Thursday, December 23, 2010

Storytelling Festival at Paradise Valley Community College

Early in December, Emerson  joined Paradise Valley Community College's Festival of Tales. This event  happens every spring and fall offering PVCC students the opportunity to showcase their skills to a live audience of enthusiastic children.

The event is free to the public and children can participate in over 20 different activities including creative crafts (like this fabulous drum made from plastic cups and tape which the kids painted) and live storytelling that bring real or imaginary books to life.

We were honored to be invited as a guest Author/Illustrator for the third time. For this event, we had an activity table for children to create their own Bay Gull popsicle stick puppet. Each child received a picture of the Bay Gull that they could decorate with crayons, markers, glitter and feathers. Googly eyes completed his look before they cut him out and glued their Bay Gull to a stick.

Emerson read The Bay Gull story as they completed their crafts. 

In just three short hours, over 70 Bay Gulls were created at our table! It was a very fast, fun event.

In addition to all the amazing activities, PVCC has partnered with Reading is Fundamental and each child can select 3 or more free books to bring home with them from the event, too! If you live in AZ, "like" TINK INK Publishing on FB to find out about the next event in the spring.

Monday, November 15, 2010

To Amazon or Not To Amazon...

When stepping into the door of having a published book, the issue of whether to put our book on Amazon came up in several conversations with other self-published authors. Prior to this venture, we had not realized that people stood either firmly for or against this method of book distribution.

We quickly realized that this was actually going to be a thought out marketing decision. In reality, everyone can list their books on Amazon if they are willing to give Amazon 55% of the profit from every sale. Add in the shipping costs to the Amazon Fulfillment Center (covered by the publisher) and, for most self published authors, this is a money losing sale.

Based purely on a consumer perspective, we wanted to be represented by one of the largest online book retailers. Fortunately, our production costs were nearly covered by the 45% commission so we went ahead and listed The Bay Gull. In fact, it was even exciting to us and others that our BOOK was listed on Amazon. Friends and family were definitely impressed!

We think of the potential profit loss for each book sold on Amazon as a marketing cost. We know that many people enjoy being able to buy our book from a major online site and Amazon outsells our own website 2-to-1.

Here is a HOT tip - there is a way to potentially avoid the 55% commission and still offer your books on Amazon. A few months ago, we signed up for an Amazon Seller Account to move some extra books in our own personal library. It just occurred to us that we can compete with Amazon on their site and offer our book through our own seller account!

We priced our book a few dollars less than the list price ($10- instead of $12.95) which may be more appealing to bargain hunting buyers. We also listed the book "Signed by Author" which, of course, it can be since it is coming from our home. After adding in a "Shipping Credit," our potential net profit from Amazon is $10.15. Compared to the $5.83 they are currently paying out on each consigned book sold through Amazon, our commission will be 75% higher and we can turn a profit on the sales.

This is a brand new strategy for us and one that we hope can work for other self-published authors seeking an Amazon presence.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Monthly Storytime at Local Farmer's Market

As local farmer's markets become increasingly popular throughout the nation, we are fortunate to have an "in" with a continuously growing market going on it's 4th successful year.

Momma's Organic Market originally started in the front yard at Christa Esquibel's mom's home. After the first busy season in her mom's residential neighborhood, Christa, along with her partner and sister-in-law Emy Porter, moved the event to the "new" Park West shopping center off of Northern and the 101 in Peoria, AZ. 

Today, the market has grown to four local farms providing organic produce plus over 100 vendors offering a variety of products including food, personal care products, clothing, pet supplies, jewelry and home decor. In addition to hours of endless shopping, Momma's Organic Market has a petting zoo, a bounce house and a *world famous* story time including author/illustrator Emerson Colwell, Jr.

This month, our audience had a lesson in cartooning after the book reading. Children are quick learners and follow directions so well. We had tables full of fascinated girls and boys successfully drawing the cutest sea gulls ever!

One thing that is so fun about all our story times is that we always meet fabulous new friends who are very familiar with the East Coast. Our recent event included a family that has vacationed in Westerly, RI for over 30 years. We were excited to chat with them about Rhode Island and help them out with multiple copies of The Bay Gull for their family and friends!

Momma's Organic Market is the third Saturday of the month from September - April. The first 200 customers receive a free reusable bag filled with coupons and fabulous goodies from local businesses. For more information including becoming a vendor or featuring a gift for the bags, please contact Christa Esquibel at (602) 703-7154


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Bay Gull Featured in The Bay Magazine August 2010

In just a year, The Bay has grown as one of the most popular magazines in RI for information on "Living Well on the East Bay & South Coast." This free monthly magazine can be found throughout the Ocean State and we are SO proud to be featured in the August 2010 Kids Issue.

On page 24, Julie Sickel reviewed two books by local authors, Bun, Onion, Burger by Peter Mandel and The Bay Gull by Emerson Colwell. What an honor to be recognized with Mr. Mandel, adventure journalist and author of nine children's books.

For those of you who are unable to pick up your own copy, you can check out the review here!

Special thanks to Julie Sickel for the great review, The Bay's Editor Julie Tremaine for requesting a copy of the book when we were in town last March and the entire staff at The Bay for your hard work every month!

You can find them on Facebook - search "Bay Mag" and send a friend request.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Teaching Children To Draw Seagulls

This past week, Emerson had the opportunity to work with 100+ children at a local Vacation Bible School. The theme of the week long, all day program was "The High Seas Expedition." In addition to a set curriculum, each afternoon featured special guests from the community. The Bay Gull was a perfect compliment to the program with the ocean theme and the sea gull himself being on quite a journey of his own throughout Narragansett Bay.

A typical book event is about 30 minutes with reading the book plus Q&A time. The coordinator scheduled Emerson to fill one hour of the afternoon program. So how do you fill an hour and keep a group of 3 year old through 5th grade children entertained?

It was not an easy task that I presented Emerson with the night before his presentation. He spent hours online researching interesting facts about the lighthouses presented in The Bay Gull. We went over the information together and discussed how this would keep the whole group engaged.

With half a morning to think more about the event, Emerson came up with a fabulous idea - teach the children how to draw the sea gull! Each of the kids were given a sheet of paper and a crayon. As Emerson went through the elements of the bird, the children repeated the actions on their own paper. A few of the children chose to make paper airplanes instead (including our son) but the majority of the group followed along.

The quick activity produced countless sea gull art pieces which the children proudly showed off to each other and their guest. Children are so fun to teach because they are so eager to learn. I bet we'll see some fabulous artists, illustrators, story tellers and authors coming out of that group.

Our middle child, Grace, was very proud of her sea gull art. Not exactly like daddy's but it sure is cute.

Feel free to check out the video and learn how to draw The Bay Gull!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Marine Conservation - What You Can Do

Marine Conservation - What You Can Do
reprinted from The Nature Conservancy

Oceans need our help to stay healthy. And no matter where you live, you need healthy oceans to support your daily life – air to breathe, food to eat, places to work and play. With your support, we can change the course for our oceans and coasts and the people who depend on them. Even small changes can make a difference. Here's how you can help:
  1. Reduce your plastic consumption. The most frequently collected items during beach cleanups are made of plastic — think reusable shopping bags, water bottles and utensils.
  2. Make informed seafood choices. Keep a copy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood guide in your wallet or text Blue Ocean’s FishPhone to help you choose sustainable seafood at the grocery store or a restaurant.
  3. Dispose of chemicals properly. Never pour chemicals, pharmaceuticals, oil or paint into the drain or toilets. Check with your county’s household hazardous waste program to properly dispose of or recycle chemicals and keep them out of rivers and oceans.
  4. Choose green detergents and household cleaners—or make your own! Besides being better for your own health, these products are safer for the environment since what goes down the drain can end up in our oceans.
  5. Get the dirt on your beachside retreat. Before you stay in a hotel on the coast, ask staff what happens to their sewage and swimming pool water, and if they source their restaurant fish from sustainable sources.
  6. Find out the source of your food. Buying local, organic food reduces your carbon footprint, supports the local economy and reduces the amount of pesticides and fertilizers that end up not just in your stomach, but as run-off in rivers and oceans, too.
  7. Fill your yard with native species. Reducing the amount of grass in your lawn by planting native shrubs and flower beds will provide a better habitat for birds and other wildlife and require far less water and fertilizer, which can seep into the oceans.
  8. Keep your beach visit clean. When visiting the beach, stay off fragile sand dunes, take your trash with you and leave plants, birds and wildlife for everyone to enjoy. Learn how to spot a healthy beach. or find a Conservancy coastal preserve near you.
  9. Choose alternatives to coral. Whether shopping for jewelry, household d├ęcor or accessories for your fish tank, do your part to leave fragile coral reef habitats untouched by buying products that aren’t made of real coral.
  10. Celebrate our oceans. Whether you live inland or on the coast, we are all connected to the ocean; take the time to organize or participate in activities that restore and celebrate the ocean, and help support The Nature Conservancy’s ocean conservation work.

    1. Donate online now to support The Nature Conservancy’s work to protect and restore marine habitats in your area and around the world.
    2. Rescue a Reef to help protect some of the most threatened corals in the world.
    3. Sign up for the Conservancy’s Great Places Network, a free online membership program, to learn more about what the Conservancy is doing in your state and around the globe.
    4. Test your oceans knowledge with our online quiz.
    5. Send an ocean e-card to friends and family.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Next "The Bay Gull" Children's Book ALL about the Gulf of Mexico

In March, we took a whirlwind tour through RI and CT, visiting over 1,000 children in 5 days. Our goal for the trip was to reach out to schools, sharing the story and stressing education about our environment, while helping to raise money for the schools through book sales. All of the presentations were so fun, the kids (as always!) were amazing - we love it when they think the bagel is a donut! - and we raised nearly $1,000 for their schools.

There was a VERY cute preschool in Coventry where nearly 90% of the parents purchased books for their children! Now those are some supportive parents!! Although the first The Bay Gull is set in Rhode Island, our trip confirmed the story's appeal outside of the Ocean State. Only one of the days of our trip was in Connecticut and the 2 schools we visited there raised more money for their educational programs than all of our other stops combined.

Well, we knew that even people in the desert like a good book about the ocean but we still would love to see many more books about other beautiful coastal areas. Since our trip, we have been slowly but surely preparing our next 2 books, one about San Diego and the other about the Chesapeake area. Researching coastal areas can be a nightmare as there are so many sites to navigate through. Finding relevant information that we can use for the books can take lots of time.

One place that is easy to find information about right now is the Gulf of Mexico and because of that, we are putting the other books on hold to focus on creating a great Bay Gull book for the Louisiana area. Neither of us have been there but with all the publicity, we have been finding resources that can help with the Bay Gull's travels fairly easily. A pre-order form is up on our website, feel free to add your name to our mailing list and send along any comments about our new book.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

View entry - Create Your Opportunity Contest

View entry - Create Your Opportunity Contest

We have entered a contest for the opportunity to expand The Bay Gull's reach all across the U.S. Will you help us win by checking out the entry and voting for our idea?? We appreciate you!!

UPDATE ON 6/15/10
The contest entry period has closed. The judges will be determining from the entries who will win the grand prize from the contest. Thank you all for your support! We appreciate your votes & your prayers! Stay tuned for an update.....

Monday, May 17, 2010

Art Walk & Lighthouse Pictures along with The Bay Gull

This past Saturday, Emerson had the opportunity to participate in an Art Walk, scheduled as an added benefit to a first anniversary celebration for an upscale apartment/condo village in Surprise. In addition to the 15 or so artists, residents and guests were treated to breakfast, children participated in carnival games along with treats like face painting, snow cones and cotton candy, a fun "treasure hunt" was available for those who toured several apartment models and overall, it was a very fun family event. We found out about the event through a friend who sent along an invitation for our family and in conversation, she mentioned that they were still looking for artists. Only a little over a week away, we decided to jump on the chance and signed up for a table on the Art Walk. Since publishing The Bay Gull last summer, Emerson has been working on his drawings, practicing with different mediums like watercolors and watercolor pencils (although he prefers colored pencils) and even completed a drawing course to learn some new techniques, particularly with charcoal.
The Art Walk posed as a great opportunity for several reasons: Emerson was able to display his book along with other art work that he has created for free, he talked with everyone about his work to get their feedback, particularly listening to areas where he could improve for public appeal, he networked with other local artists and swapped cards with them and he had a chance to create a great table display.
On display at his table we had a book of his cartoons, 10 framed lighthouse drawings that he has created and The Bay Gull. We used boxes to create height, lots of tablecoths, sheets and fabric to cover the two 8 foot tables, nautical accents including shells that our son collected from Narragansett Bay on our last trip back in March and some fabulous "fish nets" for our backdrop and more texture on the table. In addition, Emerson displayed a nautical chart plus a couple of books, one about lighthouses and the other, Narragansett Bay, by Richard Benjamin and John Torgan, which is the most beautiful photo book offering breathtaking photos from throughout the state of Rhode Island.
It was a great day for us as a family and, because the opportunity was free, we were able to fully enjoy the event without the stress of covering any costs. Our rewards for this event included the experience and knowledge that we gained from putting everything together for the tables, the additional artwork Emerson completed in time for the show as deadlines ALWAYS help to get work done, being in the presence of other talented, gifted artists, plus we won a raffle prize, beautiful custom designed coasters, from one of the other artists!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Emerson invited to work with 7th Annual Literacy Day in Phoenix

TINK INK Publishing
Teaching, Inspiring, Nurturing Kids ~ Illustrated Children’s Books

Children’s Author & Illustrator Emerson M. Colwell, Jr. Honored to Participate in Phoenix Head Start Literacy Day
Phoenix Head Start Hosts 7th Annual Literacy Day on Tuesday, April 20
Phoenix, AZ – Children’s author/illustrator Emerson M. Colwell, Jr. will be one of 66 volunteers helping to promote literacy with three to five-year-old children. The 7th Annual Literacy Day, hosted by the City of Phoenix, takes place on Tuesday, April 20. This year, volunteers will be reading the book Hop Jump by author/illustrator Ellen Stoll Walsh whose popular children’s books also include Mouse Paint and Mouse Count.

More than 90 Phoenix Head Start classrooms will be visited and the volunteer list includes Mayor Phil Gordon, Councilman Bill Gates and City Manager Davis Cavazos.

All the Head Start classrooms will receive a copy of the book and 3,090 children will receive their own book to take home.

Mr. Colwell will be reading at Esperanza Elementary School, 251 W. Mohawk Ln, Phoenix, AZ 85027 at 9:30 a.m. and the media is welcome to attend.

About the Author
Inspired by his love for the Ocean State and the beautiful Rhode Island coastline, Emerson M. Colwell, Jr. wrote and illustrated his newly released first children’s book The Bay Gull. His second book, The Fisher Cat, will be released later this year.

Emerson resides in Peoria, AZ with his wife and three children.

For more information, visit


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Children’s Author & Illustrator Emerson Colwell Jr. Returns to Home State to Teach Local Children

Renowned children’s author/illustrator and native Bristol, Rhode Islander Emerson M. Colwell, Jr. will return to the Ocean State March 12th - March 22nd to bring children on a journey down the bay.
PR Log (Press Release)Mar 07, 2010 – Providence, RI – Bristol, Rhode Island native Emerson M. Colwell, Jr. will offer public events to bring children on a journey down the beautiful RI coastline, spreading messages of sharing and teaching children about Narragansett Bay with his book The Bay Gull. In addition, the author will be previewing his newest children’s book The Fisher Cat, currently in production.

The public and media are invited to attend one of several book readings, including:
SAVE THE BAY, Saturday, March 13th at 2:00 PM, 175 Memorial Boulevard Newport, RI p: 401-324-6020
SAVE THE BAY, Wednesday, March 17th at 3:30 PM, 100 Save The Bay Dr. Providence, RI p: 401-272-3540
Rogers Free Library, Saturday, March 20th at 11:00 AM, 525 Hope Street (Rt 114) Bristol, RI 02809 p: 401-253-6948

Mr. Colwell will also visit several schools including Hampden Meadows in Barrington on March 15th, St. Philomena’s in Portsmouth on March 16th and two schools in Connecticut on March 18th and 19th.

Since the book was released last July, the author has been committed to working with independent businesses, schools and non-profit organizations, providing educational presentations and resources for children while working to protect the beauty of the Ocean State by helping raise a generation dedicated to preserving our environment. In addition to providing free presentations, TINK INK Publishing donates to  various non-profit organizations, including SAVE THE BAY.

The Bay Gull is the story of a lovable seagull who finds a bagel on Hope Street in Bristol, RI and demonstrates his ability to share his food with all the great new friends he meets on his journey south, all the way down to Block Island. Familiar Narragansett Bay landmarks such as Prudence Island, the Newport  Bridge, and the Castle Hill and Point Judith Lighthouses make this book hard to resist for a native Rhode Islander.

Children enjoy the rhymes, the geography lesson of Narragansett Bay, the funny names of places in RI like "Hog Island" and the animal characters including a dog, deer, hog, and horseshoe crab. Parents like the story for the historical locations in RI and the message of sharing.  The Bay Gull was published in July, 2009. It is currently offered at twenty  independent businesses and non-profit organizations throughout the Narragansett Bay Area in RI and through the website where a list of the stores can be found.

About the Author: Emerson M. Colwell, Jr. has been drawing cartoons as long as he can remember.  Born and raised in Bristol, RI, most of his drawings involve fishing and sailing, two of his favorite hobbies.  His drawing days took a back seat for a while as he pursued his full time career, got married, bought a house and started a family.  One morning in August, 2008, he woke up with the idea for The Bay Gull.

Emerson currently resides in Arizona with his wife and three children.  Memories of his favorite activities back east and his love for RI have truly influenced his books.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Press Release - Success -

Emerson is taking off for his 2nd RI tour since publishing The Bay Gull. This trip includes 4 classroom presentations, an event at Roger's Free Library in Bristol, RI and two event with non-profit organization Save the Bay.

The Library and Save The Bay events are open to public. Please join us if you are in the area - we would love to have you there, too.

Click here for a copy of the press release and be sure to share it with your friends.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Great Resource for Writers - Get That Book Out Of Your Head And Into Print

If you are looking for a great book to help you with getting your own book done, here is a brand new step-by-step practicle guide to writing and publishing. Written by Kas Winters, Author/Illustrator/Publisher and owner of Winmark Communications, the book has tips from more than 50 published writers and includes getting started with the writing process, choosing professionals to help you, designing your book, utilizing software, making printing choices plus distributing and marketing your book. It took her almost two years to compile over 200 pages of great information which can guide anyone through the process to Get That Book Out Of Your Head And Into Print.
The book is available online only from Winmark Communications for $19.99 plus shipping and handling.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Marketing Our Self Published Book

"The Bay Gull" is our first book which was self published and if you have followed our story, you'll know that the decision to go this route was so we could launch our book while on a trip to Rhode Island. We needed a fast way to get the book from the computer to a finished format. We already had the completed book and illustrations and in March, 2009, we began our journey to self publishing. Four months later, just in time for our vacation, the book was available for the public.
Our deadline was a great motivator and we highly recommend having a firm date in mind. We worked backwards knowing that we had to have the book finished, completing the multitude of activities that needed to get done in order to make it happen. We had a very busy 7 day trip filled with book readings and author appearances.
Before having the first date set, we created a Facebook Group (which is now a Facebook Fan page - please join!) to get the word out about the book, asking people to join our group and for their suggestions on book reading locations. In addition, we created a website for TINK INK Publishing which has a calendar where we could add upcoming events.
About six weeks before the trip, we started scheduling author appearances by calling people who we already knew, letting them know we would be in town debuting the book and that we wanted to have an event at their location. As you can see by the list, all but one of the events were a result of working with people who we already knew:
  • A daycare owned by a friend
  • A gift shop owned by a friend
  • The bagel shop featured in the book and owned by a friend
  • The book store down the street from the bagel shop referred to us by our friends at the bagel shop
  • Our parent's driveway on the parade route for the Fourth of July parade
  • A bookstore that we arranged by contacting a local person who holds weekly storytimes
  • A bookstore where a friend's father works
Through another friend, we received a list of almost 60 local news contacts. Two weeks before our arrival on the east coast, we e-mailed press releases which included information about the book and our scheduled appearances. The press release also went out to about 400 personal contacts through e-mail and to all our Facebook friends. Several news contacts picked up our appearances for their local calendars of communtiy activities. Our weekly storytime new friend, Anika Denise, wrote a review of the book for her widely read children's book story blog which came out in the paper on the same day as our first book reading.
In addition to sales the day of the event, most of the locations purchased books to have in inventory. People gave us great suggestions on other stores who may be interested in carrying the book. For two days, we traveled around visiting some of the recommendations and our favorite shops. Our opening usually went something like, "Hi, my name is Mona and this is my husband, Emerson. Emerson recently wrote a children's book about Rhode Island and our friend .... from .... thought you might be interested in carrying it." Or, if we didn't have a referral, we would mention that we loved their store and thought it would be a good location. By the end of the trip, we were excited to have the book available in 13 stores.
We owe a world of thanks to our printing company, Premier Graphics, who did an amazing job meeting our deadline which enabled us to sell over two hundred books in seven busy days.
Since July, our marketing efforts have continued and we are now working with 20 independent businesses including non-profit organizations (Save the Bay, The Herreshoff Marine Museum and Linden Place) and an on-line store for children's books, Winmark Communications. We are always looking for new organizations to work with and new sites to feature our books so if you have any great ideas, please share!!
Mona & Emerson

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Writers, Authors, Speakers and Publishers Getting Together for Holiday Mixer

Thanks to our gracious hostess, Kas Winters of Winmark Communications, author of Mother Lode and Get that Book out of your Head and into Print, and her husband, Roger Winters, local writers, authors, speakers and publishers had the opportunity to mingle for a few hours this holiday season.

Guests included Kay Wallach, Ed. D., Educator, (pictured right with an aspiring writer, Jeanne Scofield, on her left) and Jeanette Chaplin, Ed. D., Author/ Educator (pictured below with one of Kas' friends, Mary Lynn Mason, on her left). It is no surprise that with this fabulous crowd, the topic of literacy dominated our conversation.

Deborah Brown, Producer/Co-Host of The Boomer and The Babe Show, (pictured below with Joseph Marotta, author of The Drapery Workroom, and Author/Speaker Coach Larry James) is interested in continuing our conversation on the air. We may all be getting together again soon at her studio over the next few months.

Kas and Roger did a fabulous job bringing together an amazing group of people who share a common goal of reaching children through reading.

Thank you for a great time!
Mona and Emerson