Category Archives: An Irish Miracle

Tech Notes – HootSuite for Twittering Self-Marketers

Back when I gleefully signed on to be a Self-Publisher, I knew there would eventually be some marketing involved, but I was blithely ignorant of what that really entailed. To paraphrase a memorable They Might Be Giants verse, “I was young and foolish then. I’m feeling old and foolish now.” Perhaps I should have listened more carefully when my wise editor, Robin Martin of Two Songbirds Press, ominously intoned, “Rob . . . marketing is a bear.”

After I released An Irish Miracle, and the full impact of my new role as a Self-Marketer started to sink in, I felt very much alone. Fortunately, I had been following @KristenLambTX on Twitter for several months. Her book, We Are Not Alone – The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, sounded like just the ticket for a lonely Self-Marketer. (You can read my review of We Are Not Alone on goodreads here.)

Along with her overarching principle of approaching social media marketing with a servant’s heart, Kristen cites Twitter as one of the obvious keys to a successful, multifaceted social media platform, and she recommended TweetDeck to manage the quickly cantankerous and often unruly Twitter Timelines that come with following more than a handful of fellow tweeters. Since I rely on tabbed browsing in Firefox to manage lots of open websites in one place, when I realized that TweetDeck was a separate, standalone application, I went looking for a similar solution that was web-based . . . and that’s when I found HootSuite.

As a social network management dashboard, HootSuite is a web-based and mobile app tool to increase your productivity by allowing you to manage all your social networks (and multiple user profiles for each, if you have more than one) in one place. There are free and fee-based versions available. I’m using the free version, at least for now. Although I’m going to focus on HootSuite’s integration with Twitter, the dashboard can help you manage all of the following social networks:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+ Pages
  • Foursquare
  • Myspace
  • WordPress
  • Mixi
  • HootSuite Apps Directory, for Tumblr, YouTube, Flickr, and more

Here’s a brief overview of the main features I use in my HootSuite dashboard. There’s much more capability there that I am currently taking advantage of, but the HootSuite website has many resources to help us discover everything this tool has to offer.

From the HootSuite Dashboard, you can compose and send tweets, status updates and posts to any of the social networks you have connected your Dashboard to. The Dashboard can be organized with one or many custom Tabs. Here are the Tabs I am currently using:

  • Twitter Home (standard Twitter feeds)
  • Facebook (standard Facebook feeds)
  • Writing & Blogging (Twitter Lists)
  • Potential Readers (Twitter Lists)
  • Family & Friends (Twitter Lists)
  • News & Politics (Twitter Lists)
  • Popular Media & Technology (Twitter Lists)
  • Social Media Gurus (Twitter Lists)
  • Searches & Keywords (Custom hashtag and keyword searches)

Each tab is arranged in columns called Streams, which can contain standard data feeds such as your Twitter Home Feed, Sent Tweets, Mentions, several versions of your Facebook News Feed, and many others. Even more powerfully, Streams can also contain your existing Twitter Lists, searches for hashtags and streams based on keywords you enter.

HootSuite Dashboard

From the HootSuite Contacts Screen, you can see, interact with, and manage:

  • Twitter Profiles
  • Twitter Lists
  • People Following You
  • People You Follow

Anywhere within HootSuite, if you click on a user name, a popup window will display the available information for that user’s profile, along with several ways to directly interact with that user.

HootSuite Contacts Screen

As I mentioned above, HootSuite is available in web-based and mobile app forms, in both free and paid versions. Once you have Twitter, Facebook, and your other social networks set up and organized, I think you will see productivity improvements . . . maybe even a little peace of mind . . . building and managing your social media platform.

HootSuite for Web and Mobile Apps

Speaking as a newly minted Self-Marketer, I would be pleased to connect with you on one or more of the social networks of your choice:

Remember to get your copy of An Irish Miracle by Rob Mahan, too. It’s a story I think you will enjoy as a great summer read, or any time of the year! The e-book is also available from Barnes & Noble for Nook, kobo, the Diesel eBook Store, and Smashwords! The e-book will also be available on iTunes soon (I hope)!

All the best!

A View From Maree by Eoin Gardiner

The Irish countryside tugs at my heartstrings, and the beauty of western Ireland is simply enchanting. I am so pleased that Eoin Gardiner’s photograph, “A View From Maree”, graces the cover of An Irish Miracle. Maree is in County Galway in western Ireland, where a large part of the story takes place.

I only recently made Eoin’s acquaintance through his photographs on Flickr. I already know he has a keen eye, an engaging sense of humor, and a generous heart. Through Eoin’s photographs, you might catch a glimpse of what Alastar and Dillon Connolly experienced as they each searched for their own places in the world.

Click on each photograph below to see the originals on Flickr, or visit Eoin’s photostream, check out all of his beautiful photographs, and take your own wee bit of a trip to the Emerald Isle!

Watertower Rainbow by Eoin Gardiner (CC BY 2.0) – This water tower might look a lot like the ancient, stone watchtower Dillon explored during his first day in Ireland. 

Road Through the Burren by Eoin Gardiner (CC BY 2.0) – At the Shepherd’s Inn, Mara suggested that Dillon explore a bit of the Burren on his way to Ballybrit. She told him, “It’s said that the Burren ‘. . . is a country where there’s not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him and yet their cattle are very fat.’” 

Burren View Photomerge by Eoin Gardiner (CC BY 2.0) – Wildflowers growing among the clints (slabs) and grykes (fissures) of the natural limestone formations paving much of the Burren. 

Sunrise at Ashford Castle by Eoin Gardiner (CC BY 2.0) – The Irish countryside is dotted with many ancient, stone ruins begging to be pondered . . . and explored. 

Clarinbridge by Eoin Gardiner (CC BY 2.0) – As Alastar walked from Shannon toward Ballybrit, on his first real adventure, he may have encountered many scenes like this one, in search of a kind farmer with a hayloft he could spend the night in, and maybe a kind farmer’s wife who would give him breakfast after the next morning’s chores. 

Headford Road by Eoin Gardiner (CC BY 2.0) – Once he was more confident about driving on the left, Dillon may have taken a national secondary a lot like this one, on his way to Ballybrit. 

Fog Over the Fields of Athenry by Eoin Gardiner (CC BY 2.0) – “Bert came into the bedroom and waited quietly. Alastar glowered at him through sunken eyes when he corked the bottle on the dresser. His face was the color of the kind of fog that swallows sheep whole.” 

Grey Mare by Eoin Gardiner (CC BY 2.0) – This sweet, little mare’s name could very well be Molly. If we could see into the paddock behind her, we might find Wilbur, as well. 

Baling the Silage by Eoin Gardiner (CC BY 2.0) – Family farms in Ireland — and in Ohio — were often handed down from father to eldest son, and through each succeeding generation, the ties to the land grew even stronger. 

Go Ahead, Eat My Lawn by Eoin Gardiner (CC BY 2.0) – Tom and Mike’s herding dogs would never have let this baby sheep stray far from their flock, but if she did, they would have rounded her up straight away. 

A View From Maree by Eoin Gardiner (CC BY 2.0) – And, or course, A View From Maree, less than fifteen kilometers from Ballybrit. Thanks again, Eoin, for your kind generosity in allowing your photo to grace the cover of An Irish Miracle

If you happen to read and enjoy An Irish Miracle, please take a moment to help spread the word to family and friends.

  • You might “like” it, rate it, and review it on Amazon or Goodreads.
  • You might “like” and share this post (or any post from and with the Like this: and Share this: buttons below.
  • You might even write a post about An Irish Miracle on your own blog.

In any case, definitely visit Eoin Gardiner’s photostream on Flickr, enjoy his keen eye and sense of humor, and help me thank him for his generosity!

My Writing Companions

In our house, Bandit and Murphy go by many names: Miniature Schnauzers, family members, kids in dog suits (hat tip to my sister-in-law Linda for that one), and constant writing companions. Bandit occupies the spot beside my feet, and Murphy, the part-cat, part-rabbit runt, usually sleeps in his bed on the desk beside my keyboard.

I worked on the acknowledgements for An Irish Miracle for several days. There were lots of folks who loved and encouraged me through the project, often reading multiple early drafts and giving me great feedback, so I wanted to word my heartfelt thanks most sincerely. I even indulged in thanking my mother and late father for their contributions to making me who I am today. Not to be forgotten, I wanted to acknowledge my writing companions, too:

"And lastly, my heart goes out to Bandit and Murphy, my faithful
four-legged friends and constant writing companions. You've been
(sleeping) by my side every step of the way. You're both good boys.
Yes, even you, Murph."

They may get sleepy alot . . .

And yes, they’re both easily distracted . . .

But boy, oh boy, do they love their Kong Bones!