An Irish Miracle in iTunes

If you enjoy reading on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iBooks, An Irish Miracle is finally available through iTunes!

An Irish Miracle is also available from these fine online retailers:

  • – Paperback and Kindle Editions (US)
  • – Paperback and Kindle Editions (UK)
  • Apple iTunes – iBooks Edition
  • Barnes & Noble – Paperback and Nook Editions
  • Diesel – EPUB E-format
  • Kobo – Kobo eReader Edition
  • Signed Copies – Please use this link to purchase a signed copy of An Irish Miracle with PayPal or major credit card. USPS Media Mail shipping is free!
  • Smashwords – EPUB and Other E-formats
  • Sony – Sony Reader Edition
  • Paperback and Kindle Editions are also available from Amazon in Germany, France, Spain, and Italy (English translation only)

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!

Resources for Readers – goodreads

This is the first installment in a Resources for Readers series we can build together for those of us, and our friends, who are readers. From the voracious three-novel-a-week book consumer to the casual three-book-a-year reader, the tools and resources we will highlight will help them find great reads, and even share their thoughts on the gems they discover.

When we choose a book to read, cost is becoming less and less a factor in our decision. Many worthwhile e-books are less expensive than a large chai latte, and thanks to advances in printing technology, many impressive paperbacks are about the cost of a fast-food meal for two. Our reading decisions have always been about something much more precious. Our spare time. Choosing a book to read represents committing several hours of our valuable personal time, so the more help we can have in making good choices, the better our downtime will be spent.

So let’s get to the first resource we are going to explore together!

There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed
between people who love the same books.

Irving Stone
Author of The Agony and the Ecstasy

Plainly put, goodreads is a place where readers can find and share the books they love. goodreads users can also keep track of the books we plan to read, and the ones we’ve already read. If you stop right there, it’s a fun way to keep a diary of your reading life. But to really tap into the power of goodreads, you’ll need to make some friends. With nearly nine-and-a-half million members, we’re all bound to be able to find some reading friends there. Better yet, bring some of your friends along and sign up for free accounts together!

Let’s take a brief look at the major features of the goodreads website. There’s a lot there, and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t use all the available features—yet. So dabble here and there first. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and I wouldn’t want you to do that. This is supposed to be fun!

Home – You’ll see recent updates from friends, like what they are currently reading and what they plan to read, and you can even start or participate in book discussions here. There’s a spot that displays what you are currently reading and your can do status updates on your progress. Your profile can also be seen and updated on the Home page.

My Books – Here is where you can build bookshelves to your heart’s content, and organize your books any way you want. goodreads starts everyone off with bookshelves named all, read, currently-reading, and to-read. There are several display settings, and I think it’s fun to see all the great covers of the books I’ve read, or plan to read. Clicking on any single book shows you all the details, including stats and a description, your review and rating (if you reviewed and / or rated it), and reviews from the goodreads community.

Groups – Participate in an existing group that’s discussing a topic you find interesting, or create your own group. Groups are great places to find new friends with similar interests, or who will help you learn everything you ever wanted to know, but were afraid to ask. (I think I just dated myself. Oh well, we’re all older than we were yesterday, aren’t we?) And before the embarrassing comments start to flood in, no, I haven’t joined any goodreads groups yet . . . but it’s on my list of things to do!

Recommendations – goodreads has algorithms that kick in after you’ve rated at least twenty books. You’ll find personalized recommendations here, based on the books you’ve rated, your favorite genres, and the categories (bookshelves, like science fiction, or history) you have created.

Explore – This is a jumping-off page to all the rest of the great features goodreads has to offer. You can search for books by title, author or ISBN (as you can from the header of any page on the website), check out the highest ranking titles of the moment, see what book giveaways are happening, and see new releases by genre.

I know I haven’t mentioned lots of other available features, but I hope this gives you a sense of what goodreads has to offer We the Readers. If you sign up for a free member account, or you’re already a goodreads member, please find me and friend me. I’d love to compare bookshelves and swap a few recommendations with you!

Rob’s Resources for Readers Rating for goodreads

goodreads is a great Resource for Readers, although the one caveat I must mention is that it isn’t as intuitive and user friendly as I would like to see it become. It will require some digging on our parts to find and utilize everything this website has to offer, but I believe our efforts will be rewarded with a richer reading life.

I mentioned at the beginning that we can build this Resources for Readers series together. Your comments and input are always wanted, always welcomed, and always appreciated.

  • What goodreads features have you discovered that I missed mentioning?
  • What other Resources for Readers would you like to see featured in this series?
  • What’s the favorite book you’ve read this year so far? How about ever?

Re-Imaginary Friends

“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The more I practice, the luckier I get.”
Lee Trevino

Do you have a story you dream of sharing with the world? Or perhaps yours is a life experience, a collection of songs, special photographs, or even a horror film. But is your dream locked away for a lot of “good” reasons?

  • I’m not a writer (singer, photographer, etc.), I’m a _________.
  • Probably no one would be interested.
  • I don’t have any extra time.
  • I’m afraid it wouldn’t be good enough.
  • It’s just not practical.

Many friends seem to be re-inventing–or “re-imagining”– at least a part of themselves these days. Some have had that inner spark fanned by opportunity or circumstance. Some have finally just summoned the courage needed to fuel their re-imagination passion. With the hope you will find inspiration, encouragement, or just that final nudge, please let me introduce you to some of the folks I’m proud to call my re-imaginary friends.

Mike Mahan is a college professor and graphic designer. He also loves animals. As a gift to his wife, Mike published a photographic tribute to their first three years with Sadie & Church. I admit being biased, but I think there is nothing in the world that’s cuter than a Schnauzer puppy, and Sadie has a sweet personality. Church is friendly and pretty laid back. It’s a good thing she is, too. She’s the size of a small mountain lion.

Brian Talgo is a carpenter, stonemason, ecologist, and currently an IT engineer living in Oslo, Norway. After re-discovering several long-forgotten writing journals in his cellar, Brian wrote and published The Beauregarde Affair. It’s a slice-of-life story about a bunch of hipster youths occupying (okay, okay, “renting”) a house on Morningside Drive in 1970s Atlanta … with a hognose snake named Beauregarde. To put it mildly, the neighbors weren’t exactly pleased.

Eddie Rhoades couldn’t decide what he wanted to be when he grew up … so he went for it all. He’s a musician, graphic artist, songwriter, illustrator, Southern humorist (à la Lewis Grizzard), Lifetime Master Gardener, and a former aerospace tool designer. With contributions from his brother Robert and his daughter Amanda, Eddie has written and produced Last Man Standing, Universal Love, and Songs for Your Garden. Eddie’s songs will make you laugh, cry–laugh some more–and definitely tap your toes. Remember, when you’re laughing out loud at some of the lyrics (the song, ‘Toss It’, comes to mind . . .), it’s easy to forget to clap your hands over young children’s ears.

Vickie Holt is a clown, and I say that with the utmost respect. Perky the Clown, and her husband, Steve the Magician, entertain children of all ages, and share the message of Christianity. Vickie found the picture of my sister-in-law’s garden sundial in my Flickr photostream and asked if she could use it on the cover of her latest book, The Sundials of Heart Island. I was pleasantly surprised, and said I would be honored. The more amazing coincidence was that my nephew and his beautiful bride had recently gotten married in the gardens of  Boldt Castle … on Heart Island!

Bruce and Karen Talgo both work in the field of architectural engineering and sales, and they have always been passionate about music. Bruce has been writing lyrics for many years. Karen has a lovely singing voice and she plays the piano. They decided it was time to set Bruce’s lyrics to music. They worked out the melodies, cut demos in their basement, started their own record label, and put together a studio band of talented local artists. As a result, Corrected Visionaries recently released their debut album of blues / 80s progressive rock. Their first CD, Optical Delusions, is a long-time dream come true.

Joe Laipple is a behavioral psychologist and works as a business consultant for Aubrey Daniels International in Atlanta. After years of coaching executives and business leaders on how to get needed change to occur … and make it stick … Joe wrote Rapid Change: Immediate Action For the Impatient Leader. Filled with real world examples, Joe explains the behavioral science behind successful organizational change in practical, implementable terms.

If you have visited Rob Mahan Books before, you may know some of my own re-imagination story, but here’s the part perhaps you haven’t heard. With a dream of someday becoming a writer while working for nearly thirty years as an engineer, a potential but somewhat risky and definitely complex opportunity presented itself. I’m blessed with a wife who has never said, “No.” Instead, she has always said, “Let’s find a way to make it happen.” It’s the reason the dedication in An Irish Miracle reads:

To Linda
You made it possible
With love

I’m proud to call each of these folks re-imaginary friends. Consultant or clown, designer or salesman, mother, father, friend . . . whoever you are in your “real” life, I hope you find the opportunity, the courage, the support–whatever it takes–to make your dream come true. These good folks all did it, and you can do it, too. I know you can.

What do you re-imagine yourself doing five years from now . . . or tomorrow?

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!

An Irish Miracle Is Released!

I am pleased and excited to finally announce the release of An Irish Miracle. Many humble thanks to all who have supported me and contributed toward making this novel a reality. If you enjoy the story, I would be most grateful if you’d take a moment to spread the word about my book to your family and friends. -Rob

Paperback and electronic formats are now available at the following online locations.

  • – Paperback and Kindle Editions (US)
  • – Paperback and Kindle Editions (UK)
  • – EPUB and Other E-formats
  • Paperback and Kindle Editions are also available from Amazon in Germany, France, Spain, and Italy (English translation only)
  • Other E-formats soon to be available from Apple iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Blio, Diesel, Kobo, and Sony.
  • Signed Copies – Please use this link to purchase a signed copy of An Irish Miracle with PayPal or major credit card. USPS Media Mail shipping is free!

Have a question, comment, or need a little assistance? Please send me a note at and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

An Irish Miracle Covers Arrive!

Mike Mahan, of Shelflife Creative, has once again come through with a beautiful and evocative cover design for An Irish Miracle. The novel is in it’s final stages of production, so stay tuned for a release announcement coming soon!

An Irish Miracle Back, Spine, and Front

“My Editor” – I Love Saying That

Three Red Pencils by Horia Varlan (CC BY 2.0)

As an engineer, I learned the value of getting “a fresh set of eyes” on anything I was designing. At each stage of the design process (paper napkin, 3D computer model, dimensioned drawings, etc.), it was always a good idea to have someone else look over my work and offer suggestions or catch mistakes, because The Rule of Tens applied. That rule meant that every error that made it another step in the design process before it was caught would be ten times more costly to fix. The last thing I wanted was a call from the fab shop supervisor. By then, the cost to correct an error in my design might include surrendering body parts.

As an author, the same ideas apply to writing a novel. While working on An Irish Miracle, I was very fortunate to have Robin Martin, of Two Songbirds Press, as “my editor”. I really do love saying “my editor” because of the tremendous value Robin’s “fresh set of eyes” and talent as a freelance editor brought to my writing. I was well past the “paper napkin” step, having already written three drafts, before I contacted Robin through the Editorial Freelancers Association website. Based on her detailed Evaluation and Critique, I wrote the fourth draft, which nearly doubled in length while making my plot stronger and my characters rounder. I was also able to correct writing errors that Robin had documented, eliminating instances of filtering, narrative exposition, and shifting points of view that would have jarred my readers out of their vivid and continuous readers’ dreams. After doing a full contextual edit of the fourth draft, Robin even found yet another “fresh set of eyes” for the final proofreading of my corrected and polished manuscript. From experience, she told me she was too familiar with it to proofread it herself.

Because of the collaboration with “my editor”, An Irish Miracle is nearly ready to be sent out, and I’m confident that I won’t be receiving any unwanted telephone calls from the fab shop supervisor!

Tech Notes – Skip Password Purgatory

Gateway to Password Nirvana

Password Purgatory

Webster’s second definition of purgatory is “a place or state of temporary suffering or misery”. It’s where I used to go whenever the password I absolutely knew was correct was heartlessly rejected by the account I absolutely had to access. Not to be denied by some digital gatekeeper, I would resort to some really bad password strategies. You might even recognize one or two of them:

  • PW = “password”, “123456”, or “qwerty”.
  • Use the exact same password for everything.
  • Use birthday or anniversary dates (Heck, I had to remember them anyway.)
  • Write all my passwords on tacky notes and frame my monitor with them.

Sorry if I opened the particular bag you keep your cat in, but she probably needed a little air anyway. Now just about every online move I make, from blogging to shopping, from posting to self-publishing, requires a password. And many sites have gotten all we-take-security-seriously and require strong passwords like these:

  • AWd*4Qd5!g
  • %$x2sC2RQG
  • W4A%KJb#78

But I can’t remember one we-take-security-seriously password like that, let alone a few dozen or more. I’d need a computer to remember all those cryptic, meaningless strings.

Wait. Maybe we’re on to something there.

Password Nirvana

Turns out you can have your we-take-security-seriously passwords and remember them, too. The solution is using a password management program. Who knew? I won’t attempt a comprehensive review of all your password management options here. You can find plenty of those with your favorite search engine. But here’s some general information to get you started:

  • Many standalone password management programs are inexpensive or free
  • Most modern browsers already have built-in password management capabilities
  • Password management programs hide your passwords behind a long master password that you enter only once per session
  • Password management programs remember more than just passwords
    • Addresses / URLs of account login pages
    • User names
    • Passwords
  • Password management programs usually have options for storing your data
    • Encrypted or unencrypted
    • Locally (on your harddrive)
    • Removable media (on a flash drive)
    • Remotely (online)

The password management program I settled on a few years ago is RoboForm from Siber Systems. (This may sound like a commercial, but trust me, I’m no paid spokes-model for anyone.) RoboForm nearly revolutionized the way I use the Internet. Once I enter my we-take-security-seriously master password, RoboForm automates the entire login process for any of my online accounts, all with a single click of the mouse:

  • Opens the login page in a new tab
  • Fills in the user name and cryptic, meaningless password
  • Submits credentials to the digital gatekeeper

With a single click, I’m securely logged in and ready to opine, purchase or post.

Bottom Line

Read some password management program reviews and try out some of the free trial versions or even your browser’s built-in password manager capabilities. Once you settle on the password management program of your own choice, it will revolutionize the way you use the Internet and keep you out of password purgatory, all while enhancing your online security.

And take those little yellow notes off your monitor. They really are tacky.

Active Inactivity

Serenity by Alberto P. Veiga (CC BY 2.0)

A good friend of mine, Eddie Rhoades, once said to me, “Rob, there are too many things in the world that go ‘beep’.” In many of our lives today, amidst the incessant clamor of the modern world, we often forget to leave room for the quiet. I first learned about the idea of “active inactivity” in a small but powerful book, Zen and the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams.

Active inactivity isn’t as easy as it may seem at first blush. It isn’t just not doing something . . . it’s doing nothing on purpose. Nothing physical, like taking a walk or a nap. Nothing mental, like thinking about a problem at work or planning a vacation. Nothing. Well, nothing except breathing, which we normally don’t even think about. Try doing nothing but thinking about your breathing for fifteen minutes sometime tomorrow. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out . . . If you don’t make it the first time, don’t be hard on yourself. It really is harder than it sounds. Let it go and try again the next day, and the next.

Claude Debussy said, “Music is the silence between the notes.”

When I’m being well-disciplined, I try to do nothing on purpose for fifteen minutes before starting a writing session. If I succeed, my mind seems to be clearer, calmer, and it’s easier to focus on the day’s work. Active inactivity can tame wild mind-monkeys. And it’s a gift you can give to yourself, with a little practice.

In An Irish Miracle, young Dillon Connolly discovers perfect stillness for the first time in the Irish countryside. Raised on a bustling farm in northwestern Ohio, it’s a new and wonderful experience, one that evokes surprisingly powerful emotions.