gate Chronicles (releasing June 1, 2012).

Enjoy!

The loud knock on her bedroom door set the fierce anger rolling in Quinn Robbins’ chest again. “What?” she yelled; knowing, but not caring, that her voice was too harsh.

Her mother opened the door and came in, barely seeming to notice the way Quinn sat, rolled up in a ball near her pillows, still in her pajamas, even though it was nearly noon.

“I’ve decided you’re not grounded from your phone,” she said, setting the small, black object on the nightstand. The little notification light blinked furiously. “You need to use it to call Zander yourself, get things figured out with him.”

She raised her eyebrows at her mother. “What did you tell him?” Last night, in the car, as they drove home from the river, her mom had told her that she had ‘explained things’ to Quinn’s boyfriend, but Quinn had no idea what that meant, and her mother wouldn’t elaborate further.

Megan Robbins’ gaze was just as steely as it had been since last night, and she looked Quinn in the eyes when she spoke. “I told him that Dr. Rose had had a family emergency, and that since you were becoming good friends with William, you went along for support.”

Quinn’s eyes popped open wide. “That doesn’t even make any sense!” Of course, it was eerily close to the truth … but that was the problem. The truth didn’t make any sense.

“Well, if you have a better explanation, you’re welcome to share it with him. I’m headed down to Denver to pick up Owen and Annie from Richard and Denise’s.” Megan turned and left the room, closing the door behind her with an audible clunk.

Quinn only barely resisted the urge to pick up the phone and hurl it at the door. Instead, she flipped it open and began scanning through the messages – all forty-six of them. Almost every message was from her best friend, Abigail, or from Zander, although there were three from her mother, left on Thursday evening, just after Quinn had disappeared.

She opened the first one.

Where are you sweetie? Zander just called and said he saw you leaving work.

Oh. So Zander had seen her running away from the library with William? She closed her eyes, trying to remember that evening, which seemed so long ago. Of course, nearly three weeks actually had passed for Quinn, even if it had only been just over two days for her mom.

Still, even if Zander had seen her, it didn’t explain how her mom had known where to find her, how she had been at the bridge to meet her last night when she’d come back from Eirentheos. Quinn had disappeared for two whole days without a word, and she’d come back to find her mother, not panicking as she’d expected, no police officers searching the river, or even dropping by her house for a chat. No, instead, her mother had been sitting, perfectly calm on a boulder near the gate, just waiting, as if she knew exactly where Quinn had been.

Okay, so calm wasn’t the right word. Her mother had been furious, livid, as she still was today. But she hadn’t been worried, even in the slightest. And this was the source of Quinn’s anger now.

Not that she had wanted to worry her mother – actually she’d spent long hours during her time in Eirentheos fretting over what she thought she was putting her mother through. She hadn’t meant to disappear for so long without saying a word, it had just happened. When William had told her that Thomas was missing, she had just gone, without thinking about the consequences.

But coming through the gate to find her mother there, patiently expecting her return from an alternate world had rocked Quinn completely to her core. What was going on here? How? How did her mom know about the gate? What did she know?

Last night in the car, Megan had refused to answer any of Quinn’s questions, and even more disturbingly, she hadn’t asked any. She’d sat there in the driver’s seat, stone-faced for the whole drive. When they pulled into the garage, Megan had turned to Quinn.

“I explained things to Zander and to Mrs. Williams for you, so you still have a job. I picked up your stuff from the library. The perfect attendance at school you were so worried about is blown on that unexcused absence, though. You’re grounded from your phone, from everything.”

“What do you mean? What did you explain?” Quinn had asked. But Megan had just climbed out of the car, slamming the door behind herself, and gone into the house. When Quinn had gone inside, she discovered that her mother was locked in her bedroom. After several failed attempts at knocking and yelling through the door, Quinn had gone into her own room. She had wondered where her little brother and sister were when she’d seen their empty rooms.

The phone in her hand buzzed loudly, and then began to play a tune that sent an electric jolt through her. It was Zander, again. She stared at the screen, at the picture that had popped up of the two of them, Zander’s arms around her shoulders, his cheek close to hers, both of them smiling widely. She almost answered it, but it stopped ringing before she managed to make her finger move over to the answer button. She waited for several minutes, but there was no notification of a voicemail message.

She sighed, and then picked up the phone again. Unable to force herself to call Zander back, she dialed the number for Nathaniel Rose instead.

“Hello?” The voice that answered was immediately comforting and familiar. Her fingers stopped trembling so much.

“William?”

“Quinn? Is that you?”

“Yeah.”

“Hey, what’s going on with you? Are you okay?”

“I … I think so.”

“What was all that at the bridge last night? Why was your mother there?”

“I don’t know. She just drove me home and never told me anything. I’ve never seen her that angry before, but I don’t think she could possibly be as mad as I am. Now, she’s gone. I guess she took my little brother and sister down to Denver sometime this weekend to stay with their grandparents, and she went to go get them.”

William was silent on the other end of the line; she could almost see the look he would have on his face — confused, thoughtful.

“Did Nathaniel say anything to you? My mom didn’t seem too surprised to see him coming out of the gate, either.”

“No. I asked him if he knew what that was about, but he said it was between you and your mother.”

“What is that supposed to mean? Is he there?”

“No. He went into work really early this morning, and he was going to try to spend the day getting things set up for Thomas to go somewhere for the surgery. He was gone before I even woke up.”

“Well, crap.”

William chuckled, and then his voice grew serious again. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“No. I’m not sure about anything right now. Everything is such a mess.”

“Do you want to come over, and we could talk here? I’m not so good at this phone thing. This is probably the longest conversation I’ve ever had on one, actually.”

That made Quinn smile. “Sure. Give me half an hour?”

“I’ll be here. I’m doing homework – you might want to consider bringing yours along, too.”

“You would be thinking about homework at a time like this.”

He laughed. “I’ll see you in a little while.”

As soon as she snapped her phone shut, she made a mad dash for the shower. The days of traveling in the rural areas of William’s world had made her very efficient at getting ready quickly. She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to leave the house, or if being grounded from “everything” besides, apparently, her phone, meant she was allowed to use her stepfather’s car to go somewhere today, but after a few seconds of consideration, she decided that she didn’t care.

Somehow, her mother knew about the gate that led to William’s world. Even more astonishing was the fact that she had known that’s where Quinn would be. How? What did her mother know that Quinn didn’t? And worse, why was she keeping it from her?

Within ten minutes of hanging up with William, Quinn was in the small mudroom that connected the garage and kitchen, looking for her keys. As she reached for the small ring that hung underneath a bulletin board in the room, one of the papers tacked to the board caught her attention.

She recognized it immediately, and it sent a cold chill down her spine. Her mother had gone through her backpack? It was her most recent World History test, the first paper she’d ever gotten a grade lower than a B – and usually she was disappointed with those. The big, red ‘D’ on the top glared at her mockingly. Even worse, was the thick, black circle drawn around the letter, and the words, written in her mother’s perfect penmanship: ‘What is THIS?’

The fury welled within her chest again, rising into her throat and nearly choking her. The shaft of the thumbtack ripped a straight line up the center of the page as she yanked it from the display. She shoved it into her backpack, which was hanging nearby on a peg, the zipper wide open. Throwing it over her shoulder, she grabbed her keys and left.

Sample Sunday (#SampleSunday) And An Announcement …

Happy Sunday everyone! 🙂 I hope you are all resting and preparing for a wonderful week ahead. 🙂

This past week has been a good one around here, with fun things happening on the Dusk Gate front. Sales have been slowly but steadily picking up for Seeds of Discovery and Roots of Insight. I’m hearing lots of great feedback, and it’s so much fun to hear from those of you who are enjoying the adventures of William, Quinn, and Thomas.

I have been busily working away on writing the next installment, which hit a very important milestone this past week. It is now more than 50 thousand words (~200 pages long). Within the next two weeks, it should be longer than Seeds of Discovery (and it will be longer!).

So, to celebrate, I have a special announcement to share with you.

(If you follow my Facebook fan page, you heard it first! Make sure you join by clicking the button at the bottom of this blog or by clicking here to like Dusk Gate on Facebook, so that you, too can hear breaking news!)

Ready?

Thorns of Decision, Book Three in the Dusk Gate Chronicles, will be released on June 1, 2012!

 

And … today’s very special #SampleSunday has an excerpt from Thorns. Enjoy! 🙂

 

When the path reached a thick part of the woods, William suddenly led her several yards off of it, into a hidden stand of trees. She had no idea how he knew where he was.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked.
He didn’t answer; he just kept walking. About a hundred yards later, he put his finger to his lips and pointed.
At first, Quinn couldn’t tell what he was pointing at, but as her eyes adjusted to the dimmer light in the thick trees, the shapes became sharper, and a few feet ahead of them, nestled in a tree branch just above William’s head, she could see a nest. She looked at him in surprise, and he smiled.
He made a low chirruping sound, and a second later, a familiar feathered head popped out of the nest, shiny black eyes blinking at the two of them in interest. It was Aelwyn, William’s Seeker bird. He made a different low noise, and she rose from her spot, hopped neatly over the edge of the nest, and glided down toward him, landing only about a foot away.
Now it was Aelwyn’s turn to talk, and she made a strange noise, halfway between a squawk and a whistle. William laughed, and reached into his pocket, retrieving a package of beef jerky, which he opened and tore off a piece, holding it out to the bird.
Quinn had to smile at the intricate dance between William and the bird, as Aelwyn first turned her head away from the offering, and then reached to snatch it once he knelt down low to her. As soon as she’d swallowed it, she walked right up to him, butting her head against his pocket where the rest of the treat was hidden.
At that moment, there was a loud call from overhead, and then Thomas’ bird, Sirian swooped down and landed gracefully near his mate. William withdrew the meat from his pocket, and tore it unevenly. Aelwyn eyed him warily until he tossed the larger piece in her direction. Sirian waited until she had hers, and then accepted the smaller piece.
After a few minutes, the birds had warmed up, and were strutting comfortably around the tiny clearing, and both of them even allowed Quinn to stroke their smooth heads. Up close, she was always startled by how gentle they were around people, though they were quite large hunting birds.
Once he was certain that they’d both let their guards down, William stood again and motioned for Quinn to follow as he walked toward the tree that held the nest. They’d almost reached it when Aelwyn and Sirian suddenly simultaneously flew up into the nest. Quinn shrank back, startled, but William shook his head.
“It’s okay,” he said.
Inside the nest, the two birds chattered in voices that seemed somehow amiable, and then a moment later, four smaller heads peeked over the edge, their black eyes shining curiously as they turned to examine the newcomers.
Quinn sucked in a breath. “They’re beautiful,” she said softly.

Twitter Tuesdays #3 – TweetDeck

Happy Tuesday! Welcome to another installment of Twitter Tuesdays.

I was going to cover re-tweeting and direct messages today, but I decided to change my approach. I’m going to work around answering questions I got in the comments (since that’s who’s reading my blog, anyway!) 🙂

The two questions I got were “How much time do you spend on Twitter to build a platform?”  and “How do you keep track of everything/everyone?”

These questions can both be partially answered by the fact that I use an app to help me manage my twitter. (The answer to the second question, btw, is I don’t. It’s too much to keep up with ALL of it. I try to keep up with the things that I really care about, and then I focus on not stressing about it!).

The application I use is called TweetDeck, and it has definitely simplified Twitter for me. I do not yet use this app to its full potential, and I am always looking for ways to increase my knowledge and skill with it, but I will write the rest of my Twitter Tuesdays from the viewpoint of one who uses TweetDeck, because, well … I do. 🙂

Tweet Deck is a free app, and you can download it from TweetDeck.com.

Once you’ve downloaded TweetDeck, log into the app with your Twitter name and password. Once it’s running, you’ll see the same thing you always did at the regular Twitter site, but now, you have columns!

The columns are one of the best parts about TweetDeck. Now, instead of trying to manage everything, and remember to click on the various parts of your stream, you can have everything right in front of you.

Once you’re logged into TweetDeck, you should have three columns by default. One column will be titled “All Friends,” and will show tweets from EVERYONE you follow. You will also have a column called “Mentions.” This one is important because it’s where tweets people are sending to you using the @ feature. Finally, you’ll have a column called “Direct Messages.” Direct messages are private messages that people can send to you. They are different than tweets sent with the @ feature, which are visible to everyone who follows either the person who sent it, OR the person who received it.

For the record – TWITTER IS NOT A PRIVATE PLACE. Be friendly, chat, have conversations. But DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT, tweet anything that you would be upset for anyone in the whole wide world to see. Don’t do it.

Sending Tweets:

You can send tweets from inside TweetDeck, just like you did before on the Twitter website. I use TweetDeck ALL THE TIME. I almost never actually log on to the website.

At the top of your TweetDeck screen, you will see a big, black box. Type tweets in it! 🙂 If you don’t see the box, click the yellow flag at the top left of your screen. The box will appear.

Using the Columns:

Next week I will get into some more of the cool things you can do now that you have columns. 🙂 But for today, I’ll stick with basics.

The columns alone help make it easier to manage and keep up with, especially if you’re still following less than about 500 people.

You can interact with folks directly by hovering over their profile pictures with your mouse. You have several choices once you do this.

  • Reply to – this will let you compose a tweet “in reply to” your friend. Basically, clicking this little arrow writes their @name for you in the top black box. 🙂
  • Direct Message – This will, again, bump you to the top black box, this time to compose a message that will be visible only to you and the person you’re sending it to.
  • Retweet. If one of your friends has just sent out a great tweet — it’s funny, or has a useful link, or it made you think, or WHATEVER, you can click this button and send the same message out to all of your followers. It’s like sharing the love! Use this button liberally, people like to be retweeted!
  • Other options. There are a LOT of other options under this button! 🙂 The options you’ll use most, especially at first, are under the “User” category. Here you can “follow” or “unfollow” people, or click to view their profiles. In the case of spam, you can block the person and their tweets.

So, again, take this next week and play around with TweetDeck. See what you can discover for yourself, just by playing with it. Send me a tweet to @bputtroff if you have a question, and I’ll see if I can help you out.

Next week, I’m going to cover some of the other awesome things you can do now that you have columns, including the crazy Twitter phenomenon known as a #hashtag. They’re really awesome, I promise! 🙂

Have something special you’d like me to cover in an upcoming Twitter Tuesdays? Post a comment below!

Sample Sunday (#SampleSunday)

Happy Sunday everyone! If you’re looking for new and entertaining reads, head on over to Twitter, and search for the hashtag #SampleSunday. You’ll find all kinds of interesting stuff every week. 🙂

Here’s my first February contribution. 🙂 An excerpt from Seeds of Discovery, which is on sale for just 99 cents through Valentine’s Day at Amazon!

Don’t forget, during the month of love, to spread some love to your favorite authors by leaving them reviews on any review site you frequent, especially Amazon, Shelfari, and Goodreads. Authors appreciate every single review, even if it seems like they already have many.

 

When she reached Maggie’s house that afternoon, Zander’s familiar truck was sitting next to the curb. When she pulled up behind it to park, she could see the outline of Zander’s head through the rear window; he must have arrived just before her. She pulled her keys out of the ignition and then hesitated, suddenly nervous about seeing him. She took an unnecessary minute to check her cell phone for text messages she might have missed. Small words flashed in the corner of the screen, “NO SERVICE.” Quinn sighed. One bad thing about living in a small mountain town was the unreliable cell phone service.

Finally composed, she took a deep breath and reached for the door handle. She nearly jumped out of her skin when the door opened on its own. Zander was standing there, grinning.

“Hey, Quinn,” he said, reaching for her hand to help her climb out.

“Uh, hi, Zander. Thanks.”

“Sure,” Zander smiled cheerfully, but he didn’t start walking to the house. He stood there for a long moment, looking like he wasn’t sure what to say.

The nervousness that Quinn had started feeling in the car was growing.

Finally, Zander spoke.

“Quinn?”

“Yeah?”

“I wanted to ask you something.”

“O….kay?”

“Will you … I mean, would you like … would you like to go to the Valentine dance with me?” he said the last part in a rush, in a hurry to get the words out.

Quinn was stunned. Did she want to go to the Valentine dance? With Zander? Maybe she did. “Um, I can’t dance, you know,” she stalled, trying to regain her composure.

Zander chuckled, “Neither can I. It could still be fun, though.”

“Um, okay…” shoving her hands in her pockets so he wouldn’t see them shaking, she choked out her answer. “Sure.”

She watched Zander’s eyes widen, “You’ll go with me?”

“Yes, I’ll go with you.”

Zander’s face lit up with a smile that did strange things to her insides… She had to work to catch her breath as she walked with him up to the porch.

 

Twitter Tuesdays #2

Okay, you’ve now had a week to play around with Twitter, check it out, and get to know it a little bit. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check out my previous Twitter Tuesday post.)

Today I’m going to talk about setting up your profile, privacy settings, and sending out tweets.

Your Twitter Profile

Your Twitter profile is exceptionally important, and something you should work on immediately, if you haven’t done so already.

Once you’re logged into Twitter, you can click on your username, and it will take you to your profile page. The first thing you need to do is upload a picture. If you are an author, or anybody else trying to build any kind of a platform, I cannot stress enough the importance of putting a real picture there. AT THE VERY LEAST, use some kind of recognizable logo.

Even if you’re just casually using Twitter and messing around to see how it works, upload a photo of some sort, so you don’t get stuck with the weird-looking egg.

Here, also, you can choose to put your real name, your location, and your web address, if you have one.

Then it’s time to write your bio. This may be your first encounter with writing things “Twitter-style.” You have 160 characters to tell the world about yourself. That’s counting spaces and periods. If you went to college back when I did, it’s time right now to learn to quit double spacing after periods (it turns out you’re not supposed to do that anywhere anymore, anyway!)

Write whatever you want here. If you’re coming to Twitter to meet people for a specific purpose — like because you’re an author, MENTION THAT. If you’re a teacher, and you want to meet other digitally-minded educators, SAY SO. People read these when they’re looking for new people to follow.

Privacy Setting:

The vast majority of folks on Twitter do not use any privacy settings whatsoever, aside from not putting sensitive information in your profile, and blocking particular users.

It is possible to hide ALL OF YOUR TWEETS from anyone you haven’t approved (followed). It’s a little box you check on the settings page that says “Protect My Tweets.”

I don’t think there’s any point to this option. I really don’t. If you only want to communicate with certain people, it’s a lot easier to set privacy controls on your Facebook page, or stick to e-mail. You will never, ever, be able to use Twitter to its full potential if your Tweets are protected, and most of my upcoming Twitter Tuesdays posts will be useless to you.

Tweeting

Whenever you post a message, or a status update, or really communicate on Twitter at all, it is called “tweeting,” and the messages are “tweets.”

When you’re ready to send out your first tweet, click in the little box that says “compose tweet” and write whatever you want to tweet about. You have a limit of 140 characters.

I was on Facebook the other day, and one of my friends posted asking “What is the difference between sending a Tweet and posting a status on Facebook?”

The answer? When you’re a Twitter newbie, posting your first tweet — maybe there isn’t a whole lot of difference. 🙂 Except, there is a difference. You don’t HAVE to post a status update. Twitter is a living, vital stream, filled with millions of people who all have the potential to be awesome in your life, even if you’ve never met them before. Post a status message if you’d like, but you can also ask a question! You can say “I’m new here, what do I do now?” 🙂

Of course, the first issue you’re going to run into is that nobody is following you yet, so nobody will see your question. 🙂

So … send a message instead. You can send a message to ANYONE ON TWITTER at anytime, by simply typing @theirusername anywhere in your tweet.

Try it! You can tweet to me if you’d like. It might look like this Hey, @bputtroff! I’m new here. Help!

Or read a few tweets that are in the stream from people you’ve already followed, and reply to one. Have fun, be silly if that’s your personality. Tweet @personI’venevermet That peanut butter sandwich sounds good. Did you save me one?

Jump right in. You’ll be surprised at what a welcoming place it can be, and how quickly you’ll find some kindred spirits. (And if they block you because you asked for a peanut butter sandwich, well — they’re not your kind of tweep, anyway.)

Your assignment this week is — get your feet wet. Unblock your privacy settings if you had them blocked, and start sending out tweets into the Twittersphere. Be silly, be serious, ask questions. And keep following new people. Celebrities, sure, but also make an effort this week to use the search feature to find some real people who are interested in the same things you are, and send tweets to a couple of them — even if they’re not following you (yet!)

I’ll be back next Tuesday to cover another important Twitter issue — Re-tweeting! (And I might cover Direct Messages, too!)

If you have any special questions about Twitter, be sure to let me know in the comments!

Until then … Happy Tweeting! And … if you send me a tweet this week, I’ll make sure you have at least one follower! 🙂