I’m Still Thinking of You

I’m Thinking Of You

Today marks the three year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Last year, I worked through my sadness by writing a post titled “I’m Thinking Of You.” Today those words are on a field trip over on Mamalode.com. Won’t you please come have a look, and share the message?

I’m Thinking Of You

Like me, you probably have friends and family that are so often on your mind and heart that you can have whole conversations with them without ever picking up the phone. I truly believe there are more positive vibes in this world than negative events.

To anyone struggling with sadness and challenges right now: You are not alone. You’d be surprised how many people are thinking of you right now.

And to the families of Newtown: We’re thinking of you not only today,  but always.

 

 

Interested in turning your good thoughts into positive action? Click the links below to learn more.

Everytown for Gun Safety

“The reasons for gun violence are complex, but real change on a few issues could save lives.”

Text “ENOUGH” to 64433

Sandy Hook Promise

“I promise to do all I can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, schools and communities.”

Sign their petition to pass mental health reform here.

26 ACTS – Changing the World one kind act at a time

“Do one act of kindness for each of the lives taken at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.

Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

“Every action, no matter how small, helps us build safer communities and a brighter future. Together, we can end gun violence.”

Sponsoring Orange Walks to honor all of the lives taken by gun violence in America, and show just how determined we are to end it.

Other actions:

Consider writing your representatives in government to voice your concerns. Contact information is easy to find here:

Senators

Congressional Representatives

 

 

 

I’m Thinking of You

 

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My husband never talks about his patients with me. (He’s the poster boy for the HIPAA law.) But when a call from the hospital comes in at night, sometimes I am privy to his side of the conversation. I might hear snippets such as the person’s age, or what tests they need to have done. I’ve learned which key words will lead to me sleeping alone that night (ruptured, perforation) and which will keep him snuggled next to me (elective, antibiotics).

Within thirty seconds of the phone call ending, my husband will be back to sleep. It’s a self-preserving skill he learned in residency.  But for me, it’s not that easy. Now I’m up. And now I’m thinking about this person who I know nothing about, beyond the fact that they are, say, 66-years-old and have a high fever and need an ERCP, whatever that is. Now that I know about them, and I’m awake, I do what I can for them. Which isn’t much, but I hold them in my mind, and I wish them well. I like to envision a little bit of the comfort I’m sending to them actually finding it’s way to the ER, or the ICU, or their room. It’s improbable, but it’s possible. So I go there.

Many, many nights, phone calls or not, I hold my husband’s hands in mine and offer a straight-up prayer. First it’s a thank you for all the times his hands have been safely guided to help in the past, then it’s a prayer for continued guidance and strength in the future. If my husband knew any of this, he’d be doing an eye-roll/gagging noise combination. He’s a man of hard logic and science. We’re quite a pair.

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Sometimes, one is on the receiving end of good thoughts. Two years ago this weekend, Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, CT experienced the unthinkable. The news trickled first into our local consciousness and then onto the national and international stage. And while I struggled with shock and fear and that sickening too close-to-home feeling, something strangely comforting started happening.

First, a phone call from my sister, 3,000 miles and two time zones away. When her first patient of the day asked, “Isn’t it terrible about what happened at that school in CT?” her stomach dropped, and she thought of me. Then a steady stream of friends, from all over the country, from all phases of my life, started checking in.

I heard the news, and I thought of you. Are you okay? Are the kids okay? 

I heard from people I hadn’t been in touch with for years, from close friends, and from Christmas-card-only friends. All wished me well and expressed relief that today, this time, the tragedy was not ours. In the weeks that followed, sadness would wash over me in waves. But the comfort of being thought of and wished well by so many always pulled me to a safe shore.

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We can never know how many people are thinking of us, maybe right now, and wishing us well. It doesn’t take an anniversary for me to think of the Newtown families. A face, a name, or an image will come to mind, and in that moment I’ll wish them love and comfort. Imagine, for every time someone pops into your mind, or you hold someone in prayer, meditation, or good light, someone else could be doing the same for you!

Maybe the husband or wife of the doctor you visited last week is at home, doing chores, and sending you strong, positive vibes. And if you’re reading this, consider yourself pinged with positivity, because at this moment I could very well be thinking of you, and wishing you all good things, including….

best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season.

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Twitter 100

A few months ago, kidlit writer Michelle Cusolito ran an online auction to benefit people in the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan.  I offered a basic Twitter tutorial as an auction item, and will be meeting with the winning bidder this weekend!  In preparation for that, I put together a primer on how to get started on Twitter.  I call it “Twitter 100,” as it’s too basic to be even called “Twitter 101.”

It occurred to me that other people who have always wanted to learn more about Twitter may find these notes helpful, as well.  I am in no way an expert, but if you are a complete newbie and are toying with joining Twitter, I hope that some of this advice might be useful to you.

And so without further ado, I offer you…TWITTER 100:

tweetbird

What even is Twitter?

Twitter is a free online social networking service that allows users to send and read short (140 character) text messages called “tweets.”

Wait, what are Tweets?

“Tweets” are short messages, 140 characters or less, that you “post” like you would a Facebook post.  People who are “following you” will see what you tweet, and you will see the tweets of people you follow.

Here is an example of a tweet (and an example of me trying to be clever):

The picky reader’s book choice from the library basket: THE REAL BOY by Anne Ursu.  C’mon, Anne, Mama needs an engaged reader!  Hopes high.

Tweets from anyone you are following scroll by on your computer screen in a continuous “feed.”  I will talk about how to keep up with this (or not!) in a moment.

How do I start?

 Start by going to https://twitter.com/. On the screen, follow the directions under the heading, “New to Twitter? Sign Up.”  You will need an email and a password (your choice). After that, you simply follow the directions as Twitter leads you through setting up your account.

Your Twitter “handle” will begin with the “@” sign.  Your Twitter name can be different than your own. For example, you could be “@QueenOfTheUniverse” on Twitter if you’d like. Actually that’s probably already taken.  But you get the idea.  If you are an author looking to connect professionally, I suggest just using your straight up name, like this: @NancyTandon.  You want it to be easy for people to find you.

 What should I include in my profile?

It might be helpful to play around on Twitter for a while and see what other people have in their profiles.  Some of them are quite clever!  A profile is your way of saying, ‘this is who I am,’ and will likely help you connect to like-minded people.  Since I use Twitter for most of my ‘professional’ networking, my profile says a lot about what kinds of things I write, and a little about me as a person. Here’s my example:

“Picture book, middle grade, and cathartic memoir writer, speech/language pathologist, mom, and wife.  So many books, so little time…”

Keep it short.

Also, definitely add a profile picture!  It doesn’t need to be fancy, just make sure you add one.  Otherwise, your profile picture will be an egg, which really isn’t good for anyone’s self-esteem, is it?

Don't be an egghead.

Don’t be an egghead.

 

How do I get followers?

The best way to get followers is to follow people yourself. Look for people you know in real life to get you started. In the search bar, type in a person’s name, or their “Twitter handle” if you know it. When their profile appears, click on the “follow” button.

Who should I follow?

You can follow anyone! President Obama? Yes! Agents? Editors? Yes, yes! It’s all a matter of what you’d like to see, and whom you’d like to connect with. In this way, Twitter is different from other social networking sights where someone must agree to let you see their posts.  (On Twitter, people you follow may not follow you back, but that’s okay, as long as what they say is interesting to you).

How do I keep my Twitter feed from getting overwhelming?

Once you start following people, you will begin to see a continuous “feed” of tweets on your screen. Naturally, the more people you follow, the more tweets you will see.

It is important to remember: you don’t have to read it all! Twitter is a fluid, “of the moment” way of communicating.  Also, you can easily create “lists” to categorize people you are following. Next to the blue “following” button on someone’s profile, there is a “down arrow.”  Click on that, and you will see a choice to “add or create lists.”

For example, I have a list called “kidlit writers.”  When I follow someone who writes kidlit, I add them to that list. Then, if I am feeling like I need inspiration or just want to connect specifically with people in that realm, I can pull up that list (this will be a button on your own profile page – “lists”) and read what’s being tweeted.

There are other ways to keep track of what is going on on Twitter, things like “Tweet Deck,” that I haven’t figured out yet.  (That would be for Twitter 101).

Also, you don’t want your time on Twitter to be a distraction from your real life and real work.  I usually spend from zero to 30 minutes a day looking at Twitter.  The average is about 10 minutes, and I always feel energized by the little clips and quips I read.  It’s not supposed to overwhelm you!

What should I tweet about?

Anything! Sometimes I comment on what book I’m reading, or post links to writing contests.  It can be anything.  I use Twitter mostly in a ‘professional’ way but I always get responses when I say something more personal (i.e. comment about being frustrated with kids, etc.).  You can also “re-tweet” interesting tweets you read by simply clicking the symbol that looks like the recycling symbol, (but with two arrows instead of three.) This will send someone else’s tweet to the people who are following you.  It is a great way of broadening connections.

Often tweets will contain a link to a blog post, article, or other longer piece of interest.  You can simply highlight the URL of the item you want to link (the thing in the box at the top of the computer screen), then copy it (Command + C), and paste it (Command + V) into your tweet.  Sometimes, pasting a link will put you over your 140-character limit.  Thankfully, someone clever figured out a way to shorten those links.

How do I shorten a web address (link) so that it fits in my tweet?

The sight I like to use for this purpose is called bitly.com. First, start by highlighting the web address of the article or blog post you want to share. Then (as above) copy it by typing Command + C.

Now, open a new tab on your computer, and enter the address bitly.com. Once on bitly, you will see at the very top of the page a rectangle that says “paste a link to shorten it.” So, you paste your copied address here.  (Command + V). Then you click on the orange tab that says “Shorten.”

What happens is that you now have a shortened version of a link that will send readers to the content you wanted to share.  And now it’s time to put it back into your tweet.  You will notice that the orange “shorten” button is now a blue button that says “copy.”  So, click on that.

Then, go back to your twitter page, and paste the new link into your tweet. Hooray! You did it!

#what?

#what?

What is a “hashtag”?

The # (hashtag) symbol on Twitter basically identifies a “topic of conversation.” For example, adding #amwriting to a tweet would let people know your tweet is related to something about the writing process, e.g.:

 Ugh! I just can’t get my latest revision to flow! #amwriting

You can search for “topics of conversation” in the search bar by entering # (followed by whatever you’re interested in.)  Some great ones to look at specific to writing are:

#MSWL (“Manuscript Wish List” – posted by agents.  Hello, gold.)

#WritingTip

#AskAgent

#Ask Editor

#AmWriting

#WritingPrompt

#WritersLife

What are some other ways to connect with people?

1. You can “favorite” a tweet by clicking on the “star” icon under a tweet. This is akin to “liking” something on Facebook. It lets the author of the tweet know you agree or like what they’re saying.  I also tend to “favorite” tweets about books I’d like to read, so I don’t forget the title.  On your home (profile) page you can easily see tweets you have favorited (by clicking on the ‘favorites’ tab).

2. You can reply directly to a tweet by hitting the ‘reply’ icon. This will start a ‘conversation’ between you and the tweeter.

3. You can DM (Direct Message) someone on Twitter by clicking on the same “down arrow” that you use to create lists. There is an option that says, “send a direct message.”  This will be seen by that one person only, not all your followers.

You can also do this by starting a tweet with someone’s handle, for example:

       @NancyTandon – enough already, my brain is full.

This tweet, however, would be seen by anyone who follows both you and the @person.  If you want to mention someone and have everyone see it, put a period before their name, like this:

  . @NancyTandon – enough already, my brain is full.

Or you can simple ‘embed’ someone’s name in your tweet.  For example:

Thanks @NancyTandon for thoroughly confusing me with all this Twitter mumbo-jumbo!

The person you mention will be notified that they were “mentioned in a tweet,” and a connection is made.

4. Chats. Sometimes there are specific “chats” that occur on Twitter that you can follow along with and/or participate in.  It’s not a formal thing, you don’t have to “belong” to a group to participate in a “chat.” For example, on Tuesdays at 9:00 PM there is something called, “#kidlitchat.”  It can be very fun to pour a glass of wine, open Twitter, type #kidlitchat into the search bar, and follow along with what people are talking about that week.  Usually there is a moderator who offers a starting topic or question. If you want to participate, you simply write a comment as a tweet, and end with #kidlitchat.  The other people will see it in their feed if they are following that ‘hashtag.’ Clear as mud?  Just let it flow over you for a while, you will get the hang of it!!

Some common Twitter abbreviations:

RT = Retweet.  This is used when you share someone else’s tweet that you thought would be interesting to your followers.

MT = “Modified tweet.”  You are sharing something someone else tweeted, but you’re adding a little bit of info yourself.

ICYMI = in case you missed it

If you find yourself confused by something on Twitter, just Google your question, e.g. “What does RT mean on Twitter?”  Guaranteed someone else has asked before you (probably me).

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With all this said, I must point out that Twitter is not for everyone. If you play around with it for a while and realize you are not enjoying yourself, stop!  No need to add to your already full plate. Maybe there is some other social media platform that is better suited to you.  (Or none at all!).  It’s okay!!

But if you love one-liners, and connecting with like-minded people, and sharing ideas, and being inspired, and learning new things, and you don’t mind “putting yourself out there” a little bit, Twitter just might be the perfect fit for you!

Happy Tweeting!