Thursday, October 31, 2013

GUEST BLOGGER: Maggie Maguire

Hi everyone. I'm so pleased to be here today filling in for Joan. She told me I could write about anything I wanted, so I thought I'd tell you about my early days - before I met Jake. Let's consider it a prologue to Summer Rain.

Most girls in my day were either geared toward learning how to be a homemaker or working as a secretary, unless you were lucky enough to go to college. I didn't have that option, but I was well trained to be a secretary (what they call Admin or Executive Assistants these days). I got a job with the Defense Department where I worked for several years, until the Washington big shots decided to shut down and consolidate some of the bases. We had the option of moving with the job to a big city on the east coast or finding a new job on our own.

They gave us a year's notice to make the decision, but it didn't take me that long to decide what I wanted to do. I had my sites set on Hawaii - ever since I'd been there on vacation a year earlier. I wasn't at a high enough pay grade to get a transfer, but I made out all right anyway. After sending my application to every military base on the Island of Oahu announcing when I was going to arrive, I took a chance and moved there not knowing if I was going to find a job or not.

Fortunately, I didn't have to go alone. One of the gals from work decided to go with me. From the moment we arrived on the island, wonderful things started to happen. We were greeted with flower leis and a warm welcome by a local gal I met through the mail (snail mail). She was working at one of the bases that was also being affected by the shut downs. She and her friends gave us a tour of Waikiki before dropping us off at our hotel. They even invited us to a Fourth of July bash on a yacht in the harbor. That was the first time I had been on a yacht, but not my last.

The following Monday I rented one of those island jeeps (the ones with the fringe around the roof) and my roommate and I headed over to the army base. Then the strangest thing happened. When I walked into the personnel office and mentioned my name, everyone in the room held up a copy of my application. I learned that even though I had mailed my apps out to different bases, they all ended up back at this one office. Guess it paid to do my homework as I got the last available permanent secretarial position. My roommate was hired as a temp but eventually got a permanent position too.

With a guaranteed pay check in the picture, we then started apartment hunting. We found a furnished place on the second floor of what had once been a hotel, so it came complete with a concierge working the front desk. All utilities were included with our rent, even phone service. We were told that when we came home all we had to do was check at the front desk for our messages. That was so cool - and they said there was usually a cab waiting at the entrance. Everything was falling into place. We were riding high until. . .the first night in our new apartment.

We were out on the lanai having a drink and enjoying the sights and sounds of living right on the main drag into Waikiki. The sun had set while we were out there, and when we went back inside and turned on the lights, we realized we weren't alone. . .

Oops - Joan says I'm way over my word limit, so looks like I'll have to give you the ending on my Facebook page - bookseries

Monday, October 28, 2013


I have been doing so much research lately, that I am now suffering from Internet overload. I feel as though my brain is going to burst. So it looks like it's time to cut back and regain balance in my life. Like I've said before - when I'm learning something new, I throw myself into it and focus until I learn it. But there comes a time when you just have to slow down and let things catch up with you.

This is that time. I'm putting my web research on hold and playing catch up with the realities of life - things like housework, laundry and spending time with my family. Besides, the seasons are changing - daylight savings will be changing back soon, and the weather is erratic. We even woke up to rain overnight, not a normal occurrence in southern California this time of year. 

And the other thing is - I'm thinking of changing the topic of my blog. I don't seem to be content sticking with one topic. Maybe I should just write about whatever is on my mind on blog day. I know there will always be plenty to write about when it comes to the internet, but to be honest, I really don't enjoy writing about it. I'm a fiction writer. I don't like the reality of talking about high technology. It's bad enough I have to challenge myself to learn it. Why do I have to torture myself more by writing about it!

I'll let you know in advance if I change my topic. In the meantime I'm going to try to find a little balance in my life. Thanks for reading. Hope to see you next time.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


In my last post I talked about creating a writer's platform. Until I get a little experience in something, I usually start out by taking the advice of the pros. I've done that with this platform thing, and so far, I have to say it's making me a bit uncomfortable. One of the reasons I held off getting into marketing was that I don't believe in tooting my own horn.

It's supposed to be better for others to sing your praises. Until I get my books published, most of you have no idea if my novels will be worth praising or not. So I figured this would be a good time to make more friends.

The pros say to get involved with social media, but to just pick a few you're comfortable with and promote the heck out of yourself there. Facebook is what I'm most comfortable with, but after the problems on Facebook this week, I'm thinking seriously about cutting back on my time spent there. Seems I got on the bandwagon a little late, and now I feel like I'm sliding off. . .or being pushed off.

I've been on Facebook for close to two years now, and in that time it's gone from them pushing me to make friends - to them getting on my case because I'm trying. I wish they'd make up their minds. Seriously. No matter what page I was on there would be an ad in the sidebar trying to get me to find friends.

I was perfectly content with my slow growth of friends. I believe in quality over quantity. But because of this platform business, I recently increased sending out friend requests. Some people responded immediately and others didn't. Those lucky enough to have jobs don't have that much time to spend on Facebook answering friend requests. Apparently Facebook thinks they should be.

Last week I got a little reminder from Facebook saying that I should only be sending out requests to family members, co-workers and close friends. What??? If that's the case, then why do they have a cap of 5000 friends? Does anybody have that many family members, co-workers or close friends? Since I don't have a paying job right now, I don't have co-workers. The only ones I run into in my writing studio are my husband, dog and of course the cat. As for family. . .I have a few supporters and will be eternally grateful for them.

When it comes to friends - I've moved around a lot over the years and lost touch with most of them. Being on Facebook did help me reconnect with some, but if I'm going to be chastised for reaching out too much in any particular day, then I guess my number of friends will remain at a little over 200. Most of my friends have hundreds of friends and some of them have thousands. Just this week, one of them mentioned that he'd capped out at 5000. Really? Facebook let him do that, but I get stopped around 200. They need to change their algorithms.

Until I'm comfortable reaching out to make friends again, I'll be spending my time deciding on a web site. That was next on my list anyway. Thanks for reading. Hope to see you again in a few days.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Creating a Platform

In my first post I mentioned that I was going to be writing about learning my way around the Internet. Now I'll tell you why I need to learn this. It all has to do with creating what the pros call a writer's platform. For those of you who aren't writers (or are novice writers), it basically means marketing yourself through social media.


After reading hundreds of articles on the subject over the last couple of years (and hoping I wouldn't have to do it), I've come to the conclusion that they're serious. When I first started to write, I figured I'd go with traditional publishing. I agonized over writing the perfect query letter and synopsis of my first manuscript. At the same time I was also keeping up with the ever growing e-book market. Guess what? It doesn't matter which way you go - you still have to learn how to market yourself and your books!

I was on such a roll with writing that I didn't want to stop to learn how to market. And yes, I'll admit it, I really didn't want to learn. After all, writing is a right brain exercise - marketing is not. My brain doesn't switch over willingly when I need to learn technical stuff. When I'm learning something new, I have to give it my full focus.

Part way through working on the third manuscript of my series, I decided it was time to stop what I was doing and get into marketing. I had to drag myself kicking and screaming of course, but it had to be done. Once I made the decision to go with self publishing, it was time to throw myself out there, ready or not. I was already comfortable with using Facebook. I joined a bunch of writing groups, and started one of my own (that had morphed from a writing workshop I used to host). I even created a few other group pages that had nothing to do with writing.

Once I felt I understood Facebook well enough, it was time for the next step. So I created an author page (focusing on my main characters - Jake & Maggie Maguire), updated my LinkedIn and Goodreads sites and joined Twitter. Then it was time to start a blog, which takes us to where I am now. Next on my list is to get a web site, then on to getting my books published.

Trouble is - I miss working on my novel. The third one is only one third written and I want to get back to it. Why don't I - you ask. The answer is that I know myself all too well. If I go back to writing now, I'll never get a web site going. You see, I love my characters. They've pretty much taken over my writing. Once I get back into writing their story, they will take over my mind and I'll never get back to marketing. Once I have the first book published, I'll have to find a balance between writing and marketing.

Ah, for the old days when marketing for a writer meant an occasional book signing at a book store. As we writers know those days are long gone. Sure an author might still have a chance to do that, but with so few book stores left, it usually means standing at a booth at a local library or street faire. I wouldn't mind a library gig, but the street faires go all day and you're standing on the street pavement! And if our local street faire that I attended yesterday was an indication of how well things are going in that area, forget that idea. The economy has hit them hard. Everyone just walked around - didn't look like much was being bought.

So that's my sad tale. Thanks for listening. See you again in a few days - that's if I don't jump off that proverbial platform.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


In keeping with the theme of this blog, my launch did not go off without a hitch the other day. This has been my first experience with a Google blog, and I thought I was doing well. I actually got the site set up, typed in my post and hit "publish", but then nothing happened. The post just sat there. The link didn't work and when I Googled the blog, it was nowhere to be found.

The link was showing the title of my post, not the title of the blog itself. So I took a chance (not something I'm comfortable doing) and attempted to change the link. I deleted "to blog or not to blog" that was on the link, and typed in "lost in cyberspace". It immediately went back to the former. OK, so that didn't work, but then I really didn't think it would.

After a few minutes I went back to Google my name and voila! It actually took me to Progress. I then went back to my page, and lo and behold the link now made sense. Phew! Houston - we have lift off!

For me that was a huge accomplishment. I don't know if my fiddling with the link had anything to do with it righting itself or not. Maybe it just takes going back and forth with something new to actually get it into the system. Now that I'm up and running with this, I will spend some time learning my way around. I'm still not comfortable with "click this" and it will take you "there". That doesn't always take me where I want to go. It took several tries to even find this draft.

I did get some "gadgets" (as they call them) put on the sidebar. There's a spot to enter your email address if you would like my Blog sent to your inbox. Of course, we have the archive (which only has my last post there for now), and did you see the "Translation" button? Cool idea, as I recently have been making more friends around the world. I hope it works better than the Bing translation on my Facebook feed.

There's a "subscribe" button at the bottom of the post. Not quite sure if that does anything more than let the Blogger know that you're reading the post, and I still need to play around with that Google circle of friends button. As for the "Comment" section, I'm not sure how well that works. I've read in the forum that a lot of people post comments, but then never see them show up. It might have something to do with the arrow next to the Comment section that prompts you to select a profile from one of six accounts. I'm familiar with Google and Word Press, but have no idea what the other four are.

Another option for posting comments or questions would be to join an open group that I have, which is also called Lost in Cyberspace. That way you can carry on conversations with other members too. Here's that link:

It's all another learning experience for me. If you have any insights, I welcome your comments. Thanks for reading. See you in a few days. 


Sunday, October 13, 2013


Seems like it's been ages that I've been debating about my blog topic. The advisors say to be specific. So I picked a topic, drafted several posts, then put it on the shelf. After repeating that process several times for well over a year (all the time wondering if I should even spend the time blogging), I think I've finally hit on the right topic. So here it is (drum roll please):

I'm going to write about learning how to navigate my way around the internet. I will air my frustrations and my successes, and hopefully in time there will be more of the latter. I might even throw out a few questions, so I would love some feedback. Right now I'm so frustrated that if I could have one wish, I'd ask to go back in time to a more simple era. If I didn't need to create a writer's platform, I'd just roam around facebook and play games.


My only comfort in all this is that I actually know others who are also having problems understanding the constantly changing software. Facebook can't seem to leave well enough alone, and don't even get me started on my smart phone right now. Even with this blog - I had all this started elsewhere, then at the last minute this morning, I went back to square one and decided to go with I had to maneuver through another set of "how-to" sections, while interacting with some fb friends having trouble with LinkedIn. I think I'll have plenty to write about.

I will attempt to keep my posts short - and light hearted, if possible. Not an easy task for me as I tend to be long winded. As to the frequency, I'm thinking twice a week. After all, I have to leave plenty of time to continue learning - and working on my latest novel.

That's it for now. See you in a few days - that's if I don't get Lost in Cyberspace.