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The new water cooler

As most of you know, I recently dipped my toes into the waters of Twitter. Turns out I love it. Yes, it's impersonal in that it's electronic communication rather than face-to-face, but where else can you tweet a bestselling author you really admire and have her respond?

One minute later!

I now have a small community of aspiring authors, published authors, agents, and friends from whom I get all sorts of great insights, motivation, and ideas.

Twitter has quickly overtaken Facebook as my favorite social networking tool. I still like Facebook, and use it exclusively for personal friends at this point. It's great for sharing photos and news and seeing what everyone else is up to, but Twitter is much more immediate. It's almost like an online chat with dozens of people at once.

The drawback? It can take up too much of your time if you let it. I try to limit my at home access to 3-4 times per day for a few minutes. I unfollow people who overtweet. I catch up on everyone's tweets, respond to some, tweet a few things of my own, and get out. I also catch up if I'm waiting in line or at the orthodontist, or working out on the cross-trainer.

The benefits? Getting friendly, helpful tweets from authors like JoAnn Ross in response to a comment/question. Learning that an agent I'm following is no longer taking submissions. Being virtually surrounded by aspiring writers who understand what it's like to struggle with the story and the dream.

Twitter provides the “water cooler” that so many of us who work from home lack. (Or those who work outside the writing/publishing industry.)

Still not sure what it's all about? Already signed up but don't know what to do? Check out this helpful link.

It's time to get your feet wet! Join me @Gwen_Hernandez.

UPDATE 4/8: Here's another good link for Twitter Etiquette, geared toward writers, but helpful to anyone.

[tweetmeme source=”yourtwittername” only_single=false]

Veteran’s Day reading list

To celebrate Veteran's Day, I thought I'd mention some of my favorite authors who honor the men and women who serve–or have honorably served–in the armed forces by writing about them.

Suzanne Brockmann‘s Troubleshooters series is devoted mainly to Navy Seals, as well as heroes and heroines from military, law enforcement, or clandestine services. Her characters are complex, brave, imperfect, and irresistible. If you wish Flynn and Baldacci put more romance in their stories, Brockmann is for you. High passion and high stakes.

The High Risk series by JoAnn Ross features heroes from special forces (Navy SEALS, Air Force CCT), as well as some military heroines. While she has a similar style to Brockmann, her books are more focused on one main story at a time. Hot and fast-paced.

For a more light-hearted approach to Navy SEAL heroes (yes, they are popular right now), try any of Christina Skye‘s contemporary books. Still hot, with a dash of humor and spunky heroines. Fun reads.

I suppose the Special Ops types are more fun to write about, but I salute everyone who has served in our armed forces in any capacity. From Mission Support and Finance to Medical and Maintenance, no matter what your role, you are important and appreciated. Thanks!

The Daily Squirrel: a blade of grass

She plucked the blade of grass from the carpet of green along the soccer field, and ran her finger over the rough leaf. She remembered a time when she and Eddie lay in the grass, plucking dandelions and laughing at how silly teenagers were. Then one day, Eddie became a teenager himself, and left his little sister behind. It was as if he'd stepped through a doorway that she couldn't enter, and closed the door.