Monday, October 4, 2010

Hats Off to Amazing Aging Marketing!

Every self-published author must find her niche in the marketplace. We have found ours in gift shops and in personal contact via our "Joys of Friendships Remembered" presentations.

Advertising and professional marketing groups continuously seek out our business. Somehow it seems that as women coming of age in the 1950's, we must remain "do it yourselfers". Just having fun promoting our book with the friends who sparked its birth is where we are at today.

For a modest sum we pulled the medallion symbol that travels throughout our book and had it embroidered in white on purple twill caps. Our group of friends are now a living billboard!

Our $16 hats are available through our website: They are guaranteed to turn heads!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Belgrade Methodist Event September 9, 2010

Presenting vignettes from Amazing Attributes of Aging; Silly and Sacred Stories of Blue Garter Friends continues to be a high light of our self publishing adventures.

Tomorrow evening the women of Belgrade Methodist Church in North Mankato, Minnesota are hosting their sister congregations from near-by Lake Crystal, St. James and Mankato. This group of Christian friends gather monthly to connect and to insipe one another.

Our program titled "The Joys of Friendships Remembered" will begin at 7 pm following a light supper and their business meeting. Rumor has it that the kitchen ladies have prepared their favorite cakes from our reunion cookbook for dessert. Chuckles candies be available for munching on the ride home as the sun sets. Visitors are welcome. We hope to see you there!

Friday, August 27, 2010

White Dove of the Desert, San Xavier del Bac Miracle

Glen Creno reporter from the Arizona Republic greeted the Blue Garter Girls from Mankato, Minnesota. "Why are you visiting this mission today?"

Karen Anderson had the answer at hand. "This is the most ornate mission in the United States. It is the most elaborate and significant example of Spanish Colonial art imaginable. A true treasure. We are so lucky to have the opportunity to visit."

Hostess and Blue Garter member Sharon Watson drove the seven friends visiting in celebration of their 70th birthday to the mission today, Friday, August 27, 2010. Traveling from four states to reunite in celebration of their 50 year friendship the friends shared their story as published in Amazing Attributes of Aging;Silly and Sacred Stories of Blue Garter Friends. A complete story of this "miraculous" encounter will be found in the Labor Day edition of the Arizon Republic.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mrs. Minnesota and Our Amazing Connection at the Dam Store

Our Dam Store Centennial book signing was another in a year long string of successes. The idyllic setting framed by Minnesota's finest summer weather. Visitors to the Rapidan Dam Park roamed the green under clear skies; all were warmed by unfiltered sunshine. Our booth connected us to friends, family and the gorgeous and charming Mrs. Minnesota. Soon to be seeking her next title of Mrs. America; we wished her the best.

Oprah should be so lucky! Local visitors reminiscing, laughing kids hanging out of the Wells Fargo Stage wagon; waving to their friends and family. Delighted children catching illusive cat fish; even winning unexpected prizes. We all ate homemade pie and fresh hot beef sandwiches the size of a grizzly bear's paw and washed it all down with an old fashioned root beer floats.

Our new purple "Amazing Aging" hats were a hot item. Self publishing is where the action is!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dam Store Connections

Publishing and marketing are the twin partners to writers.

Amazing Attributes of Aging; Silly and Sacred Stories of Blue Garter Friends will be featured by Jim Hruska, the infamous proprietor of The Dam Store on Saturday, August 14, 11 am to dusk.

The serenity of the lazy Blue Earth River settlement at Rapidan, Minnesota will explode in centennial celebration. This 100th birthday party commemorates both the completion of the Rapidan Dam and the Dam Bait Shop. Thousands of loyal Mankato area fishermen, friends and family are expected to congregate to just have fun in the sun. Activities are planned to take guests of all ages back in time. The dam was built in 1910. It continues to supply hydroelectric power to the area today. Kid's fishing contests, voyageur canoe rides, Well's Fargo Wagon trips, antique car shows, music, artists, writers, and the raffle of a stunning quilt, hand made by the church ladies are some of the promised event features. The Hruska family will have loads of their special pies and hot beefs to satisfy the appetites of everyone in the crowd.

Our booth will feature Blue Garter Friends' memorabilia, books and our classy new purple AAA logo baseball caps. We hope to see you at the reunion!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

WinePress Publishing for Christian Writers

Kathleen Luhrsen found WinePress to be an excellent choice for guiding her first book, Lord, Today I Choose to Live Life's Adventure to publication. The publisher's flexible contract allowed Kathleen to select her own editor, photographer, and layout designer. Paper weight, font style and color were especially critical to the unique style of this keepsake inspirational guide. WinePress has followed up the book's publications by means of a Fulfillment Service. Billed quarterly, this additional contract serves as an on-site warehousing distribution center. The book is now 8 years past publication and is available for purchase online at

A thoughtful poet, Kathleen is now at work on a new book. The first chapter shared today at my Stillwater, Minnesota "Scribblers" writers group meeting.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lauraine Snelling and Wendy Lawton

July 20, 2010 Upsala, Minnesota, a delightful town, perhaps the sister settlement to Lake Woebegone, played host to best selling author Lauraine Snelling and her agent Wendy Lawton. The town's public school (K-12) library comfortably accommodated a room full of authors young and old; local and long distance; male and female.

Successfully writing and marketing over 50 books, Lauraine charmed us all with her organizational system for researching. Staying with characters throughout an entire series of books has led her to develop an extensive outline for analyzing every aspect of fictional personalities until each "demands to have her story told." Snelling added, "In a romance novel, the only point-of-view to be conveyed is that of the main female character." A captivating saga contain at least 10 "cliff hangers," each more demanding than the first.

Wendy titilated our dreams by reminding us that Lauraine's formula has sold millions of books; thereby providing a stimulating and comfortable life style.

The Stillwater "Scribblers" are anxiously awaiting Wendy's critique of our own Stephanie's manuscript!

For more details visit

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

David Fabio's Latest Book

Thursday afternoons in Stillwater, Minnesota, the public library conference room is a buzz with laughter and conversation as the "Scribblers" test out their latest 1200 word compositions among kindred writers. Now into our second year of scrutinizing sentence structures together, I am proud to announce the publication of Search and Seizure by one of our most faithful participants. Author of self-published novels for teenage boys and a columnist for the Stillwater Gazette, Dave came upon the inspiration for his latest release a year ago. These past months clarity and accuracy have defined his manuscript as helpful comments focused a creative idea into an intriguing read. You will find Search and Seizure advertised by Barnes and Noble alongside Steig Larsson's trilogy. I am so proud! Mentoring aspiring writers as well as providing support for established St. Croix Valley writers these past two years has taken me to the top of the ladder as an teaching professional. More publications by Scribblers will be forthcoming in the near future.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Money Can Bring Love: Writing Brings Happiness

Robb Stein writing for the Washington Post this week summarized a new Gallup survey which some call the "first representative sample of planet Earth." Detailed questioning in 2005 and 2006 of 136,839 residents age 15 or older in 132 countries from rural villages to huge cities were asked to form an answer to the frequently asked question, "What makes people happy?" Their answer... money can bring happiness but the positive feelings of respect, being in control of your life and having friends and family to rely on in a pinch are the desired components of every society.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Getting to Where We Want to Go

Confidently we are now moving into our second year after publication.

Amazing Attributes of Aging; Silly and Sacred Stories of Blue Garter Friends, the story of 50 years of Minnesota women's friendships is making its way around the globe warming the hearts of women and men young and old. Catalogued by the Minnesota Historical Society early last fall, we now are proud to announce that a selection from the book - titled "Laughing All the Way" by Mary Huntley- is reprinted in the May issue of the MSU alumni TODAY magazine.

Our thanks to the vendors who included our self-published book in their inventory in the past 14 months since its release. Amazing Aging is now in the hands of readers in 15 states, Canadian Provinces of British Columbia, Nova Scotia and the island nation of New Zealand. The book commands a "5 Star" Amazon rating, and Mary's piece is in the hands of 95,000 MSU alums.

Inspired by the reactions of our readers, Mary and I have developed an inspirational program titled "Friendships to Remember." Each humor filled presentation is based on quotations gathered from the book. Audiences from book clubs, senior centers, college classes and women's centers have acclaimed the power of the book's message. Friends are once again inspired to gather together in celebration of their history.

To schedule a presentation of "Friendships to Remember" or to order more books visit our website.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Book Clubs for Writers

Writers should be copious readers.

Twenty-five years ago as I working to create my first serious writing for publication, Steinbeck became my model and my inspiration. Immersing myself into his rhythm, working through a theme, establishing a sense of place, transporting myself into another world. Focus and accuracy got me into the car to begin serious research. The Minnesota Historical Society archives located at that time on Mississippi Street in St. Paul was my first stop. There a mystery began to reveal itself. I discovered a hand written letter filed away in the Pond papers. (The Ponds were early missionaries who translated and recorded the Native Dakota Indian language.) The author was a teenage girl. Quoting her, "...we studied small particles in the morning and large particles in the afternoon..." My imagination went wild dreaming of the setting for her school, who was her teacher, was she sitting in a tepee, what did she wear, how about the weather, did she have any friends? Phone calls followed. Eventually I packed up my teenage daughter. With the neighbor lady and her daughter along, we took a driving trip following maps gleaned from historical society documents. Locating a ruined home site along the Minnesota River that could have housed the prairie school, I photographed my daughter standing on the continental divide. At her feet was a deep rut, the only reminder of the once bustling Red River Cart trail over which the family of the 1820's may have traveled; gradually a story revealed itself to me.

It is fascinating to thoughtfully delve into an author's motivation and character development, especially when in the company of a group of trusted authors. Currently I'm reading Olive Kitteridge a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. My book club of non-writers saw Olive as "not a nice person". I see her as a complex character; an aging women so common in our world today where over 60% live in physical and emotional poverty. Who could have been Elizabeth Strout's model?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pieceful Hearts Quilting Club

The Pieceful Hearts Quilters, a group independent of any national quilting guild, invited Mary and me to present our Power Point program this week in Monticello, MN. "Celebrating Ties that Bind Pieceful Hearts in Friendship" was embraced by our exceptional audience. One-by-one these nodding women laughed and shed tears as we told our friendship stories from the 1950's.

Like these women who quilt, we chose to be independent with Amazing Attributes of Aging. Self-publishing rather than relying on traditional vanity press, micropublishing or print-on-demand programs has been very satisfying. There is a validation to be gained by beginning, following through independently and in reaping the rewards with total control over a project conceived dearly to one's heart.

Our hostess, a Blue Garter Gang member from Mankato, has found soul mates in the strong friendship formed by the Mid-Minnesota quilt enthusiasts. As with the 2,244 quilting members state wide, these women actively donate their time in charitable projects. They labor over beautiful quilts of valor for wounded service people, stitch lap quilts for hospital patients and baby blankets for the needy. Their annual quilt show and raffles support local charities.

Women supporting Women, all within a sisterhood of love, laughter and life sustaining compassion abounds.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Minnesota State University, Mankato TODAY Spring 2010

Today is a celebration for the AAA's. Our own Mary Hesla Huntley Professor Emerita is featured in, believe it or not her first centerfold! Mary's chapter "Laughing All The Way" is totally reprinted and beautifully illustrated on pages 16 and 17 of our college alumni magazine, TODAY. Aging is truly amazing as I look back at the history of the Blue Garter Gals. Eight of us started college at Mankato State College the fall of 1958, Georgia Koberoski, Jane Williams, Sandi Donaldson, Marlys Case, Carolyn Meyer, Peggy Vihstadt, Judy Piles, Mary Hesla and Judy Strand. Four years later most of us had graduated, were at work on our first jobs and many of us had wedding bands and new names as well! A couple of us even had given birth to our first child. Now we are grandmothers, many of us have retired from our professional employment and have packed away our diplomas. This year as we celebrate our 70th birthdays, we are off following our latent passions. The college has grown up too, multiplied seven times in enrollment; it has changed names at least twice since our graduations. Our hearts are warmed by the university's published list of professed values: Intregity, Diversity, Access, Responsibility and Excellence.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Marketing Our Way on to Amazon

Amazing Attributes of Aging; Silly and Sacred Stories of Blue Garter Friends has been on the market for a year. We are continually alert to new opportunities for marketing. Creativity and connections seem to be the passwords to more exposure for us. Taking on the challenge to be recognized by the manager of Garrison Keillor's Common Good Book Store last fall, we even tried limerick writing:

There is a Common good store
That is selling good books galore,
Please take a look
At this very fine book.
We'll be happy to bring you s'more!

It worked! Over time we have become comfortable presenting the story of our book to senior citizen's, church, and womens' service clubs all coinciding with book signings. Next we were approached by an alumni association which offered to print an excerpt from our book in their publication which is due to be mailed out shortly to 90,000 readers. This week our book moved on to Amazon where it is listed with a 5 Star rating! Perhaps Oprah will be next.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Introducing Amazing Aging to East Coast Readers

Mary Huntley, Janna Morgan, Retta Dykstra and I just returned from an unforgettable four day trip. We were invited to present a version of Silly and Sacred Stories of Blue Garter Friends that we call "Friendships to Remember; A Lesson in the Importance of Friendship in the Aging Process." Our audiences were the women of the N Street Village Homeless Center in Washington DC and the students and adjacent community of Anne Arundel Community College near-by in Arnold, Maryland. It was also a book signing event.

Two very different socioeconomic communities, two very different ethnic neighborhoods each responded as a unified village of caring, thoughtful kinship when encouraged to connect through the loving memories and the humor projected by our book.

I was reminded of the quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, pioneering aviator, author, wife of Charles Lindbergh. "The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now."

This unsolicited testimonial greeted me as I opened my email back at home on Monday morning, "It (your presentation) was lovely...sometimes it is so easy getting wrapped up in all the minutia of daily life...but this was an opportunity to hear and learn from those who came before us...simply touching!"

The first printing of Amazing Attributes of Aging; Silly and Sacred Stories of Blue Garter Friends is nearly sold out. Where are we going next with this project?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stories that Need to be Told

A WASP, an Chicago opera singer singing with Pavarotti, a civilian military hostess working at the 49th Parallel on June 25, 1951 feeling the eyes of North Korean soldiers as they enter her commissary, a young British college co-ed becoming a radar expert during WWII, a self-taught poet, a stunningly beautiful retired graduate of the Harlem School of Dance brushing off Sammy Davis Jr.'s propositions while performing as a teenager on Broadway: all are writer's whose stories "Need to be Told."

Quiet, seemingly simple personalities have stories sequestered within their memories; never to be shared, validated or published by the mass press. Why? Of course the answer is that, to "come out", a writer has to totally bare her naked soul in public.

Secret stories that are truer than fiction are shared weekly around the nation within a millennium of writer's groups. For those of us who have exposed our real identities within a secret society of writers, the rewards flow continuously. I have felt the excitement of flying a B-17 the first time as a self-taught woman, I have experienced Milan on a magical misty evening, I have laughed until my sides ached, I have fled the enemy by way of a leaky barge, I have climbed to the top of a tower listening for the drone of enemy airplanes, I have brought along a chaperon to my elegant luncheon date. Who was that who said "The only books that get published are written either by crooks or by politicians?"

Just Goggle "Writers Groups" adding the name of your state. A place is waiting for you at the table.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Bookseller to Remember

Quartzite, Arizona is a two hour drive from our winter home in Phoenix, Arizona. Normally a pit stop along I-10 for travelers heading west to Palm Springs and LA, flea markets, rock shops, diners, and RV sales abound, each flapping colorful advertising streamers as a lure to voyagers. Exiting the freeway on to East Main Street Paul Winer, owner and operator of the Reader's Oasis welcomed my participation at his outdoor "Author's Fair" last weekend. An author, publisher, musician and all around nice guy, Paul who has been a nudist all his life generously invites self-published authors to congregate in front of the store to sell their books without charge or any profit sharing. Last Saturday hostess Debbie Hilbish, to my right as you see the photo and Ceil Stetson huddled within the tent provided by Paul until strong winds and rain chased us into the shelter of our cars. Joe Gerard, a WW II Navy veteran and I were the last to leave this amazing place which is a delight for both writers and readers.

The Reader's Oasis store is filled with impeccably preserved and displayed volumes. Each book is carefully cataloged and displayed using Paul's easily understood system. Two friendly, well-fed cats, mother and daughter, patrol the premises between naps. This bookseller is a 5 star attraction. Look for me to be back there again next year!

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Girls from Ames

Amazing Attributes of Aging; Silly and Sacred Stories of Blue Garter Friends was released on April 14, 2009. Ann Schmidt, one of our gang, a former Washington Post "copyboy" from the "60's who still devours east coast newspapers daily, emailed me with a copy of Jeffrey Zaslow's column from the Wall Street Journal that same week. Amazingly Pulitzer Prize winning Zaslow had just written a book titled The Girls from Ames. I immediately went out and bought the book. The women he featured were younger than we, their friendship group was smaller and their association shorter; the message of power, healing and joy through life-long support piggybacked on ours in a similar story. It is a great read.

The 27 life-long Blue Garter Friends of Mankato, Minnesota whose story is chronicled in Amazing Attributes of Aging are the mothers of the Ames' Girl's generation. Born a twenty years earlier, we found ourselves as teenagers focused on following convention. We studied hard to become the first in our families to be admitted to college and to graduate in 4 years. Many of us were wearing a wedding band by age 22. We married and raised our families while at the same time holding professional jobs; continuously supported by our steadfast Blue Garter friends. Proudly we establishing trust actively volunteering within the networks of our individual and international communities.

As our powerful story makes its way around the nation, we encourage other women to honor and to share their friendship stories. We continue to gather regularly in our retirement. We rejoice together, having more fun than anyone can imagine!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Filling Our Advanced Orders

A "self published" book is also "self financed". Mary and I never discussed the source of our seed money with each other, but I will reveal that my half was taken from the nest egg created by my teacher's retirement severance payment. I knew in my heart of hearts that some day when my passions were stirred, that money would lead me on a whole new path of satisfaction. Yes, quoting Mary Ellen Mark from the AAA's Dictionary section of the book, with this venture, "I felt prepared to do my strongest work yet."

Marketing our book began by reaching out to our 27 Blue Garter friends, this includes the 15 women who contributed to the "Silly and Sacred Stories" section of the book. The postal clerk and I became fast friends as I juggled dozens of padded envelopes and flat rate boxes of books mailed out to those women now living in 13 states. Their advanced orders combined with local sales to friends gave us just under $1000 in sales that first month.