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We love our fellow Twitter writers. Absolutely love them. In the last two months, we have met so many amazing people who enjoy writing good stories. These are the new voices of publishing, and we are happy to be part of the community.

Last week, fellow #FridayFlash friend Trevor Belshaw shared some news about 100 Stories for Queensland, an unique writing anthology to benefit the recent floods in the Queensland region of Australia. We were so impressed by the single tweet that we wanted to interview Trevor to learn more about this admirable writing project that is accepting submissions until January 28.

JRV: Why reach out to the online writing community via social media?
TB: Social media networks have become such a big part of our writing communities that it is hard to differentiate between them. Social media is instantaneous, it is the fastest and hardest working grapevine in history. Nowadays if you don’t utilise these networks your project is almost certain to fail. Both Jodi Cleghorn and myself have large social media networks and it is now almost instinctive to go straight to Twitter/Facebook to share ideas, news and views.

Without social networking there wouldn’t be a project. The 100 Stories for Haiti and 50 Stories for Pakistan anthologies were born out of social media… beginning last year with Greg McQueen’s famous YouTube clip calling for writers worldwide to donate a story. Not much has changed this time round, (except the current project admin are a little more camera shy than Greg.)

JRV: Why do you want to pursue this?
TB: Queensland is, or has been, the home state of both our project administrators. Jodi Cleghorn resides there, and I lived there for six months a year between 1998 and 2005. To see the state in the grip of the worst disaster in its history compels us to do something. Normally, for those who live outside the country, the only way to offer help is by donating money. This project gives them another option.

100 Stories for Queensland provides an avenue for a group of people who are themselves often strapped for cash, to offer assistance to those in need. As one lady wrote on Twitter this week, “I am not in a position to donate money, but I can offer a story.”

The core management team of Maureen Vincent-Northam, David Robinson, Nick Daws, Jodi, and myself were all involved in at least one of the previous charity anthologies created by Greg McQueen, so it didn’t require too much consideration when the question was posed on Twitter: ‘100 Stories for Queensland?’ We all felt we had something to give. Everyone working on the project feels a strong bond with the people of Queensland and they are doing what they do best — sharing their creative talents to help raise money for those affected.

JRV: How many submissions do you expect to receive?
TB: We expect to receive between 300-400 submissions based on the current rate of lodgement.

JRV: How has the reaction been so far?
TB: The support has been overwhelming. From the people who originally signed up to read and edit (including a strong contingent from Brisbane) to our friends and friends of friends who have blogged, emailed and shared the links on Facebook and Twitter. Links to the project have turned up in the most amazing places. Every day we get emails, Tweets and Facebook messages from people who either want to pass the word on or know more about the project.
We have been approached by three high profile authors offering to donate stories and word is still spreading, we are sure there will be more yet.

There will always be detractors of any type of fundraising event, and we have had a few ourselves. We have found that those who have spoken out against this particular project are doing so from a preconceived personal agenda or a misconception regarding the scale of the disaster.

JRV: What sort of stories are you looking for?
TB: We’re looking for feel good stories, the kind that leaves a warm afterglow in the wake of finishing. Stories which provide hope, lift the reader, or give them a jolly good laugh.

Stories can be of any genre and for any age, but no poetry please. The submission should be between 500-1000 words and not previously(mainstream) published. (Blog publishing is fine.)

All entries should be submitted through the submissions page at 100 Stories for Queensland.

Anyone interested can view the Facebook page at 100 Stories for Queensland: Facebook.

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For a full list of chapters, click here: Table of Contents

I push myself out of the bed. The magnetic sheets peel off my skin and the static from my Celtics flannel pajamas clings to my legs. I take my hands and run them through my hair, then fixate my index finger on a tiny scab on the back of my skull. I begin to rub the scab, pressing it as if it were an energy button. The scab stays flat and unreceptive. My day begins.

I already want it to end.

The scuffed hardwood floors in my bedroom are frigid on my bare feet. I walk around my bed, careful not to bump into the bedpost and disturb my wife, who still sleeps quietly. I enter the hallway and head towards my son’s room. I pause at his door to stare at the drawing he has of his family that he had completed for her first week of second grade, when the teacher asked the class to draw and write an paragraph as an introduction to other students. The four of us—me, my wife, my son, and my daughter—stand together, green-and-red stick figures holding our stick-figure hands with our stick-figure smiles. Below the drawing, his writing reads: “PAECE is HOME.” I remember when he brought that drawing from school. I had overlooked his spelling mistake then and I still do now. The first time he showed me his drawing, I had to slowly walk away and head downstairs into the cellar to weep. Minutes later, I walked back upstairs, told him how proud I was of him and hugged him.

This morning, I weep again, but not as heavy as that first time in the cellar, my sobs trapped inside my throat. I trace my hands over the stick figures and the names next to each one: PAPI, MOM, MATEO, SOFIA. An outline of a white and red little home stands in the background, with scribbles of green grass and bushy trees. I open the door to my son’s room. Spiderman stickers glow in the room’s stillness, while a Red Sox nightlight shines dimly in a corner. I head straight to his bed, nudge him a bit, and curl up next to his body. I notice the back of his head and the nape of his neck. People say that from the back, Mateo looks just like me, the same dark brown hair, the same shoulders, the same torso. I gently stroke the top of hair and squeeze his hand just enough to let him know that without him in my life right now, I would be nothing.

I close my eyes and try to doze off, but my breathing disrupts my desire to sleep for at least one hour tonight. So I stay awake, my arm around Mateo, staring out into the window next to his bed. The neighborhood stays silent, as I wish for PAECE to turn back to PEACE.

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Enter “writer” on We Follow and close to 20,000 names come up on Twitter. And those are the ones who registered on We Follow. The majority of those writers are published authors, so it would be safe to assume that maybe 4-5 times as many writers on Twitter aren’t even being counted.

So in a place where there are so many authors, writers, agents, and publishers online, how can a writer stand out from the noise that is Twitter?

Simply stated: use Twitter to connect. Take less time talking or promoting your writing, and more time making a real effort to connect with other writers. Then talk and promote their works.

Everyone thinks that once you have your profile, a online presence and a manuscript, people will flock to you. Not even close. You have to constantly work it and always be connecting.

Here are just some examples of writing communities growing through Twitter:

Friday Flash: You can use #FridayFlash on Twitter to share your flash fiction or short scenes of your writing with others.

Tuesday Serial: Follow #TuesdaySerial on Twitter and have a chance to submit your serial installments.

Three Word Wednesday: This is a cool one. Each week, three words are shared and writers are asked to write a piece using those three words. Then you read other works and comment on them.

Writer Wednesday: Yup, you can also recommend Twitter writers to others on Wednesdays as well. Best way is to tell others why they should follow the people you recommend. Follow the stream here: #WriterWednesday

Sample Sunday: Here is a new one you can add to the Twitter stream. It is #SampleSunday and you can add sample pages from your works in progress.

AmWriting: Follow the hashtag #amwriting and connect with others who “are writing.”

And if you want to see a list of Twitter hashtags related to writing, this is a great post here: Twitter Hashtags for Writers.

In addition, here’s my open invitation to any writer on Twitter. If you reach out and follow @julito77, I will make it a point to read anything you want me to read and to share any comments. The goal is to foster a formidable writing community where people feel supported.

So feel free to connect. If you have a published work, I would be more than happy to share it with others. Let me know what you are writing about, and if you have a blog or web page where I can read what you are writing. Add a comment here with your link and I will add it to my blogroll. Feel free to ask me to RT anything you need RT’d. Writing, at times, can be the loneliest and most painful task in the world. Twitter might ease some of that.

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