Thursday, December 31, 2009

Branding Your Novels the Elm Creek Way

Branding has become a buzz word in the business world, a way to call recognition to your name or business name and thus acquire more sales. I've written a number of articles about branding and have been studying how it could help in my writing world.

One area an author can utilize branding is by writing a series of books with the same setting, same characters, same least some thread tying them all together as Jennifer Chiaverini has done with her Elm Creek Quilts novel series. I've written about this technique in the post, Branding - The Elm Creek Way.

Have you looked into developing a brand for your business or name?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mary Emma Allen's Children's Anthology Reviewed

It's so exciting when an author discovers a glowing review to a book, a review they hadn't known about. This morning, while searching the Internet for other material, I discovered the review of my children's anthology, Tales of Adventure & Discovery at

The reviewer seemed to grasp what I was trying to accomplish with my book and "hit the nail on its head:"

The stories are from the heart and home, reflecting an understanding of children and childhood in a way that reaches out to children and lets them feel connected to the stories.

I also discovered that the book is available on Amazon. A friend said she'd carry it on her site, too.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Excitement of Getting Back to My Art Work

Something seems to be nudging me back to my art work. Many years ago I worked in oils, acrylics and watercolor. I also sketched and did pen and ink.

I took private lessons and my teacher, a well known artist in Waco, TX, encouraged me to keep going when we had to move from the area. Eventually I took a two-year correspondence course with the Famous Artists School. That stretched me in my abilities and introduced me to various medium.

I sold quite a few of my paintings. In looking over those remaining, I have to admit, I'm impressed! I can envision reprints, greeting cards and postcards, perhaps notepaper, even items like mugs, aprons, t-shirts and more.

Is that cheapening my work? I think it allows more people to enjoy it...and hopefully be uplifted.

Some of my variety of work:

  • Scenery
  • People
  • Animals
  • Home portraits
  • Birds
  • Abstract
  • Mystical

In the form of:

  • Canvasses of various sizes
  • Greeting cards
  • Postcards
  • Book Illustrations

Then I became more involved in quiltmaking and writing. Nowadays, I find myself sketching on note paper and envelopes. I've pulled out a small sketch book I can tuck into a pocket or purse.

Something tells me I can combine all of these, especially with the new innovations of selling online.

(Image by

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Working with NH History in Schools

It was exciting to interviewed by a teacher doing a research paper and proposal for NH history projects in schools. I've written about the history of our state for many years in newspaper and tourist paper columns.

One of my popular children's stories, Sarah Jane's Daring Deed, in the anthology, Tales of Adventure and Discovery, is set in the pioneering era of our state.

The teacher interviewing me has encouraged me to develop the activities and extended history I've been planning for students and teachers. So...I'm trying to work this into my summer plans.
She may use some of these with her students. Then I'll get to see if they work.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Making Sense of the Chaos

For years, I've often put my rough drafts, current projects, and copies of columns and articles into files and the files into boxes or file drawers. Sometimes there will simply be clippings, pamphlets and other items that make their way there, too.

Then how, I ponder, do I find them?

At one time I was much better organized. However, after living in a multi-generational house for more than a decade and balancing several jobs or businesses along with my writing, I sometimes feel I'm buried in chaos.

So, after hearing a couple of speakers mention the 20 Minutes a Day to Organization process, I determined to stick with it. (I've started several times, saw no progress in my mess and gave up.)

I've been doing this for about two weeks. From the outside, it doesn't look like I've accomplished much, but I know I'm making progress. My husband says he can see the floor in our bedroom/living room area!

I've found some older drafts that I can revitalize. I discovered greeting card designs from the days I made these for sale. I've found research, family memorabilia and other items to stimulate my writing.

So I'll stick to my 20 minutes of making sense of my chaos.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Finding Time for Writing

I find the time for my writing with current my b5 media blogs and Country Kitchen columns. However, finding time for my other writing projects, midst substitute teaching, working at the deli, and helping Jim with our business, seems to go by the wayside.

I must, this summer, squeeze in more than hit-and-miss time if I'm to finish:

  • Sarah Jane picture book
  • Papa Goes to War chapter book
  • Uncle Buffalo Bill picture book
  • Promoting my Family Story Writing classes

Decide upon a direction....and focus until I'm finished!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

What is My Brand?

Should writers brand themselves or be a multi-faceted writer?

There are differing opinions to this. If you focus on one objective, you will miss other opportunities. If your chosen field falters, you may not be able to move forward in it.

I've been a multi-faceted throughout my life and have had many writing experiences. Where do I go from here?

Do I focus (brand myself) on one area exclusively? Or do I venture into the various opportunities that come along, or that I seek out?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Check Out Google Blogger for Dummies to Enhance Your Blogging

Blogging is the wave of the present and the future.

Do you want to enhance your blogging and learn more about getting the utmost from your blog? Perhaps you don't have a blog and want to learn how to set one up.

Check out Susan Gunelius' Google Blogger for Dummies. Here you'll find helpful instructions for setting up your Blogger blog as well for enhancing ones you already have. Learn about monetizing your blogs, too.

Read more about Google Blogger for Dummies in my review at Blisstree.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Writers Build Upon Their Published Books

Writers are taught to "get the most mileage from the material they research and write. When we write a book, can we write others in the same vein or related to it? You'll even find this in the children's book writing field.

When I discovered the children's story book, The Quiltmaker's Gift, I didn't realize there were related books with quilt patterns and suggestions. In researching an answer for a reader's question about this book, I discovered more and wrote about them in Follow-up Books for the Quiltmaker's Gift.

You may want to check out these books:
The Quiltmaker's Gift
Quilts From the Quiltmaker's Gift
More Quilts From the Quiltmaker's Gift

How can you expand upon the books you write, whether they're for children or adults, fiction or non-fiction. Put on your thinking cap!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Books About Daylight Saving Time & Spring

Discover facts and figures (the curious and the ordinary) about Spring and Daylight Saving Time

Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time by David Prerau
Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time by Michael Downing
Crafting Springtime Gifts: 25 Adorable Projects Featuring Bunnies, Chicks, Lambs & Other Springtime Favorites by Tone Finnanger
Time for Change: Setting Clocks Forward by One Hour Thorughout the Year by Mayer Hillman
The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Find a Topic & Specialize Like Feather Schwartz Foster

Feather Schwartz Foster has become one of the foremost authorities on the First Ladies of the White House. She writes about them, gives presentations and teaches workshops. Feather through her research and writing, Feather has become a specialist or authority so her entertaining programs about the First Ladies are popular.

Her book, Ladies: A Conjecture of Personalities, presents the voices of the First Ladies in novel format in an entertaining way. The Ladies talk with one another without regard to time and express their thoughts and feelings. Garfield's Train, although not specifically about First Ladies, relates the death of President Garfield in novel form. Thus it ties in with the topic of the Presidency.

To further aid writers, Feather has written an e-book, On the Road with the Old Gals. Here she gives hints on how to promote one's book through lectures/speaking engagements.

Are your topics ones you can specialize in, become an authority in, so that you are invited to speak and teach?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Writing Prompts from Photos

Check out Mary Emma's Writing Tips at One Book Two Book for suggestions on developing writing prompts from photos. One photo can yield ideas for many types of writing. In this post, I've used a photo from my childhood of Nubble Lighthouse, Cape Neddick, Maine.

I'm also incorporating this idea into a workshop I'm teaching this week for a group of homeschoolers.

(If you'd like to learn more about my workshops for young writers, e-mail me at .)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mary Emma Allen Published in Eternally Yours Anthology

Potpourri writer, Mary Emma Allen has stories featured in the new release, Eternally Yours, an anthology of poetry, light essays, devotions and meditations, edited by Mary Ellen Grisham and published by Xulon Press.

Featuring some of the best Christian writers on the Internet, this book represents work that has appeared in the Eternal Ink E-zine since it’s inception in 1999.

In addition, Mary gives presentations and teaches workshops at schools, libraries, writers’ conferences, and for other groups. Some of her talks include topics such as Alzheimer's and caregiving, quilt history and quiltmaking, New Hampshire history, and writing.

I was pleased when Ms. Grisham selected some of my stories for inclusion in this anthology. It's exciting to encourage and inspire others with my writing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mary Emma Writes Guest Post at Women on Business

I often write about home businesses, since freelance writing often is considered one. I've also operated other businesses from our home.

So when Susan Gunelius invited me to write a guest post at her Women on Business blog gives, I provided 10 Tips On Finding Time for Your Home Business.

Hopefully these tips will be particularly helpful if you're balancing family and business.

Incidentally, writing guest posts is an enjoyable way for an author to visit other blogs and web sites.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Discovering the Delight of a Gardening Mystery Series

I’ve discovered a delightful mystery series by Ann Ripley with a gardener, Louise Eldridge as heroine. In addition to just solving a mystery in Death of a Political Plant, Louise has a gardening TV show near Washington, DC. We also learn much about gardens, gardening, and various types plants in the course of the story.

Included are essays by Ripley on various type of gardens and gardening history. Even though I don’t do so much gardening as I once did, I enjoy reading about various plants and their backgrounds. Some topics covered in the essays: bog gardens, low maintenance gardens, water gardens, annuals, garden tools and more.

I love to visit gardens, whether public ones, historic ones, or those simply growing around friends’ homes. Personally, I don’t have the time or patience I once did to dig and plant around our home. Perhaps one day I will again. My daughter enjoys this when she has time.

Other books in the Louise Eldrider garden mystery series: Mulch , Death of a Garden Pest, The Garden Tour Affair and Death in the Orchid Garden.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A Valentine's Journey Writing Prompt

Check out the writing prompt, A Valentine's Journey, at my b5 media blog, One Book Two Book.

This is a fun activity youngsters...and adults...may enjoy. I know a variation of it was fun for students I worked with the other day.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Rainbow Fish - Is It Controversial?

Periodically, comments crop up on posts concerning the picture book, The Rainbow Fish over at my One Book Two Book blog. Some readers seem to feel it's a controversial one and spouts socialist propaganda. Other readers see it as a lovely story with a light moral and unique, colorful illustrations.

Perhaps you'd like to check out these posts and let me know what you think.

Interpreting an Author's Meaning - Particularly in The Rainbow Fish

What Does The Rainbow Fish Mean? Is There An Underlying Meaning?

Rainbow Fish Makes a Comeback at Our House

(The Rainbow Fish available at Amazon - link above)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Writing Tips About Obama's Inauguration

Mary Emma's Writing Tip of the Week

Each Sunday, I try to post a writing tip at my One Book Two Book blog. This week, since we've just experienced the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States, I gave suggestions for writing about this occasion.

Even though these ideas were directed toward young writers, you still may find something to jumpstart your writing. If you have young writers in your life, teach school or home school, you may find them useful in that area.

Check out Mary Emma's Writing Tip - What Did You Think of the Inauguration?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

References to Lincoln During Obama's Inauguration

With so many references to Abraham Lincoln, during Barack Obama's Inauguration festivities, it might be helpful to have some resources so youngsters can learn more about our 16th President. He was criticized during his term in office and was blamed for mistakes in the Civil War fought at that time.

Yet he was important to the black people because he issued the Emancipation Proclamation giving the slaves their freedom. Also, his leadership ensured that our country stayed together.

Abraham Lincoln for Kids: His Life & Times with 21 Activities (For Kids series) by Janis Herbert
A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln (Picture Book Biography) by David A. Adler
A. Lincoln and Me by Louise Borden
Abraham Lincoln and His Family Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney
You Are There: Abraham Lincoln's Greatest Moments: The Emancipation Proclamation/The Gettysburg Address (DVD) starring Walte Cronkite and Paul Birch
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America by Allen C. Guelzo
Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America by Garry Wills
Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln (The Story of the Gettysburg Address) by Jean Fritz
Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips (One of my favorite books about Lincoln)Emancipation Proclamation Silk Necktie (produced for the NY Historical Society from Lincoln's handwritten original)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Looking for News Trends or Topics

When searching for topics to write about, look to current happenings and trends. Right now everyone is focused on the Obama family and their first days in the White House. Whether one voted for them or not, they're newsworthy. So writers might look for some "hook" that ties in with these events.

Ladies generally are fascinated by what the First Ladies wear, the fashion trends they set, how they entertain and with what taste they decorate the private quarters of the White House. I thought this would be newsworthy and fun to write about. So I've begun a blog, White House Fashions - Past & Present, to explore history and today through the style of the First Ladies, from Martha Washington to Michelle Obama.

My first post is What First Ladies Wear and mentions how I got started writing this blog, as well as highlights some of the ladies' styles.

Books About Obama, the Presidency and Past Presidents

Whether you voted for Obama or not, he has become the President of the United States. As such, he'll affect our lives, our country and the world. So that the you and your youngsters can keep abreast of current happenings regarding the Presidency and the 44th President, I've compiled a few books and resources here.

Barack Obama, President for a New Era (Gateway Biographies) by Marlene Targ Brill
Barack Obama: Our 44th President by Beatrice Gormley
Barack Obama: Out of Many, One (Step Into Reading) by Shana Corey
Michelle Obama: Meet the First Lady by David Bergen Brophy
The U. S. Presidency (Our Government) by Muriel L. Dubois
The American Journey of Barack Obama by the Editors of Life Magazine
The Story of Abraham Lincoln by Patricia A. Pingry
Time Line Presidents
Presidents Learning Placemat
Presidents of the USA Floor Puzzle

Do you have any favorite books or resources that have informed you about the Obamas, the Presidency, and former Presidents?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Authors - Use Obama Techniques in Your Promotions

Promotional Techniques in the Internet Age

More than any other presidential candidate, Barack Obama and his team appear to have utilized the wide reaching appeal of the Internet and the technique of branding to appeal to the masses and promote him as the best person to lead our country. Whether you agree or not with the results of the presidential election, you’ll have to admit that the Obama team used promotional methods that worked.

Can we as authors learn from this?

BRANDING – Finding a key word or buzz word that captured the attention and emotions of the public seemed important in the campaign. What did they settle on? Something very simple…. the word CHANGE.

This word has a different meaning for everyone. It can evoke images of change for the better or fear of change for the worst. Somehow the Obama team was able to construe images of changing one’s present situation for the better so that the majority followed blindly with images of something they considered “better” dancing in their heads.

As more and more people picked up on CHANGE, the campaign gained momentum for most Democrat candidates.

Can you find a buzz word that will appeal to your readers? It should be something simple…something that ties in with your book, your writing, and/or you. It should evoke appealing images and emotion in the minds of your readers (who will become your fans or followers).

However, be cautious that your buzz word doesn’t give the idea that you promise more than you can deliver.

USE OF THE INTERNET – In today’s world, it’s almost imperative that you utilize the Internet as much as you can. You saw this in the Obama campaign with web sites, blogs, and YouTube town meetings.

Web Site/Blog - Most authors have a web site and/or blog where they post information about their books and their lives. Blogs enable them to keep their readers informed on a day-to-day basis.

YouTube can help you with book trailers, talks, and demonstrations, even meetings with your readers. How did Obama utilize these online features to reach the public, whereas other candidates appeared still to be learning there was an Internet out there?

Do you have a Buzz Word?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Spin-Offs from Quilting Novels

In the quilting field, we begin to see novels with a quilting theme that evolve into pattern books and even cookbooks. This becomes just one way a writer can produce spin-offs from their books. One of these books is The Quiltmaker's Gift.

I'd read The Quiltmaker's Gift to children when I was subsitute teaching and mentioned it on my Quilting and Patchwork blog. A reader inquired where she might find fabric with the Quilter's Gift as a theme.

As I was researching her query (and I haven't found any fabric yet, but asked for other quilters' input), I discovered some books with quilt patterns that accompany the story book, called Quilts from the Quiltmaker's Gift and More Quilts from the Quiltmaker's Gift.

Another quilter read my post at Quilting and Patchwork today and said she checked out these quilt pattern books and discovered they are "must haves." She's going to get one as a gift for a friend, too.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Carolyn Howard-Johnson Wonders, "What Has Happened to Literary Fiction?"

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This is the Place, The Frugal Book Promoter, and The Frugal Editor, ponders why so much sci-fi, fantasy and romance is published, but less and less literary fiction? I think you'll enjoy her ideas. At least they will get you thinking.

For me the real topic is this: Why is it that literary fiction seems to be losing readers? The only reason my literary novel This Is the Place sold well in 2001 (at least for a first novel) is that I am also a marketer and took lots of time nurturing the sales and thinking of angles that would appeal to large segments of readers (yes, like the romantic aspect, that it is based on a true story, etc)

Here are some reasons I think literary work is not being read, in no particular order:

* Literary fiction (including poetry) isn't being published, at least not in the numbers it was published in the past.

*Publishers are assigning their marketing dollars to their top authors and stars and very nearly ignoring their midlist people. In fact, they aren't building midlists in any genre as they once did which doesn't bode well for publishing in general as the big names age and retire.

*Our education system isn't encouraging critical thinking or reading.

*Our education system is failing to teach reading/vocabulary building, etc. at a level required by many literary novels. So must we dumb-down our literary writing?

*Evidenced by the way our culture votes for their leaders, it doesn't much value anything intellectual. No matter what your politics I think we writers might agree that Obama's critical thinking, speaking and writing skills might be an encouraging sign for the future.

Please don't forget to discuss the sorry state of poetry. I read recently that even poets aren't buying books or chapbooks of poetry. Sorry, I can't find the article in my files.

Carolyn's web site: How To Do It Frugally.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Books I've Found for Tots through Teens

From time to time, I compile lists of books for young and YA readers. Here are some in categories I've been researching:

Bird Books: Stories, Information & Fun

World War II Books for Children & YA

Controversial Books

When you check out these lists, you'll also find the information about where they're available. Also, you may be able to find most of them in your local library.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year's from Potpourri of Writing

May 2009 be a wonderful year for you.

It's cold (3 degrees F.) and windy here where I live.

But we're looking forward to a grand 2009 with writing goals coming true.