So I was holding off on blogging any more until after Sherry’s backlist giveaway was complete.

So this was the year of Twitter. Everywhere I turned, people were talking to me and the introduction went something like this: “I’m so and so, from twitter.” And yes, names and usernames rang a bell. Conversations that had occurred over the last year or so transitioned to real life. It felt like meeting old friends rather than completely awkward strangers stalking you in the hall. I almost put my twitter name on my badge but didn’t b/c I wasn’t sure it was the thing to do and b/c my name is really close to my twitter name. But other people did and it helped, a lot, especially when names and usernames don’t match.

It used to be that online relationships were a joke. Something to be mocked. But if the people that you chat with on twitter are warmer and funnier in real life than online, is it really a joke? I mean, I follow Victoria Dahl online and she is flipping hysterical on twitter. But she’s truly funny in person, as well as gracious and nice and full of awesome (I’m not sucking up, either. She’s really funny). I enjoy being around people who are funny and make me laugh, so it would make sense that people who are funny online are funny in person. But without that connection, would you get the jokes in the real world if you didn’t have that background from teh interweb?

I was also somewhat awed when people who I really looked up to and admired said they either a, wanted to meet me b/c of twitter or b, said they followed me on twitter. And again, not awkward because twitter, if you’re doing it right, is about the conversation. It’s basically a giant chat room and from what I can tell, you really can get a read on people from their online presence. Twitter, for me, is perfect because I don’t have time to flip through Facebook updates or blog incessantly. 140 characters takes about 20 seconds, tops, and allows me to stay connected. As a writer, I need to stay connected to other writers and fellow book people. I don’t get out often enough to get real life connections. Online fills a critical need for me to be tied into the writing world.

RWA fills the need for me to physically be in the writing world. There was nothing more cool than sitting with fellow lovers of books. Knowing the conversations didn’t have to end with a Saturday morning flight made RWA and twitter all that much more connected. And the other really neat part about twitter is that it really does bring your favorite writers to a place where you can just chat with them. I swear this helps with some of the awestruck moments I may have had otherwise. It was like a reunion in real life rather than meeting for the first time.

I didn’t get to meet everyone I wanted to from twitter. But I think I met people this year that I missed last year. I connected with friends who supported me from Iraq. I reconnected with friends I found myself hanging out with last year. And mostly, it brought me face to face with people who keep me laughing, keep me informed and most importantly, keep me grounded. It’s easy to get overwhelmed at RWA and at publishing in general. But joining in the conversation is a great way to connect and keep things down to earth.

I said it a million times at RWA but tweeting from Iraq was the smartest thing I ever did. Thank you, to everyone who ever followed me or commented on my blog or best, talked to me while I was deployed and kept me connected to the outside world. It still keeps me connected but this time, to life outside the army.