February 5, 2018

Creative Publicity and a Cup of Tea

An all-expense paid trip!  A book character named after you!  These were the prizes WestBow Press gave to the reader who most successfully promoted the newest installment of their Women of Faith fiction series.  Details and publicity suggestions to help readers promote Alaska Twilight, a suspense novel by Colleen Coble, were made available at the author’s web site (www.colleencoble.com). 

Creative?  In book publishing, yes—but in the television business, it is a well-known strategy. Coble´s publicist adapted another medium´s campaign. Instead of a TV appearance, she offered volunteer publicists a novelty: the opportunity to appear as a character in a Christian novel.

Creative publicity strategies are approaches that differ from or add a new twist to popular or traditional promotional campaigns. You can come up with new ways to publicize your books too. You do not have to inherit a bent for creativity.  If you think you are not the creative type, perhaps the following steps can help.

Would you like a cup of tea?

Some say creativity is completely spontaneous, with no rules or guidelines. Others say it is a matter of focus. I say creativity is like the process of brewing tea.

      White, Green, Oolong or Black?
What tea do you prefer to drink? Why? There are lists that rank the oxidation of tea leaves from zero to maximum. Your criteria for choosing tea might be different, but the key is: do you know what you like about that tea? Do you know your book?  Have you explored the pages to catch topics or themes that may be used as marketing tools?  Little details lead to big ideas. What angles can you explore in your product?  

      Steeping
Good tea undergoes steeping. Creativity requires a period of incubation.  Let the quest for ideas brew in your mind.  You do not have to think about your creative issue 24/7. In fact, performing unrelated tasks can help. As you shop, go for a walk, or do other things, be on the lookout for ideas to inform your product marketing.  Jot down your thoughts.

Expect periods of mental blankness.  Do not be frustrated.  In due time, there will be a creative flash or a gradual insight.

      Straining
Bear this in mind, the mesh of deadlines, budget, marketing goals and cultural norms has a way of reshaping and reforming creativity to make your ruminations more pragmatic and successful.  Welcome them!

      Blending Additives
Lemon, sugar, milk, honey, herbs, fruit jams or tapioca?  There are no set rules on what you can add to enhance the flavor of your tea. 

Incentive programs bring in customers.  It helps to see what others are doing – radio programs, supermarket handouts, video stores, dry cleaners, or pizza shops.  Look at other cultures and industries. Go into the Web. Creativity begets creativity, and the Web has plenty of examples that you can tailor to your publicity plans.

How about tea and ginger or cinnamon?  Perhaps you can pair up your book with another item; a Bible and a devotional in one package might sell better than just the devotional alone.  

      Serving Tea
It is delightful to behold a tea tray with a variety of finger foods: scones, sweets or petite sandwiches.  In book publicity, you do not need just one big idea.  You can have several creative campaigns.  For example, if possible offer a selection of authors on a particular subject.   A book on prayer by one author might appeal to one reader, but not to another.  Each book might require its own creative tweak.

Coffee Please

Not everyone drinks tea.  You will have critics of your creative publicity strategies.  That is the nature of doing something different, not necessarily new.  Do not expect success immediately.  Not all concepts will work.  The C in creativity stands for courage. 

Remember, though, that in the end reading the book is the final incentive.  No matter how creative you are in publicizing the book, in offering ¨talk value¨, it is the ¨reading value¨, which will generate long-term sales.  


This article was published in the Interlit Magazine on September 2006.  Interlit is an international quarterly print magazine distributed globally to publishers and printing corporations.  Interlit was published by Cook Communications Ministries International based in Colorado Springs, Colorado USA

December 29, 2017


I never seen or heard of it until my friend from Taiwan, James shared the Chia Te (or Jiande) Pastry cakes.  The Chia Te pastry cakes are really square bars filled with a fruit paste – similar to the shape and appearance of Fig Newton Bars.  Except the Chia Te bars completely enclosed the filling and is individually beautifully wrapped – then encased in gift boxes which you carry in glossy tote bags.
You get the picture of the attention and care given?
Chia Te's Bakery (or Jiade Bakery) was established in Taipei in 1975 and is known for its pineapple pastry.  Why pineapple?  Did you know that Taiwan was the third largest exporter of pineapples in the world in the 60s and early 70s.  (As of 2010, the top three pineapple growers are Brazil, Costa Rica and the Philippines).  Then the online revolution came along and now the island country is an electronics/IT hotbed.
Pineapple became a surplus setting the motion for local chefs to concoct ways on how to make use of the tropical fruit.  Hence, the birth and evolution of the pineapple cake also known as pineapple pastry, pineapple shortbread, pineapple tart, or “鳳梨酥 fèng lĺ su”. 
I think the more accurate terminology is pineapple squares or fruit squares.
Chia Te offers a variety of pastry and delicacies, including pineapple pastry, cranberry pineapple pastry, egg yolk pineapple pastry (my fave), wife cake (see http://www.scmp.com/article/999237/wife-cakes Wife cakes), milk cake, sun cake and nougat.
The company's cranberry pineapple cake has been selected one of "Taipei's Top Ten Gifts" - a must for tourists
What makes the pastry worth writing about?  The delicious crust is made from butter, and the cream they use is high-quality import from New Zealand.  The filling for the pineapple flavor is really a well-experimented trial and error version of a blend of pineapple and winter melon.  Pure pineapple filling is too tart and fibrous – although the inclusion of winter melon is considered a degradation of quality by some local bakers.
Fortunately, their web site www.chiate88.com in Chinese has an English translation feature. If you are in Taipei, visit the Bakery at: 
No. 88, Section 5, Nanjing East Rd, Taipei 105, Taiwan  Tel:  +886 2 8787 8186
For reviews see:

There are other bakery brands worth trying as well see:

October 16, 2017


I met Mary C Brown who looked like in her 80s at St. James Anglican Church in downtown Vancouver last September 3rd Sunday after the service.  Originally from England, Mary has been with the church since 1960.

During tea and coffee time with Costco croissants at the Rectory, Mary mentioned she brings Cereal Cookies to the church occasionally. 

She gladly shared the recipe.  October 15th Sunday, I rendezvoused with her at the church and she gave me a tin of the Cereal Cookies.  The cookies were, as Mary warned, crumbly.  The cookies were good and healthy to eat in a cookie sort of way with all those cereals. 

Mary wrote:

“I often make double the quantity, as they are so good, and keep well. I cook on two shelves. This quantity makes about 40 cookies. I sometimes add dried fruit, ginger, or chocolate chips.

I do not know who Molly is, but was given the recipe by a hospice volunteer, and it is always greeted with acclaim. It tends to be rather crumbly, so I either leave out some of the dry content, or add slightly more oil. I have found that I have to adjust different ovens to find the right heat.”

Molly’s Cereal Cookies
1 cup margarine
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla
Cream all together

Mix together: (I put them in a bowl, and crush with a mug)
3 1/2 cups of flour
1 teasp. baking powder
1 teasp. Salt

Mix together:  (I put in a plastic bag and crush with mug)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup crushed cornflakes,
1 cup rice crispies

Gradually stir into the rest of the mix
Roll into 1inch balls, flatten slightly, put onto parchment lined ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 325 - 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn off oven and let sit for 4 minutes.

A recipe with a similar name Homemade Cookie Cereal - but different from the above in most ingredients can be viewed at The Stay at Home Chef’s web site.   This site has a video on how to make the Cookie Cereal. 

The Stay at Home Chef has a good idea - to dunk the cereal cookies in milk, just like breakfast cereals in milk.  Now why didn’t I think of that?