I’ve been on Twitter quite awhile now, but I never really used it in a “professional” capacity. I followed mostly comedians and the like, and that was how I enjoyed my Twitter: as occasional entertainment, for a few laughs and not much else. I followed some writers, some fellow bloggers, and that was it.
I started noticing that some of the fellow writers that Twitter would suggest I follow had massive amounts of followers, and wasn’t quite sure how they amassed such huge numbers. Then it hit me—it’s quid pro quo. Follow somebody (especially a writer), they follow you in return. So I wondered what would happen if I just started following people like crazy; would they follow me back?
I got my answer. Last Wednesday I had about 175 followers. Today? 1,014. It was so easy it’s ridiculous. Thing is, it’s also ruined what I liked about Twitter, because now I’m also following well over a thousand people as well. Most of the tweets from the people I already know and like get buried by all the others writers I’m now following. I guess that’s just the price of trying to get more followers for your cause, no? I don’t know…it’s just a weird predicament.
Speaking of followers, I just recently—in the past two weeks or so—realized you could follow people on Facebook (if they allow themselves to be followed, that is). What happened is that I saw a comment on a writer friend’s status update from a writer/editor I’ve mentioned here before. I’ve read some of his stories, and he also writes columns to help writers get published, etc. So I clicked on his name to check out his profile and happened to notice next to the ‘send friend request’ button was a button that said simply, ‘follow.’ I went ahead and clicked it, and to be honest, that’s opened my eyes to a world I barely knew existed on Facebook.
Because now I see everything—again, everything he allows followers to see—he likes and comments on, and a good 95% of it is related to his writer friends, magazines and journals accepting submissions, new publishers getting ready to open, all sorts of stuff. It made me feel dumb for not realizing I could/should’ve been doing that way earlier (and, to be fair, my friend Steven Dines was hip to this long ago, I just never noticed—once again he leads the way). Which leads me to Mike.
A few of you who have been reading the blog long enough may remember, but most of you probably don’t know: a friend of mine passed away a couple of years ago from pancreatic cancer. We were fairly close friends many, many moons ago, then drifted apart and reconnected through social media over the last decade. During the time we lost touch, he became a kick ass husband, teacher, and writer. As a matter of fact, finding Mike on MySpace (yes, it was that long ago) and seeing that he’d not only been writing books but getting them published lit a fire under my ass.
While I wasn’t looking, Mike (he wrote under his full name, Michael Louis Calvillo) was out there knocking books and short stories out like a machine, winning Dark Scribe magazine’s Black Quill Award and being nominated for a coveted Bram Stoker Award by the Horror Writer’s Association. I realized then that I needed to get my ass off the couch and back to the keyboard and start knocking out stories of my own. And so it began.
I was still trying to get myself back on the writing path when he passed, so I never got the chance to really pick his brain or get any sage advice on publishing or anything else he had experience with. He was happy with his publishers, so whenever I’m ready to submit a novel of my own I know of a couple that would be receptive to my style of writing, which is admittedly a little tamer than Mike’s.
But here’s the real kicker—as I’ve been expanding my network on Facebook, following writers, editors, and publishers, a funny thing’s been happening: when I look at the person/company’s FB page, it will show we have a mutual friend—Mike. For just a second, when I see his name and the profile pic he used (the cover of the book he was working on when he passed), I feel sad. But then it makes me smile, because it lets me know that even though I’ll never get to talk shop with him like I would’ve liked, I’m assured that I’m heading in the right direction.
I could write volumes about the kind of guy Mike was and the enormous talent he had—I think he literally could’ve rivaled Stephen King’s output if given the chance—but that’s a bit self-indulgent. I’ll just say he was a hell of a guy, and I’ll leave it at that. If you have any interest in reading some absolutely crazy dark fiction (crazy in a good way, of course), check out his stuff here or here.
On a final note, for anyone keeping score at home, my publishing hot streak ended at two. I’ve gotten two rejections since my last post. That’s okay though; big wheel keeps on turnin’. I’ve still got that batch of stories submitted elsewhere, and I have two new short stories in the 3k word range I’m getting ready to submit to some fairly high profile places. One is about a burned out office drone who decides he’s had enough, and one is about a man driven to madness—and potentially blindness—by this rubber bank:
Yes, those are thumbtacks in his eyes.
Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted.