Social network used to post late wife’s book

Alice McCormick loved books.

She was constantly reading at least two books at a time and as a journalist and avid writer, Alice always had several pens and pencils with her so she could quickly jot down ideas and inspiring words that she got from others as she went through her everyday life.

In 1991, Alice started writing her first book, “Cowboy.” She wrote most of the book in one month during her spare time after just moving to Lexington, but throughout the years that passed, Alice never had the chance to finish “Cowboy.” Her father passed away, and her focus was switched to her mother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Then in May 2006, Alice was diagnosed with lung cancer and she passed away on July 27, 2007 after a long battle with the disease.

But Alice’s dream of having others outside of friends and family read her book did not fade with her health.

On May 21, Alice’s husband, Jim McCormick, started posting her book on the Internet. And McCormick is not using a traditional online self-publishing Web site to post the book; he’s using a social marketing network — Twitter.com.

Twitter.com is a short messaging service where users from countries across the world can “See what’s happening — right now.” According to the Web site, the most trendy topics on Twitter.com “right now” center around politics, Goldman Sachs, “Heroes” and Clay Aiken.

McCormick knew that he wanted to get “Cowboy” out to the public, but he said that he didn’t see a need to try to sell the book to a publishing company. He just wanted people to see her work. One day, Jim heard a broadcast about a collaborative effort where people were going to try and post a novel on Twitter.com and he knew that’s how he should publish the book.

“The idea just stuck with me,” McCormick said. “What a neat way of putting ‘Cowboy’ out there.”
McCormick said that the oddity of posting a book on Twitter.com would have appealed to Alice because of her love for technology.

“Alice would have loved the idea of publishing it this way,” McCormick said. “She was not for the run-of-the-mill. A blog is where you’d expect to put it. I think she’d be pleased. It may catch some people, it may not.”

While Twitter.com is appealing to post a book because it’s not a usual place for publishing work, McCormick admits that Twitter.com does have downfalls for what he is trying to accomplish.

On Twitter.com, users can only have 140 characters with spaces per post. Thus, one post is approximately the length of one text message on the average cell phone. McCormick said that the electronic version of “Cowboy” has about 258,000 characters with spaces.

McCormick is posting about two chapters a day and is about 80 percent done.

But McCormick’s followers will have a hard time reading the book on Twitter.com, not just because of post length restrictions. The history on Twitter.com is only 10 pages, so if readers had not started reading the book from the first post, they would have a difficult time following the plot of “Cowboy.”

Also, because of the order of posts, readers cannot read the page from top to bottom. For the story to make sense, each page has to be read in reverse, from bottom to top, to read the book in the right order.

“It’s honestly not the best way to post it,” McCormick said. “Unless you have a following, and I don’t have a dedicated following.”

McCormick said some people have come across him on Twitter.com, and that he does have some followers, but no one has really commented about “Cowboy.”

For this reason, McCormick started posting “Cowboy” on a secondary Web site, pick2prod.com. McCormick has posted 38 chapters on this Web site, but he said that he does not post on this site everyday like he does on Twitter.com.

Now, McCormick plans to finish “Cowboy” for Alice. He said he and Alice would regularly talk about what to do next with the characters in “Cowboy.” Just like Alice, McCormick said he was inspired a few weeks ago and that a way to end the book just came to him.

“Something came to me on how to end it,” he said. “It will be my words, it won’t be hers, but it will make sense in my words too. But I’m not nearly as eloquent as she is.”

Only Twitter.com account holders can search for “Cowboy” using the Twitter.com search engine. To read “Cowboy,” users can search for “Jim McCormick” in the search engine. For non-Twitter.com account holders, “Cowboy” can be read at pick2prod.com.

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Good for you Jim. Alice was always a special person to me, so talented and energetic – quick in thought and so friendly. I will never understand why people like Alice, who make a real contribution to life and to the world, die so young where so many, who do nothing, seem to live forever.

If the book is anything like Alice, it is intelligent, quirky, wickedly funny and full of more love than the law should allow. Jim, you are beautiful!