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Most people think social networking websites are a waste of time or for hooking up.  In my youth that meant something entirely different but, I digress.  Yes, you can while away the hours with meaningless chatter but, you can also learn things.  I have.

I’ve spent time on LinkedIn, LiveJournal, MySpace and FaceBook, fun and believe it or not informative.  I don’t mean what Aunt so and so is up to, yes, nice to know but there’s more to it than that.  I fought setting up both of the later pages, finally giving in and along came Twitter.  I couldn’t see the point in joining.  I mean really, who wants to read snippets of my day in 40 characters or less?  Reading my attempts at blogging are bad enough, right?  Oh wait, you’re reading this aren’t you?  Ooops.

Cheryl—you guessed it, the super talented chick who follows me every month—said, ‘Give it a try, you’ll be surprised.’  I gave in and have to admit I am surprised.  Surprised that people actually follow me—besides my Saturday Writers cohorts—hell, I’ve even got a few published writers reading my prattle.

Most of those I follow are industry professionals. Other writers, agents, editors, publishers ect.  Most of them willingly answer questions when asked.  Don’t ask them what the secret to becoming published is, by now you should know.  Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard!  Don’t try to get them to read your WIP or ask personal questions that are none of your business.  Things like that are just rude and unprofessional.

I’m not afraid to ask questions—I have and have received answers—I just find myself learning more by reading the tidbits they toss us.  Some of these little gems I’ve marked as favorites and I’ll share a few with you.

Yasmine Galenorn—I use “said” as little as possible. And I hardly ever use any other dialog tags. I use action to denote who’s speaking. For ex: “You actually kissed the zombie?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Yeah, it was gross.” He shuddered.

Rachel Vincent—My fight scenes must be written in layers. 1st: the blow by blow. 2nd: the pain and reactions. 3rd: internal thoughts. 4th: goings on around.

Laurell K. Hamilton—One of Hamilton’s rules of writing is: The more fantastic thing you expect a reader to believe the more real your reality better be.

Laurell K. Hamilton—Ray Bradbury said, “The muse cannot resist a working writer.” Sit down and write anything see if it breaks something loose. The worst thing you can possibly do is sit & stare at the blank screen, or paper, writing anything is more productive.

The obsession factor runs high with all of these sites, as said before you can lose yourself in them.  Will power is a must when using any or all of them.  Think of them as the carrot at the end of the stick, hit your goal and you are allowed to look.  If inspiration runs low set a timer and do a little reading, something may take spark.  When the timer goes off close the window so you won’t be tempted to peek and get back to work.

Now it’s your turn.  What if any social networking sites do you frequent?  Do you fall into the waste of time camp or do you find them useful?  Don’t be shy.  Share your opinions and what you’ve learned!  I’m listening, I mean reading…

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A.R. Miller

A.R. Miller’s contemporary fantasy series, Fey Creations, has been compared to potato chips. ‘Absolutely no nutritional value, but fun to eat and highly addictive.’ A great complement considering potato chips are in the top five of her favorite foods and she strives to do nothing but entertain with her writing. The series revolves around stylist, Keely Fey, the secrets of her heritage and suppressed magical Talents. A.R. lives in Central Iowa with an accommodating husband and their feline companion. When not testing the patience of readers with cliffhanger endings, you might find her wielding a makeup brush or curling iron as a freelance stylist. The next installment of the Fey Creations series is scheduled for later this year.