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When Online Contacts Become More Like Friends

Social media has opened up the world. It is a great way to stay in touch with friends, family, or business associates separated by great distance. It is also a great way to meet new people with similar interests who you might not otherwise meet. Sometimes those new connections lead to new discoveries. Let me tell you, briefly, about three of my online friends, and some projects they are engaged in.

Michael Krahn

There are several on-line friends who feel like full-blown, known them all my life sort of friends. Michael is one of them. We’ve discussed a wide range of topics (music, books, theology, politics, education, economy) and had a good time doing so. We don’t always agree, but we’ve always been able to talk freely and without acrimony, something not always easy to maintain in electronic communications where people often say or do things they would never do in real life.

A few years ago, Michael sent me some mp3 files of his early albums, and those songs stayed on my playlist for quite a while. Several months ago, Michael started the process of recording a new album, which I was happy to hear. It had been several years since he’d recorded anything new, and I was looking forward to the new music.

Not only does technology allow us to connect with people from all over, but modern recording technology allows someone like Michael to record an independent record at a very high quality. If you’re into a little folk-tinged, singer-songwriter goodness, check out Michael Krahn’s new album Lovers on the Edges of the Twilight. You can play some clips, and there are links to ways to buy the music. (You can also see a link to an earlier album, The Weight of Glory.)

Andrea (Andi) Cumbo

Andi and I began talking earlier this year, having been introduced through a mutual friend. Andi and I began trading Tweets and engaged through Whole Story Media’s weekly Twitter Chat. Andi’s quickly become a great Twitter friend who passes on good info and is responsive to questions. She also has a good sense of humor and a nurturing spirit.

Andi is currently attempting to raise money, through a Kickstarter campaign, to complete a book called You Will Not Be Forgotten. Andi was raised on a plantation where, in the pre-civil era, slaves had been a part of the daily life. She describes the book in this way: “The project incorporates essays about the individual people who lived and worked here as well as my own personal reflections about living on this place, the process of researching these individuals, and the legacy of slavery.”

This is a book I’d like to read. You should check out the Kickstarter page for more info, and the opportunity to help sponsor Andi’s research. (Do it now…the campaign only runs through the end of the week!!)

Shawn Smucker

Sometimes I get a chance to actually meet an online friend. This happened last week when Shawn Smucker came to Sarasota in pursuit of a writing project and we found some time to chat over coffee and pastries at a Panera Bread near his hotel. Shawn is a kind, engaging fellow writer and we had a very pleasant conversation.

We talked a little bit about Shawn’s book, My Amish Roots,which is his most recent publication. Part family history, part memoir, here’s how Shawn describes the book: “Framed around the passing of my Amish great-grandmother Katie Stoltzfus, My Amish Roots tells the story of my Stoltzfus family from 1624 – 2010: four generations in Germany, a trek across the Atlantic, and over 220 years of living and dying in Pennsylvania. Chasing down these stories, I found myself constantly coming back to these two questions: Where do we come from? What do we leave behind?”

Check out My Amish Roots and Shawn’s other books at his website. Stick around and check out his blog, too.

Back to Blogging

I plan to resume a normal blogging schedule now that the bulk of my MFA Graduation requirements have been fulfilled in anticipation of January’s graduation ceremony. Hopefully I’ll be coming back at you with three to five posts a week. I have a lot of ideas, but I’m always open to hearing more from readers about what you want to hear.

Until next time, Happy Writing!

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