Friday, December 28, 2007

Achieve Your Dreams - Judi Moreo's Virtual Book Tour '08

Repeat this passage: "Every step I take brings me closer to the realization of my dreams” until you understand its powerful message. (from Judi Moreo's You Are More Than Enough Achievement Journal)

Writing this Achieve Your Dreams post for Judi Moreo's Virtual Book Tour '08 seems to fall right in line with previous posts on my blogs the past week or so:

* Writing & Blogging Goals for 2008, here on Potpourri of Writing for The Blog Writing Project: 78 Blogging Goals for 2008, at Daily Blog Tips.

*Goals for my children's writing, Specific Children's Book Writing Goals for 2008, published on Tales of a Children's Author.

* I've also posted something on my Home Biz Notes blog,suggesting you Enjoy the Journey as you pursue your dreams.

So what are my dreams for the coming year?

*I still want my castle where I can write in the tower and have secret rooms to discover with the grandchildren.
*I want to do more speaking to Alzheimer's caregivers.
*Teaching workshops and sharing my stories with children comes in there, too.

How do we go about achieving our dreams?

*Doing instead of simply dreaming
*Believing (Repeating: "Every step I take brings me closer to the realization of my dreams.")
*Setting a plan of action
*Get input whenever we feel we're going off track.

Then: GO FOR IT!

Judi's Tour Page:

(c)2007 Mary Emma Allen

Thursday, December 27, 2007


As Holly Fretwell makes her virtual tour around the blogosphere this month for her book, The Sky's NOT Falling, Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming, she's stopping at Potpourri of Writing.

Holly concern about global warming and the environment puts her in league with other writers and speakers in today's world. However, Holly has a "different" view from many who are getting their names in the news and making a "big splash" in the sea of world media. She uses a common sense, well researched approach in her book for youngsters (but of interest to adults, too), The Sky's NOT Falling.

Yes, there are environmental situations to be concerned about, but Holly encourages optimism about the future of our planet and the solutions we can find with human innovation and creativity, along with individual choice, not political agendas. She shows kids 8-12 (and adults, too) that "It's human ingenuity and adaptability...not mindless fear of change...that is most likely to guanantee the Earth a healthy future."

Holly doesn't just spout her facts and reasons without valid background. She's a professor of natural resources policy at Montana State University and mother of two, who has a well researched view about global warming and the hype...a view with which other scientists now are beginning to concur.

For additional information about Holly's book and the topic of global warming, Controversy Sells for Holly Fretwell, Author of The Sky's NOT Falling at Book Marketing Buzz.

For a review of Holly's book, read: Book Review- A Different View on Global Warming.

(Published by World Ahead Media, Los Angeles, CA.; ISBN #9780976726944. The book includes fun facts and reading for ages 8 and above.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


I teach a variety of writing workshops and author presentations for youngsters and adults.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: I adapt my programs to the age group and requests of the teachers. These range from reading and discussing my stories, illustrating stories, conducting writing workshops, and helping teachers develop lessons.

I also share the research and writing process of my works in progress:

Papa Goes To War, inspired by my ancestors during the Civil War

Uncle "Buffalo Bill" Mathewson - a picture book about my great great Uncle William Mathewson who operated trading posts on the Santa Fe Trail

Danger In The Mountains - a mystery set in the West

Sarah Jane's Daring Deed, a picture book about a pioneer girl.

(These often tie in with Social Studies classes)

Journalism and/or Writing on the Internet draw upon my experience as a professional journalist/newspaper columnist and blogger for a network

Poetry workshops also are popular.

AUDIENCE LEVELS - Pre-K, Elementary, Middle School. High School and Adult Education

TRAVEL - Yes - anywhere in the United States, with client paying travel costs and accommodations, unless I'm in that area for other business.


Tales of Adventure & Discovery, a children's anthology which I also illustrated (An accompanying coloring book is also available.)

The Magic of Patchwork, a book about quiltmaking and its history with projects for young people and beginners

When We Become the Parent to Our Parents, the story of my mother's journey through Alzheimer'

More than 200 stories in children's magazines

Writing in Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont, a resource book for writers (out of print)

FEES: $100/1 HR; $200/1/2 day; $300/day, plus mileage beyond 50 miles from Plymouth, NH and accommodations if an overnight stay is involved.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Specific Writing Goals for 2008

Maybe if I write them down in my blog, I'll be more accountable.

I have one friend who is always asking me, "Have you finished your Uncle Buffalo Bill book yet? What about the children's picture book?"

I continually tell her, with a sheepish grin, "I'm working on them."


1. Finish the book about my Uncle Buffalo Bill Mathewson, the original Buffalo Bill in the West.

2. Finish my Sarah Jane's Daring Deed picture book.

3. Finish the rough draft to Papa Goes to War, a Civil War era middle reader book based on my ancestors.

4. Develop the activities for these books and place them on my web sites.

5. Draft some of my other writing projects, but concentrate on them minimally until I have the above finished.

Writing & Blogging Goals for 2008

As we approach 2008, many of us will think about goals, but how many will seriously write them down and then follow through with a strategy to make them work.

The Group Writing Project: 2008 Blogging Goals at Daily Blog Tips has me energized.

1. Develop this blog (Mary Emma's Potpourri of Writing) into a popular one with at least 40,000 readers per month.

2. Host at least one author on tour here per month.

3. Post at least 6 times per week. (It's been hit and miss for the most part.)

4. Develop here and on my other writing blogs strategies for letting people know about my writing workshops, online classes, and talks for groups.

5. Find a way to earn a monthly income from this blog. (So far that hasn't been part of my strategy as I've written here at Potpourri for fun, but not for profit.)

6. Teach 6 classes on blog writing this year, starting with writers' conferences and publicists' workshops.

7. Reach an average of 10 comments per post.

8. Join and become active on one online community

9. Learn about RSS

10. Become knowledgeable about the "techie" stuff that creates ratings. (Can you believe I've been blogging but don't know much about these?!)

(My blogs at b5media you may find of interest: Quilting and Patchwork, Home Biz Notes, and Alzheimer's Notes.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


With all the scary information out there about global warming, it's refreshing to read a book by a natural resources policy expert that presents a different view, one complete with common sense and factual information.

The Sky's NOT Falling (Why It's OK to Chill About Global Warming) is an alternative for young people and adults to the fear-inducing books published today. Author Holly Fretwell, a mother of two and professor of natural resources policy, provides a balanced look at environmental issues and global warming scare tactics. She presents these in an easy to read and understand format for ages 8 and above.

Yes, there are environmental situations to be concerned about, but Ms. Fretwell encourages optimism about the future of our planet and the solutions we can find with human innovation and creativity, along with individual choice, not political agendas.

Ms. Fretwell debunks some of the "facts" running rampant about the environment and global warming in today's world. For instance, you've probably seen the picture of the polar bear and cub, supposedly adrift on a piece of ice because of global warming. Actually the picture was taken as a general interest one a scientific expedition. The photographer called attention to it as a polar bear and her cub on an ice sculpture. Nothing was noted about global warming nor the bears being stranded. Yet the photo was taken out of context and used for propaganda purposes.

You'll certainly want to take a look at the facts in this book about global warming and see what's really going on in a world beset by global warming scare. Check out the truth before deciding "the sky is falling."

(Published by World Ahead Media, Los Angeles, CA.; ISBN #9780976726944. The book includes fun facts and reading for ages 8 and above.)

Saturday, December 08, 2007


When you're writing, do you hope your stories will make a difference?

*Brighten someone's day
*Give them encouragement
*Let them know someone else has faced a particular challenge
*Make them laugh
*Entertained them
*Made them think about themselves and their lives
*Made them reminisce
*Help solve a problem
*Help change the world

Why do you write? These are some things to consider.

I hope my writing will make a difference, for the better in someone's life...somewhere.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Bedtime stories have been a tradition for at least three generations in my family. I recall my mom reading to my sister, brothers and me...Heidi, Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses poetry, and Robinson Crusoe come to mind.

My husband and I took turns reading to our daughter. He often didn't at bedtime, but while I was preparing supper. "Daddy, you skipped that part!" I'd hear her exclaim when Jim tried to get through a book more quickly.

My daughter and son-in-law, both avid readers, started reading to their children while they were infants. Reading and children go hand in hand in our household...we all still bury ourselves in a book whenever we can in spite of today's electronic world.

Stories in the Kitchen

Although most of the bedtime story reading of my youth occurred in the evening in one of our bedrooms (there were four of us children) as we sprawled on the bed. However, on cold winter evenings, Mother gathered us in front of the wood burning cookstove in the kitchen (a favorite family congregating place) and read stories. While she read, we might munch on cookies and milk or cocoa.

Reading evolves into cooking, as children learn to ponder over recipes and mix up family meals. I recall making my first cake before I fully learned to read. Mother was ill and I decided, with the help of my younger siblings, I would make a cake for supper, along with fried potatoes and eggs.

At six years old, I couldn't decipher everything in the recipe book, so decided to dispense with it and put together the ingredients I'd seen Mother use. I recall my sister and brothers around me as we stirred the batter together, then poured it into layer cake pans.

Since the wood stove oven was the only one we had, it was only natural to bake the cake there. We must have stoked the stove and read the gauge on the front of the oven door adequately. At any rate, the cake turned out fine....except it was fairly flat.

Mother, when she saw it at supper, praised our efforts, as did Father and the hired man. It was only in later years that Mother told me she concluded I'd left out the baking powder.

(c)2007 Mary Emma Allen

(I enjoy researching and writing about holiday and family memories along with teaching workshops in Family History Writing. I conduct these online as well as in person at workshops.)

Sunday, November 04, 2007


Often we snack while reading, but we also can whet our appetites with mention of the foods we find in books we're devouring. Sometimes there are complete recipes. In other cases, we'll find brief a description of a regional food that entices us to search for the recipe. Also, some of these food references may bring memories and recipes to mind.

For instance, I'm reading a mystery book set in eastern Maine. During the course of a discussion in the heroine's kitchen, her friend begins peeling apples and proceeds to make an apple cake which she serves with vanilla ice cream.

As I read, I began to get hungry for Nobby Apple Cake. a recipe I often make in autumn. The author casually mentioned other regional recipes during the course of the book.

Some books, like the mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson, naturally include food, as well as the actual recipes. Since Ms. Davidson's books became popular, you find more of this type.

Foods in Children's Books

Children's books also contain recipes that give the flavor of the area or era. While substitute teaching the other day, I read a chapter from "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" by Elizabeth George Speare.

Kit found living with her cousins in Puritan Connecticut very different from life in Barbados. Learning to cook was just one of her many challenges. When making Corn Pudding for the family's breakfast, she became impatient. Instead of slowly spooning the cornmeal into the boiling water, Kit finally dumped in the whole cup. A gelatinous mess resulted which the family silently ate.

I mentioned to the students that Corn Pudding or Cornmeal Mush was a standby when I was growing up. Sometimes we had it for breakfast, alternating between oatmeal and cream of wheat. Mother also prepared this dish for Sunday supper instead of serving a full meal after the large dinner.

I liked it when Mother had some lumps in the mush. She was frustrated because it wasn't completely smooth. However, she didn't have the mess that Kit did!

Foods Add Authenticity

Referring to foods the characters are eating, adds authenticity to the story background. This doesn't have to be a detailed description, just mention of grabbing an oatmeal cookie filled with raisins, stirring up someone's favorite chocolate cake, making apple pancakes for breakfast. You'll often receive a sense of region and season this way, too.

Because of my culinary interests (I write a weekly cooking column for newspapers), I sometimes jot down the food and recipes mentioned in books, so keep a note pad beside me.

On the blog for my story, "Sarah Jane's Daring Deed," ( ), I plan to add actual recipes my readers can try. Because this is a pioneer story, I can see a recipe for Cornmeal Mush.

APPLE FRITTERS - a recipe from my childhood. This also might be a Sarah Jane recipe (although I didn't grow up in Sarah Jane's era!).

Beat 2 eggs. Mix and sift 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar. Add 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup cream, 1 cup peeled, chopped apples and eggs to the dry ingredients; stir. Drop onto hot greased griddle and cook as you would pancakes.

(c)2007 Mary Emma Allen

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Nicola Beaumont is showcased today at Potpourri of Writing. Her latest book, The Resurrection of Lady Somerset, gives you mystery and romance in a English regency era setting. The author, with an English mother and American father, has spent much of her life in Britain, but currently lives in the United States.

During October, Nicola has been touring the blogosphere on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours. At the book tour blog, you'll find a synopsis and sample chapter of The Resurrection of Lady Somerset, that lady with a mysterious past. This novel has been receiving rave reviews.

To learn more about Nicola and her many talents, visit her web site, iNicola. She shares with you how she had two releases on the same day in September and a short story in July. Nicola also has a CD out, Prayer of the Heart.

Also keep up to date with Nicola's world at her blog.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Shobhan Bantwal, author of The Dowry Bride, takes a virtual tour of the blogosphere this month and stops by Potpourri of Writing. She was born and raised in India and came to the United States as a young bride, the result of an arranged marriage. Her mainstream women's fiction book, The Dowry Bride, was published by Kensington last month.

To read a synopsis and excerpt of The Dowry Bride, visit Pump Up Your Bok Promotioon Virtual Book Tours. Learn about Megha, as she realizes that her dowry isn't enough and her life is in danger.

Read more about Shobhan, her life and her writing at her web site.

I found Shobhan's photo gallery of interest, particularly those about a traditional Indian wedding.

Shobhan also relates how she came to write The Dowry Bride about the subject of dowry deaths. Through this book we learn about a culture of another country, yet are entertained at the same time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Steven M. Reilly tours the blogosphere this month with his book, The Fat Lady Never Sings: How a High School Football Team Found Redemption on the Baseball Diamond and is featured at Potpourri of Writing today.

Intriguing title isn't it? And Steve has written an intriguing story about this high school football team. Read a synopsis and excerpt at Pump Up Your Book Promotion. He's a baseball coach and practicing attorney who actually coached the team in this book.

Described as a sports memoir, The Fat Lady Never Sings relates the true story about the 1992 Red Raider baseball team of Derby, Connecticut. Steve was assistant coach at the time.

For more information, visit Steve's web site . Also take the poll and express your opinion regarding who should play Ben Bartone in the movie version of the book.

(A great book for the young sports enthusiasts in your life... and for adults as well.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Carol O'Dell, author of Mothering Mother, visited my b5media blog, Alzheimer's Notes, recently to discuss her book and share why she decided to write it. This is a humorous and heartbreaking memoir about Carol's caring for her mother. Carol faced situations that many of us have in caring for a family member afflicted with Alzheimer's.

If you'd like to read an excerpt, visit Carol's web site.

You'll find my interview of Carol at Alzheimer's Notes, where she stopped during her virtual blog tour.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Author Diane Wolfe tours the web during the month of October, promoting another of her Circle of Friends books. This one is Mike: The Circle of Friends, Book IV.

To read a chapter, visit First Chapters.

You'll find a synopsis and excerpt at Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

Diane writes for young adults and her Circle of Friends series which "focuses on pursuit of dreams and the overcoming of obstacles." Her books are meant to inspire as well as entertain as this Circle of Friends face obstacles and learn how to overcome the challenges of life.

Also visit Diane's web site and learn about her circle of young friends and fans, her tour schedule (she tours in person as well as around the blogosphere), a podcast, and her books.

At Diane's Circle of Friends blog, you'll receive daily updates.

Check out Diane, her life and her books...get set to be inspired!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Scott Zema's Blog Tour Stops at Potpourri of Writing

Scott Zema, author of Three Steps to Investment Success, Buying the Right Art, Antiques, and Collectibles, stops at Potpourri of Writing during his September blog tour. He has written a book to help you learn "how to guarantee a profit on your acquisitions."

Scott is an appraiser who can give you tips to investment success. You'll find a synopsis and chapter excerpt of his book, at Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Tours: THREE STEPS TO INVESTMENT SUCCESS.

If you want to learn more about purchasing art, antiques and collectibles that will be a good investment, check out Scott's book.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Today Nikki Leigh visits Potpourri of Writing to discuss her latest book, Lady Lightkeeper. She gives us many ideas on how she gets her ideas and writes her book. I found this almost like a mini workshop.

MEA: One of the questions I'm frequently asked as an author, "Where did you get the idea for your book?" This always interests me, too. So I'll ask you, "How did the idea for Lady Lightkeeper come about?"

NIKKI: Lady Lightkeeper is the second book in the historic Misty Cove Chronicles. It’s the continuation of Lizbeth Sullivan Kinsey’s story. But, each book can be read individually. The first book, Widow’s Walk, started with a story idea I got from a picture that hangs in my living room. That picture gave me the idea of starting the story on the widow’s walk and it gave me a rough idea for a time period. Originally, this was going to be one book, but the story grew and grew as I was brainstorming ideas.

The main brainstorming happened on a trip from Virginia to Florida for my brother’s wedding. We actually were brainstorming so well, that I missed a turn and we went about 40 miles too far before getting back on track. Then two of us brainstormed by the hotel pool one evening. There was just so much more of Lizbeth’s story that I wanted to tell – and it’s not over.

MEA: Some writers plan their books with a rigid outline. Others say the characters sort of take over and "write" the book. Which applies to your writing? Or do you have another style?

NIKKI: I start with an outline – this is especially useful with a series where I want to tie things and people together. This also helps me to plan twists and turns in the story. However, I have no problem letting the characters take over and tell their parts of the story. I feel you can use an outline and still be flexible when new ideas hit.

I wrote the first book without an outline and it took a long time. However, the outlined books were put on paper much quicker and flowed so much better. I also do a lot of character creation to have a clear picture of them, their background and where they came from before I start to write. I really think this gives the characters and the story more dimension.

MEA: Do you have a favorite character? How did he/she evolve?

NIKKI: I really like Lizbeth. She’s been through a lot in these stories and I think her growth as a person, a mother and a wife is shown in the books. She started out as an independent young woman (not the most popular behavior in a fishing village in the 1840’s). But, she grows in a variety of ways through the stories. I throw a lot of problems at her, but she manages to get through everything.

MEA: Did you ever get bogged down with Lady Lightkeeper or your other writing and find it difficult to keep it going? If so, how did you resolve it?

NIKKI: I plan thoroughly enough that this isn’t a common problem. I’ve had to cut some of the things I planned to include when other ideas took their place. Usually, I have far more ideas than I can include, but I’ve learned to par them down to make the ideas useable. I planned to end Lady Lightkeeper at a much different place, but the end I used seems to make sense to me. But, I did include an epilogue to create some additional interest in the next book.

MEA: What would you like readers to take away from Lady Lightkeeper?

NIKKI: I think the resilient power of friendship is an underlying story in Lady Lightkeeper. I would love to have a friend like Sara and I’m not sure Lizbeth would’ve gotten through all the trials without Sara by her side. One reviewer even mentioned that the book is like reading a diary that was written by two women. The other thing I want people to get is the idea of a second chance for love.

MEA: Lady Lightkeeper is part of a series. Did these books start out as a series or simply evolve as you were writing the first book or finished it?

NIKKI: The story started out as one book, but the idea grew and grew and will now be at least 3 books and 1 short story. I’m introducing a couple of interesting new characters in the third book and they may need a book of their own in the future. Although I prefer the story from the beginning to the end, readers can read the books individually. Each book stands on its own.

MEA: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us about Lady Lightkeeper or your writing?

NIKKI: Other comments from reviewers that I really like are about the lighthouse and lifesaving details in the books. I hope people will enjoy the story, but they will also learn about the Lighthouse Service and the Lifesaving Service. There is a shipwreck and a rescue in Lady Lightkeeper and the equipment is authentic and the rescue is as I picture it after learning about the situation and the things the characters had available to help the stranded sailors. It took me a while to get this chapter right, but I felt it was important to help people understand what was involved in a rescue in the 1850’s.

A final note, I love to hear from readers. Feel free to contact me with questions or comments.

Web site:



Other books you'd like to mention:

Books released as Nikki Leigh
Stormy View – limited copies available from me
Widow’s Walk – Misty Cove Chronicles Book One
Lady Lightkeeper – Misty Cove Chronicles Book Two
Lilah and the Locket – Cape Hatteras Series – 1954
Book Promo 101 – Basics of Book Promotion (October 2007)
Journeys of a Lifetime – Readers Station Anthology (October 2007)
Book Promo 101 – Writer’s Resource Ebook (October 2007)
Stormy Shores – Contemporary Misty Cove Novel (November 2007)

Books Released as Shri Henkel365
Foolish Mistakes Smart Managers Make Every Day
ow to
Open a Financially Successful Pizza & Sub Restaurant
Successful Meetings: How to Plan, Prepare and Execute Top-Notch Business Meetings
Non Commercial Food Service Manager’s Handbook

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Welcome to Potpourri of Writing, Dwayne. We're pleased to have you as a guest today as you stop by on your virtual blog tour.

Dwayne Gerald Anderson is a Canadian author. His most recent book, Partially Human, is a young adult science fiction story about a teenager who discovers he's not totally human. This is the third book Dwayne's had published...a great accomplishment for a young man of 24.

Dwayne also was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome when he was 16. However, he's an inspiration for others, like my grandson, who have this condition. From Dwayne they can learn they have the capability for great accomplishments.

To read a synopsis and excerpt from Partially Human, visit Pump Up Your Book Promotion.

MEA: Frequently readers ask me how I get the ideas for my stories. It seems to be a rather universal question. So I'll ask you to tell us how you came up with the idea for Partially Human.

DWAYNE: The book was based on my own personal experiences with being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at age 16. Like me, the protagonist is discriminated against and mocked by many because of his "difference", though he ultimately is able to overcome it, move on with his life, and make an impact on society.

MEA: Often authors say the characters seem to take over and determine the direction of the story. Others keep to a strict outline and don't let the characters vary from that. What happens between you and your characters?

DWAYNE: I would say it's a bit of both. The actions of the characters do move the story along as well as following the outline I've written for the book.

MEA: Do you "get stuck" when writing your books or do you find they flow right along?

DWAYNE: Often, I think hard of ways the characters solve their problems, the dialogue they speak, or what happens in the story.

MEA: Do you put some of your own experiences in your books?

DWAYNE: My experiences with life have been the inspiration for my books. My experience with Asperger Syndrome inspired Partially Human.

MEA: What do you hope your readers learn, or take away with them, when they read Partially Human?

DWAYNE: I hope to teach others that people need to be accepted for who they are and not rejected for being different.

MEA: Do you have anything else you'd like to share with us about you, your life and your writing?

DWAYNE: I have more works planned, such as a sequel to my first two books, a medieval fantasy, two romances, and another general fiction.

Thank you, Dwayne, for visiting Potpourri of Writing today. I hope your tour will be very successful and great fun. You're an amazing young writer we need to keep our eyes on. There is much others can learn from you and your perseverence, as you share through this interview and your books.

To learn more about Dwayne and his writing world, visit his blog and web site.

Dwayne's blog:
Dwayne's web site:

Sunday, September 09, 2007

My Virtual Blog Tour Tips Guest Post on Grow Your Writing Business

Yvonne Russell, of Grow Your Writing Business, asked me to write a guest post about virtual blog tour tips for the touring authors. It appears as Virtual Blog Tours - The Latest Innovation for Promoting Your Writing.

Apparently I hit upon some key points for authors and writers to consider when they're touring the blogosphere, for Scot Herrick, of Ten Keyboards, who also writes about virtual blog tours, mentioned my guest post at Great Tips for Virtual Book Tours. He says, "This is a great article [mine at Grow Your Writing Business] for how technology can help a writer market their work."

Next I'll research how authors and others who are making these tours can publicize them. You can do all the touring you want, but if no one knows about it or doesn't visit those blogs where you're interviewed, it doesn't do much good.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Brenda Marks' Online Reception and Drawing

What an intersting twist on the virtual blog tour. Those I've been hosting have been authors who go on month long tours.

However, I came across Brenda Marks' idea for an online reception and drawing to coincide with her show opening. Those who couldn't attend could leave a comment on her blog and have their name tossed into the hat for a drawing for one of her prints.

So, no matter what type of art you're involved in, you can enjoy virtual tours, virtual visits, virtual grand openings. Authors also can use this idea with a drawing for a copy of one of their books.

(Incidentally, I learned about Brenda's online reception and drawing at Alyson Stanfield's Art Biz Blog. )

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Do You Want to Start a Writing Related Business?

Are you thinking of starting a business related to to your writing, but don't know where to begin? Did you start one recently, but find you could use advice?

Perhaps you want to expand your writing into speaking and teaching workshops, either in the writing field or a niche relating to your book topic. For instance, I've written about my mom's journey through Alzheimer's and my caregiving experiences. After When We Become the Parent to Our Parents was published, I began giving talks to caregiver groups, at nursing homes, in libraries, to senior citizen groups. Then I was asked to teach workshops whereby others could write about similar experiences. You can expand into these directions, too.

Perhaps you want to develop a publishing business? Or you want to teach cooking classes to further expand upon your recipe book. There are so many directions you can go with writing as a springboard.

So.....check out the Jump Start Your Business Contest at the b5media Business Channel and Home Biz Notes.

You'll find more details here......

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Judi Moreo, a leading authority in areas of communication and motivation, visits us today at Potpourri of Writing to talk about her new book, You Are More Than Enough: Every Woman's Guide to Purpose, Passion, and Power. (See a synopsis and sample chapter )

An international business leader and entrepreneur, Judi has assisted corporations and taught workshops around the world. Teaching people to have confidence in themselves and succeed has been one of Judi's aims.

MEA: It's great to have you here today, Judi, to share with visitors at Potpourri some of your views and your reasons for writing your book.

JUDI: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

MEA: I've found one of the first questions readers ask me is, "Why did you write this book? How did you come up with the idea?" So I'll do the same with you and ask why you decided to write this book.

JUDI: When I traveled around the world speaking to audiences of 50 to 3000 people, approximately 75% of the audience answered “Yes” to the questions, “Did you think you would be more successful by now?” and “Do you want something, but don’t know what it is?”

This book helps people decide what they want to achieve in order to accomplish that “something more” they know is their destiny. It will help you determine what you can change in order to live a more fulfilling life...a life of purpose, passion, and power.

I have shared tools and techniques with the readers ....things I used which immensely helped in my journey to becoming the person I knew I could be. It was my goal in writing this book and sharing my personal stories to make my readers lives a bit easier, more successful, and a great deal more satisfying. If it changes even one life for the better, it will have been worth the writing.

MEA: Your title calls this book Every Woman's Guide. So is the book solely for women, mainly for women, or can be used by men or women?

JUDI: There is only one chapter that would not apply to men as well. That’s the chapter on Wardrobe. It’s amazing to me how many men are buying and reading the book. In fact, we are in the process of doing the audio book now and the audio producer said to me the other day, “This is really good stuff. I wish I had known all this 20 years ago. I’d be much more successful now.” That surprised me because I didn’t realize that he listened to the words as much as paying attention to the mechanics of the recording.

MEA: I know there isn't a single answer for gaining confidence or achieving success. However, is there a key factor that will help women, something they can keep in mind when they face challenges? (And which they can learn more about in your book.)

JUDI: The title of the book is what I want them to keep in mind. You Are More Than Enough just as you are. You have what it takes inside of you to do what you want to do, go where you want to go, be who you want to be. Step out of your comfort zone. Step into the fear and go for it. You will never know what you can do, be or have, unless you try.

MEA: What have you had to overcome or learn to enable you to teach women the strategies for success?

JUDI: Fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of ridicule and rejection. Fear of failure. I moved to South Africa by myself, knowing no one really. I had met a few people, but I didn’t know them and I made myself step into the fear and survive. It gives one confidence to do something like that.

MEA: What do you hope readers will take away when they read You Are More Than Enough?

JUDI: I hope readers will gain the confidence to turn their ideas, dreams, and hopes into action.

MEA: Is there anything else you'd like to share with Potpourri readers?

JUDI: Yes. Just this. If I can do it…certainly you can too!

MEA: Thank you, Judi, for visiting and sharing information about You Are More Than Enough and your life.

JUDI: Thank you. It has been my pleasure.

Judi's web site for more information about her and her books:

Friday, August 10, 2007


Allison Bottke is stopping at Potpourri of Writing on her international blog tour. Today, she will share information about her latest book, One Little Secret, as well as give you encouragement in your own writing. I first met Allison when she published one of my essays, Uncle Al's Flag, in the American Moments edition of her God Allows U-Turns series.

Now Allison has turned to fiction. One Little Secret is her second novel. (You can read an overview here: )

MEA: You describe your latest novel, One Little Secret, and your previous one, A Stitch in Time, as "Boomer-Lit." Would you explain to Potpourri visitors what you mean by this term and how your novels fit into it?

ALLISON: Typical “chick-lit” is written for a 20-30 year old target market. The protagonist is usually single, and struggling with her faith, career, family, love-life and things young women often struggle with. In my books, I wanted to approach the issues that baby boomers are dealing with, (women born between 1946-1964) things like the empty nest syndrome, aging parents, a change in career, retirement, menopause, and other health issues. I wanted to look at women in the prime of their life who were suddenly stepping out in faith to achieve the dreams of their heart. Women who weren’t afraid to take risks—who had the chutzpah to dare to dream big. That’s how “Boomer-Lit” was born.

MEA: One of the questions I'm frequently asked as an author, "Where did you get the idea for your book?" This always interests me, too. So I'll ask you, "How did the idea for One Little Secret come about?"

ALLISON: The idea actually germinated from a television interview I saw with Meryl Streep well over a dozen years ago. I think maybe it was with Larry King. She said she would love to work on a film where she got to sing. I’ve heard her sing and she has a fabulous voice (Alas, Prairie Home Companion didn’t do her justice.) I’ve always wanted to work in films and from that interview I began to write a script for her…figured I’d create a role she couldn’t refuse. Nothing like starting at the top of the Hollywood food chain, eh? I mean, seriously, Meryl Streep? But the more I though about it, the more the ideas came. I called the screenplay, Just a Housewife, because as the lead character, she would be anything but.

When Bethany House asked me for another novel after A Stitch in Time, I remembered this screenplay gathering dust on my shelf and pitched them the idea. And voila! Just a Housewife became One Little Secret. As an FYI to your readers, because I still dream of Meryl Streep playing the lead of Ursula Rhoades, I’ve developed a Hollywood Casting Call Contest on my web site where folks can vote for their favorite actors and actresses to play Ursula and Nik and some of the other cast of characters from One Little Secret. It’s a whimsical contest but if the book is actually ever adapted to a screenplay, I’m going to award the person who best guesses the actual movie cast with an all expense paid trip to Hollywood. They can check out the contest here:

MEA: What an exciting idea, Allison. Do you have a background in the music scene or did you have to do quite a bit of research so this is authentic?

ALLISON: Nope-no background in music, alas…other than I love to listen to it. I’ve always been a big fan of the classic American standard love songs that singing icons such as Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Harry Bellafonte made famous. I conducted a lot of research online. As writers living in this century, we have an amazing gift…THE INTERNET. You can find just about anything you need online. For instance, I needed to know a great deal about the annual GRAMMY AWARDS, including what categories Nik and Cristoff would have been entered in, and who was nominated in previous years and such. I found everything I needed, including song lyrics, online.

MEA: (Since most Potpourri readers are writers, I find they like to know how an author researches and writes.) Some writers plan their books using a rigid outline. Others say the characters sort of take over and "write" the book. Which applies to your writing? Or do you have another style?

ALLISON: One Little Secret was only my second novel, therefore I’m still learning what works best for me. I’m trying new things on the third novel I’m working on right now. I don’t use a “rigid” outline, but I do have a beginning, middle and end…a three act structure. Because I think in visual pictures, like a screenwriter, I tend to write the same way. I learned about a word count break down early in my writing, the 25-50-25% rule …. If your novel needs to be 100,000 words, then 25,000 words go in part one, 50,000 words go in part two, and 25,000 word go in part three.

I used to think authors were a bit wacky when they’d say things like, “the character took over and I hadn’t planned for her to do what she ended up doing…” but you know what? It’s true! As you write a book, the characters do take on a life of their own and they can frequently dictate how things will go. Sure, we have the power to give them life on the page, but in giving them life, there are often times when a plan you have in your mind (or on your outline) will simply NOT work because of the way a character has grown or changed. It’s a funny world we live in…this “author life.”

MEA: You changed POV’s entirely with One Little Secret …your debut novel, A Stitch in Time was first person and One Little Secret is written in third person. Why did you change and which style do you prefer?

ALLISON: Like a ga-zillion other women, I first fell in love with the genre of “chick-lit” reading the 1996 release of Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding. The intimate first-person POV allowed us to experience Bridget’s angst-filled journey right along with her. I was too green to know that first person POV is one of the most difficult to pull off. With One Little Secret, I wanted to see if I could get inside the head of a male character—as well as have more freedom of description and story telling that third person allows. I had a blast with this style. I’d have to say that while I enjoy reading first person, I enjoy writing third person more. All three books in the Va Va Va Boom series will be in third person.

MEA: What is the Va Va Va Boom series?

ALLISON: I’ve just been contracted by David C. Cook Publishers to write three new Boomer-Lit books in a series I’ve called the Va Va Boom series. All three books will introduce entrepreneurial boomer babes who own their own businesses. Additionally, each woman has a deep dark secret and a deep dream desire. The first book in the series will release in 2009.

MEA: Did you ever get bogged down with One Little Secret or your other writing and find it difficult to keep it going? If so, how did you resolve it?

ALLISON: Are you kidding? Did I ever! As passionate as I am about writing and as much as I love it, life has a way of interrupting the chunks of time I need to stay focused. I have dyslexia and A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder) and it’s mighty tough for me to stay on track. It takes a concerted effort and the need to follow a great many systems for me to stay on target. Resolving the challenges I have is a never-ending growth process. I try something new if what I’m doing doesn’t work. I keep revising systems and trying new formats to achieve deadlines. Writing is a very personal thing, and we must do what works best for us. Sure, it’s good to pick the brains of others who are making it work in this industry, but when all is said and done we must figure out what works best for us.

MEA: I think that's very encouraging advice for writers, Allison...learn from others but find their own way and what works for them. And what would you like readers to take away from reading One Little Secret?

ALLISON: I write Christian inspirational fiction—and yet I don’t specifically write only for Christians. Yes, I am a Christian, but I have friends who are not. I frequently meet people who do not share my belief or my politics or my serious addiction to stiletto heels, but that doesn’t mean we can’t communicate. I think too many Christians live in a Christian bubble—how can we shed light on the dark places in the world if we don’t mingle with people who live in the world? I first wanted to write a fun fairy-tale…a dream-come-true adventure about a boomer babe who happened to be a Christian—but many of the people in her drama-rama were not. Yet she saw this as an opportunity to share her faith—not make judgment calls. I guess that would be the take-away, that sometimes God calls us to spend time at work or at school or at play to be around folks who don’t share our faith—and it’s times like that we can shine or sink.

MEA: Writing and publishing is a crazy industry. What advice would you offer unpublished authors to give them hope?

ALLISON: I know it sounds so incredibly droll and simple, but never give up and don’t take “no” for an answer! I kept at it and kept at it and kept at it. Recrafting my proposals and rewriting my first book. I got my start in non-fiction, but always in the back of my mind was the dream of one day writing fiction. However, more important would be to not compare yourself to another writer. There is always going to be someone better, someone smarter, someone more literary, someone more photogenic on the back of their book, and yada, yada, yada. But there is only ever going to be one you!

Some of your readers may know this about me, but for those who don’t, the fact I’ve been published at all boggles my mind. I’m a high school drop out with a ninth grade education and a GED. I quit school after the 9th grade to run away from home and get married. I was going to live happily ever after in my fairy tale dream. But that’s NOT what happened.

That said, writing is not about formal education, or who you know, or how long you’ve been at it. It’s about perseverance and risk and belief in yourself—and knowing that inevitably, God will make a way where there seems to be no way.

MEA: What great advice and encouragement! Is there anything else you'd like to share with us about One Little Secret or about writing in general?

ALLISON: I encourage your readers to tell me what they think about One Little Secret. I really do want to hear reader feedback. I’m working on my next novel to release in summer of 2009 and I take to heart reader comments. They can reach me here: and please, I’d love to invite everyone to participate in the Hollywood Casting Call Contest where a lucky winner can win an all expense paid trip to Hollywood! Visit my web site and select the actors and actresses you think would make the best lead characters in One Little Secret! Check it out here:

And …we have a monthly newsletter that we call a “Dream-Zine.” I’d love to invite your readers to subscribe:

And one final thing, we have a co-authored blog with six best selling authors blogging each and every day – BOOMER BABES WITH BRILLIANT DREAMS:

As for what I’d like to share about writing, if your readers are serious about writing – if they are serious about taking their writing careers to the next level, then I would invite them to log on to my web site and download the MP3 files and handouts for the Teleseminar I conducted with host Randy Ingermanson called: CLEAN UP YOUR ACT. This is a 4-part series starting with organizing your office and files, to developing a mission statement, vision plan and strategic plan. It’s a comprehensive workshop I teach at writers conferences all over the country and your readers can listen to it in the comfort of their home or office. We’re so confident in the tools we have made available in this series that we offer a money-back guarantee.

Mary Emma, I didn’t set out to use your blog as an advertisement for my Teleseminars. However, this particular workshop series is so important for folks who really want to write but find themselves stuck. Thanks for allowing me to suggest it. You can find out more about it here:

I think that’s it – thanks for having me!

MEA: Thanks for joining us at Potpourri of Writing, Allison. It's been fun getting to know you better and to learn all the great advice and encouragement you have for writers. You'll find more information about Allison and her various writing adventures at the web sites below.

Web sites:


International Blog Tour – August Itinerary

Make sure to sign up for Allison’s monthly electronic “Dream-Zine” for all the current updates on writing opportunities, Teleseminars, book releases, and contests.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

My Interview on Work From Home Momma

The blog, Work From Home Momma, features an interview about my experiences in writing, quiltmaking, and other home businesses over the past 40 years. This interview, by Laura Spencer, is the first in her Work at Home Interview Series about women, particularly moms.

As Laura says, "Today's interview is with Mary Emma Allen, who began as a dressmaker [and quiltmaker] and eventually transitioned to the writing and blogging business."

This was an enjoyable experience, and I feel honored that Laura selected me to begin her series.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Dr. Susan Gregg visits today at Potpourri of Writing to discuss her new book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Meditations, a compilation of meditations and exercises to relieve stress and improve quality of life. She also has a newsletter with thoughtful insights that I've signed up for and receive regularly (see her web site for registering).

Susan, I'm pleased to have you visit my blog. I've browsed your web site and would recommend your readers to do that, too. I'll ask you a few questions so they'll begin getting to know you.

MEA: Readers so often ask me, "Where did you get the idea for your book/story?" Or, "How did you come up with the idea for your book?" So I'll ask you, "How did The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Meditations come about?"

SUSAN: A year earlier my agent had asked me if I would like to write a meditation book for women. I love teaching people how to meditate so it seemed like a great idea. I wrote the proposal and she shopped it around. Then one day she called me and said the Complete Idiot's Guide series was looking for an author to write a book about short meditations. I was in Europe at the time teaching classes so I e-mailed her back and said, "Count me in."

MEA: You mention the Toltec tradition on your web site which seems very important to your philosophy of life. Would you give us a brief explanation?

SUSAN: The Toltec tradition is an ancient philosophy, a way of life. The philosophy predates the Toltec civilization by many centuries. In essence, it is an awareness that we're a divine being in a physical body, that the entire universe is made up of energy and that we have the ability to create whatever we want whenever we want. I call the people who develop this philosophy the Ancient Ones.

Right now the Law of Attraction of The Secret is all the rage. The ancient ones were living The Secret thousands of years ago.

MEA: Does the Toltec tradition play a role in the meditations in your book?

SUSAN: The philosophy of the Ancient Ones is so much a part of my life. It is also part of Omar writing. I don't think I mentioned it directly in the book but the meditations, the exercises and some of the stories help readers directly experience themselves as a spark of divinity.

MEA: You also offer spiritual retreats. Would you describe these?

SUSAN: My retreats allow people to experience the magic and wonder of the Big Island of Hawaii. They eat wonderful food grown here on the island, spend time in the presence of Pele, meditate, write and have time just to nurture themselves. They're really powerful.

This fall I am doing a series of classes and retreats in Europe. Every year I go to Lithuania and work for a month. I love the country and the people and a best-selling author there. This year I'll also be doing some work in England, and I've gotten permission to do a ceremony inside Stonehenge at sunrise. I'm very excited about doing that.

MEA: What would you like readers to take away from your book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Meditations?

SUSAN: I would like readers to realize they have the power to be happy regardless of what's happening in their lives. And once they choose happiness on a regular basis their lives will change dramatically. That's one of the paradoxes. I found that if I do my spiritual explorations to get things it doesn't work, but if I do them just to do them, magic and miracles happen in my life in a regular basis.

MEA: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

SUSAN: From the bottom of my heart I wish you all great happiness and joy. And remember happiness and joy are always just a thought away. Thanks very much for having me and as we say here in the islands – ALOHA!

Although Susan has lived in Vermont and California, she currently makes her home in Hawaii. Visit her web site: , for more information about her books and retreats.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter & Loss Leaders

While we're in the midst of the Harry Potter flurry with new book and new movie almost simultaneously (great PR strategy), here's an interesting take on Harry Potter in the book stores found at Yvonne Russell's Grow Your Writing Business blog, Harry Potter, the Loss Leader & Your Independent Bookseller .

"Did you know that discount chain stores and buyers' clubs often can sell Harry Potter and other bestsellers for less than an independent bookseller can buy it for?" Yvonne asks. Then she goes on the explain why...and why you may want to support your independent bookstore. (CHeck out the link above.)

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, who also was involved in retail in an earlier career, has interesting views on this topic, too. Check out: J.K Rowling, the LA Times and the Deadly but Hallowed Profit Conundrum

Monday, July 09, 2007


Read more about Jane Green's book, Second Chance, at Dorothy Thomson's blog, The Story Behind the Books. I just discovered this interesting site where the authors on the tours coordinated by Dorothy and Jamieson, discuss the stories behind their books.

You won't want to miss learning more about Jane and the other authors I've hosted on their tours. You'll also find stories from authors I haven't hosted yet.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Today, bestselling author, Jane Green visits Potpourri of Writing during her month long tour of the blogosphere. Her latest novel, Second Chance, was released June 19 and made#15 on the New York Times bestseller list within its first week. Congratulations, Jane!

Jane, a native of Britain, now lives in a lovely old home in Westport, CT with her four children.(You can see a picture of her home on her web site and more about her nine best selling novels.)

I'm pleased to have you here, Jane, to share with Potpourri readers. (Click here for a preview of Chapter 1 of Second Chance.)

MEA: A question many people often ask me is, "Where did you get the idea for your book/story?" Since this seems to be of universal curiosity among readers/fans, Jane, I'll ask you that about Second Chance. Where did you get the idea for this book?

JANE: Initially the idea came when a friend of mine died in the Tsunami. I wanted to write a book about grief, but then my marriage started unravelling and it became a book about a group of old friends who reunite after one of them dies, and each of whom are having a mid-life crisis of some description.

MEA: Do you plan your books by using a general outline and sticking with it? Or do your characters take over and sort of "run with the story."

JANE: I always have a general message or theme, but the best advice I was ever given was to spend the time with the characters because then they will tell their own stories, and I have always found that to be true.

MEA: I like that advice, Jane. It sounds like a good technique to concentrate on. Do you have a favorite character, either in this novel or one of your previous ones, that you really enjoyed writing about and didn't want to see leave your life?

JANE: I loved Lucy in Bookends - she was the ultimate best friend/big sister, and felt so real to me I was truly saddened to finish the last page.

MEA: Finding time to write is a challenge for moms, and they have to develop strategies to meet their deadlines. (For instance, when my daughter was small, I often wrote in the bathtub after she was in bed. More recently I've worked at the computer with a grandchild on my lap.) With your busy life and four children, how/where do you find time to write?

JANE: I work in the mornings while they're in school, and these days I write at the local library. It does me good to get out of the house and to feel as if I have a routine, plus I'd be far too embarrassed to be caught spending hours surfing gossip websites at the library. I actually manage to accomplish three hours of pure writing there, something that's impossible for me at home.

MEA: That seems like great advice, Jane, especially for writers who have difficulty getting into a routine or who have many distractions. Now thinking of your readers, what would you like them to take away from Second Chance?

JANE: The idea that we only get one life, and that being stuck is a terrible thing, that even one small step in a different direction can make wonderful changes, and it's never too late to find your happiness, in whatever form it takes.

MEA: Is there anything else about your writing or your life you'd like to share with us?

JANE: Just that I'm thrilled to be here. Thank you!

MEA: Thank you, Jane, for visiting Potpourri of Writing today and sharing with us. May you have much success with Second Chance and all your books.

Jane's web site:
Jane's My Space URL:

Monday, June 25, 2007


Today, Vicki M. Taylor, author of Trust in the Wind, visits us. One of the amazing things I learned from Vicki during this interview....remember your dreams!

MEA: Since so many people ask me, "How did you get the idea for this story?" I'll ask you the same. It seems to be information readers like to know.

VICKI: Yeah, I get that question a lot. Basically, Trust in the Wind was a dream I had. A very vivid dream of the entire story. Even the ending. Best of all, I remembered it when I woke up and was able to write it all down.

MEA: That’s so interesting, Vicki. Also, great that you could remember it so vividly. So often dreams are vague and only half recalled.

Now for another question readers often wonder about... What's your favorite character and how did he/she enter yourlife/book?

VICKI: I think my favorite character changes depending on what story I'm writing. I really liked writing Joanne and Roy in Trust in the Wind. I loved creating Joey, the little boy. He took over the story in some spots. I also wrote a romantic suspense and had a great time creating the villain. I'd never written a really bad, evil person before so that was different. That story came to me in a dream as well. I have some pretty cool dreams.

MEA: Do you plan your books with an outline or do your characters sort of take over?

VICKI: I have a general idea about where the book is going, but my characters know how to get there better than I do, so I let them lead the way. If I try to force them to do something that isn't natural for them, the story gets all stilted and contrived.

MEA: What would you like your readers to take away from this book?

VICKI: That there are second chances. Everyone is deserving of one when when it comes to love. And, that love shouldn't be dictated by a number. It doesn't matter how old you are. Finally, that sometimes you have to put your trust in something that you may not know the outcome or be able to control, but that's okay.

MEA: Do you have anything else you'd like to share with your readers or to introduce them to you ?

VICKI: I just wrote "the end" on a book I'd been working on this year about a 39-year old mother of five who decides to adopt a pregnant 14-year old runaway teenager and the tragic results. Like Not Without Anna, it deals with some serious real life issues.

Thanks for the opportunity to answer your questions.

MEA: Thank you, Vicki, for taking time to stop by Potpourri of Writing.

If you’d like more information about Vicki, her books and her writing world, visit the following:

Vicki’s author site

Her blog

Her writers' resource forum

Her Myspace page

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Paranormal romance author Karen Magill's latest book, Let Us Play , takes us into the world of Rock and Roll. Only hers is a world where Rock and Roll music has been banned. To learn more about Karen, visit . Also, check out Pump Up Your Book Promotion site for information about her blog tour, with synopsis and sample chapter.

MEA: Thank you, Karen, for stopping by my Potpourri of Writing blog and visiting with me. I've read that your love of music and dislike of censorship inspired this book. Since readers frequently ask, "Where did you get the idea of your story?" could you give more details about what inspired this book or how you came to write it?

KAREN: First of all, thank you for having me here. As to answer your question. The PMRC in the nineties inspired Let Us Play in a way. The movie Footloose played a part as well as the album Kilroy was here by Styx. All these things in addition to the idea of too much government control over our lives. It isn't only music that is censored, that is just what I chose to write on.

MEA: With your writing, do you plan your books, such as outlining, or do the characters sort of take over and write your book for you?

KAREN: I don't tend to outline, I write more by the seat of my pants as they say and with Let Us Play the characters really took over. In fact they became so alive for me that when I wasn't writing I had to remind myself that they weren't real.

MEA: Do you work on one book at a time or have a number of projects going so you can turn to one if you reach a block with a current one?

KAREN: I try to stick to one project but that doesn't always work. Many times I have more than one thing going. I am still trying to get the sequel going to Let Us Play, I have bits and pieces written here and there .

MEA: Since series are so popular now, I wondered if you saw this book as part of a series. You partly answered it above, but I wondered if you could give us more detail. For instance, some writers say that one of the minor characters becomes so important to them they decide they must do a book about him or her.

KAREN: The second is going to be entitled Truth, Justice and Rock and Roll or TJR and it will center on one of the other characters. Because there are so many characters in Let Us Play, I could keep writing for a while just drawing from it.

MEA: What would you like your readers to learn or take away from Let Us Play?

KAREN: The authority figures are not always right and sometimes those rebels are. Fight for what you believe in but remember that there are always consequences to your actions. Most of all, long live rock 'n roll.

MEA: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

KAREN: Just give me and the book a chance. You can learn more at or www.lulu. com/karenmagill and at both places you can download a free ebook entitled Rock Raff Remembered. This contains articles, interviews, etc. from which I used to run a weekly newsletter on music entitled Rock Raff. And thank you for having me.

MEA: Thank you, Karen, for visiting with me. I've enjoyed having you stop by Mary Emma's Potpourri of Writing. May you have much success with Let Us Play and your future books.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Lynn Voedisch visits my Potpourri of Writing blog today to discuss her book, Excited Light. She has made the transition from journalist to novelist in this book that has been described as "a tale of magic and second chance."

In Excited Light, 10-year old Alex Griffin has plenty on his mind as he takes care of his alcoholic mom. He confides in his toy duck, Dudley, and mystical entities who visit him to solve the challenges in his mom's and his life. Let’s discuss with Lynn some aspects of her writing.

MEA: I'm frequently asked, "How did you come up with the idea for this story?" So I'll ask you the same since it seems to be one that interests readers.

LYNN: I had an angel experience, but it was so intensely personal that I couldn't imagine writing about it. Then I read Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic and I loved the magical-realism style, which is a lot like my own. I transferred the angel experience to my fictional character, Alex, who was based on my son and the conversations we had when he was 10. The rest just bloomed from there. I picked a single mom for Alex's mother, because I was a single mother for 11 years--ever since my son was a newborn. But I am nothing like the mother character in the book.

MEA: Each author develops their own way of writing. Some plan a book in detail with an outline. Others find their characters "take charge" and dictate how the story will progress. How would you describe your writing style?

LYNN: Very loose and free-form. I could never write from an outline. I worked for more than 20 years as a journalist, and we don't have time for outlines, so it seemed crazy to start doing it for a novel. I happen to have a steel-trap mind when it comes to mentally visualizing the chapters and flow of the book though. I think things out for a long time (and it doesn't look like I'm doing anything), then suddenly I jump up and hammer out a 2,000-word chapter. I blithely ignore the "write x-number of words a day" advice that most people give.

I wrote every day for 20 years. I know how to be disciplined. I have no problem in that regard. And I've never had writer's block. I also ignore the "write first thing in the morning" dictum. I can't do ANYthing first thing in the morning. My prime writing hours start in the afternoon and can go on to quite late at night.

I do have characters announce themselves out of the blue and declare that they want to get into the story. The first time this happened (in another novel) I thought I was going a little nuts. I let the character in, and I couldn't believe that he turned out to be the best character in the whole thing.

I'd describe my writing style as very clear and expository. I don't do stream-of-consciousness or anything super artsy, yet I'm not afraid to break a boundary or two. I do use sentence fragments, for instance. I would call my style magical realism (even though I'm not Hispanic) or maybe New Age. It's all in a modern setting but suffused with magic.

MEA: Do you work on one book at a time or turn from one writing project to another when you're at a loss for ideas?

LYNN: I can work on a non-fiction assignment while working on fiction, but I never could do two fiction projects at the same time. I tried, but it doesn't work. Once I create a fictional world it's hard to get my head out of it.

MEA: What would you like your readers to take away from this book...either to remember about your characters, your theme, or you?

LYNN: Oh, I definitely think there is a message in there to listen to your inner voice. If you don't believe in angels, it doesn't matter, because this is a story of hope. We all have the ability to heal if we heed what that little voice inside of us is saying. In a way, I felt directed to write this book to spread the message.

People say they like the characters so much they want a sequel, but I just can't see a sequel to this book.

About me? I want readers to like my writing enough that they will buy the next book, which I hope will come out via traditional press.

MEA: Is there anything else you'd like to share with visitors to Potpourri of Writing about the writing of this book? A unique story? Reader response?

LYNN: Only that the people who read it loved it and didn't want to say good-bye to the characters. If only I could get them to write testimonials to the editors at publishing houses!

Another note that I haven't told anyone else: this book was actually written 10 years ago. My first agent couldn't sell it because "the angel fad was over," according to publishers. So I just sort of forgot about it. Because I belong to the American Society of Journalists and Authors, which has a business partnership with iUniverse, I was eligible for a huge discount if I self published a book. I thought, "why not dust Excited Light off and release that?" So, I revised it and revised it again until I got to the point where I thought I couldn't do any more and sent it off it the publisher. I'm very glad I did, because the book seems to have lit up quite a few people's lives.

MEA: Thank you, Lynn, for taking time to visit my blog and answer my questions. It's always so interesting to discover the "story behind the story," or why and how an author wrote a specific book. Since I've been a journalist, I also can relate to much of what you say about your writing style and experiences. May you have much success with Excited Light.

(If you's like to see the trailer for Lynn's book, click here... You'll find Lynn's web site at: )

7 Random Facts About Mary Emma

This meme, 7 Random Facts About....., has been going around and I was asked, on one of my other blogs, to participate. Although I won't tie this into the meme, I thought it a fun way for my readers to get to know me.

You can do something similar on your blog...let me know and I'll mention it here. Or add something in the comments about you and your writing.

1. I've always wanted to be a writer, but my mom advised me to get a teaching degree. "So you can make a living," she said. So I received a degree in elementary education and have combined writing with substitute teaching, as well as presenting author programs in schools to encourage young writers and readers.

2. I grew up on a farm in the Hudson River Valley of New York State (USA). We worked hard on the farm, but had many fun times, too. I'm starting to write my memories so my daughter and grandchildren will know of their heritage.

3. My maternal grandfather was a writer as well as a farmer. He wrote a column for two local newspapers, his autobiography, a great deal of poetry, and many sermons. I'm pleased that I have much of his writing...original drafts and copies of newspaper articles.

4. I enjoy my husband and I have lived and traveled throughout much of the United States and some of Canada. Some of these trips have been in a bi-plane which we owned at one time, a Model A Ford across the Rockies (with a 10 month old daugher), by foot into the wilderness, on a bicycle, and by modern auto. My writing and Jim's consulting business enable us to continue our traveling.

5. We live in a multi-generational home in the woods with kids, grandkids, and assorted pets. It's "the house that Jim built" which is still under construction.

6. I've written a cooking column, "Country Kitchen," for newspapers and occasionally magazines, since 1962. Now I need to collect some of those columns into a book!

7. I cared for my mother and aunt who had Alzheimer's disease. This was an experience, though frustrating and discouraging at times, that brought great rewards as my family and I were able to comfort them and hopefully bring them joy in their journey. I wrote a book , When We Become the Parent to Our Parents, about this and now a blog, Alzheimer's Notes.

What are your 7 Random Facts?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Three Blog Tours at Potpourri of Writing in June

I shall be hosting three authors on their blog tours this month. They all write very different types of work. You'll find it interesting to learn about them.

Blog tours are increasingly popular as a way for authors to become better known to their reading public. Some writers organize their own tours while others engage someone like Dorothy Thompson to arrange the details.

As Dorothy explains, they're easy enough to arrange. However, authors come to her because they don't have the time.

Also, if you'd like to host authors, let your author friends know. This doesn't have to be a complete tour, just a visit and interview at your blog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Visit from Pamela S. Thibodeaux during her virtual book tour

Toady, Pamela S. Thibodeaux visits my blog and answers questions about her writing. Pamela has written a number of books (see her web site), but is introducing Tempered Dreams on this virtual book tour. Thank you for taking time to stop by, Pamela.

PAMELA: Thank you, Mary Emma, for hosting me and discussing my book, Tempered Dreams.

MEA: People frequently ask me, "Mary, where did you get the idea for that story?" So...since there seems to be universal interest in how authors find their ideas, I'll ask you, "How did you come up with the idea for this novel?"

PAMELA: How did I come up with the idea for this novel? To be honest, when I began my 'Tempered' series, I only had the idea for two books (Tempered Hearts #1 and Tempered Fire #3). However, when Dr. Scott Hensley came on the scene in Tempered Hearts, I knew he must have a story! My heroine and the opening scene had occurred to me several years back. I'd jotted down some notes and forgot about her/it. But when Scott started talking to me about his story, she came back to my mind. The rest, as they say, is history.

MEA: This appears to be a novel in a series. I started to ask you how you decided to write a series and if one book evolves from the first. You partially answered that above. Perhaps you’d like to expand upon this since series seem so popular.

PAMELA: Yes, Tempered Dreams is book two in a 5-part series. As I stated above, I'd originally intended to have only two books. However, as secondary characters came to life, I just knew they must have a chance to tell their story, too. On top of that, what intended to be only an interesting fact, turned into a major thread throughout the books….are Craig Harris (Tempered Hearts) and Scott Hensley (Tempered Dreams) blood relations as gossip and rumor has suggested? So yes, I guess you can say that three other stories evolved out of the original two

MEA: Not all of your novels have the same locale. Do you find it easier to write about one location or to vary this. How do you decide?

PAMELA: Well, four out of the five 'Tempered' novels take place in Bandera, Texas. However, since my heroine, Katrina Simmons, in Tempered Dreams lived in Louisiana, I had to find a way to have the two not only meet but develop a relationship. So the novel had to be set in Louisiana.

My other novels –not related to the series- have different settings. For instance, my novel The Inheritance (available from The Wild Rose Press) begins in Washington State and ends in Hammondsport, New York. I enjoy writing about different locales but usually it’s my characters who take me on their journey, not the other way around. Therefore, I don't always know what's going to happen, when it's going to happen or how it's going to happen. After all, this is their story….I'm just writing it down.

MEA: As an author, I'm often asked, "Do you outline and plan your stories? Or do the characters somewhat determine what happens?" Perhaps you'd like to answer these questions.

PAMELA: I'm definitely a SOTP (seat of the pants) writer and my characters determine every single thing that happens in a novel. Half the time, I have no idea what's happening or going to happen until I'm actually sitting down and writing. I may get a scene or two in advance, but really have no inkling as to where/when that scene takes place until the characters lead me up to it.

In fact, even I didn't know the answer to the question that evolved throughout the 'Tempered' series as to whether or not Craig Harris and Scott Hensley are blood brothers until book #4 Tempered Joy! That answer is what led me to begin book #5 Tempered Truth, which actually will take place before these two characters were born. Tempered Truth will be Scott's quest for the answer -the truth- about his parentage, because it's only when you know the truth that the truth can set you free.

MEA: Your novels often are referred to as "inspirational" ones. What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?

PAMELA: Well, Mary Emma, although my stories are "inspirational" I do not write 'conservative Christian.' My goal is to reach those outside the traditional CBA market/readership, those who might not ordinarily pick up a Christian novel. Tempered Dreams tackles the tough and sadly, growing, problem of domestic violence and though one might not be a victim of this hideous problem, chances are they know someone who is.

My prayer is that everyone who reads Tempered Dreams will get a realistic view of domestic violence and reaches out in some way to help and that they will experience a new appreciation for the blessings in their lives. I also pray that everyone who reads Tempered Dreams or any of my other novels will come into a fuller realization of the value and reality of a relationship with God through Christ.

Also, I hope to show through the characters in Tempered Dreams and all of my novels the awesome healing power of God through forgiveness and that forgiveness is where healing begins....accepting it, standing on it when the devil comes against you and reminds you of the sins of your past, and finally offering it.

One more thought if I may…Although I do not write conservative Christian, I am not saying that what I write is better, only different. My firm belief is that everything that gives God glory deserves to be praised!
Once again, thank you, Mary Emma for hosting me on my tour.

MEA: Thank you, Pamela, for visiting with me and providing insight into your writing. May you have much success with your Tempered series

(In conjunction with the Tour, Pam is giving away a discount coupon for 25% off the purchase of Tempered Dreams! Simply email her with "VBT Discount Coupon" in the subject line and she'll send your coupon with instructions on how to redeem it.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Pamela S. Thibodeaux Will Visit Potpourri of Writing

This Wednesday, May 23, I'll be hosting Pamela S. Thibodeaux on her month long virtual book or blog tour. She's promoting her latest book, Tempered Dreams, although you can learn abouat her other books, too.

So stop by and learn more about this author, how she writes, why she writes, and how she inspires her readers.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Dorothy Thompson Interviewed at Home Biz Notes

As you become known in the writing/publishing world, you'll often discover that what you're doing may be of interest to people in other areas. I write a blog at b5media called Home Biz Notes, about businesses conducted at or from home.

I've known Dorothy for several years, ever since she published one of my essays in Romancing the Soul, and have been impressed with how she can successfully redirects her focus as changes occur in the writing/publishing world. Now she's translated her marketing knowledge (acquired as she promoted her books) into a home business helping others succeed.

So...I thought, "What Dorothy is doing (working as an e-marketing specialist as well as continuing to write) would be of interest to others." Some of her tips could help owners of other types of home businesses.

You'll find a three-part interview (Introduction, Part 1 and Part 2) of Dorothy at Home Biz Notes.

(Click on each part to see the interview in full...or click on Introduction and scroll upward to read Parts 1 & 2.)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Joyce Anthony Stops at Potpourri of Writing on Her Tour

Today I’m visiting with Joyce Anthony, whose first novel, STORM, has just been published. She has been on a month long blog tour and is stopping by Mary Emma’s Potpourri of Writing as she wraps it up.

It’s a delight to have Joyce stop by, and I’ve asked her some questions that will let you know more about her, her writing, and STORM.

Thank you, Joyce, for taking time to visit. I’m sure my readers will find this interview interesting and informative and enable them to know you better.

MEASTORM is called a spiritual fantasy. How would you explain that?

JOYCESTORM is based on spiritual principles—especially of faith. However, elements of the story are completely removed from what is reality and that is where the fantasy comes in. This story weaves reality and fantasy together in such a way that you wonder at the chance of the events actually taking place.

MEA – Do you draw ideas from real life situations to develop your characters and your story?

JOYCE - All the situations of the individuals in STORM occur daily in every city and town in the world—homelessness, domestic violence, child abuse—all are real. None of my characters is based on anyone I know—yet each would be someone you know, I know, or the next reader knows.

MEA – So many people ask me, “Mary, where did you get the idea for your story?” Since this seems to be a universal question or curiosity, I’ll ask that of you.

JOYCE – The story is based on several different glimpses, thoughts, dreams. Each in and of itself would be meaningless, yet they build upon each other and eventually connect into a story.

MEA – Fascinating! The next question—what was your biggest challenge in writing this book?

JOYCE – My biggest challenge was actually my self-doubt. The story came so easily it made me wonder as to whether it was any good. I constantly battled with myself about sharing it with anyone.

MEA – What do you hope people will see about the world after reading STORM?

JOYCE – I hope people will take the time to get to know those they have ignored or judged. I want them to realize that everyone has a story behind how they got to where they are at this very moment—and they are much deeper than society gives them credit for. Judgment is not ours, as humans, to make, for we do not know the hearts and souls of those around us. Too often we don’t even take the time to try.

MEA – Thank you, Joyce, for sharing with us. You’ve given me interesting insight into your book and why you wrote it. I wish you much success with STORM and any you have planned in the future.