I’ve got 8,000 Twitter followers now and it’s easy to lose people in the mob. I follow those with similar interests, they follow me back, and some of them even try Angst. I actually try to pick out people from the automated messages, try to make friends, but I’ve lost some along the way. Since each follower is important to me, I try to know who they are. It’s not easy. I attempt to participate in Twitter conversations, or comment on tweets, but honestly, I’m bad at it. Or, I’m too careful, you can’t see facial expressions in a tweet, or an instant message, or a text message – and I’d hate for anyone to take what I say the wrong way. Maybe that’s cowardice, but I’ve learned that 1000 compliments can be lost in one off remark. Despite my caution, I think I made a mistake.
For the most part, I don’t base characters on people. Those who know me will poke fun at that and all I can say is write what you know. I do a lot of ‘head-nods’ to friends. “A mane of hair”, “A reader”, and “foot stomp” all come from something or someone even if those characters aren’t truly based on the individual. I only do this when it works, and as a way to show my appreciation. Most of the time it works really well, and Rose is a great example of that.
I may have made a mistake with another character. Sometimes I get caught up in my own clever, and in the storm lost one of my long-time Twitter followers.
She tweeted me after reading the first book and asked if her name could be included in the sequel.
I thought the idea was genius, so much so that I included a handful of Twitter friends’ names in Buried in Angst. The characters weren’t based on them, I don’t know any of them close enough to do that, but I wanted to thank those that stuck with me through the long gap between Angst and Buried in Angst. I wanted to thank the people that really supported me in spite of not even knowing who I am. I couldn’t include everyone, but I tried including a handful, and so I used names.
Several thought it was coincidence, or surreal. I received a few thanks, but one person I lost completely as a follower. Maybe it’s because I used the name for a “bad guy”, which is not at all what I thought of them. Maybe they hated the sequel and ran away screaming. (That doesn’t keep me up at night. Nope.) More than likely, it has nothing to do with me and their life doesn’t revolve around my two books. (Which I find hard to believe, who isn’t checking every day for news of Drowning in Angst or Angst the Movie?)
If I made a mistake and did, in any way, offend that person – my sincere apologies.
I felt the idea was fun and inclusive, but, as my wife will contend, I’m not a mind reader. It’s impossible to know how someone will take something, even something they ask for. While, stubbornly, I still think this is a fun idea, I doubt I’ll be naming characters after people any time soon (not unless they promise no hate!) Writing takes a lot of my time, all of my brain, much of my soul – and it should all be for fun. The last thing I ever want to do is offend or upset.
The good news is, this was a misunderstanding on my behalf. When Buried in Angst was released, I received a message they had purchased it and were going to read it right away. Months later they hadn’t said anything about seeing their name, and it was unique enough they would have noticed. When I noticed that they no longer followed me on Twitter, I feared the worse.
Since writing this blog post, we have emailed and they just haven’t had time to read. (Which falls into the category “More than likely, it has nothing to do with me and their life doesn’t revolve around my two books.” Still hard for me to fathom, lol.) They also mentioned having no issue with being a “bad guy”.
That said, I still think this is a fun idea. If I were ever to choose to do this in the future, I would ask first.