I am heavily mired, in editing my second book right now, but I am going to take a break from the editing tonight to (a) attend my local RWA chapter meeting and (b) read the book–the blurb sounds amazing, and the excerpt looks incredible. And the buzz over on twitter has been incredible for this book.
Twitter, you say? What’s twitter? The basic idea is that it’s a microblogging platform. You can make 140-character posts. 140 characters is not a lot, and a lot of people make fun of the application saying that it basically allows you to post what you had for breakfast. Well, yes. It does. It also prevents you from being a pompous windbag. But the real value-added of twitter, of course, is not that it allows thousands of individuals to post 140-character descriptions of breakfast, but that it allows you to have lengthy, long-ranging conversations where information propagates extraordinarily quickly.
So when Diana Peterfreund suggested that we have a twitter book club about Lord Ian, I was all over that. A conversation about books? Yes, please.
There are some problems with a book club on twitter, namely, since the micro-blog is broadcast to everyone, you could inadvertently send spoilers to a bunch of people who have not yet read the book. Never fear; we have a solution to that. It’s called ROT-13 encoding, and it’s scarier than it sounds. The basic idea is this: ROT-13 encoding is one of the simplest cyphers you can imagine. It takes the alphabet, and it shifts it over by 13 characters. So if “A” is the first letter in the alphabet, “A” in ROT-13 is “N”–the 14th letter of the alphabet. “N” in ROT-13 is the 27th letter of the alphabet–and since the alphabet loops, that would be the first letter of the alphabet. So you can do is post spoilers in ROT-13, like this: Thrff jung! Crbcyr guvax Ybeq Vna vf znq!
And that way, people who don’t want to be spoiled can avoid reading anything they don’t want to read.
Of course, you probably want to be able to read the spoilers, if you’ve read the book. And so what you need is an easy way to encode/decode ROT-13 (if you paid careful attention to the description above, you’ll notice that encoding and decoding is identical). There are several ways to do that. The easiest is to use Firefox and install Leet Key, a plugin that (among other things) can decode ROT-13. Once you have the plugin installed (and you’ve restarted firefox), you can highlight text in ROT-13 (or the text you want to put into ROT-13), right click with your mouse, choose “Leet Key” then “Text Transformers” then “ROT-13.” If you don’t use FireFox, or don’t want to install another plugin, you can use this webpage instead.
So here’s how you participate.
1. Get a twitter account (if you don’t already have it)
2. To make sure people can find your tweets, mark your book-club discussion with the hashtag #lordian
3. You can use http://www.tweetchat.com to follow the #lordian hashtag, or search.twitter.com; alternately, Dear Author will have a #lordian hashtag discussion in the sidebar.
4. If you post a spoiler, you must encode it in ROT-13.
5. The fun starts tomorrow afternoon! Come join in!