Self-Publish a Book of Your Poems

If you’re a poet wanting to share your poems with friends and family, think about turning them into a book. Here’s my experience with this.

My sister writes great poems, but she wanted a way to showcase them. I assembled them into a self-published book that she loves. It is available for her friends and family to order a copy online without excessive cost to her.

Collect and Sort the Poems

If you’re an organized poet, maybe you already have all of them in one place. If not, then gather your scraps of paper and get the poems typed into the computer and saved in a word processing program.

Edit and Polish the Poems

Look the poems over to be sure you’re happy with the wording of each one. Read them out loud to check the flow of the words and the resonance of each. Have a friend, whose judgment you value, review the poems and query you on unclear wordings.

Cover for Ride a Stick Horse

Cynthia Ross – The cover for her first book of poetry.

Paste the Poems into the Book Software

I recommend where you can download their BookSmart software for free. You can also use any of the photo book programs out there that you might like such as Shutterfly. Get the poems into the publishing program that is going to turn it into a book.

Match the Poems to Pictures

You don’t have to have photos or artwork with the poems, but I think it makes a visually appealing book with them. Make sure the photos and artwork are your own or that you have permission to use them.

We used my photos with her poems. Being in color, it did make the book cost more. You could use black and white photos or smaller photos if you want to keep the book more affordable.

Blurb Books inside prairie woman poems cindy book

Two pages of Cynthia Ross’ book, Prairie Woman Poems

Rearrange and Check and Publish

Read through the book in draft form to see that the topics of the poems flow in the way you want. With my sister’s poems, I grouped pages of poems on topics like childhood, writing, relationships, etc.

Spell-check and get several people to look for typos, design mistakes, and other errors. Upload the book to the publisher. Order a copy for yourself and tell all your friends where they can order a copy.

Prairie Woman Poems by Cynthia Jo Ross Blurb Books

Self-published poetry book by Cynthia Ross (tips for how to do this)

What to Say in a Sympathy Card

Sadly, I’ve been writing sympathy cards nonstop for the past week. Fortunately, I keep a pretty good stock on hand. The losses seem to keep on coming. I may have to restock my selection of cards.

Put the right words on paper - Writing a sympathy card.

Put the right words on paper – Writing a sympathy card.

I used to get tongue-tied trying to express my sympathy but am getting more fluent these days. Perhaps practice helps or else I’ve absorbed the words from Hallmark and other greeting card providers and that’s what flows from my pen.

Here’s an example of what you can write:

  • “Our hearts are sad for you and your family at this time of great loss. (insert name) was so special and loved by many who will miss him/her very much.”
  • Tell a story of a good time or memory of that person.
  • “Try to find solace in your many memories of the good times you shared. Sending hugs across the miles.”

Here is another example:

“Thinking of you at this sad time and wishing you comfort in the days ahead. Keeping you close in our hearts and in our prayers.”

(Article first published on Niume by Virginia Allain)

Decorating for Thanksgiving

Nature celebrates the harvest season and cooler weather with a burst of color. Bring some of that color inside your home to enjoy. Here are ways to do that.

thanksgiving fall bouquet

Oranges and yellows – perfect for fall or Thanksgiving decorating.

Pick up a few pieces each year after Halloween and Thanksgiving when autumn leaves, pumpkins, gourds, chrysanthemums, and other traditional fall decor goes on sale. Even jack-o’-lanterns can be used beyond Halloween if the back view is a plain pumpkin. Just turn it around. Over the years you’ll build up a good-sized selection to fit your seasonal decorating needs.

Store the items in a large bin with heavier items on the bottom and more fragile items like silk flowers and leaves on the top. Bring out the bin when it’s time to decorate for fall.

Look around for areas to enhance with the fall items. Fill the traditional places like mantels and tabletops. Add a swag or wreath to the front door. Don’t be shy with the groupings and colors. Put enough pieces together to catch the eye.

Thanksgiving display

The cardboard pilgrim figures are easy to store for next Thanksgiving.

I like to change the feel of my entertainment unit with the seasons. By creating autumn vignettes on each shelf, it makes a colorful wall in the living room.

As Thanksgiving draws near, add some pieces that relate to that holiday’s traditions. Think turkeys, pilgrims, and cornucopias.

Decorate outside the home too with corn shocks, pumpkins, and scarecrows.

Tips & Warnings If you use candles, be sure they are set apart from anything that could catch fire (silk flowers, leaves, etc.).

Post by Virginia Allain

Forgotten Heritage

forgotten heritage pixabay

Forgotten Heritage – a poem by Gail Lee Martin

Old abandoned school houses
left to rack and ruin.
windows broken, porches sagging,
surrounded with trash and tall weeds.

Built so long ago by our ancestors.
now no one cares that they once sheltered
the children of sturdy pioneers
who labored to learn from McGuffy readers.

We’ve flown to the moon,
talked across the seas and
can fly faster than sound and this
knowledge came from those humble beginnings.

All those old schoolhouses should be
shrines to our ancestors whose
thirst for knowledge of a better life
led us to fame and prosperity.

comments on the poem pixabay

  • Posted 02/11/2007 by Carol J Garriott – Very nice, Big Sis! It’s always a treat, in my ramblings, to come across a still-standing school house, abandoned and crumbling tho it may be. As I stand here fiddling with the camera, I wonder if what I hear is the wind in the tall grass or echoes of children’s voices.
  • Posted 02/07/2007 by Virginia Allain – Oh, I like this! It’s always so sad to see buildings like an old school, a railway station or church allowed to fall into ruins. They would have so many stories to tell if they could talk.
  • Posted 02/07/2007 by K. L. Farnum – I agree, I think, what I hate or dislike the most is to see forgotten farms, and barns falling in. I loved it when the family farms were the place to go for fresh eggs, and veggies.
  • Posted 02/09/2007 by Susan Hammett Poole – From the advantage of time, I agree with you that the “old ways” held many, many good things and should not be tossed out with the trash. We are products of all that existed before us. Even if the old buildings are no longer there, it is well to remember and to tell their stories. ~ Susan
  • Posted 02/13/2007 by Karen Kolavalli – I love the story you tell with this poem. Like you and Carol, I’m drawn to abandoned buildings from our past and wonder what stories they could tell us. I’m a big fan of “If Walls Could Talk” which airs on HGTV–these are stories about what folks learn about their houses when they restore them and find out their history.

(Originally published by Gail Martin on the Our Echo website)

November Memory Prompts

November Memories
Think back through the Novembers of your life. What did your parents have to do to prepare for winter when you were a kid? Describe the November weather in your area.

Memory prompts for November

Think back to November days from your early life. Write about those times.

What type of heat did you have? What activities changed with the weather? Baseball to basketball or snowballs. What were the roads like when you were young?

Of course, the best of November is Thanksgiving Day! I would like everybody to timeline their Thanksgiving Days. Maybe remember one every ten years, starting at the age of ten.

The children's table at Thanksgiving Nov. 1975

The children’s table at Thanksgiving Nov. 1975 (Gail Lee Martin’s grandchildren)

I described my memories around the age of ten in “We Gave Thanks Prairie Style” but need to add to them as my family life has changed through the years. Try to include the menu, cooks, the carver and the guests. What else did you do besides eat fabulous food?

(This is part of a monthly series of memory prompts created by Gail Lee Martin for the Our Echo website)

Tyro Area Description – Indian Memories

Our guest blogger today is Sylvia Clubine. The area she writes about here is where Gail Lee Martin’s parents and grandparents lived. Gail’s roots go back to Tyro, Kansas in Montgomery County and further back into the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks.

“Over the four-state area where your ancestors once lived, your spirit still lives there. The beauty of the OZARKS runs into S.E. Kansas, but not the total rocky surface that makes the Ozarks mountain areas. Kansas is excellent farm and natural prairie, lush grazing land, plus very lovely rocky ledges and the bottom floor of creeks and rivers with beautiful groves of trees.

I’ve explored a great part of it with the feeling that I was the first one to walk or ride my horse on that spot. Then we find an arrowhead, or many arrowheads. from your Osage past generations, just like a gem on the soil surface after a gentle rain or a harsh flood of a corn field we have been hoeing. Then we remember we took the land from a great people that made their home here before us. It grabs my heart and I want to know you as the honorable way you lived with great herds of elk and other wide-life here before we came.” – Sylvia Raydene Clubine

Oil tank and pump jack near Tyro, Kansas

Near Tyro, you might see an oil tank or a pump jack, bales of hay, some rolling hills. Get away from the highway and you’ll see the open prairie.

Should Kids Say Thank You When Trick or Treating?


Teaching kids to say thank you for Halloween treats (Available from Zazzle:

Halloween excites children. They have a marvelous time in their costumes while hurrying from house to house trying to fill their bag with candy. In the excitement and the rush of the trick or treating, is it realistic to expect them to say “thanks for the candy?”

Some little ones are tongue-tied when the door opens and they just hold up their bag expectantly. Other, bigger kids might grab a handful of candy if you hold the bowl out to them.

The people giving the candy have fun seeing all the costumes and enjoying the children coming to their door. I used to encourage children on my doorstep to at least say “trick or treat,” when I handed out the candy. You can also remind them after they have the candy in their bag. “What do you say?” They will toss a rote, “thank you,” as they jostle their way down the steps.

When I asked friends if children should say Thank You for Halloween treats, they answered:

  • Yes, they should, and hopefully, their parents are around to remind them. But, some children aren’t capable. My daughter did not talk until she was about 6 years old, and I know kids much older who cannot talk. So, you never know! You can’t really assume they are being rude. They might have autism or another developmental issue. (Frischy)
  • Absolutely……we as parents take them trick-or-treating at an early age, and if we teach them to always say thank you, then hopefully it sticks when they are bigger and venture out on their own. (Kathy M.)
  • We were taught to say “thank you” when we were kids and even though my daughter is considered nonverbal, I prompt her to say “trick or treat” and “thank you.” It’s OK if younger kids don’t, but I don’t like to see older children who can’t say thank you or anything. And years ago, we used to talk to them when we gave out candy, commenting on their costumes, etc. Nowadays, it seems they are gone in a flash with no time for a word, much less two: thank you. (A.J.T.)
Teach children to say

Teach children to say “thank you” when trick or treating (photo courtesy of Pixabay)

(Originally published on Bubblews by Virginia Allain)