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Ratha's Island 01
At the time I joined Twitter, I found one Y/A author tweeting comments from three characters in her recently published book. She had set up three different user-names and had the three tweet back and forth to each other. I liked that idea, but for some reason I couldn't figure out how to set up different usernames, so I used the single @rathacat account I had established.
How then to distinguish the character tweets from my personal posts? I began by simply adding a short, attention-getting preface. First I tried “RathaTweets” , then “ClanCatTweets”, but neither had the unique quality I wanted. Everyone else tweeted. I wanted my cat characters to do something different.
Cats, both large and small, make many other sounds other than the traditional meow, purr, growl, or hiss. Cheetahs, on which which the Named are partially based, make a chirping sound to call their young. Well, chirping is like tweeting, so my preface word became “ClanCatChirps”,which then got shortened to “ClanChirps”. Not perfect, but good enough to start with.
The first Chirp appeared at 12:39 AM, August 26, 2008. Sheila was tweeting about raising monarch butterfly caterpillars and how to deal with their excreta. Ratha made a typical feline suggestion, which was to her caterpillars to use a litterbox. After that, the Chirps tumbled out.
The early ClanChirps varied a bit, but finally I settled into a format using the preface, a dash, the character's name followed by a colon, and then the speaker's dialog, indicated by quotes. This was an variation on screenplay format, but it worked.
ClanChirps – Ratha: “Yarrrr! Chirp!”
It quickly became evident that the Named weren't going to confine their remarks to their own world or their own experiences. Here's Ratha's opinion of her biological classification in the human world.
Here's a brief and abortive experiment in Twit-dapting an early chapter of Ratha's Courage.
ClanChirps - Ashon (from Ratha's Courage). "Ok, you face-tailed thing. You ARE going to back up. Quit throwing mud at me!" Splat... 10:41 AM August 31, 2008 from web
ClanChirps - Ratha, watching Ashon and the face-tail, thinking, "If he gets scared and backs down, we may lose a good herding student." 11:32 AM August 31, 2008 from web
Maybe I should have continued in that way, but the Named got distracted by a human event, the 2008 Labor Day weekend. Discussion began about the exchange of virtual food (cookies), and moved to speculation about the clan's ability to hold a celebratory barbecue. Thakur provided a suggestion for barbecue sauce, but Fessran quickly took the lead.
ClanChirps - Fessran and the Firekeepers are digging a barbecue pit. They'll put green twigs over it, and hot coals underneath. 01:56 PM August 31, 2008 from web
ClanChirps - Fessran: "Fireekeepers, bring more wood to the pit and be careful you don't fall in. We don't want to bbq you!" 03:51 PM September 01, 2008 from web
As blogged in the Scratching Log, the Named clan cats began chirping about anything and everything, even venturing into the human world of holidays and politics. ( see “ClanChirps – Ratha on Twitter” - http://www.rathascourage.com/2008/10/clanchirps-ratha-on-twitter_07.html). From random snacky comments to Sheila Ruth and other Twitter users, and more snarky remarks to each other, the clan set out exploring the strange world of Twitter.
I wondered how far I should let the clan cats wander from the established “cannon” of the printed Ratha books and stories, but the Named gang had already made their decision. They wanted to interact with the human world. Ratha made that clear with the first Chirp about Sheila's butterflies. I could only follow where she and the others led.
Encouraged by the fact that people on Twitter enjoyed these exchanges, I decided to do something more elaborate. To publicize Ratha's Courage, I began a little prequel to the book in dialog. In order to make more sense, I blocked the chirps in sequences. Sometimes as few as two appeared together, sometimes six or even eight.