Saturday, December 30, 2006

Teachers Use Tales of Adventure & Discovery

Teachers mention they like to read my stories from Tales of Adventure & Discovery (an anthology for children) to their students. It's gratifying to know teachers and their students find the stories enjoyable, entertaining, and educational. A coloring book, with illustrations and excerpts from the anthology was a logical next step for me.

The first story in the book, Sarah Jane's Daring Deed, has been very popular with youngsters when I read them stories and teach writing workshops. I often use it as a springboard for their own writing. Because this story set in pioneer days, I often tie the story in with history they may be learning at school. I'm currently in the process of developing a picture book version of this story.

One teacher purchased my book when I taught a writing workshop for educators. Other teachers in her school wanted to know where she had obtained it. So the school ordered a dozen books for the teachers to use.

Another teacher mentioned she'd borrowed a copy of the book from a colleague long enough so thought she should purchase her own.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Short Story at Alzheimer's

I've posted one of my short stories, with a Christmas theme, Laura's New Home for Christmas, at my blog, Alzheimer's Notes. I'm hoping this will provide encouragement to families who find they can't bring their loved one home from the nursing home for the holidays.

The story is based loosely on my experiences and what I learned when I could no longer bring my mom home. We learned to enjoy her where she was and provide her happiness as well.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Creative Writing Challenge from Cathy's Blog

Cathy, from Cathy's Rants and Ramblin's, issued a challenge for creative writing....a story, essay, a poem... ending with Ian Fleming's quote "I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them."

A number of bloggers and authors decided to participate. You'll find the links here and below to their creations.

"What should I write?" I wondered. Then a poem came to mind as I pondered on Ian Fleming's quote and it's meaning to my life.


By Mary Emma Allen

When time passes quickly,
I wish for more hours;
I've often said I need
Forty-eight in my day.

Would I accomplish more
With the added time?
Would I find more to do
Or stretch the present?

A pondering on time could
Take up so much time
That I don't have time to do
What I want to do
With that time!

Such as writing more, sketching more,
reading more, walking more,
praying more,
being with family more.

So...I've decided to enjoy
the twenty-four hours I have and
"I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them!"

To read Cathy's delightful story about Spooner and find, at the end, the links to all the other participants' blogs and responses to this challenge, check it out here....

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Virtual Book/Blog Tour Is "Wave of the Future"

Recently I hosted Dorothy Thompson and Shelia Goss on blog tours for their new books. These authors are getting involved in what is being called the "wave of the future."

As I browse the Internet, visit book promotion web sites, I see blog tours recommended as a way to get name recognition and sell books. It's amazing the way the Internet is changing so many aspects of our lives.

If you haven't considered a blog/book tour, you may want to look into it. I had fun hosting Dorothy and Shelia and learning more about them and their writing.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Blog Tour of Author Shelia Goss

Today I'm hosting author Shelia Goss on her blog tour. Her most recent book is My Invisible Husband.

Blogging has become a popular way for authors to reach their readers. Sheilia will give us information about blogs and blogging...and how to get started. As Sheila says, blogging is "the wave of the future."

MEA: Shelia, what is a blog?

SHELIA: A blog is the equivalent to an online diary. You can use it to post personal information or useful information . It also can be used to interact with other bloggers, and if you're an author, your reader.

MEA: Why would I want to blog?

SHELIA: Blogging is what you make of it. It's a way to introduce your readers to a side of you that they cannot see from reading a bio on your web site or on the back of your book cover. It also gives your reading audience a chance to leave you real-time comments and interact with not only you but also other readers of your books.

MEA: How often should I blog?

SHELIA: Don't look at blogging as a dreaded task placed on your to do list. Blogging should be fun, and if you become an active blogger, you'll look forward to posting as well as interacting with others. How often you post is up to you. You can post daily, every other day, weekly or whenever the whim hits. You'll find the more responses you get on your blog posts, the more you'll be inclined to post on somewhat of a schedule.

MEA: Is there Blog etiquette?

SHELIA: If you'll be away for an extended period of time, just write a quick post, so your regular visitors won't think you forgot about them.

There are times that you may get some unwanted comments (yes, spammers have infiltrated the blog world), so don't hesitate to either delete those posts or set up your blog so posters have to put in a password.

MEA: Should my blog have a theme?

SHELIA: It's not necessary, but it makes it fun. I have three blogs. Each blog has a central theme. For example:

* chronicles the life of a writer.
* is a place to discuss relationships, books, or whatever else is on your mind.
* showcases my interview excerpts, reviews and/or information on the world of entertainment: books, music, TV, and film.

MEA: How do you come up with topics?

SHELIA: Keep your eyes and ears open. Life is filled with ideas. Some of my topics stem from what's going on in the nhews or from conversations I've had or observed. Since the central theme on My Invisible Husband blog is about relationships, it's hard to run out of something to discuss.

Take a chance and see what works for you. Blogging shouldn't be difficult. It should be fun. If it's draining, maybe you need to step away from it for awhile or come up with another topic. There may be some days you only feel like rambling and that's okay, too.

MEA: When someone has decided to blog, how do they get started?

SHELIA: There are many blog services available to you. Below is a short list of blog websites:

* (The workshop and all of my blogs are hosted here.)

MEA: Do you have some blogs you like to visit?

SHELIA: Here are examples of author blogs:

* http:///

Remember keep blogging fun and your readers will enjoy visiting. Who knows, you might just get a book sale or two from it, too.

Stop by Shelia's blogs ( or and leave a comment with your weblink.

MEA: Thank you for stopping by today, Shelia. I'm sure my readers have learned a great deal about blogging from you and are anxious to get started with their own blogs.

(Shelia Goss is an entertainment writer and the author of My Invisible Husband and Roses are thorns, Violets are true. She recently was named Infini's Outstanding Author of 2006. She's also the recipient of three 2003 Shades of Romance Magazine Reader's Choice Multi-cultural Awards and the 2004 Onesan Productions Female Author of the Year. My Invisible Husband is published by Urban Soul, an imprint of Kensington.)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dorothy Thompson's Virtual Book Tour

Today I'm hosting Dorothy Thompson's Virtual Book Tour.

"What is a Virtual Book Tour?" you ask.

This is a very creative way to conduct a book tour. Rather than visiting actual book stores, you visit various blogs, answer questions, and interact with readers. Dorothy Thompson is author and editor of Romancing the Soul anthology (to which I contributed a story) and several e-books. She has become known as a relationship expert, with a web site ( ) and articles in magazines and ezines.

Dorothy also has compiled what's she's learned about promoting and selling books into her latest eBook, A Complete Guide to Promoting & Selling Your Self-Published Book.

Today Dorothy is visiting my blog in her month long tour. I've asked her a few questions. I think you'll enjoy reading her answers and learning about publishing and promoting.

MEA: Welcome, Dorothy, to Mary Emma's Potpourri of Writing.

How has your book tour been going? Perhaps if you'll describe this type of tour, readers will have a better idea of what it's all about.

DOROTHY: Hi, Mary Emma, and thank you for having me!

While everyone should know that it takes a combination of things to effectively promote an eBook, I must say the most effective as of this date has to be this virtual book tour. I have never seen anything like it, and I only wish I had done this before. It was like DUH! I had heard of virtual book tours, but I thought you had to have someone set them up for you. I had no idea I could do it myself.

They're easy to set up, and since you're the boss, you can appear on any blog you'd like, If you set your tour for a month, that should give your eBook plenty of time to gain interest. The sales have been unbelievable.

MEA: Why did you start writing eBooks?

DOROTHY: I started out e-published. Years ago. But I had no idea how to promote eBooks, hardly knew what one was. But I was so excited to be published, I was willing to go any route. However, the book bombed. I didn't know how to promote it. I couldn't take it on signings. I couldn't hand sell it. I didn't know what to do with the thing.

Three years later, my anthology, Romancing the Soul, was published both in print and electronic format by Zumaya Publications. It wasn't until then that I started learning how to promote. I kept notebooks on what worked and didn't work, and I found the secret to good promotion is to target your audience. I found my audience, and soon thereafter started all sorts of things to get sales. I began a newsletter, gave away free advice, etc.

Next I contacted my publisher about publishing another relationship book. She advised me to wait a year to let Romancing the Soul gain momentum. As she's a smart cookie, I decided to do just that.

In the meantime, I kept writing and revising this next book. (Incidentally, it...The Soul Mate Triangle: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Soul Mate Relationship, will be published next year...waaahooo!)

However, I was getting antsy. I wanted more reltationship books out there, but I knew I had to wait. Me and waiting don't match.

It was then I decided to write a shorter relationship book and turn it into an eBook to sell on my web site while I waited for my other book to be published. A couple weeks later, How to Find and Keep Your Soul Mate was selling off my web site.

Sales were okay, but nothing to write home to Mama about. I still hadn't found the secret to have them selling like hotcakes. A few months later, my writing group and I published an eBook to give away, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Getting Published.

After using a new technique, outlined in my promotional book, A Complete Guide to Promoting & Selling Your Self-Published EBook, I managed to get our eBook into the #1 spot in all the search engines in one week for our key search words that people would use to find it. I thought, "That is really cool!"

I tried the same technique with our free Halloween eBook. It only took SIX days to get it in the #1 spot in all the search engines.

So those little free eBooks were my guinea pigs. I had learned how to use the search engines effectively, as a result, sell more books.

It was then I knew I was ready to tell the world. I unleashed A Complete Guide to Promoting & Selling Your Self-Published EBook last September. I have to admit, I am making more money from this eBook so far than all my royalties combined.

MEA: Have you found readers more receptive to your e-books than print books?

DOROTHY: I am finding people are more curious about the promoting eBook than anything because I think people want to learn how to make money with their writing that gets instant results. Before you even think about doing this, you must have a market.

I've seen self-published eBooks that just sit. The author has done everything in his power to promote it, yet he's getting no sales. Informational eBooks are the ones selling well right now. But again, you must have an audience. If you have any expertise in ANYTHING, it has the potential to make a pretty good eBook.

You see, there must be a demand for your eBook. Zero in on your market and get that eBook out there!

If you'd like to learn more about my eBook, A Complete Guide to Promoting & Selling Your Self-Published EBook, you can visit: .

Thank you for having me, Mary Emma, and happy promoting to you!

Creating a Blog for Sarah Jane

I've discovered many authors develop web sites or blogs for their books, series of books or a particular character. I decided to create a blog for Sarah Jane - Pioneer Girl at .

She's the character in one of my short stores, Sarah Jane's Daring Deed, that was published in four magazines (I retained the rights) and in my anthology, Tales of Discovery & Adventure. Sarah Jane evolved from research I was doing for a newspaper column about the history of the area where I live in New Hampshire. I began to wonder what it was like for youngsters to live in this newly settled land. Thus the story about Sarah Jane and Little Fawn resulted.

This story is the first one in my anthology and has become a favorite among the young readers when I visit schools and present workshops. It's become one I feel akin with, too. My daughter even made dolls to accompany me to school when I work with young people.

"Why don't you write some more adventures about Sarah Jane?" youngsters have asked me.

So a picture book is in the works and more story ideas are mulling around in my mind. Then I realized my readers might enjoy a blog about Sarah Jane, where she lived, and those pioneer days. Since I'm also a teacher, I've been developing activities to accompany writing and history lessons. Some of my school visits (with Sarah Jane) have involved having the young writers and readers work on stories set in Sarah Jane's era.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Home Business Blog Becomes "Live" at b5 Media

In addition to writing at a blog about Alzheimer's ( and one on quilting (, I now write one on home based businesses ( ). Blogging has become a way of life for many writers as they write about one of more topics.

Although I don't solely write blogs (here and at b5media), I do enjoy working at the ones I'm involved with. They're on topics about which I'm knowledgeable and am learning more every day. Blogging a way to share with others and encourage them in their lives and with their various interests.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Sharing With a Writers' Group

It's such fun to share your writing ideas and experiences with other writers. Hopefully I encourage them in their writing ventures.

Recently I was asked to speak to a newly formed writers' group in my hometown. It was exciting to realize the organizer thought I had knowledge to share with the other writers.

It's always interesting to learn about their writing projects...some fiction, others non-fiction. One is writing about her life for her family, another is writing a novel, one wants to write about her mother's life, and others are getting ideas for their projects.

The writers who attended seemed to think I gave them inspiration. I hope so.

The Nature of Blogging

When I first heard of blogs, I considered them online journals where people recorded their thoughts and daily happenings for others to read. Gradually these became more topical with the journalists posting more information than their thoughts.

Sometimes one writer will write about a topic that interests them or one they’re involved in such as a career or hobby. (For instance, my daughter writes a blog on her fiber arts projects .)

In other instances, a blog will be more general. As a writer, I have this one that I call a personal author blog. I also write . In both, I discuss my writing life and projects. Another blog concerns a quilting and writing project I’m working on ( )

Writing for Blog Networks

However, I’ve discovered you can write for blog networks or companies and receive payment. The income may not be much at first, but as your blog becomes known, the income from advertising and page views should increase. Or you might write a blog for a company/manufacturer on their web site about their products/services. For this, you generally will be paid a specified amount per blog or week for an agreed upon number of blogs.

Blogging for

Originally, Shai Coggins in Australia asked me to provide a blog about quiltmaking for a network she was starting. I’d written articles and taught online classes for Shai’s web site. I thought this blog would be fun since I once operated a home based quiltmaking business. I never realize a goal was to be paid for the blogging. Shai’s blog network,, was so popular that b5media ( ) asked Shai, along with her bloggers, to join forces with them.

Therefore, I began writing the quilting blog for b5media’s Arts and Crafts Channel ( ), and then started another blog about Alzheimer’s ( ) for the Science and Health Channel. Since I’ve been a caregiver for my mom and have written extensively on Alzheimer’s, this seemed a natural blog for me.

Soon I shall be writing a blog about home businesses ( ) for b5media’s Business Channel and co-authoring another about children’s books (title to be determined) with Melissa Atienza-Petri of Frankfurt, Germany for the Literature Channel.

There are many blog networks out there…they seem to be the trend of the future. Some tend toward special topics, such as Science, Technology, Crafts, Women’s Issues, and Politics. Others, such as b5media offer many channels or categories.

Blog Compared to a Column

For people who don’t know what a blog is, I compare it to writing a column for print or online publication, something I’ve done for years. Blogs usually are shorter and often link to other blogs and web sites as resources. You usually are requested to post a minimum number of blogs per week. I consider my blogs at b5media ways to help others with information, inspiration, and encouragement, as well as to earn income.

Whether you’re writing your own personal blog for fun and to promote your books or write for a blogging network/corporation to earn income, you’ll find blogging is the wave of the future and very enjoyable.
(c)2006 Mary Emma Allen

©2006 Mary Emma Allen

(In addition to blogging, Mary Emma writes books and a weekly newspaper column, along with speaking and teaching. E-mail: )

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Complete Writer's Journal

Another anthology, or something similar that I've participated in...The Complete Writer's Journal. This is a neat idea, a journal with quotes from writers, predominately marketing or promotion ideas for one's writing and books.

My quote concerned the bookmarks I make or have made for my books. These are fun to hand out in schools or wherever I'm giving workshops. I realized that readers often keep autographed bookmarks from authors when I found one from June Lund Shiplett I've had for a number of years.

Actually my husband brought it home for me. He was at a mall where June had a display. When he mentioned that his wife was an author, too, June signed the bookmark and gave it to me.

I think perhaps readers are more likely to keep a bookmark if it's autographed.

The Complete Writer's Journal was compiled and edited by Pat McGrath Avery, Joyce Faulkner and Carolyn Howard-Johnson and published by Red Engine Press.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Voice of a Soldier

It's exciting to hold in my hands the book containing two of my stories...Voice of a Soldier: Operation Liberty, compiled by Margaret Marr.

My stories are: A Legacy of Heroes...Past & Present about men in my family who served in the military from the Revolutionary War to the present and Praise for the Women Who Wait at Home about those "silent heroines" who support the men who are fighting for our freedom.

Margaret had the patience to stick with this book through some initial discouragements until it was published. As I read the stories by military heroes and family members, I'm thrilled to be a part of it.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Mom, Write Down Your Memories

"Mom, you spend time researching our family history and telling me stories about Grandma and Great Grandma. But you need to write down your memories for me and your grandchildren," my daughter reminded me.

So often we think other people's memories and stories are more interesting and important than our own. However, to our families, as Beth reminded me, ours are a part of our family heritage as well.

I began relating some of my childhood memories, as well as those of later years, so they would become part of my daughter's and my grandchildren's background.

Perhaps in the future, they will be as excited to learn about my life as I am about my great grandmother's letters telling of homesteading in the Midwest. Your journals, your stories, and your memorabilia are part of the heritage that binds your family together.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Author Visits - "Icing on the Cake"

Recently I visited several fourth grade classes in Iron Mountain, MI, discussed my life as a writer and read stories from my anthology for children, Tales of Adventure & Discovery. For me, sharing with youngsters and stimulating their creativity is the "icing on the cake."

To hear them giggle over a story when I read a humorous part or "ooh" and "ah" about an illustration lets me know I've reached them with my writing and drawing. When they begin to write stories inspired by my teaching, I realize my writing has become something more than an activity that brings only me enjoyment.

Tying Visits With School Curriculum

Sometimes I simply read stories to school children during my visits, while other times I use my stories as a springboard to conduct writing activities with the youngsters. In one school I worked for two days with fourth and fifth graders, tying my stories and their writing activities into what they were studying in social studies.

The fourth graders were learning about their state's history. The fifth graders were involved with the history of the American West. My story, Sarah Jane's Daring Deed, is set in pioneer days. Then I encouraged the fourth graders to develop a historical story about something that could have happened in their state.

A story-in-progress, Uncle Buffalo Bill, Santa Fe Trail Trader, helped them learn more about the early days of the Santa Fe Trail. This story is based on the experiences of William Mathewson, my great, great uncle. From it, the young writers realized they could write about a historical figure in western history or the adventures of an imaginary character.

Reading & Teaching Poetry

Since I also write poetry, I enjoy encouraging children in this area. My poem, "The Cookie Lady," and accompanying illustration in Tales of Adventure & Discovery seems to entertain youngsters.

I've developed a series of lessons to use with the young poets, either following the example of "The Cookie Lady," or other poetry ideas. It's fun to see youngsters get excited about creating poems.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

My Mother's Contributions to My Stories

If our parents and grandparents have told us stories about their childhoods, it’s interesting to weave those incidents into tales of our own. This may be simply retelling these stories for our family heritage and future generations. If we’re writers, these give us fodder for our story mill.

I’ve incorporated many of the incidents from my mom’s life into stories, cooking columns, and essays. For instance, she fell through the ice on the pond near their one-room school, sliding at recess. I used this incident and Mother’s rescue by her sister in my story, The Christmas Surprise. Although my mom and aunt aren't the characters in this story, the ice rescue scene incorporates some of the ideas from Mother's recollection.

In my middle reader novel, Papa Goes to War, the falling through the ice idea appears again. This time, the younger brother, Josh, walks onto thin ice, and his sister, Mandy, tries to save him. This varies somewhat from Mother’s experience. However, if I’d never heard her story, repeatedly, throughout my childhood, I wouldn’t have the idea or knowledge to write about this incident.

Even though we may not think your family life and your experiences enter into your writing, they do in subtle ways. Just your knowledge of situations and topics enable you to write the stories you do.

So look over your life and jot down ideas for stories and articles.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Idea for Sarah Jane's Daring Deed

One of my favorite stories resulted from research I was doing for a column on local history for a weekly newspaper. As I read about the lives of the early pioneers who settled the region where I lived, I wondered, “What was it like for youngsters to live here during that time?”

As I pondered upon this, the story of Sarah Jane evolved. She and her family settled in the 1760s or thereabouts far from their city home. Because I live in New Hampshire and my research was focused here, the story, in my mind, took place here.

The story was published in four church school magazines for youngsters. Possibly it appealed to editors all over the country because I didn’t name the town or state where Sarah Jane lived and encountered Little Fawn. Therefore it could have been set in many areas where blackberries grew. (In the opening scene Sarah Jane is picking them.)

When I was asked to compile an anthology of my children’s stories, Tales of Adventure & Discovery, I chose this one as the lead. It’s a story I’ve always enjoyed and children do when I visit schools and libraries. My daughter even made dolls of Sarah Jane and Little Fawn to accompany me to school.


(If you have questions or information to share, e-mail me:; type “children’s story blog” in the subject line. Learn more about the anthology, Tales of Adventure & Discovery by visiting my web site: )

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Joy of Writing for Children & Teens

Writing for children and teens was my goal even as a child. I loved to read and wanted to create stories like my favorite authors. Jo, in little women, fascinated me with her writing.

When I attended teacher’s college, the Children’s Literature class was my favorite. My professor read some of my stories and encouraged me to continue writing and learning. How excited I was to share with her, several years later, the news that my first children’s story had been published in a magazine.

Writing and sharing with children has become one of the pleasures in my life. Teaching writing workshops and encouraging youngsters increases this enjoyment.

(If you have questions, e-mail me: Type "children's writing blog" in the subject line.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Joy of Alzheimer's in Second Printing

It’s exciting to find your work included in a popular anthology, especially when it’s a book that’s helping others. I have several essays concerning my mother’s journey through Alzheimer’s in Finding the Joy in Alzheimer’s, Caregivers Share the Joyful Times, by Brenda Avadian.

Imagine my pleasure in learning from Brenda that the book is going into its second printing.

Brenda and I have cared for parents who’ve experienced this illness. Even though it’s a demanding experience, emotionally and physically, you can find rewards in knowing you’re making this loved one’s Alzheimer’s years as pleasant as possible.

My daughter and grandchildren learned from my mom, too. Even when she didn’t know us, we could enjoy activities with this lady in our lives.

Many caregivers have contributed to Finding the Joy in Alzheimer’s. Hopefully this book will aid you if you’re a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s.

Brenda also has published Finding the Joy in Alzheimer’s, Book II.