So You’re Starting a Blog, What Comes Next, the Post or the Page?

I’m writing a book about blogging, so this is the start of Chapter 10. The idea behind it is that you, the reader, have a blog account, and you’re in the dashboard for the first time – NOW WHAT?

Clothes in HI002

I activated my WordPress blog account, and stared at my a dashboard, which takes me where no one but WordPress genies are allowed to go. The blog itself is a blank page except for the name I gave it and a couple of tabs, About Me and Home. Home is there the posts go. It changes every time you post something new. Pages are different. You write them just like you do a post, but they stay put.

First, I played around with themes and colors, trying to figure out what fit me best. I changed tons of time, and I’m still not sure I have the right theme, but at this point it is what it is. I clicked on all the links on the sidebar of my dashboard and filled in the blanks as best I could, including creating a gravitar profile. Making all those little decisions made me think and further define myself and my goal for blogging.

2015 BV March149
The sky’s the limit.

Since I started a random blog, and experiment, I started out journaling what I was doing when I did something I thought was fun or interesting, and posted my way into the blogging world before I did anything else. Of course, no one was listening and watching, so it didn’t matter what I did first, second or in whatever order I wanted to do it.

I waited until I got the hang of posting for a while before I started in on my About Me Page. For one thing, I had to decide who I wanted to be to the rest of the world. I think I rewrote my about page three or four times, but again, no one was really looking, so it didn’t matter. If you are famous, you will not be doing this yourself, so you do not need this advice. If you are like me, it’s amazing how much thinking it takes to decide what to and what not to say about yourself.

A lot of people like lists, random, usually. I like lists, but I can’t think of enough cute and interesting random facts about myself. I struggle with my about page. Over the years it’s accumulated nearly 100 likes. That works out to about 25 likes a year.

Here are links to just a few of the well liked About pages belonging to people who I like.

Sally Pace BD941
Sorry for the nudity, but you can’t get too much newer than a baby doll! 🙂

After reading a post I read on Twitter about the necessity of having another page called “New Here.” Here is the post I wrote when I created that page. I have about 11 likes on that page – definitely not worth the time and thought that went into it, if you measure success by the number of people who interact with your page. There are other reasons to develop pages, though. One of which is to keep track of things for yourself, like, did I read that book, or not?

And the chapter continues with one of my blog posts, Good Morning World about a page you’ve probably never seen called New Here. This is not an advertisement for the best page you’ve ever read, for sure, but you might be curious to know what an unpopular page looks like. 🙂

Be part of my new book about blogging, and leave me some responses, please. What pages do you have on your blog, and how are they doing? Why do you have them? Are they worth the time? And finally, can I quote you on that?

Blog Management Solutions

HELP!  I want to blog, but I’m out of time! My life is a roller coaster!  What can I do? There is hope, and I’ll share not ten, but eleven ideas that have helped me.

SFW Santa Monica155r

Passionate bloggers have something to say to the world. The world, or at least a very small fraction of it, wants to connect and interact, increasing the desire and commitment to blog. Experts convinced me that I needed to write daily, or at least consistently, to attract my fair share of people to my blog. V calls that market share. SO TRUE!!!

When I started blogging, I drove myself to do publish daily, and life became a balancing act, not to mention some of my posts were kind of cruddy, Yeah, I own up to it! Not to mention the bags under my eyes were becoming scary.

Even so, I am passionate about blogging because it has changed my life, but what do I do when the rest of my life dictates that I spend my time in other ways? Just like I did when I worked full-time, I struggle to maintain a balance between blogging and the rest of life. AND SO DO YOU! There just are not enough hours.  So here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years.

  1. Shop for the best and fastest internet service. Poor Internet service can discourage your blogging quicker than any other obstacle. I’m happy to report that ours has improved over the years.
  2. Prioritize, unless blogging is your job, not just your passion, it sometimes has to take second or third place.
  3. Write shorter posts. Write about what you are doing.
  4. Publish your to-do list so people will feel sympathy. That’s the ugly side of my personality. I crave praise, and blogging changed my life because a small group of people continued to support me in that need.
  5. Blog (reading and writing both) as a reward to yourself after you complete tasks.
  6. If you can’t read all the blogs to which you subscribe, visit those who have troubled to comment on your blog.
  7. Scroll the reader, scan articles, and at least press like on blogs you enjoyed.
  8. Blogging is you. Write when you can, and do not beat yourself up when your life interferes.
  9. Write several posts when you have time, and schedule them spacing them several days apart.
  10. Keep a to-do list handy so you can cross off what you accomplished and celebrate.
  11. Make draft posts of your ideas, instead of writing your ideas on a scrap of paper. Then you’re ready to go when you start writing again.

How are you keeping up with blogging and life?


Because of Blogging


I switched to a MacBook Pro from an old Toshiba laptop in preparation for my retirement from teaching and administration. I have been trying to clean my A S D and E keys because I thought they collected lint in the center, just like my Toshiba. I tried to pick the lint out with a pin. It frustrated me that they did not get any clearer. I must be dense. During the day the keys look about like my Toshiba keys. They are just keys. At night I turn on a light to type so I don’t burn my eyes out, so I have not noticed much difference. Tonight I got up in the middle of the night and stared down at the computer like I always do before I turn on the desk lamp. For some reason something hit me. I turned the lamp back out. The keys on my computer are blurry because the blue apple light that lights up the keyboard is shining through them. They are worn out. Blogging is addictive.


Images of America Woodlake Sales

I’m not a famous blogger or writer, except in Woodlake, the tiny town in Central California where I live. My fame is new – since August 2015 when my Arcadia Publishing book came out, Images of America Woodlake. Even now I can stand right next to the book or this lovely poster made by my Kiwanis friend, Lauri Polly, and talk to someone in a business office, and they don’t recognize me. For example I walked into the grocery the other day and offered to autograph the books they had for sale in the window.

“You’re the author?”

The young man’s voice behind the manager’s window sounded skeptical . He looked like he was about 20. Age has nothing to do with this, but I could smile instead of being insulted. What twenty year-old male thinks that a sixty-four year old woman can do much of anything except bake cookies?

“You WROTE this book?” Maybe I don’t know the meaning of the word author.

“Are you FROM Woodlake?”

Woodlakers are surprised they don’t know me. They grew up here. I just moved here fifteen years ago, and taught fourth grade here twenty years ago. They thought they noticed everything important about Woodlake, and they had never noticed me before, so maybe I was mistaken about living in Woodlake for fifteen years.

I started out talking about blogging, not about my fame in Woodlake. I talk about blogging frequently. I’m like the blogging evangelist to the stranger on the street, “Can I share with you the Four Steps to Happy Blogging?” I speak at the high school on career days. I spoke to Kiwanis once. I speak whenever anyone asks me to speak.  

They respond, “I really should start blogging. I just…” Fill in the blanks.

I really need a published book about blogging to establish myself as an expert. I AM an expert on some aspects of blogging. I KNOW what it has done for me. Since blogging brought me such fame and fortune, that should motivate others like you to start blogging, right? It is OK with me if you do not blog. Just like cooking, it is not for everyone.

My husband shakes his head. “You spend all this time on blogging, and what do you have to show for it?”

MacBook Pro1t
He means money, income.  We argue. I’m retired. I don’t feel that it’s my responsibility to EARN more money. MY value isn’t defined by my income producing ability. Money is wonderful, and I can definitely earn some through blogging. I defend blogging . “Because of blogging, I…” I fill in the blanks in my mind with hundreds of benefits. That’s when I decided to write another nonfiction book, because blogging has changed me.

Because of Blogging Cover

Because of Blogging is not another How To Blog or You Should Blog If You are a… kind of book. Rather I want to share my journey of blogging with you. I will include some of my old posts, updated to make them relevant and some of your comments because you are part of my journey. If you prefer that I don’t use your name, I’m glad to preserve your anonymity. Sure I will share blogging tips and obstacles you can avoid because I have experienced a bunch of them. But I hope this book will go beyond the how to the because.

Thanks again for being part of my journey. Watch for my book in the next month or so. Let me set a date so I’m committed, April 1st. Look for my book by April 1, 2016. Don’t let me fool you! I want to do this!

Because of Blogging calendar

Now I’ve got to go get started because my OTHER next book after that is a third grade reader or coloring book about Woodlake, I can’t decide yet which.

Is Social Media the New Reader, Or Is It Just Laziness?

Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging and love my blogging friends. But I’m frustrated. When I’m busy, I spend my time on quickie social media and not my blog. I take a quick picture when I’m walking or driving, post it on Instagram, and maybe write a caption – BAM gone to all my social media accounts including WP. I don’t bother with my brand, floating like a misshapen cloud above the mountains, or edit, edit and re-edit only to find another error after I’ve posted!

Lazy blogging?
Lazy blogging?

Done.  It takes two hours for me – at a minimum –  to create a blog post – this small – that’s hard! (Granted I’m slow!)

I wish WP had a better way to share blogs, and here’s why.

Cat LoveIn Facebook I browse through the comments, pictures and memes sharing likes or a quick comment.  My wall is as cluttered as my work table, but I love it. If I want to find what you posted yesterday so I can copy it to my blog, I type your name in the search box, and bingo – your wall appears. I scroll through your stuff, take what I want, get to know you a little better, and I’m out.  I’ve joined some groups, become friends with some, and those comments show on my home page. I don’t have to click to find them. For those of us with slow internet, every click means wait, wait, wait.

Max Brooks will speak at the CCSS Conference on March 6th.
Max Brooks will speak at the CCSS Conference on March 6th.

Twitter is Facebook on speed. I meet colleagues, new contacts, and post news. It’s not impolite to follow others first. Many people follow me that I don’t know. I check them out briefly, and speed read through news. I don’t engage much more than a star unless its Rosy, Al or Ann, my blogging friends, or I’m working my California Council for the Social Studies accounts.

Author of Historical Thinking who changed the way we think about teaching history.
Author of Historical Thinking who changed the way we think about teaching history. He’s speaking at the CCSS Conference on March 6th, too.

On LinkedIn people have common professional interests. I like to endorse people I know, just to let them know I still think about them even when I don’t see them. I also post news. Like FB, it doesn’t take much time to browse. If I see something I want to read, I stop and read it.

I share what's in my inner storage shed.
I share what’s in my inner storage shed, but Photoshop out some details.

Blogging, however, is where I get to know people well. We are friends even when we’ve never met. But commenting on blogs is more difficult because I have to click on each blog, and sometimes they don’t load or take my comment. If it takes too long I don’t get it done.

Everyone looks better at the beach!  :)
More time to lay around.

So it is laziness, or do we need all types of social media? So please join me on FB if you consider me a friend @ TC History Gal Productions, or one of the other social media.

Why It’s a Good Reason to Delete “Shitty Drafts” and a Short List of Tips to Improve Them

writing, fiction
writing, fiction

The naughty words are from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  Anne didn’t write me and tell me to cut my drafts, “shitty” or otherwise. In fact, she gave me permission to write them.  My editor Debbie Simorte told me it was a good idea to delete them from my blog, for the same reason spammers give me.

“Your site is rife with errors.”

Rife with Errors

Excuse me, Ms Spammer, “rife with errors.” I have a few too many, I admit, but I think rife is harsh.

But Debbie agreed, even though she didn’t put it like that.  Editors look at your site. If they see a Work in Progress (WIP), see it even has an acronym, they wonder if the rest of the story will be a WIP.

Internet users
Internet statics users Worldwide



To the 10 faithful Girls on Fire world-wide readers, I apologise, but you’ve already read it anyway. So no apology needed, right? To the 3.05 billion internet users who hadn’t seen it yet, I’m sorry, but you will have to buy the book when it comes out.

Anne Lamott’s Stages of Drafts and Tips to Get Through Them

1. DOWNDRAFT:  First draft – get it down

  • Avoid so much draft three – dental work –  by setting your page the way publishers will want it – even if you are just practicing.
    • double space
    • indent paragraphs
    • use only one space between sentences instead of the old-fashioned two. The best way to do this is to turn on the little button ¶ that hides in various places depending on what program you use. This magic button shows you how many spaces you have everywhere.
  • Write out small numbers.  Just get in the habit while you are putting things down. It makes it easier later and it doesn’t slow down your spontaneity.
  • Sometimes in the middle of your editing you have to draft an entirely new chapter to fill in the holes. I did that today. Forgive yourself and with that chapter you are back to stage one.

    Down Draft - Ger 'er down!
    Down Draft – Ger ‘er down!

2. UPDRAFT:  Second draft – fix it up

  • Ask someone like you husband who never read a romance in his life to read it.  His insight will astound you.  You will learn how men think, and more importantly how he thinks. He will be really honest and say things like, “You can’t wrestle a washer full of water. Have her turn off the water like this. Come here.” Or “This sounds petty like she is making fun of the blind. Pick a different cause. Why did she say something stupid like that?”

    Editing - picky picky
    Editing – picky picky

3. DENTAL DRAFT: Third draft – check each tooth

  • This is a job for another pair of eyes. A very picky pair. This person finds errors that run between chapters like “Ted is 88 in chapter 2 and 89 in chapter 1.” Or  “Why did Vanessa move away from Sarah’s into a hotel.  I like her living with Sarah, but then you have to deal with her comments to Tani in Chapter 2.
  • This is where you also pick up the extra space between sentences, commas on the inside of quotation marks, and misplaced commas in general,
  • Eliminate passive verbs and redundant words

What I realized is that we  weave a net when we birth fiction characters, just like life.  When we edit one thing we may miss the other connections that one statement makes. You need those extra eyes.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for the pictures, Google.

How to Do a Short, Quick Post

Readers like short posts.  I’m going to time myself.  It usually takes 2 hours at a minimum to do a post.  It’s 10:07.


  1. Bulk process pictures as you take them.  I label them SFW to distinguish them from others.  They are saved at #3 Quality in Photoshop so they don’t take long to load.
  2. Don’t use too many pictures, or use captions and put them in a gallery.  I like the slide show the best.  The pictures are a nice size.
  3. Write about the picture.  PG like to help cook.  Sometimes I drop things on the floor.
  4. Don’t over think it.  (Good advice, Marsha, now just take it!)
  5. Add tags and categories
  6. Add a poll to see if your readers like your post.  Most of them will write comments instead, but at least you are offering an easy way for people to interact.
  7. Tell your readers they are important.  They are!  I adore my readers, so many have become really good friends.  Those close friends who read my blog at home make me feel even closer to them.

It’s 10:20, and I’m going to press publish.  If it doesn’t like my grammar, it will take me a little longer, but this is a record fast post for me.  How do you think I did?


Abandoning Sordid Pasts and Moving On

If you live as long as I have, there might be something SORDID in your past if folks cared enough  excavate the artifacts to uncover it!  Personally I want my sordid history scattered so deeply into ancient history that it would take a toothpick to carefully clean the shredded evidence of my past.  Few people have that kind of patience or interest in examining the mundane lives of mundane people from the past.  If they did, the world’s libraries would be littered with unreadable and boring trash!

Ralph and Manny

Ralph suggested that I write my memoirs.  I tried that, and it got downright scary.  No more sweet, nice Marsha.  The thin skin I have covering my delicate inner self peeled away revealing…. You know I’m not going to tell you!  It’s just downright embarrassing!  Since I’m not famous, and didn’t write it all down for my posterity, of which I have none, it’s doubtful that anyone will ever find out about my notoriety, and the heinous crimes of my sordid past.


SFW San Diego History Girls 1-13235
Ewwww, gross!

I say all that to announce that the topic of my Friday posts is just not working for me, so I’m moving on.  In fact, I have to confess that scheduled posts, are tying down my normally random nature.  I tried a schedule on my other site, and now I can’t even bear to open up the site and post anything any more.  One of my spammers on this site told me I need lessons on writing titles, that they are “too vanilla.”  YIKES, and I love vanilla!  Another commenter told me I need to avoid serious stuff, or no one will read my blog. (Was that a threat?)  He may have a point.  One of my best posts  (in MY opinion) has only one comment and 11 likes, and the comment is mine!

Got any Vanilla Wafers over there?  Just put them on the bench!
Got any Vanilla Wafers over there? Just put them on the bench!

I created this site to be random.  Unfortunately this stream of chatter runs directly into my LinkedIn account, and I’ve spent the last month connecting with superintendents of schools for the past month as the President of California Council for the Social Studies this year.  My hope is that I increase awareness of promote advocacy for the need for continuing to specifically teach social studies in public education system K-12.  My dilemma is that I’m afraid that my educational credibility is shot with my silly posts.  And, if my blogging spammers advisors are correct, my “fun” blogging personality apparently is sullied by  Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personality) –  the multiple hats that I wear.  🙂  hehehe (which is more sinister than hahaha, I think!)

Save me


When I am acting CCSS President, I’m sorry bloggers, but I have to put on my education hat, and reveal that I am indeed a knowledgeable person with some intelligent ideas about the future of education.  I actually love wearing that hat.  I love rubbing shoulders with some of the best thinkers on our planet, and learning and listening, and once in a while throwing out a cogent thought onto the discussion floor.  On the other hand, I just can’t resist being a frustrated comic, and trying to make you, my friends, laugh, so the rest of the time I’m trying hard to be funny.  I’m sixty-one going on two still trying to figure out how to merge the two diverse aspects of my personality!

I had the privilege of honoring Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, Jim Vidak, as Administrator of the Year.
I had the privilege of honoring Tulare County Superintendent of Schools, Jim Vidak, as Administrator of the Year.

What I’m trying to say through this not-so-sordid post, is that I’m giving up scheduled posts in favor of streaming thoughts as they float by.  I will still stream you book reviews done as often as I run across good books, and I will usually comment on the Common Core Standards because I do care about education, and I can’t control my passion! Manny will continue to crop up, of course.  He’s having too much fun going to such distant places not to tell you about his antics.  Mostly he is meeting interesting people, and getting to dive into THEIR lifestyles.  How often do we see life as it is in REAL time, not just a tourist view?

He's on his way to Malaga, Spain to the airport.
He’s on his way to Malaga, Spain to the airport.

So I am going to do a couple of things.  First I am going to turn off my instant connection to LinkedIn, and notify them only my academic posts.  There go my following stats! Sorry ego!   Secondly I’m ending my schedule and going back to the diversity that is my life.  If you hate one side or the other of my personality, you can click on past the stuff you don’t want to read.  I won’t be hurt if you don’t press like or leave a comment.

Kaweah River streaming into Bravo Lake
Kaweah River streaming into Bravo Lake

This blog started as an experiment, became a new way to get friends, and continues into maturity with the boulders of my exposed life settled securely at the bottom of the stream bed, and the pebbles of daily activities, thoughts and conversations with you, my dear friends, still churning as they chortle along their path to the river of life and eventually merge into the salty sea that was and is the eternal me and you blended together as we meet, comment, laugh, cry and love each other.

Back to daily life, what’s going on in your life today?

Monday: Ask Marsha: Folks On Yahoo Want To Know

I don’t spend a lot of time in Yahoo, but I clean out my Yahoo email once in a while.  Today I came across the greatest section.  People write in questions.  I think I live on another planet than most of those who are so full of curiosity that they write into Yahoo.   Thank goodness for them, they are anonymous!

Mona Vampire

Concerned Inquisitor:  I need a spell to become a vampire.?

Marsha:  No, you don’t need a spell, you need a grammar and punctuation check!

Concerned Inquisitor:  How do I level up on yahoo answers?

Marsha:  Go to the hardware store.  Purchase a tool called a level.   Place it on the questions, and watch the bubble.  When the bubbly gets to the middle, you have leveled up the question.


Concerned Inquisitor:  Does marriage change anxiety???

Marsha:  No anxiety is the same as ever:  “an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints and rumination.” Wikipedia

Concerned Inquisitor: Is Uta no prince sama a good anime?

Marsha:  Sorry, I need a translator for this one!


Concerned Inquisitor:  is smoking harmful for sex?

Marsha:  I don’t think so.  My brother has smoked since he was 13 and he’s still a male.

Concerned Inquisitor:  How do I explain 0.51?

Marsha:  Boy, that’s a tough one if you are explaining it to someone under about 2. Most kids younger than two don’t share very well.  If your are concerned about stock, and company control, yours is probably the 0.49 number in the will.


Do you have a question for Marsha Lee?  Your question is definitely better than these!  I wonder if that’s Ask Yahoo’s spam folder.  hahaha  Have a great week.

Ask Marsha: How Do You Embed a Picture into Your Comments?

picture loading error

I have struggled with inserting pictures before, and Ralph helped me, and it worked until two days ago.  Suddenly, my formula didn’t work.  Two days ago I had to contact the support desk.  Here are four simple steps which are a combination of what I already knew and the new steps she gave me.


  1. Upload your picture to your WP media file.
  2. Click to edit the picture.
  3. Click to copy the link in the box on the right hand side.
  4. Paste the link inside the into your comment box instead of the word link.  I have only had it work in the Edit mode of Comment tab, rather than in archives.

Here is a sample.

<img src=”“>

And voilá!

Manny's Trip to Spain
Fanny excitedly checks out a box from the post office.

What is in that box?  Could it be Manny?  There will be an update on Manny’s travel’s to Spain on Thursday!

email fight

Next question:  Hi Marsha, I’m wondering if I missed a memo or did I do another stupid thing. I’m referring to why I’m not getting any emails when people post a like on my blog. I get notifications which  I don’t have a clue how to use. I do get emails from people who leave comments, but a lot of them leave comments in notifications and not on my email.

WP notifications

Dear Friend,  It’s good to use your notifications.  Most of my comments come there.


  1. I click the little orange button in the top right hand side of the top bar.  That brings down all the notifications.
  2. Then I click view archives.  That way when you reply, your reply doesn’t disappear as it does sometimes if you leave out that step.  I always reply from my notifications archives and not my email.
  3. You can also go to your dashboard and click on the comment icon.
  4. Press reply or edit, and you can reply without worrying that after you write a long note that you can’t hit the reply button, or you jiggle, and your comment disappears.  That has happened to me.  GRRRRR

I actually am getting comments from all over now – Facebook, Notifications, Discus, Email, Twitter.  I hope I’m not missing anyone!  I appreciate comments no matter how they come in.  🙂  Have a great week everyone!

Monday Ask Marsha: Assorted Questions

Do you hide your journal in the closet and bring it out in the middle of the night?  That’s what I used to do.  It had everything in it.  My gripes of the day, poems, pictures I drew of my guinea pigs, lesson plans, goals, prayer requests for people I couldn’t even remember, heartaches, books I read, and on and on.  I actually loved my yellowing journals which I kept for nearly 20 years.  When I married my current husband, I reread some of my entries, and thought, “What a whiney individual you are, Marsha Lee.   Someone (Vince’s son) is going to find this after you die, and think you are a shallow woman.”  That did it.  I shred those puppies.  And I cried.  I missed them.  But I was no longer shallow!  (hahaha)  You can’t prove it anyway!  🙂

This is a journal I didn't shred.
One of my journals – NO I didn’t quit my day job to become an artist!  hahaha

My new friend Andrea and I discussed journals and blogging, and the similarities and differences.  We both have destroyed paper journals along the way of life.  Anyway blogging is sort of like a journal on steroids.  You write, and people actually listen and respond.  It’s amazing.  But what if you want to write something just because you’re a graphomanic?  What if you have secrets that you need to confess.  God listens, and I believe he even forgives, but after you’ve confessed for the 1,000th time, maybe you’d better write it down so you know you’re forgiven.  Maybe you want to remember some juicy gossip about the neighbor (husband, wife, boss …) – just in case.  Maybe bits of conversation that may show up in your next best-selling novel should be recorded in a journal, but not on your blog.  I don’t know why people need to write journals, but some of us do.  What do you do to keep them safe from prying eyes – your mother-in-law, your teenaged kids, your dad?  hmmm

I have two secret stashes.  One is Google Drive, and the other is a private blog that I’ve shared with just a few trusted friends because the work is SO unfinished.  I also use Dropbox a lot, but not for my journal.  I can get that on my phone and my computer without signing in, and so that is not secret enough for my deepest, most sordid tales.

What about you?


An other question came from one of my favorite new blogging friends, JT Weaver.  He asked me if I was Marsha Lee or Marsha Ingrao.  A lady at work asked me the same thing when I first started my blog.  She thought I’d gotten a divorce.  Sorry all you handsome 80 + year old men who think I still look young at 61. (Actually my mom’s 88 year old cousin would rather have a 20 year old – go figure!) But, no, Jane and JT, I’m still married.

Lee is my middle name, and I hated it most of my life.  Then my friend, Anna León, who was also my boss at the time, started calling me Mar’cha Lee’, and I loved it.  After that, I used my name with pride.  When I started this blog, I was nervous about telling anyone who I REALLY was – (like I was famous or something!!! hahaha).  So I used Marsha Lee to throw people off!  I actually thought it sounded kind of cool.  Maybe I’m Chinese???  Sordid fact:  I almost dated someone named Mark Lee once, and decided 1) he was kind of weird, and 2) I didn’t want to be Marsha Lee Lee.

I still think Marsha Lee sounds kind of cool, so I keep it.  That’s who I am now.  I’m still a little nervous about being Marsha Ingrao online, but Dianne is Dianne Gray, and Maddie is Maddie Cochere.  I guess I can be Marsha Ingrao.  But I like Marsha Lee, too.  🙂

Send me your questions – anything.  I’ll see what I can do with answer them as best I can.

I’m excited! The Eternal Traveler asked me to do a guest blog post for her blog.  It will be coming out sometime next week, I think.  In the meantime, if you don’t already, check out her site.

Ask Marsha Lee: WP Reader V Inoreader

If you have a WordPress website, then the WordPress reader allows you to skim through hundreds of websites quickly and press “Like”  and move on.  The people on the receiving end of the “Like” don’t necessarily know whether you have visited their site, read the entire post or not.  So they might or might not visit you back.  If your hope is to gain lots of traffic by visiting folks, this is a fast way to get started.  If you click on the website and make comments, then the speed advantage disappears, but you begin to develop real friendships instead.

Recently I started a Blogger website for the two reasons:

  1. to find out how the Blogger platform worked and compared with WordPress.
  2. to set up a specialty blog dedicated to history resources

Right away I noticed that Blogger used the Google Reader which is ending on Sunday.  The Google Reader is a space to organize all your newspapers and magazines, podcasts AND blogs.  I didn’t explore Google Reader since it was ending, but read an article comparing several free and low-cost alternatives to Google Reader.  The author of the article chose InoReader, so I did too.  I started saving my favorite WP blog sites on InoReader.

Some interesting features to me:

  1. You can like and comment on a blog post, but it is for your information only.  To actually “Like” the post, you have to visit the post.
  2. InoReader keeps track of your reading and you get statistics on how well you are doing.
  3. When you insert the URL of your friend’s blog, it lists several of the posts YOU haven’t read.  When you click on the post, you are transported to your friend’s blog, maybe last year sometime.  It’s like being in a time warp.  You are commenting in real-time, and the blogger may have no idea what you are talking about!  From there, once I discovered that idiosyncrasy, I clicked to the blogger’s home, and started my trail backwards to where I left off.  However the other posts are still listed on my reader, so I can go back to them at any time.  Right now it is telling me that I have 339 posts to read.
  4. If you “Like” and comment on the posts after you are inside your friend’s blog, InoReader can’t track you.  You have to manually mark the articles as being read.
  5. InoReader still doesn’t solve my problem of finding Blogger friends in the same way I have found the WP community.   The thing is, amazingly, with so many people using WP it is truly like being a family when you connect.  One example of that is that I have received a second WP Family Award from Daniela recently, and am so honored!

Right now I have two readers, and my Excel file compliments to Russel Ray to help me follow my blogging friends.  What works for you?  There are no limits to the number of choices.

Blogging Schedule

I want to thank you for responding to my last poll.  Y’all blew me away with an astounding 98 responses.  That’s up from ZERO on my first poll.

Graph of poll responses copy

Your opinions about the schedule of topics on my blog are as follows:

Topics % of Responses
Preparing for retirement & living the life 11%
Blogging advice and bloopers 10%
Book reviews 10%
Local adventures and photographic sprees 10%
My travels with various folks 9%
Photography advice – what I’m learning from my mistakes 9%
My sordid past as a young girl in Indianapolis then Portland, OR 8%
Manny’s adventures 7%
My thoughts on education and how to… 6%
Local history, Tulare County before I got here. 5%
Spotlight on great bloggers 5%
WP Challenges 4%
Kalev and other pet’s adventures 3%


Many of you left thoughtful and inspiring comments, including encouraging bloggers participate in challenges like the A-Z and weekly WP Photo Challenge.  So I have contrived a schedule for my blog, which I started as an experiment, that I THINK I can keep.  I combined several categories that seemed to go together.  I like to blog every day, and I think this schedule gives me the flexibility post daily.

Avila Barn guy

Mondays Ask Marsha Lee: Advice on Retirement, Blogging, Photography and ?
Tuesdays Reviews:  Books, Movies, Restaurants, Hotels (Mostly Books)
Wednesdays Challenge Me:  Wordless Or Wordy, but Always a Picture
Thursdays Marsha and Manny’s Adventures Near and Far
Fridays Remembering the Sordid Past:  Mine and Other Folks
Weekends Everything Relaxing Including Visiting Blogging Friends

I’ll be writing Monday’s posts on weekends, but I’ll need you to ask me questions.  Some of the advice I give may be from my stash of experience, and I have a ton of it, and other things may take me a while to research and I’ll come back to those questions.  You can ask questions in several ways.

  1. Email me:
  2. Facebook me:  Click the button in the footer on the left.
  3. Leave a comment on any post using the key word, “Advice“. somewhere in your comment.

SFW SLO Avila Barn Winter034a

I will get back to you, if not in a post, at least in an email.

For my posts on Tuesdays, I’ll also need your opinions about what you’d like to have reviewed from what I’ve read, of course.  You can also suggest great books, but I read about 700 words a minute, and that’s when I don’t fall asleep doing it!  Alastair had a great way to review books on Tuesdays called Teaser Tuesdays, and I may try that once in a while, too.  I may even review someone’s blog on Tuesday.  I was surprised that few people liked that idea.  😦

Wildflower Class

When I am not traveling or working on CCSS matters, I blog about 4-6 hours a day at a minimum.  I am be slower than some, dithering and adjusting pictures and words, but OH WELL, I’m retired!  The rest of the time I spend reading and dribbling stories, remarks, and likes on your blogs, and reading the blogs you recommend to me.

Thanks again for joining in this blogging experiment in “Getting More Traffic on Your Blog.”

Wildflower class

Getting More Traffic On Your Blog

My husband, Vince, asked, “Why are you interested in more people visiting your website, anyway?  Don’t you have enough?  Do you want everybody to love you?

No, I'm not quitting my day job.

That’s a thought-provoking conversation really.  My short answer – YES!   I love all my blogging/Facebook/email/Twitter/face-to-face friends.  Here’s my problem.  I get a little green when I visit a new blogger 2 months into it, and they already have 2,731 followers, or they have 492 likes on their About page.  Once in a while I think, “Wow that is a cool About page.”  More likely I think, “That wasn’t a bad About page, but 597 likes???  What am I doing wrong here?   I know – childish, but I’m being honest here.

Mom and I when she was 61, and I wasn't.
Mom and I when she was 61, and I wasn’t.  And yes, it was July, and we were freezing!

Eventually I would like somebody to notice my blog and say to me, “Marsha, you are such an awesome blogger, would you mind if we bought some of your material?”  OK, I do get “awesome blog here” every day from spammers, but it’s not jump starting my  writing/photography career.

Blah sky photoshopped into blue.
Blah sky photoshopped

What really got me ranting to Leanne Cole a couple of days ago was a blog that a young woman started only 4 months ago with advice on “How to earn money from your blog.”  I thought, “Sure, I’d like to earn money for doing what I love.”  I played the video – no advice.  I clicked the email for a video with free advice – no advice, but there was a beautiful picture of her. That was bad enough, but in the many comments on her About page were things like, “Thanks, you helped me so much!”  …… REALLY???

Marsha Lee aged 17
Marsha Lee aged 17

So last night Leanne Cole, a wonderful blogging friend for about a year, and I chatted for an hour.  She has some really good tidbits, and she has lots of visitors to her site.  We came up with a list of things we both like about blogs, some of which I am not doing.

Tips for Writing

  1. Keep the post to about 500 words.  (HARD!!)
  2. Place only one picture between each SHORT paragraph.  You have about 30 seconds to wow everyone. Never have only 1 long paragraph.
  3. Stay away from black backgrounds and small lettering – hard to read.
  4. Have a schedule and be predictable.  Consistently write about certain things on certain days.

Tips for Drawing Readers

  1. Liking people’s posts brings them to visit yours.
  2. Look at blogs in the reader.
  3. Read with a purpose.  If your purpose is photography, find ones with pictures. My personal favorite is longer blogs with a great story.
  4. Skim if it’s a long article.

Improvement # 1:  a schedule for my main blog (this one.)

  • Mondays –
  • Tuesdays-
  • Wednesdays-
  • Thursdays-
  • Fridays-
  • Weekends-

What do you think so far?  OK here are my topic choices.  Please vote!!!

p.s. word count 473!

The WordPress Family Award

Thanks Eunice!

Eunice from Nutsfortreasure awarded me this special award.  The WordPress Family Award is reserved for folks in Cyberspace who are  unceasingly kind, sympathetic, encouraging, and open to laughter – and who keep each other going by sharing, commenting, and making personal connections even though they may actually be virtual strangers.

  • Rules:
  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 10 others you see as having an impact on your WordPress experience and family.
  • Let your 10 Family members know you have awarded them.

Here are  just a few of my family members


What Are You Reading?

“What did you read today?” asks my book-reviewing blogging friend, Marcia.  That question made me examine my reading habits.

What I really love is drivel. Shock!  I thought I was an intellectual!  Drivel is different from trivia, the plural of trivium.  Drivel is “silly nonsense”, while trivia (pl) are a step above that, “inconsequential or insignificant matters.”  Actually I love both.  And I can spend enormous amounts of time organizing myself so that I can enjoy my drivel to the fullest extent.  Talk about a trivial pursuit!  When I start some organizing project, it quickly morphs into something draconian, and I have created a dracon, just to get my trivia faster.

My favorite place to find the trivia and drivel I adore is in the genre of blog.  To make my reading more efficient, and get in more trivia every day, I have tried to organize my blog reading since my comment chat with Russel Ray about how to follow 1,900 blogs and still have a life and a career.  I don’t want to just read Pando’s news about the latest economic crisis in Central California.  OK maybe I do.  No, really I don’t.  I prefer to read about the birds in San Diego, or how Ralph irons his pants in Spain, or how to properly use the words “try to” as opposed to “try and.”  You don’t get this kind of writing in the mainstream Reader because it’s clogged with stuff from Turkey and Central California.

Step one cut the list from the WP reader.
How to Organize Your Blogs  Step one cut the list from the WP reader.


So I have done what any docile, well-educated student does – listened to a pro, and copied.  I cut and pasted my blogger friends from Reader into a spreadsheet.  Please don’t be insulted – you’re more than a number to me.  However, I am finding this to be quite a frivolous worthwhile simple process.  I thought I would be so smart and go to my reader and copy all the blogs I follow and past them in a spreadsheet and bingo, I could just click and follow.  WRONG.  Click, and go to reader, then click again and go to the website, the don’t forget to copy the url and paste it back into the spreadsheet where that cheater Reader connection url was embedded deceptively into the name of the blog.

Determined to make this work so I could get in more trivia every day and save time doing I took this project to the next step.  Russel Ray paid me a high compliment when he wrote that he colored my site green on his spreadsheet because I was more than just a blogger.  That made my day.  I colored my favorite people green, too.  I’m not going to tell you how long that took, or the process to do each one.  Suffice to say that I had too much time on my hands for a couple of days this week.

This whole organizing episode I’ve had reminds me of a story – BTW kuddos to me, I made it through the Bs on my alphabetical list.  I cheated a little bit, and went through the whole list and marked my very favorite blogs green before I went back to the top and started down the list.  As I was saying, this complicated process reminds me of a story about my grandma, that Mom and I laughed about for years.  Trust me, it fits here.

Grandma, age 55, wanted to go outside and work in the garden, but she couldn’t find anything to wear.  She had a closet so full of clothes that they spilled out of the bedroom.  She couldn’t shut any of her inside doors because they had clothes hanging from them.  In spite of her glut of surplus clothes, she couldn’t find a pair of shorts that suited the dirty gardening task.  So she went down into the basement where she had a chest of drawers with my mother’s high school clothes packed away for safe keeping.  Grandma went through the depression, and never threw away anything.  She found just the right shorts for the sweaty job, and took them upstairs to put them on.  The problem was that they were way too small.  So before she could go  outside to weed, she had to alter the shorts by adding a two-inch strip of fabric down the outside of each side seam of the shorts.  I’m sure that was attractive because you know that she didn’t have any fabric that matched the shorts.  Nevertheless, Grandma persisted until she finished her alteration, and then she was ready to go outside to weed, after a nice glass of iced tea.  You know what happened, don’t you?  She was much too tired from sewing for a couple of hours to go weed.

OM_, I’m not like that …  am I?  In spite of all this crazy organizing, I have visited more sites this week than in a long time.  I did read 20 blogs yesterday, and not superficially, Meme.   REALLY!  And, I’ve remade some new friends – ones that write mostly trivia humor, travel, food, and, did I say humor?  Well it seems like trivia at first, but deep down, there’s that spark of something real and thoughtful in the humor and nonsense that makes me want to connect with that person.

That’s what I’m reading, Marcia. Oh yeah, I did read your blog, and thoroughly enjoyed it!  No, I wouldn’t call it trivia, exactly.  A book review, yes.  No, no, of course not.  It’s, …yeah, that’s right, mine is pretty similar.  No, my pictures aren’t …  No, not at all.    Yeah, I do talk a lot about… Yeah, Yeah.  Uh huh.  hmmm.  Ok, well, yes, I’m going to.  Listen, Marcia, I’ve got to go.  I’m working on a very important …  Yeah, yeah, yea, I know, you’ve got to go, too.  So keep in touch, will you.  I really miss you when I don’t hear from you once in a while!   OK.  You, too.  Bye.

So what important stuff are you doing?  What are you reading???


WordPress Anniversary – New Experiments

I just passed my one year anniversary with WordPress.  Granted, I think all I did in March was turn on the computer and look at the Dashboard, and try to figure out the vocabulary, symbols, and mechanics of having a blog.  At that time I had no idea that I would ever have enough to write to keep a blog going, but it was an experiment.

Blogging Tools
Blogging Tools before I retired.

When I started, I didn’t know how to use Photoshop, insert a watermark using any program, add tags.  I didn’t even know what a tag was.  The first night, I experimented with templates, and names.  One of our tech guys suggested that I make my header fit the name of my blog.  That’s still a nice idea, but I’ve long messed that up because now I know how to use a tablet, and combine more than one picture into a collage, and I’ve learned how to draw on a tablet.  I have experimented many times since then with headers.

How did I learn to do these things?  My WordPress friends mostly.  Oh sure, I read what the WordPress people had to say about things, but when I couldn’t do something, someone like TOM – the other Marcia, Ralph, Dianne Gray, Leanne Cole, Carol, Russel Ray, Eunice, Ute, Amy, Paula, Naomi, Darla, Rommel, Jim,Cotton, JG,  and MANY others would comment me through something.  I’ve made great friends who email me on a regular basis, and even call me sister.  The list of what I’ve learned this year about blogging, photography, writing, editing, spam, and life is HUGE!

I remember when I didn’t have a single comment on my posts.  Then Lesley and Cristain started visiting me, but not leaving comments.  Soon, I got so wrapped up in blogging that my husband thought I had fallen into a pit, and would never come back out.  I couldn’t wait for comments to roll in, so I put a WordPress ap on my iPhone.  I quit my job and retired so I could stay up all night and blog.  – Oh there were other reasons to retire, too, but I was getting pretty tired blogging AND working full time.  Oh – you do that???  Just be careful – is my only advice.  You know your limitations.

Eunice got me started in Fine Art America trying to sell some of my photography.  Vince and I spent one evening trying to pick out what we thought were the best five pictures of thousands of pictures we had taken.  Laura and Paula at work helped me with photography, learning Adobe Illustrator so I could create brochures, and Marcia got me started with the tablet, and showed me her amazing pictures.  Marcia got me seriously started writing my first novel, and dusting off two previously started stories.  Those are on a private WordPress site so a few people can give me feedback on my writing.

See Piggles nestled in the Cosmos?  This is my other WordPress site.
See Piggles nestled in the Cosmos? This is my other WordPress site.

I could meander through the last year of bubbling memories, falling over boulders with Autty Jade and her dad, Sir, or finding an ap to find my way home with ShareChair. I love you all.  On the day of my anniversary I started a Blogger site to see how the two programs compare.  Let me tell you, I can’t compare them fairly because I have learned too much.  Blogger seems SO easy, but it is similar to WordPress, and I know how to blog now.  When I learn it a little better I will do a more accurate comparison of the two programs.

The theme of my Blogspot blog.
The theme of my Blogspot blog.  Do you recognize this shady lady from the Sacramento costume shop.  I Photoshopped out all her unlady-like joints so she looked sexier.

I am going to use my Blogger site to write very short articles that will point people to my Fine Art America site to sell photographs.  This site will remain my main site until I use up all my space, which will happen within the next few months.  Then I’ll have to pay up.  Frankly, if I do, it will be worth it because this site is a record of my year of learning.  This is where I do all my experiments and have you help me. It is my random, rambling site.  Any more sites will be more specialized, and I plan to try other platforms as well.  You know me, I love to experiment.

Because I know you, and trust that you are going to be forgiving of my rambling I’m going to press publish on my Anniversary Publication.  I am starting to fall asleep as I write, so I had better quit while you are still with me.

How far along are you in your blogging journey?

Piggles Again

Yesterday I got a comment from TOM, the other Marcia, and she told me I needed a tablet and a stylus to draw.  Since she is an artist, and I definitely am not, I decided to try it.  V dropped me off at Best Buy, and they told me that I needed a Bamboo tablet.  They were only $99.00, and I decided that would be worth the amount of entertainment I would get from it.  So it came home with me.

After going through the tutorial ad nauseum, I wondered if I could draw a house for Piggles.  It looked like a square with a triangle on top.  So, NO.  There are no images in my mind for houses.  I have to see pictures, I guess.  So I went back to Piggles, and drew her again, using the same photograph, but this time using the stylus, and coloring in a background color.

Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.
Piggles was my favorite guinea pig of all times.

So here is the Old Piggles, drawn with the mouse

Piggles 2

And here is the new Piggles, drawn with the stylus.  You can see that I am still not an artist. I just don’t have the eye, but it was my best try for as long as I want to sit doing it.  You can tell me what you think.

Featured Blog

Featured Blog

This seems the perfect place to feature my new friend, Marcia, or T.O.M. as she calls herself. There must be something to the name because she is married to Mark, and my first husband was named Mark.  Very coincidental.  So it only makes sense that since she taught me about this product and gave me a mini-art lesson that I should feature her blog.  Like my other friend Darla Welchel, who I plan to feature later this week – warning Darla, I’ll be over camping on your site, Marcia loves to read and review books.  I get one book read, and they probably are reading 10.  The important thing is that the books get read and reviewed.

Marcia's site

The other interest that she and I are sharing is writing.  I am so new at this sport as well, in spite of writing for a living in my job, teaching writing to children, having a few articles published in journals and magazines, and even a few pieces of poetry.  Books are a different matter.  Marcia, however, is all over art work.  She emailed me some of her work, and they are astounding.  You are just going to have to discover T.O.M. for yourself.  She’s astounding.  Too bad she’s not single, Ralph!  She’s got a great sense of humor, too.

Should I Celebrate Now, Or Wait Until 20,000?

Ah forget it, I’ll celebrate now.  I went over 18,000 views today!!!


Would you celebrate with me?

Dog caught

Can’t you see I’m in kind of a bind?

Yes, I see that.  I’ll call for some help.  HELP!!! HELP!!

Dog tired

Can’t you see, I’m tired?  Wait till you get to 20,000.  You just toot your own horn too often anyway!  Go away!

Sure, sure.  Bye.


Dog winking

Uh sure, I’ll stop by.  What time are you celebrating?

Soon as I send out the post!  You know how to get here?

Yeah, sure.  You can count on me…”  (hahaha little does she know.)

Dog spam

continuously i used to read smaller articles which also clear their motive, and that is also happening with this article which I am reading at this place.

Who are you?  Did I invite the folks in the spam folder?  I must have.

Dog not mad

Did you see the last comment I left you?

No, did you say something mean?

I don’t know, you seemed a little upset.

No, how could I be upset with you.  You’re one of my favorite bloggers.   We’re good.  🙂

Dog melted

It’s too hot to travel.  The planes here in Australia can’t even take off because of the extreme heat!  You folks in California get all the cold. Can you hold off till March when the weather cools off a little.  You won’t have many more visits by then, will you?

I understand.  We get into the 110s in our summer.  Go jump in the pool.  🙂

Dog Starbucks

I can’t read your stats on Mom’s iPad besides stats make me sleepy.

I have even better coffee here than at Starbucks.

*yawn*  ok maybe.

So what about you?  What are you doing today.  Want to stop by and party???  What’s your favorite party snack?  Who’s your favorite foodie blogger?  Got a favorite party beverage?  What about venue?  Who’s your favorite travel blogger?  We might have it at the Running P.  It’s got a ring to it.  Marsha Lee’s at the Running P.  RSVP  🙂